Offset smoker gives some really rich and smoky flavors to the food without creating any mess with the ash or soot getting into the food. The separate firebox for the fuel ensures this convenience. You don’t have to open the lid of the food chamber repeatedly to fiddle with the fuel and to disturb the cooking process while doing that.
The flavors and convenience does come at a cost though. Out of all the types of smokers, using an offset smoker demands the most knowledge and attention. It’s not like you can just set the food for the cook and sit back and chat with the thermometer in your hand. The temperature, as well as the burning fuel, requires constant monitoring and maintenance, which is where it gets complicated and puts most people off.
However, it’s nothing you cannot master with time. Maybe you got here after stumbling across a number of guides that went over your head. Using an offset smoker is difficult to understand, but that just got easier for you.
Comprehensive Guide about using an offset Smoker
Here is a breakdown of the whole using and cooking process into easy steps and important tips to get it right every time. Head below, and you would not have come across a guide easier to understand than this. Read, follow, and master the art of making relishable food with an offset smoker after just a couple of uses.
Step# 1. Lighting Up the Fire
The first step is to light up the fuel you are using in the offset smoker, which is both wood and charcoal. You need to light up the charcoal first. There are two ways to fire up the charcoal; you can light the coals up directly in the firebox of the smoker. Pour the coals in the firebox and arrange them in a pyramid shape, light from the top, letting the fire make its way to the bottom.
Since there is not any ignition system in the smoker, you can also do that outside the smoker. Use a chimney starter to light the coals; it’s a metal container with a handle. All you need to do is put the coals inside with some paper at the bottom, light the paper, and the coals will be lit in a few minutes. You will know they are ready to be used when white ash covers them.
Also Read Smokers Chef Best Offset Smokers Review & Buying Guide
Step# 2. Preparing the Firebox
The next step is to add wood and prepare the firebox for the smoke. Pour the lit-up charcoal into the firebox from the chimney starter. Swipe it to one side of the box so you can have enough space on the other side to easily smoke the wood. Now put the wood chips, or one or two logs of wood, in the firebox; for flavored smoke, you can use apple, maple, or hickory wood.
Remember not to soak the wood before putting it in the firebox. That will produce thick white smoke, which will overpower the flavors of the food rather than enhancing it. Dry wood will produce the right amount of smoke you need for your food.
Let the wood chips or logs be heated up first at the empty side of the firebox; once they are all heated and dried up, then put them over the charcoal pile. Keep adding more wood as you roll the heated up wood into the coal.
Step# 3. Preheating the Offset Smoker
After you have started the fire inside the firebox, wait until it comes to the desired temperature. Keep the firebox door slightly opened and the vents totally opened so the airflow can cause a rapid increase in temperature inside the firebox.
Keep checking the temperature inside on the built-in temperature gauge; if it works properly, otherwise use a good smoker thermometer. Put the probe close to the cooking area and monitor the temperature throughout the whole cooking process. When the desired reading appears on the thermometer, the smoker is done with the preheating process.
Step# 4. Add the Food and Maintain the Temperature of an Offset Smoker
After you have reached the wanted temperature in the firebox, it’s time to place the meat on the grates in the cooking chamber. Even after you have started the cooking, you have to keep checking the temperature, which will fluctuate but manage it throughout. Remember that multiple factors will affect the temperature inside the firebox, like the air, the temperature outside, and how quickly the fire inside runs out.
So, that requires constant attention. Close the cooking chamber after you have placed the food inside. Monitor the temperature and the smoke emanating from the chimney, do that every 15 to 20 minutes. If the temperature has decreased, add more charcoal or wood if the previous logs have turned to ashes. Open the door of the firebox a crack for a few minutes so the temperature can quickly escalate, or the side vents as well for a more rapid increase.
If you’re looking for a smoker thermometer, have a look at Smokers Chef Best Smoker Thermometers Review & Buying Guide
Once the fire is high again, and you have reached the right temperature, close the vents. If the temperature inside the firebox gets too high, ensure that the vents and the firebox door are closed. To reduce the temperature, open the lid of the cooking chamber just for a couple of minutes, and the temperature will drop. Remember to rotate the meat after every hour for even cooking, and don’t open the cooking chamber lid often.
Additional Tips to Use an Offset Smoker
Tip# 1. Use Both Charcoal and Wood in an Offset Smoker
You can get indecisive about the type of fuel you should use in an offset smoker; the best choice is to use both charcoal and wood. Using charcoal only will devoid you of the smokey wood flavor, and so much of the potential of an offset smoker will go wasted. Getting the benefits of both types of fuels is one of the points for preferring an offset smoker over other variants.
Using only wood as the fuel source of the smoker is particularly a bad idea; in that case, the fire is difficult to keep in check, and you end up with the food having a bitter taste. Along with charcoal, you can add the flavor of oak, apple, or hickory wood to the meat.
Tip# 2. Using Water Pan in Offset Smoker
If your offset smoker doesn’t have a water pan, the absence of moisture while smoking the food can result in overly dry food. Moisture keeps the food tender and juicy, hence a more enhanced flavor. If your smoker doesn’t come with a water pan, you can use a heat-proof bowl or container to include moisture in the cooking process.
Place the container above the pile of fuel in the firebox and fill in the water; use any metal rack available to you to place above the coals for the pan. That way, the smoke produced will get moisture before passing to the cooking chamber, preventing it from drying out, making the food juicy and tender.
You can also spray the food directly with water; you can also spray apple juice for more flavorful food. Use a clean spray and fill it with the liquid; spray the food when it is nearly smoked and looks dry.
Summing Up Use of an Offset Smoker
Using an offset smoker is challenging for many users, but not now for you if you have gone through this whole article. This step-by-step guide and important instructions give a clear idea on how to use an offset smoker, making the understanding much easier. You can master the handling of the unit after using it a couple of times. So, follow this guide to make the most of your offset smoker and enjoy the most flavorful outcomes.
Hi, I am Anthony Bourdain, founder of SmokersChef. I graduated in Restaurant Management from Dallas Culinary College. I’m a single dad, chef by profession and hunter by passion. I am a die-hard foodie and expert in smooking and grilling meat. I have started SmokersChef to create a perfect gathering place for single moms and dads to get recipes and products to cook delicious food for their families.