What is an offset smoker?
An offset smoker is used for cooking barbeque ingredients. It consists of a cooking chamber and a firebox; food is cooked inside the cooking chamber, and fuel is placed inside the firebox to produce fire. Offset smoker features a different damper to control the temperature and smooth air flowing. There are two types of smokers that differ from one another by their shape. Let’s know about vertical smoker vs. horizontal smoker.
One is a horizontal offset smoker in which a cooking chamber is established horizontally with a firebox at one side. The cooking chamber is established vertically with a one-sided firebox in a vertical smoker. Both offset smokers are used to cook delicious food. There is also a reverse flow design in offset smoker with an additional baffle plate. Both charcoal and wood can be used as fuel sources. Wood chips are also used to add the flavor of smoke.
What is the difference between horizontal and vertical offset smokers?
The horizontal and vertical offset smokers are distinct from each other by their orientation and location of the firebox. The horizontal smoker has a horizontal cooking chamber, while the vertical smoker has a vertically orientated cooking chamber. The source of producing fire is orientated at the bottom, while in a horizontal smoker; it is orientated at one side. Another main difference between these smokers is that horizontal smokers control the chamber’s temperature very well because the firebox is orientated on one side and has a separate door.
In a vertical smoker, the door of the firebox and cooking chamber is common. Therefore, it is hard to control the temperature in the vertical smoker. After producing fire, the heat moves from the bottom part to the upper part of the chamber in the vertical smoker while moving heat from one side to another in a horizontal smoker. Horizontal smokers can cook fast due to their designs, while in vertical smokers, a long process is required for cooking due to heat management and the temperature dropping.
What are the similarities between horizontal and vertical smokers?
There are many similarities between horizontal smokers and vertical smokers. Both horizontal and vertical smokers have fireboxes where the fuel is placed to produce heat. They both have adjustable dampers for controlling the airflow and a thermometer to maintain the temperature. Both smokers have a chimney that helps to control the heat and stabilize the internal temperature.
Pros and cons of the horizontal smoker and vertical smoker
Vertical offset smoker
The vertical smoker is easy to use for beginners. You can quickly produce fire and smoke in it. Many designs of vertical smokers are available in the market. Every type of fuel, like charcoal, wood, etc., can be used, but controlling the temperature in an offset smoker could be difficult for beginners.
- A vertical offset smoker carries a small space because it is orientated vertically. You can easily adjust it anywhere.
- People with small backyard areas or limited space for barbeque can easily use this offset smoker.
- Vertical offset smokers are available at a low price than horizontal smokers. Hence it is easily affordable for everyone.
- Vertical smokers require less fuel to produce heat than horizontal smokers; therefore, it is also known as a source of saving money.
- You can cook smoked flavor food by using it.
- If you use high-quality and durable steel body offset smokers, you will see that it helps to maintain the temperature quickly.
- The best-quality vertical offset smoker provides ample cooking space. You can use it for outdoor parties and large gatherings.
- Mostly vertical smokers contain a porcelain-coated charcoal chamber, which helps to control temperature and heat quickly.
- Vertical smokers are not suitable for cooking large meat pieces because they contain limited wide cooking grates. These vertically orientated cooking grates can only adjust the small pieces of meat. In the case of horizontal smokers, you can quickly cook a large piece of meat because they contain a horizontally orientated cooking chamber.
- The vertical smoker is also not suitable for maintaining the heat and temperature inside the firebox, which takes a long time to cook. Due to the opening of the main chamber door, which is familiar to the firebox, heat and temperature aren’t maintained well.
- The thin steel body of the vertical offset smokers cannot maintain the heat and temperature in cold or rainy conditions.
Horizontal offset smokers are the best offset smokers for backyard smoking. The main difference between the horizontal and vertical smokers is the orientation of the cooking chamber and firebox. Every smoker consists of two main parts; a cooking chamber and a firebox. The cooking chamber is used to adjust the piece of meat for cooking.
A firebox is a place where the fire is produced to distribute heat in the overall system. Both the chambers have separate doors, which makes them different from vertical offset smokers. The firebox is connected to one side of the main chamber to provide constant heat and smoke. We will now discuss the pros and cons of horizontal offset smokers;
- The reverse flow horizontal offset smoker is the best option to retain the heat and temperature. The cooking chamber and firebox have separate doors; this quality is also different from the vertical smoker. The property of a horizontal smoker is to maintain its internal temperature and make it best compared to other offset smokers.
- The reverse flow horizontal smoker can reverse the heat from the cooking chamber to the firebox and vice versa. In this process, a small amount of heat is released, and a large amount of heat is used for cooking the food. This offset smoker is perfect for smoking the meat.
- A horizontal offset smoker has a large volume for cooking and helps to cook a large piece of meat without cutting. This quality is absent in vertical offset smokers; therefore, horizontal offset smokers are preferred over vertical offset smokers.
- Horizontal smokers can cook tender and juicy meat compared to vertical offset smokers. Every fuel type is used for the horizontal smoker. You can use wood to add a smoky flavor to food.
- The process of cooking food using offset smokers is prolonged compared to other cooking processes. It takes longer to make juicy and tender meat so that you can attain a juicier final product rich with deep smokey flavor.
- Usually, the fuel source is wood and charcoal in a horizontal offset smoker, providing you the unique flavor you want in the best traditionally smoked meat.
