Best Propane Smoker for 2023

This is our review of the best propane smoker (vertical smoker) for 2023 to help you select the best option.

Best Propane Smoker
Best Propane Smoker Review

If you want to smoke meat, but want to keep it easy and affordable, then you are looking for a propane smoker (also called vertical smokers). Charcoal smokers are fantastic, but they are more expensive and harder to master. Pellet grills are easier to use, but the price increases accordingly. 

Selecting the best among so many options can be tricky, but we’ve done the hard work to ease this task for you. We conducted deep research on the manufacturer’s websites and read through many user reviews of each smoker. With this, you’ll be able to judge for yourself what is the best smoker grill combo for you.

Based on our research and personal preferences, the best propane smoker is the Masterbuilt MB20051316 Propane Smoker. This smoker has the best performance-price-ease balance in our opinion. 

Keep in mind this decision can vary depending on your personal tastes and how much you usually cook. As such, we encourage you to take a look at all the options below before choosing what is the best propane smoker for you.

Our Top Picks for Propane Smokers

Masterbuilt MB20051316 Propane Smoker with Thermostat Control

Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP 36″ Vertical LP Gas Smoker

Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker with Temperature & Smoke Control

Masterbuilt MB20050116 MPS 20B Patio-2-Portable Propane Smoker

Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Gas Smoker

Landmann USA 3895GWLA Smoky Mountain Vertical Gas Smoker

Dyna-Glo DGW1235BDP-D 36″ Wide Body LP Gas Smoker

Pit Boss 3 Series Vertical Gas Smoker

8 Best Propane Smokers Reviewed

Masterbuilt MB20051316 Propane Smoker with Thermostat Control

Main Features & Specs

  • Fuel: Propane
  • Quality / Construction Build: Stainless Steel
  • BTU: 15,750
  • Temperature Control: Knob control with exact temperatures, airflow control 
  • Size / Cooking Capacity: 961 sq. in.
  • Dimensions (LxWxH inches): 22.8 x 28.7 x 53 
  • Weight: 92 pounds
  • Temperature Range: Up to 350° F
  • Shelves: 4, removable
  • Doors: 2

The Masterbuilt MB20051316 Propane Smoker is our top choice of the best propane smoker in the market. The main reason for this is its temperature control, but it is also a great option in terms of its benefit-to-cost ratio.

Pros – What makes the Masterbuilt MB20051316 Propane Smoker a great option?

As mentioned, the main feature of the Masterbuilt MB20051316 Propane Smoker is its temperature control. They call it a “patented ThermoTemp innovation” and it allows you to set the temperature goal on the dial. The smoker will take care of getting to this temperature and then maintaining it. This is not common at all in propane smokers, so it is a very unique feature that adds a lot of convenience. From all the options reviewed, it is the closest to a “set it and forget it” option.

Several reviews report that the temperature achieved is fairly accurate. Not necessarily exact, but close enough. This is common as the final temperature your smoker reaches will depend on external factors such as weather conditions. To have an exact measurement it is always best to have internal meat probes. Having said this, once you have tried it a couple of times, you´ll get a better feeling for the dial. You´ll understand how much more, or less, you should set it. 

Another great feature is that you get a window in the main door. This allows you to check your food without having to open the chamber. Unlike other grills or smokers, assembly is reported to be fairly easy. But if you don´t want to do it yourself, Amazon also offers an expert assembly option.

Cons – What are its negatives?

The complaints on the Masterbuilt MB20051316 Propane Smoker are not too many. Some people report issues with shipping, but this will be common with all online purchases. If the issue is severe, you can always return the item and request a replacement.

The other reported issues are easily fixed with slight modifications: 

  1. Some reports say that the smoker has poor door insulation. This is solved by installing door seals.
  2. Other users say that the flame is unprotected, so it can die in windy environments. You can avoid it by placing the smoker in an area where the wind doesn´t hit it directly, or you can add a “wind shield”. 



Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP 36″ Vertical LP Gas Smoker

Main Features & Specs

  • Fuel: Propane
  • Quality / Construction Build: Steel & Iron outside, stainless steel inside
  • BTU: 15,000
  • Temperature Control: Low to High knob and airflow control with Built-In Thermometer 
  • Size / Cooking Capacity: 784 sq. in.
  • Dimensions (LxWxH inches): 27 x 19.2 x 46.46
  • Weight: 54 pounds
  • Temperature Range: Up to 350° F
  • Shelves: 4, adjustable
  • Doors: 2

The Dyna-Glo 36″ Vertical Gas Smoker is our Runner-Up choice. This smoker offers plenty of smoking space,  great performance, and all at a low cost. 

Pros – What makes the Dyna-Glo 36″ Vertical Gas Smoker a great option?

The cooking capacity of 784 sq. in. in the Dyna-Glo 36″ Vertical Gas Smoker can be deceiving. Just looking at the number, it may seem like one of the smaller options in this list. Yet, the width of the smoker allows you to cook a small to medium brisket without a problem. 

The Dyna-Glo 36″ Vertical Gas Smoker has 2 frontal doors, so you can refuel water and wood without losing heat. The water pan and the wood box in this smoker are pretty large too. This is convenient not only because you won’t need to refill them frequently,  but also because most drippings will end in the water pan. This prevents fats and food from falling to the smoker’s bottom, eventually causing it to rust. 

For fine-tuning of temperature and smoke input, the Dyna-Glo 36″ Vertical Gas Smoker has sliding air dampers on top and sides. This is useful as many options will only have top dampers. Overall, the smoker is pretty well-built. Assembly is also reported to be fairly easy, with most buyers putting it together within 30 to 60 minutes.

Cons – What are its negatives?

As with most vertical smokers, the Dyna-Glo 36″ Vertical Gas Smoke will need you to seal the doors. This will help the temperature stability and performance which are reported issues. Having said this, this option is likely not the best if you live in cold weather. Most users who cook during Autumn or Winter say that the smoker barely reaches 225° F. With this temperature, you can still cook most cuts, but it will take longer and use up more propane. 

Similar to other grills and smoker, the built-in thermometer is inaccurate. We recommend having internal meat probes rather than trusting these built-in thermometers.




Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker with Temperature & Smoke Control 

Main Features & Specs

  • Fuel: Propane
  • Quality / Construction Build: Stainless Steel
  • BTU: 12,000
  • Temperature Control: Low to High knob and airflow control with Built-In Thermometer
  • Size / Cooking Capacity: 785 sq. in.
  • Dimensions (LxWxH inches): 19.3 x 18.1 x 38.6
  • Weight: 69.5 pounds
  • Temperature Range: Up to 250-300° F
  • Shelves: 4, removable, 14”x4”
  • Doors: 2

Our choice for the value option is the Cuisinart COS-244. This is a good smoker for casual users or beginners who want to start their journey into smoking meat.

Pros – What makes the Cuisinart COS-244 a great option?

The Cuisinart COS-244 is an easy-to-use smoker that is well-built. Temperature control is managed with a low-to-high knob and a rear vent. With the same vents you can control how much smoke the food gets.

With this smoker, you can cook everything from a small pork shoulder to a decent size brisket. This is backed by reviews of more than 6,300 people who have given it 5 stars up to date. 

Cons – What are its negatives?

As with any Value Option, the are some trade-offs you must consider:

  • The water pan and the wood chip box are small. This means you’ll need to refill constantly, especially in long barbecues. 
  • The shelves are only removable and not adjustable. This limits the spacing configurations you can have.
  • A few users have issues with the temperature control. Some say it burns too hot, while others say it is hard to reach 250F. This can be due to external weather, so be aware of this when buying. 
  • The smoker has important leaks, so it is recommended to seal it. This will improve performance.

Overall, Cuisinart COS-244  is a good option. But there is only a small price difference with other higher-quality options. So personally, we would recommend investing a little more instead.




Masterbuilt MB20050116 MPS 20B Patio-2-Portable Propane Smoker

Main Features & Specs

  • Fuel: Propane
  • Quality / Construction Build: Stainless Steel
  • BTU: 5,000
  • Temperature Control: Low to High Knob with Built-In Thermometer
  • Size / Cooking Capacity: Unspecified by Masterbuilt
  • Dimensions (LxWxH inches): 15.91 x 23.62 x 23.15
  • Weight: 22.21 pounds
  • Temperature Range: Up to 350° F
  • Shelves: 2, removable
  • Doors: 1

Masterbuilt MPS 20B Patio-2 is our top choice for a portable propane smoker. So if you are looking for smokers for camping or tailgating, pay special attention to this one.

