Best Gas Smokers for 2021

Best Gas Smokers

Gas smokers, typically propane-powered, are easy to use and can produce great smoked food. These smokers are simple and simple to use. They are a metal box with a gas burner in the bottom, a tray for smoking woods, and racks for food. Gas smokers also tend to be less expensive than other smokers and pellet grills. Below are my recommendations for the best gas smokers.

Best Gas Smokers
Best Gas Smokers

Introduction to Gas Smokers

When backyard smokers started being manufactured there were a number of fuel options. First, there were Charcoal Smokers. Of course, this was in the days of gas versus charcoal, so a number of companies started making gas smokers. While these smokers were small and simple, they didn’t offer a lot of control or versatility.

This is one of the issues with gas smokers. They are very simple to use, but not all that flexible. 

In some models, the single control valve has useful settings like, ‘low, medium, and high’. This controls the burner, but not necessarily the cooking temperature. In cold weather, it may be necessary to turn up the heat to keep the smoker at an actual smoking temperature. Models vary, but you get the idea.

Smoke is produced in these smokers by smoldering wood chips which can limit the amount of smoke they can produce. Don’t get me wrong, these are good smokers that can produce a lot of smoked food while still not taking up a lot of space on your patio. Generally, these are small cookers that sit on short legs, close to the ground.

What gas smokers have to offer is an easy method of making barbecue and even beef jerky. They can run unattended for hours (even days) and give you a wide temperature range. These days, gas smokers have a lot better engineering, functionality, and versatility. If you are considering a propane smoker, these are the ones to look at.

Reasons to Buy a Propane Smoker?

Simplicity: Connect the gas, add some wood chips and water, start it up and then load the food. A full propane tank can power most gas smokers for as much as four days. Other than keeping it loaded with wood chips and water, these smokers need little attention.

Cheap Fuel: Propane, which powers most of these smokers, is a comparatively inexpensive fuel It is also a quick responding fuel. Gas smokers heat quickly. With most models, you can be smoking in 10 minutes or less. You also don’t have to worry about extension cords. 

Small Footprint: Gas Smokers are small for their capacity. This gives them a small footprint. The working part of a gas smoker is small so most of the unit is the smoking chamber. If you don’t have a lot of patio space, a gas smoker is an excellent solution. You will still be able to smoke a lot of barbecue. 

Inexpensive: When considering the price of a smoker, one way of considering the value is by comparing capacity versus price. What we get is the price of the unit per square inch. Gas smokers tend to be on the lower end of the price range. Gas smokers are inexpensive. That is the number one reason why they are popular. 

Reasons to Not Buy a Gas Smoker?

Low Smoke Production: A gas smoker uses a propane burner to heat the cooking chamber and heat wood chips until they smolder and produce smoke. About as simple as you get. The tray that holds the wood chips that make the smoke is somewhat limited. Gas smokers use water soaked wood chips and nothing else. It takes anywhere from three to five hours for the wood to be depleted.

Needs Refilling: Gas smokers are also water smokers, meaning that there is a pan for water in the bottom. Depending on the model, you may need to refill the water pan every three to four hours. If you are noticing a trend, you are not the first. Gas smokers are billed as easy to use and able to run for hours without intervention. Depending on the temperature you are cooking at and the amount of smoke you want, this might not be ‘as advertised’.

Construction Quality: Lastly, I want to be completely upfront with you. Gas smokers are not the main product or any company that makes them. Those companies want to make a good product, but also know that if these smokers cost too much, customers will buy something else. So they keep them cheap. Construction quality on many gas smokers isn’t the best. I have selected the best for this article, but don’t expect a precision piece of cooking equipment that will last for a very long time. 

Overall

Pros of Gas Smokers

  • Easy to Use
  • Inexpensive
  • Inexpensive to Operate
  • Small Footprint
  • Many Units can Hold Very Low Smoke Temperatures

Cons of Gas Smokers

  • Limited Smoke Production
  • Can have Awkward Space
  • Temperature Control is Limited

What to Look For in the Best Gas Smokers?

It’s a box with a burner. What is there to look out for? There are a couple of earmarks of a bad propane smoker. Selecting the right one takes inspection and imagination. The number one problem with these smokers is the size. 

