6 Greatest Propane Smokers — Reviews and Buying Guide
Last updated: Mar 17, 2020
55Hours of Research
If you thought grilled food couldn’t taste or look better, then you should try preparing meals with smokers which enhance that scrumptious smoky flavor and crispy texture. The best propane smoker will also you the advantage of a small footprint which is easy to set up and carry anywhere without worrying about stoking coals, power interruptions, soot pollution, complicated controls, babysitting your smoker, or budgetary constraints.
Some of the most important features to consider before buying a propane smoker are the cooking area and space, number of grates, dimensions, and weight of the smoker. The cooking area and the number of grates will determine the size, amount, and variety of meals you can prepare at once while the weight and dimensions influence its storage and portability.
Top 6 Propane Smokers Review 2020
After analyzing numerous smokers and feedback from buyers, we were able to narrow down on the six best propane smoker models. The comparison table below indicates their overall ranking and outstanding attributes. You will also find detailed reviews of the features, strengths, and weaknesses of each of the propane smokers, followed by a comprehensive buying guide which covers the key features extensively, offers maintenance tips and features a helpful FAQ segment. The review ends with a summary of our top three picks.
We always advise buyers to check out online reviews from fellow customers for quality and performance before buying any product. Our top pick is a stylish cuisine centerpiece smoker which has very high ratings from verified buyers, and our review of its features confirms that it deserves those accolades. Pit Boss Grills 77435 ticks all the boxes you would expect to find in the best propane meat smoker grill: multiple cooking grates, dual burners, wide range of temperature, effective heat control, mobility, and easy operation.
It features a voluminous cooking space of 6,050 cubic inches and three grates which can be adjusted or removed to fit more food. The two stainless steel burners which have a total heat capacity of 13,500 BTUs are able to achieve high temperature of up to 350 degrees for searing and can be operated independently to prepare different dishes simultaneously.
There is a viewing window where you can monitor the smoking meal and a door seal with a heat indicator.
A grease trap at the bottom holds any dripping grease, so you don’t have to improvise the water tray to catch it. In addition to the 53.9-pound maneuverable weight, Pit Boss Grills 77435 features two wheels on the rear legs and a handle at the back which allows you to tilt the smoker to facilitate smooth mobility for transport and storage.
Although you can hang the smoking meat on the top grate, we would have loved to see hooks for hanging meat. The water pan is sufficient, but it could be bigger to minimize refilling.
If you want to upgrade your smoker or you have found every smoker you have owned to be too small for your sizeable family or large gatherings, then Smoke Hollow 44241G2 44-Inch Vertical Propane Gas Smoker will serve you well as the best propane smoker for the money.
It comes with a temperature gauge, two independent burners which can yield temperatures as high as 400 degrees, massive cooking space and a whopping five removable grates to fit several types of dishes.
Each of the two burners has a high BTU output of 12,000. The two burners are advantageous because they generate twice as much heat and smoke as ordinary smokers, allow you to use different types of wood for a variety of flavors, and maintain the set cooking temperature in cold weather or when switching between the burners.
The chrome plated grates consist of two standard grids, two jerky grids, and one rib rack. You will also get a sausage hanger with eight hooks. Impressed buyers have reported smoking over 70 pounds of ribs at once.
The lower door of the unit houses two wood trays and a large porcelain-coated water pan.
Some customers faced difficulties with increasing the temperature above 200 degrees. This has been attributed to clogging of the gas connection or turning on the smoker before turning on the gas tank, which causes the tank’s safety valve to limit gas flow. To fix the latter, disconnect and reconnect the tank, turn the gas flow a quarter of a turn, ignite the smoker then turn the tank fully open after ignition to avoid triggering the valve.
Large cooking space
Five grates of different types
Two wood trays
Large water pan
Difficulties with increasing the temperature above 200 degrees
Our Budget Pick is one of the best vertical propane smokers, which allow you to be economical with money without scrimping on the cooking area. In addition to the cooking area of 595 square feet, Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Gas Smoker is equipped with three stainless steel cooking grates which can accommodate different types of dishes. The grates are removable to fit larger meals, and coated with chrome for durability and easy cleaning. There is also a built-in top grate to keep your sauces and marinades warm.
