There are two major types of smokers that you can use to get the perfect finish on the meat. Those are the reverse flow smoker and the offset smoker that are very great in cooking.
You will also find vertical smokers, but they are not as popular as these two. So we decided to compare these somewhat related smokers to see which one you should get.
I will say that I like the reverse flow smoker slightly better because I love the enhanced smoky flavor, but you should still check out the difference.
One can easily confuse the offset smoker from a reverse flow smoker. However, there is a significant difference between the two that we will tackle.
Reverse Flow Smokers bring the best out of the fuel that you are using.
They are great in maximizing the smoke that the woods on the firebox produce. They are also pretty large, and they usually come in commercial sizes for cooking multiple lumps of meat at a time.
These reverse flow smokers work best in smoking meat as they do not have the versatility that offset grills have. So you might want to consider buying something if you do not want an appliance solely for smoking.
If you do, you should read on as we take on the similarities and differences between these two types of smokers. Here, we will see which one is better for you and your style of cooking.
What Is An Offset Smoker?
The offset smoker is a smoker type that has a pretty straightforward approach to distributing the smoke in the cooking chamber. It releases the smoke from a firebox and cooks the meat.
There are limited hindrances between the firebox and the chimney which means that the smoke travels straight towards the vent. That way, you get to use all the smoke that it releases vertically.
It also has a large cooking chamber compared to its firebox. This is great for smokers since they do not need to quickly fire up the chamber or cook the meat inside directly with flames.
What Is A Reverse Flow Smoker?
Some experts consider the reverse flow smoker as a type of offset smoker. I agree with this as it is pretty straightforward, and the same type of chamber is used in these smokers.
However, the way the smoke travels in a reverse flow smoker is a bit different. The smoke-induced in the meat that you are cooking is more enhanced because of the pathway inside.
We will be talking about this feature later on. So by definition, a reverse flow smoker is a type of offset smoker that gives more way for the smoke to travel inside in a vertical direction.
Significant Differences Between An Offset Smoker And A Reverse Flow Smoker
It may be hard to distinguish between what an offset and a reverse flow smoker is with just the introduction above, so here are the key differences between the two to give you a better look.
Construction (Offset Smoker)
Most of the smokers in the market are made with high-quality and heavy-duty steel. But that is not what we are talking about when we say construction, but rather the interior itself.
An offset smoker is a simple and straightforward smoker when it comes to its build. The cooking chamber interior has an open design, meaning it does not have anything to block the smoke.
The smoke is fired from the firebox through the whole space of the cooking chamber. That way, the meat will be simmered as the chimney waits on the opposite side of the firebox.
This is perfect for multiple foods being cooked since the smoke will travel the cooking chamber’s entirety. So the foods at the end of the chamber are still cooked perfectly.
Construction (Reverse Flow Smoker)
Now for the reverse flow smoker, you have a slightly different construction. Like the offset smoker, the interior of the cooking chamber has racks for the meat or skewers if you choose to.
However, instead of looking straight onto the firebox, the reverse flow smoker has a baffle plate. This is a long steel plate that horizontally runs in the middle of the chamber with almost the same length.
You will only see a small hole on the end of the baffle plate, used as the smoke entrance from the firebox. The firebox of both offset and reverse flow smokers are on the same side.
However, the chimney is placed on the same side with reverse flow smokers. The offset smoker has its chimney on the other side so that the smoke will shoot straight onto the exit.
The reverse on the name of the reverse flow smoker comes from the path that the smoke takes. Instead of shooting straight towards the chimney, it takes a longer path in a reversed way.
Starting The Fire
Reverse flow smokers have the ability to preheat quicker than an offset smoker. That is because of the features included inside the cooking chamber that only reverse flow smokers have.
For a reverse flow smoker, you will only need to burn the coal on the firebox and then put the wood on top of it. You will need to get a lot of firestarters for the offset smoker.
They require more effort, and most users would use a weed burner to start the fire. It also takes more time to preheat the offset smoker’s chamber because of the lack of a baffle plate.
The reverse flow smoker heats up quickly because it uses the baffle plate to redistribute the chamber’s heat. The fire heats a smaller chamber, so the heat travels quicker.
This is one of the most important aspects of cooking in a smoker. It would help if you kept the temperature stable to cook the meat pieces inside the cooking chamber evenly.
This goes different ways with the offset and the reverse flow smoker. The Offset smoker needs to be looked after every after a few minutes to retain the heat and keep it steady.
You will need to adjust the stack damper to retain the temperature constantly. With the reverse flow smoker, you will not need to do this constantly as it maintains heat better.
All you need to do is add a block of wood every after 45 minutes or an hour. You can then adjust the inlet dampers in the chamber to restrict or open the airways.
It is important to know where the heat is coming from when cooking with smokers. For the reverse flow smoker, the heat is evenly distributed inside the chamber, so no zones are too hot.
Offset smokers have slightly different temperature zones since they do not have a baffle plate. It is logically impossible to distribute the heat evenly, so the hot zone is near the chimney.
This is also caused by the offset smoker’s top-down heating property, as it is the bottom-up way for the reverse flow smoker. These are completely different, which explains the hot or cold zones.
For the offset smoker, both the heat and the smoke travel towards the exhaust, so the heat is more prominent on the chimney side. The reverse flow smoker uses the baffle plate for this.
To make an evenly-heated chamber, the reverse flow smoker uses the baffle plate to distribute the heat upwards. The smoke then follows to add flavor to the meat inside it.
For the reverse flow smoker, this is beneficial since you will get evenly-heated and cooked recipes. However, there is also a benefit to the offset smoker’s uneven heat zones.
That way, you will be able to cook different types of food at the same time. They will cook differently, but then some of them will not be over or undercooked.
Smoking meat is one of the best ways to cook food. Smokers are great at using the meat’s fats to soften the tendons and, of course, the meat itself.
They are also great at adding that authentic smoky flavor to the meat. They are perfect for producing meat with nice finishes that you can use for salads, sandwiches, or eating it straight.
So if you want a smoker that will get you to cook the best-smoked meats, then you can pick between the offset smoker and the reverse flow smoker as they will do the job perfectly for you.