The Best Reverse Flow Smoker Reviews for 2021

Reverse flow offset smokers are the latest upgrade of traditional offset smokers. They come with a unique design that provides more uniform heat distribution and smoke flow within the cooking chamber.

They also have an additional metal plate that protects smoked meat from excessive heat coming directly from wood pellets, charcoal, or gas. Hot air and smoke, from these sources of fuel, first flow under this metal plate, then into the cooking chamber, and out through the smokestack set above the cooking chamber near the firebox. This reversal of airflow allows for an even distribution of heat and smoke. This is what produces uniformly cooked barbecues that are perfectly smoked.

These smokers also have baffle plates, on the side facing the firebox, to prevent excessive direct heat from overcooking food placed on the side near the firebox.

Reverse flow smokers may be quite pricey, but their superb results make them worth the price. Check out the products listed in this article to help you get a reverse smoker that will best suit your barbecue needs.

Our Recommendation

Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical Offset Smoker


If you want to upgrade your cooking experience outdoors, the Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical Offset smoker is a perfect start. It offers the perfect atmosphere to take your barbecue skills to the next level. It is a multifunctional cooker that can serve both as a griller and smoker.

Designed and integrated with the latest technology, this smoker portrays excellent performance, is versatile, and has high durability. It has heavy-gauge stainless steel built with a paint finish that doesn’t come off easily.

Its 1382 square inches cooking space is inclusive of five chrome-plated cooking grates suitable for a variety of food types and sizes. You can smoke up to four full-pack briskets, ribs, and pork tenderloins. The smoker features a professional temperature gauge that clearly shows if you’re in the “Grill Zone” or the “Smoke Zone”. This makes it easy to set an ideal temperature suitable for infusing the right amount of smoke flavor in your meat.

The doors also have cool safe handles that allow you to access charcoal and food safely during the cooking process.

Other stunning features include porcelain cooking grates, designed to fit in the firebox as an additional cooking space, and a side charcoal tray that you can open any time while cooking. This minimizes heat loss and can also be removed for easy clean-up.

Pros

  • It’s easy to maintain a suitable temperature
  • The side ashtray makes it easy to clean the grill.
  • It has a huge and flexible cooking capacity
  • The vertical design helps in saving fuel

Con

  • Smoke leakages around the doors. You may need to get a gasket to effectively seal the doors and welds to maintain consistent temperatures and prevent smoke from escaping.

Premium Pick

Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker


The Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn reverse flow smoker boasts of one of the best smokers having the latest technology in the grill/smokers market. With a smokestack located near the firebox, the smoke coming from smoldering wood pellets flows evenly throughout the cooking chamber. It also enhances even heat distribution within the chamber. The smokestack is also adjustable. Its position can be shifted from the side near the firebox to the other end. With this change, the smoker becomes a regular offset smoker.

It has a heavy-duty built steel structure that’s durable. Modifications can be made using additional accessories like the rtv silicone, lavalock gasket, an upgraded tel-tru thermometer, door clamps, and bricks to raise the level of the coal basket in the firebox.

The total cooking space of the smoker (1060 total square inches) is big enough to fit three briskets, a whole roast of pork butt, and any other additional food.

To kickstart your barbecue cook-offs, you just need to season the cooking grates and you’re good to go.

Pros

  • Has even smoke and heat distribution
  • Temperatures don’t spike when more fuel is added.
  • It can retain consistent heat for a long period and cools down fast when the lid is opened.
  • It produces well cooked and moisturized barbecues

Cons

  • Cooking temperatures may not go beyond 325 degrees. This means you may not use it for searing barbecues.
  • The paint may peel off after a couple of smoking sessions.

Best Overall

Z GRILLS ZPG-450APRO 2021 Upgrade Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker


This is a medium-sized grill and smoker suitable for barbecue enthusiasts who neither want an extremely huge robust grill or one that is too small. The 452 square inches cooking space can fit a few pieces of pork ribs and some burger steaks. It’s a perfect choice for smaller families. The cooking is split into two sections, the grilling area, and the warming rack.

