What is a Reverse Flow Offset Smoker and How to Use One

Last Updated on April 10, 2021

A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.  

A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling,

passed on from his father and grandfather to him.  

smoking food

Smoking is a great way to enjoy tender, perfectly seasoned meat. The low temperatures and long cooking time results in a meal that is nearly heavenly. The thing about smoking meats is that if your smoker isn’t quite right, or doesn’t heat evenly, you can end up with foods that are not evenly cooked. 

While there are many ways to solve this problem, the easiest may be to invest in a reverse flow, offset smoker. These handy tools are made for even heat distribution and a more consistently cooked product.

But what is a reverse flow offset smoker, and how are they different from your regular smoker? In this article, we’ll break down this amazing invention and show you the ways that an offset smoker can take your smoking game from mediocre to a real winner.

1. What is a Reverse Flow Offset Smoker and How to Use One?

Smoking

Image Courtesy: Todd Dwyer

So your reverse flow offset smoker is really a modification on the regular offset smoker. In the regular offset smoker, the heat is located in a fire box outside of the cooking chamber. The chamber has a chimney on the opposite side of the smoker. 

Heat from the fire box is pulled horizontally through the smoker, providing maximum exposure to heat and smoke, while also minimizing your food’s exposure to direct heat.

A reverse flow offset smoker adds a baffle below the cooking surface, and the chimney is on the same side as the fire box. This arrangement allows for smoke to move evenly from one side of the cooking chamber to the other. 

Smoke and heat is pulled below the baffle into the far side of the cooking chamber and then passes horizontally over the food, to the chimney on the other side.


2. What are the Pros and Cons of a Reverse Flow Offset Smoker?

Obviously, there are reasons to use a reverse flow offset smoker, and there are times when you just don’t want to use this option for smoking meat. Here are our pros and cons for using a reverse flow offset smoker.

Pros

  • The insulation of the baffle plate makes for more consistent internal temperature. As well as a more balanced flow of smoke through the smoker for even taste and cooking results.
  • Consistent temperature means you don’t have to flip your food mid-way through the cooking time. Keeping the smoker door closed also improves your cooking process.
  • The baffle, as it gets hot, works as a searing plate. Grease hits the plate and cooks off the fats, creating a delicious flavor for your meats.
  • You’re not as likely to get a spike in heat when you add more fuel. This keeps the cooking conditions more consistent, resulting in a better end result.

Cons

  • You’re going to have to be patient. The reverse flow operation takes more time to come up to temperature.
  • If the baffle is welded in, instead of a removable plate, it can be difficult to clean.
  • You will use more wood or charcoal to run your reverse flow offset smoker. The distance the smoke has to travel through the smoker makes these types of smokers not very fuel efficient.
  • These smokers are generally larger in size, so not great if you have limited space in your backyard or patio.

3. How do You Use a Reverse Flow Offset Smoker?

Using a reverse flow offset smoker isn’t that different from other types of smokers. However, if you are new to smoking you may benefit from a step-by-step guide to how you operate a smoker and in this particular case, a reverse flow offset smoker.

1

Prep your meat. Don’t leave this step until just before you put your meat in the smoker. Use a good dry rub seasoning, and allow it to sit on the meat for a while. This will allow the flavors from the rub to soak into the meat. You can even prep your meat the night before for a more intense flavor.

2

Using a bucket, metal can or chimney starter, light your charcoal. While the charcoal is burning down, add a few pieces of hardwood to your fire box. Hardwoods will give a unique flavor to your smoked meats.

3

Transfer the charcoal to the fire box with the hardwood pieces.

4

Using the dampers on the smoker, adjust the airflow so that the temperature of the cooking chamber reaches 225 degrees F. This is the perfect temperature for smoking most meats.

5

Set your seasoned meats on the cooking grate and close the lid.

6

Monitor the temperature of the smoker. Add more charcoal and wood as needed to maintain a steady temperature of 225 degrees within the cooking chamber.

7

Smoke until the meat is tender or has reached the desired internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer to measure the temperature.

8

Remove the meat from the cooking chamber when it is cooked to the proper temperature. Allow the meat to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving or prepping otherwise.


4. Why Use a Reverse Flow Offset Smoker?

So why would you pick a reverse flow offset smoker? What can it do over other options? Of course, you can get amazing smoked meats from a variety of smoker options, but why do we love them and think they are a great investment?

First of all, they really do the best at creating a consistent temperature in the cooking chamber. If you want consistent temperatures and you don’t want to work extra hard to get there, a reverse flow offset smoker is the right option.

Second, these smokers are ideal for the beginner. Yes, they take a little practice to get them fired up, and good heat coming from the fire box, but once you figure that out, they are the easiest smoker to use, and will give the beginner a bit of instant gratification.

Finally, the reverse flow offset smoker, we think, gives the best flavor of all the smoker options on the market. The grease cooking off of the baffle plate really does add to the flavor profiles you get in your end result, in a way that you can’t get from other smokers.

If you’re willing to make the investment and you have the space, a reverse flow offset smoker really is the best option for grill masters of all experience levels.

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