These are upright smokers and some manufacturers don’t think through what you are going to cook inside them. You might get 700 square inches of cooking space, but if that is divided between four cooking racks, those are going to be small. If the cooking grates are too small you might not be able to stretch out a rack of ribs. 

Because there is a gas burner inside this smoker, it needs to have airflow. Heat and smoke have to escape so that air can enter the unit to allow for combustion. Gas smokers do not have limited airflow. Smoke will not be held inside for long. On the other hand, smoke shouldn’t be pouring out around the door. A good fitting door makes the smoker more efficient.

On the subject of doors, a good gas smoker has two. One for the smoking chamber where the food is and another, smaller door at the bottom, so you can access the smoker tray and water pan. Having two doors makes for a better propane smoker. You can add wood chips or refill the water pan without letting the heat and smoker out of the cooking chamber. 

Aside from these, look for solid construction. Flimsy smokers fall apart. 

Best Propane Gas Smokers

Pit Boss 3-Series Vertical LP Gas Smoker

Pit Boss 3-Series Vertical LP Gas Smoker

Pit Boss Series 3 Vertical LP Gas Smoker
Capacity
Temperature Range
Construction Quality
Usability

Summary

The Pit Boss Gas Smoker uses two burners to produce a wide range of cooking temperatures. This cooker can hold temps between 100° and 350°. Its single control knob adjusts the gas flow to a small smoker burner and a larger main burner. On low, this smoker is near cold smoking temps, which means it is perfect for smoking foods like cheese or slow-smoked fish. At its highest temperature, it is a smoker oven. 

4.3
  • One 3,500 BTU Burner
  • One 10,000 BTU Burner
  • 3 Porcelain Coated Cooking Racks
  • 722 Square Inches of Total Smoking Space
  • Water Pan and Chip Tray Access Drawer
  • Large Glass Window Main Door
  • Total weight of 52 pounds

What I Like: The Dual Burner design gives this smoker a wide range of possibilities. If you are looking for very low temperature smoke, this is the gas smoker for you.

Masterbuilt 40-Inch Thermotemp XL Propane Smoker

Masterbuilt 40-Inch Thermotemp XL Propane Smoker

Masterbuilt ThermoTemp XL 340G Gas Smoker
Capacity
Temperature Range
Construction Quality
Usability

Summary

Masterbuilt has more experience making gas smokers than anyone. The Thermotemp XL is both large and thermostatically controlled. Where most gas smokers have a low-medium-high dial, this one lets you set the desired temperature, giving you better temperature control. This is one of the more expensive smokers on this list and Masterbuilt does tend to have construction issues. 

4.1
  • One 15,750 BTU Main Burner
  • Four Chrome Plated Cooking Racks
  • 961 Square Inches of Total Smoking Space
  • Water Pan and Chip Tray Access Door
  • Large Glass Window Main Door
  • Thermostatic Control System
  • Total Weight of 92 Pounds

What I Like: Controlling temperature by degrees is a step in the right direction. With this smoker, you have much better temperature control than most of the competition without having to make adjustments.

Dyna-Glo 36-Inch Wide Body LP Gas Grill

Dyna-Glo 36-Inch Wide Body LP Gas Grill

Dyna-Glo 43-Inch Wide Body Gas Smoker
Capacity
Temperature Range
Construction Quality
Usability

Summary

The Dyna-Glo Wide Body is a basic gas smoker. What it has going for it is size. If you need the capacity, then this is the smoker to look at. The dual burner design gives some versatility in cooking, but really it is here to heat the large cooking space. With some creative adjustments, however, you can get this smoker to hold very low smoking temperatures.

4.1
  • Two 10,000 BTU Main Burners
  • Four Chrome Plated Cooking Racks
  • 1,235 Square Inches of Total Smoking Space
  • Water Pan and Chip Tray Access Door
  • Total Weight of 74 Pounds

What I Like: The wood chip tray on this smoker, like the rest of the unit, is oversized and comes with a lid that makes for more efficient smoke production.

Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24-Inch Propane Gas Smoker

Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24-Inch Propane Gas Smoker

Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24-Inch Gas Smoker
Capacity
Temperature Range
Construction Quality
Usability

Summary

Camp Chef is known for its affordable outdoor cooking equipment. This is a very simple but large gas smoker. It doesn’t have separate access to the water pan or chip drawer, but for a workhorse smoker, this is a good choice. There are also a number of accessories, like hanging racks for everything from ribs to sausages. 

