best smoker for beginners

How to Use an Offset Smoker for Beginners

You’ve invested in a brand new Offset barrel smoker ? That’s amazing as you made the right choice. But how does your Stick-burner work?

Yes, these products go by many names, such as a horizontal smoker, and you will find these names throughout the article but refers to one thing. Using your Offest barrel for the first time looks complicated; yes, we see you standing there scratching your head as the manual is not of great help, is it.

Yip, we agree sometimes it looks like gibberish. But we are here to help with a detailed guide on using an Offset smoker as a beginner. So sit back and relax or keep your phone nearby for some help standing in front of this monstrosity, only joking. It is not that bad.

What is an Offset Smoker?

Great you are standing waiting to fire up that smoker, but how does it work standing scratching your head. Well, as you can see, depending on the model you have, it resembles two barrels looking like those oil drums you find at the fuel station. Or is it a metal box? Call it what you want as both are important.

Do you see them great? Okay, the big compartment is where you place your foodstuff to make all your delicious meats. Now, do you see that smaller box? No, not that one, the one to the side. Found it excellent that is the firebox. Okay, we must agree, as some of the offset smokers have the firepit at the back.

While offset smokers have been around for a long time, there have been changes in the design. These days you can find them as vertical offset smokers, but that is for the following discussion. Back to what your horizontal smoker is. Housed in your main barrel, you find the cooking chamber with a hinged lid for ease of opening.

Okay, back to the firebox if you have a side-mounted one, you still have a traditional one but using it makes no difference to the other model. Basically, you make a wood/charcoal fire in the provided box. Usually, the fire is beside and not underneath. When you fire this baby up, the heat and smoke enter the cooker found at the bottom right side. The smoke circulates the food.

Your hot gases exit from the chimney seen on the left side. The smoke and hot air from the wood provide a deep red appearance when smoking meat.

How To Use Your Stick-Burner?

Okay, using your stick-burner is not just set it and forget it. Remember that. Out of most BBQ types, this one needs precision to work it. Wait, where are you going? Do not let that put you off. Luckily we have broken things down for you to make it simpler. So please stay longer.

Start With Prepping Your Meat

Of course, this is the essential step as it does not help firing up that monster without your meat. So you can choose from brisket to chicken to prepare in it. When selecting your meat to smoke, it helps to remove the surplus fat, only leaving a 1/4 inch to help keep moisture in the meat and lubricated. Then, you can use any flavoring of choice and leave it in the fridge seasoned for an hour or overnight to improve the taste.

Firing Up Your Offset Smoker

While the meat is in the refrigerator and your wife is taking care of the rest of the cuisine, you need to get this thing started. To start the fire, we recommend using charcoal using a chimney starter. Fabulous, what is that never heard of it. The gadget is simple by placing kindling such as paper under the grate with coal over it. Once the kindling lights up, it fuels your coal, making things simpler for you.

Another crucial thing is to ensure your coal is dry. So why start with coal. When you use it first, you do not get the creosote all over your food. Once you add logs to the wood basket, the smoke increases and can impact the flavor of the food. Alternatively, you can also use flavored wood chips to add different flavors to food. Finally, make sure the intake and your exhaust vents are fully opened.

One more thing the exhaust typically remains partially open throughout the cooking. Get your fire going, and once the coal turns red, you can add your logs or wood chips to provide more heat, increasing the smoke. With a temp probe placed at the grate level, you get an excellent indication of how to move the vents. Once the temperature reaches 200°F, you can close the intake vent to halfway.

However, if it climbs continuously, closes it to a 1/4 instead. Okay, great, but how do I control the temperature.

Controlling the Temperature in Your Offset Smoker

When it comes to the horizontal smoker, it is all about adjusting the air intake and exhaust vent. Doing this allows the smoke and heat to exit the chimney. Like a barbeque, the more air is drawn into the fire pit, the more heat increases. You will find the end of the cooking chamber close to the fire is super hot and the best to position your thick portions of meat. While evenly sized meat, you need to rotate often and place it further away. Many products these days come with a built-in thermometer and specially designed technology but if you do not have one, invest in a reliable digital one found here. Or you can do the following:

  • Once reaching the desired temperatures, reposition the chimneys to about ⅓ open while adjusting the chimney cap to half-open.
  • Check the probe and adjust your dampers accordingly throughout the cooking taking your wood, temp outside, and the wind into consideration.
  • Great things are moving but remember to inspect the fire and if the logs have turned to coals. If it has, roll in that heated log and place another in.
  • Do not do significant adjustments with one go to the vents and instead make a finer one gradually to help govern the heat.

Lastly, use those dampers found on the fire pit and the other on the smokestack. Leave them fully open when lighting up and adjust them once it heats up. Please keep all the chambers doors closed as opening them changes the temp allowing heat to escape. Another thing that is also great is adding logs onto the coal one at a time.

Give It Time

When smoking meat, it takes time, so sit back and enjoy your drink, chatting to family and friends. The important thing is your food needs to be tender. Remember, do not get carried away with your conversation as the foodstuff needs turning. Here patience is vital as the meat needs time to cook. Always keep checking that temp until your meal is ready to enjoy. Furthermore, how long it takes depends on the type of meat and its thickness. For example, when you make sausage, it does not take as long as brisket or chicken.

Enjoy This Offset Smoking Video for Added Help

Wrapping Up Using Your Offset Smoker

So you have now unboxed your offset smoker, or perhaps you want to get one after reading this article. Check out some of the best offset smokers here. Now you have the experience to light it up and start barbequing your food. We hope the article is helpful as we enjoy smoking food. The process, as you can see, is not difficult at all. However, as with anything, you have a learning curve, but we know you can handle it. Once you feel confident, things start to become second nature. Good luck, and we hope you enjoy your outdoor cooking adventure.

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