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Pellet Smoker vs. Offset Smoker

Pellet smoker vs offset smoker

This comparison will provide you with assistance on how to choose between these two smokers. To begin with, pellet smokers are trendy and modern while offset smokers are traditional.

Although both do look similar to each other, they are not. Both smokers run on different fuel sources. They also cook a bit differently but when it comes to the convenience they both have a fair amount of differences. So let’s explore them, shall we?

Difference between pellet smokers and offset smokers

What is a pellet smoker?

A pellet smoker which is also a pellet grill is an upgrade of its traditional offset counterpart. Pellet smokers use 100 percent pure pellets of hardwood as fuel. You have to drip feed these pellets into the firebox. It will enable you to maintain the temperature at a steady level. As a pellet smoker features an LCD display it will show you all the details about the temperature.

One of the biggest advantages of a pellet smoker is that you don’t have to babysit it for barbequing your brisket. But you do have to connect them with power. Hardcore BBQ fans say that the results will have a moister but less smoky flavor if you compare it with the results of a conventional smoker.

However, you will need electricity to power these smokers.

Pellet smoker vs offset smoker

If you love smoky flavor then this smoker doesn’t have much to offer. Most of the pellet smokers are not ideal for grilling as well.

What is an offset smoker?

An offset smoker is also called a traditional or a horizontal smoker. You can call it pipe smoker, a barrel smoker, firebox smoker or stick smoker. It is among the most basic smokers for you to use for the purpose of barbequing. It features a large-sized barrel that is directly linked with a small firebox.

If you enjoy smoky flavor then this is the right tool for you to use. These smokers will cook your food at low temperatures but for a long period. The smoke along with heat moves out of the barrel from a chimney. You can use pure wood to fire up these smokers or can also opt for charcoal. Even wood chips are a good option for you to keep things smoky, the way you like them!

However, you will need some expertise to cook on offset smokers. You will have to babysit your smoker to keep an eye on that temperature. Cooking in wet or cold climates using offset smokers can be very tricky.

Benefits of a pellet smoker

  • You can easily set it and forget it without any issue with automatic temperature controls.
  • These smokers will not burn your food.
  • Some of them also come with Wi-Fi connectivity and you can use your phone to control them.
  • These smokers are best for beginners.
  • With the help of its convections fans heat circulation stays ideal and you can also do roasting and baking as well. Some of them are good for grilling too.
  • When it comes to fuel usage these smokers are very efficient.
Pellet smoker vs offset smoker

Benefits of an offset smoker

  • Offset smokers are specialists when it comes to providing that authentic smoky taste.
  • These are the best for cooking a variety of foods.
  • You can either use wood, wood chips or charcoal to run it.
  • Using the firebox you can add more fuel without losing the smoke and heat.
  • If you properly maintain your offset smoker it can last for a long time.
  • Offset smokers are a lot cheaper than pellet smokers.
  • You don’t need electricity to power these smokers up.

How to use a reverse flow smoker?

Hardcore BBQ fans are of the view that a reverse flow smoker is superior to a traditional offset smoker. These offer a far evener distribution of temperature along with a thoroughly flowing smoke.  If you want to take that smoky flavor up a notch then you should use a reverse flow smoker. It’s a type of offset smoker that comes with an extra metal plate.

The plate protects the meat from the intense heat. The smoke goes over and under the meat before it gets out of the chimney. In a reverse flow smoker, the smoke and heat enter the chamber and goes underneath the plate. After that, it rises and reverses the flow over the meat and then goes out. The result will be a nicely cooked meat with an excellent smoky flavor if you use the following method:

  • First you need to prepare as well as season your meat and of course, trim the excess fat.
  • Then light the charcoal in the firebox. You can use a mid-to-large sized started for this one.
  • Then position a thermometer at each end.
  • Until you are able to maintain a steady temperature of 225F make adjustments to the sliding vents.
  • Cook your meat slowly to fork-tender which will take about 2 to 4 hours.
  • Room your meat from the grill and let it rest for about fifteen minutes or so before you serve it.

Health effects

When it comes to the health effects then a pellet smoker takes a lead over the traditional offset smoker. The reason behind that is an offset smoker uses a variety of fuels including wood, charcoal and wood chips. Now cooking with these fuels can form compounds like heterocyclic amines or HCAs. This can be an issue in case of pellet smokers as well.

Pellet smoker vs offset smoker

However, you can use food grade pellets for cooking purposes with pellet smokers. For this reason, they are far healthier than offset smokers. There is no harm in eating the charcoal or wood flavored food once in a while but you ought not to do it on a regular basis if you want to keep those HCAs under control. Nevertheless, with a pellet smoker, you can do all the BBQ you want if you use food grade pellets to cook with it.


It is really a matter of how you prefer your food. Some people like smokier flavor while others go for the juicy grilled meat. So when it comes to the comparison of a pellet smoker vs. an offset smoker, it all goes down to your own preferences.

When we talk about the features neutrally offset smokers can be the best tool in hand when it comes to smoky meat. However, they don’t have much to offer apart from grilling and smoking your food to the best taste. On the other hand, with a pellet grill, you can do grilling, smoking, baking, and roasting too. When it comes to versatility there is no match of a pellet.

Smokers are a much healthier option and you don’t have to babysit the smoker. So from this point of view pellet smokers can be better for you than offset smokers. But ask the avid BBQ fans who simply can’t have enough of the authenticity that offset smokers have to offer. The choice is always yours.

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