6 Best Offset Smoker for 2023: The Ultimate Guide and Review BBQ for Enthusiasts
by Steven Gray,
16 min reading time
Uncover the 6 best offset smokers for 2023 in our comprehensive guide. Whether you're a barbecue enthusiast on a budget or looking for a top-tier smoker, we've got you covered. Learn how these smokers work and get ready to elevate your BBQ game with mouthwatering, smoky flavours. Master the art of barbecue with the perfect offset smoker for your needs.
6 Best Offset Smoker for 2023: The Ultimate Guide and Review
Are you looking for an affordable offset smoker that won't break the bank?
You're in the right place! In this guide, we'll check out some of the best budget-friendly offset smokers available. We'll also give you tips on what to remember when choosing one, what to watch out for, and why some seemingly great deals might not be as good as they seem. So, if you've decided to buy a smoker dedicated to your love of barbecuing, you've made an intelligent choice!
Sure, you can try to smoke meat on a regular BBQ, but getting the flavours just right is tricky. If you're serious about smoking meat (which it seems like you are if you're reading this), an offset smoker is probably what you need. Many barbecue fans have both a regular BBQ and a special smoker.
If you've ever shopped for a BBQ before, you know there are tons of offset smokers to choose from. The goal of this article is to help you out. We'll walk you through all the essential things to think about when searching for the best offset smoker, and we'll narrow down your options to just a few of the best ones out there.
We've done our homework, and in the following sections, we'll share what we found. We'll talk about the must-have features for a great offset smoker and mention some things you can skip – they won't help your cooking. We've picked a small group of recommendations to make things easier for you. Furthermore, we think these are some of the best options available right now. We'll tell you what's good and not-so-good about each one so you can feel confident when you make your choice.
So, let's find the perfect offset smoker for you – but before we get started, let's dive in!
What is an Offset Smoker?
An offset smoker is a special barbecue grill different from your backyard BBQ. It's got two parts: a smaller one on the side (we call it the firebox) and a bigger one where you put your food to cook.
Here's how it works
You light a fire in the small firebox using materials like wood or charcoal, maybe with some wood chips to add that tasty smoky flavour. Then, the heat and smoky goodness from the fire gets sent into the bigger part, where your food is waiting.
This setup gives your food a slow and even cook, making it super tasty with that lovely smoky flavour. But, just a heads-up, using an offset smoker takes more skill than a regular BBQ. You need to pay attention to the fire to get everything just right.
How We Selected the Top 6 Offset Smokers for 2023
Our team of BBQ enthusiasts spent hours researching, testing, and consulting user reviews to curate this list of the best offset smokers for 2023. We evaluated these smokers based on build quality, cooking performance, temperature control, and value for money.
For the majority of people, the prospect of investing in a premium offset smoker, which can cost anywhere from $1500 to $3000 or even more, is not a viable option. After all, putting your house on the line to acquire a smoker, regardless of your passion for barbecue, is hardly a wise financial choice.
Within the budget-friendly category of offset smokers, there's a prevalent issue of alluring appearances that ultimately lead to disappointment due to subpar performance. This can largely be attributed to these smokers' general use of inexpensive materials and inadequate insulation.
However, if your budget is limited to under $1,000, we have a top recommendation for you – Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn.
What We Like:
Large cooking surface for accommodating multiple cuts of meat.
Heavy-gauge steel construction for durability.
Precise temperature control and convenient firebox door.
What We Don't Like:
It can be bulky and challenging to move.
It may require occasional maintenance to prevent rust.
To optimise this smoker's performance, consider making minor adjustments to seal the cooking chamber and heat box. Investing in a high-temperature gasket kit, like the one available from Hot Things, can yield significant improvements.
While opinions among devoted barbecue enthusiasts may diverge, you'll find great satisfaction in Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn if you maintain realistic expectations and don't anticipate replicating the results achieved with a $2000 competition smoker. It's a reliable performer that offers exceptional value within its price range.
While not exclusively a smoker, the Masterbuilt 560 employs an innovative charcoal-burning method, transforming it into a versatile outdoor cooking tool for your backyard. At its core, a vertical hopper, driven by gravity, stores and dispenses the charcoal, igniting it from the base and generating flames.