Pros – What makes the Masterbuilt MPS 20B Patio-2 a great option?

The main advantage of the MPS 20B Patio-2 is its portability. This smoker is less than half the size and weight of others on the list. Its leg can fold too, which makes the smoker very easy to transport and store. 

In spite of its small size, the MPS 20B Patio-2 has a good performance with temperature up to 350° F. Not bad for a little smoker and only 5,000 BTUs. The MPS 20B Patio-2 is also very stable. As long as you have water in the pan, users report maintaining temperatures. 

Cons – What are its negatives?

Like with many portable options, the main advantage of the MPS 20B Patio-2 is also its downside. Masterbuilt says you can cook up to 4 chickens, 1 Turkey, 2 racks of ribs, or 2 pork butts in this unit. This is enough if you are on a camping trip with a couple of friends, but it won’t be enough for a big event.

On a similar note, the water pan and the wood box are very small. This is inconvenient as water needs constant refilling, otherwise temperature spikes. And if you run out of wood chips you run out of smoke. The quick solution for this is to change the water tray to a larger one and use a pellet tube instead of the wood box.




Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Gas Smoker

Main Features & Specs

  • Fuel: Propane
  • Quality / Construction Build: Heavy-duty steel
  • BTU: 16,500
  • Temperature Control: Low to High knob and airflow control with Built-In Thermometer
  • Size / Cooking Capacity: 595 sq. in.
  • Dimensions (LxWxH inches): 21.5 x 21.5 x 45.5
  • Weight: 25 pounds
  • Temperature Range: Up to 400° F
  • Shelves: 3, adjustable
  • Doors: 2

If you want another decent option for a budget propane smoker, then consider Char-Broil´s Vertical Gas Smoker. 

Pros – What makes the Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker a great option?

There is no shame in just needing a cheap smoker that gets the work done. This is what the Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker is. The list price is slightly higher than our Value choice (Cuisinart COS-244), but the Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker is often on sale. We´ve seen it offered at almost half its price.

Performance-wise, the smoker will get the work done. With a filled water pan, you can achieve constant temperatures for long periods. Users also confirm that the Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker produces smoke fairly quickly. 

Cons – What are its negatives?

As a rule of life, you usually get what you pay for. The Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker is no exception. There are several downsides to this smoker: 

  • For some reason, Char-Broil tried to combine the water pan with the wood box. This doesn´t work for many reasons, most importantly being that the water pan is too small. Our recommendation is to add a large water pan.
  • Assembly and set-up are reported to be hard.
  • Built-in thermometers are usually off, but not as off as this one. Some users have measured a difference of up to 50° F.
  • The door leaks smoke, but this can be solved easily with a gasket. 
  • The width of the smoker can be tight for some large cuts. Add this to the fact you only get 3 racks and you might need half of one for the extra water pan. So space can be limited in the Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker. You can solve this partially by buying an extra rack, but it is not a perfect solution.

If you can live with these issues and the price is the main factor for you, then aim to buy the Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker when it is on sale. Otherwise, you might want to save up another $100-150 and invest in a higher-quality unit.




Landmann USA 3895GWLA Smoky Mountain Vertical Gas Smoker

Main Features & Specs

  • Fuel: Propane
  • Quality / Construction Build: Steel, Iron
  • BTU: 18,000
  • Temperature Control: Low to High knob and airflow control with Built-In Thermometer
  • Size / Cooking Capacity: 1,576 sq. in.
  • Dimensions (LxWxH inches): 26 x 21 x 47.25
  • Weight: 92.6 pounds
  • Temperature Range: Up to 550° F
  • Shelves: 5, adjustable
  • Doors: 3

When you cook for a lot of people you will need a large propane smoker. If this is your case, then the Landmann Smoky Mountain Vertical Smoker is a good option.

Pros – What makes the Landmann Smoky Mountain Vertical Smoker a great option?

