Why Buying an Offset Smoker?
Let’s get one thing straight:
If you like your meat tender and juicy, packed with a rich, smoky taste, getting an offset smoker is the best move you could make.
For those of you not entirely familiar with the concept of offset smokers, the first thing you should know more about is their distinctive design. Rather than having everything jammed into one chamber – both the charcoal and the meat – offset smokers employ indirect heat and smoke exposure.
How? Their dual-chamber, barrel-like design is what makes them stand out – they have a separate firebox that’s located on the side and slightly under the level of the main smoking chamber. That way, you have a chamber that holds the heat source, with the smoke and heat traveling from it and into the one that holds your food.
Now, here’s the beauty of it:
Smoking meat is a long and slow process, and if often requires you to tend to the coals every few hours or so. With an offset smoker – and a separate firebox, in particular – you can do so without disrupting the temperature and losing significant amounts of smoke in the main cooking chamber.
Besides, the best offset smoker comes with multi-purpose functionality, and serves as smoker and grill combo, rather than a stand-alone unit. So, if you’d like to get the best of both worlds, but don’t necessarily have the space needed to fit both a charcoal grill and a smoker in your backyard, an offset smoker might be the answer to all your prayers.
However, before you take the plunge, know that despite their relatively similar looks, not all offset smokers are created equal. For someone who’s never owned an offset smoker before, choosing the right one from the sea of options can be a daunting task. That’s why we’re in your corner!
We’ve put the market’s leading products to the test, and compiled a detailed list of factors you should consider when buying an offset smoker. Follow our lead, and you’re bound to get the best bang for your buck – and take your grilling and smoking game to the next level!
Meet the Best Offset Smokers
The Good: It’s a wide-bodied, vertical offset smoker with the largest cooking surface we came across – 1890 square inches total.
The Bad: It doesn’t come with wheels, and the thermometer seems a bit off – but those are all minor complaints.
The Bottom Line: Considering its performance, and durability, and many user-oriented features, we’re entirely comfortable with recommending this one to everyone – from novices to expert smokers. There’s something about it that makes it suitable for a wide range of users – and an equally wide range of uses.
The Good: It combines a relatively small footprint with a sizeable 1382-square-inch cooking surface.
The Bad: Problems with heat retention and parts warping all come down to the thin steel used in its construction.
The Bottom Line: We don’t have any reason to slam this product. It’s not the best – but it does what it’s supposed to do, and sometimes, that’s more than enough. Sure, the thin steel construction does have its drawbacks, but none of them are deal-breakers.
The Good: It has a reasonably sized cooking surface and everything you’ll need to keep the temperature under control.
The Bad: The thin metal, the seals, and the fit and finish require some DIY touch-ups.
The Bottom Line: It’s not bad, but it’s not good, either. We struggled a bit with this one, because, despite having no serious performance issues, it still fell short of impressing us. It’s good for what it is – a budget-friendly offset smoker – but that’s it.
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The Good: It’s reasonably priced and has sufficient cooking-grate capacity, but that’s it.
The Bad: It’s pretty much useless out of the box, without additional sealing and modifications.
The Bottom Line: We’re not sure what to think here. It’s a budget-friendly option; we’ll give it that. However, it failed to impress us in other aspects of its performance. Plus, it required modifications to get it to work, in the first place.
That would be the short version – we’ve prepared detailed reviews and opinions about these products, so, stick around for that!
All of the Factors Considered
At first glance, there’s not much to an offset smoker besides its dual-chamber, barrel-like design. That’s where you’re mistaken. If you’re not careful enough with your choice, it’s those things, more than anything else, that could warrant you a low-quality, under-performing unit. We’re here to prevent you from making that mistake by ensuring that you have a well-researched, tried-and-true list of factors you should consider when buying an offset smoker!
When it comes to construction quality – one of those factors that could quite literally make or break an offset smoker – you’ll have to pay attention to several critical elements. It comes down to the choice of materials, the quality behind the seals, and the overall structural strength.
Thick, heavy-gauge metal is the apparent choice material-wise, with ¼-inch steel being the golden standard. It’s less likely to warp, ensures consistent cooking temperatures, and holds up better in the long run.
Be sure to inspect the quality of the paint job, and all the latches and hinges, too. These seemingly unimportant details can tell you a lot about the smoker’s overall durability.
High-quality seals are another vital aspect of the offset smoker’s construction. When done right – consistent throughout, without any noticeable gaps – they minimize heat loss and improve smoke retention.
