Does your barbecue game need an upgrade? Southern folk will be all too familiar with the delights of the tender, flavorful meat that can be achieved using a smoker.
Whether that’s beef brisket, pork shoulder, or ribs (is anyone else hungry, suddenly?) you’ll attain moist, tender meat thanks to their higher fat contents.
Designed for use outdoors, this nifty bit of backyard cooking equipment sources its heat from a fuel box full of burning charcoal or wood, to infuse that oaky, smoky taste.
Offset smokers are commonly used, so-called because the heat source is separate from the chamber where meat is cooked, to prevent overcooking or a burnt taste.
A popular alternative to the classic All-American grill, they can help budding chefs of any and abilities on their journey to explore new flavors and recipes.
If you’ve been looking at expanding your food repertoire, you may have come across the term ‘reverse-flow smoker’… but what is the difference between the two?
What is a reverse flow smoker and what does it do?
It Puts The Smoke Down, Flips It, And Reverses
Serving as a modification to the classic offset smoker design, a reverse flow variant forces both smoke and hot air through a metal plate before it reaches your food.
Known as a baffle, this plate reverses the flow of air back through the cooking chamber, escaping through a smoke-stack via the machine’s firebox.
Traditionally, you’ll find that stack opposite your firebox, and this placement is also what makes a reverse-flow unique.
Allowing for a more even and efficient cooking process, such a method is capable of distributing the fire’s heat twice before it is vented out and away.
Likewise, a consistent temperature is maintained throughout the chamber, ensuring all of your raw food is cooked simultaneously.
Further shielding your meat from the flame’s direct heat, you’ll ensure a delicious flavor untainted by acrid charcoal tastes you weren’t looking for.
You may also notice that your need to turn or flip meat is reduced or eradicated altogether thanks to the additional insulation the baffle plate provides.
Reverse Flow Smokers Buyer’s Guide
Size matters, or so they say, and we all know this is especially true when it comes to your meat. How many will you be cooking for, and how regularly?
The capacity of the smoker’s cooking chamber and firebox should be considered, especially if you’re planning a feast for the whole family.
Similarly – how big is the smoker altogether? Is it going to fit comfortably in your yard, or fill the whole neighborhood with smoke?
Enthusiastic, regular chefs should prioritize sturdiness, as there’s nothing worse than a flimsy smoker that falls apart before you can say barbecue.
Areas to check for durability include hinges, latches, legs, and wheels, as well as how much weight the cooking shelves are capable of bearing.
To achieve the greatest possible heat retention for the most even cooking process, you’ll want a smoker made from the thickest possible metal.
Professionals suggest that 1/4 of an inch thick is the sweet spot, protected from the elements for all-weather grilling and less likely to warp in the heat, too.
Maintenance-wise, you want a smoker that’s easy to clean, so make sure your cooking racks or plates are removable for the simplest possible job.
External temperature gauges are incredibly useful features, allowing you to keep that smoke trapped inside whilst checking and maintaining your desired temperature.
Essential for those looking for especially smoky flavors, you’ll retain maximum taste if you don’t need to open up your lid every 15 minutes for a probe check.
Seek out top-rated manufacturers, as their gauges are far more likely to be of a high enough quality to provide an accurate reading, for perfectly-cooked meat every time.
Checking seals and dampers is recommended before you commit to buy – read customer reviews and feedback if you aren’t making an in-person purchase.
Allowing for proper temperature control and flow of smoke whilst also reducing fuel usage, adequate seals with no gaps, and easily-opened dampers are imperative.
Does your purchase include a cover, or will you need to buy one separately – keeping your smoker safe from all weather conditions is necessary to preserve it!
And on a similar note, a warranty is always handy, just in case you aren’t satisfied with your new product or there’s a problem when it arrives.
Offset Or Reverse Flow – Which Is Better?
Now that you know the answer to “what is a reverse flow smoker,” you’re ready to choose between this and other smoker styles.
To make your choice nice and easy, we’ve prepared a list of pros and cons for each smoker, allowing you to quickly see which is better for your personal cooking needs.
Each offers something different to the garden cook, whilst limiting them in other ways, so make sure you read carefully!