Are you looking for an offset smoker to level up your backyard BBQs?
You’re in the right place!
In this TheGrillingDad.com guide, you’ll learn:
- What to look for when buying one
- How to clean and maintain them
- Our top 5 offset smokers
- And much more!
I have used various different offset smokers, and I’m confident that I’ve seen them all — from the most expensive offset smokers to the most innovative models on the market today.
My experience will help you find the right offset smoker so you can enjoy your investment for years to come.
I understand how challenging choosing an offset smoker is, which is why I’m here to help.
This article covers everything you need to know about offset smokers so you can quickly narrow down your options and buy a model that suits your lifestyle, budget, and cooking requirements.
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Top 5 Best Offset Smokers
In a hurry? Check out our top 5 offset smokers! Keep reading to discover more about our top picks.
- Best Overall: Yoder Offset
- Best Runner-Up: Char-Griller Smokin Pro
- Top Budget Option: Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker
- Best Versatile Option: Royal Gourmet Offset Smoker
- Most Innovative Smoker: Dyna-Glo Vertical Charcoal Smoker
- Best Reverse Flow Option: Oklahoma Joe’s Reverse Flow
Our Comparison of the Best Offset Smokers
|Offset Smoker||Cooking Surface Area (in)||Weight (lbs)||Easy for Beginner Use?||Price|
|Char Griller Smokin Pro||830||118||Yes||$285.51|
|Char-Broil American Gourmet||430||38||Yes||$130.00|
|Dyna-Glo Signature Series||1382||125||No||$400.00|
Best Overall: Loaded Wichita
- Extensive cooking space
- High-class features
- Powerhouse smoker for those looking to do some serious smoking
- Not for beginners
- Heavy and difficult to move once set up
The Loaded Wichita is best for those with a little more experience in smoking and who are comfortable handling the offset system as it is one of the largest on our list!
It boasts over 1600 square inches of cooking space, ideal for a competition or a local block party. But, believe it or not, this isn’t even the biggest offset smoker on our list! Yoder has many larger models for those looking for a commercial-grade smoker.
With premium features like a cooking door counterweight, heat management plate, and second-level slide-out shelf, you are set when it comes to this smoker.
There’s also a dual damper draft control system to take charge of the heat and thin blue smoke additions to your grilled items. The Loaded Wichita will move experts to the next level and assist backyard chefs with taking the next step in smoking their experience level.
Specifications for Loaded Wichita
- Cooking surface: 1,610 square inches
- Dimensions: 77.9 x 58.2 x 34.5 inches
- Weight: 591 pounds
- Heating element: Wood
What we like:
- Extensive space: Over 1,600 square inches of grilling room provides plenty of space to cook for large parties.
- High-class standard features: Typical add-on features come standard in the Loaded Wichita.
- Powerhouse: This grill is a powerhouse and will get the job done.
What could be better:
- Advanced use: Users must have more experience than a beginner to use.
- Heavy: The product is almost 600 pounds, making it tricky to move from one location to another (and you’ll need a friend to help!)
Best Runner-Up: Char Griller Smokin Pro
The Char-Griller Smokin’ Pro has quickly become a favorite among many novices and expert grillers because it’s budget-friendly and has room for many modifications.
- Can be used as a charcoal grill with its adjustable charcoal tray
- It’s priced under $300
- Even with their cover on it, the paint was peeling after a few uses
- You may want to do some modifications (YouTube can help)
If you don’t mind making a few changes to make your offset smoker more functional, the Char-Griller Smokin’ Pro is the perfect investment for you.
For starters, you’ll likely need to buy a brand new BBQ thermometer because the built-in thermometers in this unit aren’t great.
You might also need to create your own baffle using scrap metal to improve the temperature distribution of the offset smoker.
Despite needing some quick modifications for my standards, this is still the best offset smoker under $300 you can buy.
What we like:
- Budget price: Compared to other cheaper models, the Char-Griller Smokin’ Pro stands out because it’s still high-performing.
- Can be used as a grill: You can use the Char-Griller Smokin’ Pro as a full charcoal grill because it comes with an adjustable charcoal tray. This feature isn’t available in other cheaper offset smokers.
What could be better:
- Paint peeling: After a few uses, the paint from the Char-Griller Smokin’ Pro can start to peel. Fortunately, this is a minor problem that can be solved fast.
- Modifications needed: If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll likely want to get a new thermometer and/or create a new baffle to improve the temperature control.
Best Budget: Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker
If you’re looking for an offset smoker for around $300, the Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker should be your top choice.
