For those grillmasters that want the best tools to create mouthwatering feasts for their friends and family, a BBQ smoker is a must-have for your home. These tools will elevate your BBQ game, cooking delicious tasting meat that cannot be achieved any other way. An offset smoker is one of the best choices that you can make when investing in a smoker.
Still not convinced? By reading on, you will learn all about offset smokers and why you need to have one before your next backyard BBQ.
What is an Offset Smoker?
The offset smoker is one of the most traditional types of smokers available on the market today. The quality of meat that they produce is very high, which is why they are frequently the smoker of choice at grillmaster competitions. Offset smokers can also be referred to as pipe smokers, side firebox, and a barrel.
You can cook a wide variety of different meats with an offset smoker. This is most commonly used to prepare such meats as ribs, briskets, large pieces of meat, and pork butt. However, you can use this for pretty much any type of meat that you want to smoke or grill like chicken or sausage.
Types of Offset Smokers
There are 2 types of offset smokers:
- the traditional offset smoker
- the reverse flow offset smoker
You can typically tell the difference between these two smokers just by looking at the positioning of the chimney. Traditional offset smokers will have the chimney set the furthest away from the firebox. With the reverse flow offset smoker, the chimney is placed closest to the firebox.
The hottest part of the chamber in the traditional offset smoker is the area that is closest to the firebox. The issue with this is that it can cause uneven cooking, meaning that you will need to rotate the food or create a plan ahead of time to accommodate this. This is an issue that only gets worse when you use a bigger smoker.
On the other hand, a reverse offset smoker can help reduce the need for rotating the meat while cooking. One way that this is possible is through the use of a steel baffle plate, which does a few different things. It can protect the meat from direct heat, so you don’t have to worry about rotating it to prevent burning.
A steel baffle plate also works as an even heat sink. This means that you will not only get a more even cook, but it also allows the flavors to develop more slowly.
Offset smokers have 2 parts to them: the main chamber and the firebox.
There is a main chamber for cooking, which is generally a long grated, metal box or barrel. This main chamber has a smoke stack and a lift door. On one end of this chamber is the firebox. The firebox will have either a side or top access door as well as an adjustable vent.
The smoke and heat are created in the firebox, then it travels to the cooking chamber through a small hole that exists between these two parts. The smoke flows through the chamber to the smoke stack, where the smoke is vented out.
The seal on these smokers should be very tight, so that the smoke can only escape from the smoke stack. This will make the offset smoker more efficiently. That is how traditional offset smokers work.
Reverse flow smokers work a little bit differently. This style of smoker has a metal sheet at the bottom of the main chamber, which helps to make food cook more evenly in the smoker. Reverse flow smokers tend to be more efficient than the traditional type of offset smokers.
The smoke will travel from the firebox, which is underneath the sheet, to the other side of the cooking chamber. Then, the smoke travels upwards and then the smoke goes back to the firebox where the smoke stack is located. While traditional offset smokers have more direct heat into the cooking chamber, reverse flow heats the cooking chamber in an indirect manner. This means that a cooler smoke flavors the meat.
Why You Need An Offset Smoker
If you want to elevate your BBQ game, the offset smoker is an obvious choice. What makes offset smokers better than using a traditional grill? Why do you need one? This section will take a look at why you need to invest in a smoker for your home.
The biggest reason to opt for an offset smoker is because of temperature control. Grills have an internal heat that often reaches around 400 degrees. This can lead to your food burning quicker. However a smoker tends to have much lower internal temperature, usually between 160 and 300 degrees.
Since smokers cook at a “low and slow” pace, you are going to generally have a more evenly cooked meat with less of a chance of it burning. It may take longer than grilling, but it can be worth it for the BBQ fan.
Another benefit to the smoker is the flavor of the meat. You will get the most recognizable smoky flavor that is synonymous with BBQ with a smoker than you will with the grill. This is because since the meat takes longer to cook, it gets more of a chance to develop these flavors.
It requires less tending, so you don’t have to keep opening up the smoker to tend to the meat. This means that you will also get a juicier cut of meat.
Ultimately this is all a personal preference. Or you could get the best of both worlds and use both a grill and a smoker. You can slow cook items like ribs, then finish them off on the grill to get those stunning grill marks.
Buying an Offset Smoker
Everyone has different wants and needs for their smokers, so you need to think about what you are looking for before you begin your search. You should also think about your budget. The prices for smokers can vary significantly.
