How To Use an Offset Smoker – Step by Step Guide and Tips For Beginners in 2024

In this article, I am going to give you information about offset smoker, if you do not know what are offset smokers and how they work or how to use an offset smoker or a side smoker, do not worry, I will give you information on these topics in detail.

What is an Offset Smoker?

Offset smokers are BBQ tools, used for slow cooking of meat. People who love smoked BBQ use different types of offset smokers according to their desire and needs. In most common type of smokers there are two main parts of this equipment, they are called main chambers of offset smoker.

Two main Chambers of Offset smoker

There are two main chambers in every offset smoker, one is firebox and second is heat chamber. If we look height wise, fire box is lower than heat chamber. Heat chamber is also called Cooking Chamber, it is the place in smoker where you put meat for cooking with the heat of fire box.

If we talk about sizes of both chambers, firebox is small in size than cooking chamber. It is small in size because you just have to use it for burning fire, you can use charcoal or wood pellets to produce heat in cooking chamber for cooking meat.

Both chambers are connected, heat transmits from firebox to cooking chamber with the help of firebox pipeline, this heat cooks meat slowly and you can enjoy smokey taste of cooked meat. In the down below lines, we will discuss how to use a offset smoker.

Different types of Offset Smokers

After reading the above lines, you got the idea what is a smoker, there are different types of smokers you can use according to your need. I am going to give you information of some different kinds of smokers, in this article. The factors which make it different from type to type are price, size, quality and size.

Here is the list of some kinds of Offset Smokers.

  • Charcoal Offset
  • Horizontal Offset
  • Vertical Offset
  • Wood Smoker
  • Box Smoker
  • Gas Offset

Here we are going to discussing in below, how you will be using an offset smoker at your place.

How an Offset Smoker Works?

There are two chambers in offset smoker, one is small and the second is large. Large portion looks like a meatal drum. This is the portion where food you put the food, which you want to cook.

For the burning fire, there is another chamber. The place of that small chamber is on side of big chamber. Mostly it is a little down from large portion and positioned at the back side of cooking chamber.

When you turn fire on, smoke and heat travel and passes through the main cooking chamber to give heat and flavor to food.

There is a chimney on a side of cooking chamber, from where smoke passes through out form the cooking chamber, passing through the firebox to cooking chamber.

For controlling temperature of cooking chamber there is a vent on firebox and you can also open and close the chimney to control the temperature of cooking chamber according to your need.

How To Use An Offset Smoker?

In this section we will discuss how does an offset smoker work, how to use different kinds of offset smoker or how to use side smoker. Let’s start discussion. Using an offset smoker is not a benchmark to use all kinds of smokers in the same way, there can be a difference according to the model of smoker.

But the basic functions and operations remains same. In this article we have broken down the steps in simple parts for your better understandings.

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You may know that there are different types of smokers. There is a difference in using different models and types of smokers, we will discuss all things in detail.

First step in using an offset smoker is how to start a smoker, after purchasing it, you will take it at home, after taking it at home, you have to assemble its necessary parts for smoker setup if they are not assembled you will come to know how to build an offset smoker, the step now is how to start a smoker fire. you have to make ready coal or wood, which you are going to use for burning.

When you finish putting coal or wood, you need to burn it. This operation starts in smoker fire box, offset smoker fire management will be done in offset smoker firebox. When burning process starts, you have to put meat or other thing which you want to cook on the grill in the cooking chamber. This is the guide of how to use a charcoal smoker.

Heat transmits from fire box to cooking chamber and the process of cooking starts. Heat helps in cooking and smoke will give smoky taste. If you want to give another flavor to meat, then you can use flavor stick. Just put a flavor stick on coal or wood which is burning in smoker firebox.

You have to take oil brush for garnishing, oil and some water with you. Also, some other necessary things with you. Also use BBQ thermometer to measure the temperature of meat and cooking chamber that meat will cook in perfect way.

Check temperature after few minutes and adjust heat by putting more or less fuel according to need of fire box for smoker. Once meat will ready, take it out from cooking chamber and put in your plat and serve.

Now we are going to discuss steps, which follow in offset smoking.

Using Offset Smoker Step By Step Guide.

First of all, burn the coal or offset smoker wood and put in the fire box then close offset firebox smoker door. Then put meat on the grill in the cooking chamber, cover the cooking chamber with the cover of smoker, let the heat pass into the cooking chamber from side smoker box. Measure the temperature for few times, at the end meat will get ready to serve.

We are going to discuss step by step guide of using an offset smoker.

Burning The Fire

  1. It may look surprising for you, but you have to use charcoal coal for start burning fire. It is the best way to fire your smoker.
  2. When the coal lit up, dump them and put in the firebox of your offset smoker. The best practice is to dump them in the firebox to keep it burning.
  3. Put some pieces of wood which you want to smoke in firebox. Do not put wood pieces on coal directly, put them aside first, the ideal size of wood pieces should be like a soft drink can.
  4. When the wood pieces are heated, they will dry now put them on coal and wait for the fire to burn and get the required temperature.
  5. Waiting and cooking food, put some pieces off woods in firebox beside the coals, in this way you can dry the wood pieces for better result, they will become dried and burn smoothly without making white smoke. It will make your cooking smoother.
  6. Just make sure that the vents of firebox should be open to make the temperature of cooking chamber according to requirements.

Adjustment of Right Temperature

For the temperature adjustment, use a thermometer to measure the required thermometer again and again, here are some tips by following which you can make your cooking experience great.

