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There is nothing more satisfying than whipping up homemade smoked foods, from meats to fish to veggies. If you’re going to be smoking foods at home, there’s no denying that propane (gas) smokers are extremely user-friendly and make convenient delicious food. Grab some wood chips and propane and those are all the accessories you need to put your gas smoker to good use. Whether you’re looking to outfit an outdoor cooking space or looking for a smoker that you can take with you on your outdoor adventures, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Rather than trying to rig your charcoal or gas grill into a makeshift smoker, it might be in your best interest to invest in a dedicated smoker. This way, you don’t need to worry about regulating the temperature as closely. While you can certainly opt for an electric smoker, we love gas smokers because you don’t need to worry about having an electrical outlet, and gas smokers can reach much higher temperatures. Regardless, you’re still on your way to smoking fish, ribs, chickens, brisket, and more.
Here, the best gas smokers to buy for your backyard.
Best Overall: Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical 36-inch Propane Smoker
Uses space efficiently
Long propane hose
Thermometer on the door
Only one door
Great for novices and seasoned cooks alike, we think this smoker is a solid option for anyone looking to up their outdoor cooking game. It’s equipped with four 14-inch square removable stainless steel shelves, which offer a total of 5.5 square feet of oven space, meaning you’ve got plenty of room to cook up large cuts of meat, like ribs, ham, and more. Despite its large cooking area, the smoker itself is not so huge that it will crowd your outdoor cooking space, thanks to its slender, vertical design. It also boasts a vent that is located on the back side of the smoker. Cooks like to use the top of the smoker as a handy prep table to hold tools, sauces, or plates, which is a great way to maximize space.
The smoker also has a long, 40-inch hose and regulator, which gives you more than enough length to place the propane tank tucked away in a cabinet or out of vision, and the combination porcelain-enameled water and wood tray makes smoking even more convenient. A convenient and accurate thermometer on the front door makes it quite simple to monitor and check the internal temperature. You have full control over how much heat is produced, and there is a rear vent, which can be opened and closed to control smoke and heat.
Reviewers love how easy it was to assemble. The door stays tightly sealed with a simple twist of the handle. Though it would be ideal for this smoker to have two doors, we think that given its approachable price and quality design, it is still a great purchase.
Best for Entertaining: Masterbuilt MB20051316 40-inch ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker
Can smoke 6 large turkeys simultaneously
Easy to operate
Convenient fuel gauge
If you’re looking for a smoker that can support a whole lot of food at once, this Masterbuilt model has a large capacity. Designed with four chrome-plated smoking racks and plenty of interior space for large cuts of meat or several trays of food, this grill is great for brisket, chickens, fish, ribs, or veggies. In fact, you could smoke six large turkeys at once—now that’s how to go big for Thanksgiving.
Using this smoker is extremely intuitive, as there is a temperature control sensor that works to ensure the correct temperature is consistently maintained, with no need to check in constantly and make any manual adjustments. There’s also a handy fuel level gauge that makes it easy to know how much propane is left in the tank, which is helpful to know when it’s time to switch out a fresh tank. A convenient safety valve will shut off the burner if the flame goes out, so there’s no need to worry about propane buildup.
Best Natural Gas: Broil King 923617 Vertical Natural Gas Cabinet Smoker
Has natural gas hookups
If you’re looking for a smoker that offers natural gas hookups, we love this Broil King model. With 4 cubic feet of cooking space and 15,000 BTUs, this smoker offers plenty of power and doesn’t rely on switching out new propane tanks. With two doors, you don’t need to worry about letting out smoke or heat if you need to adjust the wood chips or water tray. Adjustable stainless steel racks allow you to cook large cuts of meat. Plus, there’s a convenient bottle opener attached to the door handles.
An electronic ignition and an aluminum damper system make this smoker super easy to use and clean. At 73 pounds, this smoker is definitely a stationary piece, though its large weight lends it durability for the elements.
Best Portable: Masterbuilt MPS 20B Patio-2-Portable Propane Smoker
Only one burner and one door
Not enough space for large cuts of meat
Don’t let its unassuming size fool you—this portable smoker offers just as much power as some of its stationary counterparts. With folding legs and a lightweight body, this grill has a push-button ignition and a built-in thermometer, making it extremely user-friendly. Even if you don’t plan on taking it for RV or outdoor excursions, it’s just as useful as a grill for a humble backyard setup.
It offers one single burner that cranks out 5,000 BTUs, which is quite impressive given its size. In addition to this burner, you also get a regulator knob that can quickly and easily adjust the flame, as well as an air damper that works to fine-tune not only the temperature but the amount of smoke that the grill is generating. At such an approachable price, it’s a great option for someone who is new to smoking.
Best Value: Camp Chef 18-inch Smoke Vault Propane Gas Smoker
Compact yet still high powered
Accurate temperature gauge
Includes a jerky smoking rack
Only one drawer
We love how compact this smoker is, without sacrificing any of the perks of a big, high-quality smoker. Its humble size makes it a great addition to outdoor cooking areas that are tight on space. The smoker has adjustable smoking racks and adjustable heat control for ultra-precise smoking. The burner offers 18,000 BTU burners, while the three damper valves (one on top and one on each side) allow full control over temperature and smoke. The smoker also offers a temperature gauge that lets you check the internal temperature, which can range from 50 to 550 degrees.
What’s fun about this particular smoker is that it can also be used for baking bread, pies, and other pastries in addition to its normal smoking functions. The included jerky smoking rack allows you to make your own beef, chicken, or turkey jerky in no time. The snap ignition lights the fire easily and makes it very user-friendly. This model also offers a removable porcelain base tray, removable water pan, and heavy gauge wood chip tray, which are all great design features that make cleaning up a breeze. You can look into a fitted smoker cover, which is available separately.