The grill harnesses this heat, channelling it through a substantial diffuser before it ascends to the cooking grates. A digital thermostat governs a fan that regulates the fire for precise temperature management. Additionally, Masterbuilt offers a complementary app that syncs with the grill, enabling remote control and monitoring of your cooking. Although the grill has a single temperature probe, it accommodates three more.
Using the Series 560 for smoking is a straightforward process involving temperature and timer adjustments. Opting for lump charcoal imparts a delightful smoky flavour to your dishes. An ash bucket houses wood chips to enhance the smokiness, which smoulder gradually as embers fall upon them. Our initial cooking venture, featuring a small brisket slow-cooked for nearly six hours at 220 degrees Fahrenheit, yielded a delectable crust and an effortless experience. Remarkably, consistent results like this are achievable each time you employ the 560.
If the prospect of dealing with charcoal ash has deterred you from charcoal cooking, Masterbuilt has ingeniously resolved this concern. Thanks to the vertical hopper design, the charcoal descends as it burns, with the resulting ash simply collecting in a conveniently located bucket at the base. A straightforward door-opening action followed by emptying the bucket is required to dispose of the ash—no fuss, no mess.
What We Like:
Precise Temperature Control: The standout feature of the Gravity Series 560 is its gravity-fed charcoal system, which ensures precise temperature control. It allows you to consistently maintain the ideal smoking temperature, resulting in perfectly smoked dishes every time you fire it up.
Impressive Versatility: This smoker isn't limited to smoking; it's a multifunctional outdoor cooking powerhouse. You can quickly grill, smoke, bake, roast, and sear. The ample cooking space, featuring two-tier cooking grates, is perfect for hosting gatherings or enjoying flavourful family dinners.
User-Friendly Digital Control Panel: Setting and monitoring temperatures is a breeze with the user-friendly digital control panel. It simplifies temperature adjustments, making heat control hassle-free and allowing you to concentrate on creating mouthwatering dishes.
Built-In Meat Probe: The built-in meat probe is a game-changer for precision cooking. You can monitor your meat's internal temperature, ensuring it's perfectly cooked without overcooking or undercooking.
Robust Construction: The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 is built to last. Its sturdy construction can withstand the rigours of outdoor cooking, providing you with years of reliable performance.
What We Don't Like:
Limited Portability: The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 may not be the most portable option due to its weight and bulkiness. If you plan to move it frequently or take it to different locations, its size and weight may pose some challenges.
Initial Assembly Time: While assembling the smoker is straightforward, thanks to clear instructions, the initial assembly may require some time. It's essential to allocate some extra time for setup before your first use.
Learning Curve for Beginners: There might be a slight learning curve for those new to smoking. While the digital control panel simplifies temperature adjustments, mastering the art of smoking may take a few tries. However, the results are well worth the learning process.
When mastering the art of barbecue, there's no substitute for authentic smoky flavours and perfectly smoked meats. That's where the Hark Hickory Pit Offset Smoker steps onto the stage, and we're thrilled to recommend it as an essential tool for your barbecue journey. With meticulous craftsmanship and unwavering attention to detail, this offset smoker is a testament to the pursuit of culinary excellence in your backyard.
What We Like:
Precise Temperature Control: Achieve the ideal smoking temperature consistently, resulting in perfectly smoked dishes every time.
Total Flavour Control: Fine-tune the smoking process to create your desired flavour profile.
Offset Design Brilliance: The indirect heat method produces tender, flavourful meats with that beloved smoky aroma.
Spacious Cooking Chamber: Accommodate various food sizes and smoke multiple dishes simultaneously.
User-Friendly Features: Built-in temperature gauge and side-mounted firebox door make monitoring and maintenance a breeze.
What We Don't Like:
Limited Portability: Due to its sturdy construction, there may be more portable options than the Hark Hickory Pit Offset Smoker for on-the-go barbecue adventures.
Assembly Time: Initial assembly may require some time, so plan accordingly before your first use.
Learning Curve for Beginners: Like any barbecue equipment, there may be a slight learning curve for those new to smoking, but the results are well worth the effort.
The Hark Texas Pro Pit Offset Smoker is not merely a cooking tool; it's a testament to uncompromising craftsmanship. Its design is tailored to meet the exacting standards of serious barbecue enthusiasts, promising to be a reliable partner on the journey to barbecue perfection.
