Barbecue smokers provide that classic, smoky flavor akin to roasting food over a campfire. When purchasing a smoker, you want to ensure that you’re getting the best value for your money. Two of the most popular options on the market are the pellet smoker and the offset smoker.
Offset smokers use wood or charcoal to smoke food, providing a smokier flavor, but they require regular attention during the cooking process. Pellet smokers use electricity and hardwood pellets to smoke food, are portable, and don’t require your constant attention, but they’re often more expensive.
There’s a lot to consider before purchasing a smoker. In this article, I’ll discuss all of the differences between these two popular types of smokers. That way, you can easily select the type that will suit you the best — let’s get started!
Similarities in These Smokers
Both smokers come in similar sizes and shapes. You can use them to smoke and grill delicious food and make enough to feed many people. Many of us see these smokers at family gatherings or picnics each summer- for a good reason!
They’re also both easy to use, have a chimney that funnels out the smoke, and are best suited for cooking meat at low temperatures for a long time. No matter what you decide to go with, you’re sure to find plenty of uses for it. Many people enjoy experimenting with new barbecue recipes every time they bring out the smoker- I’m sure you’ll love it too!
These two smoker types can also use wood to heat your food. Although, they will use different forms of wood. They’re also pretty cheap to run and can add a lot of flavor to the meat you cook. Overall, there are many similarities, but knowing the differences will help you better decide between the two options.
Differences To Consider
While these two smokers look very similar, there are many differences between them. You’ll want to think about how much room is available to store the smoker, as well as the flavor you want to achieve. Here are some features that you could expect to get with your new smoker:
Pellet Smoker Features
The pellet smoker is a direct upgrade to the offset smoker and is perfect for maintaining a low, steady temperature. They look very similar, although the pellet smoker requires hardwood pellets to cook your food, as well as a source of electricity. The pellet smoker will often feature an LCD screen, making it easier to adjust the cook settings.
Pellet smokers are often more portable, as they often come with the ability to fold up and store easily. For those who don’t have as much storage space at home, this may be better.
Additionally, these electronic smokers also don’t require your full attention while they cook. You can safely step away from it for a few minutes without worrying about anything. Many of them also connect to your mobile phone, allowing you to keep an eye on it when you’re not in the same area.
Overall, the pellet smoker comes with a lot of features. If you want a cooker that can do it all, then make sure you check out one of these options!
Offset Smoker Features
The offset smoker is another horizontal smoker, although this one is the traditional model. It doesn’t use any electricity, so you can bring it anywhere you want — although it’s not nearly as portable as the pellet smoker. It should consist of a firebox connected to a barrel, a place to cook, and a chimney.
While this is the more basic option, that doesn’t mean it’s without any benefits. Many people prefer these smokers as they enjoy the taste of their food much more. You can cook with pure wood or wood chips that add more flavor to your meal. Charcoal is another possibility.
These types of cookers won’t come with any electronic features. So, it won’t connect to your phone, and you need to keep more of an eye on it. Make sure that someone’s always nearby while it’s running!
Overall, if you want a classic taste for your meat, you should get this type of smoker. They’re perfect for making briskets or other types of barbecued food. Many barbecue lovers swear by the offset smoker!
This option is a bit harder to use since you can’t change the heat settings at the touch of a button. This YouTube video covers offset smokers more in-depth for you:
Pellet Smoker Pros & Cons
|Allows you to “set and forget”||Needs electricity to run|
|Provides even cooking||Often more expensive|
|Monitored temperature prevents drops in heat||Less smoke flavor in food|
The best features of a pellet smoker allow you to “set and forget it.” It doesn’t need monitoring since the cooking temperature will adjust on its own. That way, you don’t have to worry about the temperature dropping and ruining your recipe.
These products also often come with internal fans that evenly spread the heat throughout the cook chamber. This feature ensures that your food always comes with even heating and makes your meals more consistent. It’s simpler to use because of this, and you’re sure to get a delicious meal every time.
However, you may need to run an extension cord to your smoker. Doing so can get annoying as you always need to keep the smoker close to a reliable power source. Also, this option is generally more expensive than traditional smokers. Many BBQ enthusiasts also feel that they don’t get as much smoke flavor in their food.
Even with those downsides, the pellet smoker is generally the better option for beginners to barbecuing. The smoker offers you more support through its electronic functions, so you shouldn’t have to worry as much as you learn.
If you want to try a delicious new smoke flavor, I recommend BEAR MOUNTAIN Cherry Flavored Hardwood Pellets on Amazon.com. The pellets offer a tasty, fruity flavor and are completely natural! The bag is 20 lbs (9.07 kg), so it should last you a long time too.
