You’re thinking about getting a smoker and now you are comparing a offset smoker vs. a Weber Smokey Mountain.
You’ve been told some great things about the offset smokers and some great things about Weber’s Smokey Mountain, and now you can’t decide which to choose!
Offset smokers are the go-to for traditional smoking, delivering a low-and-slow deep smoked flavor to your meat.
Still, Weber’s Smokey Mountain is an impressive smoker, making the process much easier and faster, with similar results but far less effort!
Great news! Just keep reading for a complete side-by-side comparison of these two smokers, and in the end, you’ll know exactly which one will be best for you.
We will dive into all the little details, so you get the low-down on both of these great products.
What Is An Offset Smoker
First, let’s look at the offset smoker, what it is, how it works, and the pros and cons of having one; then, we’ll look at the Weber Smokey Mountain.
An offset smoker is essentially a barrel cut in half, with the firebox offset to the right of the cooking chamber.
It is also set lower than the chamber to allow the heat and smoke to rise.
The heat and smoke are then drawn through the chamber and over the meat and food to the chimney on the far side.
These are considered the gold standard for smoking meat, and most serious competitors, whether national or backyard, swear by them.
Offset smokers are made from steel and, depending on which one you buy, can weigh in at more than 200lbs, with some of the monsters coming in well above that weight.
These are low-and-slow cookers, and that means that the meat is cooked over a very long time – a good few hours.
But the result is a tender cut of meat inside, crisp on the outside, with delectable smoky aromas and depth of flavor infused into the meat.
Offset smokers take time, effort, and commitment to master.
You need to tend to the fire to maintain a consistent temperature and smoke density.
You need to get the legendary blue smoke, the unicorn all dedicated smokers chase.
Getting the blue smoker means you have a perfect combustion environment with the right mix of air, fuel, and heat to deliver the finest smoked cuts of meat imaginable.
If this sounds like your lifestyle, you may be a natural offset smoker, but don’t get too excited just yet
The offset has a few downsides too, which we will get to later on.
The Offset Smoker – Fuel & Efficiency
Offset smokers usually run on wood and coal.
These two fuels are plentiful and readily available from supermarkets, gas stations, and other stores found out on the beaten tracks.
They can also run on propane.
While you may struggle to find gas tanks if you’re headed into the backcountry, you can certainly ensure you bring enough gas to last your trip.
Offset smokers do use a lot of fuel compared to the vertical smoker as they don’t have much insulation, not like other smokers and grills like the Weber and Kamado have.
Because of this, they use fuel faster and don’t hold temperature as well, especially in colder climates and conditions.
Offset Smokers – Portability And Cooking Versatility
These smokers tend to be quite big and not ideal if you are space limited or want o to cart it all over the country.
You can, of course, load it onto a trailer and tow it behind your RV or SUV, but in general, these smokers are best left standing.
If you live in the city or don’t have a lot of space, then an offset smoker will not work for you.
Remember that they can put out a lot of smoke, and neighbors may not appreciate this if they are nearby.
Aside from the space they take up, offset smokers have large cooking areas with sizes ranging from 24″ to 60,”.
It means that you can pick and choose one that will work for the number of people you want to cook for.
With a large cooking surface, you can cook a variety of dishes simultaneously, provided you keep a close eye on them.
This makes the offset versatile when it comes to meals and cooking different foods.
Another consideration is that offset smokers can double up as a grill for searing meats or when you want burgers, steaks, and dogs like an ordinary cookout over an hour or so.
Removing the baffle plate allows you to create a coal or wood fire pit for grilling.
Offset Smokers – Cleaning And Maintenance
Here is where the commitment to your offset smoker may wane or even dissipate!
Offset smokers make a mess, and you will need to clean and maintain your smoker if you want it to last and keep providing those incredible smoked meals.
Because they use coal and wood, you are at risk of dealing with creosote forming inside the smoker and even on your meat if you are not careful with your smoke regulation.
Creosote is a by-product of wood combustion.
When your smoke is too thick, which can happen for any number of reasons, creosote can ruin your meat.
It can also stick to the inside of the smoker, causing it to contaminate future meals.
This translates to a dedicated cleaning requirement and a deep cleaning of your smoker at least once or twice annually , depending on how often the smoker is used.
Regular cleaning means getting the grill grates clean from grease and food debris, removing and cleaning the grease trap and drip trays.
It will clear out the firebox, and remove any leftover unburnt coal or wood well ash.
Deep cleaning entails taking everything out.
It includes washing and degreasing all the components, and then replacing them for the next cook – and don’t forget the seasoning!
Why You Need To Season Your Offset Smoker
Aside from cleaning, you will need to season your smoker to prevent corrosion and rust from reducing your smoker to nothing more than iron oxide dust.
Any exposed metal that comes into contact with moisture, especially under heat, will create rust spots.
Seasoning uses a cooking or vegetable oil that is thinly spread over all the cooker’s steel parts, including the interior and exterior.
