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9 Pro Tips On Using An Offset Smoker

How to use an offset smoker

You can use an offset smoker to smoke any type of barbecue you want. It can produce amazing quality brisket, pork shoulder, and ribs. All of which have incredible smoke flavor due to the actual wood chunks you insert into the firebox.

To properly manage an offset smoker to produce the amazing quality BBQ that you always wanted, all you have to do is fill it with a layer of charcoal to get the fire going, while putting dry logs of wood on top of the charred charcoal.

Once the fire is hot and going, then you can start manipulating the temperature of the smoking chamber itself by closing and opening the vents located on the firebox.

Throughout your cook, you can expect consistent temperatures due to the thick steel that the smoker is made of. More specifically, whenever you are buying an offset smoker and to make it manageable going forward, you will want to ensure that the steel is about a quarter inch in thickness.


How to use an offset smoker for beginners

If you happen to be a beginner and want to use an offset smoker, rest assured that you are certainly able to operate one with little to no effort. All it takes is a little bit of guidance and you can get going quick.

To begin using an offset smoker as a beginner, just make sure you have plenty of logs of wood to ensure a consistent fire for your BBQ. 

You’ll also want to have general knowledge about vent and temperature management for your smoker. To increase the ambient temperature of the smoking chamber, you will want to try and open the vents located on the firebox. To decrease the temperature or perhaps even maintain it, consider closing them slightly.

How to use an offset smoker with wood chips

Besides using logs for fueling the temperature of your offset smoker, you can also start to use wood chips. This helps to rapidly increase the temperature and can be a great way to kickstart any cook. 

Not only that but fast burning wood chips have the effect of producing a lot of smoke. This can also be a fantastic way to get the smoke flavor that you are wanting on your brisket or any other type of barbecue.

Wood chips come in a variety of different flavor profiles, that are all derived from different types of trees. The most notable of which, is Mesquite, Hickory, pecan, and my personal favorite, Post-oak.


How to maintain heat in offset smoker

Maintaining heat in an offset smoker is very important since you will always want to make sure that the BBQ does not experience rapid fluctuations in ambient temperatures. Having rapid fluctuations in temperatures can really mess up the cook time and overall outcome of your barbecue.

To properly maintain heat in your offset smoker do not consistently open up the smoking chamber door to be checking on your BBQ. 

Opening the smoking chamber doors will let all the heat out and will require you to basically reheat the smoker itself. Another way to always ensure that you can maintain heat in your offset smoker is to make sure that your thickness of the steel, of the offset smoker itself, is at least a quarter inch in thickness. 

Quarter inch steel is a fantastic way to always ensure that the temperatures will be stable and ready to produce your BBQ.

Another pro barbecue tip that many do not seem to know, is to already have your wood preheated. You can do this by basically just placing the logs of wood on top of the firebox itself to preheat them. This makes it a lot easier for them to catch fire once you actually place them inside of the firebox.


Offset smoker fire management

In terms of fire management on your offset smoker, there are a variety of ways that you can go about manipulating the temperature. The first of which is to understand how to open and close the vents located on the firebox itself. 

Opening the vents on the firebox has the effect of increasing airflow, which has the direct result of increasing the temperature for your offset smoker. By slowly closing the fire box vents, you will help maintain the current temperature as well as even decrease it further. 

Once you go through your first couple of cooks on your offset smoker, you can get a better understanding from first-hand experience.


How do you control the heat on an offset smoker?

You can effectively control heat on an offset smoker by opening and closing the vents located on the firebox. You always want to have the exhaust vent open to allow any smoke and heat to escape from the smoker despite if you were trying to decrease or increase the heat.


Where do you put meat on an offset smoker?

Placing meat in an offset smoker is no trivial task. If you place it too close to the firebox, you can expect higher temperatures and perhaps even a charred piece of meat. The farther away you place it from the firebox, and you will have lower temperatures and perhaps an easier time actually administering consistent temperatures to the meat.

If you have racks located in the smoking chamber, you can place sausage and ribs up there to allow for more room for bigger cuts of meat such as brisket or pork shoulder on the main cooking grate. There is a lot of variety and it really depends on how you want your meat to come out.


Can you use offset smoker as a grill?

You can absolutely use an offset smoker as a grill. All you have to do is get a wire tray and place it right above the coals in the firebox. I’ve done this many times and it can be a great way to finish off a smoked piece of meat by charring it on both sides and getting the drippings and flareups from the fire.


Final thoughts

Managing and using an offset smoker can be accomplished by loading the firebox with enough charcoal and wood to get the fire going. Once the fire is going, you can rest assured that the heat will maintain steady temperatures due to the thickness of the steel itself. 

There are different ways and methods of managing the fire in the firebox, notably by opening and closing the vents. By opening the vents you can increase the temperature of the overall smoker while decreasing the temperature by closing the vents.