Best Offset Smokers in 2022

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Products Updated June 27, 2022
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What are the features that make for the best offset smoker? Whether you’re cooking with wood chips or charcoal, these excellent barbecue tools feature a lot of cooking surfaces, adjustable heat control, and long-lasting durability.

If you’ve been wanting to go beyond cooking on the best grills and into the world of smoking food or you’re simply replacing a worn-out smoker, then the best offset smokers in this guide are an excellent choice for you. They feature a minimal learning curve and plenty of functionality for novices and pitmasters alike.

Keep reading to learn all about getting the best offset smoker for the money, what sets them apart from traditional grills, and how you can find the best one for all of your smoking needs.

Top Offset Smokers

 #1   Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy Duty Charcoal Smoker

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: Its cooking and grilling space is quite large, and its pull-out ash drawer makes it pretty easy to clean. Its firebox is conveniently big for easily stoking the fire, and the analog temperature gauge gives an idea of the ideal cooking temperature.

Pros
  • Large cooking and grilling space
  • Has a pull out ash drawer for easy cleaning
  • Analog temperature gauge that indicates ideal cooking temperatures
Cons
  • No side shelves

The Dyna-Glow Signature Series Vertical Smoker has been praised for being a durable, space-saving option that is ideal for people that is perfect, especially for users who have small backyards. This smoker has a heavy-duty body, which allows it to function efficiently even under different weather conditions. It has a relatively big firebox for conveniently stoking the fire and also has a pull-out drawer attached to it that makes it easy to take out and dump any accumulated ash. The smoker is also pretty easy to clean since it also features five removable racks, and both the heat and smoke produced can be controlled by adjusting the hampers. Still, there aren’t any extra shelves for the convenient placement of tools or other ingredients.

This smoker is perfect for cooking large quantities of meat since its racks provide up to 1382 sq inches of cooking space. It also comes with a sausage hook inside it to cook sausages to perfection, and its firebox has a decent 284 sq inches of cooking space that can be used for charcoal grilling. Its analog temperature gauge has Grill Zone and Smoke Zone indicators to give users an idea of the ideal cooking temperature, and its cool-touch spring handle allows for easier handling of food.

 #2   Char-Boil 12201570-A1 American Gourmet Offset Smoker

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Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: Weighing only 38 pounds, it is pretty lightweight, and since it has two wheels in place of stationery legs, it is also pretty easy to maneuver. Its compact size makes it ideal for small spaces, and it also has a temperature gauge so that owners know how much heat is being produced.

Pros
  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver
  • Has an integrated temperature gauge
  • Compact size
Cons
  • Paint peeling

This Char-Boil American gourmet offset smoker is the perfect alternative for anyone who does not have a huge backyard space or users who would not mind doing some light cooking. It offers 290 sq inches of cooking area in its main chamber and 140 sq inches in its firebox chamber for a total of 430 sq inches. It has also been deemed perfect for beginners since it is pretty easy to use, and since it is built with two stationary legs and two large wheels and weighs only 38 pounds, it is pretty easy to maneuver. However, previous owners have reported multiple instances of paint peeling.

This smoker also offers complete heat and smoke control since multiple dampers can be opened or closed to adjust airflow, and since it also has an integrated temperature gauge, owners will be able to monitor just how much heat is being used for cooking their meat. Thanks to the clean-out door on this smoker, cleaning out the ash is pretty simple to do, and since it also features a side shelf, owners will have a spot to place their sauces, utensils, or other ingredients.

 #3   Royal Gourmet CC1830SC Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker

Award: BEST FOR STORAGE SPACE

WHY WE LIKE IT: It has a variety of different storage options and also has two wheels that make it pretty easy to maneuver and move around. Its charcoal pan is height adjustable for heat control, and it also offers a large cooking surface.

Pros
  • Plenty of extra storage options
  • Two-level adjustable charcoal pan for heat control
  • Two wheels that make it easier to move around
Cons
  • Multiple complaints about paint peeling

This charcoal grill offset smoker from Royal Gourmet is a well-built unit that offers a generous 811 sq inches of cooking space. This consists of 443 sq inches provided by its steel wire cooking grates, 184 sq inches courtesy of its chrome-plated warming rack, and an offset smoker that also offers up to 184 sq inches. Its lid-mounted thermometer gauge allows owners to keep an eye on the cooking temperature, and its two-level height-adjustable charcoal pan can hold up to 4.4 pounds of charcoal. There’s also a shelf that provides extra storage space and a front and side shelf for placing plates or other cooking ingredients on the bottom. Unfortunately, there have been complaints about its paint peeling.

This charcoal grill also features cool-touch spring handles that are safe to grip, and right underneath its side shelf, it also has three “S” hooks that owners can use to hang things like tongs or other utensils. To make it easy to move around, the charcoal grill is fitted with two durable wheels, and since its charcoal pan is also height adjustable, owners will have a decent amount of control over how much heat is being used.

