There is one main reason why people what an offset box smoker…because they look really f*cking cool! You look like a serious BBQ professional with one of these big bad boys in your backyard. Lets figure out what an offset box smoker really is, and the pros and cons of owning one.
On the left you see where the barrel where charcoal or wood is burned, we use ours almost exclusively as a stick-burner. The larger barrel is where you cook all of that delicious meat. One can imagine that the obvious problem with these grills is one side ends up much hotter than the other, this can lead to some pretty depressing sunday afternoons when you end up eating takeout staring at all of the beautiful meat you ruined. There are dozens of cheap offset box smokers out there, and you really do get what you pay for. Cheaper metals, and poorly designed leaks and gaps around the door and chimney can cause you to lose heat, and have temperature variations of up to 100 degrees from end to end.
If you already have one of these you are in luck, you can use any heat safe silicone sealant to close up the gaps. Remember, the only place smoke should be coming out of the smoker is the chimney, so if you see it leaking out the door, run to the hardware store as fast as you can and seal that thing tighter than a pair of hipster jeans. There is also a great way to test for hot-spots found here, those can easily be fixed with a convection plate in the bottom of the smoker. If you are in the market for one of these smokers but don’t feel like doing modification, there are several high-quality brands that will make a great addition to your backyard.
Ok, maybe you don’t have to go that high-end, but please consider that a smoker is a serious investment. If you get one that does not work properly, you will not use it, and then you have just wasted a substantial amount of money on something that will turn into a rusty eye-sore that could probably get you fined by the home-owners association.
Horizon and Oklahoma Joe make an incredible product, definitely worth the investment, or you could swallow your pride and get yourself barrel smoker, you wont have the ego inflating large size that we love to brag about in this country, but you get consistent temps and a very user-friendly design with little to no modification needed. If you still have your heart set on an offset box smoker, look for one that is made out of thick metal, to help keep temperatures consistent. A little shopping around at any BBQ store and you can feel which ones are made with high-quality materials and which ones are Chinese pieces of crap. Thin metal simply cannot hold the heat the same. Inspect the smoker and look for tight seals, or prepare to modify the smoker yourself with a little sealant, it really takes less than an hour to give yourself a superior meat machine.
And remember…BBQ is not a hobby, it is a way of life