While not the traditional way of smoking meat, a propane smoker is definitely one of the easier ways to add delicious smoky flavor to your meat.
For this method of smoking you won’t have to keep checking and adjusting the temperature as your meat cooks.
So to help you get started we have looked at the 8 best propane smokers on the market.
We will look at the cooking capacity of each, design and useful features.
The MPS Thermo Temp XL is the latest smoker from Masterbuilt.
One of the best new things about the Masterbuilt propane smoker is the thermostatic control for the internal temperature.
This allows you to control the amount of propane flowing to the smoker and thereby control the temperature.
With 792 square inches of capacity this stainless steel Masterbuilt smoker allows you to fit up to 16 chickens or 2 turkeys on the four chrome coated racks.
There are two doors which allow you to add wood chips without disturbing the meat.
In fact the wood chip tray is attached to the door for convenience.
The stainless steel burner has a diffuser for even heat distribution and gives out 15,750 BTU of heat.
You can set the heat to between 180 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
The lower temperature allows you to slowly smoke your meat while the higher temperature means you can get crispy chicken skin.
There is a safety shut for the gas if the flame goes out.
- Thermostatic temperature control
- Two door access
- Four racks of capacity
- Safety shut off feature
- One-year warranty only
With more than 700 square inches of room in this propane cabinet smoker you will have plenty of room for all your favorite smoked meats. Deluxe metal hooks and four chrome coated racks give you all the space you need to smoke sausages, birds or brisket.
The stainless steel burner kicks out an impressive 15,000 BTU for maintaining ideal temperatures. With the door mounted thermometer you will be able to monitor these temperatures and ensure your meat is cooking at optimum heat.
There is a separate door for access to the wood chip tray and water pan, so there’s no risk of lowering the heat or reducing the smoke level when you need to top these up. There are adjustable side vents for added temperature control.
- Double door design
- Adjustable side vents
- Large capacity
- 1-year warranty
Cuisinart’s Vertical 36-inch smoker is the perfect size and shape to have out on your deck or patio.
It has more than 784 square inches of capacity with four stainless steel, removable racks for all your smoking needs.
And afterwards they can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
There is a separate door at the bottom for adding and accessing the wood chips and a built-in thermometer on the door makes controlling the temperature easy.
A rear vent on the smoker can be opened and closed, letting you control how much smoke and heat your cooking needs.
The wood chip tray is enameled steel and holds the chips and water for convenience and easy cleaning.
This smoker’s twist-lock door ensures a tight seal, so there should be no smoke or heat escaping while it is in operation.
In all the smoker is solidly built and reasonably easy to assemble.
- Large capacity with four removable trays
- Two door access
- Rear vent for smoke and heat control
- Strong, tightly sealed door
- Combined wood chip/water tray can block flow of oxygen making ignition difficult
Dyna-Glo’s Vertical 36-inch smoker gives you lots of capacity for cooking with 784 square inches.
Inside you have four racks which are adjustable and can be removed for smoking bigger pieces of meat.
The cast iron burner gives out 15,000 BTU of heat and is fired up by an electric ignition.
A large control dial on the base of the smoker makes regulating the temperature easy and there is a stylish thermometer, so you can monitor your cooking.
This smoker has two doors, so you can top up your wood chips without opening the cooking chamber.
The wood chip tray has handles and a lid for extra convenience.
This model also has sliding air dampers on the top and sides.
- Large cooking chamber
- Two door design
- Cast iron burner
- Electric ignition
- One-year warranty only
The Pit Boss 3 Series is a good looking smoker. Not only does it look good, but it has all the substance to back it up.
This is the only brand of smoker in the industry that gives its products an impressive five-year warranty.
It has 720 square inches of internal capacity and three porcelain coated cooking racks.
One of its best features is the dual control and burner system, one for the wood chips and another for the cooking cabinet.
This allows you to obtain lower temperatures for slow cooking.
The stainless steel burners give out 12,500 BTU of heat and a temperature range of between 100 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can access the wood chip tray from outside, so that you don’t have to open the cooking chamber.
And the large viewing window lets you monitor everything with ease.
- Five-year warranty
- Dual control and burner system
- External access to wood chip tray
- Large viewing window
- Top end of price range
For a slightly smaller Masterbuilt smoker, this 30 inch 2 door version is ideal.
You still get more than 700 square inches of capacity and four chrome smoking racks.
The burner is made from stainless steel and there is a push button ignition for ease of lighting.
A two door design means you can add and top up your wood chips without ever having to open the cooking chamber door.
This keeps the temperature constant. A porcelain coated wood chip tray and water pan makes set up simple.
There is a cool touch wire handle on the door which also features a built-in temperature gauge.
For larger items you can remove some of the smoking racks.
- Good cooking capacity
- Two door design for easy access
- Cool touch wire handle
- Wood chip tray is thin
If you are just getting started with smoking meats this Char-Broil vertical smoker is a great place to begin.
It’s not too expensive or too big, so you can learn as you go.
This smoker has 595 square inches of space but be aware of the width of some racks of ribs and check they will fit.
There is a combined wood chip and water tray although if you prefer these to be separate you can purchase a different one.
A two door design means there is no need to open the cooking chamber to add extra wood chips and so a constant temperature is maintained.
The burner provides up to 16,500 BTU and there is a handy warming rack on top of the smoking chamber.
- Three chrome plated cooking racks
- Two door design
- Handy warming rack
- Combined wood and water tray can be messy
If you want a smoker that is very portable but also lets you roast and grill the Char-Broil Big Easy will suit you well.
