Vertical Smoker vs Offset Smoker: Detailed Comparison

Everyone is debating on grillers, such as gas grill vs. charcoal, pellet vs. gas, etc. Today we will talk about Vertical smoker vs Offset smoker. Both have their own benefits based on the requirements of any individual. So, some would prefer vertical smokers over offset and vice versa.

Vertical smoker vs. Offset smoker (detail comparison)
Vertical smoker vs. Offset smoker (detail comparison)

We will have an in-depth understanding of both smokers, their operation, pros and cons, and how to use them. Hopefully, you will gain better insights into which your next griller should be?

Vertical smoker vs. Offset smoker

Let’s have a look at a few similarities and differences.

Vertical smoker vs. Offset smoker
Vertical smoker vs Offset smoker


When we dig to find any similarities, there aren’t many except the following:

  1. Both use fuel sources.
  2. Both use indirect heat for cooking food.
  3. Cooks using smoke and radiant heat.


Both smokers have different looks and structures. Let’s have a look at them.

Vertical smokerOffset smoker
Vertical orientationThe burner is at the bottomRefueling is complexTemperature regulation is a bit difficultHorizontal orientationThe burner is at the end of sideRefueling is easyTemperature regulation is simple

pros and cons of Vertical smoker


✅ Equipped with built-in digital thermometers.
✅ Has many shelves allowing you to effortlessly smoke more food.
✅ The vertical structure enables it to be positioned in small spaces
✅ Fuel efficiency is more as compared to horizontal smokers.


❌ Smoking large pieces depends on the space available in between the racks.
❌ Inserting meat and taking it out is difficult.
❌ The vertical smoker cannot be used as a grill.
❌ Temperature consistency is hampered due to the opening of the smoker for feeding fuel.

pros and cons of Offset smoker


✅ An offset smoker is portable if of a specific brand.
✅ Easy to operate.
✅ A reverse flow offset smoker allows better smoking of the meat.
✅ It’s easy to regulate consistent temperature.


❌ Takes time to heat up.
❌ The smoking process is slow.
❌ They cannot work ideally in cold weather.
❌ Occupies a large space.

How to Use Vertical Smokers?

Let’s look at how to use a vertical smoker.

How to Use Vertical Smokers
How to Use Vertical Smokers?

Setting up the smoker

The first and foremost step is to set up the smoker in an appropriate place. Ensure you can access the meat effortlessly and the smoker doesn’t hamper any other structure and vice versa. It’s crucial to place the smoker on a flat, well-leveled surface. 

Light up the smoker and wood splinters

Now is the time to light up the smoker. You can either feed charcoal or wood splinters as fuel. Using both will give you better results, as charcoal lits up fast and retains a consistent heat.

On the other hand, wood splinters add the typical flavor to the food. Charcoal turning gray indicates that the smoker is ready for cooking. Now you can add the wood splinters to the smoker.

Fill water in the water pan

After the fire is roaring; now is the time to fill water in the water pan. It helps keep the temperature stable in the smoker, keeping the meat moist. You can also replace water with beer to add a distinguished flavor to the food. We have heard of adding a few spices to the water, which gives the food a unique fragrance.

Remember, the main objective of using water or beer is to keep the meat moist and prevent it from getting dry or hard. Ensure, the water pan is filled 75 percent, saving you from refilling it frequently. Avoid filling up to the edge as it could spill onto the fire, extinguishing it, and compelling you to start level zero. 

Position the grills followed by the food

Once the water pan and firebox are set, you can position your meat pieces in the cooking chamber. Before that arrange the grills appropriately. You can find them in the middle part of the smoker.

Ensure the food is not sticking to the sides of the smoker. There is a possibility of food absorbing any dirt or contaminants from the sides if any. For best practices, ensure you clean the interior of the smoker too before putting it to use.

Ensure you keep the meat pieces apart from each other. It exposes them to get appropriate hot air and smoke. Once you have initialized the smoking, cover the smoker lid. Use heat-resistant gloves to save yourself from burning.

