Photo: Todd Dyer
There are a ton of great offset and reverse flow smokers on the market these days, each with different features and attributes, at a range of prices. We’ve picked eleven of the best offset smokers out there and taken a look at each of their features to help you decide which one would be best for you.
BBQ smokers are perhaps the pinnacle of home cooking equipment. I’ve been a huge smoking fan for years, and it’s my go-to cooking method of choice when I’m deciding what to make come barbecue season.
The offset smokers we’ll be looking at today are:
- Char-Broil Oklahoma Joe
- Dyna-Glo Signature Series
- Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill
- Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
- Camp Chef SmokePro DLX
- Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D
- Royal Gourmet 30-Inch Charcoal Offset Smoker
- PIT BOSS 71820FB PB820FB
- Green Mountain Grills WiFi Davy Crockett
- Char-Broil 40-Inch Offset Smoker
- Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn
Disclaimer: The links above will take you to see up to date prices and customer reviews on Amazon
For the unfamiliar, offset smokers are the traditional model of smoker you might sometimes see at restaurant or outdoor grilling joints. They tend to feature a horizontal chamber that houses the food, while the wood or charcoal burns to one side (‘offset’, if you will). The smoke from the wood then flows past the food and out the chimney the other end.
The best models are made with thick steel, ensuring excellent insulation and heat retention. They can be pretty heavy duty, but once you find the right one for you, you’ll never look back.
Here’s my pick of 11 of the best offset smokers out there, with everything you need to look out for to find the perfect one for you.
Char-Broil Oklahoma Joe Highland
If you’re at all familiar with grilling, then the Char Broil name shouldn’t be new to you. They’ve long made excellent, robust grills, so to see them make their way to a fantastic reverse flow outdoor smoker should come as no surprise.
On looks a lone, this has my attention. It boasts the beautiful aesthetics of a traditional smoker design.
However, we’re not here just for looks. Which is just as well, as the Oklahoma Joe has so much more to offer than just sitting pretty in your yard.
The Oklahoma Joe can run on both charcoal and gas, which makes it a great entry point for smoking newbies, but still offers enough not to frustrate or limit more seasoned users.
It’s also extremely affordable, but never feels like it’s skimping on features. It has a mightily impressive 1000 square inches of cooking space, giving you an awfully large area of room to play with.
It comes with rib racks and meat hooks included, and four adjustable grates. It’s made of heavy gauge steel which is durable, but makes it more than a little on the heavy side at almost 200lb. However if you plan on letting this take centerstage on your patio then this shouldn’t be an issue.
It boasts porcelain-coated grates, which helps ensure even heat distribution along the surface of your grill. Not enough mid-range smokers or grills have this, so it’s great to see Char-Broil provide a smoker that is built with the user in mind while not charging over the odds for it.
An excellent smoker that offers enough to keep newcomers and experts alike happy.
Dyna-Glo Signature Series
This combination smoker and charcoal grill is a bit stripped back in terms of size, but doesn’t shy away from maximizing your cooking. It still has a ton of great features, including a collapsible stainless steel work station, porcelain enameled cast iron cooking grates, a removable grate and ash pan for easy access to put in fuel and for cleaning.
It’s more limited in size with 675 square inches of cooking area, but still large enough to cope with the demands of cooking for a crowd. It’s lighter than the Oklahoma Joe, at around 125lb. It’s another combination smoker and grill, and though it does both these things adequately, it’s not the best on the market.
All around a good design for the money, and would make a great first smoker for someone who doesn’t have the cash for a more expensive model.
Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill
This one is a little heftier in the price department but if you can splash out it’s worth every penny. It’s another multitasker, but it does it a lot better than the Dyna-Glo.
The propane-run sear box means you can smoke or grill and sear at the same time, and the flavor is incredible.
Even though it’s the most expensive smoker on this list, it’s still less than half the price of the similar Traeger smoker — and it does the job much better.
If your budget allows it, we would highly recommend this smoker as it’s pretty comprehensive with lots of useful features like the patented Ash Cleanout system, which makes cleaning the grate as easy as pulling a lever.
Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
The Z Grills describes itself as having 700 sq. in. cookspace, but it’s actually 684, over two racks. A small complaint, but worth including for accuracy. That said, this is still a great smoker. It has an induction fan for even cooking, and a waste oil collector for easy cleanup.
Most people find it really easy to assemble in under an hour, even though it’s fairly weighty. It even comes with the tools you’ll need to put it together! It holds its temperature really well even in breezy conditions, something that not every smoker does. The temperature controls and smoking settings are really useful, too. This is a great, solid smoker that will consistently produce tender meat with a great flavor.
