- Proudly American-made and hand-welded with ¼-inch thick steel
- Awesome heat and smoke retention with even heating throughout
- Included cooking grate turns firebox into a strong charcoal grill
- Clear considerations to consistency and convenience
- 10-year manufacturer warranty
Here at BBQGuys, we love stories — and Texas Original Pits has a great one. At first, they didn’t have anything to do with smoking and backyard barbecues, but the 2007 global recession sent the former manufacturing company spiraling when demand for industrial steel equipment in the Texas oil fields decreased. One clever business pivot later, the factory was overhauled into a facility for producing cleverly designed offset BBQ smokers. To this day, each smoker is still handcrafted by American workers in Houston, Texas — which brings us to their flagship, the Texas Original Pits Luling offset smoker.
Frankly, it’s a beast. We knew that going in, so we dove straight for the fully-featured “Loaded” Luling model for this review. Tested by our own capable Grill Master Randy, he found it an astounding smoker with remarkable construction and excellent grilling performance. Even among Premium class smokers, we found one fantastic surprise after another. Incredible features? Check. Outstanding operation? Check. Virtually bulletproof design? Check. This is the smoker that strikes fear into the heart of other smokers. We’re not saying that if we set it up in an empty parking lot and hit it head-on with a truck, Texas Original Pits Luling Loaded would roll away unscathed on those majestic wheels. But, worst-case scenario, the term “mutually assured destruction" does come to mind.
After mere minutes alone with the Texas Original Pits Luling offset smoker, a background in industrial manufacturing becomes clearly evident. Around every last corner on this indomitable smoker is one more sign of impeccable construction. For instance, the cooking chamber barrel, chimney, and firebox are built with ¼-inch thick, construction-grade steel — this ensures not only incredible heat retention, but keeping that heat even and steady. Grill Master Randy was surprised to find that the deflector plate measures practically only a hair’s width thinner. He even clocked the main hinges in at 13mm, which really imparts a lot of confidence into swinging that beefy lid.
But it doesn’t stop there. All Luling models are completely hand-welded. Maybe the best example of this level of excellence is the flanged hood, which runs the entire length of the main cooking chamber hood. That impressive touch creates a seal to limit smoke and heat from leaking straight out of the chamber. It’s rare to see this sort of thoughtful consideration on a Premium class grill, or really any grill at this price point. It adds a functional yet aesthetically pleasing element to the solid design.
We did mention surprises around every corner, and here’s another one: Texas Original Pits stands by these hard-as-nails smokers with an outstanding guarantee. Due in part to the sturdy, hand-welded composition, the main chamber is warrantied against burn-through by the manufacturer for a full 10 years. Does stellar construction backed by an ironclad warranty make this machine unstoppable? Well, if a time-traveling robot from a dystopian future stumbled out from an alley — and it was built out of this smoker — it would accomplish whatever it wanted to do in about 10 minutes.
Thoughtful design doesn’t stop with its durability, as a lot of consideration was clearly funneled into the Luling Loaded smoker’s cooking operation. Grill Master Randy measured the top rack at 35 ½ inches wide by 14 inches deep, whereas the bottom rack is 5 inches deeper. The hood runs tall, too: Luling Loaded’s main chamber stretches 9 inches from base grid level to lid apex. Want to smoke an entire turkey? Keep an entire family reunion fed? This smoker’s up to the task. Even adding fuel or scraping ash is a breeze with the barrel’s large access door and abundant gulf below the cooking grates.
Not to mention the ample smoking box. This separate compartment offers direct flame cooking over a cooking grid measuring 19 inches by 18 inches. Picture roughly half a dozen flame-licked steaks at a time; you’ll get the right idea. If you’re not interested in that bonus, you’re still not missing out! For smoking sessions alone, pop the firebox open and enjoy overhead access to adding charcoal or wood. Bear in mind that basic thermodynamics will cost you more heat than simply using the access door — wait, did we not mention the door? Oh, silly us. Clearly going for broke, Texas Original Pits slapped a generously large access door on the side of the barrel for loading up fuel, scraping out ash, and funneling your flames all the delicious oxygen they could want.
Standout among this offset smoker’s performance-enhancing touches is the baffle plate. It guides smoke and heat channel further down the barrel of the smoking chamber, lessening hot spots before releasing directly below your meat — and provides a perfect storm of true convection cooking and extremely even heating. “Extremely” is a big word there, so we’ll clarify: when Grill Master Randy loaded up the cooking chamber with 5 thermocouples and pumped the heat, he found only 17 degrees Fahrenheit of variation from the average. That’s practically unheard of on a live-fire smoker, earning Luling Loaded top marks from our impressed expert.
Texas Original Pits really pulled out all the stops to make the Luling’s fully-loaded model one of the most cleverly crafted offset smokers on the market. It rolls on a pair of 12 ¾-inch wagon wheels while averaging about 100 pounds lighter than comparatively sized offset smokers; this makes the hefty smoker surprisingly mobile. Speaking of wheeled legs, the pair stands slightly taller than their wheelless counterparts for a reason — the imbalance grants the main chamber a slight pitch which, in turn, lures grease toward the drain. This grease drain is 2 inches long and half as wide, ensuring that sludgy runoff and large pieces of debris won’t clog as they fall into the hanging pail below.
Getting in and out of the smoker is a snap. The Loaded Luling balances its heavy-duty lid with a hefty counterweight that promotes a confident glide. Meanwhile, the lid’s spring handle is fashioned from chrome and remains cool to the touch during use. Of course, the idea is to keep that lid closed whenever possible, so a steel port for remote thermometers is tucked away on the barrel’s side (no more crimped wires or damaged sensors through the lid). Parched? The smoker will even hold your crisp beer for you — the included grate shelf is happy to free your hands from plates, tools, or refreshments. If you love longer smokes and cheaper fuel costs (honestly, who doesn’t?), the dual airflow dampers and that fantastic access door offer fine control over temperatures for some serious fuel efficiency.
But for the killer feature, Grill Master Randy really can’t understate how much he loves the inclusion of optional direct heat charcoal grilling in that ample firebox. Steaks for the whole family? A plate of burgers? Luling Loaded won’t even break a sweat. Turning this smoker into a fully-featured charcoal grill on a dime is something that frankly can’t be oversold. Throw in the built-in pot warmer to heat up sides and warm sauces, and you’ll probably find yourself unwilling to return to anything else.
Note: As a reminder, the base model lacks most features of the loaded model, such as the counterweight, second smoker rack, firebox’s charcoal grate, probe ports, baffle plate.