What is a Reverse Flow Smoker? Look at Oklahoma Joe’s Highland One.

Smoking, smoked, a puff of smoke – and my heart sinks. It’s a bit like dating. You have your ups, your downs, and that one time you burned the chicken because you got distracted by a rerun of “Friends”. But bear with me, my carnivorous comrades, as I introduce you to the James Bond of the smoking world: the reverse flow smoker. Now, before you ask, “What is a reverse flow smoker?” – imagine the kind of suave, sophisticated piece of equipment that would make your regular smoker blush.

The direct flow smoker and the reverse flow smoker have the same basic structure (a firebox for fuel, a main compartment with grates for cooking food, and a pipe for continuous smoke flow), but they differ only in the pipe’s location. Instead of being on the opposite end of the main compartment, it’s on the same side as the firebox. A classic example is the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker model.

A Symphony of Smoke and Flavor

First things first, let’s demystify this contraption. At its core, a reverse flow smoker is the brainchild of some meat-loving genius who decided that uniform cooking and flavor distribution should be the norm, not the exception. Think of it as the conductor of a meat orchestra, ensuring each piece (or instrument, if you will) gets its fair share of the smoky limelight.

You see, in a regular smoker, the smoke has a bit of a wild party, going wherever it pleases. But in a reverse flow smoker, it’s like that smoke just enrolled in a military academy. It travels in a set path, ensuring each meaty morsel gets an equal taste of that smoky goodness. Precision, my friend, is the name of the game.

What is a Reverse Flow Smoker?

Let’s dive a bit deeper, shall we? Picture a chamber (no, not the kind you lock your naughty snacks in). This chamber, equipped with steel plates, guides the smoke from the firebox (where the magic begins) to the far end. Then, and here’s the pièce de résistance, it reverses the flow, sending the smoke back over your delicious cuts of meat before exiting through the chimney. It’s like giving your meat a double whammy of flavor. Or, in layman’s terms, it’s like drenching your fries in both ketchup and mayo. Double the pleasure!

In a offset smoker, heat and smoke are generated in a separate compartment at the bottom side of the smoker (fire box) and rise up to the cooking meat in the chamber, then exit through the chimney. In a reverse flow smoker, the heat and smoke enter the chamber from the top or side, travel downwards and around the product, and then exit through the chimney opening.

Why All the Hype?

Well, apart from making you the envy of every backyard barbecue, the reverse flow system ensures even temperature distribution. No more half-cooked, half-charred disasters. And remember, in the world of smoked meats, consistency is king. Or queen. Or whatever monarchy you prefer.

Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker Review: A Smoker’s Delight

Picture this: It’s a sunny day, the aroma of smoked meat fills the air, and you’re the maestro in charge of this smoky symphony. But what’s that beauty of a machine you’re working with? Why, it’s none other than the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker. Let’s dive deep and explore what makes this smoker the talk of many a backyard barbecue.

First Impressions: A Look at the Specs

  • Dimensions: Sporting a robust size of 33.5 x 57 x 53 inches, this smoker isn’t what you’d call ‘petite’. It’s built to dominate any outdoor cooking scenario.
  • Weight: At 180.8 pounds, it’s a heavyweight champion in its class. This isn’t a flimsy piece of equipment; it’s made to last.
Oklahoma Joe's Highland Reverse Flow Smoker Oklahoma Joe's Highland Reverse Flow Smoker
  • 900 total Square inch cooking surface
  • Heavy-gauge all-steel construction
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This table provides a concise and organized view of the key features and specifications of the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker.

Feature/Specification Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker
Dimensions 33.5 x 57 x 53 inches
Weight 180.8 pounds
Primary Cooking Space 619-square-inches
Secondary Cooking Space 281-square-inches
Total Cooking Surface 900 square inches (619 in main chamber, 281 in firebox chamber)
Smoking Options Optional smokestack locations (reverse flow and traditional offset)
Baffles Four baffles locked under porcelain-coated wire grates
Baffle Function Guide heat and smoke for even distribution
Customization Removable baffles and optional smokestack locations
Firebox Features Large stainless steel fuel basket and clean-out door
Construction Material Heavy-gauge all-steel
Grate Material Porcelain-coated
Heat and Smoke Control Multiple dampers


Cooking Space: Room for All Your Meaty Dreams

With a whopping 619-square-inches of primary cooking space, you’ve got room to smoke that brisket, ribs, and maybe even throw in a couple of sausages for good measure. And let’s not forget the additional 281-square-inches of secondary space, bringing the total to a staggering 900 square inches. It’s like the penthouse suite for meats.

