There are many types of smokers out there, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. I'm a fan of the offset vertical smokers (plus they take up less room), but the offset barrel smokers look the coolest.
Historically, offset barrel smokers were mostly used in the South, but you see them all over the country nowadays. The offset design generates heat and smoke in the “firebox”, then transfers them to the section that holds the food. This smoking method lets your food cook on indirect heat–in other words, slow cooking with smoke. Not only does this allow more smoke flavor to get in, it also ensures that your food cooks all the way and grows more and more tender. That's why smoking a brisket or rack of ribs could take all day long!
The offset barrel smoker signifies that you’re a true master at the outdoor cooking niche: These cooking units are frequently used in the barbecue competition field. If you know how to operate it properly and control the temperature, it can be a valuable piece of grilling equipment. Whether you participate in barbecue competitions or just want to enjoy some well-cooked meat, these five choices will do well for you.
I've picked a variety of sizes and heating styles. Some take pellets while others take charcoal. Both types of fuel sources require a bit of babysitting, but pellets are generally easier to handle. For more efficient smoking, check out our electric and gas smokers.
Top 5 Best Offset Barrel Smokers
- Char-Griller 1224 Smokin' Pro Smoker
- Dyna-Glo Signature Series Offset Barrel Smoker
- Oklahoma Joe's Highland Offset Smoker
- Char-Broil American Gourmet 300 Series Offset Smoker
- Smoke Hollow Pro Offset Barrel Smoker
1. Char-Griller 1224 Smokin' Pro Smoker
The Char-Griller 1224 Smokin’ Pro smoker has the looks of an ideal offset barrel smoker. From its steel construction to its wooden shelves and handles, this smoker gives you everything you need. You can fill the offset firebox barrel with charcoal and get the smoke ready to head for the food. The side firebox and the grill barrel are made with durable, powder-coated steel that won't rust or get banged out of shape. The smoker also has cast-iron, nonstick cooking grates, which hold up well against warping and frequent use.
The Char-Griller Smokin’ Pro's removable drawers make it easy add more charcoal and dump out ashes. There are two shelves, one in the front and one on the side. The Smokin' Pro gives you approximately 830 square inches of cooking space–580 sq.in. in the main grill and 250 sq.in. within the firebox.
- Easy to clean
- Assembly can get frustrating
2. Dyna-Glo Signature Series Offset Barrel Smoker
Another large, well-designed offset barrel smoker, the Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS962CBO-D comes in at a close second on this list. It gives you about 962 square inches of total cooking space to work with–675 sq.in. for the main cooking area and 287 sq.in. in the firebox. The primary cooking space has more than enough room for thick meats like turkey, pork shoulder and ribs. It also has cool-touch spring lid handles that keep your hands from getting burned.
One downside to this Dyna-Glo smoker is its high price. This will be an issue for more frugal buyers, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
The Dyna-Glo is made of heavy-gauge steel that keeps heat inside even when the temperature reaches its peak. This smoker will last a long time if you take care of it, giving you an excellent return on investment.
- Has a lot of cooking room
- Durable construction
- Cool-touch handles protect hands from burning
- High in price
3. Oklahoma Joe's Highland Offset Smoker
Char-Broil’s most popular offset barrel smoker, the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Offset Smoker delivers in both quality and performance. The main cooking chamber alone consists of over 610 square inches, so cooking large amounts of food will be as easy. The smoker also has an easy access door to the firebox, which lets you add wood and stoke the fire easier. Multiple dampers integrated within the grill let you control the heat and smoke better as well.
The Oklahoma Joe’s smoker makes it easy to stay organized. It has two shelves, one in front of the grill and one underneath. The upper shelf is a great place to store seasoning or park your beer. You can use the bottom shelf to store bags of charcoal or other larger items. The smoker also has two extra large wheels on the bottom, making it easy to move.
- A large amount of cooking room
- Easy to access firebox
- Plenty of storage space
- Large wheels encourage mobility
- Lacks durability; made with thin steel
4. Char-Broil American Gourmet 300 Series Offset Smoker
This Char-Broil offset barrel smoker is perfect for an average-sized family. Its all-black durable steel construction protects the interior from any outside elements while preventing heat leaks. The porcelain-coated grates will hold any meat and stabilize it perfectly for even cooking. You can clean the grates with a damp wash cloth (no need to scrub!). Not only is this smoker built to last, it comes with Char-Broil’s manufacturer warranty just in case something breaks down.
If you need to, you can take the Char-Broil American Gourmet 300 on the move. It has two large treaded wheels that let you move it easily. Its lid-mounted temperature gauge lets you monitor and control the heat easier too.
- Lid-mounted temperature gauge
- Doesn’t have any storage space
- Small cooking space
5. Smoke Hollow Pro Offset Barrel Smoker
Running out of room won’t be a problem with the Smoke Hollow Pro. This offset barrel smoker has 720 square inches of cooking area. That's big enough to hold a few dozen burgers or cook larger-sized food like full chickens and salmon. You can burn wood or charcoal in its firebox.
The Smoke Hollow Pro has dimensions of 62W, 31D, and 56 H and weighs in at a hefty 220 pounds. Thankfully, it has wheels on the bottom, which will make it easier to move. The smoker's weight comes from its welded steel, which has a high-temperature powder coating that keeps heat inside the unit.
- Made with durable, thick steel
- Has a lot of cooking space
- Tough to assemble
- Main door can be sealed better
Buying Guide for Offset Barrel Smokers
The first thing to consider when looking at an offset barrel smoker is its steel. Is it made from 1/4 heavy gauge material or something thinner? The thicker the steel, the longer it'll last.
Also, how many people do you usually cook for? This will determine how much cooking space you'll need. If you need to feed a lot of people, the Dyna-Glo Signature Series or the Smoke Hollow unit will be your best bets.
Next, check the tightness of the lids on the firebox and main chamber. Lost heat can increase the cooking time and result in uneven food quality. A tighter seal keeps the heat inside and maximizes the smoker's overall temperature.
Mobility and size are two more factors to consider. Most offset barrel smokers are too heavy to pick up, so if you plan to move your unit around, you'll probably want something with wheels on the bottom. Some models have wheels with extended tread, which will come in handy on mud and uneven ground.
And as always, think about your budget. These kinds of smokers can run anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a thousand.
About Offset Barrel Smokers
As the pictures above indicate, offset barrel smokers have a horizontal, cylindrical shape with a smoker or firebox attached on the side. They're designed so that smoke will rise from the firebox into the main chamber, giving your food that great smoky flavor.
To change the temperature and smoke flow, you need to adjust a smoker's air and exhaust vents. You'll do more work than you would with other types of smokers, but some models have temperature gauges to make it easier.
When you're cooking food, it's important to keep the lid closed as much as possible. Don't open it unless you need to rotate food on the grill and make sure that everything gets smoked properly.
One advantage of these smokers is that they're easy to clean. You'll mainly need to wipe down the grates, which shouldn't take longer than 20-30 minutes. Getting rid of ash won't be too hard either, depending on which type you choose.
An offset barrel smoker is great for hardcore barbecue competitors or average Joes who want to grill some food on the weekend. Go over the info in this guide and pick the one that fits your budget and cooking needs the best.