Arianna Foster
Published by Arianna Foster
Last Updated On: July 30, 2021

With so many offset smokers to choose from, it can be difficult to find the best offset smoker as you never know if you are buying a quality smoker or something that will break in a year. We’ve tested dozens of smokers and narrowed down the ten best offset smoker units based on performance and user review to help you out.

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Dyna Glo dgO1176bdc-d offset smoker
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#2nd Best Choice
Oklahoma Joe highland offset smoker
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The 10 Best Offset Smokers in 2021

1

Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker

If you are searching for the best offset smoker, you should consider the Dyna-Glo Vertical Smoker.

Dyna-Glo is a newer company that has developed a sound reputation for quality offset smokers, barrel smokers, and other types of smokers.

They generally come in at a reasonable price point for the average user and have quality construction.

This model follows this and has an ample 1,176 square inches of cooking surface area for major cooking. The model has an integrated charcoal and ash management system with an easy to clean removable ash pan.

We like the built-in temperature gauge with an optimal smoke zone indicator, which makes temperature control easier.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 34.52 x 47.03 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 1176 square inches
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Charcoal
Material: Steel

Pros
  • Porcelain-enameled steel charcoal chamber
  • Cooking space of 1,176 square inches
  • Cooking capacity of 25-pounds per-grate
  • Vertical offset for better heat distribution
Cons
  • Uses large amounts of charcoal
  • No cover included in the price
2

Oklahoma Joe's Highland Offset Smoker

Oklahoma Joe’s started as a barbecue restaurant and took that experience into creating high-quality smokers.

Their offset smokers have a reputation for being some of the best around and are built from highly durable heavy-gauge steel, with this specific model having over 600 square inches of primary cooking space and over 200 square inches of secondary cooking space.

We like the two-door system with a secondary firebox door, which allows you to tend to wood and charcoal without lowering the cooking chamber temperature.

The smoker also comes with a large side and under shelving for convenient storage.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 39 x 20.9 x 23 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 900 square inches
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Natural Gas
Material: Steel

Pros
  • Easy clean porcelain-coated cooking grates
  • Dampers for heat and smoke flow control
  • Convenient firebox warming area
  • Cool-touch opening handles
Cons
  • Limited warranty information
  • Need two people for assembly
3

Dyna-Glo Signature Series Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Smoker & Grill

The Dyna-Glo Signature Series Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset is a combo smoker and grill and a step above their regular offset in features and cooking capacity.

This drum smoker has over 1,300 square inches of cooking space spread out over five heavy-duty chrome-plated cooking grates.

The main cooking chamber stands at over 55 inches (139.7 centimeters) and comes with a cool-touch spring door handle for safe opening.

We like the sausage hooks to make smoking sausage in the main cooking area easier.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 45.5 x 24.9 x 58.8 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 1382 square inches
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Charcoal
Material: Steel

Pros
  • 1,382 square inches of cooking space
  • Stainless steel temperature gauge
  • Sausage hooks and five cooking grates
  • Cool touch door handles
Cons
  • Weights over 120lbs (54.43 kilograms)
  • No folding side shelf or storage space
4

Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill with Offset Smoker

Before doing research and testing in order to find the best offset smoker, we had never heard of Royal Gourmet. There isn’t much about them online.

However, we found the Royal Gourmet version to be high-quality with good cooking capacity and solid construction.

This combo smoker model has a traditional vertical design with 800 square inches of total cooking space.

The design includes front shelving as well as under shelving allowing for plenty of storage space for wood and plates.

We also like the 179 square inch warming rack for keeping food warm. This can be a good smoker option for the average user looking for a quality smoker.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 45.3 x 26.8 x 48 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 800 square inches
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Charcoal
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • A larger warming rack keeps food warm
  • Low price range compared to many smokers
  • Easy smoker assembly
  • 800 square inch cooking surface
Cons
  • Hard to find warranty information
  • No cover included with smoker
5

Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker

Char-Broil is a well-known manufacturer of every kind of grill imaginable. They are a favorite of ours for their quality construction and solid warranties.

The Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker continues this tradition of quality with 290 square inches of primary cooking area and 140 square inches in the smoke chamber.

The firebox has a convenient clean outdoor which makes this unit easy to clean compared to some other models. It also has an Amazon's Choice rating for best Char-Broil Smoker.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 46.25 x 44.75 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 290 square inches
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Charcoal
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • Easy-open ash cleanout door
  • Adjustable height steel firegrate
  • Damper for heat and smoke control
  • 1-year warranty on all parts
Cons
  • Smaller smoking area
  • Smoker cover sold separately
6

Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker

This is the slightly higher-end reverse flow smoker version of the Oklahoma Joe’s offset smoker reviewed above and one of the best models we tested.

It’s made from heavy-duty stainless steel and weighs in at just over 220 lbs (99 kilograms), so assembly may require two people.

This reverse flow offset smoker has an impressive 1,060 square inches of cooking space, making it a good option for people who regularly smoke large quantities of meat.

We like that the firebox contains a stainless steel fuel basket and clean outdoor to make it easy to clean ash and other debris.

You can learn how to properly use your Oklahoma Joe smoker on this link.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 35.5 x 64.25 x 55.5 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 1060 square inches
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Charcoal
Material: Heavy-gauge Steel

Pros
  • Heavy-gauge steel construction
  • Easy to clean firebox
  • Reverse flow design
  • Four removable cooking grates
Cons
  • Cover not included
  • Design is bulky and heavy
7

Broil King Charcoal Offset Smoker, Black

Broil King has been manufacturing smokers since 1964 and the quality of their Black Charcoal Offset Smoker reflects this.

This model has 625 square inches of cooking space in the main chamber, which can be plenty of room for the average user.

We like that it uses heavy-duty cast iron cooking grates, which are better for heat distribution and retention.

The unit has an air vent system that includes a chimney stack with Roto-Draft damper technology for better temperature control.

It also comes with a removable ashtray in both cooking chambers for easier cleaning.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 52.5 x 26 x 60 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 625 square inches
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Charcoal
Material: Steel

Pros
  • Cast-iron grates in the cooking chamber
  • 625 square inch cooking capacity
  • Constructed from heavy-duty 2mm steel
  • Robo-Draft damper technology
Cons
  • Not clear on the warranty
  • No viewing window
8

Outsunny Portable Backyard Charcoal BBQ Grill and Offset Smoker Combo with Wheels

Outsunny is a manufacturer and online seller of outdoor patio furniture and BBQ equipment.

Their horizontal offset smoker is one of the best offset smoker units that we tested and offers a combination charcoal grill and smoker.

There is ample shelving space that we appreciate over companies like Char-Griller that we tested.

The unit has two shelving units on the front and side and a bottom rack for storage, and cool-touch wooden handles to make opening the doors safer when you smoke meat.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 48.75 x 21 x 42.5 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: N/A
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Wood, Charcoal
Material: Cold-rolled Steel, Solid Wood

Pros
  • Combination charcoal grill and smoker
  • Cool touch wooden door handles
  • Plenty of shelving and storage capacity
  • Made from cold-rolled steel
Cons
  • No cover included with smoker
  • Wheels made from plastic
9

Aleko Portable Charcoal BBQ Offset Smoker Grill

The Aleko Portable Offset Smoker Grill is a reliable charcoal grill and a good alternative to some of the offset smokers and reverse flow smoker units on this list.

The Aleko charcoal grill helps infuse meats with a traditional smoke flavor similar to Char-Griller and Smokin Pro. The iron grill also gives a beautiful sear mark on the meat.

What we like most about this are the sturdy chrome-plated cooking grates that retain the necessary heat evenly. It also includes a warming rack that serves as a secondary cooking space.