- Easy to clean
- Take it anywhere; extremely portable
- Huge cooking surface area
- You’d have to make some modifications if you want to make it closer to the high-end options out there
It’s a combination offset smoker, BBQ, and charcoal grill that lets you cook low and slow. It also has adjustable porcelain-coated cooking grates that can make smoking and cooking even easier.
With its multiple dampers that adjust airflow and control heat, the Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker is surely one of the best investments you’ll ever make!
What we like:
- Easy to clean: You won’t have problems cleaning the Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker because the firebox features a clean-out door for easy ash removal.
- Portable: The Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker sits on two stationary legs and large two wheels, making it mobile and easy to maneuver anywhere in your yard, deck, or patio.
- Large cooking capacity: With a 290-square-inch cooking surface in the main chamber and a 140-square-inch cooking surface in the firebox chamber, you have more than enough space to cook 18 burgers!
What could be better:
- May need some modifications: The Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker may be considered a hobbyist smoker, thus needing a few tweaks if you want it to work more along the lines of a high-end smoker.
Best Versatile Option: Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker
Since smoking meats takes a lot of time and patience, it’s best to get a versatile smoker that can meet all your demands.
Enter the Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker, which is both a smoker and charcoal grill.
- Great storage and prep areas
- Lots of air control for accurate temps
- Wheels make it portable
- It’s tough to put together solo, so grab a friend to save on frustration
This 811-square-inch steel smoker comes with double-split porcelain-enameled wire cooking grates that help make the meat more tender. The double grates also let you easily add the charcoal even while grilling.
Additionally, the Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker features an adjustable heat control system where you can raise or lower the charcoal pan into two different levels, giving you control over the distance between the food and charcoal for better grilling. It also has a chrome-plated swing-away warming rack that defrosts the meat and keeps the food warm for more intense flavors.
What we like:
- Offers storage: Looking for a place to store your seasonings and utensils? The Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker has a large steel side table that can house your seasonings, as well as three integrated S-hooks for hanging your grilling tools.
- 2-in-1 control: For more consistent grilling, the Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker has a sliding air vent that can control the airflow and stoke the fire through its side charcoal access door.
- Portable: With two durable wheels, the Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker can be easily transported anywhere, whether you want to host your BBQ in the garden, patio, or backyard.
What could be better:
- Difficult to assemble: When putting together the Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker, you might need two people to work on it. Additionally, you might need to drill holes in some places to properly latch the other parts.
Most Innovative Smoker: Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker and Grill
For that classic smokehouse flavor, the Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker and Grill features a low and slow smoker body that can let you cook a variety of meats, from briskets to ribs, burgers, and brats.
- Durably made out of heavy-gauge steel
- You can smoke anything with the flexible grate options
- Everything is removable making it easy to clean
- It leaks some smoke around the door, which makes it tough to hold temps in the winter
With its 1,382-square-inch cooking space and five chrome-plated cooking grates, you have more than enough space to enjoy a barbecue for the whole family!
Aside from its large cooking space, the Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker and Grill also has a stainless-steel temperature gauge that indicates the “Smoke Zone” and the “Grill Zone” for the ideal cooking temperature. With this charcoal smoker and grill, you can definitely level up your backyard grilling experience!
What we like:
- Made with heavy-gauge steel: With its heavy-gauge steel body, this multifunctional smoker is durable and provides maximum heat transfer.
- Flexible: The Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker and Grill pre-installed sausage hooks, offering more cooking flexibility. It also has a cool-touch spring handle that provides safer access to food.
- Easy to clean: The removable offset charcoal grate and ash pan lets you easily access the fuel and dispose of ash without the mess.
What could be better:
- Chipping and rusting: After using the Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker and Grill for some time, the paint might chip and rust.
Best Offset Smoker: Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker
If you want a high-quality offset smoker that will last a lifetime, look no further than the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland.
- Heavy gauge steel gives it a great traditional look
- Large bottom shelf for plenty of storage
- Evenly distributes heat
- May require sealant to prevent air leaks eventually
As the best offset smoker under $1,000, this beast is made from heavy-gauge steel and offers stability and great heat retention.
Another noteworthy feature of the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland is its porcelain-coated grill gates and 619 square inches of cooking space. It also has 281 square inches of grates in the firebox chamber.
What we like:
- Aesthetics: If you want an offset smoker that creates a lasting and positive impression, the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland is your best bet. This offset smoker has a very traditional look that is sure to impress your guests!
- Practicality: The manufacturer of the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland didn’t compromise practicality just to provide better aesthetics. This model has a large bottom shelf where you can store extra wood and cooking utensils and large wagon-style wheels for easier movement.