Its hopper has a maximum holding capacity of 15 pounds, which can heat wood pellets to temperatures between 160 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. This feature makes it an 8 in 1 versatile grill and smoker. That means it can roast, bake, grill, smoke, sear, braise, char-grill, and cook a wide variety of barbecues. The wood pellets in the hopper can burn slowly for hours giving room for lengthy low-heat cooking sessions, without the need of occasional refilling of wood fuel.

Being a pellet grill, it infuses amazing flavors on every smoked meat. The integrated PID technology makes it easy to balance the internal cooking temperatures measured using a meat probe positioned in the cooking chamber. This Z-grill feature is normally controlled remotely, via WiFi, which eases the entire temperature control process.

Pros

  • It can maintain consistent temperatures with the help of the PID controller
  • Quite affordable and can still produce quality results like superior grills and smokers

Con

  • The PID controller at times is faulty.

Budget Pick

Char-Griller Charcoal Grill with Side Fire Box


This is an on-budget classic product that can be used as a stand-alone portable grill with 580 square inches of cooking space, and as a Texas-style smoker. It shifts its function to the latter when the removable firebox accompanying it is attached next to it. The removable firebox can function as a mini-barbecue grill with 250 square inches of cooking space.

The non-stick cast-iron cooking grates, featured in this smoker, help in distributing heat evenly when grilling or smoking barbecue. The results always turn out great on every meat, steak, and any other food cooked in it.

It also features a sturdy steel structure with a powder-coat finish to increase its durability. It has side coal drawers to ease the process of refilling charcoal without the need of removing cooking grates while you smoke. It also makes it easier to clean the product afterward.

A temperature gauge fitted on top of the barrel helps in monitoring cooking temperatures inside the grill. Airtight fitting doors on its barrel effectively trap and distribute heat and smoke within the cooking chamber.

You can use extra accessories such as a fiberglass gasket, a warming shelf, and a rotisserie kit to enhance the performance of your char-griller charcoal grill.

Pros

  • Assembling the package is straightforward and easy
  • Has a robust and durable steel construction
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Has good warranty coverage
  • Has a removable charcoal drawer that makes cleaning an easy process

Cons

  • The finishing paint easily comes off
  • Smoke leaks and escape of heat through gaps on its opening makes it difficult to maintain consistent temperatures

Features to Consider Before Buying Reverse Flow Smoker

Features-to-Consider-Before-Buying-Reverse-Flow-Smoker
Photo credit: bbqreboot 

Vertical versus Horizontal Smokers

The main difference between a vertical smoker and a horizontal one is their order of orientation. A vertical smoker is vertically oriented or stands upright, while a horizontal smoker is horizontally oriented. The vertical smoker can accommodate up to five or six cooking grates depending on its size. A horizontal one normally doesn’t go beyond two racks but their surface area tends to be larger than those of the vertical smokers.

It’s easier to refuel horizontal smokers without opening the cooking barrel since most of them come with a removable side coal drawer. For vertical smokers, you may have to open the entire door to add more charcoal to the bottom-most chamber.

Vertical smokers are way cheaper when compared to their horizontal counterparts. This is because they have a simple design and are easy to operate. They also produce amazing grilled and seared steaks as they can accommodate incredibly high temperatures. The downside may be their high rate of fuel consumption. They also lose a lot of heat every time the door is opened to add more fuel. This is unlike horizontal smokers that can maintain consistent temperatures for longer periods.

The offset smoker feature allows for better heat and smoke circulation within the barrel. This is what brings out richly flavored steaks and barbecues. Horizontal smokers such as the Oklahoma Joe’s Charcoal Gas Smoker offer you a variety of fuel options to choose from. These include charcoal, propane, and wood pellets. Smokers are also versatile and flexible in terms of cooking as they enable you to roast, grill, smoke, and sear, just to mention a few.

Related content: Best Wood Pellets for Smoking

Charcoal, Wood Burning, and Both

Different kinds of fuels used in smoking always produce different results. Barbecue smoked using charcoal cannot have the same flavor as that smoked using wood or propane. The fuel you choose will also influence the cooking time needed to smoke your barbecue and the cost incurred for refilling.

Charcoal is the most common type of fuel among barbecue enthusiasts. It’s cheap, portable, and can burn for longer periods thus yielding quality flavored smoked meat. It can also burn at very high temperatures making it suitable for searing and high heat grilling. A wide variety of grills and smokers use charcoal as their source of fuel. On the downside, charcoal takes a long time to both light up and go off, and leaves behind a lot of ash after use.  Also, it takes time and practice to be able to achieve a certain temperature for cooking.