This smoker produces a total heat output of 16,500 BTUs per hour. Rotary knobs ignite the wood chips in seconds and regulate the temperature to smoke your meat evenly while an adjustable upper vent offers you more control of the heat.
Safety measures include handles that are heat resistant to avoid burning your hands when placing or moving food on the grates.
You cannot convert to natural gas with this Char-Broil smoker because it is designed to be used with a standard 20-pound propane tank which is included in the package.
We love the convenient packaging of the detaching powder coated steel legs because it reduces the overall size of the package which translates to cheaper shipping costs, the versatile water pan which also catches any dripping grease, and the dual door design which allows easy access to replenish water and wood chips without allowing heat to escape.
Although the 76-pound unit is equipped with handles for easy transport, some customers wish it had wheels to improve mobility.
Our main aim of reviewing the best propane smokers is to help you hunt for bargains and arm you with all the knowledge you need before making your purchase. Our selection caters to all kinds of budgets, which is why we have included Landmann USA 3495GLA Smoky Mountain Vertical Gas Smoker as the best propane smoker under $300. Few models in that budget range can compete with its features.
The 34-inch smoker comes with 698 square inches of cooking area, a meat hanger and four chrome plated grates to accommodate different types of dishes.
You don’t have to worry about half-cooked food because the burner has a heat output of 13,500 BTUs which distributes heat evenly. To ensure the correct temperature is maintained, the smoker features an adjustable top chimney vent and a temperature gauge located on the front door.
We like the square legs which prevent the smoker from wobbling, and the placement of the wood chip box and water pan in the lower door which allows you to refill water and add wood chips without opening the main door of the burner. This is convenient in limiting heat loss when smoking. However, there are several complaints regarding the small size of the water pan and the workmanship of the door which utilizes magnetic closure because it takes effort to keep it closed.
This 36-inch propane smoker unit comes with four cooking grates made of stainless steel for durability and efficient heat conduction and a vent located in the rear side to increase your food preparation space and control the amount of cooking temperature. A 40-inch hose and regulator are included in the package so you can readily attach them and start enjoying the savory smoky flavored meals right away. You will also find a helpful recipe book and manual on the manufacturer’s website.
Different dishes can be prepared in one go on the cooking area of 784 square inches, and you can also remove the grates to fit large food like turkey. The components have been coated with porcelain to lengthen their lifespan and survive outdoor cooking environments.
Given its features and capability, Cuisinart COS-244 offers great value as the best small propane smoker. It has a small footprint due to its space-saver vertical fashion and relatively light weight of 69.5 pounds which makes it easy to transport to your favorite cookouts and camping sites or set up on a patio regardless of space restrictions.
The only thing we did not like is the combination tray of water and wood which is inconvenient if replenishing wood chips when there is a lot of water in the pan. The close proximity of the pan to the burner also depletes water fast so you have to keep refilling it.
Featuring 784 square inches of cooking area, four porcelain-coated cooking grates which can hold a total of 100 pounds of food and a burner with a heat output of 15,000 BTUs, the Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP is an affordable unit which equips you with the essentials you need to get started on smoked meals. The burner is made of cast iron for durability, and the grates can be adjusted to accommodate various sizes of food.
The air vents located at the top and sides of this CSA-certified can be slid to regulate the amount of cooking heat. As part of its adherence to the CSA (Canadian Standards Association) safety standards, Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP does not allow conversion to an alternate fuel source.
We like the convenient ignition with an electronic push button which saves time that would be otherwise spent on warming the smoker. Another awesome advantage is the double-door design, which allows easy access of the wood chip box and steel water bowl without worrying about heat escaping. The built-in stainless steel thermometer is a welcome addition, although it is the main thing customers are unhappy with because of the inaccurate readings which can cause undercooking or overcooking of food. It would also be nice to have hooks for hanging meat for better infusion of smoke. For these reasons, this unit may not be the best vertical propane smoker, but it is an ideal starter smoker which gets the job done. It is also super simple to assemble.