Of all the smokers reviewed, the Landmann Smoky Mountain Vertical Smoker is the largest. Its width is also enough such that you can cook a full brisket without a problem (confirmed by several users). The smoker also includes hooks to hand meat from the top. This a feature found only in some large units.

Apart from its size, the Landmann Smoky Mountain Vertical Smoker has some extra nice features like a 2-drawer system (1 for wood, 1 for water). This unusual setup allows you to check on water and wood independently. Most smokers have only one combined space for both. 

The smoker also has a top chimney and side damper vents to help you control the temperature and smoker. Most of the smoker is built with steel, but it also has some parts made from cast iron to prevent rusting. Overall, it is a sturdy and well-built unit. 

Cons – What are its negatives?

From all our research, there are 3 main common complaints with the Landmann Smoky Mountain Vertical Smoker:

  1. The smoker has a magnet system to close the main door. This was meant to be an innovative feature, but the magnets are not as strong as they need to be. This can lead to the door opening from time to time. This means losing precious heat and smoke. To solve the issue, you can install a latch on the door, and you can add a gasket around the door to seal the main chamber. 
  2. The gas dial is very sensitive. So small adjustments can change the temperature significantly. To work around this, we recommend cooking using the water pan full. Water helps stabilize the temperature. But you´ll just have to be aware of the dial’s sensitive response.
  3. The last complaint is more of a generalized opinion that the unit is a little pricey for its quality.



Dyna-Glo DGW1235BDP-D 36″ Wide Body LP Gas Smoker

Main Features & Specs

  • Fuel: Propane
  • Quality / Construction Build: Stainless Steel
  • BTU: 20,000
  • Temperature Control: Low to High knob and airflow control with Built-In Thermometer
  • Size / Cooking Capacity: 1,235 sq. in.
  • Dimensions (LxWxH inches): 20.35 x 31.28 x 49.71
  • Weight: 74 pounds
  • Temperature Range: Up to 350° F
  • Shelves: 4, adjustable
  • Doors: 2

The Dyna-Glo 36″ Wide Body Smoker is the big brother of the Dyna-Glo 36″ Vertical Gas Smoker. They share most of their characteristics. 

Pros – What makes the Dyna-Glo 36″ Wide Body Smoker a great option?

Our Runner-Up option was the Dyna-Glo 36″ Vertical Gas. The Dyna-Glo 36″ Wide Body Smoker is basically the same model, but wider. It also has rib racks and hooks to hang food, so it adds to the versatility of the smoker.

All the other pros still apply such as easy ignition, large water and wood trays, and fairly simple assembly. So in short, if you liked the Dyna-Glo 36″ Vertical Gas but wanted more space, then the Dyna-Glo 36″ Wide Body Smoker is the solution.

Cons – What are its negatives?

Like the benefits, the cons of the Dyna-Glo 36″ Wide Body Smoker are a copy of the cons with the smaller version. The main complaint is maintaining a constant temperature. This also affects smoke production, as changing temperatures will affect wood’s behavior. Setting a constant temperature requires practice and mastering this grill’s setup. Until you learn this, the smoker will need constant checking. The Dyna-Glo 36″ Wide Body Smoker will also need sealing the doors to optimize its performance. But this is a common upgrade for all options. 

Overall the Dyna-Glo 36″ Wide Body Smoker is a great option if you need a big smoker. But be aware that its price may be on the higher end while its built quality is not. It is a decent and sturdy smoker, but you shouldn’t expect it to be professional level. 




Pit Boss 3 Series Vertical Gas Smoker

Main Features & Specs

  • Fuel: Propane
  • Quality / Construction Build: Stainless Steel
  • BTU: 12,500
  • Temperature Control: Low to High knob and airflow control with Built-In Thermometer
  • Size / Cooking Capacity: 720 sq. in.
  • Dimensions (LxWxH inches): 22 x 23 x 47
  • Weight: 63 pounds
  • Temperature Range: 100°F – 320°F
  • Shelves: 4, removable

Our last pick is the Pit Boss 3 Series Vertical Smoker, one of the better-looking models.   

Pros – What makes the Pit Boss 3 Series a great option?

