In a market saturated with cheap and rickety smokers, the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse sticks out like a sore thumb.
But in a good way! With its heavy steel construction and intelligent design featuring a moderate capacity, it is perfect for most backyard smokers. You couldn’t do much better for the price.
Whether you’re a first-time smoker or a barbecue veteran, the Highland Reverse is a great option that won’t break the bank. It’s also not too complicated to use, so beginners should not be deterred from giving it a try.
This unit also offers you a versatile cooking setup, with multiple options for all your barbecue needs.
It can be used as a traditional offset smoker as well as a reverse flow smoker, and the firebox also includes a grill plate, so you can grill as you smoke at the same time. This budget-friendly smoker is a welcome addition to any backyard, regardless of your skill level.
Let’s take a look at what makes the Highland Reverse smoker so good, and what about it might leave some things to be desired.
Specs for Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse
- Model number: 17202052
- Smoker material: Steel
- Grate material: Porcelain-coated steel
- Main chamber cooking capacity: 619 square inches
- Secondary chamber cooking capacity: 281 square inches
- Assembled size: 33.5 x 53 x 57 (inches)
- Weight: 180.80 lbs
- Fuel type: Charcoal/hardwood logs
- Warranty: 2 years
- Sturdy build
- Improved airflow with side venting chimney
- Moderate cooking capacity
- 100% heavy gauge steel body
- Reverse flow setup distributes smoke and heat evenly
Ease of use
- Accurate temperature gauge
- Quality dampers make temperature control easy
- Durable, porcelain-coated grates
- Firebox features a swing door for easy cleaning
- Removable baffle plates
- Large wheels make it easy to move
- Can be set up as a traditional smoker
- Can be converted to a large charcoal grill
- Grilling grates included in the firebox
- Charcoal basket for improved burn efficiency
- Additional bung for an extra temperature gauge
Pros and Cons of the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Smoker
- The aesthetically pleasing design will look fantastic in any backyard
- Wheels allow for easy moving
- Durable, strong build for the price
- Removable baffle plates for easy cleaning
- Features a large swing-open door on the firebox
- Includes a heavy-duty charcoal box for improved burn efficiency
- Features an in-built temperature gauge
- Dampers allow for easy temperature control
- Firebox can be used as a charcoal grill while you smoke
- Can be used as a traditional offset smoker
- Reverse flow design allows for consistent temperature distribution
- Some smoke does leak out around the joins and the door
- Paint may start to peel after a few burns
- The hinge on the dampers sometimes requires tightening
In the smoker market, there seems to be a pretty large disparity between the very affordable smokers and the super expensive. On the cheaper side, there is often a severe lack in the quality of construction and materials, and they don’t tend to last more than a season or two.
The more expensive units are rock-solid in terms of quality, but they cost a pretty penny. But what about the middle ground? This is where Oklahoma Joe saves the day.
The Oklahoma Joe range is owned by the parent company Char-Broil, and their range of offset smokers sit somewhere between the affordable and super expensive models on the market. By filling this gap in the market, they have brought quality offset smoking units to backyards all over the US.
The Highland Reverse Flow is a reasonably priced reverse offset smoker, and it is the smaller model in the Oklahoma Joe’s range. Their construction is robust and durable, and their design is highly functional.
The reverse flow design of this unit takes the smoking from a traditional offset smoker up to the next level as it provides a better distribution of heat and smoke across the surface of the food.
This generates consistent results more often when compared to the more traditionally designed smokers, but the Highland Reverse Flow can also be set up to function this way too, giving you the best of both worlds.
With the more traditionally designed offset smokers, such as the original Highland from Oklahoma Joe, the heat and smoke from the fire chamber passes through the main cooking chamber and exits through the chimney at the opposite end of the smoker.
This design allows for a clean burn but it has a few drawbacks. Significant temperature variations can sometimes happen with smokers of this design, which can have an impact on the way your meat is cooked.
The Highland Reverse uses 4 baffle plates below the cooking grate to redirect smoke. These baffle plates even out the distribution of heat, eliminating hot spots for a more consistent temperature across the cooking chamber.
The reverse flow functionality of the smoker makes it easier to get amazing results consistently
One of the best selling points of the Highland Reverse is that it not only functions as a reverse flow smoker but as a traditional smoker too.
The baffle plates can be removed and the chimney can be set up on the other side of the cooking chamber. This can be super handy if you want to set it up like a traditional offset smoker to get those different temperature zones while getting a nice, clean burn.
The Highland Reverse also comes as standard with grilling grates for use in the firebox. This gives you multiple cooking options, depending on the kind of meats you’re wanting to cook.
You can also remove the baffle plates from the main cooking chamber and use them as a large charcoal grill. It’s not often that an offset smoker gives you this many options.
