Best Propane Smoker – A Simple Buyer’s Guide
Add a little Smoke and Flavor to your meat with a propane smoker
If you are reading this article, probably, you have enjoyed a good piece of smoked meat. You went to a local BBQ restaurant and ordered smoked pulled pork, brisket, ribs, or anything else smoked, and now you are hooked.
Now you want to cook your own smoked ribs or brisket at home and want to find the best propane smoker to accomplish your mission.
Well, you are in the right place! I have been cooking in smokers for years, and I have to say that smoking meats is both a fine art and a lot of fun, especially while enjoying your favorite beer.
Meat smoking takes hours, and when paired with your favorite sport, beverage, company, and family pass time, we are talking about a great recipe for quality time and fun outdoor cuisine.
Our Top Picks – The Best Propane Smokers Reviewed
- Best Overall: Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP 36″ Vertical LP Gas Smoker
“Well built and overall a good smoker grill.”
- Our Second Pick: Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical 36″ Propane Smoker, Black
“We like what Cuisinart has built here”
- Good Pick: PIT BOSS 77435 Vertical Lp Gas Smoker
“I currently own a PIT BOSS Smoker and enjoy it”
- Best propane smoker for beginners: Masterbuilt MB20051316 Propane Smoker with Thermostat Control
“Good choice for those learning how to use a smoker grill. Built-in safety features.”
- Good Pick: Masterbuilt 44241GW 2-Door Propane Gas Smoker with Window, 44-Inch, Black
“This smoker grill is a great pick for those waning to cook multiple meats at once, large capacity.”
With so many propane smoker options, How to Choose the Right Propane Meat Grill Smoker?
What to look for in a propane smoker
When shopping for a new meat BBQ Smoker grill consider the following
- Your budget will be a huge deciding factor when comparing propane smokers. You will come across meat smokers at prices anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Understanding your budget will help you narrow down the options.
- Keep in mind that smoking meat is all about knowledge, skills, recipes, meats, and wood smoke. The most expensive smoker in the world will not guarantee you a world-class brisket.
- Your cooking style will also be a factor when shopping for meat smokers. Some people like to cook large quantities of meat. In contrast, others only smoke a rack of ribs every two months. For those backyard warriors smoking meats every weekend, a well-built smoker is a must, while beginners might do well with a budget-friendly, easy to use propane meat smoker.
- The capacity of your smoker is another important factor when shopping for BBQ smokers grills. Unlike grilling, smoking meat takes hours, meaning whatever you place inside the smoker will likely be the only meal you will cook that day. You can cook quickly and keep turning out ribs racks in your gas grill all day long, but you will likely tighten up all the cooking space for hours in your smoker grill when cooking in a smoker. If you are cooking for events or large gatherings, consider a large smoker.
- Consider a small propane smoker if you simply want to enjoy an occasional “off the bone good” rack of rib. Smaller smokers will require less water, wood chips, fuel and cleaning.
Water tray, wood chip box, and firebox design
- The design and capacity of your water tray and wood chip box are essential. The water will keep your meat moist and tender during long cooks, and the wood chip box will be in charge of holding wood chips or chunks for smoke and flavor.
- Water and smoke play essential roles in every smoker grill. Having a good size tray and an easy-to-use wood chips box will help you manage your BBQ meat smoking a bit better.
- I prefer lightweight gas or propane smokers because I want to move them around my backyard and keep the smoke away from my family while cooking. However, keep in mind lighter meat bbq smokers are usually built with thinner walls and materials and might not last as long.
- Make sure you have ample space for your smoker. Smokers can be big tall boxes with large doors, and you will need to operate your smoker comfortably and safely. Ensure you can easily open the smoker doors to avoid issues when accessing your meat in the cooking area.
- Owning a Smoker grill can be very rewarding, but BBQ smokers require a few accessories to get the best cooking experience out of them, unlike traditional gas grills. At the very least, you will need wood chips or chunks to add smoke flavor to your meat.
- We also recommend suitable heat gloves, meat temperature gauges to monitor your meat, cleaning products, and a good cover for your smoker.
Why does smoked meat taste so good? We all want to know!
Propane or Gas BBQ Smokers are a great way to learn the fine art of smoking meats and add flavor to bbq meats. Meat Smokers are designed to be used at low cooking temperatures and with water trays to keep meats moist during slow and long cooking.
The process of smoking meat, “low and slow,” breaks down proteins in the meat muscle tissue, making the meat very tender. Add the smoky flavors of your favorite smoke chips such as cherry, pecan, or hickory, and the result is super thunder meats with super deep rich flavor.
Smoking meats is an incredibly satisfying hobby, and many people have turned their backyard into amazing BBQ Kitchens. Smoking meats is an excellent way of adding flavor to lean meats that are good for your waistline but are sometimes not as tasteful as fat-rich meats.
So how long do you smoke meat?
It depends. Factors such as cooking temperature, type of meat, and smoker, expect to cook the meat for about an hour per pound. Depending on your own taste, this time estimate will change, but our rule of thumb is one hour to an hour and a half per pound of meat. However, you should also familiarize yourself with the USDA cooking recommended temperatures.
