What is an offset smoker? Vertical vs Horizontal Offset Smoker

Hey there! If you are fond of barbecue, grill, and love to cook too then you should have the knowledge about what is an offset smoker? How does it work?

An offset smoker is an indirect smoker because it takes heat indirectly as compared to a direct smoker like a meat smoker. You can cook a lot of food at once and add more fuel without disturbing the temperature. And it is inexpensive to use as compared to other smokers. It has two main parts: a horizontal chamber and a firebox.

Food smokes in a long horizontal chamber and charcoal or wood chunks burn in a firebox attached to it with one side of the chamber. Temperature is monitored by a built-in damper. They could be heavy to move but with the help of attached wheels, it becomes easy to move.

What is an offset smoker?

Let’s more elaborate on what is an offset smoker with the help of discussion about the parts of offset smoker. Mainly offset smokers are categorized into two main parts

  1. Vertical offset smoker
  2. Horizontal offset smoker

Vertical offset smoker

Vertical offset smokers allow heat to flow properly to cook the food by using the law of heat transfer and water.

Working of vertical offset smoker:

On the top smoking, compartment exists. In this part, all the food is held that is to be smoked. It is a stainless steel plate. In vertical offset smokers, there are two layers of steel plates.

Now comes the water pan after the smoking compartment. It moisturizes the air in the smoke. It plays an important role in the taste because it softens the meat especially when you are cooking on low heat.

After the water pan heat source part comes. This is the last part that holds the fuel like charcoal, wood, or gas. In this part, heat is maintained.

Horizontal offset smokers:

Horizontal offset smokers are simpler in design than vertical smokers. It consists of two main parts. One is the main smoke chamber and the second is the firebox. Food is placed in the main chamber and the fuel is placed in a firebox.

Vertical vs. horizontal offset smoker

They have some differences with respect to their dimension, look, and work.

Vertical offset smokers: Vertical offset smokers are designed to smoke and roast food but they cannot grill. In this type of smoker, heat is further away from the meat. Its orientation is vertical and stands upright. In this type of smoker when you need to refuel it, it becomes hard because you need to open the whole door of the smoker. In this way, the temperature gets disturbed.

Horizontal offset smoker: horizontal offset smoker can bake, grill and smoke the food as per desire. These types of smokers are indirect smokers but some offer direct flame cooking.

Refuelling is easy in this type of offset smoker because you don’t need to open the entire lid of the cooking chamber. You just use the firebox for this purpose. In this way, the temperature remains consistent and maintenance becomes easier.

Working of offset smoker

 There are many types of smokers available in the market with different types of dimensions, prices, and qualities. Every offset smoker dimension depends on its manufacturer. You did not decide to buy the desired one without knowing the answer to this question: What is an offset smoker’s working. 

A cooking chamber looks like an oil drum, in which you have to put your food to cook with smoke. In the firebox, you have to light some fire that is attached to one side of the cooking chamber. Sometimes this firebox is attached to its back.

The heat and smoke travel from the firebox to the main cooking chamber to cook and flavour the food but in reverse flow offset smokers, smoke enters through the firebox to the smoking chamber and then goes to the cooking chamber in the opposite direction and then exits.

Its purpose is to create uniform temperature through all the smokers.

To control the temperature, chimneys and vents play an important role.

Step by step guidelines to use the offset smoker

Let’s have a look at the guidelines from the beginning to the end of smoking, from the firing up to managing it and many more.

First, get Offset smoker accessories

We have to need some accessories during smoking like 

  • Heatproof gloves (that will prevent you from heat.)
  • Remote digital thermometer (to check and balance for temperature.)
  • Charcoal chimney for a starter.
  • Lighter cubes (it helps to lighten the fire.)
  • A high-quality offset smoker.
  •  A basting brush.

In cheap grill offset smoker heat and smoke leaks that it is difficult to manage the temperature but in contrast in High quality offset smoker we cannot face this type of problem.

Lighter the fire

This may be surprising that the best way of firing up your offset smoker is with charcoals. Once your coals fire up you can add more logs (size in small soft drinks).

To start the fire first take charcoal and use lighter cubes. The uses of lighter cubes make your work easier, light easily even if wet. It is used for lighting charcoal, smokers, and for grills.

Load the charcoal in the firebox.

Get the required temperature

Mutton, beef, chicken, and veggies too all take different cooking times to cook with respect to temperature. Offset smoker cooking time and their respective temperature are mentioned in smoker’s booklets and manuals. We can control the temperatures by  

  • Using the chimneys to control the temperature and flavor 
  • Using dampers and vents to control the fire temperature.
  • Take care of flavor (marinating and Usage of water pan ) 

Marinating your meat enhances the flavour of food. Moreover looking up the temperature and rotation of your meat during cooking has an important role. Be sure don’t open the lid too often.

Smoking is a low and slow cooking style. It can be the cause of vanishing the moisture in the smoker that affects the taste of meat. For this purpose, a water pan plays an important role in softening your meat.

If the manufacturer of the smoker does not provide a water pan you can take your small bowl for this purpose. Be sure the water pan should be heatproof.

You can place this water pan bowl in the firebox right above the fire (charcoal, wood, etc).it will be able to prevent the food from drying.

Some tips and tricks to use offset smoker in a better way

A combination of charcoal and wood

smoking with charcoal and wood ensures the better taste of smoking.

1-Avoid bad smoking

if you notice thick smoke coming out from the chimney it is an alarming situation it may cause bad smoking. You should open up your firebox and can use a steel bar to stir the coals. Light and blue smoking are good for your food. 

2-Be safe

while cooking is safe by using heat-proof gloves as you are dealing with heat all along.

3-Cleaning of offset smoker

Once you have enjoyed the smoky food with your fellows you may forget to clean your smoker or delay cleaning. This is essential to clean your smoker to enjoy the taste again for the next time.

4-Beware of Weather

the outside weather condition may affect the inside temperature of your offset smoker. Be sure you have enough fuel (wood, charcoal) if the weather is cold. 

 Advantages of Using an Offset Smoker (Over Other Smokers)

Disadvantages of Using an Offset Smoker

  • If we compare it with the gas grill or electrical offset smokers, yes, of course, it takes longer to start.
  • Smoking is its cooking style so it takes time to cook.
  • You should know about the question: what is an offset smoker? And how it works and needs some practice to be a master.
  • Changes in climates can affect your work. It’s a little bit tricky.

Final verdict

An offset smoker is known as a barrel smoker, horizontal smoker, and stick burner too. This is because of its design and shape. These smokers are built to cook food deliciously with a smoky flavour. No one can stop himself from eating these types of mouthwatering dishes. Those who love smoky food have to know about the working of offset smokers.

This article may help beginners who love to cook and like the smoky taste in their food and want to know what is an offset smoker? about its parts, how it works, and some differences between vertical and horizontal offset smokers.

We also have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of offset smokers.

If you read this article this tends to make you able to jump into this rabbit hole.

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