How to Use an Offset Smoker – I Need Offset Smoker Tips!

Brinkmann Smoke 'N Pit Offset-Style Smoker
Brinkmann Smoke ‘N Pit Offset-Style Smoker

Well, this is embarrassing. It’s taken seven years, but I’m here to admit to the world that I don’t know how to use an offset smoker properly. I’m ruining perfectly good meat, and am tired of trial and error with this thing. I need offset smoker tips, or this smoker is on it’s way to the trash.

My Smoker History

My first smoker was a Brinkmann Smoke ‘N Grill bullet-style smoker, which has only a moderate amount of grill space, and very limited access to the charcoal pan. This was frustrating, so I purchased a Brinkmann offset smoker to replace it (their Brinkmann Smoke ‘N Pit). It has about four times the grill space as their bullet models.

With all of that extra space, plus full access to the fire during the smoking process, I thought I was moving up in the world of serious smoking. However, the truth became painfully obvious: I didn’t know how to use an offset smoker.

That was about seven years ago, and I have to say, the quality of my smoked meat has gone downhill ever since. I just can’t get the hang of this thing. So, right now it’s parked it over to the side, covered, and I’m asking for help in the way of offset smoker tips.

My First Smoke Was A Disaster!

My problems began with the very first smoke. I built a fire in the fire box, let it burn down, then loaded the smoker and closed both lids to begin the smoking process

Immediately, the temperature soared too high, and I was opening the lid to cool it down and prevent the meat from burning. Then, later, after the fire had died down and the smoker’s internal temp fell too low, I added some wood to the fire and closed the lid. This time I tried to out-smart it by closing the chimney damper about halfway or more to slow down the burning process and keep the temp from soaring. That was my theory, anyway…

This is NOT how to use an offset smoker!

If you’re experienced with how to use an offset smoker, you know what happened next, don’t you? That’s right, because I choked off the fire, soot formed on the meat. Thick, black soot. Now that’s a quick way to ruin some boston butts and ribs!

We choked that food down, and I vowed to learn from whatever mistakes I made.

Offset Smoker Tips – I Know They’re Out There

I searched Google for how to use an offset smoker, offset smoker tips, etc. and read some interesting articles on BBQ smoker temperature control. Most recommended leaving that chimney vent wide open, and only using the firebox air intake vent to control fire intensity, and therefore regulate smoker temperature.

It made perfect sense. I had closed the exhaust vent, trapping heat and smoke, and causing creosote buildup on the meat. Closing the intake vent, instead, would limit the available oxygen, which in turn slows down the burning process. All the while, however, heat and smoke are free to exit as needed.

Using a combination of charcoal and oak in a Brinkmann Smoke 'N Pit offset smoker
Using a combination of charcoal and oak in a Brinkmann Smoke ‘N Pit offset smoker
Not So Fast…

I understood all of this, and was determined to master this Brinkmann beast, but honestly, it’s been seven years of heartache.

  • I’ve left the chimney vent wide open and still sooted my meat with creosote.
  • I’ve been afraid to build much of a fire at all, and limited smoke time to just a couple of hours before oven-cooking the meat.
  • I’ve switched back and forth between charcoal and real oak wood, and even tried a combination of the two.
  • Nothing seems to work consistently.
Smoker Temperature Control

Smoker temperature control doesn’t even seem possible. I’ve never been able to bring this unit up into the 200-300 degree range and hold it there. It’s either soaring above 300 or diving below 200 at all times. What is the secret to mastering smoker temperature control in a Brinkmann Smoke ‘N Pit?

Still Sooting the Meat

Despite everything I learned through online research, I still managed to soot some meat recently. You can see a little bit of it on these ribs. I caught it real quick, though, scrubbed most of it off under running water, then used the oven to finish cooking them. Even though they were mostly saved, this is no way to smoke ribs.


Slightly sooted ribs smoked on a Brinkmann Smoke 'N Pit offset smoker
Slightly sooted ribs smoked on a Brinkmann Smoke ‘N Pit offset smoker
Needless to Say – I Need Offset Smoker Tips!

Now it’s your turn, because I would really like to know what I’m doing wrong. If you are able to shed some light on this and tell me how to use an offset smoker properly, then please add a comment below. Your advice will be sincerely appreciated

Specifically, I would like to know:
  • How to maintain smoker temperature control
  • How to avoid soot/creosote

If I can master these two details, then the big Brinkman Smoke ‘N Pit will be back in business. Otherwise, I’m sticking with my trusty old bullet-style Brinkmann Smoke ‘N Grill and saving my pennies for a Pit Barrel Cooker, which I hear makes almost perfect barbecue.

Set me straight on this offset … Leave a comment below.

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6 thoughts on “How to Use an Offset Smoker – I Need Offset Smoker Tips!”

    1. If you have any questions about smoking meat, June, just ask. I’ll be glad to answer or point you in the right direction.


    1. If you use an offset smoker, Rick, try it with charcoal only (plus a very small handful of wood chips every 20-30 minutes). I’ve just about concluded that my problems are stemming from burning too much wood at a time, so I’m going back to using just charcoal until I figure it out.

      Let me know if you have any tips for me.


  1. Sorry to hear your woes….that can be frustrating. How big are the vents (inlet and outlet)? shutting down the outlet vent (or too small of an outlet vent) could be the issue.

    1. I’m sure I caused sooting by closing the outlet vent more than the inlet one time, but I still had a problem another time with it wide open. As for sizes, I’ll have to measure them. Brinkmann put the inlet vent in a small door that I’m guessing is for access to charcoal ashes. Maybe I should try leaving that small door open.

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