If you’re looking to combine the bold flavor of a smoker with the ease of using a gas grill, then a propane smoker might be your best buy. Cooking low and slow on your propane smoker produces food that’s unquestionably moist, coupled with a rich, smoky flavor. And while cooking on a propane smoker is often slow and steady, he results are worth the wait.
The best propane smoker is packed with features that will not just enhance your smoking experience but also make life easier for you. If you’ve decided it’s time to own a propane smoker, this guide will help narrow down your options and enlighten you what features make a great propane smoker. We have also reviewed a few of the top-rated propane smokers on the market which we think you should consider first.
Best Propane Smoker Buying Guide
How a Propane Smoker Works
Like their very similar counterparts – the electric smokers – propane smokers use a simple design. One conspicuous feature is the gas burner at the bottom and which is often connected to a propane tank. The most common style of propane smokers is the cabinet style, which features racks stacked vertically above the wood pan, gas burner and water pan to hold your food. As a result, you might hear them being commonly referred to as “vertical smokers”.
There’s usually a burner right at the bottom, usually stainless steel or cast aluminum, very durable, with several jets. Right above the burner is a shelf that houses the wood pan, and above that shelf is a water pan shelf. Above the water pan, you’ll find three or more adjustable shelves for food. At the top, here’s a damper or a chimney or both. It is always advisable that you always leave the top vent open to prevent the buildup of soot in your meat.
Our favorite propane smokers have two doors. A small one right at the bottom so that you can add water and wood as well as check the flame and the main door that gives access to the cooking chamber.
Benefits of a Propane Smoker
Nothing on earth comes any close to tasting like real smoked meat. It is not only satisfying on a primal level but also appealing to the cave man within us.
And while smoker purists will claim that wood is the only way to get the best smoke flavor, the truth is that propane offers a flavor that would give some of the best wood smokers a run for their money. What’s even better is that you will get a great flavor without the agony of being a temperature guru.
2. Easy to Move
With your propane smoker, all that’s required is a tank of propane and a small amount of wood. This alone makes taking the smoker to your friend’s house or camping for a cookout as easy as bringing along a portable gas grill.
3. Easy to Use
With most wood smokers, you constantly have to deal with adjusting the temperature by adding wood to the already existing flame or removing it if the temperatures get too hot. With propane smokers, however, you only deal with wood chips which act as the flavoring/smoking agent.
The cooking temperature will remain constant as long as the propane is adequately fueling your unit and your only task is to ensure that the wood chips are flavoring the meat. You only have to add more chips occasionally, just to keep the smoke up.
4. Adjustable Temperature
The best temperature for cooking vegetables and meats is usually between 225 and 250 degrees. In a propane smoker, there are simple controls that let you adjust the temperatures to 450 degrees, making a great switch from smoking to grilling.
5. Slow Cooking
Smoked meat is often tender and will require very little chewing. Even the toughest of cuts will melt in your mouth after 12 hours of smoking. In fact, indoor crock pots won’t break down the tough meat connective tissues like smoking does.
How to get the most smoke out of your Propane Smoker
When you buy propane smokers, you’re getting ease of use for a great price. What’s even more is that you can produce fantastic BBQ results by making a few modifications to your smoker. Here are some modifications that could help you get the most smoke for irresistible flavors.
1. Replace the Wood Pan That Comes With the Smoker
Unfortunately, most manufacturers seem to insist on poorly made wood pans/boxes with their smokers, and this could see you struggling to generate enough smoke. The chip box that comes with the smoker should be replaced with a cast iron skillet. The best setup for this often depends with the smoker and might need experimenting. You could place the skillet on the tray or directly on the burner. In addition, we have found that the big chunks of wood work best compared to wood chips.
2. Use a Pellet Box
If you can’ find a cast iron skillet, you could consider using a pellet smoker. Pellet boxes often work well with propane smokers where you need to constantly generate smoke without having to feed new wood chips every 30 minutes.
If you think about smoking some pork butts for more than 12 hours, you’ll realize that it is not fun without a few modifications on your smoker. A fully-loaded tray should burn for more than 5 hours to create the continuous perfect smoke.
3. Add Charcoal for More Smoke and Better Flavor
We’ve seen people reap some success by adding an extra fire box, and placing a few pieces of charcoal in their smoker. This offers you the best of both worlds in terms of the charcoal flavor and the ease of gas smoking.Just follow these steps the next time you’ll be smoking and see whether it improves your flavor:
- Wrap a few wood chunks in a foil
- Make a small pile of charcoal right above the heat dispensers
- Place the wood chips over the hot charcoal and you should see smoke after a while.
Looking for an offset smoker instead? Read our other roundup review of the Best Offset Smokers.
The 5 Best propane Smokers 2019 Reviews
The Smoke Hollow 30164G is a one piece, cabinet-style propane smoker is constructed with high-quality steel for optimal protection. Measuring 39.5 inches tall and 21 inches wide, this smoker is relatively small but still gets the job done. The eighteen feet, non-removable legs provide added stability while you’re smoking.
