The Best Offset Smokers of 2018
Offset smokers were a traditional design used frequently 50 years ago. They went through a period of unpopularity in the 90s and 00s, yet they’re in something of a renaissance period right now.
With that popularity, lots of manufacturers are starting to bring out offset smoker designs and I thought it was time to put some of the best on the market to test.
In this round up review, I put offset grills from Dyna Glo, Outsunny, Char Griller and Oklahoma Joe to the test. Which one is the best? You’ll have to read on to find out!
Grill + Offset Smoker
|Pros||Large smoking area, vertical build.||Large smoking surface, solid build quality.||Sturdy build, professional quality.||Entry level, doesn't break the bank.||Side firebox, cast iron, adjustable dampers. Can attach to other Char-griller, grills.|
|Cons||Thin steel||Low quality paint||Not entry level||We aren't big fans of wood handles. Small grill.||Low quality paint|
|Cooking Surface (sq/inch)||1,176||1,060||1,713||288||250|
|Shipping Weight||76.8 pounds||196 pounds||392 pounds||41.7 pounds||39.4 pounds|
The Best Offset Smokers of 2018
Check out our reviews below, and if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch via our contact form.
Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker
User Rating: (4.1/5)
|Grilling Surface Area||1176 Sq/In|
I’m already a fan of the Dyna Glo brand, so was really hoping that their build quality would shine through on this smoker. At about $170, it’s right on the money for a decent smoker you’ll get many years use from.
The Dyna Go is a well sized smoker with 1176 square inches of cooking space. Like most Dyna Go grills, it has a similar heavy gauge black steel design – something I’ve become a big fan of recently. It has the all-important temperature gauge at the head of the stove and features a similar sturdy leg design common to all Dyna Glo smokers.
It weighs in at about 55 pounds, not bad at all for an offset design.
Setting It Up
I managed to set up the Dyna Glo without requiring any high temp silicone or adjustments. It took about an hour to put together, this was probably me taking my time to avoid any gaps in the door and vent system.
The instructions were nice and clear, just what I’ve come to expect from Dyna Glo, plus you have the all-important customer service number if you need to ask questions.
As with most offset smokers, the heat is produced by the charcoal and this fire only took about 10 minutes to light up. The only niggle I had here was that the catches appeared a little weak to hold the door completely tight. It took a few minutes to find the perfect way to shut the door – something to bear in mind.
I ended up testing the Dyna Glo with some ribs and chicken wings we had left over from the weekend. These cooked perfectly with the Dyna Go, juicy wings and equally as succulent ribs can be cooked if you follow the instructions.
The venting control system works well, although you might have trouble getting to 300 degrees plus without some sort of fan assistance! Other than that, you’ll be able to keep the Dyna Glo at a “low and slow” setting for hours at a time.
At 50 off pounds, you’ll be able to carry this smoker around without too much hassle. The offset design does require a two person lift though, so true portability isn’t really on offer here.
You should be able to move, store and carry the Dyna Go within a yard space with ease.
Pros: Decent quality, a very pretty design and not too hard to carry.
Cons: You’ll need to be careful with the assembly of the grill to avoid panel gaps. The door fit is definitely something to take time over!
Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker
Our Rating: (3.9/5)
|Cooking Area||1,060 Sq/In|
I haven’t used an Oklahoma Joe grill in years! Last time was when an old friend lived on the same street as me and we regularly had family cook outs. His Oklahoma Joe was a pretty neat piece of kit and something I always liked.
Less cooking space than the Dyna Glo is available here. It measures up at 1060 square inches, which is still pretty decent. The reverse flow system is design to evenly distribute the smoke and heat across the entire cook space – something I really wanted to put to the test!
The design is very traditional and personally, I quite like it.
Setting It Up
The steel used in constructing the Oklahoma Joe is very thick, probably the main reason why it weighs nearly 200 pounds! There is some light assembly to get started; however, I didn’t need the instructions as the traditional build meant I could figure out what went where.
I’ve heard only good things about Oklahoma Joe’s customer service, so good in fact I hoped to give them a test. Unfortunately, the design of the Longhorn means that I was up and cooking in well under an hour – no assistance needed!
There’s something nice about tending to the wood fire in the second box whilst cooking above. You can see why the lengthways barrel design is so classic – it really works well.
There’s a temperature gauge located at the top of the barrel, although I’ve seen an awesome report from a guy who installed additional gauges across the barrel – perhaps something that Oklahoma Joe might want to look at.
The smoker is perfect for cooking at a low and slow heat; however, you’ll struggle to get above the 300 degrees’ level depending on the outside temperature. I really struggled to get above 320 degrees on my test run.
Having said that, I cooked a mean brisket on this grill and my time spent using it was enjoyable.
Nah, you’re not going to budge this beast! At almost 200 pounds, it’s really a grill you’ll have to wheel around, something Oklahoma Joe obviously realised because it comes with a very sturdy set of wheels on one side, plus and equally as sturdy handle on the other.
Like most offset designs, you’ll want to restrict this one to garden duties only.
Pros: Superb quality and a nice grill to use.
Cons: A bit pricey at $500, yet the brand name and quality really justify the price tag.
You can read our full review of the Oklahoma Joe smoker in another article of ours. Truly a solid smoker and built to last.
RiverGrille Rancher’s Grill With Offset Firebox
Our Rating: (4.8/5)
|Cooking Area||1,713 Sq/in|
|Product Weight||352 lbs|
Another huge grill comes courtesy of River Grill with a massive 1713 square inches of cooking space. This grill is huge, very heavy and possibly at the meeting point between consumer grade units and commercial ones.
This grill is a full on professional smoker. It comes with 4mm steel, making it very heavy and solid, plus it comes with good features like a double lid – helping you keep as much heat in as possible.