  1. When the temperature reaches according to your requirements. Open the firebox vent 1/3 percent and the chimney cap should be opened ½ percent.
  2. You have to adjust the vents after checking the temperature during all the time you cook. There are some factors which can affect like wind and outside temperature.
  3. You have to check firebox if the piece of wood finished, then put another piece of wood on coal which you put earlier in the firebox beside the coal to heat up cooking chamber.
  4. Check randomly and make adjustments to achieve your required temperature during the cooking process to go smoothly.

How To Maintain Heat In Offset Smoker

Management of fire in offset smoker needs experience. The important thing is to learn the tricks to manage type of your offset smoker.

Another factor to effect temperature dramatically can be weather.

Below are summarized steps to manage fire to make your offset smoker too hot.

  1. You can check firebox and have to put new wood pieces after short intervals, if may differ from model to model of your offset smoker.
  2. You must have to check smoke and temperature of chimney, without opening firebox. You can get the idea about heat and temperature from it. If you see white smoke coming out from the chimney, then check firebox there can be a problem in it.
  3. If temperature start dropping, then check firebox and put some pieces of wood to make temperature stable again.
  4. The temperature difference in cooking chamber from one side to another side can be 75°F, you have to change the sides of meat with short intervals that it should not cook inappropriate way.

Offset Smoker Tips

Here is the top tips and expert opinion from Lets Do BBQ but first you have to learn about how to season an offset smoker for it’s protection

Cook With Woods And Charcoal

In this section we will read how to use an offset charcoal smoker. To get best taste of your food always cook with charcoal and wood, it will give you best taste.

If you cook only with woods, it may give you bitter taste.

Only cook with charcoal will not give you flavor of wood.

So, best practice is start fire with coal and put some wood pieces on it to get the best taste of food which you are going to cook in offset smoker cooking.

Give Pre Heat To Meat Before Cooking

Always wait for the temperature should be right in the cooking chamber before putting meat in it, in order to avoid the creosote on your food which you are going to cook.

You have to adjust all things according to type of food you are cooking and the taste you want to be in your food.

Always Use A Digital Thermometer

As you read above that the temperature of cooking chamber should be 75°F at both ends of cooking chamber, for measuring temperature you need a thermometer at both ends to measure required temperature. You can add probes of thermometer by drilling both sides of chambers of your smoker.

Keep The Doors And Vent Closed As Much As Possible

You have to remember these smoker firebox ideas that do not keep the doors open, this implies for both firebox and cooking chambers.

You need to open firebox door to put wood pieces and cooking chamber door for checking meat, but do not open it when not needed, only monitor with thermometer readings. You can also check by the heat and smoke coming out from chimney in order to avoid needless door opening.

Rotate Meat After Intervals

As we discussed above that there may difference in temperature on both sides of cooking chamber, you have to check it if you are cooking at both ends, you need to know how to use an offset smoker grill. Make the temperature equal and both sides and rotate the meat after intervals.

If you are cooking one piece of meat, then put it in center and rotate same after some intervals.

Vent Positions

We have provided you information about the vent position in our article. If you need more information regarding the vent opening positions here are some tips.

  • The vent which needs your most attention is the firebox vent, you should be very careful about it because this vent have direct impact on the temperature of cooking chamber and on your food.
  • When you start burning fire, you have to open the vent of firebox full because it has impact on fire and temperature of cooking chamber.
  • Once the temperature should be stable for 30 mins then you can start adjusting the chimney.
  • Always remember, do not shut the chimney and vent of firebox fully closed otherwise you will experience creosote and bitter cooked food.

Weather Effects

Weather can affect your smoking experience, you need to take care of weather and have to make it possible that you have enough quantity of charcoal and wood pieces, if there is wind, rain or cold weather where you are cooking with offset smoker.

Use Of Water Pan In Offset Smoker

With the help of water pan temperature will regulate in the cooking chamber, it will spread moisture and enhance the taste of meat.

Best practice is to add a water pan in the firebox it will give moisture to around the cooking chamber and taste of food will be very good. It is best for charcoal offset smoker.

Heat Adjustment And Fire Management In Offset Smoker

Always use best quality coal or wood in firebox for offset smoker temperature control. When lighten fire, let the wood some time to burn properly, then put it in firebox to make your food odorless. You have to adjust air to make your food best quality, if the temperature goes low, meat will be soft, so make the heat adjustment accordingly.

Types Of Foods You Can Make On Offset Smoker

You can BBQ meat with the help of offset cooking. The foods which you can cook are beef ribs, camel meat, chicken smoky BBQ, some other meats with vegetables, including fish. You can cook these foods with the help of smoker and according to your desire. You can also do grilling on an offset smoker.


Is not necessary to lock wheels of an offset smoker but for your safety you should lock all wheels to make it fix that it should not move during the cooking.

Yes, it is easy to move your smoker from one place to another, just make sure that it should not be damaged during the move.

Yes of course, you can use smokers outside for BBQ and grilling your food which you like to cook outside of home with your friends of family members during outing.


After reading this article you get all the information relate to using an offset smoker and how to use an offset smoker grill. After unpacking your smoker, you have to light up the fire, after that you can start smoking.

You can enjoy smoked BBQ with your friends and family. You have to burn coal first and have to wait until coal become red. After that put some pieces of wood on burning coal. Then let the cooking chamber reach at required temperature. Then put food in cooking chamber which you want to cook and adjust temperature. When the cooking time overtake the cooked food from cooking chamber. The food is ready to serve, you can enjoy smoked meat with your friends and family.