What’s the Best Propane (Gas) Smoker?
If you’re looking to start smoking meats and other food but don’t want the hassle of sitting around, tending a fire for hours then a gas/propane smoker is probably the best options for you. But there are a lot of gas smokers (and misinformation) on the market and the web and we know that choosing one can be difficult. So we’ve done all the hard work for you and have found the best gas smokers we can, written out a quick review for each one and given you some extra information to help you decide which propane smoker is for you.
- 1 What’s the Best Propane (Gas) Smoker?
- 1.1 What is a Gas Smoker?
- 1.2 Best Propane (Gas) Smokers
- 1.3 Pros and Cons of Gas Smokers
- 1.4 How to make the most out of your Gas Smoker
What is a Gas Smoker?
As a quick introduction to what we’ll be reviewing we’ll go over what exactly as gas smoker is.
Gas smokers are convenient and simple to use smokers that offer great value for money. They’re a great choice for beginner smokers and offer a great “set it and forget it” option.
They typically look like tall metal boxes on legs that can sometimes resemble lockers or vaults.
A lot of gas smokers use this simple design as it offers a lot of cooking space and is very easy to manage. There is usually a gas burner in the bottom of the box and a tray for wood chips (which provide the smoke) above that.
The smokers will connect to either a propane bottle or sometimes a natural gas line to fuel the flame. This will heat the box directly and also slowly burn the wood chips to create smoke. The heat and smoke are what cooks your meat placed above.
There is usually a water pan placed above the wood chips to help regulate the temperature and to keep moisture in the inside atmosphere of the smoker. This helps to keep your food moist during long smokes.
Above this is the main cooking chamber. The best propane smokers will have a separate door for this area.
Having two doors on your smoker allows you to tend to the wood and water and check the flame without disturbing the temperature in the main cooking area. The cooking chamber will consist of several racks and shelves for the food.
At the top, there is usually a vent or a chimney. This is generally matched by another one down the bottom. The degree to which these vents are opened will adjust the cooking temperature of your smoker.
If you have any experience with smokers before you might realize that gas smokers are very similar to electric smokers.
They are similarly designed, have the same general shape and have similar pros and cons.
Best Propane (Gas) Smokers
One of our favourite propane smokers is a relatively new offering from Cuisinart which covers all of our requirements for a good smoker.
The Cuisinart COS-244 contains 4 (14 x 14) inch cooking racks which means you can comfortably cook for up to 8 people. The racks are also removable just in case you need to smoke a whole turkey or similar.
It not only features a large cooking space but also has a lot of nice little features that make cooking as easy as possible.
For example, you can attach this smoker to any standard propane tank so that you can hook it up and start using it fast. It also has a 40-inch hose to make it as easy as possible to hook up to a supply.
You also have full control over the smoke level and the temperature. The gas supply is adustable and there’s a thermometer on the door so that you can quickly monitor how the cook is coming along.
It features two doors, which we think is very important. The handles on both are easy to use and once you close the doors, the chamber remains tightly sealed for optimal temperature control.
We love that despite it’s lost cost it features some nice additional features such as the side handles which makes it easy to move around without any problems.
You should also not have to worry about the longevity of this smoker. It comes with porcelain enamel coated components which accommodate high heat temperatures without affecting its build.
If you’re looking for a simple gas smoker that does the job and doesn’t cost a fortune then the Cuisinart COS-244 Verticle Propane Smoker is a great option.
Check the latest price on Amazon.
Masterbuilt have a good range of lower budget smokers, including a good range of propane smokers. The Masterbuilt 20051311 GS30D 2-Door Propane Smoker is part of a range of smokers that share similar features but have different sizes.
The Masterbuilt is a two door, steel smoker that’s ideal for beginners. It has 717 square inches of cooking space which is more than enough for multiple racks of ribs. Having two doors is incredibly useful and we find it to be almost a necessity with these types of smokers. It allows you to check the flame or add wood chips without disturbing the heat in the cooking chamber.
The cooking chamber itself is fairly well built considering the price. It doesn’t quite have the quality or finish of some of the more expensive models but this will cost you under $200 so it’s to be expected. It holds its heat fairly well and there was very little smoke leakage. It also has a push button ignition which worked very well. No more slaving over coals to get a fire going.