The smoker also comes with individual vents on the bowl and heat resistant nylon handles.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 34 x 22 x 15 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: N/A
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Charcoal
Material: Powder-coated Metal

Pros
  • Chrome-plated cooking grates
  • Larger cooking capacity
  • Dampers to control heat and smoke
  • Includes a warming rack
Cons
  • A bit pricey
  • Grill cover not included
10

Ivation Automatic Wood Pellet All-in-1 Electric Offset BBQ Smoker & Grill

The Ivation Automatic Wood Pellet Electric Offset Smoker and Grill is another great alternative to reverse flow smoker units and offset smokers from companies like Smokin Pro or Char-Griller.

This is a sturdily built electric smoker that provides more cooking space than your standard offset smoker.

The smoker reviews on Amazon are mostly positive, with reviewers explicitly speaking about the digital LCD dashboard that displays real-time grill temperatures.

We also like the bonus meat probe and smoker cover. However, this offset smoker and grill is on the pricier side.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 28.9 x 21.9 x 23.7 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: N/A
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Wood Pellet, Charcoal
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • Digital control panel
  • Includes smoker cover
  • Removable food thermometer
  • Smoke tight door seal
Cons
  • May be difficult to assemble
  • A bit expensive

Vertical vs. Horizontal Design

The primary difference between vertical and horizontal models is in the heat and smoke distribution. A vertical smoker has the racks layered above one another, whereas a horizontal smoker is one flat surface.

This primarily affects heat distribution with heat in a vertical smoker rising and a horizontal smoker running through.

We prefer vertical versions best as they allow you to grill, bake, roast, smoke, and even broil meats. Horizontal smokers, on the other hand, are primarily able to grill and smoke meats. The primary downside of a vertical smoker is that there is less room on each grate.

How do offset smokers work?

offset smoker outdoors

An offset smoker works by applying indirect heat to the meat to cook at a lower and slower temperature.

This also helps spread heat more evenly through the main cooking area, especially with a barrel smoker.

Offset smokers have the smokebox located to the side of the smoker. This applies to both vertical and horizontal smokers.

All horizontal smokers have an offset smoker box. However, not all vertical smokers are offset. If you wish to learn how to properly use a smoker box, read our guide.

Who should buy an offset smoker?

An offset smoker will take a bit more experience to operate than the best gas grills or electric grills. It would help if you had a bit of practice working with charcoal and wood to help maintain the smoker's temperatures for a consistent smoking experience.

If you are looking at buying your first smoker, it may be best to start with gas grills or an electric smoker to get more experience with the process. These types of smokers are a bit easier to control for beginners. You can learn more about each type of smoker by reading our guide.

Pros and Cons Of Buying An Offset Smoker

Benefits Of An Offset Smoker

The main benefit of an offset smoker is that it provides more cooking space. It also adds more fuel without opening the cooking chamber. Opening the cooking chamber door lowers the temperature and can provide an inconsistent smoking experience.

Because the firebox is moved to the side, you also have more room for meat, especially in a horizontal smoker.

Disadvantages Of An Offset Smoker

The primary disadvantage of an offset smoker is that you need to monitor the temperature more closely. Because heat is indirect, more effort must be made to maintain the temperature to ensure that your meat is cooking properly.

What to look for when buying an offset smoker?

starting an offset smoker

Build Quality

Your smoker won’t do you much good if it fails after the first year. While many offset smokers are on the market, they are not all built to quality standards. The best offset smoker will serve its purpose for years to come. Always make sure that you are purchasing a smoker from reputable manufacturers such as those listed above.

Pay close attention to how well your smoker seals around the doors. Though the above offset smokers all represent the best we tested, it is always possible for factory defects to occur. Pay attention when seasoning your offset smoker to ensure that everything seals properly.

Material Construction

The material of your smoker can play an important role in how well it retains and distributes heat. Some materials, such as cast iron and stainless steel, are more durable and insulative than others (1).

