You undoubtedly have lusted for an offset smoker if you have ever wanted to cook like the pitmasters on TV or if you have ever dreamed of winning real cash in a barbecue competition.
But getting an offset smoker is a gamble. Budget versions are known to malfunction often and leak, whereas high-end versions may cost several thousand dollars.
We have found the finest offset smokers for every kind of smoker and every kind of budget.
For those on a tighter budget than $1,000, the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland is the way to go.
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Best offset smokers you can buy in 2023
Best Overall – Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker
Buying an offset smoker may cost anywhere from $1500 to $3000 or more, which is out of reach for most people.
A smoker is not the best investment, unless you plan to take out a second mortgage to pay for it.
Unfortunately, the more affordable options tend to be poorly manufactured and poorly insulated smokers that fool customers with their realistic appearance but leave them disappointed with their performance.
If you’re looking for the greatest offset smoker for under a thousand dollars, go no further than the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland.
The Oklahoma Joe is built with thicker steel than other offset smokers, which means it can maintain a steady temperature for longer.
The main chamber has 619 square inches of grilling area and the firebox chamber has 281 square inches of grilling space. The grill grates are porcelain coated.
If you want extra cooking area, the same firm also makes a comparable Longhorn with 751 square inches in the main chamber.
The Highland may be set up as a reverse flow offset smoker, which requires the heat from the firebox to go beneath a baffled flue all the way to the end before reversing direction and drafting into the primary cooking chamber.
For now, just know that this aids in more uniform cooking and results in a more appetizing final product; we’ll get into the specifics of why this is beneficial later on in the post.
What we like:
- Economic efficiency: The steel utilized, the welds, and the way everything fits together snugly set this offset apart from any other low-cost alternative. An even 5 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit is maintained throughout the cooking chamber because to the four baffles’ contribution to uniform heat distribution.
- Convertible charcoal barbecue with a firebox: It’s convenient that the Firebox can also serve as a grill or warming rack, but I’d only use it after you’ve completed cooking in the main chamber; otherwise, the additional oxygen from keeping the firebox lid open will cause your temps to skyrocket.
- The combination of good looks and usability: The Highland has a classic style that we like. Roll it around with ease thanks to the big wagon-style wheels and use the spacious lower shelf to store your firewood and cooking implements.
What we don’t like:
- Without a sealer, it will leak: Low-priced and straightforward to repair, but not ideal if you’re hoping for flawless performance right out of the box.
- An imperfect distribution of heat exists: Radiant heat still manages to speed up the cooking of food that is closest to the firebox because the heat plates are too thin to entirely block it.
Modifying the smoker’s cooking chamber and heat box to better seal it off can improve its performance.
This high temperature gasket set from LavaLock will do the trick.
By making just one little adjustment, the Highland can compete with much more costly offset smokers.
Asking a real barbecue fanatic whether or not the Oklahoma Joe is a decent smoker is likely to elicit a range of responses.
If you have realistic expectations and don’t compare the Highland’s performance to that of a $2,000 competition smoker, you should be delighted with your purchase.
Check out Oklahoma Joe’s Reverse Smokers Complete Reviews For BBQ Lovers for more details
2. Best budget offset smoker – Char-Griller Smokin Pro
Let me preface this with a few caveats.
Almost every grilling expert would advise you to stay away from a low-quality charcoal grill like Char-Smokein Griller’s Pro.
Despite the name, this is not a product made for professionals.
The unit’s poor sealing is a result of thin materials and sloppy assembly.
Now that we get that out of the way, this may be a perfectly fine smoker provided you love tinkering with fire and don’t mind making a few tiny adjustments.
You’ll get 580 square inches of main cooking space and an extra 250 square inches for grilling or keeping food warm in the firebox.
Modifications include sealing the interior of the grill with BBQ silicone, particularly at the area where the firebox and grill meet.
Avoid using the inaccurate built-in thermometers and invest in a dedicated barbecue thermometer instead.
Making a baffle out of discarded metal may also help with even heating and cooling.
What we like:
- Affordable Cost: With a few low-cost upgrades, this smoker can compete with the other offset models we considered.
- Creates a fantastic barbecue: The charcoal tray is removable and adjustable, allowing you to use it as a full-fledged charcoal barbecue.
What we don’t like:
- Without repairs, it leaks badly: When dealing with wind, temperature control becomes much more difficult if you don’t take the time to close the smoker up.
- Peeling paint: Even after just a few usage, it’s likely that there will be visible signs of wear and tear.
- Equipped with a high-quality thermometer: This cheap smoker is much more unreliable than the average one.
It’s not for you if you’re the kind who must have the latest and greatest model or who wants to test their skills against industry professionals.
The Char-Griller is a fantastic alternative if you want a conventional smoker on a budget and don’t mind making a few adjustments.
Other Smokers Must Take Into Account
Offset smokers may be found in a wide price range, from those sold for around $100 on sites like Amazon to trailers that can cost up to $10,000.
Yoder, Lang, Horizon, and Meadow Creek all make excellent models that consistently place well in shows and competitions.
In addition to the Weber Smokey Mountain and Pit Barrel Cookers, you might also consider these options. The cuisine that can be made on these stoves is just as good as that made on an offset smoker, but it costs much less and is much easier to master.
If you’re determined on a stick burner, you don’t have to settle for the ones we’ve highlighted; there are plenty of other excellent alternatives.
Dyna-Glo Charcoal Offset Smoker
Because of its cabinet layout and firebox, which are better suited for charcoal, this offset smoker isn’t like the standard wood-burning kind. This model’s 15,000 BTU cast-iron burner and 784 square inches of cooking surface have made it a favorite. High temperature silicone is required to properly seal the rather flimsy steel framework.
The Qualities of an Ideal Offset Smoker
Good offset smokers have several characteristics in common regardless of the model, so here are some things to keep in mind while shopping for one:
Build quality and insulation
Buying a cheap model constructed of flimsy metal means you won’t have much say over the temperature, oxygen levels, and smoke distribution in the cooking chamber.
You should look for an offset smoker that is at least 14 inch thick and has sturdy doors and vents for the cooking chamber. Sadly, you can’t expect that to be inexpensive.
Are reverse flow smokers better?
With a regular flow offset smoker, the firebox’s heat and smoke pass over the meat just once before exiting the chimney.
Reverse flow offset smokers have a chimney that is attached to the same side as the firebox, and a baffle system that directs smoke and heat beneath the cooking chamber.
Fans of the design argue that the ‘over and under’ approach yields more tasty and tender smoked meat since the heat and smoke are used twice.
In a traditional smoker, the chimney or smokestack is located at the other end of the unit from the firebox, but in a reverse flow offset smoker, it is located at the same end as the firebox.
Using the price as a reference will help you avoid purchasing a low-quality offset smoker that will be of little value to you.
The going rate for a decent offset smoker will run you between $800 and $1,000. This is not a cheap smoker, but the higher price reflects the higher quality construction that is essential for achieving the desired results.
Spending the money now will save you a lot of time and effort later on. When something seems too good to be true, it probably is. That $200 offset smoker sale at Home Depot is an example of this.
In a lot of ways, this is the most important. You should take some measurements of the area you want to put your new offset smoker in before heading out to make your purchase.
Keep in mind that the firebox and possible grill gate stick out of the side or rear of the main chamber, thus the name “offset” smoker, so you’ll have to work around them.
Smokers who use offsets may easily put on hundreds of pounds. If you want to take your offset smoker to events or simply move it about your property, you should choose a type that has wheels.