How to Use an Offset Smoker? (The Beginner’s Guide)

It takes a little bit more effort to use an offset smoker than other smokers, but all that effort is well worth it. In this guide, we will explain how it works and the step-by-step method of how to use an offset smoker. After which preparing your food will be as easy as brushing your teeth.

How to Use an Offset Smoker

“Good thing comes to those who wait”. The same is true for the off-set smoker since it tests your patience, But the food will be amazing. enhancing the flavor of your foods. Although many types of smokers, no one rivals the offset smoker when it comes to taste.

Now let’s get started,

Working Of Offset Smoker

The offset smoker mainly consists of two Barrel-like chambers.

  • The smaller chamber is usually the firebox that handles the heat.
  • The firebox is interconnected to the larger cooking chamber.

When the charcoal and wood have burned the heat and the smoke enter the cooking chamber where the food is cooked. Which gives the food its smoky flavor.

An exhaust pipe is connected to the opposite end of the cooking chamber from which the smoke is excited. This helps with maintaining the airflow.

Almost every offset smoker has a built-in thermometer. That displays the temperature inside the cooking chamber.

The temperature of the smoker can be changed and maintained by airflow, by adjusting the intake vent in the firebox and the exhaust pipe.

How To Use An Offset Smoker?

Step 1: Clean the smoker

If you have been using the smoker for a long time, then it is necessary to clean the smoker for the dirt and grease. If you are using the smoker for the first time after buying then directly move to the next step.

Clean the offset smoker

Step 2: Add the Charcoal and Wood

Offset smokers mostly use charcoal and wood as fuel sources. Place the charcoal in the firebox and use the paper or tissue damped in the oil to light the fire. Remember to open the intake vent when doing so.

The charcoal will not be able to create a high temperature by itself. So once it becomes red hot you need to add the wood afterward. You can use the wood in many flavors like apple, maple, etc. Choose whichever satisfies your taste buds.

Add the Charcoal and Wood in Smoker

Step 3: Preheat the smoker

Once the fire is started make sure to preheat the smoker. In the early stage of fire give too much smoke which is not favorable. Preheating the smoker helps maintain the temperature for hours and with fire management. 

It takes amount an hour to preheat the smoker to the ideal temperature for it is about 225 °F (107 °C).

Once the preheating is done, Make sure to place water because moke can dry out the food. So you need to add the moisture back. In this case, the rack should be mounted in the firebox and a water pan should be placed over it. Preferably in a disposable aluminum pan.

Preheat the smoker

Step 4: Place the Food

Now place the food on the grate in the cooking chamber. Make sure to place the food in the right spot since the position of the food affects the cooking time. Because the food is close to the heat source it will be cooked quicker if too far it will take longer to cook.

It is essential to rotate the food to avoid uneven cooking, this can happen to the food at the end of the gill. Once the food is placed don’t forget to close the lid of the cooking chamber.

Place the Food in Smoker

Step 5: Set The Thermometer

Most offset smokers have a built-in thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature in the cooking chamber. But if one is broken you can also get a meter probe and place it in the food to monitor the temperature.

Set The Thermometer

You can check some external meat thermometers here!

Step 6: Maintain The Temperature

Here begins the patience game to check the temperature from time to time. You need to maintain the temperature of the smoker.

Also, make sure the fire keeps going because if the fire goes off. Because the production of too much dark smoke will ruin the taste of the food.

What temperature needs to be maintained depends upon the type of meat you are cooking.

Fish cooked roundabout 225 °F beef at 225-240 °F. To season the food make sure to add one or two flavor hardwood after one hour to give the food that smokes taste. Remember we don’t want the wood flavor to overpower the meat flavor.

If the temperature is low, open the intake vent in the firebox and the exhaust pipe and add more wood and charcoal.

On the other hand, if the temperature is too low you can close their intakes to reduce the temperature. After some practice, you will become proficient at controlling the temperature.

Wood, charcoal, and intake vents are the main factors that affect the temperature.

Besides being able to smoke, the offset smoker can also be used as a grill. Firstly, place the coals under the grate in the cooking chamber. Secondly, place the food on the grate. Grilling delicious food is now easier than ever. So you will not have to spend extra money on the grill.

Best offset smokers for Your next bBQ party

Below we have discussed 3 offset smokers which may be best for your next gathering. However, we have the 9 best offset smokers in our other article, you can read that as well.

1. Royal Gourmet CC1830SC Offset Smoker

Royal Gourmet CC1830SC Offset Smoker - Best offset smoker

There are few offset smokers on the market that are affordable and good value for money. With the 26.77” x 16.54” primary cooking area you can prepare the food for all the guests. Whether for a party or just a casual hangout with friends this smoker got you covered.

The cooking grates are made of porcelain-enameled steel wire. Which makes them more durable and protects them from rust. If cleaned after every use will increase the life of the grates since it is easy to use.

Among many features of this smoker, the Swing-away Warming Rack is my favorite. Which is ideal for keeping the food warm and letting you defrost the food faster.

2. Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker

Dyna-Glo Wide offset smoker is an absolute beast when it comes to capacity. There are six adjustable grates in this smoker. Each grate can hold up to 25 pounds capacity which makes a total of 890 square inches of space for cooking.

To account for the large cooking space large amount of fuel needs to be burned.  Keeping this in mind firebox of this smoker is designed to have a large space for longer smoking sessions.  The coal chamber included in this also comes in handy. Because it keeps the coal stacked and efficient when burning.

Being larger does make it slow to achieve the temperature. But it can prepare the food almost, 6 times more than the horizontal offset smoker.

3. Char-Griller E1224 Smokin Pro

Char-Griller E1224 Smokin Pro Offset smoker

Even though offset smokers are considered to be expensive. But after some research, many models can be bought at affordable prices. One of them is the Char-Griller E1224 Smokin Pro. Which offers all the features you can expect from a quality smoker.

There are 580 sq. inches of cooking surface is quite decent. You can cook anything from ribs to stacks without any problems. A built-in thermometer makes sure you can track the accurate temperature reading.

A side shelf is also attached to the side of the smoker. Which is convenient for placing the utensils, sauces, and other stuff. The S shape hook is also attached on the side to hand the spatula and tong when not in use.


Should you spray meat while smoking?

Yes, you need to moisturize your food in the smoker. The main reason that the smoke can be tried is that it is necessary to add moisture to keep the food tender and juicy. There are two ways you can do it one is to use a sprayer to spritz some liquid like water or apple juice. The second is to place the water in the firebox rack. So it can evaporate and create a moist environment in the chamber.

How does a smoker maintain a constant temperature?

In the offset smoker, the main trick to control the temperature is to control the airflow simply. You can control the temperature of the cocking chamber by opening and closing the vent. Open the vent to increase the temperature, and to decrease the temperature close the vent.

You can also add more coal and wood to increase the temperature. With some experience, you will be able to master the temperature.

Can smoked meat have a bitter taste?

If everything is done correctly then smoked meat will have a mouth-watering flavor. However, if the fire goes out, more dark smoke will be produced. Resulting in the production of creosote, which is a bitter substance. This causes the meat to taste bitter, which is very unpleasant and will ruin the mood.


So here you have it, if you buy a new offset smoker, you can just get started without a second thought. After reading this guide on how to use an offset smoker one thing might get clear to you. The main trick is to keep an eye on the firebox that is going on in it. Once you get some practice with offset smokers, you will be able to master them with no problem.

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