Smoking doesn’t have to be something complicated, especially for beginners. The Gas Smoker combines convenience, simplicity and great results of smoking which are the three most important characteristics in one device.
If you’re thinking about convenient smoking where you don’t have to constantly watch over the amount of fuel, the right temperature etc then consider buying a new propane smoker.
It is not a very popular type of smoker and I know that plenty of people might have a problem choosing their first model. That’s why I have prepared a guide in which you will learn everything about gas smokers and find out my ranking of the best propane smokers.
Are you completely new to the topic? You should definitely check out all of my tips and advice.
Masterbuilt Black Propane Smoker 40 inch
Smoke Hollow 38-inch
Dyna-Glo 36" Vertical LP Gas Smoker
Camp Chef Smoke Vault 18"
Best Gas Smoker Reviews - ( Updated List )
1. Best Overall Masterbuilt Black Propane Smoker, 40-Inch
A very big propane smoker that is also available in a smaller or an even bigger size. I liked the ability to choose from many different sizes and of course the popularity of this brand.
Why is popularity so important?
Any malfunctions or modifications lead to the problem of spare parts not being available etc.
Masterbuilt ensures not only easy access to parts but also offers many interesting gadgets.
On top of that, popularity impacts availability of many useful guides for beginners.
I hesitated about giving this smoker the first place in my ranking but in the end I decided to go through with this considering the popularity, Masterbuilt customer service and the value for the money.
Getting more to the point about the smoker itself, though, I have to say that it is a product definitely worth your money. It is not a perfect smoker, like most of the products available on the market at similar prices, but after not very complicated modifications you can change this smoker into a perfect device.
I definitely suggest checking out the modifications recommended by other users that largely improve the efficiency and convenience when smoking with this smoker.
What I like:
What I don't like:
Upon evaluating the basic version of this smoker with no modifications, I can clearly say that the quality is very satisfying, and the results of smoking are great.
Personally, I consider a small downside of the 40inch version to be heat loss when refilling wood on the bowl. If it is important to you then I suggest the smaller 30 inch version that comes with doors to two independent parts of the smoker, which solves this problem 100%.
2. Runner Up Smoke Hollow 38-Inch
The number two in my ranking is also a pretty big and durable propane smoker. When it comes to size, it should satisfy the needs of most people, although I will just mention it here that there is also a bigger version available for those with slightly higher expectations.
It only comes with one burner but it is strong enough and will easily heat up the entire surface in a short time and manage to maintain a fixed temperature.
I am very pleased with the results of smoking and with how this smoker works. It is strong enough and can reach high temperatures, which is good news for those who have to deal with weather changes ( low temperatures and strong wind ).
An upside in my view is the structure divided into two parts complete with independent doors. When smoking, you can easily refill the wood container or the water bowl by only opening the lower door without suddenly wasting a large amount of accumulated heat in the main part of the smoker.
Just like with most propane smokers, I recommend slight modifications that will make your smoker even better. I suggest checking out different guides and only picking tested modifications, especially when it comes to sealing up the smoker’s structure.
What I like:
What I don't like:
Another very useful modification is installing wheels that will turn a Smoke Hollow 38-inch into a portable propane smoker.
In my view, it is a great propane smoker, maybe a slightly less known brand but when it comes to the quality you don’t need to worry – the value to price ratio here is at very high-level.
3. Dyna-Glo 36" Vertical LP Gas Smoker
Another pretty big gas smoker that I mostly selected due to the decent quality in relation to the price, as well as the structure divide into two parts.
The quality of the entire structure is okay, although certain elements don’t look so solid and judging by reviews from many customers, they malfunction pretty fast ( I’m mostly talking about door handles ).
I find the independently opening smoker chambers to be a great solution that I always value greatly. I can easily refill the wood or water container without suddenly losing heat in the main chamber of the smoker.
Among downsides are the poor quality containers and their small size.
Sadly, I can say from experience that this model doesn’t handle bad weather very well ( cold and windy ). A strong and cold wind will cause large temperature fluctuations and problems with achieving high enough temperatures.
On normal days, on the other hand, everything most definitely worked as intended. When it comes to results of smoking, I am very satisfied with this model. It allows to easily create perfect conditions for proper smoking.
What I like:
What I don't like:
The quality is good relatively to the price, and when it comes to durability I think that it is an investment for quite a few seasons of normal use and maintenance.
4. Camp Chef Smoke Vault 18
A well-built, durable and very easy to use gas smoker available at a decent price. This time I chose something much smaller for those who smoke less often and in smaller quantities. A smaller propane smoker gives benefits in form of better mobility and more attractive price.
Keep in mind that the smaller size means you will have to cut ribs in half for example, as they won’t fit whole. If you need more space then check out the bigger ( much wider ) 24 inch model.
Camp Chef Smoke Vault 18 would have ranked much higher in my ranking had it been divided into two chambers.
