Offset smokers, also called barrel or pipe smokers are one of the most traditional ways of smoking and grilling meat. They are simple but very effective tools.
With an offset smoker, you can either smoke little or large pieces of meat because there’s plenty of space. They also have a unique shape that makes them look great, so it’s often a privilege to have one in your backyard.
These smokers are perfect for DIY folks who like to mod their smokers by themselves and turn it into a custom piece of art. Manufacturers create different types, so you might get overwhelmed if this is your first time buying one.
In this offset smokers review, you’ll get a list of the top offers in the market, plus a buying guide to help you make the right choice.
What to Check Before Buying Best Offset Smoker?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re trying to choose an offset smoker because there are so many manufacturers out there and they produce different products with slightly unique features.
In order to make the right choice, therefore, you’ll need to know the most important aspects of an offset smoker, so that you’ll be able to make a more informed decision.
Following are these most important aspects that you should keep in mind:
1. Traditional vs. Reverse Flow
This is one of the major differences that you’ll find among offset smokers. A traditional type has the smoke and heat entering the cooking chamber from the firebox and then finding any way possible towards the chimney.
This produces hot spots in the cooking chamber, which allow you to either cook in the higher heat or the lower heat area.
With a reverse flow smoker, a steel plate below the cooking grates channels the smoke from the firebox to the other side of the cooking chamber before they get released into the upper chamber and find their way to the chimney on the other side.
The advantage of reverse flow smokers is that you get evenly dispersed heat, a more steady temperature, and an overall lower smoking temperature on the grates, leading to a better-smoked meat experience.
Their disadvantages include a longer cooking period and less fuel efficiency. There is, therefore, no better system than the other. You’ll just have to choose what works best for you.
2. Size & Shape
You’ll find offset smokers in different shapes and sizes, so you’ll also need to choose what’s right for you. There are smokers with horizontal and with vertical coking chambers, plus lots of other variations in design.
As for size, keep in mind that although a smoker with a large cooking chamber will cook much more meat at a go, it also needs more fuel to heat up and to keep the smoker alive.
3. Material Construction
Steel is the standard material for constructing offset smokers but more important is the steel’s gauge. Look for something with a 1/4-inch gauge at least, to guarantee a more even heating of the cooker and a longer life.
You’ll find different offset makers with their different brands in the market and each has unique features that set it apart from the rest. If you have any brand that you already know and want, then feel free to buy this brand.
If you’re not focused on any brand, then keep the features that you need in mind and find a brand that offers it. The major brands include Oklahoma Joe, RiverGrille, Char-Griller, & Char-Broil.
This is another aspect that you’ll need to consider on your own. Offset smokers can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, so you need to set a budget that you can comfortably afford and stick to it to get the best offset smoker for the money.
Keep in mind that you mostly get what you pay for. So, cheaper smokers will often suffer from uneven heat distribution, flaking paint, thinner-gauge housing and poor seals between parts.
Most offset smokers are well-made and will last you a lifetime when well maintained. Still, it’s very comforting to have your smoker backed by the manufacturer with anything from a 1-year to a lifetime warranty.
When you need to choose between two products with every other aspect being equal, then it’s always wise to choose the one with a longer warranty.
7. Temperature Gauges
Most offset smokers will include one form of temperature-gauge or the other to help you gain more insight into your food’s condition. Most of these temperature gauges get installed in the cooking chamber’s roof though, and thus creates a problem.
Since the chamber’s lid is often higher than the cooking grates, this means that you’ll never know the true temperature of anything that you are smoking. You can get one or two extra temperature gauges, however, for more precise control.
7 Best Offset Smokers of 2021 Reviewed
1. Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D (Best Overall)
2. Char-Broil 14201571 (Best For The Money)
3. Char-Griller 1224 (Beautiful & Stylish Design)
4. Royal Gourmet CC1830F (Best Budget)
5. Dyna-Glo DGSS1382VCS (Vertical for Experts)
6. Oklahoma Joe’s 13201747-05 (Extra Tough Smoker)
7. Oklahoma Joe’s 17202052 (Ultimate Smoker For Experts)
1. Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D – Best Overall
- Cooking surface: 1,890 square inches
- Size: 21 x 43 x 50 inches
- Material: Steel
- Weight: 83 pounds
Featuring a vertical offset design, this smoker naturally solves the number #1 problem that most horizontal offset smokers have. And that is the proper flow of hot smoke, which goes upwards and not sideways.
