|1||Char-Broil 13201747-05 Longhorn Offset Smoker/Grill||9.9||Buy on Amazon|
|2||Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal||9.8||Buy on Amazon|
|3||Pit Barrel Cooker Package||9.8||Buy on Amazon|
|4||Smoke Hollow 4-in-1 Gas Charcoal Smoker||9.5||Buy on Amazon|
|5||Char-Griller 5050 Duo Gas and Charcoal Grill||9.3||Buy on Amazon|
|6||Char-Griller 1224 Smokin Pro 830 Square Inch ||8.8||Buy on Amazon|
|7||Outdoor Leisure SH36208 Smoke Hollow 40-Inch Barrel||8.6||Buy on Amazon|
|8||Dyna Glo DGO1176BDC-D||8.4||Buy on Amazon|
|9||Char Broil Highland Offset Grill||8.3||Buy on Amazon|
|10||Laguna Grills GS-41 Big Horse Smoker Grill||8.2||Buy on Amazon|
How to Choose the Ideal Offset Smoker
Last Saturday you stood out on your back porch and smelled the most amazing smell from your neighbor’s yard. You peaked over the fence and there it was, shining in the evening light…a brand new offset smoker. Now you’re hankering and scheming to get one yourself and smoke your own ribs, pork butts, and whole chickens. But there are a lot of options and choices, and you have no idea which one to buy.
We’ve all started in the same place. The smell of smoked meat and a dream, but no plan.
We’re here to help. The following is a simple and straightforward way to find the ideal offset smoker for you, without all the headache and mess of trying to do the research yourself. Having smoked meat for years, our experts can help you think through some of the major pitfalls that might cost you money or flavor. So buckle up and let’s start the meat smoking journey.
I. Getting Started – Things to Consider before you rush to buy
When you first start looking into a new offset smoker, it may feel like you’re drowning in information and choices. It’s not like picking a grill at the local home depot. You’re starting to realize that smoking meat is as much an art as it is science. But the first thing to do is consider some of the really important questions you’ll need to face.
a. How much you can spend without getting divorced?
The first question you have to answer is how much you can spend without hiring a divorce attorney. If you’re like me, when you leave for the barbecue store, your wife is down on her knees praying you won’t spend the kids’ college fund on a double sided trailer smoker the size of the USS Nimitz.
It’s really important to set maximum and minimum limits for your purchase. Offset smokers can go up in price to well over $5000, so you need to decide what you’re willing to invest. At the same time, you really need to set some minimum pricing limits. Spending $120 on a cheap model you find at a local swap meet isn’t the best choice. The cheap steel and poor construction will result in poor flavor and uneven cooking, and eventually (after ruining enough meat to pay for tickets to Hawaii), you’ll give up in dispair. It’s better to save the money, make a plan to buy a really nice unit, and budget for it. The benefits are worth waiting for.
b. How many buddies do you need to cook for?
Second, you need to decide how many people you’ll need to cook for, maximum. If you’re severely anti-social and only want to smoke meat for yourself, it may not matter. But for most guys, showing off your smoking skills to your buddies is a privilege. The issue is that, to really smoke well, you need to invest some hours. If you know you’re having ten guys over, smoked meat isn’t like beer. You can’t just run down to the local shop and pick some up. You need to plan. So you’ll need to decide what sort of capacity you need to really make it work.
c. Features you can’t live without?
Now, you may be saying, when it comes to my smoker, every option is nonnegotiable. And if you have the bankroll to do that (or you’re single), more power to you! But for most guys, there has to be some trade-offs when it comes to buying a smoker.
First, construction is critical. You have to buy a smoker with thick enough steel construction that is is able to absorb heat and distribute it more evenly. A smoker with thin steel construction will lose heat too rapidly, and your meat will become tough and dry as you try to get it cooked properly.
Second, check the seals on the firebox and doors. The simple fact of the matter is that hot air rises. You’re trying to get the warm air from your firebox to cross over and around your meat, which is to the side. This means that if the seals on the doors and firebox are poor, all the precious heat that makes the meat taste so awesome is escaping before it even hits the cooking chamber.
Third, think through design. Most smokers have a side firebox and an elongated cooking chamber. However, there are some smokers with a side firebox and a vertical cooking chamber. The vertical chamber gives more consistent heat flow through all the meat, but sometimes lacks in rack space. So think through capacity vs. design issues and choose the smoker that’s right for you.
Also, check for additional racks, bottom or front shelves, and counterweights on the cooking chamber lids. While these can seem like bells and whistles, they add some functionality that can be helpful.
d. Brand vs. Build – Do you want to show it off or just make great meat?
This one is a major concern. There are some higher-end brands out there that will draw attention to your smoker. Aficionados will gawk at your Horizon or Lang smoker on the patio. But if you don’t have the $2500 or so that it will cost you to buy it, there are some options in the smoker world that combine similar builds and construction for a relatively discounted price. The issue though, is that you’ll need to kick the tires on few models in order to find the make and model that will live up to your expectations. Below are reviews of what we would consider the ten best models available at the best save-your-marriage prices.
