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Best Offset Smokers Under 1000: 3 Solid Performers

BEST OVERALL

Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn Reverse Flow Offset Smoker
Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn
4.6/5

BEST VALUE

Oklahoma Joe's Highland Offset Smoker
Oklahoma Joe's Highland
4.6/5

BEST VERTICAL

Oklahoma Joe's Bandera
Oklahoma Joe's Bandera
4.5/5

If you’ve been looking for an offset smoker and been shocked at the price of the things, we’re right there with you! For what’s a pretty basic smoker with absolutely no electronics, they’re expensive!

Good quality, thick steel does cost a lot but, if you’re looking for a good offset that’s cheaper than the likes of a Langs, Yoder, or Meadow Creek, you’ve come to the right place.

Here you’ll find the best offset smokers under 1000.

The steel isn’t as thick as it is on more expensive models and they will leak a bit of smoke. But, these smokers can turn out some really great legit wood smoked meats while being a whole lot of fun to use.

Before we get into it, the smokers recommended here are all mass produced models. There’s currently nothing under the $1000 point that’s not a regular smoker brand. If you do want an offset that hits that next level, check out our best offset smokers round-up to get an idea of how much you need to spend for one of these.

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How We Tested the Best Offset Smokers Under $1000

This list of the best offset smokers under 1000 ended up being a round-up of all Oklahoma Joe’s. But, we weren’t trying to make this an OKJ piece. In fact, we tested four other brands in this price bracket before deciding on these three as our favorites.

Testing out the best offset smokers under 1000

If you’ve been shopping around for an offset smoker under the $1000 mark, you’ll probably have noticed that budget-wise, it’s a strange spot. You’d think you’d be able to get a really good smoker for this kind of money. After all, it’s a pretty basic type of barbecue with no electronics. But, quality offset smokers are actually pretty expensive, well above the $1000 mark so for this kind of money, you’re not looking at top of the line.

Then, there’s the cheap offset smokers which, price-wise sit well under the $1000 mark. We’ve rounded up the best offset smokers under $500 here. But, a lof the cheapies are a bit of a nightmare to use.

Then, there’s these sitting in the middle. Not cheap, but not the best, we’ve assessed the following features before making the cut as one of the best offset smokers in this price range:

In the under $1000 price range, you unfortunately aren’t looking at the gold standard, 1/4 inch thick steel. There’s nothing hand-made, or even made in the USA. And, the pieces aren’t going to fit super tight for a leak-free seal.

In saying that, we’ve looked for the best possible quality you can get in this price range.

Steel that’s thick enough that it doesn’t warp, seals that can be made leak-proof by adding a simple gasket, and dampers that open smoothly for effective temperature control are what you can expect to see here.

A lot of cheap offset smokers will not last more than a few sesasons because of buckling metal, rust, and flaking paint.

If you’re spending upto $1000, you don’t want a smoker that’ll rust through in a couple of years.

The models we’ve recommended here are good enough and strong enough to last a very respectable amount of time. Of course you’ll still need to look after them properly but using a cover or keeping them out of the rain, cleaning them regularly, and seasoning when it’s required. But, these are durable enough basics that should well outlast their warranties.

Offset smokers are in no way set and forget smokers. They require frequent tending to the fire throughout the cook and the dampers may need frequent work to dial in the temperature and maintain a steady level of heat.

Because you’ll be actively managing the heat, you want it to be possible and as easy can be to reach and maintain a steady temperature. The offsets we’ve recommended below are able to hold a steady temperature and the temperature management is doable, even without a lot of experience.

Offset smokers are one of the most difficult types of smokers to use because you need to manually manage the temperature.

If you’re an absolute beginner, we’re not going to say you can’t go an offset. There’s only one way to learn and that’s getting that hands on experience. But, don’t expect to be busting out perfectly cooked, competition-worthy brisket on your first or second try.

That being said, we’ve used our extensive experience of barbecue to test if these offset smokers can make great food.

To give everything a fair trial, we tested the same types of meat with the same Hardcore Carnivore dry spices (our favorite), and used the same techniques, wrapping with peach paper, and cooking to temperature on the MEATER thermometers.

Table of Contents

Best Offset Smokers Under 1000: Our Top Choices

You can smoke great food and keep enough money in your pocket for the meat and fuel by choosing from one of these functional models.

