My cousin recently received a Char-Broil Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Offset Smoker, and naturally, I volunteered to come to help her out! From unboxing to the first cook, we experienced the smoker together, and I felt that it was worthy of writing up an Oklahoma Joe Smoker review.
Assembly of the Oklahoma Joe Smoker
The smoker came gift wrapped in an Amazon website box, and we were surprised to find out how much that it weighed. They definitely weren’t teasing with the team lift icon on the side of the box. Because of its weight, we were eager to put it together in the nearest clear spot indoors – a rookie mistake on our part.
Assembly went fine and everything seemed pretty easy. But once we got it put together we needed to wheel it outside. It’s weight put a lot of extra worry into the situation as we moved it together, now assembled, to its outdoor resting place. I would recommend putting this together outside, nearby where it will sit and live, so that there’s no need to move it once you get it put together.
Using the smoker
I didn’t have any problems igniting the firebox with tinder and then building up with bigger lumber. When the fire got hot, I examined the smoking compartment and discovered that the heat wasn’t evenly distributed. I quickly ran back to my place and returned with some metal deflectors from another of my grills. Once those were in place, the fire was even and hot.
My cousin and I put some meats, vegetables, and seafood on the grill. We ended up putting almost everything we had on hand but couldn’t come very close to filling up the grilling area. Everything turned out well, smokey, and juicy and we were pleased with the taste. We went a little foolhardy in our cooking and I really wish we had just cooked one thing at a time, though, as the food started to get cold before we could finish eating it all.
Clean up afterward
We found a pail and a large paintbrush and simply swept out the tinderbox into the beach pail bucket. It didn’t take long at all and we were happy with how easy and simple that it was to clean.
Now, about Oklahoma Joe’s…
Char-Broil is a widely recognized name brand in outdoor grilling and smoking, for wood, charcoal, and propane. Their new line of Oklahoma Joe’s is named after the famous Oklahoma and Nebraska barbeque chain, Oklahoma Joe’s – but not because of the restaurant.
Interestingly enough, Oklahoma Joe’s started out as an outdoor smoker manufacturer. Ten years later, presumably after perfecting their line, they started their own restaurant. This gives the line a lot more credibility and prestige knowing that you’re buying a grill that was perfected for ten years and engineered to cook the best meat, rather than a product with a restaurant name slapped on it for the purpose of additional corporate revenue.
Oklahoma Joe’s lineup consists of 6 smokers: The Longhorn, The Longhorn Combo, The Highland, The Bandera, The Longhorn Reverse Flow, and the Highland Reverse Flow. The Highland is the starter grill, Bandera is their vertical offset cooker, and Longhorn is their supreme grill.
Beneath the grill top of The Highland: the specs
The grilling space on the Highland is 1.6 ft wide by 2.9 ft long, for a total of 4.6 square feet, or 619 square inches. It’s very heavy and very sturdy, at 176 lbs and made of steel. It’s not actually manufactured in the USA, though. It has one shelf on the bottom and another on the side that doubles as a workstation.
The Highland is a smoker in purpose, so you don’t want to use it to cook meat directly, but only to smoke it. Unlike some smoker models, the Highland comes with the firebox attached, big enough to take tree logs. It doesn’t burn propane, only wood or charcoal. As the smoker isn’t directly underneath the meat, you don’t need to re-arrange your food, move your grill grate, and stir the embers, you can replenish and check fuel without disturbing the slow roasting moisture of your meal.
Most grilling units only come with one air damper, but the Highland comes with several so that you can better control your air flow, heat, and smoke. The damper is the circular adjustable airflow wheel on the side of the grill.
Separately, you can purchase a grill cover to keep your grill pristine during rainstorms and other weather, as grill covers help extend the life of your grill. Heat deflectors from a third party are also available online. Some grillers love them, and I think this smoker really benefits from them. Lastly, I would recommend purchasing a thermometer for the Oklahoma Joe Smoker.
How much can you grill at one time?
This grill is pretty large, so you can cook many things at one time. By my estimates, you can cook 2 beef briskets, 10 whole chickens, 30 hamburger patties, or 4 racks of ribs horizontally. If you lay the ribs on their side with the width pointing upwards, you can probably fit about 20 rib racks. We didn’t want to waste food we wouldn’t be eating, so I didn’t cook these things all at one time, I just laid them on the grill and measured my best estimates.
Oklahoma Joe Smoker Review
The Oklahoma Joe Smoker is a decent sized and pretty okay priced smoker for the size, construction, features, and convenience. Its model of Highland from the Oklahoma Joe’s grill line does pretty okay, but there are some other grills in that line that don’t stand up to the quality and service that we expect from a smoker of this caliber.
Remember that this unit is only a smoker and that it’s not designed to cook your meat from start to finish, so it wouldn’t do well for someone who doesn’t a have a grill already.