The Ten Best Options
1. Char-Broil 13201747-05 Longhorn Offset Smoker/Grill
You’re not going to do much better than the Char-Broil Longhorn Offset smoker is a great smoker for the money. There are quite a few reasons why.
For starters, this smoker has a really impressive capacity. When it comes to smokers, size definitely matters. This beast has over 1000 square inches of cooking space in the two chambers. This means you can easily smoke 6 racks of baby backs in the upper chamber and smoke a couple packs of sausages in the lower chamber without any problem.
It also comes with high quality porcelain coasted wire cooking grates for both chambers. The porcelain coating is important for cleaning and also for maintenance and minimizing rust or corrosion on the grill surface. If you’re thinking of adding a pan of water to your firebox to add additional moisture to your meat (which is a good idea, by the way), having porcelain coated racks is an important addition.
The construction is of higher gauge quality steel, and the larger-sized thermometer provides helpful information while you’re cooking. Overall, this offset smokers truly one of the best on the market for the price.
2. Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal
The Dyna-Glo charcoal smoker is a specially designed smoker for larger surface area. It has a vertical smoking chamber, with a smaller firebox built onto the side. The overall smoking area is substantial – 1175 square inches. This means that you can accommodate 150 lbs. of meat with a single smoking session – plenty for a serious Super Bowl Party. The really cool part about this smoker is that the racks in the smoker are adjustable, allowing for you to choose the size and location of your meat during the smoking process.
The construction is really high quality, with good steel and quality cooking surface grates. Also, charcoal removal is super simple with this model because the firebox has an easily removable drawer system. The grease management is really simple and efficient as well.
Overall, this is a high quality smoker. It has nearly everything you’d look for – capacity, construction, simplicity, etc. The only small drawback is that the temperature fluctuates depending on where in the smoker the meat is located. Racks of ribs on the bottom grate will cook a lot faster than racks on the top, so you’ll need to babysit your meat and move it around to achieve the right level of smoky goodness.
3. Pit Barrel Cooker Package
This isn’t actually a true offset smoker, but it still ranks high on the list. Built from a really high quality steel 30 gallon construction with porcelain overlay, the Pit Barrel has some really great benefits.
Because the fire chamber is in the base of the smoker, there is little or no temp regulation beyond just stoking the coals or adding additional wood chips. This makes for shorter cook times and less heat loss. Plus the entire system is simple and portable and easy to use.
The major drawback on this smoker is the lack of cooking area. There is only one smoking grate to smoke flat meats like ribs. There are hooks that can be used to smoke other meat like whole birds or tied off pork butts, but the lack of flat space is still a downside.
Overall, it’s a great smoker with an ingenious design, built for quick but flavorful cooking and ease of use.
4. Smoke Hollow 4-in-1 Gas Charcoal Smoker
Smokers are usually one-style cooking tools. Buy an offset smoker, and that’s what you’ll do – smoke meat. However, the Smoke Hollow 4in1 is a unique system. It has a gas grill, a charcoal grill, a porcelain meat searer, and an offset smoker all in one. If you’re a meat smoking addict, this grill may not be for you.
However, if you’re looking for cooking versatility, along with smoking ability, this grill is for you. A lot of guys don’t have the space on the patio for two different units, and this system deals with that issue.
The construction is high quality, and the firebox/smoking chamber is a nice set up. However, you will definitely lose smoking space, so if you’re looking to do more than two racks of ribs at a time, this may not be the right unit for you. Overall, a really useful grill for the right buyer.
5. Char-Griller 5050 Duo Gas and Charcoal Grill
This unit has many of the same features as the Smoke Hollow model. It has an additional side burner for heating sauces, etc. The difference is that this unit doesn’t have the traditional offset firebox. The designers wanted to use that space for a sideburner instead.
In order to compensate for that loss, they’ve simply made the smoke chamber inside the smoker. You’ll need to use the under base of the smoking chamber as your firebox. This has advantages and disadvantages. It makes cook times much faster, but it also loses some of the traditional smoking style and long-cook process.
Otherwise the grill is really nice. A large cooking area over 1200 sq inches in total, and built with a high quality steel construction. It’s a great grill for someone who isn’t dedicated to meat smoking as an addicted past time.
6. Char-Griller 1224 Smokin Pro 830 Square Inch Charcoal Grill
This unit is a classic offset smoker with some really nice design features. The charcoal firebox has a drawer to easily add coals without removing the entire grate, and the fire grate has a damper for temperature control. With the temperature control mechanisms, it’s usually a good idea to figure out how to use the first one before you try using both. The damper allows heat and smoke to enter from the firebox, and the chimney allows the outside air to pull the smoke and heat across the meat. The danger is trying to use both at the same time without some serious practice. The unit also has cast iron grates, which resist wear. They do, however, have the disadvantage of potential rust, so you’ll need to season them and take good care of them after each cooking session.
The capacity is a bit lower than some other offset smokers – only 830 square inches – so you’ll need to plan accordingly. You can comfortably fit 4 racks of baby backs, and then cook some another rack or two (depending on size) in the firebox. Be careful, though, because the firebox ribs will burn. It is made from heavy powder-coated steel.
