What is an Offset Smoker?

Last Updated on: 29th May 2023, 08:52 am

offset smokers are one of the finest type of smokers that gives the pitmaster maximum control over the cooking process.

although they are amazing when it comes to the flavor of the smoked food, they are not beginners friendly.in this articles we are going to tell all the ins and outs of offset smoker.

lets get started.

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.

Usually the design of an offset smoker includes following parts.

A steel bowl

Offsets are often produced using a steel bowl (also known as a firepot) surrounded by a water pan.

The firebox is intended to house the fuel, which is often charcoal but may alternatively contain wood pieces or wood pellets.

As the fuel warms up, smoke is produced, which flows through the water pan and into the cooking chamber.

The cooking chamber

Your meal cooks in the cooking chamber. It’s composed of steel and has a grate on top to keep your food warm as it cooks.

Vents on the side or top of the chamber let you to adjust how much heat goes into your food, allowing you to manage how quickly it cooks and how well it is done without burning it.

The firebox

The firebox is meant to house your smoker’s fuel and is often where you add lighter fluid or other accelerants to help start things going fast and efficiently.

The size of the firebox may vary depending on the quantity of charcoal required to finish the smoking process.

The firebox door is the one that enables you to add fuel to your smoker’s firebox. Some smokers have a lever or lock to open them, while others have a hinge that you pull up to open them.

Pot of water

A water pan is used in virtually every smoker to assist maintain temperature by absorbing part of the heat from the fire.

The water pan is generally necessary while smoking, but if you’re using your smoker for grilling, you may skip it.

A water pan also keeps the meat moist by capturing drippings and reintroducing moisture into the air.

dripping pan

A drip pan is a little pan that sits right underneath your meal in the smoker. It collects any drippings that fall off of it, preventing them from burning and smoking your meat. This simplifies cleanup!

Temperature meter

A temperature gauge is a gadget that monitors the temperature of your smoker so you can control how much heat goes into your food and how quickly it cooks.


The vents on each side of an offset smoker enable you to manage the amount of heat that enters the cooking chamber, which adjusts the temperature within.

The top vents normally include some type of tool to help you adjust them.

Cover for a smoker

An offset smoker normally has a cover on top of the cooking chamber, so you can put food in there without worrying about rain or other things getting into your smoker.

stack of smoke

A smoke stack is what permits smoke to escape from your smoker and into the surrounding air. It’s normally linked directly to your firebox and includes openings for additional ventilation.

If you want, you may even create your own offset smoker with bespoke features. However, it will take some effort before functioning in a single piece.

Pros of using an offset smoker:

  • The major benefit of using an offset is the flavor it provides. Offset Smoker gives the meat a traditional Smokey flavor along with generation of smoke ring. 
  •  The grilling grates of offset smoker are large enough that You can smoke large chunks of meat without trimming them. So it minimizes the effort to place the meat in offset smoker
  • The offset smokers come with a horizontal design which has a large capacity. You can smoke a large amount of food in a single go.
  • It comes with a separate fuel chamber known as firebox. Firebox has a separate door which makes it easier to add fuel during the smoking process . So we don’t have to open the smoking chamber lid to add fuel which reduces the heat loss
  • The offset Smokers are a highly versatile type of smokers that can perform different functions efficiently with the same design. They can smoke for a longer time while their temperature can be increased to grill the meat if needed.
  • Offset Smoker uses charcoal as a fuel. So it’s an excellent choice for outdoor smoking because it doesn’t require an electric outlet to start the smoking process.

Cons of using an offset smoker

  • Offset smokers are a bit difficult to use and are not Beginners friendly.it is considered that most of the beginners quit smoking if they started learning smoking with an offset smoker.
  • The offset smoker has a large capacity but it makes it difficult to heat up. The larger capacity requires more time to heat up to an even temperature required for smoking.
  • The offset smokers are not set and forget it type of smokers so they require you to stay involved in the process. If you don’t adjust them regularly, their temperature can fluctuate during the process which can lead to uneven cooking of food
  • Offset Smokers are a bit more costly than other types of smokers. 
  • Offset smokers have a large area so they require more fuel to heat them up to the required temperature, which increases the fuel cost required to run the smoker .
  • Traditional offset smokers have uneven heat distribution because of the large area. The area near the firebox is hotter than the top of the cooking chamber. Although addition of baffles plate in reverse flow smoker can improve the heat distribution.

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. 

are offset smokers hard to use

To be really honest, the answer to this question is always yes. Offset Smokers are not for amateurs; they are for experienced pitmasters who want to take their smoking to the next level. However, with practice, you will be able to master it in no time.

Because of its temperature control, offset smokers are difficult to operate. The temperature in an offset smoker is manually regulated by changing the air vents.

 If you can’t maintain temperature at a consistent value then your meat will be cooked unevenly which can be dangerous for health.
The temperature of an offset smoker is affected by a number of variables, the most significant of which is airflow. There are two vents on the offset smoker.

The bottom vent is utilized to bring in air, while the top vent is used to exhaust smoke. These should be carefully changed based on the dietary condition.

Final takeaway

Offset smokers are more than good if you know how to use them. if you are a beginner then you should consider choosing beginners friendly smokers like electric smoker.

Jakob miller