 #4   Outsunny 48-inch Steel Portable Backyard Charcoal BBQ Grill and Offset Smoker

Award: BEST FOR MANEUVERABILITY

WHY WE LIKE IT: Weighing only 37 pounds, it is pretty light and easy to maneuver. It also has ample storage options and hints of wooden finishing that add to its appeal.

Pros
  • Eyecatching wooden design
  • Ample storage options
  • Lightweight and easily maneuverable
Cons
  • Questionable build quality

This 48-inch steel portable backyard charcoal grill and offset smoker is a uniquely designed smoker grill with eyecatching wooden handles that are pretty cool to the touch and a lid-mounted thermometer through which users can monitor the current cooking temperature. Weighing only 37 pounds, the charcoal grill shouldn’t be tough to lift, and since it also has a pair of wheels, moving it around should be a breeze. The grill also has ample storage space since it features a bottom metal grating, a side shelf, and a front-mounted shelf. Unfortunately, some previous users have raised concerns about its build quality.

This charcoal grill also has a side vent built into it to increase airflow, and buyers won’t necessarily need any help with putting it together since it is also pretty easy to assemble. Its smoker firebox helps offset heat and add smoke flavor, and with a working temperature of 100 to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, it gets hot enough to cook pretty quickly.

 #5   Z Grills ZPG-450A 2020 Upgrade Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

Award: BEST FOR LONG COOKING TIME

WHY WE LIKE IT: It uses pellets as a fuel source, and when full, its 15-pound pellet hopper guarantees up to 15 hours of cooking time. It also has a front and side shelf for easy food prep and is made out of a heavy-duty stainless steel material that is corrosion-resistant.

Pros
  • Offers up to 15 hours of cooking time
  • Heavy duty, corrosion resistant construction
  • Ships with a free grill cover
Cons
  • Not all pellets might be used when cooking

This wood pellet grill and smoker from Z grills is a premium 7 in 1 BBQ grill that is only available in a premium bronze color and offers up to 450 sq ft of cooking space. The grill features a 15-pound pellet hopper that’ll have it cooking for up to 15 hours and is a perfect solution for users who would want to braise, roast, smoke, grill, sear, or BBQ their grill. Starting it up is a lot easier than a charcoal grill, and since it adds pellets as needed to regulate the temperature, users won’t have to keep checking or changing its heat levels. It can reach temperatures of up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and its high-grade stainless steel body is bound to have it stay in good shape for an extended period. Still, there’s a chance that not all the pellets will be used, and if not, they’re pretty difficult to get to.

Being a pellet grill, owners won’t have to deal with large blocks of charcoal, and since it has a pretty sturdy construction, it is bound to stay in good shape for a lengthy period. Its 450 sq inch cooking space means that owners will be able to cook 18 burgers, four racks of ribs, or three chickens. It also features digital automatic temperature control and has two wheels that make moving it around easier. This Z grill also comes with a waterproof grill cover, has front and side shelves for food prep, and is pretty easy to assemble.

 #6   Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker

Award: BEST FOR EASE OF OPERATION

WHY WE LIKE IT: It is very easy to operate since all owners have to do is put in their meat, plug it into an electricity source and have it roast the meat for a specific duration. It has four racks and comes with a wood chip loader.

Pros
  • Very easy to operate
  • Comes with a wood chip loader
  • Very easy to clean
Cons
  • No shelves for convenient food prep

The Masterbuilt MB20071117 is an electric smoker that features a digital control for users who would prefer to have a solution that doesn’t take up a lot of space. Its digital controls can be set for either cooking temperature or time, and since it also comes with a patented wood chip loader, owners will be able to add wood chips without necessarily opening the smoker door. Inside, its got four smoking racks, which provide enough cooking space to roast two full turkeys, six chicken, four rib racks, or four pork butts. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feature any shelves for more convenient food prep.

Weighing almost 46 pounds, this electric smoker is pretty easy to move around, and since it is insulated, all the heat is trapped inside for a proper cooking experience. Because of this, it can maintain a set temperature until cooking is done, and since there is no charcoal or pellet ash to remove, cleaning it is very easy.

Beginner’s Guide to Offset Smokers

What Are Offset Smokers?

An offset smoker is a piece of barbequing equipment used to smoke different types of meats and vegetables. This design originates from the setup of traditional barbecue pits, where a fire is built in a separate firebox chamber, and the smoke from that fire is directed into an adjoining box where the food is cooked.

The offset design of these kinds of smokers emulates this same idea, just on a smaller scale. These units feature a main cooking chamber and an offset firebox attached to the side of the cooking chamber. This layout creates distance between the heat source and the food, which is perfect for cooking meat slowly. It also allows the smoke from the fire to infuse the food with more flavor.

