What is an Offset Smoker?

An offset smoker is a two-piece smoker that is commonly thought of as the most traditional type of smoker that originated from the Texas oil fields. You’ll also hear them being called barrel smokers, horizontal smokers, pipe smokers or stick burners. They’re all the same thing.

With a basic set-up where a smaller chamber houses the fire and feeds smoke through holes into a larger cooking chamber, offset smokers use indirect heat and smoke to cook almost anything low-and-slow to perfection.

Offset smokers are a top weapon of choice on the competitive barbecue circuit. They run off charcoal and/or real wood, and, although they do take a bit of practice to master, there’s no reason you can’t be your own backyard pit master on one of these baby’s.

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Grilling on an Offset Smoker

While you can’t grill well on a lot of smokers, the setup of an offset smoker allows this as an added bonus. Simply open the firebox and grill directly over the flames while you smoke. Or, fill the cooking chamber with charcoal and/or wood to make yourself a large grilling pit.

Pros of Using an Offset Smoker:

  • Makes hands-down, incredible, authentic smoked meat

  • Can be used for grilling too

  • Usually has a large cooking chamber suitable for big cuts of meat for the whole family

  • Because you build and maintain the fire, you have total control over the temperature and/or smoke levels

  • The separate firebox means that you won’t disrupt the temperature and smoke in the cooking chamber when you add more fuel

  • There’s nothing electronic to break

  • A quality offset smoker can last a lifetime with proper TLC

Cons of Using an Offset Smoker:

  • It takes practice to get used to where to position the meat and how big/how often to fuel the fire to keep the temperature where you want it

  • Cheaper offset smokers made from thinner materials don’t retain the heat as well for cooking in cooler climates, meaning you’ll use more fuel

  • Horizontal offset smokers take up quite a bit of space

  • It takes a good 30 minutes to get the fire started and heat up the cooking chamber

  • They’re NOT a set and forget smoker! – You will need to tend to it regularly throughout the cook

  • They are susceptible to smoke leakages

  • Heavier, non-portable design that you won’t want to move too often

Who Should Buy an Offset Smoker?

Offset smokers are the ideal barbecue for anyone who wants versatility and mouth-watering results but doesn’t mind spending the extra time and effort required to get them. Check out the Oklahoma Joe’s® Longhorn  and Highland Offset Smokers below