Best Offset Smokers for 2019 – A Buyer’s Guide

Throughout the last few decades, plenty of types of grills or smokers have been invented. However, even after all those years one thing remains the same, the love for real, classic BBQ soaked with wonderful smoky charcoal flavor.

Charcoal Offset Smokers are a great representation of traditional BBQ, this type of smoker is intended for slow meat smoking at low temperatures using just wood, charcoal or both as fuel. Of course there are many different models, but usually they are all characterized by large cooking area.

This type of smoker makes it possible to prepare food for a really numerous group of people. Sadly, it requires some experience and technique as the meat smoking process using classic offset smokers is not among the easiest.

It requires oxygen flow control, fuel amount control, temperature control etc., which might pose a complicated and discouraging challenge to beginners.

I know that choosing a new offset smoker might be a difficult task to you, which is why I have prepared a decent guide that only contains objective reviews for different models. I chose what I believed to be the few best offset smokers for small prices that are worth their price and make it possible to prepare delicious food.

You need to know that a good model costs more, but depending on your budget I have prepared several suggestions in different price ranges. If you expect something of better quality, you’re going to have to prepare a little more money. In this guide you will find suggestions for less demanding people who don’t want to spend a fortune on the top quality equipment and all they need is simply something decent at a low price.

Without further ado, I invite you to get familiar with my suggestions.

Best Offset Smokers 2019 - Comparison Table

MODEL

COOKING SPACE

PRICE

Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker

Best Overall

Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker

784 sq. in.

Dyna-Glo Signature Series Heavy-Duty Vertical

Runner-Up

Dyna-Glo Signature Series

1382 sq. in.

Oklahoma Joes Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker

Oklahoma Joes Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker

1060 sq. in.

Char-Griller Smokin Pro

Char-Griller Smokin Pro

830 sq. in.

Oklahoma Joes Highland Offset Smoker

Oklahoma Joes Highland Offset Smoker

619 sq. in.

How did I pick the best ones?

pick the right offset smoker

The manufacturers very often offer something new so in order not to miss anything I start by thoroughly analyzing the stores’ offer every season. That way I always discover some models the existence of which I had no idea before.

A thorough analysis allows me to select the models that should participate in my tests. I pay attention to the same things you do which are the price, quality of workmanship, features, size and last but not least, the price to value ratio.

That’s how I chose few different offset smokers that I divided into different price ranges. I always try to present several different models of a particular kind so that as many people as possible can choose something for themselves that perfectly fits their expectations.

How did I test?

testing offset smokers

Tests are nothing else but simply assembling each of the smokers when necessary and then cooking. It is usually possible during the assembly to take a closer look at each of the elements and evaluate their quality.

The finished and assembled offset smokers are now ready to get the charcoal burning inside them. Using the same methods for that purpose ( charcoal chimney starter ) I evaluate how fast each of the smokers reaches the right temperature for cooking ( a large role here is played by the right air vent and smoker size ).

After reaching the right temperature inside the smoker, I started smoking different pieces of meat. Once the smoking process was over, I started evaluating the end results and writing reviews for the best models. Tests are the best way to see in practice how it all works.

1. Best Overall Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker

One of the best ones in this category, for a relatively low price we really get a lot. BBQ enthusiasts will find space for large amounts of meat here as the main cooking area is whole 784 square inches.

As you can see, the structure is completely different than in most other models ( it is a vertical offset smoker ).

 One interesting feature is the removable wood or charcoal container that allows to remove the ash fast and easily.

It also comes with a large thermometer, but as always I recommend buying your own thermometer with probes that is much more accurate than the ones installed on a smoker’s structure.

The front door isn’t perfectly airtight, which causes it to let out some of the heat and smoke. Considering the price of this smoker, however, it could be forgiven and we can simply make the door tighter at our own expense. I think that such procedure is mostly necessary when cooking on colder days which makes it harder to maintain a fixed temperature.

It also lacks a water container, but let me remind you about this smoker’s price once again. We need to take into account that in order for this model to be perfect, few details have to be taken care of separately such as tightening the structure and buying a water container which isn’t expensive.

PROS

  • Price
  • Good quality
  • Electronic pulse ignition system

CONS

  • Leaks a little smoke without mods

In conclusion, it is a very good choice considering the price to quality ratio in this smoker. At this kind of price, the greatest advantage is a very large space for food, sadly it is a small downside that there are problems with tightness and with smoke getting out. In the end, however, what matters the most is cooking, and this model allows to really prepare very good meat for such low price.