Offset Smokers vs Traditional Grills

When comparing offset smokers to traditional grills, there are plenty of similarities and differences. For starters, both barbequing tools look very similar to all but a trained eye, as they are both essentially metal boxes with a heat source that cooks food. However, there are subtle differences between the two options.

With traditional grills, you typically only have one central component, which houses both the cooking chamber and the heat source. With smoker grills, you have two main components, the central cooking chamber and the attached firebox, which act as the heat source.

These design differences are important because they have a direct impact on the overall functionality between offset smokers and traditional grills. Since leading charcoal smokers use an indirect heat source, they cook the food much more slowly, which allows for much more tender meat. Plus, the smoker is better at infusing the food with more flavor than grills.

How Offset Smokers Work

Like traditional grills, offset smokers feature both a heat source and a cooking chamber. The heat source for smokers is found in the firebox, which is attached to the side of the main cooking chamber. You create heat in the firebox by lighting fire to either solely wood or a combination of charcoal and wood.

Once the fire is going, both heat and smoke flow into the cooking chamber through an opening that connects the two components. You can control the amount of smoke and heat entering the cooking chamber via both intake and exhaust vents. Opening an intake vent increases the amount of air coming into the firebox, which increases the overall heat you can generate. Conversely, opening an exhaust vent decreases the amount of heat and smoke inside the cooking chamber.

In the cooking chamber, you’ll typically have a rack where you place the food that you want to cook and a lid or door that you can open or close to access the food. Some advanced offset smokers also feature reverse flow technology within the cooking chamber, which can help you create more even heating.

Do You Really Need an Offset Smoker?

There’s nothing better on a summer night than a barbecue full of well-cooked food and all of your friends or family around you. To cook that food, most people go straight for the grills, which are fine for most needs. However, if you’re looking to cook more tender meat for larger crowds and can plan ahead, then you’ll definitely need to consider an offset smoker.

Is an Offset Smoker Worth Buying?

  • You Want to Cook Large Amounts of Food: Offset smokers are perfect for entertaining large crowds. Thanks to their huge cooking capacity, you’ll be able to cook several large pieces of meat without a problem. Plus, the larger firebox means you’ll also be able to maintain heat for longer periods of time, allowing you to make specific recipes that call for more cooking time.
  • You Like Low and Slow Cooking: If all of your favorite barbecue recipes call for slow cooking over long periods of time, then an offset smoker is perfect for you. While grills are perfect for quick and easy summer meals, an offset smoker can help you cook meat that’s more tender and full of subtle flavor.
  • You Participate in Barbecue Competitions: Offset smokers generally require a little more skill to operate than traditional backyard grills. This makes them perfect for barbequing competitions where you need to accurately cook a lot of meat.

Why an Offset Smoker May Not Be For You

  • You Don’t Have Enough Outdoor Space: Offset smokers are much larger than other types of grills. If you don’t have much outdoor or backyard space, then an offset smoker is probably not the best idea for you. Instead, you may want to consider the best outdoor electric grill.
  • You Want a Set It and Forget It Solution: Smokers tend to require more attention and care than other types of grills and outdoor cooking solutions. If you’re looking for a set it and forget it grill, then you should consider something other than an offset smoker.
  • You Don’t Have the Time to Learn the Ropes: All smokers, including offset models, require some additional skills for the best results. This learning curve isn’t the steepest, but it can detract people without the time or patience to learn. If you aren’t interested in taking the time to learn how to use a smoker properly, then we recommend a different option.

How Long Will an Offset Smoker Last?

According to barbecue industry experts, like those at The BBQ Depot, expect to get between 5 and 15 years of lifespan out of grills and smokers. This is such a wide range because of how many variables there are to consider. For starters, most grills are kept outside and exposed to the elements, which can decrease lifespan depending on how much exposure they face.

You can maximize your smoker’s lifespan by properly maintaining it. Before and after each use, you should clean your smoker. Protect it as much as you can from the elements by using a cover or storing the smoker in your shed. It’s also recommended to repair and replace broken parts as soon as possible.

How to Choose an Offset Smoker

As you research the different offset smokers available on the market, you’ll want to keep a few key considerations in mind. This way, you’ll be able to find the right product to fit your meat smoking and grilling needs. For starters, you’ll need to think about your specific cooking needs and how they relate to cooking capacity in square inches and heat control. You’ll also want to consider how much space you have to store your smoker, which can affect the type of smoker you purchase and how portable it is.

Best Offset Smoker Factors to Consider

1. What type of offset smoker should you purchase?

There are a couple of different varieties of smokers to consider while shopping. Let’s look at the two different types and how they differ from one another.

