What is a Reverse Flow Smoker?

Jason Webster
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How does a reverse flow smoker work?

When it comes to smokers, there are two main designs. Barbecuers choose between one type of smoker that burns with natural wood and charcoal and another that uses electricity.

Those electric smokers are super easy to use. If you’ve ever cooked with one, you know that the smoker turns on automatically as soon as you enter the right temperature into the built-in thermostat. Meanwhile, the meat sits inside a glass bell jar, absorbing the smoke but not the flame. The wood-burning smokers can be a bit of a chore for those who don’t have an outdoor space big enough to be dedicated to one.

Reverse flow smokers, though, don’t burn wood or coal, but they do rely on electric heating to get the smoking hot. But how do they work? The magic lies in the shape of this smoker and the way it works.

The whole smoker is a long tube. That’s an odd shape for a smoker since reverie smokers traditionally look like garages or barns, not like professional kitchens. But once you open the door of a reverse smokeryou´ll see that it’s a tube, except that it has a rack running along the long part of one side.

Pros and Cons of reverse flow and offset smokers

Reverse flow smokers are becoming wildly popular in the barbeque community and for a good reason: they offer a lot of flexibility for easy smoking, especially in cold climates and short winter days, when setting up a traditional offset smoker is challenging.

Reverse flow smoker also offer a similar kind of cooking experience from your traditional offset smoker, at a more reasonable cost with less of a hassle.

The main benefit of a reverse flow smoker is that it allows you to smoke with lower temperatures since the smoke goes through the food horizontally rather than go straight down in the case of a vertical smoker. Less grilling (heat) is needed to cook the meat effectively.

Pros and Cons of reverse flow smoker

This is a common question in backyard barbecue forums. To answer it, reverse flow smoker reviews first look at what's inside the smoker.

In a regular smoker, cold air enters at the bottom and moves up through the food. In a reverse flow smoker, a fan draws the cold air in at the top and moves heated smoke across the grilling racks in the reverse direction.

Pros and Cons of a standard offset smoker

There is no doubt that good 'ole George Foreman played a big role in the popularity of smokers, which are now sold to us as healthy, wonderful-flavored food and machine to satisfy our BBQ cravings at home…but do you really know what you are buying when you buy a smoker from the store?

The main difference between a reverse flow and an offset smoker is that in a reverse flow smoker, there is no hose.

Instead, the smoke is heated and pulled through the wood chip pan to get the full flavor of the smoke before going into the room.

Therefore, the flow of the smoke in a reverse flow smoker is from the room, down, and then up once it hits the water pan.

On the other hand, the flow of smoke in an offset smoker is from the fire box to out of the exhaust and then streams up and over to fill the room.

Are reverse flow smokers better?

Many of today’s smokers are designed with a reverse-flow design that changes the direction of the air and smoke traveling in and out of the smoker.

In a typical smoker the hot air and smoke travel from the fire towards the food. In a reverse-flow smoker, the smoke travels from the food towards the charcoal. Because of this, there is a common misconception that reverse-flow smokers are somehow better than a typical smoker.

Here’s the big difference.

If you put a piece of food in a smoker and taste it when it’s done, you’ll know whether you are cooking it properly or not.

If, however, you do a taste test comparing barbecued food cooked in a reverse flow smoker to food cooked in a traditional smoker, you might not find any difference between the two. For someone who is not an experienced barbecue player, it’s hard to tell the difference.

But all this does not mean that reverse-flow smokers are inferior in terms of their ability to barbecued food.

While they do not give you any better results when you cook a piece of meat, they do have one major advantage that may appeal to some people: They operate at less temperature, producing fewer odors and smoke than a traditional smoker.

What is the best reverse flow smoker?

The reverse flow smoker is also known as the horizontal smoker. It is a smoker that uses the gravity of the smoke and fuel source to move the smoke down the cooking chamber. The mechanism itself is very similar to an old school smoker that used charcoal as the heat source.

However, what sets the reverse flow smoker apart from all the others is that it has a smoke box located under the cook chamber. This way, when the smoke is generated using wood chips, it starts to move downstream through the cooking chamber and then up through the meat and food.