- Even heat distribution: The Oklahoma Joe’s Highland has four baffles that even out the temperature inside the chamber. With this feature, you can adjust the temperature in your cooking chamber from 5 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
What could be better:
- Requires a sealant: You need to use a sealant to prevent leaks. Fortunately, this is only a minor problem that’s both easy and cheap to fix.
What is an Offset Smoker?
Born from Texas oil fields, offset smokers have slowly gained popularity worldwide.
Also known as stick burners, barrel smokers, pipe smokers, or horizontal smokers, offset smokers smoke food inside a long horizontal chamber as smoke wood and charcoal are burnt inside a firebox attached to one side.
Most offset smokers today have shelves inside the cooking chamber so that you can smoke multiple racks of ribs, pork shoulders, and briskets simultaneously.
This is one of the reasons why offset smokers are ideal for individuals who often serve food for groups.
What To Look for in the Top Offset Smokers
One general rule of thumb to follow when looking for offset smokers is to list down all of the features you’re looking for — may it be the manufacturer’s warranty, overall structure, or price. These can save you from the heartbreak of looking into offset smokers and later realizing that these don’t suit any of your requirements.
If you’re clueless about what features to consider when buying an offset smoker, this section is for you. I’ve listed all of the things you need to look into before you buy your offset smoker:
- Heavy Gauge Metal
- Quality Seals and Damper
- Temperature Gauges
- Firebox Size
- Cooking Chamber Size
- Ease of Cleaning
Heavy Gauge Metal
If you want to retain more heat and smoke your meat in an even cooking environment, look for an offset smoker with a heavy metal gauge. Ideally, you should look for a model with a gauge metal of at least ¼ inches thick. An offset smoker with this feature isn’t susceptible to warping and the adverse effects of different weather conditions.
Quality Seals and Damper
Look for an offset smoker with quality seals as these features enable you to have greater temperature control, reduce fuel usage, and improve smoke retention. Don’t forget to inspect the seals if there are any gaps. The dampers of the offset smoker should also open and close easily.
Frequently opening and closing the lid of your smoker to check if the chamber is hot enough can be stressful. Avoid this kind of hassle by choosing an offset smoker with temperature gauges located outside of the chamber. With this feature, you can see any temperature differences without babysitting your offset smoker.
Does the offset smoker have strong wheels and legs? Is it constructed using high-quality materials? When looking for an offset smoker, always check its sturdiness. You should purchase a durable offset smoker so you can get a return from your investment and smoke meat for years.
If you don’t have any covered space in your lawn or backyard, look for an offset smoker that comes with a cover. This will prevent pests, dust, and other debris from accumulating in your offset smoker and protect it from heat and moisture.
Regardless of how durable an offset smoker is, it can still develop problems over time. When you buy one that doesn’t come with a warranty, you’ll likely spend a lot of money on its repairs or replacements.
One of the most important factors to consider when buying an offset smoker is the warranty. A warranty can help you save tons of money if your offset smoker shows issues due to the manufacturer’s faults.
Buying an offset smoker that comes with a firebox that’s too small or too big for your chosen fuel source can cause a lot of stress. How can you smoke meat if you can’t fit split wood inside the firebox of your offset smoker?
Always check the firebox of the offset smoker you’re eyeing to buy. Ideally, you should choose one that has a firebox large enough to fit your preferred fuel source.
Cooking Chamber Size
Buying an offset smoker with the same cooking capacity as your current griller or barbeque is a wasted investment. If you’re buying an offset griller to upgrade your barbecue, make sure that you buy one with a spacious cooking chamber.
Selecting an offset smoker with a large cooking chamber allows you to cook huge quantities of meat at the same time. This will speed up your cooking time, especially if you’re fond of serving smoked meat to large groups of people.
Ease of Cleaning
Food can build up on your offset grill quickly, which is why you need to buy one that’s easy to clean. Aside from reducing the lifespan of your offset grill, falling to clean your smoker can also encourage the growth of bacteria, which can contaminate your food.
Look for an offset smoker with removable cooking plates and ash clean-out tools as these will make cleaning a breeze. An offset smoker with a drain or plug in its chamber is also a must as you can simply hose out the inside to clean it.
If you love to camp and grill outdoors, it’s best to choose an offset smoker that’s lightweight and easy to move around. Portability is an essential factor to consider because it affects your ability to use your offset smoker, especially when you’re always spending time outdoors.
Who Should Buy an Offset Smoker?