- How much are you going to use it?
- How much are you willing to spend on it?
These are just some of the questions you should ask when you are looking to by an offset smoker.
The next thing that you should pay attention to are the features. One of the most important things to look for is a smoker with heavy gauge metal. Ideally you are looking for ¼inch thick metal, which is considered to be the standard for a smoker. The thicker metal will be more durable and can better stand up to weather conditions.
You should also see high-quality temperature gauges on either side of the smoker so that you can see if there are any differences in heat on either side. The seals should be high quality, lacking any gaps as this improves smoke retention. Make sure you get something that is the right size for your needs and the accessories that you could potentially use for the smoker.
Keep in mind, it is worth it to spend a little bit more on a smoker to ensure that you get a quality one that will last you.
Here comes a big however, though: it’s possible to grab an affortable one on Amazon for about $100USD – especially if you’re just starting out smoking, that is not a bad deal and well worth considering.
How to Use an Offset Smoker
It is important to know how to properly use your smoker. Buying the perfect smoker is only half of the battle. You need to learn all of the tips and trips to maximize the flavors in your food. This section is a step by step explanation on how to effectively use your offset smoker.
The first thing that you need to do is to prepare the fuel. The cheapest fuel that you can use is wood and charcoal, which is also the most effective fuel to use for your smoker.
Choose a wood that offers the type of flavor that you are looking for. You also want to choose a type of charcoal that offers the best heating results. The wood needs to be dry to create the best smoke for the smoker.
- Place some charcoal into the fire box.
- Start the fire in a chimney starter with the fuel, then place this into the fire box.
- Close the lid, leaving it alone for about 10 minutes. This helps the coals in the fire box start faster.
- After the 10 minutes, put the wood in the fire box.
The smoke stack is an important piece to smoking your meats. The chimney needs to be open to allow the “bad” smoke to leave the main chamber. If this smoke doesn’t escape, this could negatively impact the taste of the meat. Keep an eye on it to make sure that the chimney seems to be working properly.
You will need to control the fire while you are smoking meats. The dampeners, which are typically located on the side of the smoker, can be adjusted to optimize the smoking results. If these are fully opened, it allows more oxygen into the fire box and will heat the coals faster.
Partially opening the dampeners only creates a little amount of heat in the smoker. Closing the dampener completely makes sure that no oxygen gets into the smoker, significantly reducing the heat inside.
Marinate your meats with your preferred method, then place them inside the smoker. Whenever you are cooking your meats, avoid the temptation of constantly looking inside.
You can open the fire box to add more fuel without opening the main chamber. By opening the lid, you are letting a lot of that amazing smoke out. This will affect the flavor and slow down your cooking.
The temperature should be between 210 and 275 degrees for optimal flavoring. After about an hour or an hour and a half, you can check the meat to see if it’s done.
Other Tips for Your Offset Smoker
These tips will ensure the best results and help keep you safe when using your smoker. You should take every precaution possible to stay safe. Wear heat proof gloves to protect yourself from getting burned. Using the right utensils can also keep you safe when using your smoker.
Smokers are very dependent on having “good” smoke to make delicious smoked meats. “Good” smoke is usually light smoke, not thick. If you see thick smoke, you need to immediately check the fire.
Typically thick smoke happens if the fire needs more oxygen, meaning that you need to open the dampeners more. You should also stir up the coals in the fire.
There are a few things that you can do that will give you flavorful meats. The type of wood matters, so stick to options like nutwoods, hardwoods, or fruitwoods. You can rotate your food once an hour if the meats are not cooked by then, to ensure an even cook. If you are worried about food drying out while smoking, you could put a pan of water in the fire box to create a moist smoke.
Lastly, be sure that you clean your smoker after every use. To make this easier on you, you should be sure to clean it while the smoker is still warm. Use products that are made for cleaning these items to maximize its lifespan and ensuring that you get a good clean on it.
Smokers are great items to have for your next outdoor barbecue or if you are just looking for delicious meat. As you can see, there are different types of offset smokers. Understanding how they work can help you to decide which one of these options is the best choice for you.
By following these tips, you are going to be able to master the art of smoking meats and get the most flavorful end results. Smokers can be a complicated product to use, but with a little practice, you can make the smoked meats that you have been waiting for.