Offset smokers are big, to begin with, but there are still two things you need to consider before you buy one – how much space it takes up and how much food you can cook on it. It seems like a straightforward deal – whenever you’re faced with a choice, go with the bigger one.
Our advice is to focus on finding a decently-sized cooking chamber that can comfortably fit an entire chicken – or a turkey, even. Also, be sure that the grilling surface can hold enough food to meet your cooking demands, whatever they may be. It’s a highly personalized choice, and no one can make it for you.
Don’t get carried away, and forget all about the outdoor space you have available for the offset smoker, though. “Bigger is better” – in most cases, anyway. However, if you cram it in a very tight space, you’ll not only experience issues with proper ventilation but risk setting something on fire by accident, too!
Smoking meat isn’t a race – it’s a marathon. In short, you’ll get the best results when it’s done low and slow. As with any other cooking method, maintaining the right temperature is vital. So, when you’re deciding on the best offset smoker, there are three temperature-related factors you need to consider:
First and foremost, it has to have the right temperature range to cover all your smoking and grilling requirements.
Next, you need to be able to control the smoker’s temperature. That’s where large, easy-to-adjust vents come into play. By controlling the airflow inside the unit, you’ll be able to control the temperature, as well.
Lastly, you should be able to get accurate readings of the cooking chamber’s internal temperature without opening the lid and letting all that smoke and heat escape in the process. That’s why we always recommend finding a model with an integrated, grate-level temperature gauge.
Ease of Use
The next essential – although relatively broad – aspect you should consider is the unit’s general ease of use. We say “broad” because, more often than not, it involves quite a few things – from the ease of starting a fire and tending to the coals to the ease of cleaning and maintenance.
Another thing that plays into the unit’s user-friendly design is smoker’s portability. Of course, considering the dual-chamber design, you can’t expect them to have the same degree of portability as some much more compact units. However, a set of sturdy wheels on an offset smoker does make a ton of difference!
Although having other accessories isn’t as vital for your offset smoker’s performance, it can certainly make your experience a lot more pleasant. Some models will come with quite a few handy add-ons, and others will probably have them available as an additional, optional purchase.
When it comes to essential smoker accessories, the selection is pretty much endless – from protective covers and extra racks to grill tools and hooks, and even charcoal chimneys. So, you need to sit down and decide which of these are must-haves for you and choose your offset smoker grill based on which perks are included in the offer, and which are sold separately.
Those were the factors that should be considered when you’re choosing an offset smoker. And now, we’re going to show you how our top-rated products measure up using the same criteria.
In-depth Reviews of 5 Best Offset Smokers
Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D Offset Charcoal Smoker
Vertical & wide-body design
A unique benefit of a vertical smoker is that it addresses two primary concerns – the space-consuming footprint, and the natural tendency of heat to move up, and not sideways. With a cooking surface of 1890 square inches and a space-efficient vertical design, this one manages to address both.
Find the ideal temperature
Besides the optimized heat flow, this model packs quite a few features that improve temperature control, as well. These features include the stainless steel temperature gauge with a conveniently marked “Smoke Zone” indicator and the steel smoke stack with an adjustable flue.
The lack of wheels might affect portability
One thing we’ve noticed instantly, right out of the box, is that it doesn’t come with wheels, which, as you know, can impact the unit’s portability. However, at 80 pounds, it weighs significantly less than its competitors, so we’re willing to accept this trade-off.
It’s thin but it’s not flimsy
Considering its size and capacity, we were surprised to see how light it felt compared to some other units. Of course, that raised some concerns about its thin metal construction. However, after detailed inspection, we didn’t find a single spot that felt flimsy or cheaply made.
Who Should Buy this Product
Okay, this one’s easy. Anyone – and we do mean anyone – who’s considering giving offset smokers a try should give this one a shot. With an unmatched cooking surface of 1890 square inches, a vertical, wide-body design, and outstanding temperature control features, it offers everything you could want in an offset smoker.
What to Watch Out For
Let’s get one thing straight; there’s nothing about this product that feels sub-par or inferior in any way. Even with the thin metal construction, the lack of wheels, and the inaccurate thermometer it comes with, it still blows the competition away. It outperformed every other unit we’ve tested, even those coming from the same manufacturer! Overall, it comes down to knowing this smoker’s drawbacks and making peace with them before you buy it.
Out of all the offset smokers we’ve tested, this one performed the best. And that’s out of the box – without any additional modifications. It’s not perfect, and you’ll undoubtedly notice a few not-so-stellar things about it. Looking at the whole picture, though, it’s easily the best offset smoker we came across in our search. And, considering that we’ve tested dozens of products, that says a lot about its quality!