  • Horizontal Smoker: These are often known as traditional smokers. These are the most common types of smokers, and they feature a flat plane configuration with the cooking chamber and firebox side-by-side. Traditional offset smokers can typically hold larger pieces of meat, but they also usually require more skill to operate than a smoker with a vertical design.
  • Vertical Smoker: These differ from horizontal alternatives mostly in configuration. Instead of lying on a flat plane, vertical offset smokers feature a vertical design with a smoking chamber that sits above the firebox. These are typically more compact and easier to operate, but they can’t hold as much food as horizontal options.

2. How many square inches of cooking area do you need?

Like grills, smokers come in a variety of different sizes, although smokers do tend to be larger than grills overall. Consider how much food you plan on cooking at full capacity and purchase a dedicated smoker that can handle it. You may not always need that much cooking capacity, but you’ll be prepared for those instances when they happen.

Cooking capacity is measured in square inches of cooking space. While you might think this would refer solely to the cooking racks in square inches, many manufacturers list this number as a combination of the cooking grate area and any other surfaces, like the warming rack and additional storage shelf. As such, make sure you do some more careful research to find the square inches of cooking space specifically related to the cooking grates.

If you’re only cooking for one or two people, or you need a more compact design for limited spaces, you don’t need much more than 200 to 300 square inches. For four to five people, get a standard size of 450 to 500 square inches. If you plan on high-capacity cooking, consider a quality offset smoker with 500+ square inches of primary cooking space.

3. What kind of heat control options does your offset smoker need?

When it comes to smoking food, heat control, and heat retention are some of the most important aspects. Consider these temperature control features when shopping for a new offset cooker:

  • Fuel Type: Unless you’re using wood pellets, most smoker models can use a wide variety of different fuel types for the heat source. Each type of fuel source provides a distinct flavor and different levels of heat control. These include things like wood logs, wood chips, charcoal, propane, natural gas, and electricity.
  • Ventilation System: Consider the ventilation system your smoker utilizes. A high-quality smoker uses an adjustable damper for air intake and exhaust. High-quality dampers allow you to adjust the amount of air that circulates through your smoker, which can affect how hot the fire burns. They can also help you with smoke control for a more precise flavor.
  • Thermometer: The key to perfect smoked meats is consistent smoking temperatures. Many offset smokers don’t include a built-in thermometer or built-in temperature gauge, but we recommend purchasing an option with one so you can more accurately cook your food at the proper temperature.
  • Reverse Flow Design: This helpful feature allows your smoker to create more consistent heat distribution in the cooking chambers. Instead of the smoke and heat flowing directly into the cooking chambers, a reverse flow offset smoker forces the smoke to move to the far end of the chamber under a sealed drip pan.

4. What kind of construction quality and materials should you consider in an offset smoker?

Purchasing a smoker can be an enormous investment, and you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best product. The gold standard for smokers is heavy gauge steel (¼ inch). If you don’t want heavy-duty steel, you can purchase a smoker with stainless steel construction, as well. You’ll also want a smoker with insulated handles and a good seal around all lids so you can more accurately control the internal cooking temperature.

5. How portable do you need your offset smoker to be?

Smokers are typically larger than backyard gas grills, making them less portable overall. In that case, you’ll need a top portable charcoal grill instead. First, consider if you need your smoker to be portable at all. If not, then you won’t need to worry. If you do need to move it around, consider how heavy the unit weighs and whether it includes built-in, sturdy wheels. Large, competition smokers may be able to hitch to the back of your truck for easier long-distance transport.

6. What kind of extra features or extra tools should you consider?

The extra features and accessories you can choose to include with your offset cooker are nearly endless. Consider some of these additional options to increase your smoker’s overall functionality and versatility:

  • Cast iron cooking grates
  • Porcelain-coated cooking grates
  • Stainless steel grates
  • Adjustable cooking grates
  • Adjustable fire grate
  • Charcoal trays and removable charcoal grate
  • Steel wheels
  • Digital thermometer

Best Offset Smoker FAQs

Can I grill on an offset smoker?

With the addition of some extra tools and features, you can typically grill on a smoker. Many manufacturers make grill grates that you can use directly in the firebox for direct heat application. You may even be able to find options with charcoal grates that you can use in the main cooking chamber.

What can you cook in an offset smoker?

While most people use their smoker to smoke meat, the sky’s the limit when it comes to what you can cook in your unit. Anything from a rack of ribs to vegetables to mac and cheese can be cooked in your smoker.

How should you clean and maintain an offset smoker?

You should regularly clean your smoker with the following steps:
  • Clean the ashes after every use.
  • Wipe up spilled sauce and leftover food bits.
  • Brush grates with the best grill brush after each use.
  • Take care of rust spots as soon as you notice them.

Are offset smokers better than reverse flow smokers?

Reverse flow smokers can create a more consistent heating experience in the cooking chamber, but offset smokers feature better overall airflow. Each cooking method offers its own pros and cons, with most barbecue enthusiasts preferring one over the other for their own reasons based on experience.
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