We prefer stainless steel best as it’s generally lighter in weight than iron without forfeiting much in the way of durability. We also find that steel smokers are usually more affordable than cast iron, another added benefit.

“Stainless steel remains stainless, or does not rust, because of the interaction between its alloying elements and the environment.”

 

- Scientific American (2)

Price

When it comes to the best offset smokers, the sky's the limit when it comes to pricing. You can find some of the best vertical pellet smokers that run into the thousands with complete digital features and Bluetooth capabilities.

On the other hand, you can also find cheaper options that have everything you need to make some of the best barbecue and smoked meats possible. The main factors that will affect your price will include material, fuel type, temperature control type (manual or digital), and capacity.

Cooking Chamber Size

Your cooking chamber size will greatly dictate how much you can cook. Larger chamber sizes will allow you to smoke larger amounts of meat. This will also be dictated by whether you choose a vertical or horizontal smoker.

Cooking chamber size is typically measured in square inches, with most manufacturers specifying the actual cooking area and any warming area. Pay particular attention to the cooking area and look for a size of at least 500 square inches.

Firebox Size

The firebox is the area of the smoker where you put your fuel. In an offset smoker, the firebox will be located on either the left or the right side, with the smoke flowing into the main chamber.

In the best offset smokers, the firebox will be large enough to continue smoking for at least five to six hours without needing replenishment.

Remember that every time you open your firebox, you let in cooler air from outside, causing fluctuations in the internal temperature. So, if you regularly cook large meats such as briskets or turkeys, you want a larger firebox with plenty of room for fuel.

Durability

By their very nature, smokers take a lot of wear and tear from cooking. This can be especially true if you live in an area with extreme weather such as snow or heavy moisture and rain. When buying the best offset smoker for your needs, make sure that you choose a brand known for durability, such as Dyna-Glo.

This especially holds if you are buying an electric pellet offset smoker or another of the best options with delicate technology. To improve your smoker's potential lifespan, make sure to use a protective cover when not in use and perform regular cleaning.

cooking using a offset smoker

Ease of Use

As noted above, charcoal offset smokers can be more complicated and difficult for a new user not used to maintaining internal smoking temperatures. When choosing the best offset smoker for you, it will be important to consider this.

If you are not confident in your ability to properly smoke meats using charcoal and wood, you should consider using an electric pellet smoker. These make it easier to set the temperatures you want without manually regulating the internal temperatures using the smokers’ dampers.

This can help you to save time and get you smoking faster.

Ventilation

If you opt for a charcoal or wood offset smoker, make sure to pay particular attention to the dampers and ventilation as this will be what you use to regulate your smoker's temperature. The best offset smokers have strategically placed ventilation allowing air to flow through easily, regulating the flames.

This will especially be important with a horizontal smoker as the ventilation will affect how well the smoke moves through, especially in a reverse flow smoker. If you don't know how to use a reverse flow smoker, feel free to check out our step-by-step- guide. Make sure to pay attention during your first few cooking sessions, so you know optimal damper settings.

Ease of Cleaning

This one is huge as it’s going to affect how long your smoker lasts. The best offset smoker will be easy to clean. The more difficult it is to clean a smoker, the higher the chance that it will break down over time. This means you want something straight forward without a lot of grooves or places for ash and potential rust to build up.

The best smokers will have things like removable ashtrays and opening side doors on the firebox to help make cleaning easier. Also, pay attention to the grate material as certain materials, such as cast iron, are often easier to keep clean.

Warranty

This one is often overlooked, but there is always the chance for something on your smoker to break early, even if it is one of the best smokers from one of the best manufacturers. You want to look at the warranty and all of the specific terms surrounding it.

Pay close attention to how long specific parts of the smoker are guaranteed. The best warranties will have a flat 2-year or more warranty covering all parts. However, some companies will place different limits, such as a year for the firebox and three years for other parts.