It also features a stainless steel burner and type 1 regulator and hose. This means you’re getting a safe and efficient propane burning system.
Like the Cuisinart it also has a good quality porcelain coated wood chip tray and water pan.
The Masterbuilt 2-door also features locking doors to ensure they don’t accidentally come open and help to maintain a consistent cooking environment. The doors also have wire cool touch handles which are a nice feature.
There’s also a built in thermometer for basic temperature readings, but we’d recommend a proper digital smoker thermometer.
Overall, you’re not going to get much better for the money. It does an excellent job at smoking as the cooking chamber leaks so little heat. At this price range, you’re always going to be confronted with the problem of heat and smoke leakage but the Masterbuilt barely leaks a thing.
The features are relative sparse as it’s a very simple smoker but that’s to be expected. The finish and build quality feel low-budget, but that’s what it is so we can’t complain. If you buy this you’ll also be getting the great Masterbuilt customer service that comes with it. So, we can’t really fault it too much considering the price.
Check the latest price on Amazon.
Smoke Hollow have a good reputation for smokers and they excel at gas smokers. We have two on our list today.
The 30164G is a 30 inch propane smoker that is very similar to the Masterbuilt that was discussed before. They share very similar designs and are in very similar price ranges.
This Smoke Hollow propane smoker comes with three removable chrome plated cooking grids that are able to be placed on different levels to accommodate different types of meat.
The Smoke Hollow has a very similar burner to the Masterbuilt and the Cuisinart and it manages to cook meat just as well. All three of them worked surprisingly well for such cheap smokers.
Like the masterbuilt it also has a cool-touch spring door handle to be able to safely open the door and a door lock to be able to keep it closed when smoking.
It has a simple but effective push button ignition system which works very well.
There’s a basic built in thermometer for temperature readings, but like always we recommend getting a proper digital thermometer.
Like both of the previous smokers, this one also includes side-handles for easy movement and placement.
The reason we like Smoke Hollow less than the Cuisinart or the Masterbuilt is that it has a single door. We find that on longer smokes the fact that you have to open the cooking chamber door to get to the flame or water pan can greatly affect the smoking time and effectiveness.
However, it can still produce some very tasty food but there’s the potential inconsistency in the smoking. Talking about inconsistency, the in built thermometer isn’t very good at all. It was always within 10-15 degrees out from our digital thermometer. This just goes to show how important it is to use a quality digital smoker thermometer.
Having said that, the Smoke Hollow is still a very good choice if you’re looking for a cheap propane smoker. It cooks food very well and for the price it is a brilliant choice for beginners looking to get their first smoker.
Check the latest price on Amazon.
Camp Chef have been around for many years and have a huge range of products, from smokers to pizza ovens.
With the Smoke Vault they have truly created a uniquely designed product. It looks just like a classic western safe, having a beefy handle and a centered thermometer that mimics a classic dial combination lock.
It really is a good looking smoker and we really appreciate that they tried something original rather than having the same old style as all the other brands out there.
It comes in two sizes, an 18 inch and a 24 inch. The 24 inch is the one we’re focusing on today but the 18 inch is a good alternative if you’re looking for something a little smaller and cheaper.
The 24 inch model comes with two cooking racks that can be placed in four different positions. This means you can also buy extra racks and have four cooking racks at once. It also comes with a dedicated jerky rack which we love.
If you’re interested we have a guide to making jerky in a smoker and the Camp Chef is ideal for it – How to make Jerky in a Smoker
The biggest worry of buying a propane smoker is the built quality and ability for the smoker to retain its heat. The Smoke Vault does this very well. It’s built well and feels solid. When we used it, it was very consistent with its temperature and leaked barely any smoke.
Snap ignition for convenient, instant lighting and can reach temperatures of 50 – 500 °F. This is a very impressive range and allows you to smoke all types of meat at different rates.
It has three adjustable dampers so you can control the air flow and temperature easily.
It also features a heavy duty steel wood tray. This is perfect for larger chunks of wood so you’re not limited to just small wood chips or pellets.
