Looking for the best offset smoker? 2016 buying guide
Offset smokers are a great way to get into food smoking. With prices starting at around $70 for a decent model they are considerably cheaper than most electric or propane smokers. Let’s be honest, they look great as well with their firebox off to one side of the large main cooking grill – exactly what a grill should look like!
However, a word of caution: offset smokers take getting used to, basically because of the fundamental way they work. The fact that the smokebox is offset means that the heat getting into the main smokebox/cooking chamber is not even and you will end up with the side furthest from the smokebox cooler than the one nearest.
Also avoid the very cheap offset smokers that you can find in your local discount store. They are cheap for a reason: they are generally made from poor quality metals and have a tendency to leak quite badly!
Our offset smoker reviews below look at 5 of the best models to help you in your decision. These will suit all budgets and range from the best entry level models to the high end $400+ smokers.
What to look for when choosing an offset smoker
There are some basic things you need to consider when choosing an offset smoker:
- What is the cooking area of both the smokebox and main chamber?
- Is a temperature gauge built in? The more the better.
- How easy can the grill be cleaned?
- Is it portable? Does it have wheels so it can be moved around the yard?
- Does it have a side table? Not essential but handy for storing utensils…and your beer!
The Char Broil Offset Smoker offers plenty of space with a 288 square inch cooking area as well as a smaller secondary space to cook that is 138 square inches. The cooking grate is porcelain coated to help make clean up easy and there is also a convenient door to remove ashes. This grill can be used to BBQ, grill and as a smoker. As many as 9 burgers can be cooked at once in the main chamber making this the perfect grill for cooking at small family gatherings. The firebox is made of steel to ensure a slow smoke flavour every time. The Char-Broil also has a (small) side shelf and built in thermometer.
This smoker is one of the best-selling models available and is usually on sale for just under $100.
This smoker from Char-Griller is a high rated model for a reason! The main cooking area is a traditional style charcoal grill and on the side you’ll find a firebox, perfect for making Texas-style barbecue. The cooking grates are very durable and made from cast iron, making them easy to clean as well. On the grill is a temperature gauge to help you create the perfect meal every time. For those worried about cleaning, this grill features removable drawers to dump ashes and refill with fresh charcoal. There is plenty of plate and utensil storage on this model with both side and front wooden shelves plus a wire tray rack underneath.
Although stepping up in price (on sale for around $180), this smoker grill will make a great purchase and is highly rated by users.
For those who have gained some experience in how to use an offset smoker and are looking for a vertical offset smoker, this Dyna-Glo smoker could be for you. The Dyna-Glo Charcoal Offset smoker is created with a vertical compartment that uses the rising heat to properly smoke and cook your meal. There are many features that allow you to customize the amount of smoke and heat your food receives. One custom feature is the flute which can be adjusted for flavour control. A thermometer on the side gives you an idea of how to maintain the perfect temperature.
Costing around the same ($180) as the Char-Griller 1224 Smokin Pro 830, the Dyna-Glo Smoker is one of the most highly rated vertical offset smokers available.
The Char-Broil Longhorn Offset Grill steps up a gear in terms of both price ($600), cooking space and quality. Its a great option if you are looking to purchase a top -end horizontal smoker. The separate side fire box allows space for wood or charcoal and a small hole connects this to the main cooking chamber. If space is a worry for you, this grill offers plenty of it. The side firebox also features a cooking surface and the main cooking area is a massive 751 square inches as well as being porcelain coated. The handles are chrome plated and remain cool even during cooking. A front shelf offers a decent sized area to store spices or tools.
This horizontal smoker is an ideal purchase if you are looking for a larger, high quality vertical smoker.
If you are a pro on the grill or with a smoker then you need the best of the best and the Landmann Smoky Mountain Bravo is the perfect premium grill. The large offset smoker box offers easy access to fill with wood or charcoal. An ashtray is one feature that helps make cleaning this easy. There is also plenty of storage and a side table where spices or supplies can be kept. Two charcoal chambers alongside the smoker enable to chef to cook to their liking and makes it easy to customize the flavour.
If you are looking for the best offset smoker, this this is the one gets our vote. It looks great, has tons of useful features and is competitively priced at around $400.
Don’t forget your offset smoker cover!
It’s easy to get carried away with accessories when buying a smoker but one essential item (after a decent thermometer!) is a cover.
Make sure you get one made from strong materials that will withstand both rain and sun. They may seem expensive but they will protect your investment so you get to enjoy it longer!