Burning wood is also a common source of fuel. It infuses much stronger smoky flavors on barbecues compared to charcoal. It also takes longer to burn and thus convenient for long-hour smoking or grilling sessions. It’s important to consider the type of wood you use for smoking barbecue, i.e maple, hickory, oak, and many others. Otherwise, a wrong choice can produce overwhelming flavors that you’ll find unpleasant. When used right, it can produce great barbecues having perfectly crisped barks.

You can also incorporate both wood and charcoal in your offset smoker. For instance, using charcoal for heating wood produces smoke. You can as well use them simultaneously as on the Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Charcoal/Gas Smoker and Grill that has three different cooking chambers. One can be used for wood pellet smoking, the other for charcoal grilling, and the third one for gas grilling.

Steel, Cast Iron, and Porcelain-Coated Wire Grates

Each of these three materials making up the cooking grates has varying performances, placement, and prices.

Cast iron has great heat retention properties but is prone to corrosion thus not durable like the steel grates. However, when coated with porcelain or enamel, they have better rust resistance, and their efficiency is also upgraded. Porcelain is, however, brittle and may develop cracks or even break when dropped on the floor or mishandled. In case cracks develop, the iron surface becomes exposed and may start rusting from within. Cast iron is great for high-temperature cooking such as searing but is not long-lasting like steel.

Steel grates are strong, highly durable, and much easier to clean and maintain. They can withstand harsh weather conditions such as high humidity (i.e. near the ocean), hot summers and cold winters. They also have a shiny appearance that’s quite appealing to the eye and always gives your smoker a new look.

Beware of Cheap Offset Smokers

With the rising number of barbecue enthusiasts, cheap offset smokers with poor construction and compromised performance have flooded the market.

Offset smokers that seem to have superior qualities like their pricey counterparts may have some faults in them. For example, their heat retention systems can turn out faulty. The fireboxes may also be poorly sealed and the food chambers have leaking lids.

A good offset smoker improves heat distribution throughout the cooking chamber and maintains stable heat and oxygen levels within the smoker. You can always tell its performance by the outcome. If the meat you’re smoking appears unevenly cooked or you find one side of the smoker has unusually higher temperatures, chances are your offset smoker is a counterfeit product.

Are Reverse Flow Smokers Superior

Reverse flow smokers are an upgrade of the traditional offset smokers. Having their smokestack stationed on the side near the firebox allows for an “under and over” flow of hot air. This increases the efficiency of uniform heat and smoke distribution.

Regular offset smokers only have hot air flowing in one direction, through the cooking chamber, then out through the smokestack. Reverse flow smokers have baffles that first force hot air under the cooking chamber which later rises above the food placed on the cooking grates. After going through this “under and over” flow, it finds its way out of the food chamber through the smokestack stationed near the firebox. This is what produces better results on your smoked barbecues.

Precautions of Using Reverse Flow Smokers

Precautions-of-Using-Reverse-Flow-Smokers
Photo credit: carnivorestyle 

Even though reverse flow smokers are great at slow low-heat cooking, they are not ideal for cooking a variety of meat in different sizes simultaneously. Especially, when each of these pieces requires different temperatures to cook effectively.

For reverse flow smokers, high heat is always below the cooking plate. By the time it travels beneath this cooking plate then back up above it, some of the heat is already lost. Most barbecue lovers prefer using this smoker for long-hour cooking and not for high temperatures searing. For the latter, a regular offset smoker would do a better job since hot air only travels once above the cooking grates in the food chamber.

Some reverse flow smokers have fixed metal plates that cannot be removed. This means more work when it comes to cleaning and maintaining them.

Conclusion

Owning an offset smoker can be one of the best investments you can ever make in a lifetime. Settling to buy one may be a daunting task but with a proper guide and honest reviews from experienced users, you can gain insight about good brands and purchase a good one. For a start, you can try the Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical Offset Smoker. It comes at an affordable price, works great, has a strong build, and is easy to clean and maintain. Consider purchasing it if you’re looking for a first-rate backyard smoker.

Last update on 2021-10-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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