The Best Offset Smokers of 2022

Cook meats and other favorite foods to perfection with a top-rated offset smoker.

By Timothy Dale | Updated Nov 17, 2021 11:26 AM

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Best Offset Smoker Options

Photo: amazon.com

Offset smokers, also known as barrel smokers or horizontal smokers, are used regularly by professional and home chefs to make the most of meats and other foods. Though some offset smokers run on electrical power, more traditional models burn fuel such as charcoal or propane in an external firebox attached to the cooking chamber. This generates heat and smoke, which circulates through the cooking chamber and out of an exhaust vent to smoke food.

The best offset smoker for your patio or deck depends on the type of fuel you prefer, the size and weight of the smoker, and the method of temperature control. Use this guide to get a good idea of how to decide which product is best for you and read up on the following models, all considered among the best offset smokers available.

  1. BEST OVERALL: OKLAHOMA JOE’S Longhorn Offset Smoker
  2. BEST BUDGET: Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill with Offset Smoker
  3. BEST HIGH-END: Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Grill and Smoker
  4. BEST VERTICAL: Dyna-Glo Signature Series Offset Charcoal Smoker
  5. BEST PELLET: Z GRILLS Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker 8 in 1 BBQ
  6. BEST ELECTRIC: Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill
  7. BEST CHARCOAL: Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Charcoal Grill Smoker
  8. BEST PORTABLE: Davy Crockett Pellet Grill Package Cover Rack Mat
  9. HONORABLE MENTION: Char-Griller Smokin Pro 830 Charcoal Grill
The Best Offset Smoker Options

Photo: amazon.com

Types of Offset Smokers

Offset smokers come in several different types, differentiated by the fuel they use, including electric, charcoal, wood pellets, and gas.

Charcoal

Charcoal smokers and grills are relatively easy to operate, but to truly master them, you must learn how to control the temperature using the intake and exhaust dampers. Charcoal is the most popular fuel used by grill cooks because it produces more smoke than electric or gas smokers, infusing food with a deep, smoky flavor.

While these smokers suit folks who enjoy having hands-on control, there are charcoal models available with fully automatic temperature control—ideal for people who want the charcoal taste without getting their hands dirty. Charcoal offset smokers should be cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of creosote (a thick, oily substance left over by fire) and other byproducts that could negatively affect the taste of food.

Pellet

Pellet smokers infuse natural smoky flavor into food by slowly burning wood pellets. The pellets include natural wood, mesquite, and hickory and imbue food with a range of flavors—sweet, whiskey, and even charcoal.

For ease of use, these offset smokers typically have a dial or digital temperature control; all you need to do is put food into the cooking chamber, add the pellets, set the temperature, and then just keep track of time. You can check on the food and change the temperature if necessary, and the offset smoker will automatically adjust the dampers to increase or decrease the temperature to the new setting.

Gas

Gas smokers use liquid propane or natural gas to provide a low, slow-cooking heat that is easy to adjust and control. These typically have a built-in ignition switch, making them easy to light with the push of a button. The continuous supply of gas from an attached tank can be slowly increased or decreased to adjust the temperature as needed.

Gas smokers are usually smaller than electric, charcoal, or pellet models, so they aren’t ideal if you’re cooking for a big party. However, the smaller footprint and gas fuel source suit smaller outdoor spaces and areas with restrictions on charcoal use.

Electric

Electric smokers create heat using a heating element that sits at the bottom of the smoker. This element requires a connection to an external power source, such as an extension cord plugged into a power outlet outside your home. Being tethered to a power source means electric smokers are not portable unless you also have a portable generator.

This style of smoker is good for beginners, thanks to an automatic internal thermostat that lets you precisely control the temperature. Some models may even have Bluetooth connectivity so you can control the heat settings through apps on your smartphone or tablet.

Features to Look for in the Best Offset Smoker

To find the best offset smoker for your patio or deck, consider the important factors and features below.

Size

Smokers range in size from portable smokers with a 150-square-inch cooking surface to full-size smokers with one or more cooking surfaces and a combined size of more than 800 square inches.

