How to Use an Offset Smoker – Beginners Guide

How to Use an offset smoker

We have written a number of articles regarding offset smokers on this website. That is for the buyers to find the best offset smoker on the market and the one that meets the needs of them as well.

In this article, we are going to explain how to use an offset smoker to get flavored food in return. Well, offset smokers have different names. Many people remember them by the name of offset barrel smokers. Stick burner or horizontal smokers are also the same as offset smokers.

It doesn’t matter what we call them, what matters is the competition between them inside a market. There are other types of smokers as well, like electric, gas, or charcoal smokers. But, it is not as simple to set up an offset smoker as we do with electric, gas, or even charcoal smokers. You need to be familiar with how you have to set up the offset smoker to get what you need.

We have described the steps of how to use an offset smoker. Read it thoroughly and you will comfortably ignite your offset smoker under $2000 without hesitation.

Before even starting the explanation of how to use it, we would like to brief you on a basic concept of working of an offset smoker.

How to use an offset smoker

How offset smokers work?

This offset smoker recipe will help you a lot. Most of these offset smokers have a huge chamber that resembles a metallic box or an oily drum. This is also named the cooking surface area where you place your food to cook.

Offset smokers also have a narrow chamber that contains the facility of lighting up the fire. This chamber may be on the bottom of some offset smokers or on the right or left side of them. Sometimes, this chamber lies on the back of the cooking surface area.

The firebox chamber has the duty of transferring the heat and smoke to the cooking surface area. Heat is used to cook the food properly while smoke has the task of producing flavored food in return. A chimney is also available that goes far away from the firebox.

Controlling the temperature is an important task in offset smokers to get delicious food. You can control the temperature from the vent of the fire chamber. You can measure the temperature with a thermometer.

Step by Step guide on how to use an offset smoker

To be very honest, availing the functionalities of an offset smoker is not that simple. It is not a set-and-forget combination. There are a number of different types of smokers available in the market. But, an offset smoker is a type of smokers that is needed to be fully known before one uses it properly.

But don’t get mad about this. We have enlightened all the basic concepts and steps of how to use an offset smoker. Like you cook food having some recipe, this is offset smoker recipe of how you set it up or how to use an offset smoker grill.

See also  How to season an offset smoker - Step by Step Guide

Starting the Fire, Sidebox smoker tips

  • You might find it surprising but charcoal is the best fuel to fire up an offset smoker. Once you are sure that your coals have got enough heat, you are free to add wood.
  • Many of the offset smokers for beginners available in the market have a decent and modern fuel starter system. But, if your smoker lacks that property, a chimney starter will help you light your coals.
  • As soon as the coal is lit, you can throw them out from the chimney to the firebox. offset firebox smoker. The smoker is often called a side box smoker or It would be much better if you dump the burning coals on the farther side of the fire chamber. So, you don’t need to reach over the fire.
  • If you are going to go with charcoal as a fuel type, you must have wood pieces. Place at least two pieces of wood inside the firebox of the wood smoker.  Don’t place them exactly over the top of coals. It won’t help them get burned. For this step, we are just heating up the logs.
  • As soon as you see that logs have got the required heat, directly place them over the coals. Now, you just have to wait for them to get to the exact temperature you want for cooking.
  • Meanwhile, you can throw another piece of wood or log into the firebox for further heat. You have to keep it in mind, whenever you place a new log n the fire, the firebox must get another one to heat it up. When the logs get proper heat, they are going to find the fire more quickly. This step will skip producing white smoke and saving your food from it. you will get delicious food in return.
  • The vents of the firebox should be open. Also, the firebox door available i=with the smoker should be cracked open. Meanwhile, you have to wait for the cooking surface area to heat up over the required temperature.

 how to maintain heat in offset smoker

Setting the best temperature

The thermometer is a key thing attached to any of the offset smokers you are using.  You have to assure first that the probe of the smoker is set at grate level. It must be in front of the meat or food you are about to cook.

  • You have done the temperature and heat providing part. Once you see that the required temperature is acquired, place the vents on the farther side of the firebox. it should be open to more than one third. Also, you need to place the chimney to be half-open.
  • You constantly have to have your eyes on the temperature. Viewing the temperature, keep adjusting the vents during the whole cooking process. The main circumstances that can affect the temperature of the smoker are the wind, the wood, or the temperature outside. You can check best wood smokers
  • Here, just give it a look on the fire once more. If you see the logs have turned to coal situation, place the new logs you have already heated up. Similarly, adjust another log to heat it up perfectly.
  • Make sure you set the vents properly at every step so that you don’t have to do it again and again. It is always good if all parts of the vents get the required heat properly to cook delicious food.
See also  Three Smart Grills and Smokers for 2022

Fire Management

To manage the fire of an offset smoker, you need to get experience, slowly and step by step you will know everything. It is always important to learn about the specifics of your smoker.