A second advantage is that you can choose between the standard size and a wide body version, which offers you up to 1,890 square inches of cooking space on six adjustable grates. This means you can cook up to 150 pounds of meat at a go.
You’ll need to assemble it before use though, and the warranty is only for a year. Still, Dyna-Glo offers it at such a low and attractive price that you’ll happily overlook any small disadvantages.
It also features a unique charcoal management system. This includes a large, enameled chamber for optimally holding the charcoal in the included grate, plus a sliding and removal ash pan. And this makes it one of the best offset smokers you can find.
More Detailed: Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D Review
- Best overall smoker with up to 1,890 sq. inches of space
- Features a 100% steel construction for durability
- The vertical smokebox is better than most horizontal styles
- Features adjustable cooking racks and stay-cool door handles
- Offered at a low and attractive price
- It needs assembly before you can use it
- The warranty is only for 1 year
2. Char-Broil 14201571 – Best For The Money
- Cooking surface: 1,025 sq. inches
- Size: 28 x 60 x 51 Inches
- Material: Steel
- Weight: 106 pounds
This offer is for the Deluxe smoker from Char-Broil. It costs more than the cheaper and lower-quality standard smoker from the same company. But with this Deluxe version, you get a coal grate with an adjustable height, which helps to make it the best smoker for the money.
This Deluxe version is also easier to smoke with and produces better results. So, it’s money well spent.
You get porcelain-enameled cooking grates, two wheels for easier movements, and a side firebox-door for easy replenishment of water and wood chips. This makes it one of the best horizontal offset smokers in the market.
There are 670 square inches of cooking space in the smoking chamber to smoke your meats, plus 355 square inches in the firebox if you care about some hot grilling action.
- Modern and stylish design
- Best smoker for the money at 1,025 sq. inches
- Comes with chrome-plated stay-cool handles
- Features a storage rack for utensils and charcoal
- The frame isn’t heavy-duty
- Horizontal smoker barrels don’t give the best results
3. Char-Griller 1224 – Beautiful & Stylish
- Cooking surface: 830 square inches
- Size: 62 x 29 x 50 inches
- Material: Steel
- Weight: 146 pounds
This Char-Griller 1224 is for grill and smoker enthusiasts who want a nicely built and good-looking offset smoker. It features wooden handles and shelves to stand out from the rest.
The entire construction comes from heavy-gauge and powder-coated steel, which lasts longer than ordinary painting. You get 830 sq. inches of cooking space, including 580 sq. inches of smoking surface and 250 in the firebox.
On disadvantages, the lower shelf can’t hold smaller items because the wires are too wide. This smoker also offers only a traditional grilling system with no possibility of reverse-flow smoking for a more even heat distribution.
Char-Griller, however, sets itself apart from other grill and barbecue makers by offering 5-year warranties on their products and that includes this smoker.
- Stylish offset smoker for style lovers
- This smoker offers a total cooking area of 830 sq. inches
- Easy dumping and removal of charcoal using drawers
- It comes with a 5-year warranty
- Needs some time to assemble
- There’s no reverse flow feature
- Its storage shelf can’t hold small items
4. Royal Gourmet CC1830F – Best Budget
- Cooking surface: 782 square inches
- Size: 45 x 27 x 48 inches
- Material: Steel
- Weight: 58 inches
The Royal Gourmet CC1830F is an overall impressive charcoal offset smoker, designed to give you everything you need at a very good price.
It features two shelves, one in front and one beneath the smoker, porcelain-enameled cooking grates, and a chrome-plated warming rack.
The smoke chamber lid has an easy-to-read temperature gauge and its two wheels enable easy movement.
You get stay-cool spring handles to easily open the firebox and smoke chamber. Plus a 5-pound charcoal pan allows you to load up enough charcoal for grilling or long-hour smoking sessions.