Choosing the right-size smoker will depend on the amount of space available, the number of people you expect to cook for regularly, and whether portability is a factor. If you have a small patio, you may not want a smoker that takes up most of the square footage. If you typically entertain crowds of eight or more, look for a cooking surface of at least 600 square inches.

Weight and Portability

Like portable grills, portable offset smokers are typically gas models that can connect to a small propane tank. They should be light enough for one or two adults to lift and load into a car or truck. If you want portability without sacrificing too much on size, consider a smoker that comes with wheels. This will let you move it around without significant effort.

Offset smokers range in weight from just 20 pounds to more than 200 pounds for extra-large models. Weight isn’t a major consideration unless you are planning to move your smoker around regularly. Many cooks keep a smoker in one place, especially if it’s a large model.

The size of the hopper can influence the weight of the offset smoker. The hopper is a narrowing compartment in the smoker where charcoal or wood pellets are loaded to automatically add to the smoker when necessary. The larger the hopper, the less often the smoker needs refilling.

Quality

A smoker’s quality will affect its durability, so if you’ll be using yours frequently or keeping it outside where it’s exposed to the elements, invest in a reputable brand’s well-built model, with a lid that closes firmly and a strong seal between the firebox and the main chamber. A sign of good quality is a smoker body and cooking grates constructed of rugged, weather-resistant stainless steel or powder-coated steel.

Insulation and Ventilation

Smoking food is a slow process that requires the cooking chamber to maintain a relatively steady temperature. The best smokers require sufficient insulation so that you don’t burn more fuel than necessary to achieve the desired results. While insulation helps maintain the optimum heat level, the temperature within the smoker is actually controlled by the ventilation system.

The ventilation components generally include at least one intake damper and one exhaust damper, though some models provide additional vents for more precise control. Opening or closing the damper vents increases or decreases the flow of oxygen, smoke, and heat throughout the smoker for an ideal slow-cook experience.

Reverse-flow smokers allow the smoke to enter from one side and travel through the heating chamber. It is then diverted by a metal plate, forcing it to travel back in the opposite direction until it exits through an exhaust damper. Simply put, a reverse-flow offset smoker ensures that the heat and smoke are uniformly distributed inside the smoker before exiting.

Thermometer

The thermometer on an offset smoker can range from a standard dial unit attached to the lid to an electronic thermometer with temperature controls that users can set to automatically adjust the ventilation system to increase or decrease the temperature.

An experienced grill cook may not want or need the convenience of digitally controlling the smoker’s temperature and will find a simple dial thermometer sufficient. Newbie grill cooks, however, may wish to learn using precise temperature controls before transitioning to a traditional charcoal offset smoker.

Charcoal smokers call for more knowledge and experience to properly control the fluctuating heat with the intake and exhaust dampers because charcoal is more susceptible to rapidly climbing and falling temperatures.

Accessories

Offset smokers may include a variety of useful accessories. These can run the gamut from simple items like grill utensils, pellets, or charcoal to more valuable extras such as a cover for the smoker and storage racks to hold charcoal, utensils, or food.

Keep in mind that accessories can add to the price of a smoker, so consider whether you’ll actually use them. There’s no reason to pay for a set of wheels, for instance, if you have no intention of moving your smoker from place to place.

Our Top Picks

Find the best offset smoker or smoker/grill combo for your next backyard feast among these top models.

Best Overall

The Best Offset Smokers Option: OKLAHOMA JOE’S Longhorn Offset Smoker
Photo: homedepot.com

Start grilling and slowly fill up the impressive, 1,060-square-inch grilling surface of this Oklahoma Joe’s offset smoker to prepare food for the family, friends, or even a small party. The offset smoker is made with heavy-duty powder-coated steel that resists corrosion and water damage. This combo unit isn’t the most portable option, at 300 pounds, though the pair of wheels helps to move it around flat surfaces.

Check the built-in thermometer and adjust the internal temperature of the grill with multiple intake and exhaust dampers. Users can also reduce heat loss by stoking the fire through the special firebox door they can access without needing to open the lid. Make sure to keep the grill safe from rain, snow, and sleet by investing in the OKLAHOMA JOE’S smoker cover that is sold separately.

Product Specs

  • Cooking area: 1,060 square inches
  • Material: Powder-coated steel
  • Portability: Low

Pros

  • Large 1,060-square-inch grilling surface
  • External firebox has an additional grilling surface
  • Multiple dampers regulate heat and smoke
  • Firebox door allows user to stoke fire without opening lid

Cons

  • Very heavy at 300 pounds
  • Temperature must be controlled with dampers

Best Budget

The Best Offset Smokers Option: Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill with Offset Smoker
Photo: homedepot.com

Folks who like to keep it simple and save money may find this Royal Gourmet model a great choice. The nicely priced traditional charcoal grill with an offset smoker doesn’t have an electronic thermometer or digital controls, relying instead on a basic, effective design that lets you use charcoal plus flavored wood pellets to produce delicious results. In fact, it takes value a step further by including a package of apple barbecue wood pellets.

The medium-size offset smoker features a 183-square-inch grill surface in the external firebox and 438 square inches of porcelain-coated surface in the cooking chamber. Intake and exhaust dampers control the flow of the heat and smoke, and a 179-square-inch chrome-plated warming rack keeps cooked foods at the right temperature until ready to serve.

The 58-pound smoker includes a set of wheels, should you want to move it around your yard. To protect this smoker from the elements, consider adding the Royal Gourmet grill cover.

Product Specs

  • Cooking area: 782 square inches
  • Material: Powder-coated steel
  • Portability: High

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Built-in thermometer to keep track of temperature
  • Extra grilling surface in the external firebox

Cons

  • Basic design isn’t easy to use
  • Temperature must be controlled with dampers

Best High-End

The Best Offset Smokers Option: Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Grill and Smoker
Photo: amazon.com

Don’t let the food burn while dealing with kids, pets, guests, or any other distraction that may pull the grill cook away from the grill. Instead, use this premium Traeger offset smoker and pellet grill to monitor the heat automatically through the Traeger app or sync the smoker with Amazon Alexa smart-home systems to control the grill with nothing but voice commands.

This offset smoker has a large cooking surface that measures 885 square inches. It comes with a set of wheels to help move it around the patio or deck, and the exterior’s powder-coated steel resists corrosion and water damage. Note that to make full use of the extra features this offset smoker offers, you need an Echo Dot or a similar Amazon Alexa product. It also may be a good idea to invest in the Ironwood grill cover in order to keep the offset smoker grill safe from poor weather conditions.

Product Specs

  • Cooking area: 885 square inches
  • Material: Powder-coated steel
  • Portability: Average

Pros

  • Compatible with smart-home systems, including Amazon Alexa
  • Wirelessly connect through the Traeger app
  • Large cooking surface to prepare family meals
  • Built-in wheels improve portability

Cons

  • High price
  • At 175 pounds, difficult to lift or pack

Best Vertical

The Best Offset Smokers Option: Dyna-Glo Signature Series Offset Charcoal Smoker
Photo: amazon.com

This vertical offset smoker from Dyna-Glo can satisfy serious smokers or those hosting a large backyard barbecue. With nearly 1,400 square inches of cooking space, the large cooking area is divided over five grates, each large enough to hold a large slab of meat. The cooking area also includes several hooks at the chamber’s top to hang sausages.

Though the vertical smoker is constructed of thinner-gauge-steel sheet metal, a durable coating protects it from rust. At 124 pounds, this smoker is not portable. However, it has two large wheels for maneuvering it around the backyard. Cool-touch handles allow the user to open and close the cooking chamber and firebox without a glove. This Dyna-Glo model is also available with a grill cover.

Product Specs

  • Cooking area: 1,382 square inches
  • Material: Powder-coated steel
  • Portability: Low

Pros

  • Nearly 1,400 square inches of cooking space
  • Five racks
  • Can be used as a traditional grill
  • Wheels help maneuver the smoker

Cons

  • Thin sheet metal construction
  • Very heavy and difficult to move

Best Pellet

The Best Offset Smoker Options: Z GRILLS ZPG-550A 2020 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
Photo: amazon.com

Barbecue beginners and folks with a set-it-and-forget-it mentality may find the Z GRILLS smoker a great choice. It does everything from controlling the ignition to setting and maintaining consistent temperatures. There’s a 423-square-inch main cooking surface and a 167-square-inch warming rack for a full 590 square inches of space for food.