Choosing the best meat smoker for beginners, Here is a Tip!
If you are new to the meat smoking world, welcome! Smoking meat can be lots of fun and is considered by many a fine art. However, you shouldn’t be intimidated by the different kinds of smokers, meats, recipes, techniques, wood chips types, or gurus’ advice. We recently wrote a detailed article on the best smokers for beginners, if you are new to smokers and want to get additional information and learn more about smokers make sure to read our Our Smoker for Beginners Guide.
Who propane smokers are best suited for?
Propane smokers are well suited for beginners and those seeking simplicity. Many experienced users prefer charcoal smokers as these can yield the best flavors when combined with good quality lump charcoal. However, charcoal smokers do require more experience and attention, thus more work.
Propane smokers are simple to operate, light up the gas burner, set the desired temperature, and let rip! Propane smokers still yield amazing flavors when combined with good quality wood flavors.
Focus on finding a suitable smoker that will fit your budget and your skill level. Don’t run to a store and buy a thousand dollar smoker because some “expert” said that the smoker is the best in the world. Smoking meat takes practice, experience, and skills, and if you are a newbie, that thousand-dollar smoker will not be helping in any way.
Other propane smoker reviews recommend complex smokers with belts and whistles, but propane smokers yield great results, are easy to use, and produce great flavor. While doing our research for this propane smoker review, we found that although many smoker grill manufacturers are adding bells and whistles but building quality, safety and cost are still fundamental to a good propane smoker.
Instead, consider the following when buying a propane smoker grill:
- Find a Smoke that fits your budget, and if you are just starting to smoke meats, try to play with a budget-friendly smoker before jumping on that thousand-dollar smoker.
- Try to buy products from brands that provide good customer support. If you run into problems or have questions, a good customer support line can be appreciated.
- Look for meat smokers with easy to use controls and igniters.
- Have fun!
Essential Grill and Smoker Accessories
This is important! Without wood chips or wood chunks, your meat will not have much flavor and definitely will not have any “BBQ smoky” flavor. The smoker grill whole point is to smoke meat. You need wood chips or chunks. Have fun and try different wood flavors until you find what works best for you. We wrote an article about the best wood chips to smoke briskets, explaining the difference between all different wood flavors.
Vertical Smoker Cover
Unless you have a ceramic smoker, most smokers in this list can be affected somehow if left exposed to the elements. An inexpensive cover can help protect your smoker and make it last longer. We wrote an article where we researched and tested the best grill covers for grills and smokers.
Most smokers come with excellent gaskets and door seals, but the factory gaskets and seal can become weaker over time. I like to have some gaskets handy to quickly tackle smoke leaks and keep on cooking. No downtime!
Here are our Top Picks for the best propane smokers. The Research
The Best Gas Smokers on the Market
The Dyna-Glo vertical smoker is well built and easy to use. My favorite feature of this smoker is its two-door design. One door covers the smoker’s cooking area while the bottom doors allow access to the porcelain enameled steel wood chip box. Having these dual door systems is a great feature since you can check your wood chips, water, and fire without opening the cooking compartment, avoiding losing heat and smoke.
This specific Dyna Glo vertical smoker offers 784 square inches of cooking space and 4 adjustable wire racks and is powered by a 15,000 BTU cast iron burner with an electric push-button ignition system.
We like the door handles and sliding air dampers as they are easy to operate and practical.
- Easy to operate making this smoker grill a good choice for both beginners and pros
- The large capacity water bowl is well appreciated as you won’t run our water often or have to open the smoker too often to check for water levels. I have owned smokers with small water boxes, and adding water every hour while every surface around you is hot is not ideal, but you let heat and smoke out.
- The built-in temperature gauge has a “smoke zone” indicator, which is helpful for beginners.
- A large wood chip box comes in handy for those long cooks as you can pack a lot of wood chips in this smoker’s wood box.
- The burner on this smoker works well, which means easy heat control.
- Dual door design helps keep the cooking area untouched while adding water or wood chips. We really like this.
- We would like to see steadier walls and legs, but this would also mean the smoker would not be light and portable.
Cuisinart is a big company that is well known for its kitchen appliances and cookware. Cuisinart makes clean looking appliances, and their outdoor products are no exception.
The Cuisinart Vertical smoker provides a cooking space of 784 square inches with four stainless steel racks. We like this smoker’s design, and if Cuisinart changes its water box/smoker box singed, it can easily become our top pick. However, the water and wood chip box is a fundamental part of any smoker, and we took notice.
Cuisinart Vertical Smoker also features a dual door design that provides easy access to the water and wood chip tray without opening the main door. The double door design helps keep your cooking area temperature intact and smoke intact when adding wood chips or water.
- The door designed will help you keep your cooking area intact while adding water or wood chips.
- The door handles design makes it easy to open the cooking and fire area.
- The ignition system can be operated using a single hand and is easy to use.
- We like that Cuisinart is a well-established company.
- The smokebox and water box design can be problematic for some as you do not have too much space for wood chips and water, meaning you will need to refill the water and chips more often than other smoker grills in this list.
