Among several different types of grills and smokers, reverse flow smoker stands as a distinctive outdoor cooking appliance with many notable features.
It has a similar design to an offset smoker, which is why many people get confused when they hear about reverse flow one for the first time.
So, to minimize your confusion and expand your knowledge, allow me to help you understand what is a reverse flow smoker, how it works, its advantages and disadvantages, and if it is a suitable option for you.
What Is A Reverse Flow Smoker? A Quick Overview
A reverse flow smoker is a unique outdoor cooking appliance that is specifically known for its ability to cook your food items evenly while infusing them with a rich, smoky flavor. In other words, it is an excellent option for low and slow smoking.
It consists of a firebox where the charcoal and wood chunks burn, a cooking chamber with grates to place food, a metal plate or baffle that directs the smoke and heat toward food, and a chimney to let the smoke exit efficiently.
It has an entirely different structure than pellet, electric, and gas smokers but is similar to a typical offset smoker.
Now, what differentiates an offset and reverse flow smoker is the baffle of a reverse flow smoker and how heat and smoke travel through the smoker before reaching the food.
Also, the chimney and firebox are on the same side inside a reverse flow smoker, whereas they are on opposite sides in an offset smoker.
How Does A Reverse Flow Smoker Work?
So, I believe you now know what a reverse flow smoker is, its components, and how it is different from its twin brother, the offset smoker.
Now, allow me to move forward and explain how a reverse flow smoker actually works and a bit of its working comparison with an offset smoker.
- Fire Start-Up: Just like any grill or smoker, you begin by lighting up a fire. For this smoker, you will be igniting charcoal with wood inside its firebox on the side.
- Role Of Baffle: As mentioned earlier, inside the reverse flow smoker, there’s a metal plate called a baffle, which is responsible for the direction of heat and smoke.
- Smoke and Heat Direction: When the charcoal and wood produce smoke and heat, they travel from the firebox and go underneath the metal plate, not directly toward the food items to cook them.
- Cooking Food And Flavor Infusion: As the cooking grates are located above the baffle, the heat and smoke then go above from beneath to cook food items to perfection.
- Even Cooking: As a result, food cooks evenly from all sides and is infused with a unique, rich, smoky flavor. This mainly happens because the baffle lets the heat and smoke go everywhere inside the smoker to ensure a constant temperature.
- Heat And Smoke Escape: After cooking your meal evenly and infusing it with delightful smoke, the heat and smoke have done their job. Now, they make their exit through a chimney at the top of the smoker and on the same side of the firebox.
Now, you might wonder how the working of a reverse smoker is different from an offset one. Let me explain.
In a regular offset smoker, the smoke goes directly from the firebox over the food and then escapes through the chimney on the opposite side of the firebox.
But a reverse flow smoker makes the smoke go on an extraordinary journey under the metal plate and then back over the food before leaving through the chimney right above the firebox.
This is why the reverse flow smoker has unique taste and cooking abilities.
What I Like About Reverse Flow Smokers?
- Constant Temp And Even Cooking: It can keep the internal temperature consistent throughout the cooking session, ensuring that your food cooks evenly from all sides.
- Flavor Infusion: The way the smoke moves around inside a reverse flow smoker adds a delicious and balanced smoky flavor to the food items you cook inside it, making every bite flavorful and delectable.
- No Hotspots: The inclusion of a baffle or metal plate in its structure is helpful in various ways, but most importantly, it ensures no hotspots that can cause uneven cooking. So, every part of your food gets the same amount of heat and smoke, resulting in a perfectly smoked meal.
- Perfect For Low And Slow Smoking: The heat does not directly interact with the food and covers a long journey before reaching it. Ultimately, a reverse flow smoker becomes ideal for low and slow-smoking thick meats like brisket.
What I Don’t Like About Reverse Flow Smokers?
- Not A Versatile Cooking Device: They are excellent for low and slow smoking. However, they might not be the best option if you’re looking for a versatile cooking device that allows for multiple cooking styles, like quick grilling or high-temperature searing.
- Size and Portability: They are pretty heavy, and their dimensions are also bigger than other smokers, which makes them less portable and more challenging to move around.
- Not Suitable For Beginners: If you are a complete newbie, I don’t recommend you begin your BBQ journey with a reverse flow smoker because they can be a bit complex to operate, especially when it comes to heat regulation and managing the airflow.
- Longer Preheating Duration: Due to a long smoke and heat path inside the smoker, reverse flow smokers often require a longer preheating duration than other grills and smokers.
Who’s The Ideal Buyer Of A Reverse Flow Smoker?
If you have been using a charcoal grill or smoker before and want to bring an outdoor cooking appliance to your backyard designed explicitly for low and slow cooking, a reverse-flow smoker is an ideal choice.
Also, if you prefer your food items to be cooked evenly from all sides with a delectable taste and delightful smoky flavor, you can go with this option.
But remember that if you are a beginner or want to perform multiple types of cooking on the same cooking device, it might not be a suitable option you’ve got.
A reverse flow smoker has a similar structure to an offset one, but it has a different working technique, especially when it comes to how heat and smoke travel inside the smoker.
It is an outstanding option for those who love cooking their thick meats and other food items low and slow to infuse them with a rich, smoky flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you put in a reverse flow smoker?
When cooking on a reverse flow smoker, you have to use charcoal along with wood chunks to cook your food and infuse it with smoky flavor.
How to differentiate between an offset and a reverse flow smoker?
If you see the chimney close to the firebox in a smoker, it must be a reverse flow smoker. In the case of offset smokers, the chimney is on the opposite side of the firebox.
Tow to control temperature on a reverse flow smoker
Like any other charcoal grill or smoker, you need to regulate the heat inside a reverse flow smoker using vents and dampers.
Caspian James, the Founder and Chief Editor at FaveGrills, is passionate about sharing his knowledge and expertise on the latest Smokers and Grilling Products along with mouth-watering barbecue recipes. He constantly researches new gear with a sharp eye for detail, providing the FaveGrills community with in-depth reviews.