Do you consider yourself a foodie or a home chef? Someone that gets beyond excited about watching My Kitchen Rules and Jan Braai? Then this blog is for you to perfect your smoking technique.  

Smoking is a great way to use time and natural wood aromas for flavour in your food. A technique that can be scaled up into large industrial smoking rooms, but also right at home. Our Coalsmith Series range of smokers includes the beginner smoker to the foodie smoker!

In this blog, we’re going to give you a step-by-step guide to using your offset smoker the right way. An offset smoker is an extra chamber on the side of your smoker made to use the technique of smoke roasting or cold smoking. Our Coalsmith Series Alpha and Delta smokers were designed with offset smokers.

how does an offset smoker work

Smoking methods

It’s important to calculate how much time you have at your disposal to smoke, and to consider which method of smoking you will use. 

  • Quick smoke: Braai like you normally would in the main chamber of the smoker. Once your meat is about halfway done, add soaked wood chips onto your coals and close the lid. This will give a subtle smokey flavour to your meat.

How does a smoker work diagram

  • Smoke roasting or cold smoking: Only use the smoke from your offset smoker, with no coals in the main chamber of the smoker.

How does a smoker work diagram

  • Braai and smoke roasting combo: A quicker method to get the intense smokey flavour. Make a fire in your offset smoker and in the main chamber of the smoker. Add your wood chips to ready coals in the offset smoker and add your meat in the main chamber. The direct heat from the bottom in the main chamber will braai the food quicker, whilst getting the smokey infusion from the offset smoker.

how does a smoker work

 10 steps for using an offset smoker

 Step 1: Light a fire

Using charcoal or wood, light a fire in the offset smoker with all the vents open for maximum oxygen injection.

Step 2: Setup roasting tray

Add a foil roasting tray to the charcoal grid in the main chamber of the smoker. This is to catch the fat drippings as the meat smokes to make a delicious gravy. You can even add a few veggies to the tray about halfway through the smoke to cook in the fat drippings. 

Step 3: Prep wood chips and wood logs

There are two ways to get smokey flavour infused into your meat, either with our wood chips (link) or wood logs. For this method, we would suggest using both. Grab a bowl with water and add a few handfuls of wood chips to soak.

Select small-medium sized wood logs that’s dry and ready to use. Great wood to smoke within South Africa is sekelbos, mopanie, kameeldoring, and rooikrans. Choose the first piece you will use and place it on the smoker's body to preheat.


Step 4: Prep the meat

Spice and oil the meat you’re planning to smoke. The easiest to do this is to mix the spices with the oil in a separate bowl to create a spice paste or wet rub. Lather the meat liberally in the spice paste till coated evenly.

Step 5: Start smoke

Once the coals are red hot, add the meat to the main chamber on top of the roasting tray and close the lid. Add a first handful of wood chips and the preheated log to the coals. Close the lid of the offset smoker.

Step 6: Regulate airflow

Use the vent on the right of the offset smoker and the chimney on the main chamber to regulate the airflow. Keep a steady flow with the vent and chimney halfway open. This will also aid in keeping a consistent clean smoke throughout the cook.   

Step 7: Regulate the temperature

Smoking using only the offset smoker needs a steady 100-120°C in the main chamber. Use the temperature gauge on the lid of the main chamber to keep a lookout. If you see the temperature drastically dropping, add another wood log or ready coals.

Step 8: Preheat wood logs and add one every hour

Preheat a wood log by placing it on top of the closed offset smoker. It will increase the temperature of the log, so it immediately catches alight when placed onto the coals.

Keep the main chamber and offset smoker lid closed to not let the flavourful smoke escape. Every hour, add a fresh preheated wood log. Trust the process, and let the smoker do its thing.

how to smoke

Step 9: Cover in foil

About 2/3rds into the smoking time, remove the meat from the smoker and place into a foil ‘boat’. This will help to retain moisture in the meat for the last bit it needs in the smoker. You can even add a small bowl of water or stock in the smoker at the same time. The vaporized water will increase the humidity in the smoker.

Step 10: Let it rest

Once cooked to the required internal temperature, remove the meat from the smoker. Place in a Large Roaster or a cooler box and rest for about an hour before serving to lock in the juices. A cooler box is ideal to retain its temperature and seal it from oxygen while resting.

Top tips:

  • If you see your coals are dying, use a charcoal starter to quickly make more coals.
  • Never add fresh black coals to your smoker with the meat in the main chamber. This will cause dirty smoke when they catch alight which can ruin the meat with a chemical taste.
  • Experiment with more flavours by soaking the wood chips in juice or wine.
  • Use a thermometer  to measure the internal temperature of the meat as you smoke.

Smoked brisket

There you have it! This weekend, try smoking a beef short rib, brisket, or whole chicken! Or, if this is still very confusing, check out our introduction to smoking  for a beginners guide to smoke.