There are many types of smokers, but not all of them give such great results of smoking as the offset smoker. It’s a type of smoker for someone with a lot of experience or courage to start gaining it.
A high quality offset smoker is a very huge expense, which is why I did an extensive research of the market in search of several models at more affordable prices. I have to admit that it’s hard to get something good at a low price but I was able to find a few options that I consider to be good.
To those who are new to the topic of BBQ, I have to warn you that an offset smoker is not an easy to use or convenient smoker, which means it might be demanding for someone just starting their adventure with smoking.
This guide will let you find the best offset smoker based on your expectations and budget, whether you have experience in BBQ or not.
I really encourage you to read my tips in the “buyer’s guide” section, which will let you get to know the offset smoker much better.
Note: The ranking deliberately does not include high-end offset smokers due to their very high prices. My guide was made mostly for the purpose of finding the best possible offset smokers at the lowest possible prices.
Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker
Char-Griller Smokin Pro
Oklahoma Joes Highland
Best Offset Smoker Reviews - ( Updated List )
1. Best Overall Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker
It doesn’t look like a typical offset smoker, but in reality it works under the same principle when it comes to heat distribution all over the structure.
In this guide I will describe the standard version, which is the narrower one that offers 784 square inches of cooking area.
Let me just remind that the more demanding people can get the wider version that offers whole 1890 square inches of smoking area !
I really like the size of the wood/charcoal container, it is big enough to fit really huge pieces of wood.
Right below the charcoal chamber is located a deep ash tray that makes cleaning much easier – I really liked that solution as well.
When it comes to the quality of workmanship, you won’t find a better offset smoker at this kind of price. I know that it doesn’t look like a traditional offset smoker, but let me remind you once again that the air flow and the way it works are identical to a typical offset smoker. The lower air vent is located in the furnace, while the other one on the top of the smoker’s main chamber.
What I like:
What I don't like:
In practice, Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker worked great, maintaining a fixed temperature without problem. I was pretty impressed with the wood/charcoal chamber, which allows to lay the briquettes tightly, and then fill the space with thick pieces of wood.
Such combination allows to easily maintain a stable temperature and generates a lot of smoke, which has an invaluable impact on the meat. In the end, the results of my smoking were so good that, when writing this review, I am still impressed with what this smoker has to offer for this kind of money.
2. Best Budget Pick Char-Griller Smokin Pro
An offset smoker with a classic structure for those with a very limited budget. If you want to feel what it’s like to grill or smoke meat on an offset smoker without spending a fortune, this is a perfect solution.
A high quality offset smoker will cost you at least several times that much which can definitely scare away beginners.
Char- Griller Smokin Pro is available at a price that is very attractive for beginners, but keep in mind that it is not a smoker made of high-quality materials.
The low price is a result of poor quality of materials, which is why I believe that it is only an investment for a few seasons if you are less demanding and want to learn the offset smoker cooking style.
Smokin Pro makes it possible to create conditions for really good BBQ, but in order to increase its effectiveness, I suggest making some modifications.
First of all, it’s a good idea to seal the entire structure from the inside using a BBQ gasket. To a large degree, it will eliminate most of smoke leakages and ensure easier control and temperature stabilization.
What I like:
What I don't like:
Let me warn you once more, Char-Griller Smokin Pro is an offset smoker for beginners or those with a very limited budget. It’s a smoker that makes it possible to prepare great BBQ especially after making a few modifications ( sealing it up ).
When buying it, however, one has to get prepared for many imperfections and a pretty poor quality of materials, which is understandable at this kind of price. Real BBQ enthusiasts will say that this thing is a piece of junk but you have to take into account that Char-Griller Smokin Pro costs several times less than a medium class offset smoker.
3. Oklahoma Joes Highland Offset Smoker
Another good offset smoker for beginners who are still learning and don’t have very high expectations.
In terms of quality I think that it can last for quite a few seasons which is a good result for this price range.
It looks great and under the lid you will find 619 square inches of the main cooking area.
You can grill and smoke on it but I would advise against the former as it is a smoker made mostly with smoking in mind.
If you want to grill then buy a much cheaper dedicated charcoal grill such as weber premium kettle.
It works well when smoking in temperatures of 225-275 degrees when the weather is stable, but you have to keep a few important things in mind. First and foremost, use a decent smoker thermometer as the difference in temperature between the space around the furnace and the other side of the smoker might reach up to several dozen degrees. You can solve this problem by making certain modifications like buying the right plate ( metal heat deflector ).
You have to take into account that an offset smoker available at this kind of price is not made of high quality materials and thick steel. Sadly, if you want to feel high quality in an offset smoker then you have to save up at least several times as much as in case of the Oklahoma Joes Highland model.
What I like:
What I don't like:
I think that in the past Oklahoma Joes used to represent a much better level in terms of quality.
These days it is an offset smoker for those who want to try this style of BBQ without spending a fortune. You have to forgive it a few imperfections and below-best quality, but all of that is fully adequate to the price.
First of all, what is an offset smoker ?
It’s a classic smoker with a unique design that is perfectly familiar to all BBQ enthusiasts. The structure of this smoker can be divided into two very important chambers. The first of them is the furnace where, as the name suggests, wood/charcoal is burned. The other chamber, on the other hand ( much bigger one ) is where food is smoked.
An offset smoker, thanks to combining different types of fuel ( wood and charcoal ) and great air flow, gives great results of smoking with a rich, smoky flavor.
A good offset smoker is one that is made of high quality materials and thick steel. Such structure holds heat well and allows to easily maintain a stable temperature even in bad weather.
Sadly, a high quality offset smoker is a very huge expense ( one of the most expensive types of smokers ) which is why my ranking only features the inexpensive models for the sake of those who wish to try cooking on an offset smoker without spending a fortune.
