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Reverse Flow Smoker: Everything you need to know [2018]

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Have you ever heard of reverse flow smoker and had a thought on what it is all about? Reverse flow smoker is often talked about as a superior alternative to the regularly designed offset smoker. In the Southern United States, barbecue doesn’t refer to the activity with ground beef patties in the back yard, but to the careful, slow smoking of pork and beef until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender and full of smokey flavor. The reverse-flow smoking method is a way of making Southern-style barbecue. With a more even temperature distribution and thorough flow, they are a great tool to create incredibly delicious smoked meat. But, the best will be decided by looking at what a reverse flow smoker is and how they work.

A reverse flow smoker can be described as a type of offset smoker that incorporates an additional metal plate. This helps to protect the meat from intense heat while directing the smoke under and then back over the meat before venting through the chimney. It is however important to know that in a reverse flow 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.

What are the Benefits of Reverse Flow Smoker?

Some of the advantages you can expect from 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
  • A reverse flow smoker gives 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 occurs in a reverse flow smoker
  • It is a relatively easy to design and install in a reverse flow smoker when building

Are there any possible disadvantages to the use of a Reverse Flow Smoker?

  • Being that the steel plate is welded solid inside the food/smoke chamber, the plate can’t be removed for cleaning the plate or easily getting under the plate to clean the belly of the cooker.
  • Because of the restrictive air flow of redirecting the air/smoker one direction and then forced back in a reverse direction, you may experience restrictive air flow. Restrictive air flow can cause your meat to be “over smoked”, causing that bitter tasted and later burping the BBQ later in the day or at night.
  • Reverse flow smoker will require allowing more time for the cooker or BBQ pits to get to desired cooking temperature and more wood or fuel to maintain that cooking temperature once obtained.
  • Fixed plate doesn’t allow the Cook or Pitmaster to adjust “on the fly,” so to speak. Reverse flow smoker will cook or run the same every day. You can’t control how air/smoke flows. And, that can be important when cooking various different cuts of meat

Most popular reverse flow smoker is Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn reverse flow smoker:

Rеvеrѕе Flow Smoker


For the pitmaster looking for the next level of challenge & performance, the Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Offset Smoker is the perfect choice. Whether you prefer the even heat and smoke that reverse flow smoking offers or desire to smoke with a standard setup, the removable baffles, large charcoal basket, and flexible configuration allow you to control heat and smoke however you want.



  • 1,060 total Square inch cooking surface- 751 Square inches in the main chamber, 309 Square inches in the firebox chamber
  • Reverse-flow smoker employs a Series of 4 baffles to guide heat and smoke through the main chamber delivering an even and delicious result
  • Removable baffles and optional smokestack locations for a customizable setup. Number of Grates: 4
  • Firebox chamber features large stainless Steel fuel basket and clean-out door for easy ash removal
  • Heavy-gauge all-steel construction, porcelain-coated cooking grates and multiple dampers for easy heat and smoke control


Almost any decent charcoal grill can be used to smoke old-school barbecued meats, but learning to provide stable indirect heat can take some time. A better tool for the job is a reverse flow smoker, which moves the bed of coals to a separate enclosure and then vents smoke into the cooking chamber. The best smokers use a reverse flow system, which guides the hot air and smoke to the far end of the cooking chamber before letting it return to the chimney. This provides more even heat, and better cooking.

How to cook with a reverse flow smoker

    • Prepare and season your meats ahead of time. Trim excess fat and connective tissue from brisket or pork shoulder, and remove the tough membrane from the back of your racks of ribs. Rub the meats with your favorite spice paste or dry rub, and refrigerate them overnight if you wish.
    • Light charcoal in your smoker’s firebox, using a medium- to large-sized chimney starter. Purists prefer lump charcoal, though briquettes also work well and can provide both longer and more predictable heat. Add a few small pieces of hardwood if you want a more intense smoke flavor.
    • Position a digital thermometer at each end of the cooking chamber, with the probes inside the chamber and the displays visible on the side work areas. Offset smokers can vary in temperature from one end of the chamber to the other, even reverse flow models, so it’s important to know where your cooker is hotter than you’d like.
    • Adjust the cooker’s sliding vents until you can maintain a stable temperature of approximately 225 degrees Fahrenheit inside the cooker. This is suitable for almost any form of barbecue, including brisket, ribs and pulled pork. Place your meat on the cooking chamber’s rack, and close the lid.
    • Slow-cook the meats until they’re fork-tender. This typically takes 2.5 to 3.5 hours for back ribs, and four to five hours for spare ribs, with pork shoulders and briskets sometimes needing 12 to 14 hours. Refill the firebox as needed with hot charcoal throughout the cooking time, starting the coals in your chimney starter and then transferring them to the firebox once they’ve developed a coat of ash.
    • Remove the meats from your grill and let them rest for five to 15 minutes before serving.

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