How to Use an Offset Smoker – Beginners Guide for 2020

Due to the enormous size of an offset smoker, you may feel intimidated by just the sight of it. But in reality, there is no big deal about how to use an offset smoker as they are quite straightforward. Once you learn how to control smoke flow and regulate the temperature of an offset smoker, the rest is a piece of cake. Offset smokers have an advantage over regular grills when you use it to simmer meats and vegetables. Offset smokers cook your food with the heat and smoke from the firebox, not mainly from the direct heat of the charcoal. Unlike gas grills or electric grills, you need to know certain things before you can start churning out your delicious barbeque on your offset smoker.

How to Use an Offset Smoker Step By Step for 2020

There are 3 main things you need to know like the back of your hands before smoking on an offset smoker.

1. Starting the offset smoker

The first step of using any smoker or grill involves igniting it. A typical charcoal smoker grill is usually challenging to ignite, so you may need to have understood the working principle before you can get this done. So, on bringing the offset smoker out, clean it up before starting the charcoal. Wash the smoker if necessary. Wipe down the whole smoker with soapy water and rinse properly with clean water. Open the vents and allow the smoker to dry. When dry, line up some charcoal briquettes in the firebox and some in a chimney. Heat the Chimney until it starts to glow and turns ash over. It may take up to 15 minutes for the charcoal briquettes in the Chimney to ignite.

Starting the offset smoker

After successfully lighting the Chimney, spread it over the firebox in the offset smoker and close the lid. Now because fire needs oxygen, leave the firebox open but not too wide open. It might take up to 15 – 30 minutes for the charcoal in the firebox to ignite correctly. When the charcoal briquette is lightly ashy and hot, then you know it has fully ignited. If you would love to add flavor to the smoke, add a log or two of Hardwood into the firebox. You can choose from the numerous list of Hardwood in the market like hickory, maple, apple, and mesquite, amongst others. However, try not to make the fire with lots of wood as it would be hard to regulate and maintain it over a long time.

2. Adjusting the Heat

After successfully igniting the smoker, the next step is to ensure that the smoker’s temperature is right before you start adding food. Most people love to smoke food between 225 degrees Fahrenheit and 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Well, to get the right temperature of an offset smoker, you would need two probe thermometers. It would be best if you had a thermometer even when your offset smoker has a lid thermometer. Don’t depend too much on the lid thermometer to give you the exact grilling temperature of an offset smoker. Lid thermometer gives you the reading at the top of the smoker and not at the cooking surface area where the food is smoking.

smoker Adjusting the Heat

Insert one probe at one end near the cooking chamber, and the other one of the thermometer probe at the other end. As you take the reading, adjust the heat accordingly. As we said easier, fire needs oxygen to burn more. So, you can increase the temperature by allowing more air into the smoker by opening the air vent and Chimney. But if the smoker is too hot, you can close the air vents to reduce the amount of oxygen the smoker is getting or open the lid. Use the Chimney by opening and closing it to control the flow of smoke through the grill. Most importantly, know when to add more charcoal briquette to the firebox when the heat is low, or you need more heat.

3. Smoke Grilling Flavorful Food

Lastly, add the meat or vegetable to the grill. Knowing how to give your food the best flavor is the most crucial part of this smoking food. To ensure you get the most out of your offset smoker, ensure you are smoking right. You want to ensure the smoker is not producing the right type of smoke. The most desirable kind of smoke to use should be an invisible pale blue tint. Avoid brown or even black smoke as it creates a bitter taste on your food, not to even talk about the health implications of this color of smoke.

Smoke Grilling Flavorful Food

Also, to get the most flavor while smoking, place a metal pan of water near the smoker. When grilling over a long time, food will dry out, but the metal pan of water will moist the smoke. You can also spray moisture on what you are grilling like beer, wine, or water.

After grilling for about an hour, use a tong to flip your food to the other side to ensure your food cooks evenly. Check the chamber temperature regularly, say every 30 minutes or so, and ensure the fire is still burning. Another thing to take note of is the texture of the meat. Depending on how you like the feel of your food, but when grilling, take note that if you prefer rare cooked food, then smoke it at a high temperature for a short time. But for medium or well-cooked meat, grill at low heat for a long time.


After going through everything you need to know about how to use an offset smoker, we bet you do not think it is all that complex. At least now, you have all you need to use offset smoker from lighting it to adjusting the temperature and smoking on it. Remember always to allow the charcoal briquette to be red hot, and the smoke be pale blue before loading it with meat and vegetables. And do not forget to monitor the temperature regularly, and check the firebox to ensure the fire is still burning.

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