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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An offset smoker is a piece of barbecuing 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. However, for a different type of smoker option, check out our guide for the best smoker grill.
When comparing offset smokers to traditional grills, such as charcoal 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. Keep in mind that grills usually have a cheaper price range than one of these backyard smokers.
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.
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. Plus, they’re a great addition to any BBQ pit setup.
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. You can do this by getting smoker replacement parts.
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.
Plus, if you’re a fan of USA-made grills, stick to specific brands like Weber or Traeger, as these companies make grills here in America.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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: