are offset smokers better than vertical

Last Updated on: 20th April 2023, 08:53 am

Smoking is a complex process and manufacturers come with new designs to simplify it. But offset and vertical smokers still remain the leaders of the smoker designs. 

While selecting your first smoker you can get confused if an offset smoker sees better than vertical or vice versa.

You are not the only one,it happened with all of us. But to help you get out of that situation we have put together this guide to make sure you select the smoker that is suitable for you. Let’s get started without any delay.

are offset smokers better than vertical

Now that we have discussed all the basics of offset and vertical smokers, you should have a clear understanding of both. Let’s compare different aspects of both smokers to decide which type of smoker is better.

Ease of use

Smoking is a lengthy and sensitive process which requires hours to complete. You should be able to get the most out of your smoker with minimal effort.

 Vertical smokers are easier to use than offset smokers because they heat up quickly and don’t have a complex temperature control.

Offset Smokers are complex and cannot be used by beginners. Moreover they are not the set and forget type of smokers.

 so you have to continuously stay involved in the process to smoke properly.their temperature control is complex because it depends on multiple factors.


Versatility is a key factor to consider when we have to compare two smokers. Most of the pitmasters don’t have enough budget to buy a smoker and a grill separately. 

So it’s better to look for a combo which can perform both functions with the same design.

Offset Smokers are highly versatile and can be used both as a grill and smoker. It has a huge range of temperature so can be used as a grill and smoker. 

Moreover you can even grill the firebox of an offset smoker. Vertical smokers are not versatile and only used for smoking.

Space required for storage

Smoker is not the one and only instrument that you have to place in your kitchen or backyard. So some people might have less space in the house so they might not be able to adjust to the bulky smokers in their house. 

Moreover, smaller smokers are also easier to protect from bad weather conditions.

Vertical smokers have a compact design that occupies less space while providing more capacity. It is designed vertically so it doesn’t cover much space horizontally. 

While offset smokers require more space due to horizontal design.

Fuel preservation

Good quality fuel is an essential component of carrying out an efficient smoking process. If your smoker can’t preserve the fuel during the smoking process then it can run out of fuel during smoking which can lead to a sudden drop in temperature.

Vertical smokers have a compact design which doesn’t require much fuel to heat up and they are also less affected by weather conditions due to which they preserve more fuel.

 Offset smokers have a large surface area which requires more time to heat up which eventually costs more fuel.

Even cooking of meat

The purpose of smoking is to cook food evenly while retaining its tenderness. If the food is unevenly Cooked then it can destroy the flavor. Heat distribution is  the main factor when it comes to even cooking meat in a smoker.

Reverse Flow offset smoker has a baffles plate which retains heat and allows the even heat distribution.

once the smoker is heated to your desired temperature, you can place your meat for cooking Evenly.

While in vertical smokers the smoke rises from bottom to top which means the meat part at the bottom will be overcooked while the top will be uncooked. It can lead to uneven cooking which destroys the flavor of meat.


Cost of the smoker is also a crucial factor when deciding the quality of a smoker. The quality can come with expensive smokers but it’s better if we can get it in inexpensive smokers. 

Offset Smokers are a bit more expensive than vertical smokers which makes them unaffordable for people on budget.


Portability of a smoker is also a plus point when you are planning for outdoor smoking. Even if you don’t use your smoker for outdoor smoking, portability can also be important for moving your smoker around the backyard.

Vertical smokers are compact in size and can be transported easily. Moreover most of them also come with wheels which make them easy to move. 

Offset Smokers also come with wheels which make them portable but they require more effort due to heavy size.

Now that we have compared the both smokers, it looks that both smokers are best in their own kind. We can’t say that offset smokers are better than vertical smokers because vertical smokers are also efficient in some aspects. But comparing the both smokers you can decide which one is more suitable for you.

are offset smokers hard to use

To be honest, the answer to this question will always be yes. Offset Smokers are not designed for beginners ,they are designed for pro pitmasters that want to take smoking to another level. But once you practice it you can master it after some time.

The offset smokers are hard to use because of their temperature control. Temperature is controlled manually in offset smoker through adjusting the air vents.

 If you can’t maintain temperature at a consistent value then your meat will be cooked unevenly.

The temperature in an offset smoker depends on various factors but airflow is the most important of them. The offset smoker has two vents . 

The bottom vent is used to intake air and top vent is used to remove smoke. These should be adjusted carefully According to the situation of food.

can offset smoker be used by itself

Offset Smoker can’t be used by itself, they require regular input to complete the smoking process. If the temperature and humidity are not controlled consistently then it can lead to uneven cooking.

 If you are interested in setting it and forgetting it type of smokers then you should consider buying an electric or propane smoker.

The offset smoker requires consistent effort to maintain the temperature constant. If temperature is not constant then food might get unevenly Cooked. 

Moreover the humidity also needs to be maintained by adding a water pan to avoid drying out of food.

What is the difference between an offset and a vertical smoker

Before comparing offset smoker and vertical smoker to decide which one is better, it’s important to have an overview of both of them to make sure you know all the nitty gritty of both smokers.

 Here is complete information on how they differ from each other.

What is a Vertical Smoker?

As obvious by the name, vertical smokers have a vertical design. The burner or heat source is placed at the bottom of the smoker and heat rises from top to bottom smoking all the parts of meat. 

The heat and smoke are then removed by exhaust at the top of the smoker.

The vertical smokers are versatile when it comes to the fuel required for the smoking process. Although charcoal and wood are used normally, vertical smokers can even work with electric or propane supply. 

But charcoal is preferred over other fuels due to the high and consistent temperature it can produce.

The heat source is placed in the bottom half of the smoker. Usually it is also in the same chamber as the meat , so you have to open the smoking chamber lid to add fuel. 

But some smokers have a separate chamber for the firebox which is connected to the cooking chamber through a damper.

The smoke produced at the bottom of the smoker moves upward. It comes in contact with food and smokes it evenly.

 The exhaust vent is located at the farthest end from the firebox so smoke travels the complete area of vertical smokers before removal.

There is also a water pan placed at the bottom of the smoker above the fire source. It is used to maintain the humidity of the smoker and avoid the meat from drying out. 

Moreover you can also add any liquid of choice like apple juice or vinegar to increase flavor.

Pros of using a vertical smoker:

  • The vertical smokers are designed in a way to maximize the opportunity of even cooking. It travels from bottom to top while smoking the meat evenly.
  • Although vertical smokers occupy less space they are designed in such a way to maximize the cooking capacity. They are not much wider but have a huge cooking area vertically.
  • The heat source in vertical smokers is also charcoal and wood so you can enjoy the smoky flavor of offset smokers while having the ease of use like electric smokers.
  • They have a compact design so they occupy less space than other smokers. They can be a go to choice if you have a small cooking area.
  • Some of the latest designs of Vertical smokers also come with a separate firebox, so that you don’t have to open the cooking chamber lid to add fuel.
  • They have a compact design and are lighter than offset smokers which makes them portable for outdoor smoking.

Cons of Using a Vertical Smoker

  • Vertical smokers are not versatile like offset smokers and can only perform smoking
  • Although vertical smokers have a large cooking capacity, you can still face difficulty while adding or removing meat from them because they are not much wider.
  • Because vertical smokers have a small width, they require meat to be trimmed before placing it in the smoker. You can place larger chunks of meat in a vertical smoker.
  • Some of the vertical smokers don’t have a separate door for the firebox which makes it difficult to add fuel because you have to open the lid of the cooking chamber, remove the meat from grates and then add the fuel if you want . It can lead to heat loss.

What is an Offset Smoker?

An offset smoker also known as a side firebox smoker is a horizontal smoker which consists of two sections. These sections are attached horizontally to each other allowing smoke passage between them, while smoking meat indirectly.

The smaller section is known as firebox. It is the heat source of an offset smoker. It has a highly heat resistant build which can withstand higher temperatures.

 The heat and smoke are produced here. Then smoke moves into the second chamber known as the cooking chamber.

The cooking chamber is the place where meat is placed. It has cooking grates which suspend the meat and cook it gradually by smoke. 

The smoke first comes in contact with meat and then expelled out through the exhaust vent at the top.

But in reverse flow offset smokers, a large baffles plate is attached below the cooking grates which deflects the smoke. 

The smoke and heat comes in contact with meat again before being removed from smoker so reverse flow offset smoker retain heat for longer time

The offset smoker can be identified whether it’s a traditional offset smoker or reverse flow offset smoker by the chimney position.

 In traditional offset smoker the chimney is at the top ,at farthest end from firebox while in reverse flow offset smoker the chimney is near the firebox.

The offset smoker can work with different fuel types but the main fuel used in an offset smoker are wood and charcoal. Charcoal is used for generating the heat while the wood is used for producing smoke. 

The wood is required in smaller amounts than charcoal because it is not used for generating heat.

Overall offset smoker is a really effective smoker having awesome design for smoking. The heat flows through the smoker horizontally and each part of meat is cooked evenly.

 Although it requires some time to heat up due to its size, once heated it can maintain heat for a longer time.


Both offset and vertical smokers have their own pros and cons. We can’t just announce once as winner because both have some weaknesses.

You should consider all the comparisons mentioned above and decide which smoker fits your needs.

If you have enjoyed this article ,then make sure to check our article on can you cook burgers on an offset smoker

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