Extra Features

Keep in mind that the best offset smoker should come with additional features. It's always nice to have extra features, especially when they make using your smoker easier and more convenient. Some of the best extra features to look out for include:

  • Extra shelving space for holding plates
  • Hooks for grilling tools
  • Bottom storage racks for wood and charcoal
  • Warming racks for keeping food warm

There are plenty of other extras that you can look out for, including meat probes for easier monitoring and thermometers. However, the above four are some of the most common and will greatly increase how easy it is to cook with your smoker.

How To Clean An Offset Smoker

using a brush to clean smoker grills

Step 1: Empty The Firebox

The firebox will be the smoker area that collects the most ash and build-up from smoke residue.

First, open it up and scoop out all of the ash collected in the box to properly clean your firebox. It’s best to wipe the inside down afterward with a wet cloth.

Step 2: Wipe Out The Cooking Chamber

Use a wet microfiber cloth to wipe out the inside using warm water. Avoid using any chemicals as these can mess up your seasoning, increasing the chances of your smoker rusting. If your unit has a viewing window, then use vinegar and water to clean it.

Step 3: Clean The Grates

For the grates, you want to use a grill brush to first scrub off any fat particles or other debris built up. The best grill brush will be made from steel bristles to thoroughly clean off any fat. After you’ve scrubbed the grates, wash them off with water and let them dry before returning them.

Tips For Using An Offset Smoker

Use a Digital Thermometer

Digital thermometers are generally much more reliable than analog thermometers that most smokers are equipped with (3). The best ones will have included meat probes, but if your unit doesn’t then, you can easily purchase these at an affordable price.

Look for digital thermometers with probes that measure the internal temperature of your meat.

“Using a food thermometer is the only reliable way to ensure safety and to determine desired 'doneness' of meat, poultry, and egg products.”

 

- United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Information Guide (4)

Go Easy On The Smoke

Smoking should be a low and slow process. The more patient you are, the better your food will turn out once it's done. For this reason, more smoke does not always equate to better tasting meat. Make sure to take it easy and monitor temperatures closely for the best meat possible.

“Smoking is a form of indirect cooking and usually takes place over a period of hours over low temperatures.”

 

- Kingsford Charcoal Smoking Guide (5)

Cook With Charcoal and Wood Combo

Using charcoal and wood together is best for making temperature regulation easier while at the same time helping to infuse your meat with the smokey flavor you love (6). The charcoal is typically easier to get started and maintain than just wood, which can be harder to get lit initially.

FAQs

different types of offset smoker

Are offset smokers better?

It depends. Offset smokers are better for smoking as they offer an indirect heat source that provides a lower and slower cooking experience. This holds for cooking meats such as ribs, turkeys, and briskets which need to cook at low temperatures for longer periods.

How thick should an offset smoker be?

An offset smoker should be at least ⅛ of an inch to ¼ of an inch thick to both withstand the heat and provide sufficient insulation for heat to build up. The same holds if you purchase a cast-iron smoker or another material.

Which is better, offset, or reverse flow smokers?

Both reverse flow smokers and offset smokers are good. A reverse flow offset smoker can be incredibly effective for smoking meats. Reverse flow smokers force the smoke further inside the chamber to create a more consistent temperature and smoke distribution.

Our Final Verdict

After extensive testing and pouring over thousands of reviews to find the best offset smoker, we’ve found the Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker to be the best. Not only is the company that makes it solid, but the construction is top-notch and the cooking space, ample.

We like that this has over 1,000 square inches of cooking space capable of handling over 20 lbs on each grate.

The porcelain-enameled steel chamber is highly insulative, and well-placed dampers help to make sure that smoke distributes evenly through. This is one of the best smokers we’ve tested, and if you want to find the best pricing, check it out today.

Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker

Our #1 Recommendation

  • Porcelain-enameled steel charcoal chamber
  • Cooking space of 1,176 square inches
  • Cooking capacity of 25-pounds per-grate
  • Vertical offset for better heat distribution

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