You need to take care of the atmospheric conditions as well because it can have a direct effect anytime.

Though there are a number of smokers available and every one has its own specifications. For most of these smokers, there is a check time of almost 45 mins roughly for the pit of the firebox. You should always be careful about the temperature and smoker getting out from the chimney. you have to do that without opening the door of the firebox every 15 to 20 minutes to avoid any forthcoming issues. If you see the white smoker getting out of the chimney, it means your firebox is having some kind of issue.

As you are concentrating enough to cook the food, the temperature may go down sometimes. To deal with it, you simply have to put more wood in the firebox.

If you see the temperature has already dropped, and you are about to put a new log, you might have to keep the door of the firebox open. You have to keep it open for a minute or two to get the required temperature for the cook.

As the cooking surface areas of various smokers are too wide, the temperature in the whole cooking chamber is surely different at different places. It may have 75 degrees greater or lesser at any point of the cooking chamber than any other point. The only thing you have to do is to rotate the meat or food properly. This will help you cook the food evenly.

We have also discussed grilling safety tips.

Key points of using an offset smoker

Use Charcoal and Wood to cook

Using a combination of charcoal and wood as a fuel type, you can expect the offset smoker to return the best-cooked food. If you only use wood to cook, it might give you a bitter taste in the food. Similarly, if you only use charcoal, you will not find the flavor a wood can put into it.

You have to ignite the fire with fully burned coal you have got in the chimney. Keep adding the wood to continue providing the required heat to cook delicious food.

Before you put your meat in, heat up the chamber already

You have to wait for the cooking chamber to come to the temperature we want for our meat. it will help us get the food without creosote.

This type of offset smoker may provide more smoke in the starting steps as compared to charcoal smokers.

Avail any modern digital thermometer

We have already mentioned that there can be a difference in temperatures on different ends of the cooking chamber. It can vary between 75°F between two ends of a cooking chamber.

To avoid this, you have to place the thermometers at both ends and wait for both ends to come to the same temperature. You can add temperatures sensors or thermometers by drilling into the ends of the cooking chamber.

See also  Best Offset Smoker Mods

 how to use a smoker for beginners

Avoid opening the lid again and again

You have to avoid opening the doors frequently. This is a rule for both, the cooking chamber and the firebox. It is a fact that you have to open the doors sometimes to pace more wood to cook more food. But, you have to keep monitoring the thermometers you placed or you have to monitor the smoke getting out of the chimney. It will help you avoid reopening the doors multiple times.

Experience only one Vent at one time

Back in the article, we mentioned a few ideas about how to position the vents. Instructions are clear and step by step.  But, if you have an interest in learning how to manage vents, you must read the following tips.

  • Firebox vent is the one that you need to learn about first. It affects the temperature or heat of the fire the most and also the cooking chamber as well.
  • While you set the fire on, you have to keep this vent on or wide open. As you see the required temperature is about to be achieved, start closing this vent slowly.
  • The chimney should be open,  meanwhile, the temperature will be stable with ease. As soon as the required temperature is in the chamber and stays there for over 30 minutes, then you can adjust the chimney.
  • You have the rule to follow as well. Never close the chimney more than half.

Keep an eye on the atmosphere

It is true, the temperature outside can disturb the temperature inside the smoker. You have to assure that you are having enough charcoal and wood to even the difference outer temperature can cause.

Where to put water pan in an offset smoker?

Almost every smoker with a side firebox allows you to put the water pan on the rack top. The rack top must be placed over the fire in the fire pit. This article will surely help those who are asking how to use a side barrel smoker? or those who want to find how to use a side smoker or a smoker grill.


If you have ordered one, or are opening it right now, you have got almost every information you should have to use an offset smoker.

Just go easy and allow the coals to get red hot. Take your cooking chamber to a specific temperature. Place the food you want to cook. Keep an eye on the temperature and manage it if necessary.

Don’t forget to avoid opening the lid too many times.

1 thought on “How to Use an Offset Smoker – Beginners Guide”

Leave a Comment