Offset smokers are special in their own kind of way. They are built to have more focus on adding extra flavours while cooking. This means, if you get the heat in the smoker right, your food will have the right temperatures and level of good smoke cooking it.
Cooking food with this equipment follows the same procedure as many other smokers do, hence this should be easy for even an entry-level user to use. Now, let’s dive into the breakdown of how to use an offset smoker to achieve the best of flavours. If your particularly creative, check out our guide to modifying an offset smoker.
They usually have a long chamber grill, with a smoker box on one end and a chimney on another end. Fire is created in the smoker box, heats through the chamber that the food is placed on and then smokes out through the chimney.
Therefore, the food doesn’t cook on a direct fire, it is rather done by heat and smoke generated from the firebox.
This gives you more assurance that your food is less likely to burn.
2. Prepare your fuel
Most offset smokers use charcoal and wood for fuel which makes using the offset smoker a cheaper option.
Get the best type of charcoal that will give you the best heating result and choose the flavouring of wood that you prefer for flavouring.
Ensure to use dry wood when using an offset smoker as it will help create good smoke for the food.
After this, start your smoker fuel or fire in a separate hollow container until the coals are all lighted up.
3. Load your fire
The best ways to getting the best heat for your smoker are as follows:
Fill a half part of the firebox with your choice of charcoal.
Then, transfer the lighted coal to the empty half of the firebox and close the lid for about 10 minutes. This will help the coals light faster.
After, open the lid and add the dry wood. Leave it to light up partially and then close the lid.
4. Control flavouring with the chimney
After making the fire, the chimney is an important aspect of ensuring that you do not have bad smoke cooking your food.
Always keep the chimney open when cooking to allow the bad smoke to escape from the smoker.
Most importantly, the chimney, in this case, does not serve as an airflow regulator.
5. Use the dampers to control fire
The dampers are simply made to help control the level of air that goes into the firebox which has an effect on the heat created.
Locate the dampers usually on the side of the smoker and open it at various levels for the best results.
A full opening will let in a lot of oxygen into the smoker which will lighten the coals faster.
A partial opening will allow in a smaller amount of air for fairly heated coals.
A total closure will mean no air going into the smoker which is necessary to drastically reduce the heat in the smoker.
6. You ain’t cooking when looking
Just like in many other smokers, marinate your food as you desire and once the smoker is 210 °F to 275 °F, place your food on the grill grate and most importantly, close the lid of the smoker.
The lid of your smoker should be constantly closed during cooking. You can only open the firebox to add fuel to the fire which is discussed in the next point.
Aside from this, let the food cook closed for at least 1 to 1 ½ hours before you open the lid to check for doneness. Otherwise, the cooking temperatures will be interrupted and will affect the food.
7. Manage heat
While your food cooks, keep the temperature in the good heating state. This should be between 210 °F to 275 °F.
If the fire has burned out after a while, open the firebox and add more wood (not charcoal), then keep the lid open for about 10 minutes for the wood to catch enough fire and then close the lid.
8. Manage temperatures with the vents or dampers
Close the vent halfway to reduce the flow of oxygen into the fire so that the smoker is not too heated up.
Avoid bad smoke
Good smoke for cooking is usually light and blue and should be maintained always. Once you experience thick smoke coming from your chimney, it is time to do an immediate check.
This simply means that the fire is lacking oxygen to make it burn well.
So, solve the problem by opening the firebox and use a metal rod to stir the fire well. It will allow oxygen in, your coals will light up and you should be good to continue cooking.
Always wear heatproof gloves when cooking as you will be dealing with heat all along while using the smoker.
This will prevent you from getting burnt.
Clean after always
Once you are done cooking, always ensure to clean your smoker while it is warm. This aids with an easy and more effective clean.
And, I suggest you read my general guideline, if you want to learn more about how to use other types of smoker