2. Runner Up Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical

Vertical offset smoker with an impressive total cooking area. Five grates and a side firebox make a total of 1382 square inches of cooking area. One big upside of this structure is the ability to smoke meat by hanging it on a hook. If you want to grill, you can do it in the side box directly over the source of heat.

When it comes to many vertical smokers, problems arise at the very bottom where the meat is kept in a higher temperature due to close proximity of the firebox. In this model, on the other hand, the grates are located much higher which makes this problem non-existent. Additionally, there’s a water container at the very bottom that helps maintain a fixed temperature.

Temperature control and air flow inside the smoker work properly and don’t cause any problems. All you have to do is leave the air vents open in the firebox to create a free air flow.

PROS

  • Big Cooking Space
  • Price

CONS

  • No Ash Cleaning System ( Hard to clean ash during the cooking )

It is definitely not the best model in the world, but for this kind of money Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical Offset Smoker offers the most out of all the current options in this guide. For this kind of money you get a versatile offset smoker with a large cooking area that meets the requirements for preparing delicious BBQ.

I really recommend this model to everyone beginning their journey with offset smokers. Before you decide to buy something more expensive, it is better to gain some experience with a simpler and most of all much cheaper smoker.

3. Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker

Very large offset smoker, 751 square inches of the main cooking area and 309 square inches in the firebox which gives a total of more than one thousand  square inches of area for your meat. I think that, just as all the others on my list, it is not a perfect model, but it certainly allows for very delicious BBQ.

The removable dividers allow for all the possible configurations, for example you can smoke meat using just wood which is the classic old BBQ.

I think that with the adequate basic care, this smoker can last for really long ( it’s a good idea to buy a cover for it ).

Why is it not perfect? For this kind of money, it is hard to buy something that will 100% satisfy us. Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn offset smoker is worth its price, but despite that, plenty of people recommend making several modifications in order to improve it significantly ( I recommend looking for information about this on the Internet ).

Another not very significant but common problem with this type of smokers is the peeling paint on the fire box. It is actually hard to complain about this because my experience shows that the problem is present in nearly every competitive model for this kind of money. The best solution is to buy some high quality agent that will protect from corrosion once it does happen.

PROS

  • Big Cooking Space
  • Decent quality

CONS

  • Price
  • Peeling paint on the fire box

After going through all the simple modifications, everyone unanimously confirms that it is a truly great smoker. I have to admit that even without modifications it is a decent product that is worth its price and I can honestly recommend it to others. You need to understand that a high quality offset smoker costs much, much more, and for this kind of money you really get a lot.

4. Char-Griller Smokin Pro with Side Fire Box

Another suggestion, slightly cheaper than the Dyna-Glo Charcoal Offset Smoker model and a little bit smaller when it comes to the main cooking area ( 580 square inches ).

There is also a side fire box available that increases the whole area by extra 250 square inches.

The greatest advantage of this model is its versatility, as the side fire box can be used for actual meat smoking, turning the grill into a very good offset smoker.

The design of the whole structure is very pleasant, when it comes to the quality of elements on the other hand, this is where Char-Griller Smokin Pro is sadly not impressive. In this regard, it is not the highest level, but considering the price, we can’t expect much more.

Another slight problem for many is a small amount of smoke coming out of the smoker, as it’s not perfectly airtight. On top of that, as could be expected from a much cheaper product, there might be small flaws when it comes to manufacturing and during delivery.

PROS

  • Price
  • Good for beginners

CONS

  • Not top elements quality
  • Small smoke leaks

Taking all the pros and cons into account, though, I conclude that it is a good suggestion for those with a limited budget or for beginners. All those flaws can be forgiven considering such decent price and the ability to grill and to smoke on the same device.

5. Oklahoma Joe's Highland Offset Smoker

A slightly smaller version of the Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn model, it has 619 square inches of the main cooking area which is still quite a result. Because it’s a slightly smaller model, its price is also more affordable ( lower ) for those with a smaller budget.

When it comes to cooking-related things, everything is in a perfect order. This offset smoker has everything that allows to prepare great food while using 100% of the wood or simply charcoal.

When it comes to quality, on the other hand, it isn’t always so good. Sometimes it happens that customers complain about the paint peeling off which seems to be the most common problem across all offset smokers for this kind of money.

You can easily fix this problem by buying special paint that is resistant to high temperatures and paint the places where the paint is peeled off. That way you will prevent further consequences of pain peeling off ( rust ).

I believe that it is a good choice for a beginner who wants to try their hand with this smoker style. The price is relatively low and adequate to what you get, certain flaws are completely understandable in this price range. If you want a really decent high-end offset smoker then you’re going to have to spend few times more money which is why I suggest something that is good for beginners or for those with a very limited budget.