Versatility at Its Finest

What sets the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland apart is its flexibility. With optional smokestack locations, you can switch between reverse flow smoking and traditional offset smoking. It’s like having two smokers in one, giving you the best of both worlds.

Baffles: The Unsung Heroes

Equipped with four baffles locked snugly under porcelain-coated wire grates, this smoker ensures an even distribution of heat and smoke. It’s the attention to detail, like these baffles, that makes all the difference in the final taste.

Convenience and Durability: A Winning Combo

Made from high-temperature, heavy-gauge steel, this smoker is built to endure. The large stainless steel fuel basket in the firebox chamber ensures you have ample space for your charcoal. And when it’s time to clean up, the easy ash removal system is a blessing.

The porcelain-coated cooking grates not only ensure even cooking but also make for easy cleaning. And with multiple dampers, controlling heat and smoke is a breeze.

Conclusion: Is It Worth the Hype?

In short, absolutely. The Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker is a masterclass in design and functionality. Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or just starting on your smoking journey, this smoker offers a perfect blend of versatility, durability, and exceptional performance. It’s more than just a smoker; it’s an experience.

Things to Consider (Yes, There’s Always a Catch)

Now, before you start throwing your money at the screen, let’s chat logistics. These bad boys tend to be a tad heavier (and pricier) than your average smoker. But then again, can you really put a price on perfectly smoked meat? I thought not.

Are reverse flow smokers better?

Ah, the age-old debate of whether reverse flow smokers are better! Reverse smokers are a type of offset smokers. And let me tell you a secret, there are actually a lot of other types of smokers. Like many tools and devices, whether they’re “better” can be subjective and depends on the user’s preferences and needs. However, let’s break down the advantages and potential drawbacks of reverse flow smokers to give you a clearer picture:

Advantages of Reverse Flow Smokers:

  1. Even Heat Distribution: One of the primary benefits of a reverse flow smoker is its ability to distribute heat more evenly across the cooking chamber. This means fewer hot spots and a consistent cooking temperature, which can result in more uniformly cooked meat.
  2. Consistent Smoke Flow: The design of the reverse flow smoker, with its baffles, ensures that the smoke is distributed uniformly across the meat, giving it a consistent smoky flavor.
  3. Less Maintenance: The design often results in fewer flare-ups and can require less management and adjustment during the cooking process compared to some traditional offset smokers.
  4. Versatility: Some models, like the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker, offer the ability to switch between reverse flow smoking and traditional offset smoking, giving users more flexibility.

Potential Drawbacks:

  1. Price: Reverse flow smokers can be more expensive than traditional offset smokers due to their design and additional features.
  2. Weight: The added metal plates or baffles can make reverse flow smokers heavier, which might be a concern if you need to move the smoker frequently.
  3. Learning Curve: If you’re transitioning from a traditional smoker, there might be a slight learning curve as you get used to the new heat and smoke dynamics.
  4. Heat Recovery: After opening the lid, it might take a bit longer for the temperature to recover because of the metal plates absorbing the heat.

Whether reverse flow smokers are “better” largely depends on what you’re looking for in a smoker. If you prioritize even heat and smoke distribution and are willing to invest a bit more for these features, then a reverse flow smoker might be a better choice for you. However, if you’re on a tight budget or prefer the characteristics of a traditional smoker, then a reverse flow might not be essential for you.

Why is a reverse flow smoker better than a direct flow one?

This cooking method is often used for large cuts of meat. Dishes that require long cooking times at low temperatures, such as brisket, pulled pork, and ribs. In theory, the reverse flow of smoke and heat evenly distributes air throughout the cooking chamber. This helps to cook the barbecue uniformly and achieve a more consistent end result. Reverse flow smokers, just like direct flow ones, operate on wood, charcoal, or a combination of both. But in practice, the main difference between a direct flow smoker and a reverse flow smoker is simply the direction of the smoke and heat flow within the chamber containing the food.

Parting Words of Smoky Wisdom

To wrap things up, if you’re looking to up your smoking game, the reverse flow smoker might just be your ticket to meat nirvana. It’s the difference between listening to music on your phone’s speaker versus a high-end sound system. Both do the job, but one just does it with a bit more… panache.

So, the next time someone asks you, “What is a reverse flow smoker?”, you can regale them with tales of its meaty prowess. Or better yet, invite them over for a taste. Because, as we all know, the proof is in the pork… or beef, or chicken.

Happy smoking, folks! And remember, life’s too short for badly smoked meats.

Liam Turner

Gear Review Specialist. Liam’s expertise lies in testing and reviewing smoking equipment, ensuring our readers make informed decisions.

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