Another unique feature of the reverse flow smoker is that the cooking chamber has an adjustable damper, which allows you to control the heat to maintain the ideal temperature for the cooking process.

There are several reasons why we’re very into the reverse flow smoker.

The most obvious being that it’s quite easy to use. It has a simple design and is fairly easy to operate, and you can easily maintain the temperature you need to cook your food. Plus, it’s relatively inexpensive too.

And of course, the reason that this particular smoker is very popular is that it’s so efficient when it comes to smoking meats. It smokes your meats without drying them out, so they stay juicy and tender.

Oklahoma Joe Highland

A smoker is an important aspect of any backyard barbecue. It enables you to make some of the best barbecue you and your friends will ever taste. Good BBQ is the result of a combination of factors. But most of all, it’s about the meat.

Home-smoked meats take on a signature flavor all their own. You can make pulled pork, beef brisket, lamb, and even salmon and other fish, all at a fraction of the cost of a restaurant barbecue.

There are different types of smokers, such as offset or vertical. But to achieve restaurant quality meats, and a lot of that may have to do with the equipment you rent or buy, you need to invest in a good quality reverse flow smoker. They are our favorite types of smokers for the following reasons.

Lang 36″ Original

Smoking meat for hours has become an art and every BBQ fan prides himself in a certain style of smoking.

Back in the 1960’s when Lang 36″ BBQ Smokers were invented, people were busy doing the same with their new gas grills. They wanted to smoke everything: turkey, ribs, salmon and, quite honestly, pretty much everything.

But then something very interesting happened. The old BBQ enthusiasts started getting older. The grills became expensive to run and started to appear in the front yard, like a large piece of unwanted baggage.

The new BBQ fans were all about “grilling.” That meant tossing the meat over hot coals, or close to the source of heat, rather than the complete opposite. Lang BBQ smokers, however, were designed like a regular BBQ, with a large metal hood over a firebox.

On a Lang smoker, the heat and smoke came out of the hood and traveled down a metal chimney directly into the cooking chamber below. Then all the heat and smoke had to run all the way back up to the opening at the top, and back down again. As you can imagine, that’s a rather inefficient way of smoking.

Wrapping it up

The Reverse Flow smoker is a smoker that works in the opposite direction as all smokers. Instead of feeding the smoke into the charcoal and pulling the smoke out of it.

Here the firebox is attached to the lid down at the bottom of the smoker and the smoke is pulled up the water pan. So, the heat and smoke will travel upward through the water.

If you read the book then you know that I like to use a pit probe/meat thermometer to monitor the temperature of the meat/food on the pit. I have found the pit probe to be the most consistent and accurate way to monitor smoking temperature. I consider it as the temperature gauge from the engine. I like the model from Maverick that uses two probes so I can monitor the meat temperature when cooking the meat and the outside temperature of the smoker all at the same time. Free standing and wireless, it can be left on the kitchen table for easy monitoring and remote access. I keep it in a zipper plastic bag and use the heat resistant putty to make it stay attached to the side of the smoker. I also own a Cabela's wireless model, but find it less accurate than the Maverick.

Smoked Lamb Wraps with Baba Ganoush and Chimichurri

The reverse flow smoker can be used as a standalone unit or as part of a stack with an offset smoker.

This type of smoker is a horizontal barrel with a smoke generator at the bottom, a small chamber directly above the fuel source, in which the food is placed, and an exhaust at the top.

Food is loaded into the center opening and smoke is generated by either wood chips or chunks. The smoke first fills the exhaust section of the barrel.

As the smoke rises, it is drawn across the food by a powerful fan which circulates the smoke through the entire barrel.

When the food is almost cooked, the fan is turned on its side and the food is placed in the smaller chamber at the top of the barrel.

The smoke is drawn across the food in the top chamber and then filtered through a fine diffuser screen before it exits the top opening of the barrel.

With the fan on its side, the smoke is forced up the chamber and over the food while the fan pulls the smoke through the barrel.

This circulation of smoke ensures that the smoke penetrates all surfaces of the food and that it cooks evenly.

While the smoke is channelled over the food, it is filtered so that it does not impart any smoky flavor to the food.