Retain the targeted temperature by close monitoring

Maintaining the desired temperature or adjusting it to the right degree is crucial during smoking. Eventually, the charcoal and wood fed initially in the smoker will burn completely. It will negatively affect the fire, reducing the temperature. A thick and black smoke originating from the vents is an indication of the above symptoms.

Now, it’s time to add more charcoal and wood to the firebox. It helps to retain the required temperature. In addition, checking the level of water or any other liquid in the water pan is essential. If low, you can add more water to the pan, as it plays an important role in keeping the meat delicate and moist. It’s also essential to flip the meat pieces at least once. It helps the smoke to permeate from both sides, resulting in ideal cooked food.

A meat thermometer will help you to understand the precise degree. Most vertical smokers have in-built thermometers. But it has been observed that the readings displayed on it are of the smoker. We need to have the meat’s temperature, right?.

A meat thermometer helps you get a precise degree of the meat. The cooking time and the appropriate temperature varies, depending on the size and type of meat. In addition, it also depends on the fuel you use.

220-240 degrees F is ideal for ribs and brisket. For turkey and chicken, a range of 275 to 300 degrees is believed to be perfect. Add extra fuel after the first 90 mins if you notice the heat is going down. Don’t worry about the food or water pan in this instance. Your food will be ready in the next 90 mins.

Remove the meat from the smoker and let it rest

If you have followed the above steps correctly, you will get ideally smoked meat. Remove the meat from the smoker and collect it in your container to rest. Use tongs to hold the hot pieces.

How to Use Offset Smokers?

Herewith are the steps to start cooking with your offset smoker.

How to Use Offset Smokers
How to Use Offset Smokers?

Fire it up

Fire the smoker using charcoal. Once the charcoals heat up, add them to the fire pot followed by wood chips. Ensure you fire up systematically to help you cook ideally. Allow the wents to open fully with a cracked firebox door till the cooking chamber raises its temperature.

 Get the appropriate temperature

A smoker thermometer is crucial, whether the smoker has been calibrated or not. Ensure you place it on the grate where you cook the meat. After reaching the targeted temperature, open the side vents of the firebox to 1/3. Let the chimney cap be 1/2 open.

Monitor the temperature to prevent it from outside weather and wind. In addition, adjust the vents and wood accordingly, to retain the appropriate temperature. In this instance, if the charcoal and wood have been completely charred, replace them with a new one.

Ensure the lid is closed

Keep the lid closed for a longer time as possible. Do not open the doors of the cooking chamber and firebox. You may have to open the door to add fuel, but not opening the lid frequently will help to retain the temperature to the appropriate degree, resulting in ideal cooked food.

Meat rotation

It’s vital to rotate the meat from one side to another. The temperature may vary inside the cooking chamber from one side to the other. Therefore, if you are cooking at both ends, rotate the meat to properly cook it.

Water Pan

Here also, the water pan filled with water or other liquid will help the meat to remain moist and tender. It also helps to regulate the temperature. You can position a water pan on the rack above the fire. The rest of the steps are similar to using the vertical smoker.

Word of caution:

The outside weather may adversely affect the smoker’s temperature. Ensure to stack supplies of charcoal and wood whenever it’s a windy, wet, or cold season.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between a vertical smoker and an offset smoker?

Vertical smokers are vertically elongated while offset is horizontal. Vertical smokers have a heat source at the bottom. Of the horizontal smoker, the heat source is at the side.

What is better, vertical smoker or offset?

If you have experience with smoking and have a spacious yard, go for the offset smoker. For a naive or beginner smoker and/or small yard, go for the vertical smoker.

What cooks faster, vertical smoker, or offset?

Vertical smokers cook faster than offset smokers.


Amongst the various cooking devices, we have vertical smokers and offset smokers. Going on the names, a vertical smoker is structured vertically, while the offset is structured horizontally.

To, summarize vertical smoker vs offset smoker comparison, I should say vertical smoker saves a lot of space, while offset smoker needs a large area to accommodate themselves. An offset smoker is something that experienced folks are looking for, while the vertical smoker is preferred by beginners.

Without a doubt, both smokers qualify to cook the food ideally and give a unique flavor to it.

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