BEST OVERALL

Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn Reverse

4.6/5

BBQ type: Offset

Material: Painted steel

Grates: Porcelain-coated

Capacity: 751 sq inch

Heat range: Smoke & grill

Dimensions: 35.5″D x 64.25″W x 55.5″H

Price guide: $$

Model: Longhorn Reverse

Warranty: 2 years

Our overall best choice for an offset smoker under $1000 mark is well under the budget. But, the Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker offers the best mix of quality materials, design, and build while out-performing some of the more expensive models at this price point.

Now, don’t expect a Yoder. The steel isn’t the golden 1/4 inch thick but it’s good enough that it won’t warp and will hold a steady temperature in good weather at least.

Inside you’ve got 751 square inches of cooking space in the main cooking chamber to smoke a very respectable amount of meat. Because it’s all on the single level grate, you’ve got plenty of head height to cook larger and taller cuts of meat like brisket and even whole turkey’s without ever having to worry about configuration.

Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn Reverse full of meat and sides

There’s also a 309 square inch grilling grate in the firebox which is perfect to sear or reverse sear up a steak for a quick meal or lunch while you’re waiting for the main event.

In it’s reverse configuration, we’ve always found the OKJ’s Longhorn Reverse to hold a reasonably even temperature from one end of the grill to the other. We’re talking no more than about 15-20°F letting you maximize that cooking capacity without having to carefully position your meats.

The dampers are easy to move and stay in place so you can make those finer adjustments to really hone in your target temp.

Although it’s named a reverse flow, you can actually set this smoker up as a regular flow smoker if you prefer. Read about why you’d go regular versus reverse here. But, either way you want to go, you’ve got options with this model.

For winter-time smoking, we do find that the steel on the Longhorn Reverse isn’t thick enough for optimal heat retention. We can get it to hold a fairly steady temperature but do notice we use a considerable amount more fuel, and need to check and make adjustments more often than on a nice sunny day. Still, it can be done.

Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker

Expect some smoke to leak from around the firebox door as well. You can add a gasket if you want a tighter seal. In our opinion, it’s not enough to make or break your cook. But, it’s a cheap mod if you do decide you want to add this down the track. Some people like to add door clamps as well.

In time, the paint will flake off the firebox as well. Ours started to peel after just a few smokes even with a proper season before it’s first use. You can repaint with high-temp bbq paint it if you want to. Otherwise, just keep the smoker dry, use it regularly, and treat any rust if it does develop.

Overall though, if you’re looking for a top of the line offset smoker, you’ll probably be a bit disappointed with the Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse. It’s not a bulletproof stick burner that’ll become an heirloom backyard feature. But, if what you’re looking for is just a decent offset setup that’s good enough to smoke some great food, this barbecue will do the job, and last a good long time if you look after it properly.

Pros
Cons
BEST VALUE

Oklahoma Joe's Highland

4.6/5

BBQ type: Offset

Material: Painted steel

Grates: Porcelain-coated

Capacity: 619 sq inch

Heat range: Smoke & grill

Dimensions: 33.5″D x 57″W x 53″H

Price guide: $$

Model: Highland

Warranty: 2 years

Second up on this list is the cheaper and smaller version of the Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn, it’s smaller brother the Highland.

Everything about this barbecue is really the same as the larger version. The steel is the same, the dampers are the same, the configuration is the same, and it’s available in a regular version or a reverse flow as well (that can be set up as a regular one too).

But, I actually think that the Highland is the better buy.

Coming in at what’s a significantly lower price, the Highland only has 130 square inches less smoking space than the Longhorn does. It’s still big enough to fit a whole brisket plus some other stuff beside it there. So, if you need the larger space, go for it, but this one’s cheaper per square inch for what’s the same, respectable but not flawless, offset smoker.

Smoking on the Oklahoma Joe's Highland Offset Smoker

Like the OKJ’s Longhorn, you will get smoke leaking from around the cooking chamber’s door unless you fit an aftermarket gasket (which is easy to do). The paint will flake off the firebox. And, you’ll use more fuel while having to do more work to regulate the temperature when the weather’s cold.

But, if you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a top offset smoker, you can cook some delicious food on this smoker. It’s a good medium ground between quality, design, performance and price.