This grill weighs 350 pounds, which gives you a solid (excuse the pun) indication of quality.
Setting It Up
First things first, this grill is huge, so you’re not going to be able to assemble it alone. I would get a friend over to put this grill together, they’ll probably want to see such an amazing smoker in action anyway!
Instructions were clear, concise and customer service is superb. I had to call River Grill up as one of the top lid catches was bent upon arrival. Thankfully, River grill sorted the whole thing out and delivered a completely fresh grill, with a technician to help us get underway.
That’s customer service!
As far as setup time goes, my figure is probably a bit inaccurate because of the support we got; however, I’d say two people should be able to unpack, assemble and have the first fire going in about an hour.
What can I say about the River Grill apart from the fact it’s superb. To be honest, it’s way too large for my needs, yet I gave it as good a workout as I could; cooking ribs, chicken and turkey.
I really tried to use the grill to its full potential, something that you’ll struggle with if you cater for less than 20 people!
One real positive with the River Grill, is the fact the barrel is one solid piece of metal. No need for sealant or any careful assembly here, it all works wonderfully.
Decent wheels and carry handle mean you can move the grill on a flat surface. Lifting the grill is a mammoth task and not one I’d advise!
Pros: A commercial grade smoker in a home setting, quality and style are second to none.
Cons: You’re going to pay for that privilege in terms of price, assembly and lack of any real portability.
Outsunny BBQ Grill + Offset Smoker
Our Rating: (4.4/5)
Outsunny are a brand I’m not entirely familiar with, I haven’t used one of their grills before so it was going to be interesting to see how this model shaped up.
Given the $140 price tag, I wasn’t expecting as many features as the Outsunny came with. It comes with a single piece grill lid, decent temperature gauge and useful wooden table space to the front and side.
There isn’t an official weight provided for the Outsunny; however, it’s quite light and I’d guess a weight of about 50-60 pounds.
Setting It Up
The grill came part assembled, and required a good hour to make sure everything was screwed in properly. Having said this the fit and finish wasn’t half bad for the money.
At first glance, I’m not 100% sure how well the wooden slats will hold up to daily punishment. The wood does have a cheap look to it and it’s not particularly well finished.
In general use, the Outsunny works okay, yet this is about as good as it gets. The smoker “works”, yet I found it difficult to achieve a steady temperature. On a more positive note, the grill part of the smoker works perfectly and I could chicken and ribs to a reasonable standard. Although I will note this is a common issue you will find with charcoal based smokers.
I know the price point is cheap, and you do get an awful lot for your money. However, I can’t help but get the feeling that Outsunny have spent the cash on “packing features in”, rather than focusing on quality.
My youngest daughter caught a splinter from one of the wooden table slats, not a great start!
The Outsunny is light and comes with a decent pair of wheels and carry handle. You’ll be able to wheel this in and out of your shed easily. It’s also possible to unbolt the legs from the barrel, handy if you want to carry this smoker in your car boot.
Pros: It’s cheap and cheerful.
Cons: That cheapness shows in the quality of materials used.
Char-Griller Offset Side Fire Box
Our Rating: (4.3/5)
|Removable Ash Pan|
|Material||Heavy Steel, Cast iron cooking grates|
|Cooking Area||250 Sq/in|
Back to more familiar territory, the Char Griller brand is one that I’ve tested quite a bit over the years. I’ve mostly been impressed by the Char Griller line up, and although I’ve never recommended one, they’ve always been close on my other reviews.
The Char Griller comes with an easy to remove ash pan, vent adjuster and comes with a pleasing enamel black finish. Like most Char Griller products, the Table Top Grill has a nice quality feel to it.
Setting It Up
It’s worth mentioning, that the Table Top Grill is probably best used as an accompaniment to Char Grillers range of barrel smokers. It’s a small grill and Char Griller obviously don’t expect you to be able to complete a full cook out with it. Assembly was easy, with little actual work to do. It’s also extremely lightweight and easy to lift.
So, what can you do with this grill? Well, it’s obviously not a full smoker, yet you’ll be able to grill with it alone, plus you can add it to a Char Griller barrel grill to turn it into a decent sized smoke box.
As a plain grill, the Char Griller is good. I rate this highly if you want a smoker that you can detach, throw into your RV and head down the beach with.
I ended up taking this smoke box to a friend who already owns a Char Griller Duo Propane model. According to the instructions, you can fit this box directly to the side of the Duo with ease.
After a few minutes head scratching, we figured out how the smoker fits into an existing barrel grill. We decided to cook out over my friend’s house and did a pretty usual cook with chicken, ribs and corn on the cob.
I was impressed with the smokebox. The fit was solid and given it’s a detachable box, I assumed it wouldn’t be smoke tight. We couldn’t be more wrong as the Table Top Smoker worked well in addition to the Duo.
This is the Table Tops trump card. It’s light enough to carry on your own and once detached from its barrel grill, you essentially have a tiny smoker to take camping with you.
Pros: A neat design idea from Char Griller.
Cons: You’ll need a full side Char Griller Barrel Grill to take full advantage of it.
There’s 3 winners in this round up and which one you choose depends on price and application. For a solid smoker to be used at home, the Dyna Glo is the budget option and works perfectly. If you want to push the budget then the Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn is what you need.
If you want to maintain a degree of portability, then you can’t go far wrong with the Char Griller and its detachable Table Top Griller. It’s going to be expensive to purchase the full-size Barrel and side box, yet you basically get two smokers for the price of one.
One thing is for certain, the River Grill is overkill except for commercial applications, whilst the Outsunny was at the opposite end of the spectrum – cheap but not cheerful!