Smoking is one of the most popular ways to cook your meats for your occasional BBQs since it creates all kinds of flavors that wood and charcoal smokers can’t replicate.
If you’re looking to become a grill master, we’ve taken the time to gather a list of our top picks that’ll hopefully help you find the best propane smoker for your needs.
Why a Gas Smoker?
While cooking with a wood or charcoal smoker can give you great flavors, they can be tricky to work with and there’s a bit of a learning curve. Electric is one of the easiest ways to cook meat, but it can be expensive and just doesn’t offer the same authentic flavor.
In comparison, gas smokers allow you to cook with wood but cost a lot less than electric and are also easier to manage than charcoal smokers. This is why gas smokers are more ideal for novice grill masters.
Another benefit to gas smokers is that they tend to heat up rather quickly and the temperature stays consistent through the entire cooking process. Charcoal smokers need to be watched and are high maintenance, but gas smokers can be left alone after setting the temperature.
If you like to occasionally take your smoker to other places, gas smokers have certain models that are so compact that they can fit nice and snug in the trunk of your car. Even the larger models can be portable if you have a pickup truck or a roomier vehicle.
Some of the biggest reasons as to why gas smokers are so popular is that they’re budget friendly and very easy to use. Most propane smokers are set anywhere between $150-$300 and unlike charcoal smokers, you don’t need to be a fire management expert since you can easily control the temperature anytime you want.
How do Gas Smokers Work?
Either propane or natural gas is used via a burner located towards the bottom of the smoker. This heats up a pan (or pans) that you fill up with wood or water. This will create steam and there are usually vents throughout the smoker that help to control oxygen flow.
You don’t have to sit and watch a gas smoker which makes it easy to cook other things at the same time. If you’d like to at least keep an eye on the temperature, most smokers have a temperature gauge so you can make sure the heat is consistent throughout the whole cooking process.
When cooking with your gas smoker, it’s best to keep at least 2 tanks with you in case you need to make a quick and easy change.
For a more visual look into how propane smokers work, you can check out this video for a simple and easy to follow explanation.
What Should You Look For in a the Best Propane Smoker?
Capacity and Size
The capacity in your gas smoker will determine what you’re able to cook and how much. If you mostly cook hamburgers, hot dogs, or pork chops, then the grilling area may not be too important. Although, if you regularly grill big flank steaks or large rib racks, you should ensure that your smoker is spacious enough with adjustable racks.
In regards to size, most gas smokers are of a vertical design and have a large enough cooking area inside but also have an exterior design that uses height space rather than width space. This design makes it easy to fit the smoker into your garage or storage shelf.
You only need a propane tank in order to run a gas smoker but if you’re worried about the tank taking up extra space, you should consider a cylindrical shape that can still save you space.
Mobility is very important when it comes to gas smokers just in case you need to move it into storage or you need to relocate it somewhere other than your backyard. Most gas smokers weigh around 40 pounds average and have a design similar to a mini wardrobe which makes them easier to handle compared to a traditional 3-in-1 smoker grill.
It’s best to have a smoker that can easily fit in the back of your truck so it can be moved effortlessly to any location of your choice. If you don’t think you’re going to take your propane smoker anywhere, there are some units larger in size with a larger capacity.
The price of a smoker can often be enticing especially if it’s cheap, but before you make your purchase, it’s best to check the material of a gas smoker to ensure that it’ll last you a long time. Some of the best materials are stainless steel, porcelain, cast iron, and chrome. These are often resistant to rust, hold heat very well, and takes a long time to wear and tear.
In terms of sturdiness, check to see that the smoker sits solidly on the ground and doesn’t wobble. In time, your smoker will bent towards the ground and won’t be stable enough to cook your meats evenly.
With gas smokers, a front door loading design makes placing and removing food very easy to do. It’s also a safer and cleaner option compared to a top load design that makes it trickier to position your meats on the racks.
A 2-door option allows you to cook your meats in one section and make or adjust your fire in another section without complications. This is an ideal solution for loading in more wood chips or adding more water to the pan.
The Masterbuilt gas smoker is great if you usually cook several meats at one time for it’s equipped with four chrome-coated smoking racks. The standard size won’t fit large rib racks or briskets so you have to opt for the XL version if you like to cook larger pieces.
The built-in temperature gauge makes it easy to keep track of how much heat is going through and the push-button ignition allows you to light the burner quickly and effortlessly.
Made out of stainless steel, this smoker has 15,400 BTU and features a patented porcelain-coated flame disk bowl that allows the flame to reach the wood chips while protecting the burner from grease.
While the smoker does a great job overall, the heat tends to get a bit high to a point where the temperature has to be kept way down for optimal smoking heat. The temperature gauge sits in the middle of the smoker underneath one of the racks and makes it hard to place large meats like a turkey inside.
The smoke bowl and burner don’t last very long so it’s best to keep this in mind if you’re looking for a more worthy investment that’ll last you a long time.
- Easy portability
- 4 chrome-coated smoking racks for cooking several meats at one time
- Push button ignition to easily light burner
- Smoke bowl and burner doesn’t last over a year
- Temperature gauge inside won’t let you place larger meats
- Directions don’t have words, just photos
With two adjustable smoking racks, the Camp Chef Smoke Vault helps you lock in delicious smoked flavors of hickory, cherry, mesquite, and more. It cooks your meat low and slow and features a heavy-gauge steel wood chip tray and water pan for full flavor infusion.
