In a market filled with cheap and flimsy offset smokers, the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse stands way out of the crowd! With heavier, all-steel construction, an effective design and a moderate capacity that’s well-suited to most backyard smokers, the Highland Reverse provides exceptional value for money. Winning our title of the best offset smoker on the market in 2020, read on to find out what we like and what’s not so good, in our Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse review.
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- 100% heavy gauge steel body
- Reverse flow set-up distributes heat and smoke more evenly
- Side venting chimney for improved air flow
- Moderate cooking capacity
- Very sturdy build, especially for a mid-range offset smoker
Ease of use:
- Quality dampers make controlling temperature easy
- Accurate temperature gauge
- Durable, porcelain-coated grates
- Easy clean, swing door firebox
- Removable baffle plates
- Large wheels make it easy to move with just one person
- Can be set up as a traditional offset smoker
- Can be converted to a large charcoal grill
- Grilling grates in firebox
- Charcoal basket improves burn efficiency
- Additional bung if you want to add a second temperature gauge
In-Depth Review of the OJ Highland Reverse Flow Smoker
If you’re in the market for a new offset smoker, you’ll probably have seen that there’s quite a divide in terms of what’s available. On one hand there’s ultra-expensive, rock-solid units. And, on the other hand there’s super-cheap, flimsy offset smokers that leak like a sieve and won’t make it through a couple of seasons.
Enter Oklahoma Joe’s. Owned by parent company Char-Broil, the Oklahoma Joe’s range sits between the super cheap and the ultra-expensive models, bringing quality offset smoking to backyards across the nation.
The Highland Reverse Flow is the smaller of their reverse offset smokers and gives good quality, sturdy construction and great functionality a very reasonable price tag. Made with a heavy-gauge, all-steel body, the reverse flow design takes traditional offset smoking up a notch by evening out heat and smoke distribution for more consistent results.
How Does the Highland Reverse Flow Work?
Traditional offset smokers, like the original Highland, feed the heat and smoke from the fire through the main cooking chamber, cooking the meat before passing out the chimney at the opposite end of the smoker. And, while this design is great for achieving a clean burn, it also comes with sometimes significant temperature variations that can make it harder to create consistently awesome results.
The Highland Reverse incorporates 4 baffle plates that sit below the cooking grate to act as a heat sink and redirect the smoke, evening out it’s distribution to minimize hot spots and create a more consistent temperature throughout the cooking chamber.
In general, having a more even temperature throughout makes it easier to create great results every time you cook. Read our article ‘what is a reverse flow smoker‘ if you want more details.
The Versatility of the Oklahoma Joe's Highland Reverse
One cool thing about the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse is that it’s not just a reverse flow smoker. The baffle plates are removable and there’s two spots to set the chimney up in. This means you can set it up as a normal offset smoker as well. It’s handy for those times you want to use of different temperature zones or are after a super clean burn.
Grilling is an option too. the Highland Reverse comes standard with grilling grates for the firebox. Or, you can set the whole cooking chamber up as a big charcoal grill by whipping the baffle plates out and throwing the included charcoal grates in.
It’s not often you get so many options with an offset smoker.
Using the Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker
Offset smokers aren’t set and forget! And, the Highland Reverse is no exception. But, Oklahoma Joe’s have made it as easy as possible to create next-level-good smoked meats in your backyard.
The dampers are really easy to slide and are precise enough to give you total control over your temperature. The built-in temperature gauge is pretty accurate. And, if you want more feedback, there’s an extra bung so you can add another so you can monitor the temperature difference between both sides.
The Highland Reverse also comes with a heavy-duty charcoal basket. Not only does this make life easy when it comes to loading and cleaning, it also boosts the burn efficiency by holding all the hot coals close together. A more efficient burn equals reduced running costs which we’re definitely here for.
The firebox is also large enough to use small logs instead of charcoal if you want an extra smoke-intense flavor.