PROS

  • Price
  • Cooking space great for beginners
  • Lightweight

CONS

  • Peeling paint ( rare case )

Oklahoma Joe's Highland is a model that comes with all the necessary elements as well as a well-made structure. When it comes to quality, certain flaws are forgivable for this kind of money. Taking all the pros and cons as well as the price into account, on the other hand, I rate this model absolutely positively.

Buyers Guide

buyers guide for offset smokers

A decent, high-quality offset smoker is a huge expense, plenty of people beginning their journey with BBQ are not yet decided to buy something expensive. Beginners tend to buy something cheap in order to gain experience and learn as much as possible, and once they feel confident, that’s when they start looking for something more high-end.

An offset Smoker is a chance to try the most genuine classic BBQ. It is not exactly a very easy to use smoker, it requires knowledge and skills so that the whole smoking process can go as supposed to. An offset smoker gives a chance to smoke using just charcoal or 100% wood which is the way it used to be done. Today, however, the best way seems to be using charcoal and small amount of wood pieces that enrich the meat’s flavor.

I know perfectly well that when searching for a offset smoker for beginners, you might have a huge problem choosing the right one. I encourage you to check out my tips below that will help you choose the right model that suits your cooking style.

What to pay attention ?

In this guide, I will mostly be showing suggestions for beginners and less advanced users as well as those with a limited budget. A high-class offset smoker sadly costs few times more than those I’m suggesting. I do realize that most people reading this article are those who are just beginning their journey with BBQ or those less advanced which is why I decided to choose much cheaper offset smokers.

  • Budget – The price is likely the biggest factor to take into account right at the start. All the suggestions you can see in this guide are good for beginners and those with a limited budget. I didn’t put offset smokers on the list that cost more than one thousand dollars because it is not something that people beginning their journey with BBQ are looking for.
  • What you cook – Depending on what you cook and how, you can choose something like a vertical offset smoker that makes it possible to smoke things like ribs by hanging them on a hook. Almost every offset smoker makes it possible to also grill, usually it can be done in the side firebox where the grill grates are located directly over the source of heat.
  • Type of Structure – As I already mentioned above, there are two types of offset smokers – vertical and horizontal, each of them with its own upsides and downsides. The vertical type offers much better temperature control, the ability to smoke meat on hooks but the downside is less cooking area. The horizontal type, on the other hand, is characterized by a larger cooking area and most people associate the traditional offset smoker with it.
  • Size – Of course most models offer a big cooking area but think about how much you cook and how much space you have in your backyard. If you wish to save some space then the vertical type will be a better choice as it takes much less space than a horizontal offset smoker.

Why choose an offset smoker?

Food flavor – The rich smoky food flavor is what BBQ enthusiasts love offset smokers for. With the right skills, this type allows to make very good tasting food.

Versatility – Most models are mostly made for meat smoking ( with indirect heat ) with many of them having the ability to grill. The side Firebox is usually also equipped with grates that make it possible to grill directly over the source of heat.

Fuel – An offset smoker is made for real traditional BBQ that is rich in smoky flavor. It’s been known for a long time that the best results ( authentic smoky flavor ) can be achieved with charcoal or wood smokers. This type makes it possible to use just wood, charcoal or both as fuel. If you’re thinking about old-style classic meat smoking with just wood, then it’s a perfect type of smoker for you.

Large area – The whole smoking process usually requires a whole lot of time and attention, it’s pointless to spend all that effort on few tiny pieces of meat. Luckily for you, offset smokers are characterized by a large smoking area which ensures there will be enough meat for everyone.

Few Downsides

It requires a lot of attention – For those who love BBQ it will be nothing but fun, which is actually an upside. Controlling the amount of wood, charcoal, the air vents and in turn keeping a fixed temperature is not so easy when you have to do it all by yourself. There is no automation here which means you have to control everything so that the smoking process goes well.

Difficult for beginners – I won’t hide the fact that an offset smoker is not exactly easy for beginners. Meat smoking requires a fixed temperature over many hours which isn’t a very easy task for a beginner.

They’re big – The size might be a problem if you don’t have much space in your backyard. The size also contributes to higher fuel consumption which impacts the power economy. On one hand you can smoke a lot of meat, but on the other a large size might cause problems in the backyard.

High price – High quality offset smokers are among the most expensive types of smokers. In my guide, I have only included the ones with affordable prices because I decided that’s my target audience here. You have to keep in mind, however, that a model made of thick stainless steel is going to cost way over a thousand dollars.

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