Cast iron burner
Push button ignition
3 air vents
Inaccurate temperature gauge
No hooks for hanging meat
This guide focuses on the benefits of investing in a propane smoker and the most important parameters to take into account beforehand. We also offer useful tips to maintain your unit for the best vertical propane smoker, and tackle the most pertinent questions from propane smoker buyers in the FAQ segment featured at the end of this comprehensive buying guide.
Advantages of propane smokers over other types
Propane smokers combine the convenience and high temperature of electric smokers with the distinctive smoky flavor of charcoal smokers and are much cheaper than pellet smokers.
Other benefits include a small footprint which improves storage and transport as well as built-in heat control, which maintains steady temperature to cook food evenly.
You can use your propane smokers in areas with no electricity and even inside your house without worrying about messy soot from charcoal.
The models featured in this review boast of easy controls, fast start-up and convenient replenishing of wood and water, which minimizes heat loss when smoking food. Since these units require minimal babysitting, you can leave the food smoking and dabble in other activities.
The best propane grill smoker combo units offer the most flexibility because they feature multiple chambers which provide a wide range of cooking methods, fuel, and temperature.
Features to consider while choosing a propane smoker
The features below will help you maximize the value you will get out of your smoker and will apply to both the best propane grill smoker combo which can accommodate several guests and the most compact propane smoker for your small family.
This refers to the cooking surface which can range from 250 to 2,000 square inches, and is normally indicated by the manufacturer. Some also show the amount of food you can smoke at once. For instance, each of Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP’s grates has a food capacity of 25 pounds.
The ideal size of the cooking area will depend on your space availability and catering needs as well as the number of people and the size and amount of food to be smoked.
The cooking space factors in the height of the internal cooking capacity and is expressed in cubic inches or cubic feet.
Extra burners, grates, warming racks, and space-saving meat hanger hooks extend the cooking space to accommodate several dishes and are adjustable to fit larger meals.
A large cooking area does not necessarily translate to a large cooking space. A good illustration of this is the Pit Boss Grills 77435 which has a larger cooking area of 884 square inches but a smaller cooking space of 6,050 cubic inches compared to the Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Gas Smoker which has a cooking area of 595 square inches and a cooking space of 7,566 cubic inches.
Number and coating of grates
Multiple grates allow you to prepare large amounts and different types of dishes in one go, which saves time and effort. The grates can be adjusted to different heights or removed to accommodate different sizes of meat and other dishes.
Some feature a warming rack which prevents your sauces and marinades from going cold as the rest of the dishes are cooking.
The units featured in this review of the best propane smoker grills come with a minimum of three grates.
The coating protects the grates from rust and corrosion and prevents food from sticking to the grates, which makes cleaning easier.
Number of burners
Having more than one burner which can operate both simultaneously and independently offers several benefits. You can get more output of heat and smoke when you combine them and when used independently, the burners allow you to prepare more dishes, incorporate different types of wood chips for various distinctive flavors and alternate between the burners without heat fluctuation. Examples of dual burner units are the Smoke Hollow 44241G2 44-Inch Vertical Propane Gas Smoker and the Pit Boss Grills 77435.
Dimensions and weight
The size and weight of the unit will depend on the number of people you are cooking for, the amount of food to be prepared, the extent of space available for set up and storage of your prospective propane smoker and whether you intend to take it with you for outdoor cookout sessions.
A big advantage of the best vertical propane smokers is their space-saving design which reduces the footprint of the unit to fit small spaces.
Materials used: Propane smokers are constantly exposed to high temperature, messy spills, and with outdoor usage, natural elements. This is why the construction material needs to be durable, easy to clean, and able to retain and distribute heat evenly without melting or deteriorating. In addition to influencing the overall weight of the unit, the type of your grill material will determine the amount of heat retention as well as the durability of the unit and its resistance to deterioration from rust and weather elements. The models on our list feature stainless steel construction which is resistant to rust and heavy enough for stability purposes. The Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP features a burner made of cast iron which has high heat retention and distribution capacity and grates coated with the protective porcelain which is non-sticky and easy to clean while the Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Gas Smoker and the Cuisinart COS-244 are equipped with durable and rust-resistant stainless steel cooking grates.