The Pit Boss 3 Series Vertical Smoker is highly recommended, not only by users but also being an Amazon´s Choice product. Among its pros, it has several nice features:

  • Like the Masterbuilt MB20051316 Propane Smoker, this option has a front viewing window. This is great for checking the food without having to open the chamber and lose heat. The door has a high-temperature seal, which adds to the smoker´s performance.
  • For portability, the unit has 2 rear rolling wheels.
  • For ease of use, it has external wood chip and ash removal. Also a front-access grease drawer.
  • Dedicated burners for the wood chips and cabinet.

Cons – What are its negatives? 

There are 2 main downsides to the Pit Boss 3 Series Vertical Smoker. The first is its size. With only 720 sq. in., you will have trouble cooking large cuts. The second issue is reaching high temperatures in cold weather. This is fairly common in vertical smokers, but it is more noticeable in some units such as this. 




Best Propane Smoker Summary Table

For a quick comparison of all the main characteristics, see the table below:

ComboShelvesConstruction Build: SizeTemperature Range:
Masterbuilt MB20051316 Propane Smoker with Thermostat Control4, removableStainless Steel961 sq. in.Up to 350° F
Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP 36″ Vertical LP Gas Smoker4, adjustableSteel & Iron outside, stainless steel inside784 sq. in.Up to 350° F
Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker with Temperature & Smoke Control4, removableStainless Steel785 sq. in.Up to 250° F
Masterbuilt MB20050116 MPS 20B Patio-2-Portable Propane Smoker2, removableStainless SteelUnspecifiedUp to 400° F
Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Gas Smoker3, adjustableHeavy-duty steel595 sq. in.Up to 400° F
Landmann USA 3895GWLA Smoky Mountain Vertical Gas Smoker5, adjustableSteel, Iron1,576 sq. in.Up to 550° F
Dyna-Glo DGW1235BDP-D 36″ Wide Body LP Gas Smoker4, adjustableStainless Steel1,235 sq. in.Up to 350° F
Pit Boss 3 Series Vertical Gas Smoker4, removableStainless Steel720 sq. in.100°F to 320°F

What are Propane Smokers?

Propane smokers are cooking devices used for low and slow techniques. They are often known as vertical smokers too. As their name suggests, they use propane gas as fuel to smoke food. 

Although models may vary slightly, most propane smokers have the following layout:

Best Propane Smoker Anatomy
Propane Smoker Anatomy

At the bottom of the smoker, you will usually find the controls. The connection to an external propane tank will also be low. Internally, the bottom of the smoker will have the gas burners. Right above, you will find the wood box which will hold the wood chips or chunks. Next, you’ll have the water pan. This is used not only to stabilize the internal temperature but also as a source of humidity. Finally, each propane smoker will have 3 or 4 racks to place your food. Some large models will have hooks at the top to hang meat, but this is not a standard feature. This stacked design is why propane smokers are often called “vertical smokers”. 

Who are Propane Smokers for?

These vertical smokers are great for users who want to smoke with convenience. Their stacked configuration makes them slim, so they don’t take up too much space. They are very close to a set-and-forget smoker. Only pellet smokers, with wifi connectivity and automatic temperature control, are easier to use. Propane smokers are also less expensive to buy and use. If you are interested in exploring pellet smoker alternatives, please refer to our Best Small Pellet Smokers guide. 

Flavorwise, pitmasters prefer using traditional options like charcoal smokers. But they need more patience and practice to master. Propane smokers might not render the same flavor results, but they are definitely easier to use. They are also considerably more affordable than charcoal smokers. Especially if you compare them to alternatives like the Kamado Joe Classic or Traeger Pro Series 22. Refer to our Smoker Grill Combo guide if you are interested in exploring these other alternatives.

In conclusion, propane smokers are best suited for casual barbecue lovers who want to have a good barbecue with low effort, and at an affordable price.

How to use Propane Smokers?

Propane smokers are pretty simple to use. Here are the basic steps: 

Set-Up

  1. Connect the propane tank to the smoker and make sure there are no leaks once the valve is open.
  2. Add water to the water pan and punt it in place.

