What is a reverse flow smoker? All you Need to Know! (Pros & Cons)

Are you an avid smoking master wondering if there is any smoker out there that can do a better job at retaining uniform heat? You have your answer in the form of a reverse flow smoker. In this article, we will go through every aspect of this type of smoker. By the end of the article, you'll know exactly what it is and whether you need one to improve your smoking experience.

Before we get into further details of the reverse flow smoker, let me tell you a little secret...

I prefer to use reverse flow smokers because I don't need to keep turning my meat to make sure that I have evenly cooked it. This benefit saves both time and effort and puts me in a win-win situation every time I use my reverse flow smoker.

So what is a reverse flow smoker?

A reverse flow smoker or reverse flow offset smoker is one that comes with an added metal plate that serves in redirecting the flow of smoke in the smoker first before letting it go through the chimney on top of the chamber.

It makes sure that the hot smoke makes a circle over and under the meat inside the smoker before leaving the chamber. This way, you can make sure that all sides of your meat get cooked equally. Reverse flow offset smokers do a better job at evenly cooking the food inside the smoke chamber.

Offset smoker vs Reverse Flow Smoker 

The two main differences between an offset smoker and a reverse flow smoker are found in the flow direction of the smoke, and it's heat distribution. 

The direction of smoke flow 

The main difference between a regular offset smoker and a reverse flow offset smoker is that in the first type, the smoke flows only in one direction. In an offset smoker, the smoke and heat travels from the burner through the meat and goes out the chimney.

On the other hand, in reverse flow smokers, the smoke will flow upward and hit a metal plate. The metal plate directs the smoke to go the other way, and from there, it makes another round upwards. The smoke then escapes through the chimney only after making a circle within the smoker.

Heat distribution 

In reverse flow offset smokers, the heat distribution is quite even. As a result, the chances of the temperature spiking and falling inside the smoking chamber is thus much lower. With the reverse flow smoker, you do not have to worry about there being too much heat in the chamber when you add more fuel or wood into the burner.

In contrast, the regular offset smoker does not distribute heat evenly around the chamber. Since the smoke flows only in one direction and leaves the smoker almost instantly, the lower part of the meat that is closer to the burner will get more heat than the other parts.

How does a reverse flow smoker work?

Now we will get into how a reverse flow smoker works. The operation of this type of smoker is quite simple once you've understood the difference between a regular offset smoker and a reverse flow smoker.

As mentioned earlier, the design of the reverse smoker includes a metal plate that is used to direct the flow of the smoke and heat. The smoke from the firebox will travel underneath the metal plate, providing enough heat for the bottom part of the meat. Then, through the opening at the end, the smoke will move in the opposite direction giving the rest of the meat parts the warmth that it needs. 

The chimney of a reverse flow offset smoker is on the opposite side of the metal plate's opening. Therefore, it forces the smoke to travel in one direction and then completely change the course of its flow to vent through the chimney.

To make it easier to understand, here are the things that the metal plate in the reverse smoker do:

The chimney of a reverse flow offset smoker is on the opposite side of the metal plate's opening. Therefore, it forces the smoke to travel in one direction and then completely change the course of its flow to vent through the chimney.

To make it easier to understand, here are the things that the metal plate in the reverse smoker do:

  1. Directs the heat in one direction and then changes its course after releasing it through the opening at the end.
  2. It prevents the lower part of the meat from burning or overcooking by blocking direct heat.
  3. The metal plate helps in maintaining an even temperature throughout the whole chamber.
  4. It also acts as a water or grease pan to protect the bottom part of the smoking chamber.

Pros of using a reverse flow smoker 

There are several benefits that we get from reverse flow smokers. Some of these advantages are:

  • Evenly distributes heat throughout the whole smoking chamber so that you do not have to turn your meat frequently.
  • Smoke distribution is very even such that each piece of meat or all the parts of the food get that delicious smokey flavor.
  • Even if you add more fuel or wood into the burner, there will not be a significant spike in temperature.
  • Reverse flow smokers reattain more heat and are faster to return to the desired temperature quickly after opening it.
  • You will not need a separate grease or water tray with the reverse flow smoker since It comes with a metal plate that also acts as a tray.
  • The final product of a reverse flow smoker has more flavor and moisture because the metal tray collects the oil and fats and filters through.
  • It is typically easier to install a reverse flow smoker.

Cons of using a reverse flow smoker 

Although this type of smoker has many advantages, it has its own set of drawbacks too. Some of the disadvantages of using a reverse flow smoker are as follows:

  • You cannot remove the multi-functioning metal plate in a reverse flow smoker. Even if it might need cleaning, you cannot simply remove it and place it back in its original place.
  • Since the reverse flow offset smoker forces the smoke to change its direction of the flow completely, you might experience some restrictive airflow situations. This sometimes causes over smoking of the meat and gives it a bitter taste if you aren't careful.
  • It takes slightly more time to reach the desired temperature for the cooker or barbecue pits.
  • You may also need more fuel or wood to maintain the heat within the reverse flow smoker.
  • You cannot control the airflow in a reverse flow smoker. It will always work the same way day after day. This inability to change can prove as a hindrance while cooking different cuts of meat.

How to use a reverse flow smoker? 

Using a reverse flow offset smoker is not rocket science. It is much more straightforward to operate than regular offset smokers. Here are some tips and instructions that will help you if you are using this smoker for the first time:

  1. Always season your meat beforehand so that the flavors can seep through thoroughly.
  2. Next, light up the charcoal and add more pieces of wood if you want a more smokey flavor on your food.
  3. Using briquettes will provide more steady and predictable heat for a longer period.
  4. Place digital thermometers on both ends of the smoker to know whether the temperature is even throughout.
  5. You will need to adjust the sliding vents to ensure that the heat is around 225 Fahrenheit inside the smoker.
  6. Slow cook your pre-seasoned meat to perfection.
  7. Add more fuel, wood, or charcoal if needed.
  8. Once you smoke your meat to the desired state, remove them from the chamber and let it rest for around 15 minutes before serving.

What to look for in a reverse flow smoker? 

Picking the best reverse flow smoker for you and your family is essential since you will not be buying a new one every day. With this buyer guide, you will know exactly what to look for when choosing one:

Metal quality 

A smoker with thicker metal material will hold heat for a longer time, and it will also keep the cooking environment even. A more stable cooking atmosphere means an easier cooking experience.

Check the seals

Good quality seals and dampers will retain smoke and heat better than one which has faulty seals. Quality seals also reduce fuel usage. Make sure that the reverse flow smoker that you choose can open and close effortlessly.

Ensure that it is Robust

A flimsy smoker will not take you anywhere. Always check whether your reverse flow smoker of choice has sturdy wheels and legs so that they can stand on any surface.

allows Temperature checks easily

It is best to purchase a smoker that you can check the temperature without opening the whole unit. You might release all the hot air and smoke inside the smoker if you open the lid. Thermometers on both ends of the product will help you with this problem.

Covering

Many people do not have a smoker under a cover or a specific space in the garage that will protect their smokers. In such cases, you will need to get your hands on a smoker with a cover to keep it from getting wet or rusting.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many advantages of choosing a reverse flow offset smoker over a regular offset smoker. It spreads heat more evenly throughout the whole chamber and gives the meat a wonderful smokey flavor. The only thing to keep in mind with this type of device is that you cannot remove the metal plate to clean it even if it is dirty.