For us barbecue enthusiasts, we know that offset smokers require a little attention whilst you’re cooking so that you can get the best results possible.
It’s never a case of just setting it up, lighting it, and forgetting it for a few hours. Luckily for us, the Highland Reverse makes it as easy as possible to get the best possible smoked meats.
The dampers on the Highland Reverse are adjustable, which gives you more control over the overall temperature of the smoker. There is also a built-in temperature gauge so that you can keep a close eye on how hot your smoker is burning.
There is an additional bung on the other side of the main cooking chamber, so if you’re wanting a little extra feedback, you can add an extra gauge to monitor the temperature on the other side and see if there’s a difference between the two.
Included with the Highland Reverse smoker, you get a nice and durable charcoal basket. This is very useful for ease of loading in charcoal and cleaning up after you’re done. Additionally, it improves the burn efficiency by holding together the hot coals together, meaning you use less charcoal over time and save money as a result.
For your convenience, Oklahoma Joe has equipped the Highland Reverse with two handy shelves for all your ingredients and cooking utensils.
Having everything you need to hand as you’re smoking up a big batch of meat is essential, and Oklahoma Joe clearly knows this. These handy shelves are also removable, which makes storing and/or cleaning this smoker a breeze.
The Highland Reverse also includes cool-touch handles. This means you won’t have to be concerned about burning your hands, as the handles don’t conduct heat, even when the temperature gauge is reading its highest temperature.
For those who enjoy a more intense smoky flavor on their meats, the Highland Reverse has a firebox that is big enough for burning small logs instead of charcoal. For a nice smoky flavor, we recommend a few small logs of hickory, cherry, or applewood.
Cleaning up is very quick and easy with the Highland Reverse thanks to the swing-open door on the firebox. This makes the firebox very accessible for you to sweep out the ash with ease.
Additionally, the baffle plates are removable which makes it very easy to clean the cooking chamber. The grates are also easily cleanable because they are coated in porcelain, so they only require a quick wipe to remove any residue.
The Highland Reverse has a capacity of 619 square inches of space on a single grate inside the cooking chamber.
This equates to around 3 pork shoulders, 7 chickens, or 3 briskets at a time. There is an additional 281 square inches of grilling space in the firebox which is plenty of space to whip up a few sausages or reverse sear a few steaks.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much temperature variation is there with the Highland Reverse?
You can expect to see around a 15 degree Fahrenheit difference at both ends of the cooking chamber.
Does the Oaklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse require seasoning before using it for the first time?
Yes, seasoning the Highland Reverse before its first use protects the smoker’s body by curing the paint. It also removes any leftover oils or remnants from the manufacturing process.
What’s the difference between the Highland Reverse and the Highland?
The Highland Reverse Flow features a chimney on the other side of the cooking chamber. It also includes baffle plates whereas the original Highland doesn’t.
This changes the movement of the smoke and heat through the cooking chamber, allowing for better distribution of smoke and heat across the food inside the cooking chamber.
Is the firebox in the Highland Reverse big enough for logs?
Yes, the firebox in the Highland Reverse is large enough to fit logs up to 12 inches long. You can either use all wood, all charcoal, or a mixture of both materials in the firebox.
For the price, Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse is difficult to beat. The performance of the reverse flow design produces consistent results due to its even heat and smoke distribution.
This unit is affordable and easy to assemble, giving people from all backgrounds across the country access to quality smoked meats from their very own backyards.
The owner’s manual comes with step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow, and they have a customer service phone line if you require additional information or assistance.
Its durable construction is thanks to its heavy-duty steel which comes with a powder coating to reduce the chances of corrosion or rust.
Every aspect of the smoker is sturdily constructed and built to last, including its porcelain-coated grates. You’ll certainly get your money’s worth with this unit, as it should last you a lifetime with minimal maintenance.
The inclusion of an accurate temperature gauge is an incredibly useful tool that makes using this unit easy for even beginners. This is an added level of convenience that makes the Highland Reverse one of the best options that money can buy.
Whether you’re planning a party, need a smoker for your restaurant, or are just looking to produce your own quality smoked meats, Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse is one of the best options on the market. A versatile, consistent, and durable smoker, you can’t really go wrong with Oklahoma Joe.
The heat distribution from the reverse flow system is second to none. This is also due to the two big air vents that distribute heat and smoke around the cooking chamber easily.
The swing door of the firebox allows for easy refueling and easy cleaning. You don’t need to be an expert chef or a barbecue master to operate this unit either.
But this does not mean that it will produce substandard food! Sometimes simpler is better, and it seems as though Oklahoma Joe knows this, and this ethos is confirmed by their products. They do not sacrifice quality for affordability.