3.9
  • One 18,000 BTU Main Burner
  • Three Chrome Plated Cooking Racks
  • 903 Square Inches of Total Smoking Space
  • Total Weight of 75 Pounds

What I Like: The large capacity and simple construction make this an excellent choice for those looking for dependability and the ability to do a lot of smoking. 

Cuisinart 36-Inch Vertical Propane Smoker

Cuisinart 36-Inch Vertical Propane Smoker

Cuisinart 36-Inch Vertical Gas Smoker
Capacity
Temperature Range
Construction Quality
Usability

Summary

The Cuisinart 36-Inch gas smoker is one of the most popular and best rated on the market. The truth is, it is also one of the least expensive. It’s a good smoker, but certainly not the best. The single burner has limited power and you might have trouble keeping this smoker at a high temperature during cold weather. However, you can’t argue with the price.

3.8
  • One 12,000 BTU Main Burner
  • Four Chrome Plated Cooking Racks
  • 784 Square Inches of Total Smoking Space
  • Total Weight of 40 Pounds

What I Like: At a little over $200USD, this is one of the least expensive gas smokers on the market. You still get two-door access and while limited in space and power, this is a good starter smoker.

Alternatives

When you look over the list of my picks for the best gas smokers, you don’t see a lot of innovation or variety. As I’ve said, these are metal boxes with a gas burner. However, there are some units out there that are pushing the boundaries of what a gas smoker is and what it can do. 

R&V Works Cajun Express

R&V Works Cajun Express Pressure Smoker

The R&V Works Cajun Express gas smoker is a marvel of garage engineering. This is a pressure smoker. Yes, you heard that right. Load it up with wood chips and food, clamp the door closed and fire up the burner. Pressure builds up inside the cooker driving smoke into meat. There is a pressure valve that controls the pressure inside. The benefit here is that you can smoke a couple of rib racks in less than 40 minutes. This unit will cook a whole brisket in two hours. 

On the downside, this unit is small. It will handle a 15-pound turkey or four racks of ribs. Also, it is frequently unavailable because demand has almost always exceeded supply. However, it is worth the wait if you are not willing to wait to get your barbecue cooked. Typically this unit sells for around $1,200USD.

Lynx Sonoma 31-Inch

Lynx is one of the top manufacturers of high-end gas grills. They are also one of the most innovative companies in outdoor cooking. They invented the smart grill. And they build this $3,300USD gas smoker. Think the price is a little high? Yeah. It is. It is also a countertop cooker, so not very big. However, it is available in both propane and natural gas and can be built into a custom outdoor kitchen.

What you get instead of lots of space is all stainless steel construction and a smoker that connects to a smart device. In fact, you have to control it via your phone because it doesn’t have a control panel. The Lynx app lets you select your protein and then the grill handles it from there. Hands free smoking.

Worth the Wait?

Broil King 28-Inch Vertical Propane Gas Smoker

One of the best gas smokers on the market is currently unavailable due to high demand and supply chain problems related to the Covid epidemic. The Broil King Vertical Propane Gas Smoker has superior construction to the others on this list. Of course, it also costs considerably more, but it is an investment in durability. If you are certain you want a gas smoker, but are not in a rush, bookmark this page and I will update this list once this smoker is available again.

One 15,000 BTU Main Burner

Four Stainless Steel Cooking Racks

770 Square Inches of Total Smoking Space

Water Pan and Chip Tray Access Door

Total Weight of 73 Pounds

Final Thoughts on the Best Gas Smokers

Gas smokers are, above all, simple. If you are interested in hardcore traditional barbecue, then you might want to look for a good charcoal smoker. If you want versatility and smoke flavor, then consider a pellet grill. And if you want to smoke some food and don’t want to make a big investment, then a gas smoker or an electric smoker might be perfect for you. 

When looking for a good gas smoker, make sure it has the capacity you want. You don’t have to use the whole cooking area, but if you need the space, bigger is better. Also, buy a cover. You can dramatically increase the lifespan of your smoker with a good cover.

Best Gas Smokers for 2021