Easy Steps on Using A Side Smoker


A Quick and Easy Guide

Side Smoker or popularly known as offset smoker, is a smoking chamber built horizontally in contrast with vertical smokers. This design is the most popular among all other types of smokers and it is always in attendance to any barbecue circuit for years. The design is based on tradition barbecue pits which consists of two chambers – one for the fire and smoke and the other chamber is for the food.

Side smokers are built with a barrel-shaped chamber where you will cook the food (also known as cooking chamber) with a chimney and s firebox (a chamber where you will put the charcoal and wood) which is placed a few inches lower in one side or in some cases, at the back of the cooking chamber. The heat is just next to the meat instead of being directly below it where it flows through the cook chamber and out the chimney. Like vertical smokers, heat can be adjusted through the vents. Most manufacturers nowadays have installed new features and technology to circulate the heat efficiently and be able to achieve perfectly cooked meat.


Many people opt for a great barbecue party on a bright sunny day outdoors. Using a side smoker gives the opportunity to cook larger quantities of food thus expanding the options. While you need skills in cooking meat inside the smoker, you will also need to learn how to use the side smoker properly.


You can add more charcoal and woodchips on your smoker without having to open the cooking chamber.

You can place a grill grate in the firebox if you want to grill directly. Some units come with their own grill grates upon purchase.

You can smoke large quantities of food due to the larger size of cooking chamber.

Easy maintenance.

You can accessorize and even customize your smoker especially if you acquired your unit from a well-established manufacturer.


A lot of inexpensive models are flooding in stores. It may be enticing but most of these models and poorly built and might pose a threat to users.

You will need to assemble the unit yourself.

The cost of a well-constructed unit is expensive, usually around $1000 or more.

You will need an hour or longer to preheat the pit. After that, you will have to check the fire from time to time. Not recommended for an after-work cookout.

Due to its size and weight, it might be difficult for users to move around and maneuver. Moving it would require assistance.

Bad weather conditions can and may affect the smoker performance.

Impractical for people who have small outdoor space.

aintaining heat and steady fire requires huge amount of effort and patience.



Horizontal Smokers are needed to assemble. But do not worry, the unit comes with manufacturing instructions or user manual upon purchase. Just follow the instructions on how to attach each chamber properly. Remember, you need to assemble the firebox first before attaching it to the main grill. Once you have assembled the smoker, you may follow the next steps.

Gather all the things you need

From the meat, the charcoal, the chips - prepare everything.

Soak the woodchips in water for one hour

Some cooks do not recommend soaking the chips for it may only cool down the charcoal.

Set the aluminum foil below the grate

Aluminum foil will catch all the meat drippings while the meat is cooking. This allows easy cleanup after the cooking is done.

Light up and preheat the charcoal

You can use lighter fluid and a crumpled newspaper to start a fire. Once the charcoal is hot enough, you can now add it on the firebox and place your food on the cooking chamber. Preheating the charcoal will prevent.

Add the wood chips slowly on the hot charcoal

Only put a smaller quantity of woodchips and just gradually add them to the smoker on 30-minute or one hour intervals.

Check your temperature

Your heat must reach 225-250°F depending on how much heat your meat needed. Check the instructions so that you will get the right temperature and prevent the risk of overcooking your meat. Most smokers have built-in gauge for you to check your temperature.

Add your meat to the grate

Rotate the meat every once in a while from left to right so that the meat will be cooked evenly. Remember that the meat closest to the firebox, receives the most heat than the meat that was placed further away from the firebox.

Add charcoal and woodchips as needed

Cooking meat takes a long time

This is a slow process depending on the kind of meat you are cooking. Once the meat is cooked, you may remove if from the smoker and allow the smoker to cool down.


Additional Note:

While preheating the charcoal, ensure that all the exhausts are open.

Watch out for the temperature. Control your temperature using vents. Close the vents if you feel that the temperature is too high. Let science do its job.

Do not over-smoke your meat. Only put a small quantity of woodchips every 30-minute intervals.


Coat the inside of your smoker with cooking oil. It will protect your smoker from rusts.

Use coal to build your fire. It is much easier control and it gives off a consistent burn unlike wood. It is also the best way to use for a beginner smoker.

While cooking, keep your lid closed to maintain the heat inside the cooking chamber. You will only have to open it if you are rotating your meat. Other than that, keep your lid closed.

Always preheat your coals before adding them to your firebox to keep the heat consistent.

Always have the habit of cleaning your smoker every after use. Grease and ashes will only rust inside you smoker so you have to scrape them out.



Cooking using a side smoker is a fun and fulfilling experience. When you learn how to use a side smoker and master it, you can produce phenomenal barbecue. The secret of smoking lies with your ability to maintain a consistent even temperature throughout the cooking process. It might be difficult for a beginner, but practice the basic tips and tricks. You are on your way to becoming a pro on grilling.