- Lowest priced offset smoker
- Features porcelain-enameled cooking grates
- Includes two storage racks for your convenience
- Offers up to 800 sq. inches of cooking space
- Large capacity pan holds up to 5 lbs of charcoal
- It does not offer a reverse flow smoking option
- It has a painted body and this often flakes
5. Dyna-Glo DGSS1382VCS – Vertical for Experts
- Cooking surface: 1,382 square inches
- Size: 45 x 25 x 59 inches
- Material: Steel and chrome
- Weight: 124 pounds
The best offset smokers are not necessarily horizontal offset smokers with reverse flow features, they can also be vertical offset smokers.
Designed for experts and the most demanding smoking enthusiasts, the important feature here is the even distribution of heat because of its vertical design. This is the strength of vertical smokers over their horizontal counterparts.
This smoker offers you professional features, like up to 1,382 square inches of cooking space, cool-touch spring handles, a heavy-gauge steel body, and five chrome-plated steel cooking grates.
It also comes with a 1-year warranty, plus a color-coded temperature gauge that shows the exact temperature inside the smoker and if it’s ideal for BBQing, smoking or grilling.
It’s an interesting offer for those on the search for the best offset smokers under $1000, with an upright design and expert features.
- Features a vertical offset design which is great
- Offers a total cooking space of 1,382 sq. in.
- Comes with five chrome-plated cooking grates
- Features a color-coded temperature gauge
- It’s expensive but definitely worth it
- The design is unconventional but energy-efficient
6. Oklahoma Joe’s 13201747-05 – Extra Tough
- Cooking surface: 1,060 square inches
- Size: 45 x 26 x 26 inches
- Material: Steel pipe
- Weight: 238 pounds
Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn charcoal grill & smoker is a high-quality smoker with 1,060 square inches of cooking space, which allows you to grill, barbecue and smoke your favorite foods in style.
Compared to the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland smoker, this one is heavier, bigger, and offers more cooking space. It’s also available as either a standard smoker or as a reverse flow smoker with simple smokestack changes.
It’s made using very heavy-gauge steel and this reflects in its 250-pound weight, which makes it the heaviest in this review.
Oklahoma Joe’s is a well-known brand in the grill and smokers market, with products known to last a long time and the best reverse flow offset smokers. This one comes with a 2-year warranty but it’ll surely last longer.
- Offers 1,060 sq. inches of cooking space
- Features a heavy-gauge steel construction
- Backed by a 2-year Oklahoma Joe’s warranty
- Available in a reverse flow version
- It’s a costly smoker
- The firebox paint peels
7. Oklahoma Joe’s 17202052 – Ultimate Smoker For Experts
- Cooking surface: 879 square inches
- Size: 33 x 57 x 53 inches
- Material: Steel
- Weight: 181 pounds
From Oklahoma Joe’s comes this top-rated offset smoker: The Highland. It features a reverse flow design and offers you the opportunity to switch between traditional and reverse flow smoking easily with optional smokestack locations. A delight for many smoking experts.
You get a total of 879 sq. inches of cooking space, with 619 sq. inches available in the main chamber and 281 sq. inches in the firebox.
This smoker features a heavy-gauge all steel construction using Oklahoma Joe’s traditional 12-gauge black oil pipes. You also get a bottom shelf for storing utensils or keeping other important stuff close at hand.
The firebox also contains a large stainless steel charcoal basket designed to hold enough charcoal for long smoking hours. Another delightful feature for expert smokers.
For the reverse flow system, there are four baffles in the package. You can easily position them to channel smoke underneath or for cleaning or to make a traditional smoker.
- Expert smoker with heavy-duty construction
- Features a reverse flow system for even heat distribution
- Offers nearly 900 sq. inches of cooking space
- Backed by a 2-year warranty from the manufacturer
- This is not a cheap offset smoker but it’s worth it
- It needs an assembly before use
How to Use an Offset Smoker?
If you are new to offset smokers, then you might need a little help in understanding how to use the smoker, so you can get the best results.
Following is a step-by-step guide that you can follow for the best results.
Step 1: Prepare the Meat
Before touching the smoker, you’ll need to prepare the meat that you intend to cook first. This preparation can include trimming out fats, applying salt and spices, as well as letting the meat sit and marinade for a while.
You may also need to cut up the meat into smaller pieces, leave it in the fridge for an hour or two, or simply leave it to marinade overnight.