Sadly, it only comes with one door which means that, in order to refill the wood chips or water container, you have to open the pretty large door which results in losing large amounts of heat.
How did this model work in practice? I had no major problems with maintaining a stable temperature within the range of 225-250 degrees F despite the weather being far from perfect. Even in poorer conditions there shouldn’t be much trouble despite the lower air vents being slightly too big in my view.
What I like:
What I don't like:
Despite only having one door, Camp Chef Smoke Vault 18” is still a decent choice. It is very easy to use, well-built, comes with a strong burner and provides conditions for great BBQ.
First and foremost, what is a propane smoker ?
Those who own an electric smoker will probably notice very big resemblance in the structure’s built. The propane smoker differs from other smokers by burning propane as the source of heat. The burner is usually located at the very bottom of the structure and is responsible for burning propane and thus generating heat.
Those who own a gas grill or a gas stove for example are perfectly aware that gas burns pure, not generating smoke in the process, which is important when smoking meat. That’s why, just like in electric smokers, in a gas smoker you will also find wood and water containers.
Both those elements are there to create perfect conditions for top-level meat smoking. Despite the flavor of food from a propane smoker being different from that from a traditional charcoal smoker, I think that most people won’t feel much difference. It is definitely much better compared to the electric smoker.
The propane smoker is great for those who are thinking of a very convenient, nearly maintenance-free meat smoking that retains the great flavor.
Tips for buying a propane smoker
Budget – There isn’t that much difference in prices, but if you really want something cheaper, then carefully analyze your budget and the prices for specific models. In such situation, the best solution is to buy a much smaller propane smoker that will be much cheaper while maintaining good enough quality of workmanship.
Size – The size of a smoker comes with its upsides and downsides, first and foremost a smaller propane smoker costs less, is more mobile and uses less gas. The biggest downside of small propane smokers, on the other hand, is insufficient area for whole pieces of food. For example, you won’t be able to smoke a whole piece of ribs in a small smoker, you will have to cut the ribs in half.
Availability – A much better solution is to buy a smoker from a manufacturer that is very well known and renowned on the market. That way you can be sure not only about all kinds of spare parts, modifications and gadgets, but you can also expect the manufacturer’s support and a bigger base of guides from other owners of a particular smoker.
Upsides of the Propane Smoker
Convenience – Set & Forget style which means stress-free, easy and convenient meat smoking. Without a doubt it is the biggest benefit of the propane smoker compared to other, traditional smokers. You don’t have to worry about getting the charcoal burning or adjusting the air vents. It’s a very good type of smoker for beginners and those who don’t like the traditional, usually time-consuming smoking.
Easy temperature control – All you have to do is properly adjust the burner knob and monitor the temperature inside the smoker. At first you will have to get the hang of your model in order to figure out the actual burner power but I can assure you that there is nothing complicated about that. When it comes to low ambient temperature, all you have to do is crank up the burner slightly more, and in case of wind just place the smoker in a sheltered spot.
Flavor – The container with wood ( usually wood chips ) responsible for making smoke works brilliant. When it comes to flavor, me and plenty of my experienced friends believe that the flavor doesn’t differ that much from the charcoal smoker one, but it is certainly better than when it comes to an electric smoker.
Downsides of the Propane Smoker
Requires controlling the propane tank – It is a set & forget style smoker under one condition: before each smoking, make sure that there’s enough propane in the tank. If there isn’t much of it, keep a spare full propane tank around. It might seem obvious, but it’s something worth reminding to forgetful ones.
Warranty – Sadly, when it comes to the propane smoker, you can’t expect any serious warranty, as is the case with the charcoal smoker or even the pellet smoker. Unfortunately, gas smokers feature several crucial elements in their structure that are prone to malfunctions, which is why manufacturers don’t choose very long warranty periods.
Durability and malfunctions – One has to keep in mind that the gas smoker isn’t as durable as other, traditional types of smokers. Its structure contains elements that rely on electricity or propane, like the burner for example. This type of elements will sooner or later malfunction, and based on experience with propane smokers it usually takes few seasons depending on intensity of use.
Accuracy of the dome thermometer
A large thermometer on the front door looks very nice but what about the accuracy of temperature readings ? I always recommend buying a decent smoker thermometer ( preferably with two probes ), that provides 100% reliable and accurate measurements.
In my case, the differences between the door thermometer and a dedicated smoker thermometer could reach as high as 20-30 degrees F. This problem is actually present with majority of thermometers of this type, which is why every BBQ enthusiasts should start with buying a decent digital meat thermometer.
Convert Propane Smoker to Natural Gas
Is it possible ?
Most of available gas smokers utilize propane as the fuel and cannot be plugged into a natural gas line. If you still choose this kind of modifications, consult it with the right person ( gas plumber ).
Some manufacturers make such modifications possible but it’s not that easy to do, which is why for the sake of safety I advice against any kind of modifications.