Camp Chef SmokePro DLX
Another mid-range price smoker, this features a two-level cooking rack, with up to 429 sq. in. cook space total.
It will reach up to 500°F, and has an ash clean out system for easy cleaning. Most people who own this smoker love it, and there are only a couple of complaints. It does tend to leak smoke a little, but users found that even with little smoke the flavor was still great.
It also comes with a built-in temperature probe — no more running a wire under the lid! The main chamber has a trap door for easy cleaning, which as anyone with a pellet grill or smoker knows, makes a huge difference when it comes to cleaning. This smoker is great value for money, and will long outlast its (admittedly poor) one-year warranty. If you want a Camp Chef but can’t stretch to $900, this would be a great alternative.
Oklahoma Joe Longhorn Smoker
The Oklahoma Joe brand have long been associated with heavy duty offset smokers, so you know what you’re getting if you buy one of their units.
The Longhorn is no different. It’s a competition-worthy smoker that guarantees high temperatures, sturdy build, and unrivalled durability.
With its black shell and monster branding, it’s an impeccable looking smoker.
Its air flows are positioned in the sides of the chamber for better air flow and temperature control, and it has a built-in warming rack for sauces and sides to help enhance your outdoor cooking experience even more.
The Dyna Glo’s chambers houses a heavy gauge porcelain emailed smoker box, which allows you to house your wood chips of choice in.
This build is great for two reasons. One is… well, it’s heavy gauge and guaranteed to last being blasted with heat use after use. The other is that the porcelain enamel ensures solid heat distribution along the surface of the box.
It is predominantly a charcoal offset smoker, but one of the smoker’s innovations is that it also features a cast iron burner for quick and easy searing. If you’re familiar with barbecue methods like reverse searing then you’ll appreciate what a welcome addition this is.
No need to cook between two different tools. It’s all built in one here.
The burner boasts 15,000 BTUs, and is fired by an electronic pulse ignition system for one-touch quick startup.
It’s total cooking surface boasts a total of 784 square inches, which is more than enough to cater for large groups.
One of this smoker’s key features though is its heavy build. Good BBQ smoking is all about heat retention and consistency, and this glorious smoker has it in abundance.
Key to this excellent retention is its dual door design. This build ensures absolute minimal heat loss while cooking, and even while topping up wood chips.
Its main chamber body is constructed with heavy dual steel, and finished with a high temp powder coat. This thing is built to last.
Royal Gourmet 30-Inch Charcoal Offset Smoker
Royal Gourmet have built a smoker that’s actually a charcoal grill and offset smoker hybrid.
While this might sound a bit like a gimmick, the merge of the two makes complete sense. Charcoal grilling and smoking often go hand-in-hand, particularly with barbecue methods like reverse searing, and actually give you a lot more flexibility when cooking in large numbers.
In its chamber it has porcelain-coated cooking grates for excellent heat distribution and retention. Porcelain coated grates are fantastic for heat retention and distribution, so any smoker that features these have my attention right away. It doesn’t hurt that they’re easy to clean too.
It also has an ash pan for easily removing charcoal as part of your clean-up. Charcoal grills and smokers are renown for being tedious to tidy up, so any contraption that can help ease this process is always welcome.
It offers 800 square inches of total cooking space, although only 438 of this is in the main chamber. The rest is shared among its side box and swing-away rack. Compared to other similar smokers this is quite small.
While the charcoal grill and smoker combination is great, I can’t help but get the feeling that if this were just a pure out-and-out offset smoker than Royal Gourmet would have offered up a lot more cooking space. However this really is the only obvious flaw in what is otherwise a superb offset smoker.
PIT BOSS 820
Pit Boss by name, pit boss by nature. This is a powerful smoker that packs in power, excellent heat retention, and generously sized cooking space.
It’s cooking temperatures range from 180°F to 500°F. While this might seem low compared to charcoal grill, compared to smokers this is excellent and more than enough to enable you to smoke any cut of meat of your choosing.
All packed in over an impressive 820 square inches of glorious cooking space, offered with porcelain coated cooking grates. No cold spots, no flare-ups. Just consistent guaranteed heat levels across the board.
It doesn’t just end as an excellent smoker however. It also has a flame broiler to allow you to use open flame searing.
This grill from Dansons is another step in the right direction after their success of the fantastic Louisiana Grills range. Pellet and offset smokers might well be largely dominated by brands like Traeger and Char Broil, but Dansons have made a standout model that certainly shows they’re to be taken seriously.
This is intended to be a budget model of more well-known smokers, but don’t mistake that for being cheap. This is a very good smoker.