Load this model with up to 16 pounds of wood pellets; the smoker adds them gradually based on your selected temperature settings to maintain the ideal temperature. An electronic ignition switch means there’s no need to mess with matches or a lighter: Just push the ignition button, set the temperature between 180 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and let the smoker go to work.

This two-wheeled smoker is conveniently lightweight at 99 pounds and relatively easy to move on flat surfaces. You may want this compatible Z GRILLS cover, as well.

Product Specs

  • Cooking area: 590 square inches
  • Material: Powder-coated steel
  • Portability: Average

Pros

  • Can hold up to 16 pounds of pellets
  • Made with two wheels for portability
  • Automatic pellet feed system

Cons

  • Push-button ignition can be unreliable

Best Electric

The Best Offset Smokers Option: Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill
Photo: amazon.com

With the Camp Chef offset smoker and pellet grill, users just need to plug the smoker in, fill it with pellets, and set the temperature. The automatic pellet auger will immediately begin to feed pellets into the grill and will continue until the desired temperature has been reached. It will then maintain the temperature by regularly adding more pellets, ensuring that the food smokes or grills at the optimal heat.

The smoker has a 573-square-inch cooking surface, and the exterior of this product is made with water-resistant powder-coated steel. While it does have a pair of wheels that make it easier to move on a deck or patio, it weighs about 140 pounds, so it is a poor choice for camping or tailgate parties. This Camp Chef offset smoker grill also has a compatible SmokePro grill cover.

Product Specs

  • Cooking area: 573 square inches
  • Material: Powder-coated steel
  • Portability: Average

Pros

  • Hopper can hold up to 18 pounds of pellets
  • Automatic auger feeds pellets to maintain temperature
  • Wheels help improve mobility on flat surfaces

Cons

  • Heavy and difficult to pack or lift up stairs
  • Needs pellets and an electrical connection to function

Best Charcoal

The Best Offset Smoker Option: Masterbuilt MB20040220 Gravity Series 560 Digital
Photo: homedepot.com

If you want the convenience of connectivity and the smoky taste of charcoal, this Masterbuilt model is worth checking out. Connect this digital charcoal grill/offset smoker through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth using your smartphone to control temperature and cook time. There’s also a built-in temperature gauge and a meat probe thermometer to monitor your food.

The hopper holds up to 10 pounds of lump charcoal or 16 pounds of charcoal briquettes, enough to let you cook for up to 15 hours before needing to refill. Once the temperature is set, the digital fan and gravity-fed hopper will work in unison to increase or decrease the temperature rapidly to the desired setting, taking the guesswork out of your next backyard barbecue.

The sleekly designed smoker weighs 147 pounds but sits on four lockable wheels so you can move it around with relative ease. To keep it in the best condition, opt for the Gravity Series 560 grill cover, as well.

Product Specs

  • Cooking area: 560 square inches
  • Material: Powder-coated steel
  • Portability: Average

Pros

  • Portable on flat surfaces with four locking wheels
  • Can hold up to 10 pounds of lump charcoal
  • Users can connect to the smoker through Wi-Fi
  • Digitally controlled temperature

Cons

  • Heavy offset smoker is difficult to lift or pack

Best Portable

The Best Offset Smokers Option: Davy Crockett Pellet Grill Package Cover Rack Mat
Photo: amazon.com

When space is a concern on the back patio, this small offset smoker/grill combo is an excellent choice to help users enjoy the taste of barbecued food without having to sacrifice a corner of the yard, deck, or patio. Easily pack the portable offset smoker into the back of a car or truck to take to a tailgate party or to the campsite. It comes with a collapsible rack, a small grilling mat, and a grill cover to protect the smoker when it’s not in use.

This grill is made with water-resistant stainless steel, and users can download the Pellethead app to remotely connect to the grill through their smartphone, tablet, or computer. It has a 219-square-inch grilling surface, which is great for preparing about six to eight burgers at a time. The grill is only suitable for about two to four people due to its small size.