Cooking

  1. Light the burner with the smoker’s door open. 
  2. Set the temperature according to what you are planning to cook.
  3. Wait until the smoker has heated up to the constant desired temperature. 
  4. Now’s the time to add wood to the wood box.
  5. Fill up the racks with your meat and food. 
  6. Close the door, and relax.

Some Extra Tips:

  • Depending on the cooking time, you might need to fill up the wood tray or water pan. 
  • Instead of opening the smoker to check the meat, we recommend having a wireless meat thermometer. This will allow you to keep track of your food without opening the door and losing heat.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages

  • Ease of Use – Propane smokers are easy to ignite, use, and clean. They are comparable to electric or pellet smokers. Way easier to use and clean than charcoal or wood smokers.
  • Easy Temperature Control – Controlling the temperature in charcoal grills is an art. In propane smokers, turning a knob makes it easier.  
  • Portability – Propane smokers are light and slim. Good characteristics to move around. Their fuel source (a gas tank) is portable too. This makes them a great item to bring to a camping trip or even tailgating.
  • Size – Propane smokers don’t take up too much space. So you can have them in a corner without using half of your patio or backyard. 
  • Good Flavor Results – Ok yes, propane smokers won’t render the same results as cooking with charcoal or wood. BUT, the results are pretty good. The general opinion is that they cook better than electric alternatives.
  • Reliability – As mentioned before, propane smokers are simple machines. They don’t have too many moving parts or digital equipment that can fail. This makes them extremely reliable.
  • Cost of Use – Cooking with gas is way cheaper than cooking with good charcoal or pellets. From this perspective, only electric smokers could be cheaper. 
  • Price – When compared to other (charcoal, pellet, or electric), vertical smokers are the most affordable of all. This makes them a great option for beginners or casual barbecue fans.

Disadvantages

  • Internal Space – If you are cooking large meat cuts, some smaller propane smokers can be too slim. Examples of these would be a whole brisket or a big rack of ribs. This can be worse if the internal racks are not adjustable. So look for this before you buy.
  • Quality – Many propane smokers are constructed with thin steel. This will make them more susceptible to rusting and will affect heat retention. This is closely related to price, so it is a possible downside if you select a lower-cost option. 
  • Running out of Fuel – As smoking meat can take several hours, you may run out of propane if the tank was low to begin with. To avoid this, consider having a spare tank or a large one that is constantly checked and filled. 
  • Taste – Taste is only a disadvantage if you compare it to charcoal or wood smokers. The truth is that if you don’t have pitmaster taste standards, you will be more than satisfied with cooking in a propane smoker. 
  • Temperature Stability – Maintaining a constant temperature with propane can be hard in exteriors. This is mainly due to the wind, which can easily affect the burners and even put them out. 

What to consider when buying? – Features to look for in your propane smoker

Propane smokers are not as complex as other smokers or grills, so they are simple to buy. Still, there are a couple of points to consider: 

Size & Total Cooking Space

When selecting any smoker, always keep in mind: 

  • How many people do you usually cook for? 
  • What cuts do you like to cook often and how big are they? For example, an entire rack of ribs usually comes with 10 to 13 ribs. Its size can range between 14-16 inches. If you have a grill smaller than this, you might need to cut the rack for cooking. 

So keep in mind the size and number of portions of what you aim to cook to make sure size won’t be a problem. Once you know your ideal size, check that the propane smoker´s chamber is large enough. 

One last tip on size: measure the space in your home where you are planning to place your combo. Propane smokers are not too big, but make sure you have enough footprint to fit it. 

Width

Related to size and capacity, check for the width of your propane smoker before buying. Many smokers have volume space, but they are rather impractical due to their narrow width. So always check their dimensions.

Number of Doors

The last factor related to size is the number of doors in your propane smoker. Models will vary, but they will usually have one or 2 main doors. The models with 2 doors are usually better. Don’t think of 2 doors that split in the middle, rather think of 2 independent doors. One opens the main chamber and the second lets you access the wood chips. This is important in order to be able to refill the wood chips without losing the heat of the main chamber. 

Also, try to look for front-loading smokers rather than vertical loading. They are just more convenient and easier to load and use.

Adjustable Shelves / Cooking Racks

To divide the internal space, propane smokers usually have 3 or 4 “shelves” or cooking racks. Always check how may your propane smoker has. These allow you to maximize the space and arrange your food to cook as much as possible at a single time. 