This auto-ignite smoker utilizes a 10,000 BTUs stainless steel burner for exquisite temperature control. The smoker also features 3 chrome-coated smoking grids that are easy to remove and adjust for various grid levels.
The smoker also comes with a built-in thermometer that hen displays temperature on an external temperature gauge. It also features side handles that make it easy to carry when transporting the smoker between locations. The cool to touch soring wire door is always safe to use even without gloves.
- Easy to use
- Adjustable racks
- Cool touch spring wire door
- Easy to assemble
- Only does basic cooking
- The door doesn’t seal completely
With a generous 5.45 square feet of oven space and four, 14-inch removable stainless steel shelves, the Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical 36” Propane Smoker not only has enough space for ham, ribs and more but also a compact footprint that will take minimal space in your patio. And with its vent located at the back of the smoker, you could easily use the top of this smoker as a handy table to hold plates, sauces, and cooking accessories.
The 40-inch hose and regulator offers sufficient length to place your propane tank in a convenient location, while the combination porcelain-enameled wood and water tray make smoking a breeze.
This smoker also has an easy-to-read thermometer on the front door to help monitor the oven’s internal temperature.
Better yet, the gas supply is adjustable, so you have total control over the heat produced, whereas the rear vent can be closed and opened to control the amount smoke and heat that leaves the oven. And with a simple twist of the handle, the oven’s door will remain tightly sealed.
- Ample cooking and tabletop space
- Has vents that let you control smoke and heat
- Built-in thermometer
- Twist-lock handle for a tightly sealed door
- High quality construction
- Comes with a recipe book included
- Water pan is shallow
Whether you’re a competition-ready pro or beginner, the Masterbuilt MB20052318 230S Smoker features four chrome-coated adjustable smoking racks that are an absolute favorite for many BBQ lovers.
This propane smoker offers versatility of preparing many pieces while letting you control heat via the gas control valve. And then there’s a temperature gauge on the door for you to monitor temperatures as you smoke. Starting up this smoker is also incredibly easy all thanks to the simple push-button ignition.
A great feature we loved about this smoker was the porcelain-coated disk bowl that allows the flame to reach the wood chips while protecting the burner from the grease. And in terms of thermal output, this smoker boasts a total of 15,400 BTUs heating element that lets you cook pretty much anything. The smoker’s four legs also add height for easier access rather than stooping too low.
- Push-button igniter
- Removable wood-chip tray for easy clean up
- Comes with a one-year warranty
- Sturdy design
- Temperature gauge is accurate
- Water pan has an inferior construction
- Tray for wood chips is too high above the burner
If your desire has always been to cook meats low and slow, then the Dyna-Glo DGW1235BDP-D 36″ Wide Body LP Gas Smoke will get you closer to that classic smokehouse flavor you’ve always imagined.
The four height-adjustable cooking grates can accommodate different types and sizes of food for customized cooking. And for precise cooking, the Dyna-Glo smoker comes with a temperature gauge that features a “smoke zone” that indicates the right time for you to infuse the smoke flavor.
We also loved the large capacity wood chip box made of heavy gauge, porcelain enamel steel to provide hours of maintenance-free cooking. Better yet, this smoker incorporates a heavy gauge porcelain enameled steel water bowl that ensures tender, juicy meats with the best smoke flavor. And besides the dual cast iron burners that provide 20,000 total BTUs, this smoker also features a push button, electronic ignition that emits a rapid pulse for easy and quick lighting.
- Easy to use
- Dual cast iron burners
- Pre-installed door seals aid in heat retention
- Wood chip box and water bowl are made of heavy gauge steel
- Assembly instructions are easy to follow
- Some joints are loose
- Leaks too much liquids
The Pit Boss Grills 77425 2.5 Gas Smoker was thoughtfully designed to include two stainless steel burners and an internal ignition system. One of the burners produces 3,500 BTUs while the second burner produces 10,000 BTUs. Besides, this smoker utilizes a dual valve system that supplies gas to both burners.
Right beneath is a receptacle of wood chips and a removable drippings pan, both of which you can access externally without changing the smoke and heat characteristics. There’s also a large viewing window that lets you monitor the cooking.
This smoker also includes 3 porcelain-coated grates as well as 676 square inches of cooking area for convenient smoking. While the Pi Boss 77425 holds consistent temperatures, adjusting its temperature control is quite tricky since there are no numbers on the dial. The smoker’s 5-year warranty is also proof that his smoker is well made and can serve you for long.
- 5-year warranty
- Dual burners
- Easy to set up
- Large viewing window allows you to monitor all cooking
- Easy to load wood chips
- Difficult to adjust he temperature control knob precisely
- The wood chip tray expands when heated
If we had to pick out one single propane smoker that would be our smoker of choice, then we’d have to go with the Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical 36″ Propane Smoker, Black.
Why? It has a compact footprint, has a lot of cooking space, and comes with four 14-inch stainless steel shelves for customized cooking. Better yet, it comes with an in-built thermometer for temperature monitoring, an adjustable gas supply for heat control, and tightly sealed door that doesn’t’ let out smoke.
But as always, that’s just our pick. In truth, any of the propane smokers listed here would be a great purchase, provided you make the right choice based on your budget and needs.