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Best Propane Smoker (2021): Finding the Right Sidekick for Smoking Food You'll Love to Serve

by Outdoor Cooking Pros September 01, 2021

Best Propane Smoker (2021): Finding the Right Sidekick for Smoking Food You'll Love to Serve

Getting a propane smoker shouldn’t be too much of a big deal.

But in reality, it’s not that simple.There are different types and brands to choose from, with each product catering to different needs and wants. 

With all the options, it's hard to figure out which are the best gas smokers available.

Wondering what are the best propane smokers? With this list, our chefs and kitchen experts help you decide which smoker is the best choice for you!

Top 5 Propane Smokers in 2021

1. Masterbuilt ThermoTemp XL: Best Overall

Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Gas Smoker

At first glance, this smoker looks huge. The Masterbuilt ThermoTemp XL lives up to its name by having  four chrome-coated smoking racks. It allows you to cook large amounts of meat without the hassle of having to wait for a small portion to finish.

Temperature

A lot of propane smokers have thermometers attached to them, but they’re often inaccurate due to their placement and other variables.

But with the ThermoTempt XL, you won’t have to worry about that issue.

That’s because the Masterbuilt made a  patented dial that allows you to control the heat of the smoker. That way, you won’t be opening the door every ten minutes with your own thermostat to check the temperature.

The temperature sensor control is placed at the back of the smoker to send messages to the burner system for more accurate readings.

With the Thermotemp XL, you can cook with temperatures as low as 175°F and as high as 350°F.

Design

The quality of the ThermoTemp’s build won’t make you think you wasted your money. Here's why:

  • This propane smoker features double doors. You won’t have to disturb the top rack if you ever want to check on the bottom rack or vice versa.
  • The chip tray is located on the side of the bottom door so that  refiling your wood chips is easier. Remember to use gloves when opening the tray because it can get hot.
  • The gas tank can be attached to a bracket on the side of the smoker, so you don’t have to lug it around if you move the smoker somewhere else.
  • The Thermotemp XL has a  safety featurewhere the flow of gas is stopped if the sensor detects if a flame has gone out. It’s a good addition if you ever plan on using the smoker on a particularly windy day.

There's a lot of good things to be said about the Masterbuilt Thermotemp but there are a few downsides to it.

While there is a window so you can look at your food while it's cooking,  the smoke will easily cover the view.

People have also complained about bad customer service when they contact Masterbuilt. If you ever need something from them, patience will be your best friend.

Pros
  • Has a glass window for easy viewing
  • Steel racks are dishwasher safe
  • Offers ample cooking space
  • Great temperature control
Cons
  • Poor customer service
  • The window needs to be cleaned often due to the smoke

2. Camp Chef Smoke Vault: Best Value

Camp Chef Smoke Vault

Yes, we know that it looks like a bank safe. But even with its unique design, it does the job well done.

While it doesn't offer much cooking space, this smoker features  2 adjustable chrome-plated cooking grids and 1 jerky rack so you can use it for briskets, ribs, or small meats like burgers or sausages.

Check Out the Build on This One

Compared to other wood chip box trays, the steel wood chip tray that comes with the Camp Chef Smoke Vault is sturdier.

So while your cooking space suffers from its small build with only 300 inches for cooking, it is  extremely portable. That way, you can bring this propane smoker to your neighbor's party without much hassle.

What About its Cooking Performance?

It has   adjustable dials to control the internal temperature  of your gas smoker from 160°F to 350°F so you can tweak the temperature as you please.

Our team gathered that people use this vertical smoker even withlow gas in their tank which could be useful to you if you don't have much gas left but still want to smoke a chicken thigh or four.

However, the build quality doesn't hold up compared to other gas smokers on the market. Smoke can leave the door, so if you can attach a gasket to one, consider buying one for it.

Other customers have also complained that the temperature doesn't hold well, especially on windy days.

Overall though,if you're a  beginner smoker who wants to use a liquid propane gas smoker, this right here is value you can't argue with.

Pros
  • Easy to transport
  • Doesn't use a lot of gas
  • Good temperature control 
Cons
  • The quality of the build could be improved
  • Little space for cooking

 3. Cuisinart 36 Propane Smoker: Best Budget

Cuisinart 36 Propane Smoker

Moving aside from the fact that Cuisinart primarily makes kitchen appliances, they also sell one of the best propane smokers available.

The Cuisinart 36 Propane Smoker is an affordable vertical smoker that  offers great featuresfor a price that won't make you feel like you lost an arm.

Great Service

Unlike other smokers on the market, Cuisinart offers  three years of warranty on their propane smokers. It's especially useful if you end up needing repairs on your smokers.

Aside from that, the manufacturer's website includes  a manual and a recipe book, just in case you need some help when cooking a feast fit for kings.

Even Better Cooking Space Than Our Top 2 Pick

The Cuisinart 36 has  two doorsso you can easily access the water and chip tray without losing heat when you're cooking.