It has fully adjustable heat-control dials, three damper valves with one on top and one on each side, and a door thermometer that helps you control internal temperatures through your cooking process. It’s a little heavy at 65 pounds and while it’s not the largest smoker, you can still easily cook briskets, ribs (with split racks, not full ones) chicken, and a lot more.
The Camp Chef is easy to assemble and holds a consistent temperature range, not to mention it’s almost effortless to clean. You can take the rack and water pan, put them in the dishwasher, and you’re done.
Not that this smoker has no insulation so the outside will be very hot to the touch and the lowest temperature you can get is 250 degrees. The regulator also tends to lay on the ground when not in use so it’s best to close off the inlet to it and hang it up somehow.
- Easy to assemble
- Easy to read door thermometer
- Racks and water pan can be washed in dishwasher
- Lowest temperature is 250 degrees, might be too hot for salmon
- Outside is hot to the touch because of no insulation
- Can’t cook larger pieces
The Masterbuilt gas smoker features four chrome smoking racks with around 717 square inches of cooking space so you can cook several meats all at once. It has a stainless steel burner along with a type-1 regulator and hose for consistent temperatures.
You can easily get the smoker running with the push-button ignition and the porcelain-coated wood chip tray and water pan ensures optimal flavors in your meats. The locking front door has a built-in temperature gauge and a cool touch wire handle so you can check on your meat safely.
Assembling the Masterbuilt smoker is rather easy but moving it around is a little difficult since it weighs a hefty 59 pounds. Many users mentioned putting wheels underneath for easier portability.
It’s important to mention that the doors tend to leak smoke but this isn’t significant enough to be a problem. Additionally, the burner is well protected for moderate winds and gusts so you can still cook your meats on a breezy day.
- Relatively quick assembly
- Burner is well protected from moderate winds
- Cool touch wire handle to safely access interior
- Not that easy to move around
- Doors leak a bit of smoke
- 30-inch not recommended for large cuts of meat
With 3.4 cubic feet of cooking capacity, the Smoke Hollow gas smoker is great for newbies and can be easily assembled within an hour. It has 4 chrome-plated cooking grids with multiple adjustment levels and also includes a bonus sausage hanger.
This gas smoker has an LP gas output at 20,000 BTUs and heats up rather quickly. You can use its push-button ignition system to get it running and the upper and lower vents allow for maximum temperature control. The external temperature gauge lets you keep track of the heat throughout your cooking.
The Smoke Hollow weighs in at a heavy 68 pounds so it’s not the easiest to move around, and it should be noted that there isn’t any door gaskets for the top door. The wood pan is rather large on the other hand, and it’s big enough for wood chunks rather than just wood chips or pellets.
Smoke does seem to leak out of the upper door for most users, but it’s nothing too serious. You could always add an oven gasket if you wish for the door to be sealed tighter. The door mounted temperature gauge reads a little differently but that’s to be expected from generic ones.
- Assembly is fairly easy
- Large wood pan allows for large wood chunks
- Temperature stays consistent
- Temperature gauge doesn’t read accurately
- Smoke leaks out of top door
- No door gaskets included
- Heavy and not easy to move
Sporting a vertical design, this 36″ Cuisinart propane smoker has 5.45 square feet of interior space that gives you plenty of room for cooking a variety of meats and vegetables. It has four 14×14 inch removable stainless steel shelves ideal for smoking whole turkeys, chickens, or other large cuts of meat. The racks are also dishwasher safe, making them easy to clean.
The built-in thermometer is placed on the front door so you can monitor the internal temperature safely and the adjustable gas supply gives you control over the amount of heat being distributed. The smoker has two doors and a rear vent that can be opened to modify the amount of smoke and heat coming out of the oven.
The twist-lock door ensures a tightly sealed door so little to no smoke can leak out. Additionally, the porcelain enameled steel tray can hold wood chips and water and is easy to clean after use. A 40-inch hose and regulator is included that can attach quickly to a standard propane tank.
The door latch and ash vent on the smoker feels a bit cheap, although this hasn’t been too much of an issue to most. This smoker can be used by any beginner or professional, and while it may be a bit small for hardcore grill masters, you can still cook several kinds of meats for a decently large group.
- Lightweight and portable
- Simple to put together
- Holds consistent temperature for hours
- Has adjustable gas supply control
- Door latch and vent feel a little cheap
- Temperature gauge is not very accurate
- Water pan is thick so it won’t allow heat to flow up to burner well
Of all the smokers we’ve mentioned, our top pick will have to be the Smoke Hollow 2-Door propane smoker. It fits many of the important factors that we look for in a good smoker, for it has a fairly roomy interior for cooking several kinds of meat at one time and its 2-door design allows you to cook in one section and adjust your fire in another safely.
It may be on the heavy side, but it’s very practical for newbies to use and its vertical build makes it easy to store away. Its water pan is large enough to even put wood chunks rather than just chips or pellets and it heats up pretty quickly without you having to babysit it.
Overall, the Smoke Hollow is the best propane smoker out of our list and looks like quite a worthy investment so you can show out at BBQs and get complimented for your flavorful cooking.