Then allowed to set by either burning the smoker until the oil burns off or leaving it until the next cook.
Offset Smoker Costs
As a rule, offset smokers are pretty affordable.
It ranges in price from around $200 upwards, and a decent one would start at about $400 or so and up to the $2000 mark if you want to go that high.
Many modern smokers have wifi compatibility and are available with a full range of cooking accessories, from draws and racks to utensils and apparel.
For beginners , offset smokers can be tricky to master at first and this can be frustrating.
Still, as you work more with the smoker, you will begin to get all the elements right, and then you will start to appreciate and enjoy the art of smoking.
Now, let’s check out the Weber Smokey Mountain.
The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker (WSM)
Weber is very well known for producing their world-famous kettle grills, and the Smokey Mountain cooker is their only dedicated smoker.
What Is A Vertical Smoker
A vertical smoker is simply one that stands upright as opposed to the offset, which is horizontally orientated.
Using natural thermodynamics, namely rising heat, facilitates a more fuel and time-efficient cooking process.
Weber has taken the basic kettle grill design and made it longer by adding a middle section and a water pan and creating a vertical smoker, and they have done a great job too!
The WSM is made from porcelain enameled steel and features an enamel interior with excellent insulation, and retains heat far better than the offset smoker.
With the lid having a built-in thermometer, monitoring and maintaining temperature is a breeze, and speaking of breezes, the WSM won’t throw smoke everywhere when the wind is blowing!
The firebox is placed at the bottom of the cooker and can use wood or coal.
It also has a water pan used to maintain humidity inside the cooking chamber and prevent the meat from drying out.
The heat travels up and around the cooking chamber and cooks the food with a light smoky flavor than the offset smoker.
This is one of the main cons of the WSM, as many feel that it does not deliver the same smoke profile with meat as the offset smoker does.
But this hasn’t stopped the WSM from making some noise on the competition circuit!
The WSM is an excellent option for beginners, too, as it is easy to use and more like a set-and-forget smoker that requires every little attention during the cooking process.
Once the temperature is set and the fuel is lit, you can let it be and enjoy some downtime with friends over a cold adult beverage.
The Weber Smokey Mountain – Fuel And Efficiency
The vertical smoker is more efficient and cooks faster than the offset, so it doesn’t take hours and hours for your meal to be ready.
It will also use less fuel as the insulation prevents heat loss.
The WSM has a separate fuel door, which means you can easily add coal or wood, which is a big plus as some vertical smokers don’t offer that.
One of the significant drawbacks with this and other vertical smokers is that it can’t grill, so it is only for smoking.
The Weber Smokey Mountain – Portable And Compact
This smoker from Weber is lighter than an offset weighing in at around 66lbs.
There are three different model sizes to choose from depending on your cooking volume requirements.
This is an ideal smoker for apartment or city dwellers as it doesn’t take up nearly the same amount of space that an offset smoker would.
It is also more portable and would not produce the same level of smoke, making it more amicable to neighbors.
It is lightweight compared to an offset smoker and can be transported easily on the back of a truck or in an SUV.
As such, the cooking area is smaller, and while there are larger ones available, this smoker is better suited for fewer people than more.
Having said that, though, the WSM does have two cooking grills, so there is space for more significant cuts or food for more people, but not on the same scale as an offset smoker.
The WSM also has an iGrill thermometer which allows for food monitoring through the Bluetooth-enabled app.
The Weber Smokey Mountain – Cleaning And Maintenance
Here is where the WSM and most vertical cookers shine!
They require very little maintenance and cleaning as the interior enamel-coated steel prevents grease, grime, and residue from accumulating during cooking.
At worst, you will need to wipe the inside down with a damp cloth.
While you would need to clean the grill grates, overall cleaning and maintenance are far less than with an offset cooker.
The ash and water pans can be removed and cleaned out, and any remaining ash that has fallen can be swept out or vacuumed.
The WSM is highly durable and won’t require seasoning as the enamel coating provides a solid protective layer against corrosion.
While you can season the grates if you like, and that would be recommended, you won’t need to do that with the interior or exterior of the WSM.
Weber Smokey Mountain Costs
Another big plus with the WSM is the price, ranging from around $200 to $550; this is one of the most affordable smokers available and has excellent warranties.
If you consider that you would need to spend upwards of $800 for a good quality offset smoker, dropping $500 or so on the WSM is a no-brainer.
And especially if you are set on getting great smoked meals, with little effort to get there and very low maintenance and cleaning, it’s not hard to see why the WSM is making a splash in the smoking pool!
If you want the real smoking experience with the low-and-slow hands-on approach and a more profound interest in the art and science of smoking, then an offset smoker is for you.
Also, especially where you are feeding many people and have ample yard space.
Where the opposite is true, and you don’t have much space, want to use less fuel, and take less time and energy for your meals to be cooked, the WSM would be the ideal option.
But either one will take you on that delightful culinary journey that is one of the great American pastimes.