Best Double-Door: Dyna-Glo 36-inch Vertical LP Gas Smoker
Large cooking space
Exterior won’t deteriorate over time
Having a smoker with two doors can be a serious game-changer. If you need to adjust the wood chips or water setup, you can access them easily without disturbing the internal temperature of the other chamber, thus causing an inevitable loss of heat. This heavy-duty cast iron burner smoker can easily distribute the cooking heat, which ensures that food smokes evenly. The smoker also offers air dampers on the top and sides that work to make it easy to adjust the temperature and smoke as the food is cooking.
This smoker also has a total of 784 square inches of cooking space among the four adjustable chrome-plated racks. With so much space, the grill can support up to 100 pounds of food at once. There’s plenty of cooking power, with 15,000 BTUs per burner. Additionally, the wood chip box is designed with convenient side handles that make it seamless to remove, refill, and clean. The large temperature control dial makes it easy to use, while the stylish gauge is just as attractive as it is functional. As far as durability, the black stainless steel exterior is covered in a powder-coated surface and high-heat paint that won’t scratch, fade, or rust after years of heavy usage.
Best Wide Drawer: Landmann Smoky Mountain 38-inch Wide Chamber Propane Gas Smoker
Wide chamber for large pieces of meat
Magnetic drawer closure
If you’ve got plenty of outdoor space and you’re wanting a smoker that won’t fall short on cubic cooking space, then looking for a wide chamber model is probably your best bet. This two-drawer access smoker offers a 38-inch wide chamber, making it a great solution for a person who smokes a lot of large cuts of meat, like ribs or brisket. The doors are constructed with welded hinges and magnetic closure, so you know there’s never going to be a leak that causes you to lose heat or smoke.
In total, this smoker offers 1,540 square inches of cooking space and five adjustable racks, which is significantly more compared to other models. The high-powered burner cranks out 18,000 BTUs. There is also a convenient temperature gauge on the front door to help you monitor the heat, and there are side vents and a top chimney for added temperature control.
The Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker (view at Amazon) is an unbeatable choice for both experienced smokers and newbies, thanks to its spacious interior and affordable price. If you want to be able to smoke huge amounts of food at once, consider the Masterbuilt 40-inch ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker (view at Amazon), which can hold up to six turkeys at once!
What to Look for in a Gas Smoker
Size and Space
Not all gas smokers are the same size and shape so understanding how much food you’ll intend to cook at once as well as how much outdoor space you have should be something that you factor into your choice. In addition, there are portable versions available on the market if you’re looking to take this smoker on your next RV or car camping adventure.
Most gas smokers are situated vertically, so even if you’re short on outdoor patio space, gas smokers are great because they are not as wide as some of their electric counterparts. Some smokers are available with “wide drawers,” which means they’re not as vertically narrow and allow you to smoke more food at once in wider aluminum trays. The wider your smoker, the larger pieces of meat you’ll be able to smoke whole.
Along with size, you should also consider how many doors are on the smoker. Some smokers have two drawers, which allow you to access the chips without opening the door to the food and disturbing the internal temperature. Not only are the number of doors important, but it’s also worthwhile to factor in the build of the doors and if they are prone to leaking. There is nothing more frustrating than a gas smoker that has doors that tend to crack open while cooking. Any leaks will affect the temperature of the smoker and the food that you’re cooking.
You can pay anywhere from $150 to $700 for a propane smoker. The size, features, and quality all play into the prices. If you’re new to smoking and are just looking for a fun side project, you’re likely fine to start off with a basic gas smoker. However, if you’re a seasoned smoker and want a durable machine to last you a long time and smoke a ton of things, then it’s probably in your best interest to invest in something a little larger and higher quality. Keep in mind that in addition to your smoker, you’ll need to pay for propane tanks and wood chips.
Can you use a gas grill as a smoker?
While you can use a gas grill as a makeshift smoker, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Gas grills are not intended to be used as a smoker, so even though you might be able to rig your gas grill to create a lower temperature environment where you can smoke meats and fish for long periods of time, it’s not the same as using a smoker. For one thing, you lose the smoky flavor of wood chips or pellets that you use for a traditional smoker when you use a gas grill.
Additionally, gas grills might have gaps between the lid and the grates that dedicated smokers don’t have, so it will be hard to regulate the temperature. If your gas grill has a flavorizer bar, you can always add wood chips or pellets there for that signature smoky flavor, but if you plan to frequently smoke lots of meats and fish, your best bet is to invest in a smoker.
What are the major differences between a gas and electric smoker?
While they are both smokers, there are some differences between gas and electric. For starters, electric smokers do not have the versatility that gas affords you. Gas smokers are much better at reaching higher temperatures, plus they’re much easier to transport if you want to bring yours on an outdoor adventure. You do need to monitor the temperatures on gas smokers more closely than electric, which can regulate themselves.
Electric smokers take a little bit longer to heat up (gas smokers can come to temperature much quicker) but it’s super easy to control their temperatures. They are the epitome of a “set it and forget it” type of appliance. Plus, they can be converted into a cold smoker easily. It’s also worth noting that you need access to an outlet to use an electric smoker.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Sara Tane has written nearly a dozen buying guides for The Spruce Eats, understanding what consumers and cooks need to consider before making a new purchase for their culinary adventures. After researching gas grills, charcoal grills, budget grills, and portable grills, she can help you find the best outdoor cooking setup for your home.