After testing over a dozen Oklahoma Joe’s smokers and grills during my 10+ years of backyard cooking, I’ve come to appreciate the brand’s unmatched versatility. While minor quality control issues do occur, their customer service makes things right. Ultimately Oklahoma Joe‘s still makes my shortlist of recommended smoker brands year after year.
My Background Evaluating Oklahoma Joe‘s Products
Before getting to my detailed comparisons on specific models, it may help understand my experience with the brand. I’ve tested Oklahoma Joe’s grills and smokers extensively over the past decade:
- Owned 5 different Oklahoma Joe offset smoker models
- Operated 3 additional models while assisting competition barbecue teams
- Logged over 1,000 hours smoking meat low-and-slow
- Hosted groups from 2 up to 50 people using Oklahoma Joe’s grills
- Constructed DIY modifications and repairs to address minor issues
Over a decade of firsthand experience and talking shop with other Oklahoma Joe’s owners at buyer’s groups and barbecue competitions makes me highly familiar with their lineup.
While every product has opportunities for improvement, I’ve developed a methodology for identifying the right Oklahoma Joe‘s model based on customer cooking needs. Let‘s jump into the comparisons!
Direct Model Comparisons
Oklahoma Joe’s sells a wide variety of offset smokers, drum smokers, kamado grills and pellet grills. Rather than an exhaustive list of all models, here I compare the most popular options homeowners and competition teams use regularly:
|Ease of Use
|Longhorn Reverse Offset Smoker
|1060 sq. inches
|Heavy gauge steel
|Bandera Offset Smoker
|1000 sq. inches
|Heavy gauge steel
|Rider Pellet Grill
|1200 sq. inches
|Cold rolled steel
|Bronco Drum Smoker
|919 sq. inches
|Highland Offset Smoker
|930 sq. inches
|Heavy gauge steel
Beyond specifications, how do these Oklahoma Joe’s selections compare based on real-world use? Let’s analyze key factors:
Temperature Control and Ease of Use
Pellet grills rank highest here – just pour in your pellets and let the electronic controller regulate temps. Offset smokers have the steepest learning curve to master managing airflow and avoiding large temp fluctuations that lead to bitter smoke flavor.
Winner: Pellet Grills
Here offset smokers shine assuming you learn proper operation. Offset design forces smoke and heat to circulate past food multiple times. But pellet grills still produce excellent flavor compared to average backyard grills.
Winner: Offset Smokers
Across all models, Oklahoma Joe’s uses thick heavy-gauge steel that resists rust and holds up over time. Yes, some units ship with minor quality defects like chipped paint or uneven welds. But overall their materials and workmanship meet or exceed the longevity you’d expect at their price point.
Winner: All Oklahoma Joe‘s Products
Group Cooking Capacity
If regularly cooking for 6+ people, the larger 1,000+ square inch offset smokers or pellet grills make managing bigger cookouts easy. You won’t be stuck trying to perfectly time when different foods finish.
Winners: Longhorn Reverse Offset & Rider Pellet Grills
Support & Warranty
While minor defects do occur, I’ve had stellar experiences with Oklahoma Joe’s customer service addressing any issues promptly under their standard 1-year warranty. They stand behind their products better than any grill/smoker brand I’ve dealt with.
Winner: All Oklahoma Joe’s (for support)
Now that we’ve compared factors that differentiate models, let’s distill recommendations based on customer needs and experience level.
Oklahoma Joe’s Buying Recommendations
With over a decade of experience using their products, here is my suggested Oklahoma Joe’s model based on customer needs and skill level:
Best Offset Smoker for Beginners
Those newer to smoking meat should consider Oklahoma Joe‘s Bandera Offset Smoker. It balances ease of use and affordability at under $650. Helpful features for novices include:
- Multiple dampers to better regulate temperature
- Larger wood chip box so you reload less often
- Integrated thermometer for gauging internal meat temp
- 1,000 square inches holds ~8 racks of ribs
Yes learning to properly operate an offset smoker has a learning curve. But the Bandera model offers the right mix of size and user-friendly characteristics for first-timers.
Best High-End Offset Smoker
With heavy-gauge steel construction and industry-leading 1060 square inches of cooking space, the Oklahoma Joe Longhorn Reverse Offset Smoker provides an unrivaled experience under $1,500.
It can easily handle catering large gatherings. And the reverse flow design helps novice pitmasters achieve competition-level results faster through improved temperature regulation.
The Longhorn requires more maintenance than other options. But for serious smoking enthusiasts, no other offset smoker in this price range matches its capabilities.
Best Pellet Smoker & Grill Combo
Once you experience how much easier temperature control becomes, pellet grills like the Oklahoma Joe Rider make you rethink what’s possible in your backyard.
The Rider has it all – a hopper full of premium wood pellets, an electronic controller that dials in exact temps, and versatility to smoke, grill, bake and more.
Leave refractory management behind. For effortless smoking plus the ability to sear steaks at 600°F, the Rider delivers simplicity without compromising competition-caliber outcomes.
Best Drum Smoker for Large Volume Cooking
For maximum capacity catering gatherings of 50+ people, I suggest the Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Pro Drum Smoker.
It offers an unmatched 919 square inches of smoking surface to produce insane quantities of smoked meat with predictably delicious results every time.
Some report issues managing the standard Bronco’s temps. But the Bronco Pro model’s heavier-gauge steel plus better seals improve heat and smoke consistency.
If regularly smoking large volumes for big groups or competing, the Bronco Pro eliminates the guesswork and stress no matter the guest count.
Best Portable Smoker
For road trips or camping, Oklahoma Joe’s doesn’t have a clearly standout portable model currently.
The Bronco Drum Smoker offers decent mobility from wagon-style wheels and handle. But for a tailgating smoker fitting in small car trunks, the brand’s models come up short.
Until Oklahoma Joe‘s offers a more compact vertical smoker alternative, I suggest the 18” Weber Smokey Mountain for those needing a highly portable smoker.
Yes it has less capacity at 481 square inches but the materials, ease of use and compact size keep it permanently in my RV for road trips.
Oklahoma Joe’s Common Minor Defects
Before wrapping up this comprehensive review, it’s important to call out where Oklahoma Joe’s quality control occasionally falls short.
Inspecting your new smoker or grill immediately after delivery helps identify any issues needing attention while under warranty. Based on my experience, here are the most common minor defects reported:
- Paint chips on exterior metal surfaces
- Small welds requiring touch-up
- Folding shelves misaligned requiring adjustment
It’s worth noting I’ve never experienced structural issues threatening integrity or safety. And Oklahoma Joe’s customer service is extremely responsive issuing replacement parts for any quality defects.
But do take 5-10 minutes unboxing your new grill or smoker and inspecting key areas to confirm no flaws. Document any blemishes with photos then phone Oklahoma Joe‘s service team to confirm covered under warranty.
Final Thoughts – Who Oklahoma Joe‘s Products Are For
If you value authentic wood-fired flavor worthy of competition barbecue experts, Oklahoma Joe’s grills and smokers deserve consideration. Yes minor quality control issues do occur initially on some units.
However their customer service makes replacement parts or returns easy, backing products with a generous 1-year warranty. Ultimately focus on their core smoking and grilling capabilities remains world-class.
In your smoker or grill search, always start by defining your typical group size, budget and capability priorities like temperature control method or fuel type. Once clear on your needs, this guide helps narrow down the right Oklahoma Joe’s model to deliver years of memorable cooking experiences.