What Is A Reverse Flow Smoker? And, Do You Need One?

Everyone loves a good smoker. They can be incredible at unlocking that final level of flavor needed to boost your cooking to the next level.

Because of the way they cook your food and the way they combine good food with shady smoke, people have found them to be incredible appliances for preparing their meals.

What Is A Reverse Flow Smoker? And, Do You Need One?

What people might not realize, is that there is such a thing as a reverse flow smoker – which is different from the regular offset smoker that you might look at using for preparing your next meal. 

To find out what a reverse flow smoker is and whether you should buy one, read the rest of our guide.

This will help you to understand how they work and will allow you to make a decision for yourself on if you should get one.

What Is A Traditional Offset Smoker?

The traditional offset smoker has been around for decades now. It’s a simple design consisting of a firebox with a chimney located on its side.

There are holes in the sides of this box that allow the smoke from the firebox to escape through these openings. 

When you put meat or other foods into the smoker box, it creates steam over time because of the heat generated by the fire within the firebox.

As the steam rises up through the chimney, it condenses and falls back down onto the food being cooked.

This process continues until all the moisture in the food has evaporated away leaving some amazing flavors behind.

What Is A Reverse Flow Smoker?

Reverse-flow smokers operate very differently than traditional offset smokers. Instead of having a chimney, the smoke travels from the top of the firebox where it enters the chamber.

This allows the smoke to circulate throughout the whole compartment instead of just rising up to the top and escaping through a chimney.

Additionally, the air inside the chamber is heated by the firebox and then allowed to cool before it gets reintroduced back into the chamber.

In this way, the air inside the smoker heats itself and circulates around the entire chamber.

The end result of this setup is that all the smoke stays in the chamber and does not escape.

Since there is no chimney, the smoke doesn’t rise but rather stays close to the ceiling and flows around the chamber.

The primary benefit of this type of smoker is that it provides better ventilation.

Not only does it keep the smoke inside the chamber, but it also prevents any odors from spreading throughout the house. 

Additionally, since the smoke moves throughout the chamber instead of just upwards, it works well with convection ovens.

Convection ovens use hot air to move ingredients around and cook them more evenly. 

How Are Reverse Flow Smokers Different From Other Types Of Smokers?

While most smokers are designed to produce a certain amount of smoke per hour, reverse flow smokers offer something unique.

With them, you can choose between two different types of smoke: full-flavored or light.

If you want full-flavored smoke, you simply increase the temperature of the firebox to produce more smoke.

However, if you prefer a lighter smoke, you can cook your food at a lower temperature for a longer duration.

In addition to providing a different style of smoke, reverse flow smokers are built differently than traditional offset smokers too. Typically, they come with an adjustable grate system.

This means that you can adjust the size of the opening to control the airflow. These grates come in different sizes so you can choose the perfect setting for your needs.

How Big Are Reverse Flow Offset Smokers?

Reverse flow offset smokers are typically large enough to accommodate four portions. They have multiple shelves and compartments that hold your meat and other foods.

Some models even include a warming drawer that keeps meats warm while cooking, to ensure even temperatures across all portions.

With a larger space comes a larger capacity as well.

Most reverse flow offset smokers will hold anywhere from six to 12 pounds of food, which makes these cooking appliances perfect for social events, kitchens, and even the casual backyard barbecue.

What Different Features Do Reverse Flow Smokers Have?

What Is A Reverse Flow Smoker? And, Do You Need One?

Most reverse flow offset smokers feature a removable lid for easy access. This means that you don’t need to worry about cleaning out the ash after every meal.

Simply remove the cover, clean off the ash, and replace the lid when needed. Because the smoke doesn’t rise, ash tends to stay on the bottom of the cooker.

Therefore, there is less of this smoke residue to clean out.

Another great thing about these smokers is that they usually have a thermostat, allowing you to set the desired temperature.

The thermostat controls the temperature of the firebox as well as the chamber. Thus, you can easily regulate the heat within the chamber without touching the actual grill.

Some models even have a separate venting system, which helps prevent the build-up of condensation. It allows the smoke to pass through but does not allow moisture into the chamber.

How Often Do I Need To Clean A Reverse Flow Smoker?

Typically, you should clean your reverse flow smoker once a week, depending on how often you use your cooking appliance.

After all, this is a high-traffic area and will be used frequently by those who wish to get their money’s worth.

While you may be able to get away with doing it less frequently, you could end up damaging your appliance by neglecting it.

This also makes cleaning harder when you do come around to look after your appliance.

There are ways to make cleaning easier though. For instance, you can place the unit on its side to help dislodge any leftover ashes.

Also, make sure that you clean it out thoroughly before storing it.

Do You Need An Air Filter On Your Reverse Flow Smoker?

Since reverse flow offset smokers provide a lot of ventilation, you must install an air filter. Without one, you will likely experience some buildup of dust and debris in the chamber.

Luckily, a lot of different brands will include an air filter with their products so they have all bases covered.

When choosing between various brands, try to look for ones that offer both charcoal and wood options.

These types of smokers will give you more flexibility when deciding what type of fuel you want to use. If you plan on using gas, then look for a model that includes a burner option.

This way, you won’t have to worry about getting a separate stovetop or oven.

What To Consider When Looking At Reverse Smokers

When it comes to making the best decision, consider what you will be using this reverse flow smoker for most.

For example, if you plan on smoking a variety of meats like beef brisket, pork butt, chicken breasts, ribs, etc., you’ll want to choose a model that offers an adjustable rack.

This lets you adjust the height of the racks according to the size of the meats and the amount of food you’ll be cooking.

Another thing to consider is the quality of the materials used. Look at the finish of the product and see how durable it is. Are the handles made from stainless steel?

Does the door lock securely? Is the top made from heavy-duty plastic? All of these things can impact how long your smoker lasts.

If you’re going to be using this device primarily for barbecuing, then you might want to go for something with a larger capacity.

Remember, the bigger the better, as long as you have the space for it. That way, you can cook more food at once while still keeping the meat moist and ready to eat.

The last thing anyone wants is for their food to go cold or dry whilst waiting for all portions to be ready.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, there are lots of different things to consider when thinking about buying a reverse flow smoker.

With all of the usual features like materials, space, size, and quality, you should also consider whether you would benefit from the use of one of these appliances over a standard smoker.

Because of their differences in the way they work, you might prefer to have a reverse flow smoker.

With regard to what a reverse smoker does, you can see that it works differently from a normal smoker, with more control of the amount of smoke being implemented into your cooking.

Hopefully, you’ll now be able to make your own decision and you can find some potential appliances for use.

Just remember, you should only invest in one of these cooking appliances if you’re intending on using it frequently.

John Rinder
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