It has a cooking area of 784 square inches so you won't have to worry about lacking space when cooking.

The door has a  tight seal ensuring that little heat and smoke escape during a cook. So if you ever need to refill the water or add wood chips when cooking, you won't need to worry about losing heat.

We were also surprised with these benefits:

  • It comes with a  fuel level gaugeso you don't have to be nervous about losing gas in the middle of a cookout.
  • The four porcelain enameled steel tray racks are all removable and are  dishwasher safe, making it easier to wash after cooking something like racks of ribs.
  • The Cuisinart 36 Propane Smoker weighs 69.5 lbs. which makes it perfect for transporting around other locations. And because of its minimal size, you can use it even with space restrictions.

However, the water and wood chip tray is placed in an awkward position where it could be difficult for the chips to ignite.

Pros:
  • Easy to assemble and all the parts are sturdy
  • Racks are dishwasher safe
  • Comes with a 3-year warranty
  • The door comes with a tight seal
Cons:
  • The size and placement of the water and chip tray could cause problems when igniting the chips; it could also cause the water to deplete fast
  • Doesn't have a glass window for viewing

4. Dyna-Glo 36” Vertical Gas Smoker

 Dyna-Glo 36” Vertical Gas Smoker

While Dyna-Glo isn't as well known as Masterbuilt, they've still made gas smokers that are worth talking about.

With the Dyna-Glo Vertical Gas Smoker, you won't need to needlessly worry about how to stuff a turkey in it. That also includes  noteworthy features to make your lifeawhole lot easier:

  • Has a  cooking area of 784 square inches, so it's not lacking in space.
  • The  porcelain-coated four racksare all adjustable, allowing you to carve up more room if you ever need it.
  • It  contains 3 air ventsso your meat comes out crispy and well cooked. They also adhere to the Canadian Standards Association.
  • It also  ignites with an electronic push-button, so you won't have to go through the hassle of heating the smoker.
  • The double door feature retains the heat even if you have to change the wood chips in the wood chip box or replenish the water in the steel water bowl.

One thing we've noticed is that customers aren't happy about the built-in temperature gauge saying that its readings are inaccurate. Due to that issue, we suggest buying a cooking thermometer, just in case.

Pros
  • Has push-button ignition to heat the vertical propane smoker easily
  • Adjustable racks to offer more space
  • Easy to assemble
Cons
  • No hooks included
  • No window for easy viewing when cooking

 5. Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Gas Smoker

Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Gas Smoker

The Char-Broil Vertical Propane Gas Smoker is one of the  cheaper optionson the market for those who don't want to splurge 300 USD on a gas smoker.

And while it isn't as expensive as other brands, it has a lot of good qualities to it. So let's take a look:

  • It offers a  595 square inches cooking areawith 3 chrome-plated cooking racks so you can easily cook a large steak or three in there at the same time.
  • There's a built-in warming rack on the top so you can keep your sauces and marinades warm while you smoke your food.
  • The  water pan and wood chip box are located at the bottom door so you won't have to worry about losing heat at the top if you need to add water and wood during a cook.

The overall construction is good for the price, but it's not the best one on this list. People have also reported receiving their Char-Broil smokers with dents.

There are also issues with the thermometer that comes with this so it's advisable you buy your own thermometer when working with this vertical propane smoker. While there are mixed reviews about the Char-Broil smoker, you can't deny that it's an inexpensive option for those who want to start smoking.

Pros
  • Offers a warming rack on top
  • Inexpensive option
  • Good construction
Cons
  • The temperature gauge doesn't work very well

Reminders When Buying a Propane Smoker

What to Look for in a Gas Smoker

Before you go buy one of the best propane smokers for your next party, you should assess your needs and wants first:

  • Do you need a smoker that doesn't take up a lot of space?
  • Do you want one that can warm up your sauces while smoking?
  • Are you the type of person who wants to do simultaneous smokes in one go?

Let's break it down so you know which is the best propane smoker for you!

Cooking Space

This refers to the  available cooking space inside the smoker.

The number of  grates,burners, warming racks  all fall to accommodate for a bigger cooking space.

Cuisinart 36 Propane Smoker outside

The cooking area is a different term for where it indicates the available space, not including the racks for cooking. So while a manufacturer might say they have a large cooking area,the actual cooking space might be smallerthan that.

Grates

If you want to  cook in one go, finding how many racksyou can fit in your desired smoker is a must.

You'll also want to find out if the racks are  adjustable to different heights orremovable so you can fit in more food or larger meats. You can also look for a rib rack for your ribs, or a hook so you can smoke your sausages with ease.

Some smokers offer a warming rack so your sauces or marinades don't cool while you smoke your meats.

Number of Burners

Multiple burners mean the ability to produce more heat and smoke. Aside from that, if you use them independently, you can cook more dishes, and incorporate different wood chips for different flavors.

Weight and Dimensions

Be sure you have an area prepared for your smoker. Measure the space you have allotted and figure out if the smoker will fit or not.