When it comes to clean-up, we love the swing-open firebox door that makes it super easy to sweep out the ash. And, the baffle plates are removable which makes it so much easier to clean out the cooking chamber. Even the grates are pretty easy to wipe down because they’re porcelain-coated.
Capacity of the Oklahoma Joe Highland Reverse
The Highland Reverse gives you 619 square inches of smoking space on one grate in the cooking chamber. That’s about 3 briskets, 7 chickens or 3 pork shoulders at a time. There’s also another 281 square inches of grilling space in the firebox which is more than enough to reverse sear a few steaks or whip up some lunch-time sausages.
If you had even larger cooks in mind, the Longhorn Reverse is a up-sized clone of the Highland smoker. Check out our Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse review here.
Pros of the Oklahoma Joe Highland Reverse
- Reverse flow design creates even cooking environment
- Side-exit smokestack improves air flow
- Can be set up as a regular offset smoker to make use of heat zones
- Able to grill in firebox while you smoke
- Option to set up the entire cooking chamber as a large charcoal grill
- High-quality dampers make it easy to control temperature precisely
- Accurate in-built temperature gauge with option to add an extra one
- Comes with a heavy-duty charcoal box to improve burn efficiency, reducing running costs
- Removable baffle plates and large ash door make it easier to clean
- Strong and sturdy offset smoker, especially considering the price point
- Easy to move
- Looks great
Cons of the Oklahoma Joe Highland Reverse
- It does leak a bit of smoke around the joins and door. The amount of leakage was fine to us so we didn’t do anything. But, you can easily fit a gasket and seal with high-heat silicone if you want a tighter closure. There’s also sweet purpose-built Highland lid latches you can get for the firebox and cooking chamber lids.
- We might have run it too hot, but, the paint did start to peel off our firebox after a few cooks. We sanded and resprayed and haven’t had that problem since. Some other people have had that happen too so it’s worth mentioning.
Specs for the Oklahoma Joe's Highland Reverse Flow Offset Smoker
Barbecue type: Reverse flow offset smoker
Fuel type: Charcoal or wood
Barbecue material: Painted 2.5mm steel
Grate material: Porcelain-coated wire
Cooking capacity: 619 sq in primary + 281 sq in secondary
Price guide: $$
Dimensions: 57″(W) x 33.5″(D) x 53″(H)
Weight: 180.8 lbs
Warranty: 2 years
Q. Can you use wood in the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse?
Yes. You can use 100% wood, 100% charcoal, or, a mix of both.
Q. Is the firebox big enough for logs?
Yes. Logs up to 12 inches long will fit in the firebox.
Q. What is the difference between the Highland and the Highland Reverse?
The Highland Reverse Flow comes with baffle plates and has a different smokestack location. Together these change the movement of the smoke through the cooking chamber to even out the temperature and smoke distribution. The Highland Reverse also gives you the option to set it up as a traditional flow like the original Highland.
Check out our article for more information on how reverse flow smokers work.
Q. What is the difference between the Highland Reverse and Longhorn Reverse?
The Longhorn Reverse is just the larger version of the Highland Reverse.
Q. Do you need to season the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse before using it for the first time?
Yes. Seasoning the Highland Reverse protects the smoker body by curing the paint. It also removes any leftover remnants from production.
Q. How much does the temperature vary within the Highland Reverse?
We’ve had about a 15 degree F difference between both ends.
Our Verdict on the Oklahoma Joe's Highland Reverse Review
For the price, the look, feel and effectiveness of the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Offset Smoker is, in our books, pretty unbeatable. Oklahoma Joe’s have done a very impressive job in bringing traditional smoking to the backyard in a smoker that’s strong, sturdy, versatile and easy enough for beginners to pick up.
As the overall winner of the best offset smoker on the market in 2020, the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse is great for anyone who wants to do things the old school way with the help and versatility offered by a few convenient upgrades.