This smoker has 180 square inches of capacity, so you won’t be using it for Thanksgiving dinner, but it is perfect for individual use capable of taking 25lbs of meat.
The TRU infrared technology allows you to cook evenly with no flare-ups, so you have juicy, tender meat.
You can use it with or without the smoker box making it a versatile piece of portable cooking equipment.
Temperature controls let you cook at a range of between 9,000 to 18,000 BTUs.
Just pop your meat into the basket, and you are ready to roast and smoke.
- Highly portable
- Use with or without smoker box
- Can be used to grill, roast or smoke meat
- Small capacity
Best Propane Smokers Buyer’s Guide
We look at what features you should be considering if you are thinking of buying a propane smoker.
Most of the propane smokers in our review have capacity in excess of 700 square inches with a couple of exceptions.
Obviously the more room you have in your smoker the more meat you will be able to fit in.
However, it is worth noting that although the square inch capacity is a good indicator of size you also need to consider the width of the smoker.
If it is narrow but tall you may struggle to fit in a full rack of ribs and have to resort to cutting them in half.
Smokers like the Camp Chef Smoke Vault are 24 inches wide and so will easily take a good size brisket or rack of ribs.
Other smokers have good capacity, such as the Cuisinart 36 inch which has 784 square inches but is only 18 inches wide.
Think about what you will be smoking and choose the size, capacity and design of smoker that best suits your needs.
Another important factor to consider is the design of your smoker. In particular, look at how the wood chip tray is accessed.
If you need to open the cooking chamber door to get to the wood chips or the water pan this will interfere with the cooking and smoking process.
Every time you open the door you will be letting heat and smoke out of the cooking chamber.
This means the unit has to recover the temperature and level of smoke before it can continue cooking your meat.
This will slow down the process and may affect the results. Choose where possible a two door design.
This means there is separation between the wood chip tray and the cooking chamber.
Then when you need to top up the wood chips or the water pan you can do so without disrupting the smoking and cooking process.
Where you are going to locate your smoker may also influence the design that you choose.
The size and footprint of the smoker may determine whether you can keep it in your chosen location.
Tall vertical smokers will take up less ground space but will clear vertical space.
You can also decide if you want a combined wood chip and water tray or whether these are best kept separate.
Some trays supplied with the smokers are made from thin metal, but you can always buy a cast iron tray and replace it.
The heat output of your smoker is a very important consideration.
This is typically measured in BTUs which stands for British Thermal Units.
This is an international standard for heat measurement and is defined as the amount of heat required to heat one pound of water by one degree.
The smokers in our review range from 9,000 to 18,000 BTUs.
Hotter is not always better, however. Hotter temperatures can make meat dry out or cause it to burn.
When smoking the most important aspect is the temperature, so this is something that needs careful thought before you buy your smoker.
More important than the heat output of your smoker is the ability to control the temperature.
It is the temperature which will determine when the meat is done rather than a set time and this is why the thermometer is one of the most important aspects of your smoker.
A propane gas smoker will tend to run hot, so most will work best at lower temperatures and the ability to properly regulate the temperature is key to the results.
Some models have dual burners and controls, one for the wood chips and another for the cooking chamber.
These dual controls make it easier to run the smoker at lower temperatures.
As some meat can take more than 20 hours to smoke, the ability to accurately control the temperature is vital to a successful outcome.
As with any cooking equipment that you buy you will want to know that you are getting a good quality product.
After all, you are spending quite a bit of money, so you will want your smoker not only to do a good job but also to last for a long time.
One of the consequences of a smoker being made from cheaper material is that there may be smoke leakage, particularly from around the door.
Thinner metal will warp under heat and allow gaps to appear. This results in smoke and heat escaping so beware of this issue.
If there is a problem with smoke leaking around the cooking chamber door you may be able to rectify this by applying a high temperature gasket to seal it up.
However, buying a high quality smoker with strong and robust build quality is easier in the long run.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Choose A Propane Smoker?
Consider the capacity of the smoker, which is the available rack space.
Then look at the material that the smoker is made from, cast iron and stainless steel are best.
Finally, look at the temperature range and the access, whether this is single or double doors.
What Types Of Smokers Give The Most Smoke Flavor?
Unsurprisingly, the type of smoker that gives the most smoke flavor are the ones that are heated through burning wood, pellets or charcoal.
Although most people would argue that the offset smoker is the original and best type of smoker.
Should You Soak Wood Chips For Propane Smokers?
It is not advisable to soak wood chips before using them in your propane smoker.
This is because it will reduce the effectiveness and quality of the smoke.
How Often Do You Add Wood Chips To A Propane Smoker?
There is no set rule about how often to add wood chips to your propane smoker.
However, in general a good rule of thumb is every five to six hours.
Topping up old chips with a scoop or two of new chips is one way but check the quality of the smoke as you go along.
What Wood Should Not Be Used For Smoking?
There are several types of wood that should never be used for smoking meats or any other kinds of food.
These trees include fir, spruce, eastern cedar, sycamore, cypress, elm, pine, redwood, eucalyptus, sassafras and liquid amber.
Why Buy A Propane Smoker?
Unlike other more traditional meat smokers, a propane smoker does not need to be supervised and checked regularly.
For the most part you can set the smoker and go about your day until the meat is done.
Of course, you may occasionally want to check on it or add more wood chips or water but for the most part a propane smoker is less work.