You don't want to buy a smoker only for you to find out that it doesn't fit in your patio.

Other Things to Look Out For

Doors

While it isn't bad to have one door in a smoker,  two doors will save you from losing too much heat.

opened door of Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Gas Smoker.jpg

Double doors are made so you can access the wood chip tray without losing heat during a smoke session. Most smokers are made with this feature, so you won't have to look too hard for one.

You also want to check if the door seals extra tight so you don't lose too much smoke. If your door doesn't shut tight, you can always install a gasket so it shuts tight the way you want it.

Ease of Assembly

Most smokers are shipped in parts to reduce the shipping fee. Check out the reviews and f ind out how simple or complex it is to assemble the smoker you want.

Ease of Cleaning

With all the smoke, meat, and juices in smokers, cleaning smokers might end up being a pain.

Check if your racks are dishwasher safe or if they're coated with porcelain, or better yet, chrome.

Warranty

Sometimes, parts are damaged in transit, or a few parts didn't make it in your package. Maybe after three months, your smoker isn't working as well as it used to.

Check the warranty details of the manufacturer and how long that period lasts[1].

How to Keep Your Gas Smoker in Top Shape

  • Don't use chemicals when cleaning your smoker. The chemicals can chip off coating or leave a lingering smell in it. This could affect the smell of your food, which you definitely don't want. Warm water and mild soap will do the trick, but you can mix vinegar with sodium bicarbonate for stains that just won't go away.
  • Clean out your grease pan after every session. This could cause overflow and cause an unwanted fire.
  • Clean your burner tubes every week.If the burner tubes are filled with debris, it can limit gas flow. Brush them side to side, from the center outwards to clean them.

FAQ

Why Should I Use a Propane Smoker?

Propane smokers might suit those who don't want to go through the  hassle of standing around a charcoal smoker for several hours without rest.

Beginner smokers can easily benefit from using a propane smoker since it's  easier to maintain a steady temperature compared to a charcoal smoker. While many think that charcoal beats the flavors of a propane smoker, the flavor from gas smokers still has a lot to offer.

Are There Drawbacks to Using a Vertical Propane Smoker?

When using propane smokers, it would be wise to  keep at least 2 gas tanks near you when cooking.If your propane gas smoker doesn't have a gauge to determine if you're low on gas, you might find yourself scrambling to find an extra tank while your pork is still half-cooked.

Are Propane Smokers Better Than Electric Smokers?

Compared to electric smokers, propane smokers offer more reliability because you can use them anywhere.

If you decide to go camping and you want to bring your smoker with you for some nice smoked chicken, you won't need to worry about finding an electrical outlet.

Aside from that, you can't get the  same high temperaturesfrom an electric smoker, unlike a propane smoke vault can. However, everyone's wants are different. A lot of people still enjoy using electric smokers so don't be too quick to judge.

Conclusion

After looking at the best propane smokers, which one is the best propane smoker of them all? Our chefs and kitchen team found that three propane smokers stood out from the rest.

Best Overall: Masterbuilt Thermotemp XL

Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Gas Smoker

The Masterbuilt Thermotemp XL is a great smoker for all  types of smokers, whether you're a beginner or a veteran.

Like its name suggests, the cooking area is  extra large  so you can cook as much meat as you can fit in it. It's perfect when you have to host a large gathering for friends and family.

Using this smoker will help you keep  steady temperatures with its self-regulating temperature control so you don't have to constantly check if you've gone up or down 50°F. Because of the wheels attached to the bottom, you won't need to break your back trying to move this smoker around, either!

Overall, we think it's the best propane smoker compared to its competitors.

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Best Value: Camp Chef Smoke Vault

Camp Chef Smoke Vault

If you want to get the best out of your money, the Camp Chef Smoke Vault offers a lot that other vertical propane gas smokers have and don't have.

While the cooking area is small compared to other propane smokers available on the market, it's way  easier to move around because of its size. If you want to go on a trip and smoke a nice rib, it won't be a problem with this vertical propane smoker.

With the  adjustable temperature dials, temperature control shouldn't be an issue when you use this smoker. It doesn't use as much gas compared to other gas smokers on this list, which could save you a ton of money in the long run.

With all that in mind, we think this is the best gas smoker for those who want to make sure every penny is worth it.

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Best Budget: Cuisinart 36 Propane Smoker

Cuisinart 36 Propane Smoker

If you're not quite ready to dish out big bucks for a smoker, the Cuisinart 36 Propane Smoker is your best budget deal.

With a lot of cooking space, you can smoke meats for any party you plan to host.

There's also a  fuel level gauge so you'll know when to replace your gas tank with another one when smoking. If you're not a big fan of smoke escaping from the door, the Cuisinart 36 keeps you and your friends safe with its  seal-tight door.

Best of all, their customer service is great. So if you ever need anything from them, there's little chance of you feeling frustrated. If you want to try a smoker for the first time but  don't want to drain your savings for one, the Cuisinart 36 is the best propane gas smoker option for you!

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