Despite its unassuming size, the Texas Pro packs a punch when it comes to smoking prowess. It is an ideal companion for intimate gatherings or those who seek adventure in the great outdoors.
What we like:
Versatile Compactness: The Texas Pro’s compact design doesn't compromise versatility. It's suitable for various settings, from intimate gatherings to outdoor adventures.
Built to Last: Crafted from high-quality materials, this smoker promises performance and durability, guaranteeing a trustworthy companion on their barbecue journey.
Smoky Magic: The offset firebox design ensures indirect heat, infusing meats with genuine smoky flavours for an authentic barbecue experience.
Spacious Cooking Chamber: Multiple adjustable shelves provide ample room for meats, unlocking endless culinary possibilities.
Precision in Every Smoke: The built-in temperature gauge offers precise temperature control, resulting in a consistently perfect barbecue.
What we don't like:
Limited Cooking Space: Due to its compact size, the Texas Pro Pit may not be suitable for large-scale gatherings or events.
Assembly Required: Users should be prepared to invest some time in setup before their first smoke.
Learning Curve: As with any smoker, mastering this offset smoker may require a few attempts, especially for those new to smoking. However, this learning process is an essential part of the barbecue journey.
The Pit Barrel Cooker may not be a traditional offset smoker, but it's a favourite among BBQ enthusiasts for its simplicity and efficiency. It uses a vertical design to hang meats, creating an even cook and delightful flavour.
What We Like:
Unparalleled Cooking Capacity: This Cooker's standout feature is its remarkable cooking capacity. It can handle more than double the amount of food compared to traditional horizontal cookers, making it perfect for gatherings and family feasts.
All-Round Heat Dynamics System: The innovative 360º All-Round Heat Dynamics system ensures that every inch of your food receives even cooking. Whether you're a novice or an experienced cook, you can expect consistent, delicious results.
Ease of Use: The Pit Barrel is a complete package with clear instructions. Whether you're grilling or smoking, getting started and creating mouthwatering meals is straightforward.
Durable Construction: Crafted from high-quality 18-gauge steel with a porcelain enamel coating, the Pit Barrel is built to last. You can trust this cooker will be a reliable companion for outdoor cooking adventures.
What We Don't Like:
Size Consideration: While the ample cooking capacity is a plus, the Pit Drum Cooker's size might be a drawback for those with limited outdoor space or looking for a more portable option.
Initial Learning Curve: Like any cooking equipment, there may be a slight learning curve, especially for those new to drum cooking. However, this is an opportunity to hone your skills and embark on a flavourful culinary journey.
Offset smokers, often called "stick burners," are renowned for their ability to create mouthwatering barbecue. Here's a comprehensive breakdown of how these smokers work:
Fuel Placement: Offset smokers rely on charcoal and wood as their fuel source. This mixture is placed in the dedicated firebox, which is located adjacent to the main cooking chamber. The firebox is where the magic begins.
Ignition: The charcoal and wood in the firebox are ignited to start the cooking process. This initial fire generates the heat and, more importantly, the flavourful smoke that will infuse your meats.
Heat and Smoke Flow: As the fire in the firebox burns, it produces heat and smoke. This heat and smoke are intelligently channelled into the main cooking chamber. A small opening or connection between the firebox and the cooking chamber allows this transfer to occur. It's in the cooking chamber that the real barbecue transformation happens.
The Cooking Chamber: Inside the cooking chamber, your meats, poultry, or other delicacies are placed on cooking grates. These grates are strategically positioned to ensure even cooking. As the heat and smoke flow through the chamber, they envelop your food, creating that unmistakable smoky flavour and ensuring that your meat cooks perfectly.
Temperature and Smoke Control: Achieving barbecue excellence requires precise temperature control. Offset smokers feature two essential components: a damper on the firebox and a vent on the chimney or stack. These adjustable openings allow you to fine-tune the cooking chamber's temperature and manage the smoke that envelops your food. The delicate balance of airflow and heat leads to exceptional barbecue results.
Wrapping it up
Using offset smokers effectively requires practice and patience. Learning offset smoking takes practice, but it's worth it for the incredible smoky flavours you can achieve. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro, enjoy the journey of mastering the art of barbecue with your chosen offset smoker.