7. Outdoor Leisure SH36208 Smoke Hollow 40-Inch Barrel
This is a really great looking offset smoker with some extremely fine construction features. For starters, the grill racks are a heavy duty porcelain coated cast iron, and are nearly indestructible. They won’t rust or corrode.
The barrel and firebox are both made of heavy duty steel and the baffle between them is well-sealed. Overall, a well constructed smoker.
The smoking surface is 720 square inches, which, as a single smoker, is a sizable surface area. The Smoke Hollow can use both charcoal and wood, which allows you to choose the specific smoke flavor you’re hoping for.
8. Dyna Glo DGO1176BDC-D
With the new Dyna Glo DGO1176BDC-D, you’ll certainly be able to rise to the occasion and impress all your guests with deliciously smoked meat that’s juicy and has a delicious crust as well. Thanks to the DGO1176BDC-D’s vertical design, you can have the peace of mind that it’s a lot more efficient that other smokers on the market and is going to better impart that smokey flavor in your meals. Due to the offset design, direct heat is keep away from the meats, making it possible to cook them slowly.
No matter what you’d like to smoke, the 6 adjustable cooking greatest are spacious enough o accommodate meats of various sizes. In total, you get a cooking surface of 1176 sq. in, with each grate having a maximum capacity of twenty five lbs. This is very impressive indeed and it’s going to make cooking for large family gatherings a breeze.
But when the party is over and everyone has already left home, you’re going to have to clean the smoker and ready it for its next use. In this regard, the ash management and charcoal system with removable steel pan will help you with that. In fact, you don’t even have to clean it after each use, since the DGO1176BDC-D was designed to handle great amounts of ash for many hours. Last but not least, the heavy duty steel construction of the DGO1176BDC-D gives you the peace of mind that this unit is going to last you for years to come.
9. Char Broil Highland Offset Grill
This offset smoker is a really nice model. It is made of heavy gauge steel with good sealing doors and dampers. The firebox has the same handy side door for stoking and adding wood.
The cooking chamber is 619 square inches, which allows for easily four racks of baby backs at a time. The firebox also has another 300 square inches as well, giving a total cooking area over 900 square inches.
The cool touch handles and heavy duty rolling handles are helpful. There’s a nice steel shelf in front for prep space. Finally, the cooking grates are coated in porcelain for non-stick durability.
10. Laguna Grills GS-41 Big Horse Smoker Grill
Even though this one is coming in last compared to the others, it’s still a really great offset smoker. Made with a set of three dampers, including one on the outside of the firebox for allowing greater airflow through the coals, this grill will make you an expert. The side door for the firebox is a little tricky to open while cooking, without a cooking mitt since the handle doesn’t have a cool-touch handle.
The construction is really solid, and the heavy gauge steel with tight fitting lids. Temperature control (undoubtedly the most important concern with smoking) is really simple with these features, and you’ll find that you can tweak the dampers to achieve the best airflow, depending on your meat selection.
The capacity is pretty solid – 538 square inches in the main smoking chamber – plus another 300 in the firebox. A bit smaller than others, but still a solid smoker.
III. Picking Your Ideal Smoker
It’s a good idea to research the smoker options you have within your budget, but take the time to read what’s above carefully. As you narrow down your options, you’ll see that some things are more important than others. Start with budget, consider features, decide on capacity, and get smoking.
Last but not least, buy a good smoker cover. The last thing you want to do is have the smoker rust within two or three seasons! Take good care, and any of these will last for 5 seasons or more. Plus, you can replace components on all these smokers easily.
Best Overall Offset Smoker: Char-Broil 13201747-05 Longhorn
Some say that smoking meats is an art, while others think that it’s something that has to do more with luck. However, with the 13201747-05 Longhorn smoking meats to perfection is never going to be a thing of luck, but actually something that’s going to become pretty common every time you’ll decide to use it to cook for family and friends.
Compared to other smokers on the market today, the 13201747-05 Longhorn(Check on Amazon.com) has seven hundred and fifty one square inches of cooking surface and given the fact that it comes with a wire cooking grate coated in porcelain, it makes it easier to indirectly cook foods such as seafood, vegetable and meats while having the peace of mind that they’re going to taste simply amazing.
Given the fact that it’s fitted with cooking dampers to control the amount of smoke and heat that is allowed through the smokestack and thanks to its heavy gauge all steel construction, we can’t help but give the 13201747-05 Longhorn our best choice award for its incredible set of features and the mouthwatering smoked meats it makes every single time we use it.
Best Value Offset Smoker: Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D
If smoked meats that taste amazing and have a nice crust on them is what you’re looking to get from your ideal smoker, then look no further since you can do that with the new Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D. Thanks to its vertical design, this smoker is a lot more efficient that other smokers on the market and is going to better impart that nice smokey flavor in whatever you decide to cook in it.
You also get a total cooking surface of 1176 sq. in and given the fact this model comes with 5 grates that can each hold up to twenty pounds of meat, the DGO1176BDC-D can easily rise to the occasion when necessary and help you cook meals for large crowds of people. Also, given the fact that it’s made of heavy duty steel you are guaranteed to get many years of use out of it without having to worry about replacing parts along the way. Highly recommended!