Great Backyard Barbecue and Grilling

Advantages & Disadvantages Of Using An Offset Smoker

Advantages of Using an Offset Smoker Over Other Types Of Smokers

  • You can stoke the fire or add wood chips, chunks, logs, or wood pellets without opening the cooking chamber.
  • Most units can be used for direct grilling by installing a grill grate over the firebox. You will find that many units come with custom grill grates.
  • The large area of the cook chamber offers the ability to smoke large quantities of food.
  • There is no electrical circuitry to burn out or mechanical parts to wear out or replace.
  • Most of the big-name manufacturers offer a wide array of accessories or customization options.
  • The "cool" factor of owning an offset smoker, especially a big black steel model, is high.

Disadvantages of Using an Offset Smoker

  • Many well-intentioned backyard chef's are put off forever on purchasing an offset smoker by the flood of inexpensive and poorly built units that have potential. With these units you can expect hinges to break, paint to flake, the metal to rust, and target temperatures are difficult to maintain. Some assembly is usually required with these units as well.
  • The entry-level cost of $1,000 or more is relatively high for well-constructed units.
  • It can take up to an hour for your pit to preheat. After that, you’ll need to check on it frequently. Not practical for an after-work cookout.
  • Even modest-size offset smokers can weigh hundreds of pounds, making them difficult to maneuver without assistance.
  • Smoker performance can be affected by windy, rainy, or cold weather conditions.
  • Offset smokers have a fairly large footprint, making them impractical for people with limited outdoor space.
  • Building and maintaining a steady fire requires dedication, patience, and most of all, practice.

Make sure that, before you purchase a grill or smoker, you do your homework. If possible, talk with others who actually own the unit you are considering. Ask lots of questions. Weigh the pro's and con's and decide which type of smoker best fits your needs and, as with most anything, get the best unit you can afford.