Having said this, shelves are nice to have, but they can sometimes get in the way of large cuts. For example, if you want to smoke a whole brisket or a turkey, they likely won’t fit on a single shelve. So look for the racks to be adjustable and easy to detach.

Temperature range

Pay close attention to the achievable temperature range and temperature stability. The temperature range affects versatility. As such, it is quite important when selecting the best propane smoker. Aim for options that will give a range from 200 to 350°F at least. 

Why is this needed? Let’s look at some examples: 

  • Some delicious meat cuts like brisket or pork butt need low and slow techniques. This means you´ll need to cook them at temperatures between 225 to 250°F for several hours. For this, you´ll need a combo that can:
  1. Maintain temperature stability for long periods
  2. Adjust temperatures to set your ideal one (refer to the Temperature Control section above)
  • In some other cases, you´ll need the ability to smoke faster at higher temperatures. This can apply to ribs for example. 

The temperature range reported by each smoker will vary depending on where you live. Why? Because the external temperatures will influence the grill´s lowest and highest points. Thus, in cold weather, the highest temperature might be less. And in hot weather, the lowest temperature might be higher.

It is important to be aware that most of these gas smokers tend to cook hotter than charcoal ones. Pay special attention if this is your first propane smoker. So in your first runs be on the lookout for the temperatures of the chamber and the meats.

Construction Quality

The quality of your smoker will determine 2 key variables: Durability and Insulation.

Durability

The construction material will be the main variable to determine durability. Stainless steel is usually the best option. Look for the metal´s gauge to be graded 12 at most. Ideally, look for a smaller gauge (thicker metal).

Why is good material important? Recall that your grill needs to hold a high heat for short periods or a low heat for several hours. Even good-quality steel will eventually rust. So a bad-quality build may do the job for a few years, but it may not last long. A thick, quality metal will last a long time before it starts to weaken by rust at some point. Unfortunately, many propane smokers are built with low-quality metal. This is why it is important to check this.

Insulation

The material and its thickness will determine your grill´s insulation. Good insulation is needed to hold the heat, which is especially needed in low and slow techniques. Again, if the metal´s gauge is 12 or lower, you will be making a good choice. 

Insulation can be negatively affected by possible leaks in chambers or lids. To avoid this, look for solid gasket seals. If your propane smoker has leaks, it is not the end of the world. Most leaks can be fixed, but the first step is detecting them.

Stability

Propane smokers usually have 4 legs as support which should give them balance. But they tend to be tall, narrow, and light. These characteristics can make them unstable if tipped. So try to look for wider models or options with legs spread out.

Price

All the points discussed above will impact the price of your propane smoker. The higher the quality, the higher the price will likely be. As with most anything you buy, you´ll need to balance the price versus the value and benefits that you´ll receive. If you are a beginner, a simple model will be enough to get you started. If you are a pitmaster, then you might want to invest in a higher-quality model. 

FAQ

There are a couple of Frequently Asked Questions about propane smokers. The most common ones are: 

How to get more smoke out of your propane smoker?

There are a couple of tricks you could do to improve the smoke generation from your propane smoker:

  1. Get a pellet smoker tube (Tools for Smoking Meat) – With this, all you have to do is fill the tube with pellets and place it inside the lit grill. The smoker tube is designed to allow air to flow through it. This design generates smoke without consuming the pellets quickly. This extra smoke will help improve the propane smoker’s generation. 
  2. Make wood chip pockets – Wood chip pockets is a simple technique. What you should do is tightly wrap a couple of handfuls of wood chips in aluminum foil to create small pockets. Using a knife, pierce holes in the top, to let the smoke out. Place the pockets directly over the grill area and wait for the smoke to start coming out.
  3. Check the wood pan from your propane smoker – Some pans that come with smokers are poor quality. If this is the case, it is best to replace them with the largest cast iron skillet that can get into the box. The skillet will get hotter than the default pan and produce better smoke.

Are there ways to improve the performance of propane smokers? 