Ease of assembly: Propane smokers are typically shipped with some detached parts to reduce the size of the package and costs of its shipping. Most of them require minimal assembly and the manufacturer may include a manual in the package or publish it on their website. Reading online reviews will help you anticipate the extent and complexity of assembly and the tools required.
Temperature control: Propane smokers typically boast of a wide range of temperature, which also goes higher than smokers of other types. This also necessitates greater heat regulation to avoid undercooked or overcooked meals. For the best propane meat smoker, look for a unit which can maintain consistent temperature to cook food in low heat for more extended periods to allow for more absorption of the smoke and flavor or sear your steaks for that crispy texture without burning or drying it out. Great choices from our list include the Smoke Hollow 44241G2 44-Inch Vertical Propane Gas Smoker which is equipped with a temperature gauge on the door, the Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP which features a built-in thermometer, and the Pit Boss Grills 77435 which comes with a heat indicator. Air vents and burner control dials are also used to regulate temperature.
Convenient replenishment: All the smokers in this review feature water pan and wood tray, which can be accessed for refilling without opening the main smoking chamber. This prevents heat loss.
Ease of cleaning: One reason for porcelain’s popularity in smoker’s components is the smooth finish, which is easy to clean. A grease tray like the one found in the Pit Boss Grills 77435 collects any dripping grease for later disposal.
Warranty: Confirm the length and terms for the main unit and the various components like burners, which may have different coverage. Since propane smokers are designed and certified for propane gas, it is advisable to confirm with the seller or manufacturer before converting it to natural gas.
Tips to keep your smoker in a top-notch condition
Avoid using chemicals to clean the smoker because they can cause chipping of the coating or leave a lingering smell. This may affect the flavor of your next smoked meal. Warm water and soap are enough, but you can mix vinegar with sodium bicarbonate for stubborn stains.
Empty and clean the grease pan after every smoking session to avoid grease overflow which can start a fire. The kind of fire you don’t need for smoking.
Check your gas connection for leakage and obstruction of gas flow before you start cooking.
Get a waterproof cover to protect the propane smoker from dust and moisture when in storage.
Do not convert the smoker to natural gas unless the manufacturer approves of it.
The part that is most prone to clogging in a propane smoker is the burner tube. This can limit gas flow. To clean the tubes, brush them side to side from the center outwards to prevent pushing debris further into the tube.
Although you can, all the manufacturers of these models advise against converting these smokers to natural gas because they are designed for usage with propane gas. It would also defy the safety requirement for CSA-certified models like the Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP.
Porcelain is the most popular coating featured in cast iron and stainless steel grates because it protects them from corrosion caused by natural elements without affecting the grate’s heat distribution capacity. The smooth surface is also non-sticky and easy to clean, and the porcelain can last for years as long as you do not use abrasive tools and cleaning agents which cause chipping. The Cuisinart COS-244 and the Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP are some of the smokers from our list which feature components coated with porcelain.
The Pit Boss Grills 77435 is a masterpiece meal smoker in aesthetics, features, and functionalities. The vibrant red color commands attention while the cooking space, dual burners, wide range of temperature, and heat indicator speeds up your cooking session. You can also easily wheel it to your backyard or take it with you to any outdoor event.
Our second choice is another dual burner unit, the Smoke Hollow 44241G2, which features 11,232 cubic inches of cooking space and five cooking grates, making it the best propane smoker for the money for caterers of large crowds and barbecue aficionados who enjoy smoking different sizes of meat in one go. The large cooking space, four grids, a rib rack, and an eight-hook sausage fingers can fit 70 pounds of several types of meat of various sizes.
The Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Gas Smoker is a budget-friendly option which maintains the correct cooking temperature with an adjustable upper air vent, heat control rotary knob and a two-door design with separate access to the water and wood tray from the main smoking chamber.