You may be looking at the picture and thinking how could this be the best propane smoker if it’s a single door smoker. Well, the cooking chamber is built so well and insulates the insides so consistently that opening the door for a few moments has very little effect on the overall smoke.
So much so that we’re happy for it to have a single door. (Although two would have been better, but then the design would be compromised. You can’t have it all)
If all these features and eye catching design wasn’t enough, then Camp Chef offer a natural gas conversion kit so you can hook it up to a natural gas line and never run out. We love this feature because there’s nothing worse than forgetting to buy extra propane and having to go to the store.
If natural gas is your thing, then check out our guide to the best natural gas grills on the market.
Overall, the Smoke Vault is our favorite propane smoker on the list and we think it easily the one of the top gas smokers you can buy today.
Check the latest price on Amazon.
The Landmann Smoky Mountain (not to be confused with the Smokey Mountain from Weber – my personal favorite ever smoker) is a 34 inch propane smoker that’s made from heavy duty steel.
The build is good, it feels sturdy and looks nice. They’ve managed to make it more interesting with the red and black color scheme and the matte finish. It has a massive 878 square inches of cooking space with four chrome plated, adjustable grates so you’re able to cook almost anything in it.
As you’d expect it smokes very well, there are several dampers and a top chimney that make adjusting and controlling the temperature incredibly precise.
Like many of the other smokers on this list it has a latching/locking door system so you know the door will stay closed.
It doesn’t have the same designed wire handles that we like on the Masterbuilt but it does have its own cool grip wire door handles to safely open and close the door.
It also includes a quality porcelain coated steel water pan that helps to maintain the temperature very well.
This features a heavy duty steel wood chip box, with a lid, perfect for smoking larger chunks of wood, but also ideal for classic wood chips.
The Landmann Smoky Mountain even includes a 10 year warranty on the brass burner so you can smoke with confidence.
Overall, if you’re looking to spend a little more money and get a little extra cooking space than the Smoke Vault then the Landmann Smoky Mountain is a great choice.
It’s still within the mid-range pricing tier but is brilliantly built, has a lot of cooking space and a great warranty to help with your peace of mind. We’d definitely recommend this and think it’s one of the best propane smokers under $300.
Check the latest price on Amazon.
Another Smoke Hollow makes it onto the list. This time the 44241GW.
This is one of the most feature rich smokers for the money. It boasts a huge 6.5 cubic feet of cooking area which can handle enough food for many, many people.
It has 7 Cooking Grids: 4-Standard Cooking Grids, 2-Jerky Grids, 1-Rib Rack and 1-Sausage Hanger. There’s so much versatility with this model that you’d never need another cooker again. It even has dual stainless steel burners that operate independently of each other to give you maximum control and optimal performance.
Two doors, including one with a large viewing window. We always like viewing windows as there’s nothing better than being able to check on your food without opening the door. It’s also built well enough that the glass itself doesn’t leak heat or smoke so you’re trading performance for the window.
It also includes a large porcelain coated water pan, perfect for helping you to control your cook.
This Smoke Hollow also features two porcelain coated wood chip pans with lids, which gives you additional options and versatility when cooking.
Like the smaller, cheaper Smoke Hollow we mentioned earlier, this also includes a Push Button Ignition which mades starting it super easy.
Easy adjustable smoke stack to give you the set up that you want from your gas smoker.
For roughly $60 dollars more than the Landmann you can get all these features in a huge smoker. It’s big and it’s heavy but made fairly well and feels solid. It has been said to leak a little bit of smoke and is recommended to use some gasket to seal up any leaks but we didn’t manage to do this on the one we used.
Despite not using gasket we were still able to maintain an even temperature and managed to smoke very easily on it. If you’re looking to feed a lot of people and want an easy to use smoker that has a great variety of different smoking options then the Smoke Hollow 44241GW is a great choice.
It’s easily one of the best propane smokers under $400.
Check the latest price on Amazon.
Pros and Cons of Gas Smokers
If you’re still not convinced by gas smokers or need a bit more information before pulling the trigger then we’ve put together a list of the major pros and cons of gas smokers.
- Gas smokers are technically portable. As they run off propane bottles they are able to be taken anyway that you can physically carry them. This means they make a great option for camping or tailgating.
