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Looking to upgrade

Hutch218

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I've smoked off and on with a couple of Masterbuilts over the past few years, but have really started getting serious only in the last year or so, and have come to the realization that my little electric is not cutting it anymore. Looking to start in with offsets, but I certainly don't want to drop $1,000 on one. I've been doing some research and it seems like OK Joe is a decent cheap offset. Seems like the smoke stack and firebox are plenty big. I don't have a ton of comparison, but the steel seems thick (at least not overly thin). It looks like I can get a good amount of oxygen in and out. Still, I can't help but notice $300 is much less than the $1,000 that most "good" smokers start at.

Everything I've read seems to suggest a tuning plate and some gasket are pretty important for an OK Joe, but other than that, is it worth it? Am I going to be kicking myself in 3 months for not just investing in a more expensive smoker? For context, I probably do a cook 3 out of every four weekends.
 

tx smoker

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Academy carries the line of Old Country smokers. I can never remember which is which but I've owned both of these. They have one that is $400 and a pretty darned good smoker!! I'd take that one over the OKJ any day. They also have the same size smoker but much heavier that is $1000. If you're looking toward the lower end, I'd highly recommend giving the $400 unit a look. I believe they are the Brazos and the Pecos but don't quote me on that :emoji_laughing:

Robert
 

tx smoker

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Am I going to be kicking myself in 3 months for not just investing in a more expensive smoker?
I missed this part. Yes, you are going to be kicking yourself. Believe me, I've run the gamut. At the end of the day I've spent WAY more money trying to save money than if I'd just gotten a good one in the beginning.

Robert
 

HalfSmoked

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As with anything cheap is cheap and good is not cheap. The old saying you get what you pay for. What I don't understand with many on this forum they buy something cheaper than spen $ to make it better why not buy something better to start with. Just my $.02.

Warren
 

RiversideSm0ker

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I’ve had mine for over two years now. I was super lucky to get it on clearance at Walmart for only $75. I’m going to say though that I still believe it’s worth the $300 price tag.

I’m going to say that in my opinion all of the mods you hear about are just not mandatory. The only mod I have ever used is the lavalock seal around the door of the cooking chamber. I honestly recommend that as the only mod to begin with. Sure you can buy all of the tuning plates and all but the cost will double. For that price you are really approaching the top grade brand price for an entry level offset.

My OKJ has cooked hundreds of pounds of some of the best barbecue I have ever eaten. All without mods. For myself it’s more than big enough to cook everything I need. It’s just my wife and me so that’s never a consideration. I have smoked three racks of baby backs at once plus brats on the hotter side and still had space leftover. I doubt that space will be your issue unless you are cooking for a block party. I’m positive I could easily smoke some pork butts at the same time.

I’d like to challenge you to consider if an offset is truly the right choice for you though? It’s a commitment to time and attention when you cook. Maintaining a steady temp takes consistent attention throughout a cook. When you cook a brisket for 17 hours the lack of sleep can be rough. Totally worth it in my case but you may not believe that would be the same for you. A very solid alternative would be a Weber Smokey mountain. With something like that you can get a much longer unattended cook if that’s appealing to you. The cost would be just a bit more for the largest 22” model. It would be less than the OKJ if you decided to have the tuning plates as well.

For me the process of smoking on an offset is highly desirable. I enjoy the entire process. So for me, there is no doubt that it was the right choice. The amazing price was just an incredible bonus. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any other questions about the OKJ. I’m a believer in the potential of this cooker. It’s proven it’s worth to me hundreds of times now. I’m wishing you the very best luck with whatever decision you make.
G
 

RiversideSm0ker

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As with anything cheap is cheap and good is not cheap. The old saying you get what you pay for. What I don't understand with many on this forum they buy something cheaper than spen $ to make it better why not buy something better to start with. Just my $.02.

Warren
I think that it comes down to simple economics. Many people don’t have the budget to buy a premium product. That’s why I always try to address every OKJ inquiry post I see. My opinion is to just allow people to go into it with eyes wide open. If I believed all of those expensive mods were mandatory to get the results that I demand then I would warn everyone away from this product. It works very well as produced in my So Cal climate. I do agree that if you are going to shell out $600 when all is said and done to get the cooker and all of the fancy mods, then why not save a bit longer and buy serious quality from the start? I believe I can cook just as well on my OKJ Highland as I could on any top brand offset. The difference is in how well this will stand up to the test of time. Some folks like myself just have to settle for the best we can afford for the near future. I hope that the OP finds what he is looking for.
G
 

HalfSmoked

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Thanks for the like Will Squared Thanks for the like it is greatly appreciated.

Warren
 

Hutch218

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Joined Feb 25, 2020
I really appreciate all of the input. I actually ended up going with a Traeger pellet. I do want to eventually get into offset smoking, but the Traeger was a floor model listed at more than half off. I knew I also wanted to get a pellet eventually anyway (I live in Michigan, so if I want to smoke through the winters I also need something that I don't have to sit outside with the whole time), so I couldn't pass that deal up.

Probably looking at the Pecos or the Brazos (we'll see what that tax return looks like) sometime next Spring.
 

HalfSmoked

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Thanks for the like ofelles It is greatly appreciated.

Warren
 

HalfSmoked

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I think that it comes down to simple economics. Many people don’t have the budget to buy a premium product. That’s why I always try to address every OKJ inquiry post I see. My opinion is to just allow people to go into it with eyes wide open. If I believed all of those expensive mods were mandatory to get the results that I demand then I would warn everyone away from this product. It works very well as produced in my So Cal climate. I do agree that if you are going to shell out $600 when all is said and done to get the cooker and all of the fancy mods, then why not save a bit longer and buy serious quality from the start? I believe I can cook just as well on my OKJ Highland as I could on any top brand offset. The difference is in how well this will stand up to the test of time. Some folks like myself just have to settle for the best we can afford for the near future. I hope that the OP finds what he is looking for.
G
True but if you have the $$ for the mods is what I'm saying then buy something better to start.

Warren
 
Last edited:

raymo76

Smoking Fanatic
712
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Joined Aug 8, 2011
If you’re sure you want to commit to stick burning I would say yes you will regret buying cheap. If you just want to test the waters then I’d say go for it. Hard to know how big of a difference a quality offset makes when you only know the cheap stuff. It really does make a night and day difference in my opinion of how enjoyable stick burning is. I’ve done the years of battling a cheap offset before buying a Lang.
 

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