Product Specs

  • Cooking area: 219 square inches
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Portability: High

Pros

  • Wi-Fi compatible
  • Easy to pack into a car or truck
  • Folding offset smoker stand for compact storage

Cons

  • Only suitable for about two to four people

Honorable Mention

The Best Offset Smokers Option: Char-Griller Smokin Pro 830 Charcoal Grill
Photo: amazon.com

This Char-Griller is built for true grillmasters who appreciate the nuances charcoal can bring to flavor, consistency, and mouthfeel—and are willing to manually control the flow of heat and smoke to get it. While this charcoal smoker has a dial thermometer in the lid of the cooking chamber, it eschews electronic controls, leaving you to adjust the temperature using the intake and exhaust dampers.

This offset smoker features durable powder-coated steel construction and nonstick cast-iron cooking grates. It has three utility shelves and 830 square inches of total cooking space, including 250 square inches in the external firebox and 580 square inches in the main cooking chamber.

You can move the 113-pound smoker around on its two wheels, but be sure to empty the removable charcoal drawer to prevent a mess. This compatible Char-Griller cover is a worthwhile addition to help maintain the smoker.

Product Specs

  • Cooking area: 830 square inches
  • Material: Powder-coated steel
  • Portability: Average

Pros

  • Built-in storage rack and accessory hooks
  • Set of wheels to increase portability
  • Dial thermometer for accurate temperature monitoring

Cons

  • Temperature is difficult to control without experience

Our Verdict

Prepare food for the entire family or multiple families with the massive OKLAHOMA JOE’S offset smoker, or if you prefer a more compact option, the Royal Gourmet offset smoker is an affordable choice, though it lacks many premium features.

How We Chose the Best Offset Smokers

Selecting the top offset smokers from a range of options was difficult, but with extensive research into each product, it was possible to put together this highly selective list of options. Before beginning the selection process, we determined the weight, portability, cooking area, material construction, and fuel type of each product.

Weight and portability were linked since heavier grills become more difficult to manage, even when they are equipped with wheels. The cooking area averaged more than 500 square inches, though some products were highlighted because they sacrificed cooking area for a high level of portability. Other options had a much larger cooking area, making them ideal for large get-togethers, gatherings, and parties. Most of these offset smokers have powder-coated steel construction, though some products did use stainless steel as an alternative.

It was also important to note the type of fuel, especially if the offset smoker used charcoal because the temperature of these grills needs to be manually controlled by adjusting intake and exhaust dampers. While some people have the experience necessary to work with charcoal offset smokers, they can be difficult for inexperienced users, so these products were not viewed as beginner-friendly.

FAQs 

Consider the answers to these frequently asked questions as you finalize your choice of the best offset smoker grill for your needs.

Q: What is the difference between a smoker and a standard grill?

The two major differences between a smoker and a grill involve cooking time. When grilling, you cook food directly over high heat for a relatively short period of time. However, when smoking, you cook meat over low indirect heat for hours or even days.

Q: What is the optimal temperature range for an offset smoker?

The ideal temperature range for smoking with a backyard smoker is between 225 and 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

Q: How long does charcoal burn in a smoker?

When used in a smoker, charcoal burns slowly for a long time. A 15-pound bag of charcoal can burn for up to 15 hours inside the firebox, which is usually plenty of time to smoke most meats.

​​Q: Can I use wood in a charcoal smoker?

Yes, in fact, it’s a good idea to use wood in a charcoal smoker. Using different types of wood, such as hickory or cherry, creates different flavors in the meat. Just make sure to mix the wood with the best charcoal for smoking instead of adding wood alone to ensure a long burn time. An ash pan is also a good idea to help collect the ashes as the wood burns.

Q: How do I season my smoker?

For best results, spray the inside of your smoker with cooking oil (grapeseed or canola oil work great), and heat at a high temperature for a few hours before you put your first cut of meat inside.

Q: How long does an offset smoker last?

On average, a traditional offset smoker can last 10 to 15 years, depending on the frequency of cleaning and maintenance as well as the cumulative exposure to the elements.