The Best Propane Smokers for 2024

best propane smokers

SmokedBBQSource is supported by its readers. We may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you if you buy through a link on this page. Learn more

If you want to make smoking as easy as possible you need to seriously consider buying a propane smoker.

They are one of the most affordable types of smoker, produce great tasting results, can fit a lot of food at once, and don’t use up a lot of space thanks to their vertical design.

We think the best propane smoker for most people is the MasterbuiltThermoTemp XL thanks to its large cooking capacity, thermostatic temperature control, and clever features like the chip tray access door.

There are plenty of other good options though so be sure to read through and we’ll help you right the right smoker for your budget.

We’ll also go through tips for getting the most of out your new gas smoker.

Top Pick
Runner Up
Best Budget
  • Accurate and consistent temperatures
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Easy to clean
  • Very simple to operate
  • Low propane use
  • Decent build quality for the price
  • Nice tight door seal
  • Lack of a seal for the cabinet doors
  • Several cosmetic defects
  • Leaky door
  • Water and chip tray design
Top Pick
  • Accurate and consistent temperatures
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Easy to clean
  • Lack of a seal for the cabinet doors
  • Several cosmetic defects
Runner Up
  • Very simple to operate
  • Low propane use
  • Leaky door
Best Budget
  • Decent build quality for the price
  • Nice tight door seal
  • Water and chip tray design

The Best Propane Smokers Reviewed

1. Best overall – Masterbuilt MPS ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker

Read our full Masterbuilt MPS ThermoTemp XL review.

Masterbuilt Thermotemp propane smoker

The latest propane smoker from Masterbuilt has been redesigned and comes with a bunch of new features.

The most exciting new feature is the thermostatic temperature control which regulates the flow of gas to the burner and gives you a much more accurate temperature for smoking meat.

The MPS 340/G ThermoTemp XL gives you four chrome coated racks for a total of 792 square inches of cooking capacity.

There’s also the smaller 330G model which will save you a little bit of money. We would recommend getting the larger XL model, especially if you plan on smoking full packer briskets or racks of ribs.

You can cook anywhere between 180 to 350°F which is perfect for low and slow. You can also get hot enough for crisp skin when cooking chicken.

There is a sensor that shuts off the flow of gas if it detects that the flame has been extinguished which is a nice safety feature and especially useful on a windy day.

The single stainless steel burner puts out 15,7500 BTU with a heat diffuser above the burner to distribute the heat more evenly.

The chip tray has been mounted on the lower door which is a clever touch and makes refilling chips quick and easy.

What we like:

  • Thermosatic control for more accurate temperatures – Unlike a lot of propane smokers that use cheap thermometers, the MPS ThermoTemp uses a thermostat mounted at the back of the smoker to talk to the burner system which allows for more accurate and stable temperatures.
  • LP gas tank connector and fuel gauge The gas tank attaches to a bracket on the smoker on the side, which makes it easy to move the smoker around. The fuel gauge lets you make sure you won’t run out of propane during a cook.
  • 2-door access – If you need to access the chip tray you can open the lower door without distributing your cooking food. The chip tray is cleverly connected to the door, which makes it very easy to refill.

What we don’t like

  • Short warranty period – One year warranty that does not cover paint or rust is on the short side, especially considering other affordable brands like Pit Boss are now offering 5 years.
  • Some minor build quality issues – I found the door didn’t seal particularly well, and there was a few minor dings on the model I ordered.

There’s a window on the door so you don’t have to open the cooking chamber to look at your food.

There are two locking caster wheels (and two regular wheels on the other side) so it’s easy to move the smoker around your deck.

The Masterbuilt MPS 340/G has everything you need in a propane smoker; plenty of room, great safety features, and the patent-pending thermostatic control.

2. Runner up – Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24″

Read our full Camp Chef Smoke Vault review.

Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24

“Are you smoking meat or robbing a bank?”

This is the first thought that came to mind when we first laid our eyes on the Camp Chef Smoke Vault.

With its eye-catching design and low price point, we had to know more.

Camp Chef has been around for over 20 years and produces a massive range of outdoor cooking equipment including grills, pizza ovens, and smokers.

The Smoke Vault comes in a smaller 18″ model, but we’ve never regretted having extra space and the price difference isn’t even that much.

In a world of cheap, poorly insulated gas smokers, the Smoke Vault stands out with its solid construction. Although the door is a bit thin, everything else about this smoker feels sturdy.

The heavy-gauge, steel wood chip tray is better built than we’ve seen in some of our other smoker reviews.

Since this smoker doesn’t require constant babysitting, you won’t have to sit by it all day drinking beer (if you do want to sit outside all day drinking beer, then go right ahead and pick up an offset smoker)

What we like:

  • Straight forward setup – Could be done by one person (although putting the legs on is easier if you can convince a friend/wife to lend a hand)
  • Very low propane use – We’ve seen people get hours of smoking on nearly empty tanks.

What we don’t like:

  • Door leaks smoke – Very common to see on smokers around this price point, and not really a deal breaker. Always prefer to see more tight fitting construction though.

If we had to single out any other issues with the Smoke Vault it would that the racks feel cheaply made and the metal is on the thin side so smoking in extreme weather should be done with caution. It would also be nice to have a second door to access the wood chip tray like on the Masterbuilt.

Other than those minor complaints, this is a fantastic value smoker.

3. Best Budget Propane Smoker – Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical 36″ Propane Smoker

Cuisinart is well known for producing kitchen appliances, so you might be surprised to learn they sell a very popular propane smoker.

The COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker has a lot to like at an affordable price, with four 14 x 14 in removable stainless steel grill racks for a total cooking area of 784 square inches.