- One of the best things about propane smokers is that they are relatively inexpensive. Even the higher end models will likely set you back less than $400. You can get decent quality at prices as low as $150 but will get a better build and more cooking space the more you pay. These are similarly priced to electric smokers.
- Gas smokers allow you to set it and forget it. If you’re looking for hassle free smoking then gas smokers are one of the most cost effective and time efficient ways of getting great tasting BBQ.
- Propane smokers generally have a very small footprint. This means they are a great option if you’re lacking outdoor space.
- Propane burns very clean. This means you’re unlikely to get any nasty soot deposits on your food.
- Temperature a generally very easy to maintain. There will be a lot less labor involved with a gas smoker compared to a charcoal one. Most of them also feature push button ignition, which means you can be up and running in a matter of seconds.
- You won’t get quite the same smoky taste that you do with a proper charcoal or wood smoker. If you’re looking for a simple, hassle free smoke that produces high quality, truly smoky results then we highly recommend investing in a pellet smoker. We’ve got a guide to help you choose the best pellet smoker for you.
- As propane smokers are generally quite cheap, some models lack the insulation and build quality of some of the more premium types of smokers. This means they sometimes leak smoke and heat and can make the cook uneven. Investing in a quality gas smoker should mean you won’t have to worry about these problems though.
- At some point your gas will run out and you’ll have to go to the store to buy more. This can be a massive pain if you haven’t thought about it and don’t have more in storage.
- Due to the small footprint of some gas smokers the cooking chamber can be a bit thin. This means that you might struggle to fit in certain cuts of meat.
If a gas smoker isn’t for you, we have covered many other types of smokers here on King of the Coals so feel free to have a search around the site. If you need somewhere to start, our list of the best beginner smokers is a great place to start. It’s a comprehensive list of EVERYTHING you need to know about a huge range of smokers. At almost 10,000 words it’s one of the best resources on the internet!
How to make the most out of your Gas Smoker
- Try using an Amazen (A-Maze-N) pellet smoker , Mo’s Smoking Pouch or the Smokist Smoking Pouch to help create more smoke. All of these work in similar ways to create maximum smoke. You fill them up with pellets or chips, place them in the smoker and then wait until they heat up. They are all made in such a way that the wood doesn’t really burn, it just smoulders and smokes. This creates long lasting smoke that will stop you having to replace wood chips every now and then when you’re doing a long smoke.
- Use quality wood chips or chunks. The smoke produced by the wood chips will give the food different flavors based on the type of wood. For a complete rundown to the best flavor pairings check out our Ultimate Guide to Smoking with Wood.
- You can make simple modifications to your smoker to make it work better. If you’re finding it’s leaking heat and smoke then you can add sealants to help insulate it. It’s also possible to add a small cast iron skillet in place of the burning box to give a better heat distribution and quicker smoke. We’d recommend experimenting a bit with these depending on which smoke you own.
- Always use a digital smoker thermometer to give you accurate temperature readings of your food and the inside of the smoker. It’s not enough to rely on the built in one if you want the best results.
- Keep your gas smoker clean. We’d recommend giving all the racks and water tray a quick wipe down after every cook. After roughly 10 cooks we’d recommend a deep clean. This won’t be too arduous as propane burns very clean, and if you use quality wood or pellets you’ll have very little soot or ash problems. Not only will this help keep things tasting great, but it’ll also extend the life of your smoker and keep it safe. Whilst unlikely, it’s possible for soot or grease to get into and around the burner which stop it from work properly and could be dangerous.
- Check out our guide on how to season your new smoker to make sure you season it correctly.
- It’s also possible for you to add charcoal to your gas smoker. This gives you the best of both worlds. You get a more traditional BBQ smoker flavor from the charcoal, but also the ease of use of a propane smoker. We’d recommend using lump charcoal for this as it will burn cleaner and leave less ash. Read our guide on the best charcoal to get a better idea of why we love lump charcoal.
- Use our smoker times and temperature charts to make sure you’re cooking your meat to perfection.
We hope that you’ve found this useful and now have a better idea about propane smokers. If you’ve got more questions then let us know in the comments below.