The Pit Boss range actually comes in different sizes, ranging from the small 340, all the way up to 820. It should come as no surprise that I’m looking at the 820.
No matter which model you go for in the range, all are built with 16 gauge black powder coated steel, so are built to last.
A mightily impressive grill that’s worthy of anyone’s consideration.
Green Mountain Grills WiFi Davy Crockett
This entry from Greenhouse Mountain Grills is an affordable smoker that is great for taking on the road. And yes, you read that right. This thing has WiFi.
This is built with camping and tailgating in mind, so is more modestly sized and easy to take on the road with you.
GMG have dubbed it “the ultimate tailgate grill”, which might seem like a bit of shameless hubris, but there is some weight to that.
You will need to prepare this thing before you head out on the road however, and I definitely recommend giving it a practice run first because it is awkward to use out the box.
Once you get through that first run however it’s a breeze.
Its Wi-Fi connected app makes it easy to use, control and monitor the smoker.
Despite its small build, the smoker chamber is thick and well-insulated. While portability has obviously been a key concern for GMG, I’m pleased to say that this hasn’t come at the cost of proper heat insulation.
Weighing at 68 pound, it certainly is lightweight enough to tailgate or camp with, and its fold-up legs make it easy enough to do so.
My qualm with other tailgate grills or smokers has been that despite being light and portable, when it comes to actual use they’re often impractical in terms of their power limits.
I’m glad to say this isn’t the case with the Davy Crockett. It has a regular plug option, an auto plug, and a 12v battery all provided. In fact, the latter comes with what are essentially jumper cables to help you run it from the power of your car. While a little intimidating to use at first, it does provide a very good power option.
So what about performance? Its temperature control offered by the app is solid enough albeit a little bit confusing at first to get to grips with.
What matters most if the food however, and here it doesn’t disappoint. It provides excellent smoky flavors to smoked meat, helped by the wood pellet function in the smoker.
It sturdy build ensures excellent heat retention, especially compared to other tailgate or camping options.
All in all a very solid performer at the more affordable side of the scale. It is more limited in size, but if you want something to take on the road with you then this is the one to go for.
Char-Broil 40-Inch Offset Smoker
What to look out for
Getting a BBQ smoker is a big investment, and if you don’t know what you’re looking for you could well end up with a poorly built heap of junk.
Save yourself the trouble of needing to return it with these top tips.
Pay attention to construction
Heat retention is key with BBQ smokers. The low and slow cooking that makes the foundations of BBQ smoking require constant and steady temperatures, which are impossible to achieve if your smoker isn’t well insulated against the influences of wind and air leaks.
A lot of cheaper models are made of thin, cheap metal. These don’t only transfer heat well but they practically haemorrhage warm air, which can only mean one thing: Aggressive heat fluctuations that will ruin your cooking.
Good construction is also important because you need to be sure that if you’re laying out cash for a smoker that it is built to last. It’s not necessarily a sliding scale that coincides with price: there are some great budget smokers, and also some poor quality expensive ones that are a huge waste of money. So to make sure you get the most bang for your buck, make build quality your primary concern and cost second.
Ease of use for air vents
The key to good temperature control is mastering the use of your smoker’s air vents. These are often also called dampers, and are usually supplied with one positioned towards the bottom of your smoker chamber, with the other positioned near the top.
These vents work with the bottom vent, called the intake damper, supplying air into the chamber, with it then existing through the top, called the exhaust damper.
Getting these adjustable dampers right is what will make or break the success of your BBQ smoking. Make sure that whichever smoker you choose has easy to use vents that are noted for their good impact on airflow.
How big should an offset smoker be?
Now I’m not going to say that bigger always equals better, but when it comes to outdoor grilling we don’t like to do things by halves.
What size you go for will largely be determined by how much food you intend on cooking at once. However one important thing to consider: The larger your smoker chamber, the longer it will take to heat up. Not only this but tweaking the heat levels in the smoker to achieve the temperatures you need will be more challenging as it will take a bit longer to notice the impact of your changes.
How to season your new smoker
No, we don’t mean the meat. Though this isn’t a consideration for buying, seasoning a smoker is still something first-timers might overlook.
Even the best quality smoker needs to be seasoned before first use to maximize its useful life, and many first-time smokers aren’t sure how to go about it. Take a look at our guide on how to season an offset smoker and make sure you follow our advice before using your new outdoor appliance.. This will not only give a much better flavor, but will also protect the metal against wear and rust. In addition, it will burn off any contaminants from the manufacturing process or shipping materials. Nobody likes eating styrofoam.