what is the difference between reverse flow and offset smoker

Last Updated on: 21st April 2023, 12:06 am

There is a huge variety of smokers available online that can be often confusing for beginners.

One of the confusion that most of the newbies face while researching smoking is what’s the difference between a reverse flow smoker and a traditional offset smoker.

In this article we are going to explain to you all things that you need to know about these smokers. Let’s get started.

Difference between reverse flow and offset smoker

Normally offset smokers and reverse flow smokers have a similar design and don’t differ much in appearance.

The only difference between them is the addition of baffles plate in reverse flow smoker. So we can say that virtually all reverse flow smokers can be offset smokers but all offset smokers can’t be reverse flow smokers .

The addition of a baffle plate in the smoker affects different aspects of the smoker . Most common of them are discussed below.

Setting up fire

Starting up fire in a reverse flow smoker is relatively easier than offset smoker because you can just add a pile of charcoal and let it burn on its own without rechecking it.

Also you can throw a handful of your desired wood into burning coals to start producing smoke.

Setting up fire in an offset smoker is a much complex process which needs practice to master. You can add enough charcoal to make a single layer on the bottom of the firebox and add wood chunks over it.

After that you can ignite them to start smoking. But you should keep checking regularly to avoid overshooting the temperature.

Temperature control

Temperature control is the most crucial factor for getting the most out of a smoker. It can affect the flavor of the meat being smoked.

Temperature control is easy in reverse flow smoker because its temperature can be maintained constant for a longer time.

If you want to decrease or increase the temperature in a reverse flow smoker,you will have to adjust the vents accordingly.

To increase the temperature you should open the bottom vent to maximize airflow. It makes the temperature control Easier to just set it and forget it.

The complexity of an offset smoker is due to its temperature control .You have to adjust vents carefully because the temperature is not constant throughout the smoker and a slight change can increase or decrease the temperature suddenly.

You will also have to increase or decrease the fire size to control temperature.


Cleaning is also a major determinant of the smoker’s durability. If the smoker is not cleaned properly then it can lead to damage of build and obstruction of airflow.

The cleaning in reverse flow smoker is more difficult than that in offset smoker.

Reverse Flow Smoker use baffles plate Below the cooking grates. These plates collect meat drippings which lead to accumulation of grease over time.

This grease is difficult to clean because baffles plates are not Removable and it needs to be cleaned by scrapers.

Cleaning in an offset smoker is quite Easier than reverse flow smoker.it does not use any baffles plates and cooking grates are Removable which makes them easy to clean.

Moreover ash produced in the firebox can also be collected in a foil or charcoal pan and cleaned easily.

Heat distribution

Heat distribution is different in both smokers because both have different designs.

Both are designed for specific functions and it depends on you to choose one. Although maintaining an even temperature is nonetheless important in any situation.

Reverse Flow Smokers have an even heat distribution mechanism due to the addition of baffles plates.

The baffles plates direct the heat backwards so that the meat is exposed twice to the same heat before removal. So it retains heat for a longer time and eventually heats up to a constant temperature.

Offset Smokers have a one directional heat flow in that the heat is removed from the smoker after single exposure to meat. Moreover the temperature near the firebox is higher than that at the farthest end.

But it’s a blessing in disguise for some pit masters because they can smoke soft foods in hot temperature zone while tough meat in cold temperature zone to cook evenly.

The better heat retention of reverse flow smokers make them compatible to be used as a grill but at the same time offset smokers are also versatile due to better insulation and heat circulation.

Fuel preservation

The fuel preservation is also different in both smokers. Reverse Flow Smoker utilizes the heat produced twice before removal.

So they have a higher heat Retention due to which less fuel is burnt for smoking food in reverse flow smoker.

While in an offset smoker the heat is removed from the smoker only after a single exposure with meat , so it requires more fuel to complete the smoking process.

Although you can add several modifications to increase the heat Retention of an offset smoker.

What is an offset smoker

Offset Smoker is an advanced type of food smoker that is a bit complex to use but gives you the maximum control over the process.

In an offset smoker most of the adjustments are made manually so it provides you the control of the process at any point.

offset smokers have pretty simple working mechanism which involves following process to smoke food properly.

Offset Smoker is made up of two chambers attached to each other horizontally . One of these chambers is larger than the other one.

The larger chamber is known as the cooking chamber where food is smoked while the smaller one is known as firebox and is used to produce heat.

The heat is produced by charcoal and wood chunks are used to produce smoke. The smoke produced in the firebox then enters the smoking chamber and comes in contact with the meat.

The smoke travels through the cooking chamber and exits the smoker at the opposite end.

The heat flow in an offset smoker is one directional and it is not retained for a longer time. So the heat is produced in a firebox and removed at the exhaust which makes it difficult to heat up the smoker to a constant temperature throughout the smoker space.

The region near the firebox is hotter than near the top of the smoker.

Temperature control in an offset smoker is also difficult because it is the result of constant equilibrium between different factors including weather, airflow etc.

A mild change in any of these factors can send the temperature overshooting or cause a drop in temperature.

What is a reverse flow smoker

Reverse Flow smokers are easy to use smokers that usually have similar design like offset smoker but they only differ in that they have a baffles plate Below the cooking grates which helps in distribution of heat the smoker.

Baffle plates are placed in parallel arrangement with cooking grates. These are placed below the grates to direct the heat coming from the firebox in backward direction towards the firebox.

These plates make reverse flow smoker more easy to use than traditional offset smokers.

In addition to the distribution of heat , baffles plate also helps in enhancing the flavor of meat.

The baffles plates are placed below the cooking grates, so they collect the Drippings of the meat being smoked. These meat juices are evaporated again to impart better flavor to meat.

Temperature control in a reverse flow smoker is easier than that in offset smoker. I’m reverse flow smoker baffles or convection plates help in heating up the smoker to an even temperature .

moreover these plates also retain heat due to which the temperature does not fluctuate suddenly.

Reverse Flow Smoker also requires less effort for burning fire in the firebox. In a reverse flow smoker you can just place a pile of unlit charcoal and wood and place a small amount of lit charcoal on them.

After that you can let it run on its own because heat is maintained by the baffles plate.

Is a reverse flow smoker better than a traditional offset smoker? 

It’s a personal choice of every pit master to decide which type of smoker is more suitable for them but if you are looking for consistent temperature with less effort then definitely reverse flow smoker is better than offset smoker.

But if you are a pro pitmaster and can control temperature in an offset smoker then an offset smoker can also be as good as a reverse flow smoker.

Usually reverse flow smokers are in fact offset smokers that are modified with baffles plate to enhance Heat retention.


The main difference between a reverse flow smoker and offset smoker is the addition of baffles plate into the smoker. This affects the various aspects of the reverse flow smoker over a large scale. Offset can be modified into a reverse flow smoker by addition of a baffles plate.

Jakob miller
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