Dyna-Glo Signature DGSS1382VCS-D Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill
Chrome-plated and 1382-square-inch cooking area
Slightly smaller than the previously reviewed Dyna-Glo offset smoker, this one still offers a substantial amount of cooking space, conveniently distributed across five chrome-plated grates. It’s already spacious and versatile, but the pre-installed sausage hooks take this flexibility to the next level.
Don’t get us wrong; it’s far from feeling cheap or flimsy. Both the main chamber and the firebox are constructed out of steel, and both do seem well-made and durable. However, certain parts, like the firebox tray, were a bit thinner than expected, which resulted in heat-induced warps.
Massive but mobile
It weighs a little over 124 pounds, which is, by no means, the definition of an easily portable grill. However, it does come with oversized, heavy-duty steel wheels, so, if you do end up having to move the smoker, it shouldn’t be an issue.
Babysitting the temperature
It comes with everything you’ll need for temperature control, including side and top air vents and an integrated thermometer. Moreover, due to quality seals, it doesn’t leak smoke, either. However, maintaining a steady internal temperature is still a struggle, and we think that the thin metal might be to blame here.
Who Should Buy this Product
Considering its vertical design with a relatively compact footprint and a sizeable 1382-square-inch cooking surface, we think this one’s best suited for those of you who tend to cook for larger groups of people, but don’t necessarily have the space needed for a horizontal smoker in their backyards.
What to Watch Out For
All of the drawbacks we’ve experienced come down to one thing – its construction. While we admire the overall design and are pretty satisfied with the quality of the welding on it, the steel is too thin. As a result, not only is it prone to warping – certain parts are, anyway – but struggles with maintaining a steady temperature, as well. It can be done, though, but you’ll have to keep a close eye on it.
We’re far from being unhappy with its overall performance. It does what it’s supposed to do, and it does it very well, for that matter. There’s nothing about it that feels flimsy or cheaply made – and that’s something a lot of the models in the same price range struggle with achieving. However, it’s not the best one we’ve tested – and that’s why it landed second on our round-up.
Royal Gourmet BBQ Charcoal Grill & Offset Smoker
A two-in-one deal
Since it works as a combination of a smoker and a charcoal grill, with a total combined cooking surface of 800 square inches, you get the best of both worlds. The primary chamber features 438-square-inch porcelain-coated, rust-resistant grates, with the addition of the side firebox, and a 179-square-inch swing-away rack.
All about temperature control
Besides the lid-mounted thermometer, which allows you to monitor internal temperatures, this offset smoker is equipped with two more features that make temperature control easy. It has adjustable dampers that let you control airflow and an adjustable charcoal pan that can be set to two different heights.
Thin and warping-prone metal
Although the overall construction feels relatively sturdy, especially considering the price, the steel is on the lighter side. It’s not uncommon for it to warp, even during the first use. The parts that come into direct contact with heat, such as the charcoal tray, will be the first to go.
Season it or else
The initial seasoning will be a very smelly, but essential step you have to take once you assemble your grill. If you fail to do this, chances are you’ll experience paint melting and flaking off, leaving certain areas of the grill exposed to rust.
Who Should Buy this Product
Although it’s somewhat smaller than the two models you’ve seen previously, at 800 square inches, it’s still far from being considered small. As such, we feel that it’s best suited for large families – and an occasional backyard cookout or two. If that’s what you’re after, the Royal Gourmet is the way to go.
What to Watch Out For
There were quite a few things that bothered us about it right out of the box. That includes the fit and finish, the not-so-tight seals, and the thin metal that tends to warp when in direct contact with heat. That said, we don’t think that any of these are deal-breakers – it still offers decent smoking and grilling experience, but with a few additional touch-ups on your part.
There’s not much to say about this one. It’s an average-performing, average-sized, average-quality offset smoker. In any way, that’s our general impression. There was nothing inherently wrong with this smoker – except maybe for the thin metal construction – so, we still believe it’s worth considering. However, keep all of its drawbacks in mind, and don’t expect it to perform as a high-end model would. You’ll be happier with its performance that way.
Char-Broil Offset Smoker
Extra-large cooking chambers
The 739-square-inch primary cooking surface and the added 275 square inches of space in the firebox provide a massive combined cooking area that’s tough to beat for the price. If we did the math right, the porcelain-coated cooking grates should easily fit over 30 burgers at a time.
