If you don’t have much time and just want to find out what the best natural gas grill is, then I recommend the Dyna-Glo as the best one.
Whether you’re just getting into barbecuing or you’re a seasoned pro looking to upgrade your arsenal, finding the best propane smoker will equip you to make your meat as delicious as you know it should be. Especially for those looking for incredibly high temperatures and fast cook times, a propane smoker trumps a wood smoker every time.
Advantages of Choosing a Propane Smoker
Propane smokers are my go-to choice for preparing large amounts of meat, especially when I’m pressed for time. Since ignition is instant, you’re going to reduce your cooking time by quite a lot by reaching higher temperatures much more quickly.
Another draw of a propane smoker is the ability to control the temperature inside the smoker. Since the heat is produced by a gas flame, many propane smokers can easily control the temperature inside with gauges. I recommend looking for a smoker that allows you to do this.
Finally, propane smokers melt off much more fat than other smokers due to the high temperatures. This makes a propane smoker a heart-healthy option for smoking meat. This may not be your concern right now, but trust me: if you have this smoker for a long time, it will eventually.
Features of a Propane Smoker
The belly of the smoker may come in several different shapes and sizes ranging from taller vertical models to squatter square ones. I’ve found that the vertical shape produces the best meat as it allows the heat to rise, pass through the entire chamber, and hang out at the top where your meat is smoking before exiting out the chimney.
Apart from the smoking chamber, there is a container for your smoking chips below and a water pan that allows you to alter the moisture content of the chamber while it’s cooking. The quality of all these parts is instrumental in choosing the best propane smoker. I always look for a double door construction that allows you to alter the moisture content of the chamber without disturbing the meat.
What to Look for in a Propane Smoker?
One thing I realized starting with my propane smoker was that the temperature increases much faster than on standard wood smokers. This meant that I was cooking meat well-done on the outside and raw in the middle. If you’re just starting with a propane smoker, look one with a clear gauge and a few knobs that allow you to change the temperature easily.
On the flip side, what I just said also makes a propane smoker ideal for cooking steaks rare or medium-rare. You can, indeed, flash the outside with those high temperatures while leaving the inside less cooked. If that’s your taste in steak (it definitely is mine), a high-temperature gas smoker should do you well.
How to Use a Propane Smoker
For those starting with their propane smoker, you want to make sure you use the best practices.
The first best practice is to season the smoker with a dry run, which means running the smoker without any food inside. This will burn away any oils or manufacturing products in the chamber and on the racks. That way, none of it will permeate your first batch of food.
Next, fill the water pan with your desired liquid. For autumn time family roasts, I love using cider to give it a homier flavor. I also recommend lining the tray with tin foil. Everyone likes an easy cleanup!
Finally, carefully follow your instruction manual on how to turn on and operate your propane smoker. Follow the steps on connecting the propane, turning the valve, igniting the flame, setting the temperature to the desired calibration, preheating, and finally adding in your chips and food and waiting for the magic to happen. All these steps are important and add to the quality of your meal in the end.
Due to the height of the vertical smoking chamber, I love doing whole smoked turkeys and hams in my propane smoker. The fat-melting quality of the high temperatures makes pork ribs healthier and juicier. And it goes a long way for a beautiful smoked salmon as well.
For a traditional smokehouse flavor, this vertical smoker can handle a huge yield at a high temperature. Featuring 784 sq. inches of cooking space, the smoking chamber should please beginners and expert smokers alike.
The safety and ease-of-use are what sell this model. A push-button starter with an electronic ignition makes lighting the chamber simple. Its sturdy cast iron construction promotes even and constant temperature throughout the smoking chamber. The Dyna-Glo has been tested for any outside conditions.
The easy-to-read temperature gauge, large capacity water tray, and wood chip box in a separate double door compartment mean that you’ll be able to regulate the temperature in the chamber for long periods, however you prefer it.
- Large vertical smoking chamber
- Cast iron construction that promotes even temperature distribution throughout
- Push-button starter and easy electronic ignition
- High capacity porcelain-enameled steel water bowl and chip box
- Double door design for easier control
- Some report the temperature to be occasionally off compared to the rack
- The temperature may be too high even at its lowest setting for some needs
The five and a half foot cooking interior of this smoker by Cuisinart is great for outdoor kitchens and patios. This compactness also makes it easier to manage for those learning how to smoke meat. With four stainless steel racks, it can handle whole chickens, racks of ribs, and plenty of veggies on the side.
- Compact size is convenient for patios
- Easy-to-read temperature gauge and well-placed vents allow for convenient temperature monitoring
- Wide racks that can fit whole birds despite the relatively small chamber size
- The water and wood chip trays are inconveniently placed. It makes fat drippings a problem when managing the amount of moisture in the chamber
This is another smoker with a huge interior. It has enough features to help novices figure it out and enough versatility and room to please any competition-ready smokers.
With over 700 sq. inches of room and four chrome cooking racks, the Masterbuilt can handle any meal. Its doors lock especially tight to keep the heat and smoke where it should be and make temperature management more consistent.
This also comes with a great convenience feature: a “cool-touch handle,” which allows you to open the door without gloves.
- Huge smoking chamber and wide racks
- Stainless steel construction with porcelain water trays
- Cool-touch handle to prevent injuries
- The water tray is a little hard to remove
- Chip box is in an awkward place as well
This double drawer smoker comes with spacious racks and easy temperature management. It also features two temperature control gauges: one for the cooking chamber and the other for the burner itself. This allows for even more precise management.
I also love the grate on the top of the chamber designed for warming marinades and sauces while the meat is finishing.
- Double-drawer construction for better temperature management
- Cool-touch handles
- Two temperature control gauges
- Sauce preparation grate
- The water tray isn’t large enough
- The door doesn’t seal as well as some of the others on the list
This 24” smoker may look like a bank safe, but that doesn’t mean it skimps on features. Along with two adjustable smoking racks, the Camp Chef Smoke Vault also comes with a jerky smoking rack for those who want more use out of their smoker than just meals.
Its heavy gauge steel trays and adjustable temperature controls add to its appearance of being a heavy-duty little smoker for any smoking needs.
- Compact design built for portability and convenience
- Heavy steel trays add durability
- Jerky rack
- Lack of insulation
- Features more slots for shelves than the shelves that come included
Of all the smokers reviewed, the Dyna-Glo wins out with its huge 784 sq. inch cooking chamber, 4 adjustable racks, sturdy cast iron construction, and many conveniences.
Double doors allow you to manage your trays without disturbing the cooking chamber. The versatile temperature gauge helps keep you in charge of the vents and moisture levels. Easy startup with a push-button electric ignition seals the deal.
The Dyna-Glo checks all the boxes for a high-temperature propane smoker, no matter your experience level. Its construction is sturdy and convenient to give anyone the room to make meat masterpieces.