Step 2: Start the Fire
Charcoal fires are best started using a chimney or any similar hollow container. Place a newspaper beneath and let it heat up for about 15 minutes until the charcoals glow red and get a white ash covering.
You can now transport the coal into the firebox, which is usually the smaller of the two chambers. Open the dampers in the firebox and that of the larger cooking chamber as well. Let the fire heat up the smoker.
Step 3: Add Wood & Water
Add some hardwood pieces to increase the smoke and additionally give it a distinct flavor. Woods to choose from include hickory, apple, cherry, and mesquite.
You’ll also need to fill the included water hole up to about 3/4 full with water and place it in the firebox chamber. This water will help to cool down the smoke and prevent your meat from drying up.
Step 4: Add your Food
Once the smoker has reached the desired temperature, you can then place your meats into the cooking chamber. If you’re using a traditional offset smoker, then keep in mind that the grate near the firebox will cook the meat faster while the other slide will cook it slower but better.
If you have extra thermometers or temperature probes, place the thermometer on the cooking grate and stick the probes into the meat now, so you can better gauge when they get done.
Step 5: Monitor & Control
At this stage, all you need to do is to check the temperature inside the smoker and control it using the dampers. Open them wider to increase the temperature and shut them a little to lower the temperature.
You need to keep up a temperature between 200 and 250 degrees F, plus try to leave about an hour before checking on your meat because smoking is a slow process.
How to Clean an Offset Smoker?
You’ll need to clean your offset smoker after each smoking session for the best results. Fortunately, it’s an easy and straightforward process and the following 3-step guide shows you exactly what to do.
Keep in mind that grease is best cleaned immediately after cooking when the smoker is still warm.
Step 1: Empty the Firebox
The first step is to clean the firebox and this involves removing the grate in the firebox and letting any charcoals and ashes fall to the bottom of the firebox. Use a brush to brush everything into the ashtray.
You may want to remove any large charcoal pieces that may cause you discomfort. Open up the ashtray and dispose of the ash. Finish brushing up the firebox to make sure it’s neat.
Step 2: Wipe out the Cooking Chamber
Now is the time to clean the cooking chamber because you’ll always get fat in it after each smoking session. The cleaning process here will depend on the type of smoker you’ve got.
If you’ve got a traditional offset smoker, then simply remove the cooking grates to see the bottom of the cooking chamber. Else, you’ll need to remove the heat deflection plates as well.
Simply wipe down the bottom of the chamber and the heat deflection plates. If there are stubborn fat particles that won’t budge, try scraping them off with spatula or scraper.
Be careful when scraping these parts though, because you don’t want to damage the protective coating from the seasoning process. Also, avoid being too abrasive with these parts for the same reason.
Your food won’t touch the steel plates or the bottom next time you’re cooking, so it’s not necessary to clean these parts till they shine. Just make sure they’re neat.
Step 3: Clean the Grates
For the grates, you can either soak them in hot water or spray a degreaser to work on the grease. Give it 5 to 10 minutes and then work them with a wire brush, after which you can use a normal scourer to finish the job.
Coming to the end of this offset smokers review, you’ll now have to make your choice based on what you’ve learned here about the similarities and differences of offset smokers.
You’ve seen vertical and horizontal smokers, as well as traditional and reverse flow models, plus those that include wooden or stainless steel parts.
The final choice is now yours and you can either choose the Royal Gourmet best budget smoker with its 800 sq. inches or go for the best overall Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D smoker with its 1,890 sq. inches and removable steel ash pan.
In this post:
- What to Check Before Buying Best Offset Smoker?
- 7 Best Offset Smokers of 2021 Reviewed
- 1. Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D – Best Overall
- 2. Char-Broil 14201571 – Best For The Money
- 3. Char-Griller 1224 – Beautiful & Stylish
- 4. Royal Gourmet CC1830F – Best Budget
- 5. Dyna-Glo DGSS1382VCS – Vertical for Experts
- 6. Oklahoma Joe’s 13201747-05 – Extra Tough
- 7. Oklahoma Joe’s 17202052 – Ultimate Smoker For Experts
- How to Use an Offset Smoker?
- How to Clean an Offset Smoker?