Tips for buying an offset smoker
Budget – The price range really is very huge, you can buy a very cheap offset smoker for about $200 and a high quality model for as much as a few thousand. In my guide I only featured items from the lower and medium price tier so think seriously about what your expectations are.
Size – Certain smaller models won’t fit bigger chunks of meat such as ribs, so you’ll have to cut them in half. A bigger smoker, on the other hand, usually requires a little more fuel and it’s harder to control the temperature with it in bad weather conditions.
Construction Type – You have different types of offset smokers to choose from, everyone knows the classic horizontal design, but some manufacturers have introduced vertical offset smokers that are also great. What matters the most is for your smoker to have independent doors to the furnace chamber and to the food chamber.
Quality of materials, steel, paint – If you expect the best results of smoking and effectiveness from your smoker then you’ll need a model made of high quality materials. Such smoker is much better at holding heat, has a much easier temperature control and obviously is much more durable. There is one problem with such offset smokers though, they cost a whole lot.
Upsides of the Offset Smoker
Flavor – You can use different materials as fuel, in most cases a mix of briquettes and wood is used. Such combination is much more effective in terms of burning time and has a great impact on food flavor.
Versatility – Despite the fact that the offset smoker was mostly designed with smoking in mind, with use of direct heat you can also use it for grilling. I personally advise against such ideas though, if you’re thinking about grilling then just buy a dedicated charcoal grill, which really doesn’t cost much.
Traditional BBQ – Classic offset smokers have been known for very long now. Their structure is so simple that with the right tools and materials you can make such smoker by yourself. It is reminiscent of traditional BBQ where food relies very heavily on how you perform the smoking process. When cooking with an offset smoker, you have to put in a lot of work and time for everything to go as intended.
Lot of space – The offset smoker is characterized by its very large cooking area. There are many different sizes so you have a lot to choose from depending on your needs.
Style and design – You can’t deny that the offset smoker has style and looks great. It will provide you with high quality BBQ, but it will also add a lot to the appearance of your backyard.
Downsides of the Offset Smoker
Isn’t easy to use – If you’re just starting on your journey with BBQ then let me warn you right here that the offset smoker is not a convenient and maintenance-free type of smoker. It requires experience and skills in order to prepare great BBQ, there are no shortcuts. If you love BBQ and it is a lot of fun to you then okay, but if you’re looking for a simple and easy way to smoke meat then you can forget about the offset smoker.
Time Consuming – All the activities related to smoking are very time-consuming. For example, getting the wood/charcoal burning, temperature control, adjusting the air vents, stabilizing the temperature, controlling the amount of fuel or simply cleaning up when smoking is finished – all of that takes a lot of time.
Price – For the price of one high quality offset smoker you can buy even a few decent smokers of other type ( charcoal smoker, electric smoker, propane gas smoker or even wood pellet smoker ). The starting price for even a medium class model is pretty high, which is why the offset smoker mostly reminds me of decided people who know what they want.
Takes a lot of space – Large smoking area is nice but you have to take into account how much space such smoker takes in the backyard. If you already have several other smokers and a small backyard then you might have a little problem with finding a spot for an offset smoker.
Useful things for an offset smoker
There are separately sold accessories and BBQ tools that make the smoking process much better or easier. The advantage of such tools is that you can use them with every type of smoker, or even with other kitchen appliances.
Below I will recommend you a few essential tools that I believe everyone who thinks about smoking or grilling should own. They are really a good thing to have, especially that they don’t cost that much.
I will also include useful information and links to full articles on a particular topic.
Smoker Thermometer – The thermometer on the lid can only be used for a rough estimate of the temperature. If you want to know the actual temperature inside the smoker then buy a dedicated smoker thermometer, preferably with at least two probes. In such a big smoker the temperature might vary a lot inside the food chamber, especially in a lower-end offset smoker.
The biggest advantage of every type of BBQ thermometer is the ability to instantly read the temperature inside meat. There is nothing worse than serving a great looking meat that turns out to be raw on the inside.
Take a look at digital meat thermometers with Wi-Fi technology, which makes it possible to control the temperature on a smarphone screen while away from the smoker. Certain models will notify you with an alarm when the temperature inside the meat is right.
Charcoal chimney starter – Getting wood or charcoal burning is something many people find very tedious, difficult, messy and time-consuming. Plenty of people choose different types of lighter fluid, which are the worst thing to start a fire with.
Avoid all kinds of firelighters that contain chemicals, not only will you taste it in the meat but it is actually a more expensive solution in the long run compared to other, simpler methods.
The best bbq tool to start a fire is the charcoal chimney starter, the structure of which allows to get a large amount of briquettes burning in a very short time and evenly, using a few sheet of paper to start the fire. It doesn’t cost much and is 100% free from chemicals and much better than using a lighter fluid.
The right fuel – Speaking of getting the charcoal burning, I invite you to check out the article on lump charcoal vs briquettes. In it, you will read about the most important differences between them and you will find out in which situations briquettes will be much better and in which it is lump charcoal.
Is the offset smoker good for beginners ?
Sadly, it is not a convenient nor easy to use smoker, it is something more for those who have experience with BBQ or are ambitious and not interested in an maintenance-free electric smoker.
It doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t recommend offset smoker to beginners. I just want to warn you what cooking with this type of smoker is like in practice.
It is also not a smoker that forgives mistakes, but once you figure it out you need to know that no other type of smoker will ever be a challenge to you.
You have a problem choosing the right type of smoker ?
I have prepared a comprehensive guide for you where I have picked several best smokers mostly used for smoking. I invite you to check out this article, in which you will learn the most important facts on the most popular types of smokers and find the best models from each category.