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What is a Reverse Flow Smoker?

by Burning Brisket
Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn Reverse Flow Offset Smoker

Have you ever heard of reverse flow smokers and wondered what all the huff and puff was about? Reverse flow offset smokers are often talked about as a superior alternative to the regularly designed offset smoker. And, with a more even temperature distribution and thorough smoke flow, they are a great tool to create incredibly delicious smoked meat. But, we’ll let you decide what’s best by looking at what a reverse flow smoker is and how they work.

What is a Reverse Flow Smoker?

A reverse flow smoker is simply a type of offset smoker that incorporates an additional metal plate. This acts to protect the meat from intense heat while directing the smoke under and then back over the meat before venting through the chimney.

How Do Reverse Flow Smokers Work?

As you can see in the diagram below, in a regular offset smoker, the smoke and heat created in the firebox directly filters into the cooking chamber and rises through it, cooking the meat as it makes its way out of the chimney on the opposite side.

However, in a reverse flow offset smoker, the heat and smoke from the firebox enters the cooking chamber underneath a steel plate. It’s then forced across the lower section of the cooking chamber and rises at the end to reverse its flow as it drafts over the meat to exit through the chimney that’s close to the firebox.

How do reverse flow smokers work?

In addition to directing the flow of smoke, the steel plate acts to:

  • Block the direct, harsh heat from overcooking the meat that’s closest to the firebox
  • Create a more even cooking temperature by acting as a heat sink
  • Double as a grease and/or water tight pan

Reverse Flow Smoker Pros

Some of the advantages you can expect from cooking on a reverse flow smoker include:

  • More even smoke distribution to thoroughly infiltrate a smoky flavour in the meat
  • More even heat distribution throughout the barbecue to prevent the need to turn the meat during cooking
  • Less prone to temperature spikes after adding more fuel to the fire
  • Faster return to cooking temperature after opening the cooking chamber door
  • Improved flavor and moisture as the fat renders out of the meat, sears on the griddle pan and filters through the cooking chamber
  • Elimination of the need for a separate water and grease tray

Reverse Flow Smoker Cons

The only thing that’s ‘perhaps’ not to love about the reverse flow smoker is that it makes smoking even easier. So, if your significant other, friends or family decide they want to give smoking a go, they’ll probably be able to turn out a pretty decent cook without the same level of skill of experience you may have.

But, in saying that, what’s not to like about making the job easier! And, if your missus or friends start barbecuing as well, then there’s just more delicious smoked meat to go around.

The Best Reverse Flow Smokers

When it comes to the best reverse flow offset smokers, you simply can’t go past the quality and value of a Char-Broil Oklahoma Joe’s!

With two market-leading offset smokers in their range, the Highland Reverse and the Longhorn Reverse (larger version of the Highland), one of these bad boys is a solid investment that’ll not only make your barbecue BETTER, but EASIER as well.

The reverse flow technology made with multiple dampers and a professional-grade thermometer gives you the ability to control the temperature of your barbecue accurately. But, it’s also made from heavy-duty, 2.5mm thick painted steel which helps to retain heat, creating the ideal environment for an even, reverse flow cook.

Add to the mix a large, easy to clean firebox, two storage shelves and a heavy-duty cart with wheels that are definitely strong enough to move this ‘cue around and this baby will see you through years of smoking to come.

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