Here are some tips to improve the performance of your propane smoker: 

  • Try to cook within the lower temperature setups (gas knobs not fully open). Gas grills and smokers tend to cook hot even at their minimums. 
  • Always check for your tank to be full or have a spare on hand. You don´t want to run out of gas halfway through your barbeque.
  • Invest in a good thermometer to measure your meat´s internal temperature. They will help you know the true temperature inside the chamber. Built-in thermometers are usually off.
  • Try to maximize the use of space every time you cook. 
  • If you are having an issue stabilizing the temperature while cooking, use a water pan. Some smokers will have them included, others not, but they are cheap to buy. 
  • Try using wood chips or small wood chunks to add a smoky flavor to your food. Check out our wood guide on the different flavors of wood.   

Can propane smokers work with natural gas?

Always check the specifications of your propane smoker to see if this is possible. From our experience, most can´t. There are some conversion kits that could be used. But we recommend sticking with the manufacturer´s instructions. 

Should you add wood chips to a propane smoker? 

Quick answer: yes. Wood chips are a great way to add an extra smokey flavor to your food. Small wood chunks can also work if they fit in your tray. There are many types of wood. The changes will be very subtle, but you can always try different types to find your favorite. 

Our recommendation is to avoid soaking your wood chips or chunks. Adding water simply delays the burning, and therefore, the smoke. 

How long does a propane tank last on a smoker?

This is a hard question to answer because it can vary depending on how you like to cook. If you cook with the gauges on full, the tank will last less. The answer may also vary depending on your propane smokers too. But on average, if we are talking about a 20-pound tank, it should last somewhere between 18 to 20 hours. 

Once you have selected your smoker, keep track of how long the tank lasts for you. This way, you can have a better sense of when you need to replace or refill it. It is always a good idea to have a spare around, just in case you need it mid-barbecue.

What’s the difference between propane and pellet smokers?

The main difference between propane and pellet smokers is the fuel type. Pellet smokers burn pellets while propane smokers run with propane. 

Performance-wise, both types of smokers are pretty friendly to use. Propane smokers can usually reach higher temperatures. Pellet smokers tend to render better results in terms of smoky flavor. Pellet smokers are also more expensive. And pellets are also pricier than propane, so using a pellet smoker is more costly too.

What’s the difference between propane and electric smokers?

Again. the main difference between propane and electric smokers is the fuel type. Electric smokers are powered electrically while propane smokers run with propane. 

Apart from this, there are some small variations between them:

  • Propane smokers tend to be more versatile. They usually reach higher temperatures than electric smokers.
  • If portability is an important consideration for you, propane smokers are the way to go. Carrying a gas tank is easier than taking an electric generator with you. 
  • Controlling and maintaining constant temperatures is almost automatic in an electric smoker. These same tasks require some work with a propane smoker.
  • Propane smokers render better flavor results than electric smokers. This may seem like an opinion, but most experts agree.
  • The cost of using a propane smoker versus an electric smoker will vary on your local prices. Having said this, electric smokers tend to be more budget-friendly.

Can a gas grill be used as a smoker? 

Yes, you can adapt a gas grill, or even a charcoal grill, to smoke food. In a regular gas grill, the trick is to use only one side of the grill. You then wrap wood chips in aluminum foil to create small pockets. Using a knife, pierce holes in the top of the pockets, to let the smoke out. Place the pockets directly where the hot burners are and wait for the smoke to start coming out. Your meat and food go on the opposite side to be cooked with indirect heat and smoke.

So it can be done, but it has some limitations:

  1. The ends results won’t likely be as good as having a dedicated smoker
  2. This setup reduces the effective area in which you can cook, so your output will be limited
  3. Gas grills are rarely air-tight, so will lose a lot of heat, and achieving a constant temperature can be tricky 

So if you plan to smoke regularly, it is best to invest in a dedicated smoker. 

Our Top Choice 

A propane smoker is an awesome unit for barbecuers who want to keep cooking simple, practical, and affordable. 

We conducted extensive research to evaluate the best propane smoker in the market. After all this, we believe the Masterbuilt MB20051316 Propane Smoker is the top alternative out there.

Now that you have the best propane smoker for you, check out the essential tools you´ll need.

In The Sunday Grill

We believe you deserve a great grill every time you fire it up, and we are here to make sure you get it.

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