When To Choose a Pellet Smoker
There are plenty of reasons why you want to choose a pellet smoker. If you prefer your meat juicier, then this machine gives you a consistent cook every time. Additionally, they’re also healthier for you.
The pellet smoker doesn’t use heat sources that have a lot of chemicals in them. For example, heterocyclic amines are in many sources that you might add into an offset smoker. Of course, it’s safe to have smoked meat from time to time, but you want to balance it with other types of food.
Finally, pellet smokers are the better choice for a beginner to barbecuing. The machine should naturally adjust its own cooking temperature to keep the meat at the proper heat. That way, you don’t have to worry about adding more wood or changing the temperature yourself.
Traeger Grills Pro Series 22 Electric Wood Pellet Grill
|Durable and long-lasting||Expensive|
|Easy to assemble||Issues with some nuts and bolts falling loose|
|Many temperature controls and functions|
If you’re looking for the best pellet grill, then I’d have to suggest the Traeger Grills Pro Series 22 on Amazon.com. It’s an electric pellet smoker that can hold up to four chicken’s worth of food at once- which is a lot for many families.
It comes with plenty of precise temperature controls, allowing you to cook your food with high levels of precision. The smoker also offers plenty of versatility- it can cook slow or fast and even offers six different cooking methods.
Buyers also appreciated that the design stopped flare-ups and was extremely corrosion resistant. Overall, you’re sure to get plenty of use out of this product!
Offset Smoker Pros & Cons
|Offers classic barbeque flavors||Takes practice to use well|
|Can cook a lot of smoked meat at once||Needs checked on often|
|Great for grilling||Hard to control the cook temperature|
The offset smoker is best for those who want traditional BBQ flavors. While it does take more time to learn how to use this type of smoker well, it’s always worth it. You’re sure to get a fantastic flavor and anything that you cook. Many people love the classic taste of a smoked brisket made in one of these!
They’re also huge, allowing you to cook a ton of food at once. If you have a large gathering coming up or a big family to cook for, this is probably the better option. You can even use your new smoker to grill meat- it’s much better at grilling than the pellet smoker.
However, you will need to check on the offset smoker very frequently. It would help if you ensured that the temperature is always at the proper level, as it can drop. No electronic parts are monitoring the temperature for you!
Many beginners find it hard to monitor the internal temperature of the smoker at first. Although, once you master it, you can make a ton of delicious, smoked food with ease! Make sure you read a good guide before trying it for the first time.
To summarize, this model is harder to use and less consistent, but you get a more developed, smokier flavor. They’re also often the cheaper option.
When To Use an Offset Smoker
It’s best to use an offset smoker when you can be around the machine for long periods. To ensure that food is smoking properly, you’ll need to constantly monitor it. You also need to feel comfortable changing the temperature on your own. That means you need to add more wood or charcoal as needed. Your food won’t turn out well if the heat continuously drops.
Suppose you want your meat to have a smoky flavor, then this is the better choice. It’s also better if you won’t have access to electricity to power the smoker. Many people enjoy taking their smokers camping or to other outdoor family functions—you probably can’t do that with an electric smoker unless you’re willing to pay for an electric camp site!
In short, the offset smoker is better for those with some experience in barbecuing. However, you shouldn’t feel discouraged from learning how to use one- many barbecue lovers think they’re the superior option for flavor!
Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker
|Amazing price point||Minor trouble holding temperature|
|Easy to clean||Minor assembly issues|
|Large cooking surface|
This Char-Broil American Offset Smoker is a great product to jump into barbecuing with. It comes with ample space to prepare food, an adjustable steel fire grate, and a clean-out door to remove ash from the smoker.
Many people greatly enjoy this brand- you can find many high-quality BBQs from them! This option is smaller than some of their other sizes but is a great first offset smoker. You won’t feel overwhelmed learning how to use it correctly.
It’s straightforward to assemble, but you’ll need to wash and season the unit before you use it for cooking. To do this:
- Wash the grill inside out and out with a mild dish detergent and clean cloth.
- Coat the inside with cooking oil after it’s had time to dry.
- Open all the vents and run the machine until it’s completely dry.
This process ensures your offset smoker lasts a long time and runs at its best potential. Many buyers love the simplicity of this model. I’m confident that you’ll enjoy cooking with it too! It’s perfect for beginners to offset grills.
So, if you’re considering buying a new smoker, you’ll have to make a choice between the pellet and offset models. You want to consider the pros and cons of each before you make any final purchases.
The pellet smoker uses electricity and comes with more features. However, many barbecue lovers feel it doesn’t add as much flavor to the meat you cook. If that sounds like you, make sure you check out the offset smokers instead! No matter which option you choose, I’m confident that you’ll love using it.
Scot has loved smoking food in his free time for the last few years. Each major holiday or off-weekend, Scot spends days testing and prepping new recipes for perfection.