Performs well despite its flaws
The metal construction seems to be a thinner, lighter gauge, especially when compared to some of their other models. Despite the issues with construction quality, the three-piece smoking chamber still does a decent job at achieving the desired temperature.
Don’t expect the paint job to last
The paint on the bottom side of the chamber started bubbling and peeling off almost immediately. When we say “immediately,” we mean during first use. We’re willing to overlook the aesthetic aspect of it, but the issue of exposed, rust-prone metal is too big to ignore.
User-friendly for the most part
It’s designed as a beginner’s smoker, and as such, it makes sense that it’s easy to use. Plus, it comes with lots of beginner-friendly features, like the attached temperature gauge. However, certain aspects of it, like assembly and maintaining temperature, might be tricky for the inexperienced.
Who Should Buy this Product
With a price tag that lands just under the $100 mark, it falls into the entry-level category of smokers – and an easy-to-use one, as well. The design is straightforward, and the operation is pretty much fool-proof, which makes it a highly recommended option for offset smoking novices.
What to Watch Out For
As we pointed out previously, the number one issue you’ll experience with this grill is the poorly done paint job. When you fire the smoker up for the first time, you can expect the paint on the bottom side of the chamber to start melting and peeling off almost instantly. The problem isn’t that it will look all beat up – it’s that it will leave the metal exposed to rust.
If you don’t have a lot of practice with smoking, you might find this product useful. It certainly offers a lot more compared to other entry-level options. You can practice the basics of smoking your meat and move on to a more high-end option later down the road. However, if you’re quite an experienced smoker, chances are you’ll find this Char-Broil disappointing – and you should probably look elsewhere.
Char-Griller Smokin' Pro Charcoal Grill
Solid steel construction
Both the main smoking chamber and the firebox are made of powder-coated steel. It’s not the thickest gauge you’ll come across, but the powder coating does lend it some much-needed durability, and resistance to chips and fading. The cast-iron grates are a nice touch, too.
Plenty of cooking space
Featuring the main cooking surface of 580 square inches, and a side firebox with an additional 250 square inches of space, this offset smoker provides a total of 830 square inches of cooking space. That should be more than enough to meet all your smoking and grilling demands.
Doesn’t hold up in windy conditions
Maintaining any temperature control is pretty much impossible in windy conditions and cold weather. We first thought that the thermometer was the biggest issue, but as it turns out, the thin metal construction and questionable sealing don’t retain heat that well.
Initial modifications are a must
It’s nowhere near close to being airtight, so, it’s pretty much useless as a smoker right out of the box, without considerable modifications. You can do the additional sealing yourself, but the point is that you shouldn’t have to do this with a brand new grill.
Who Should Buy this Product
If you’re a backyard grilling enthusiast looking to get a two-in-one grill that can take on the role of a charcoal grill or an offset smoker depending on what you need it to do, the Char-Griller fits the bill. And, it saves you a few bucks along the way, too.
What to Watch Out For
Our main gripe with this model is that you think you’re getting a money-saving deal. And then, you have to spend both time and money in the effort to make it something it’s not – a reliable offset smoker. It leaks smoke everywhere, and even the slightest wind can mess with its internal temperature. It goes against everything we’ve told you the best offset smoker should be.
It’s called the “Smokin’ Pro”, but it failed to convince us that it’s deserving of such a name. Does it allow you to cook quite a bit of food at a time? Yes. But, does it do so efficiently right out of the box? No. We’re willing to give it pass because of its budget-friendly price tag. However, considering the follow-up investments it requires, we’re still not sure it’s entirely worth it.
The Best Offset Smoker – Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D
We love it when highlighting a specific product as the best out of the bunch comes naturally – and that’s what happened with this particular offset smoker. We knew straight away that it’s not your typical entry-level model. And once we had the fire going, we were convinced – the Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D is the best offset smoker on the market.
No other unit came even close to beating its price to value ratio. What you’re getting is a well-made, wide-bodied, vertical offset smoker with an unmatched cooking surface and performance. After everything you’ve learned about smokers, you can’t tell us that you don’t see how it ended up being our top pick for today.
Simple, but effective – that’s how we’d describe any of the models you’ve seen today. And while we have to have our winner announced, we’d understand if you don’t quite agree with our choice. What worked for us may not necessarily be the best fit for you, and that’s fine. We’re not here to push you into buying an offset smoker you don’t need – we’re here to help you with your final decision. If we managed to do that, you’re more than welcome to share our guide with others who might find it just as helpful! Have fun mastering the art of smoking meat, and see you next time!