Cooking ribs on the Oklahoma Joe Highland offset smoker

Remember that you’ve got an additional 281 square inches of space in the firebox that you can use for grilling or reverse searing as well. Plus, the squared off firebox lid serves as a decent warming area.

Pros
Cons
BEST VERTICAL

Oklahoma Joe's Bandera

4.5/5

BBQ type: Offset

Material: Painted steel

Grates: Porcelain-coated

Capacity: 744 sq inch

Heat range: Smoke & grill

Dimensions: 28″D x 39.3″W x 63″H

Price guide: $$

Model: Bandera

Warranty: 2 years

For a large capacity offset that doesn’t take up as much space on the ground, and really capitalizes on the fact that heat rises, there’s the Oklahoma Joe’s Bandera.

On the surface, this smoker has a similar cooking capacity to the large Longhorn reviewed at the top of this line-up. But, with it you also get a rib rack and two very solid hooks so you can rack, hang, and stack your meat, packing quite a bit more into this more compact unit.

Sausages hanging on hooks and ribs in rack on OKJ Bandera Offset Smoker

There’s a lot of slots to sit the racks wherever you’d like or need them. And, theoretically you could add more to increase the capacity of the Bandera considerably. But, at the time of reviewing and writing this, I haven’t been able to find anywhere that sells the right sized racks.

Nevertheless, like the rest of the Oklahoma Joe’s range, the Bandera is a decent smoker that can cook some great food but, it’s not the perfect offset.

The steel is thick enough that it doesn’t warp all over the place. But, it’s thin enough that you do notice a difference in fuel usage and monitoring needs between a nice, sunny day, and one that’s colder, wetter, and/or windier.

The high-temp paint will flake off parts of the firebox, probably sooner rather than later which you can repaint with a quality bbq paint.

It will leak smoke around both of the doors and potentially between the firebox and the cooking chamber depending on how well you can get it sealing.

Oklahoma Joe's Bandera showing where smoke leaks

A cheap and easy to install gasket will help to keep the heat and smoke inside the smoker, improving performance for very little cost. Some people also recommend fitting clamps on the firebox and/or cooking chambers door for an even tighter hold. I’m personally busier barbecuing than modifying so haven’t tried it out. My recommendation would be, try the Bandera and you can add the latches later if you want to. They’re not expensive.

Other than that, the Bandera is set up with a water pan below the bottom rack. In our tests, using the water pan did improve the heat distribution within the cooking chamber but we honestly didn’t notice a difference in how moist the meat was.

Inside the firebox, OKJ also give you a grilling grate just like they do on their horizontal offsets. It’s 248 square inches which gives you a decent amount of space to grill up a few steaks. We actually find it really handy to use as a small standalone grill and the kids love that it sits at a height that they can easily help out with.

Grilling on the Oklahoma Joe's Bandera

For the price, the Bandera is a really great smoker. With proper TLC this thing can last you many, many years and gives you a whole heap of smoking real estate to play around with in a flexible setup that really lets you cook.

Pros
Cons

FAQs About the Best Offset Smokers Under $1000

A good offset smoker can easily set you back upwards of $3000. But, you don’t have to spend this much to get a decent offset smoker that can make some really great food.

There are a few respectable offset smokers that you can get for under $1000 that are decent enough quality to work well and last. You’ll find them recommended here.

There’s also a few offset models under the $500 mark that can produce great food. The quality of the materials and build isn’t as good as the under $1000 price point. But, if you want to go cheap and still make decent food, grab one of these best offset smokers under $500.

You sure can make great meat on a cheaper offset smoker. You don’t have to spend thousands to get a good brisket. Choose from one of our tried and recommended offset smokers under $1000 

Yes, these days Oklahoma Joe’s offset smokers are mass produced made in China.

OKJ’s were bought out by Char-Broil in 1998. They continue to manufacture smokers with a separate name and branding to the rest of the Char Broil range, and after using them both, we do stand by OKJ’s as a better quality offset smoker option.

Jared Brown, an avid lover of all things meat has a fearless enthusiasm for experimenting with anything that's grilling, smoking or outdoor cooking. With a wealth of experience across a range different barbecue types, Jared's got a real knack for helping others make a decision they're happy with, ensuring they find the perfect fit regardless of conventional notions of the 'right' choice. This unique approach has made Jared a trusted guide in the world of barbecue.

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