What Are The Differences Between Reverse Flow And Offset Smokers

If you're trying to learn the differences between Reverseflow and Offset smokers this episode of the PitMaster Secrets podcast is for you!





What's the difference between a reverse flow smoker and an offset smoker? What is a traditional offset?  What is an open chamber offset

Read below to find out my view on these designs.

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And Now... Back to the article! 


Reverse Flow Smokers


A Reverse Flow Smoker produces a very even cooking temp from

left to right  and requires very little intervention from the cook.

They usually cost more to build than the alternative styles of 

traditional offset or Texas offset.  You may find  plans for both

 styles on Smokerplans.net which may be built from tanks, pipe 

or flat metal.


On a Reverse Flow Smoker food is being cooked from the bottom up 

instead of from the top down like on an open chamber offset.

 It has a baffle plate which is installed horizontally in the cook chamber 

from the firebox end all the way across until it gets to the opposite 

end of the smoker.  At that point, there is a gap which forces the 

air, heat, and smoke to go up and turn around 180 degrees, hence

the name Reverse Flow.  The baffle plate radiates heat as well.


The smoke stack is set at “top dead center”.


The firebox on a Reverse Flow Smoker is placed low in the cooking

chamber just a little below the baffle plate level. This design assures

full air flow from the firebox until it reaches the baffle plate gap at

the end of the smoker, as mentioned previously.  


After a good fire start up, Maintaining  cooking temperatures in a Reverse 

Flow is really very simple. All you need to do is use an air inlet damper and 

a smokestack damper to increase or decrease the amount of air that goes 

to your fire.

You can check out all of our Reverse Flow Smoker Plans By Clicking Here



Traditional Offset Smokers


This style smoker operates a lot like a reverse flow but the air doesn’t wait 

until the end of the horizontal baffle to go up.  It goes through the gaps 

you create by “tuning the plates”.  Radiant heat is at work to cook from the 

bottom up.




The tuning plate system consists of short tuning plates each one usually

 less than 10 inches long spread out horizontally in the cooking chamber under the 

main cooking grate. 


The pitmaster tunes these plates with gaps between them. This controls 

the air flow and spread of heat. The setting of these tuning plates allows the 

pitmaster to control the temperature zones in the cooking chamber.  


Unlike a reverse flow, the smokestack location on an offset smoker will

 always be at the opposite end of the cooking chamber from 

the firebox.  It is mounted about the level of the cooking grates.


Maintaining the temperature in a traditional offset is a bit more

complicated than in a reverse flow smoker.  Everyone has their own

way of doing it.  I usually close off the smokestack damper and adjust

an air inlet on the firebox.  Some people open the cook chamber door

a little.  It’s really up to you!  


You can check out our Offset Smoker Plans By Clicking Here!


Open Chamber Offsets


Open Chamber Offsets or Texas Style Offset Smokers are very popular.  

These are the least like a reverse flow smoker.

It’s just a firebox, cook chamber, smokestack, and a throat baffle .

You can cook a variety of meats on the same cooker because of the 

possible different temperature zones it may produce. 

Cooking happens from the top down on this type of smoker.  There is 

no baffle plate which runs horizontally through the cooking chamber.  

Starting with the throat opening there’s a baffle put in to direct the air 

straight up quickly. (LIke a short horizontal piece connected to a scoop

 shaped piece that aims up)  The air then moves  across the top of the

 cooker and convects downward toward the smokestack on the opposite side.


The position of the firebox on an offset smoker helps to get the air moving

straight up to the top of the cook chamber.  It is positioned at 50% or higher 

on the sidewall of the cooking chamber.


The smokestack location on an offset smoker will always be at the opposite 

end of the cooking chamber from the firebox.  It is mounted about the level

of the cooking grates. To maintain temperature in this type of smoker you 

will vary the size of your fire, but opening and closing the smokestack damper 

is another method you will likely use.


Operating any offset smoker does require that you flip and rotate your meat,

and maybe even move it from one side to the other if temperatures demand.

Keep in mind, maintaining the temperature in an offset smoker is a learned skill.


To summarize, a reverse flow would be best if you're doing a lot of catering, 

fundraisers, or you're cooking for a restaurant or something, and you've got 

a lot of the same kind of food.  You're going to get a better result. 


But if you're cooking a lot of different sized meat, like brisket and chicken  together, a traditional offset or open (Texas Style) offset will give you more flexibility.


I hope this information helps you!

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