Offset smokers are amazing when it comes to cooking smoked meats. Plus they just look cool in your backyard–but this doesn’t mean you should buy one.
Offset smokers are for serious smokers. As you have noticed, they aren’t cheap. They can also be a bit tricky to get the hang of if you are a novice. But if you need to cook for a crowd, an offset smoker is the number one way to cook for all your friends and family in one go.
Remember, offset smokers are not lightweight nor are they portable. So if you want to take your smoker on the go, this is not the appliance to buy. Most offset smokers are so large there are trailer hookups just for them!
Also, keep in mind that offset smokers are only for low and slow cooking. If you also want to make steaks and burgers, then we recommend looking into a pellet grill which will allow you to cook both low and slow and at high temperatures with ease.
Are Cheap Offset Smokers Good?
In short, no. Do not skimp on buying an offset smoker as this is a piece of equipment you will use for hours each day for years to come.
Poorly made (cheap) offset smokers do not work well and are even more difficult to use than the nicely made offset smokers. Plus, cheap models can have serious flaws that can make them dangerous to operate.
In other words, you will get what you pay for when you buy an offset smoker.
How Do You Clean and Maintain Offset Smokers?
Neglecting the maintenance of your offset smoker can lead to a shorter lifespan. Food and grease build-up at the bottom of the grill can become a fire hazard.
Poor maintenance will make your offset smoker prone to germs and bacteria, which can adversely affect the taste of your meat and the safety of the people who will eat it.
For your offset smoker to last long and remain safe, follow these maintenance tips:
- Make sure to remove the ashes from the offset smoker after every use. Ash holds humidity that can eventually lead to rusting.
- Use a damp cloth to remove any spilled marinades or sauces from the surface of your offset smoker. Use force when needed to remove spills to ensure that your offset smoker is spotless and odor-free.
- Using a nylon bristle brush, carefully scrape off your grill grates after every use. It’s best if you do this the moment the smoker has cooled down to prevent any leftover food or debris from hardening.
- You can use a putty knife to remove any bits of food or grease from the cooking chamber.
- If you see any spots of rust on your offset smoker, buff them out using steel wool.
My Overall #1 Rated Pick
The Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker tops my list of the best offset smokers because it has all the features you need to cook meats!
One of the best features of this offset smoker is its large charcoal basket that provides a more efficient burn and makes cleaning easier. Made by one of the world’s most sought-after brands, the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker is all you’ll ever need to produce juicy, Texas-style grilled meats.
With the number of features it offers, it’s no surprise that the demand for the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker is high today. Make sure to order the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker from Amazon before stocks run out!
Tips For Using an Offset Smoker
Using an offset smoker isn’t for beginners and it often takes much more skill than using a pellet grill. Below are our tips for getting started with a pellet grill.
1. Try a Charcoal/Wood Combo
We love smoking over charcoal and we love smoking over wood. Try a combination of the two to get that perfect smoky flavor in your meats.
2. Don’t Overdo it
With an offset smoker it’s easy to get a lot of smoke going into your meat. While we love a good smoke flavor, too much of a good thing is, well, too much of a good thing. Until you get the hang of your offset smoker, take it easy with the smoke.
3. Check Every Piece of Meat
Offset smokers give you room to cook a lot of items at once, but not all sides of the offset smoker are created equal. Don’t just test one chicken breast, rather you should check them all.
This is advised because the offset smoker can vary widely in temperature, sometimes as much as 80°F from side to side. That means even if one chicken breast is done, one on the other side could be raw!
Final Thoughts on Offset Smokers
As I’ve shown in this article, finding the best offset smoker doesn’t have to be challenging. As long as you know what factors to consider, you won’t have any problems finding the perfect offset smoker for you.
Once you’ve purchased your offset smoker, don’t get too excited about using it that you forget about your safety. Yes, showcasing your culinary talents with an offset smoker is always fun, but neglecting your own safety during the process can make the experience tragic.
There are plenty of easy safety precautions you should observe when using your offset smoker.
- For one, you should use long-handled utensils to avoid burns as you’re cooking.
- Second, wait for your smoker to cool down before cleaning it.
- Third, use a meat thermometer before serving any food from your smoker to ensure that these aren’t undercooked.
As long as you follow these tips, you can enjoy your offset smoker and remain safe!
Other Smoker Considerations
- Best Smokers for Beginners
- Best Pellet Grills
- Best Gas Grills Under $300
- Best Flat Top Grills
- Best Propane Smokers
- Best Smoker Grill Combos
- Best Electric Smokers
If you want to learn more about grilling, check out these other helpful resources!