- Every horizontal offset smoker has different properties depending on their models. Some horizontal smokers cannot manage the heat and temperature due to the construction of thin material.
- Horizontal offset smokers use a more significant amount of fuel than vertical smokers. Therefore, it isn’t easy to control the heat in an instant.
- It is not perfect to use in a cold climate.
- It is not portable compared to vertical offset smokers.
What to look for when buying a vertical or horizontal smoker?
You will need to determine what a priority for you is to choose the best smoker. A horizontal smoker gives you a more hands-on smoking experience and a larger volume. It is better for people who have some experience in smoking and have a lot of space in the yard to smoke as an offset horizontal smoker.
A vertical smoker is the best choice if you’re a beginner; you have limited space, and want to use less fuel. Although they are typically easier to use, they don’t have as much capacity as horizontal smokers, so you are better off if you don’t plan to smoke significant cuts of meat. It is essential to choose a smoker that is made from high-quality materials regardless of your skill level. The best results can be achieved by keeping the smoking chamber evenly heated.
Factors that differentiate horizontal smokers from vertical smokers
We will discuss some factors of horizontal and vertical smokers;
The capability of saving space
There are different sizes and styles of smokers available in the market. Horizontal and vertical smokers differ from each other by their qualities and properties. They occupy different spaces according to their sizes. A vertical offset smoker consists of a vertically orientated cooking chamber that helps carry small space and easily adjust anywhere. If you have little space in your backyard, you should use a vertical offset smoker.
The horizontal offset smoker contains a horizontally located cooking chamber and side firebox, which occupy a lot of space. This offset smoker is hard to adjust because it takes larger space than the vertical offset smoker.
Ability of grilling
Both types of offset smokers work as grills. The charcoal grill is used for grilling every kind of food, and this charcoal grill is usually found in a horizontal offset smoker. It gives various flavors to every type of food. By using one grilling source, you can save money instead of buying different types of grills.
Vertical smokers are used for grilling the food by giving only one flavor. Choosing the vertical offset smoker would be best when you like one flavor grill. But if you want to grill your food with another flavor, you have to buy the other types of grills. It is because vertical smokers do not include grills. Since it features a vertical design, it can only be used for smoking meat.
Performance of energy
The horizontal and vertical smokers produce fire by adding fuel to the firebox. Vertical smokers have a little capacity for fuel in the firebox, but you can add a large amount of fuel into the firebox of the horizontal smoker. The vertical offset smoker has a vertically designed cooking chamber. Therefore, it does not require more heat to heat the chamber. In the case of the horizontal smoker, a large amount of heat is required to heat the chamber. As a result, if you prefer a more energy-efficient smoker, you should choose the vertical smoker instead of the horizontal offset smoker.
Distribution of heat
You are familiar with the fact that heat rises from the ground up. In addition, the heat generated by the fuel in a vertical smoker is similar. Consequently, you have to face situations where the bottom of the meat is overcooked. It occurs due to uneven heat distribution inside the chamber.
The horizontal smoker’s firebox helps to circulate the heat well and distributes it in the chamber. And so, heat is distributed perfectly in horizontal smokers.
Vertical smokers are always available at lower prices than horizontal offset smokers. Everyone can easily approach it. Therefore, if you are on a tight budget, a vertical smoker would be better than a horizontal one. Although the vertical smoker is more affordable, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work well.
Since horizontal offset smokers offer more features than conventional vertical smokers, they tend to be more expensive. However, both options have affordable models within your budget.
The capacity of smoking
Both horizontal and vertical smokers have almost the same size. The main difference is how the cooking chamber is orientated. In a vertical smoker, you adjust the meat in vertically established cooking grates, while in a horizontal chamber; you adjust in horizontal cooking grates. The vertical smoker contains small-width cooking chambers, while the width of cooking grates in the horizontal chamber is larger. Therefore, you can place large size of meat in the cooking chamber of a horizontal smoker.
The capacity of both types of smokers is almost the same. It is challenging to work in the vertical smoker because of its opening. Additionally, large pieces of meat will require you to get down on your knees or take off shelves and exert more effort when monitoring the process. It will take time to cook. Moreover, the food can be burned in case of direct heating. By contrast, horizontal smokers have a broader platform to smoke more significant cuts of meat on them.
Easy to use
Vertical and horizontal smokers are both portable. It depends on your specific model. Therefore, if you were considering a vertical smoker or a horizontal smoker, both of them would have the same portability. Portability depends more on the brand than on the model. Most smokers today come with wheels, making them easy to move.
Ease of refueling
The horizontal offset smoker has two chambers, so refueling doesn’t require much effort. But in the case of a vertical chamber, the refueling process is complicated if you have no dual chamber. If you want to decrease the temperature in the vertical smoker, you have to open the main cooking chamber. Comparing these features makes the vertical smoker slightly more challenging to use than the horizontal offset smoker.
It is concluded that in comparison with vertical smoker vs. horizontal smoker, both horizontal and vertical offset smokers are portable. It depends on which types of cooking you want to do. If you want to cook a large amount of meat at once which is not cut well, you should prefer a horizontal offset smoker. But if you want to cook small pieces of meat, you should use vertical offset smokers. The main difference between horizontal and vertical offset smokers is that horizontal offset smokers have horizontal-oriented cooking chambers with side fireboxes. In contrast, vertical offset smokers have vertically oriented cooking chambers with fireboxes at the bottom.