- The water/wood chip tray is a single tray with a round area in the middle for chips. Some might find this design limiting.
- We would love to see a bit better insulation on the smoker and a nice gasket to seal the front door.
The PIT BOSS vertical gas smoker is another option for entering the BBQ meat smoking world. This vertical smoker provides eight square feet of cooking area, three porcelain coated cooking grids and 12,500 BTUs of total cooking power with a push-button piezo igniter.
We appreciate the external wood chip box, making it easy to reload and add more chips without opening the smoker door. However, unlike the Dyna Glo, you will need to open the main smoker door to add water.
Another feature we enjoy is the large front window built into the main smoker cabinet door. I enjoy seeing how the meat is cooking and checking for problems without opening the main smoker door.
I actually own a Pit Boss Pellet smoker and have been pretty happy with the smoker. We will be adding a review article on Pellet Smokers soon!
- We truly enjoy having a glass window and see how the meat is cooking.
- Adequate capacity with good room to cook for your family.
- The retractable chip tray is easy to operate, and we like how easy it is to add wood chips and even change chips flavors while cooking.
- Being able to remove the wood chip tray while cooking allows you to get creative with wood chips flavors during different stages of the cook.
- A small water pan means you will have to monitor the smoker more often and add water more frequently.
- Having a glass window on the cabinet door does add a bit more maintenance. You will need to clean the glass with vinegar or other product to keep it clean.
- I currently own a Pit Boss Pellet smoker with a glass window, and it has been challenging to keep that glass clean!
We like the Masterbuilt MB20051316 Thermostat control system, although not having an internal temperature gauge means many users will have to adopt a temperature gauge of some sort. Not having an internal temperature gauge can turn off some users, but this smoker is still a good machine. The Thermostat control system should keep the temperature right where you set it.
This propane smoker grill is a big boy and can handle a lot of food. We really like the innovations included in this smoker. For instance, the temperature sensor will automatically adjust the fire burner to control the temperature to whatever you set it to.
The Masterbuilt MB20051316 is one of the best propane smoker for beginners. This smoker grill is very easy to use and its controls are easy to undertand. If you are a beginner and want to learn more about the best smokers for beginners, here is an article you can read.
This smoker grill also has an auto-shutoff valve that will sense if the flame has gone out. This smoker is an excellent option for beginners. It can cook across its four chrome-coated smoking racks with its 15,750 BTU stainless steel burner. Overall we feel this is a safe and straightforward smoker to use, making it a good choice for beginners.
- The thermostat control system makes life easier by eliminating the guesswork when setting the cooking temperature. Simply follow the temperature guide on the control knob, and you are done.
- We appreciate this BBQ smoker grill’s safety features, such as its auto-shutoff valve, when the flame goes out. Again, this is a good choice for beginners.
- The fuel level gauge is a nice feature for those who often cook. Always knowing how much fuel you got left in the tank is a huge benefit..
- The two-door design is always welcomed, and the wood box designed is very convenient.
- No internal thermometer – Unlike every other product in this article, the Masterbuilt smoker relies on the thermostat control technology to manage the grill’s temperature. I prefer to be able to see the actual internal and meat temperature.
- You might have to spend a bit extra on a meat thermometer.
This Masterbuilt propane smoker is an old favorite and an all-around good smoker. This smoker offers six and a half cubic feet of cooking area and can to easily handle enough food for the largest parties. The stainless steel burner can be fired up using a push-button ignition.
This smoker grill includes seven cooking grates, which offers you many flexibilities and different cooking setups. The grill grates package in this smoker consists of a rib rack and even a sausage hanger.
The double doors allow easy management of the smoker wood boxes without opening the main cooking area. We love the large glass window!
Dual stainless Steel burners Operated independently operated for optimum performance and temperature control. You also get a porcelain-coated wood chip and water pan with this smoking package! ( see what I did there)
- This smoker includes seven cooking grids, four standard grates, two jerky grids, one rib rack, and one sausage Hanger.
- The built-in temperature gauge will help you understand what’s going on inside your smoker.
- We like the door handles on this smoker as they remain pretty cool to the touch.
- This smoker is built well and is overall a good option for every meat smoking style.
- Large porcelain-coated water pan, which means fewer water checks or refills.
- The dual burners offer proper temperature control.
- Beware that glass windows in smoker grills will stain ( with smoke and grease ) and will require some cleaning
- No gas valve auto-shutoff if the flame “goes out.”
- This is a big boy! Make sure you have plenty of space around your outdoor kitchen for this smoking grill.
Whether you are new to meat smoking or are looking to buy a new smoker, the options in this list will do the job.
Our top pick is the Dyna-Glo Propane Smoker, with the Pit Boss following very close and winning second best.
As discussed earlier in this article, factors such as your budget, cooking style, smoker design, and portability should be considered when shopping for a propane smoker.
Both the Dyna-Glo and the Pit Boss propane smokers “check” many boxes, but the Dyna has a large water box, and the Pit Boss smokebox design is easy to use.
Most importantly, make sure you enjoy this journey. Smoking meat is a lot of fun and can be very rewarding.
Enjoy Life, Get Grilling!