The design is similar to the other vertical cabinet style smokers we’ve looked at. You get two doors so you can easily add water and wood chips during a cook.

Unlike the first two smokers we’ve looked at, the Cuisinart COS-244 comes with a 3 year warranty.

What we like:

  • Quality materials and straight forward assembly – All parts are sturdy and instructions are easy to follow and setup should
  • Tight seal on the door – While it’s normal to see a small amount of smoke leakage, the twist-lock door is very solidly built

What we don’t like:

  • Water and chip tray design – The size and placement of the water bowl and chip tray can block oxygen and heat from rising and cause chips to not light. You can leave the water reservoir empty and then fill it once the chips are lit.

4. Best portable – Masterbuilt MPS 20B Patio-2-Portable Propane Smoker

There aren’t a lot of options when it comes to portable propane smokers. This is surprising considering propane is perfect for a tailgate or campsite cook.

You will struggle to fit really large items into the MPS 20B Patio-2 (who came up with this name!), although Masterbuilt claim you can fit up to 4 chickens or two racks of ribs.

The racks are on the narrow side, so a full rack of ribs would need to be cut down to size to fit.

You will need your own 1Lb gas cylinder. You can also buy an adapter hose to run a 20Lb cylinder.

What we like:

  • Compact size with foldable legs – This smoker only weighs 22 pounds and measures 16 x 24 x 23 inches. The legs fold for convenient transport.
  • Holds temperature well – For a smoker of this size it seems to hold temperature well.

What we don’t like:

  • Tiny water pan and chip tray – The included pan and chip tray are so small you are much better off placing a disposable aluminum pan at the bottom for water, and buying a 12″ pellet tube to put next to the burner to produce smoke.

If you don’t mind using a few hacks like adding a pellet tube and your own water tray, this is a great little smoker to take camping.

If you’re willing to consider other types of smokers, check out our guide to the best tailgate grills and smokers.

Get the latest price on Amazon.

5. Pit Boss 3 Series Vertical Gas Smoker

Pit Boss are known for its range of affordable pellet grills. What most people don’t know, is that they also offer two models of gas smokers.

We would ignore the 2 series due to its compact size (unless you want something portable). The vertical 3-series hits the sweet spot for most people, with 720 square inches of cooking area.

You’ll be able to smoke between 100°F – 350° which is actually a wider range than our top pick.

There are three grill grates, although if you are cooking anything tall you’ll need to remove at least one.

What we like:

  • External wood chip access – Should be a standard feature, always great to see this option included.
  • Dual burner control – You have one burner for the wood chips, and one for cabinet temp which allows you to reach those really low temps.
  • Five year warranty Pit Boss offers some of the longest warranty periods.

What we don’t like:

  • Build quality is just OK – You’ll get a decent amount of smoke loss
  • Narrow – Will struggle to fit some of the larger barbecue cuts

Other propane smokers worth considering

We have completed dozens of other smoker reviews that didn’t make our top 5, but are still worth considering. Here are some of the standouts:

Dyna-Glo 36″ Vertical LP Gas Smoker

If the Masterbuilt MPS 340/G is outside of your price range, the Dyna-Glo 36″ offers a decent set of features at a much lower price point.

You still get 4 adjustable steel wire racks for a total of 784 square inches of cooking space.

There’s the double door system which we always recommend so you can access the wood chips without opening your cooking chamber.

The temperature controller is similar to the Masterbuilt smoker, with a 15,000 BTU burner, electronic ignition button, and control dial at the bottom of the smoker.

What we like:

  • Large smoker box – What you don’t realize if you only compare the number of square inches of cooking space, is how important the width of the smoker is. In this case, it’s wide enough to fit large pieces of meat.
  • Water dish & chip tray easy to access – Thanks to the two door design it’s easy to top up your water or wood chips during a smoke.

What we don’t like:

  • Can struggle in cold weather – In cold and windy weather the Dyna-Glo can struggle to hit low and slow smoking temp, although this can be fixed by placing hi-temp gasket material around the door.
  • Inaccurate built-in thermometer – This is the case with so many smokers, you are better off investing in a quality dual probe unit.

This propane smoker isn’t built with the highest quality materials, and you will get some smoke leaking out the door. That said, it’s great value for money and will get the job done.

This is a great first smoker to learn on.

Get the latest price on Amazon.

Char-Broil Vertical Propane Smoker

If you’re just thinking about getting into smoking, some of the price tags on the most recommended smokers might put you off.

With any smoker at this price point, you have to weigh up the pros and cons.

The Char-Broil propane smoker packs a lot of space into a small 2’x2’x4′ footprint.

With 595 square inches of cooking surface there’s plenty of room for racks of ribs, just watch how wide your cuts of meat go and think about grabbing some rib racks to expand your capacity even more.

It’s a heavy unit and overall construction is good for the price, although it won’t compete with some other smokers in this guide.

The thermometer is somehow even worse than normal for built-in thermometers, so definitely make sure you get a proper thermometer setup.

We aren’t fans of the water tray design with space for wood in the middle (hello wet soggy mess!).  

Luckily you can fix this with some simple modifications or just add your own small pan at the bottom.

The good news is that this smoker often goes on special so you should be able to get a bargain.

Get the latest price on Amazon.

Landmann Smoky Mountain Vertical Smoker

Don’t get this confused with the Weber Smokey Mountain charcoal smoker!

The Landmann offers 1576 square inches of cooking space, solid construction and 10 year warranty.

You’ve got plenty of temperature control options with an adjustable hea dial and top chimney and side damper vents

Other than some issues with the door magnet (you don’t want the smoker door popping open during the cook), and ultra-sensitive temperature control, this is a good choice in the larger category.

Get the latest price on Amazon.

Who propane smokers are best suited for

Propane smokers are great for people who want speed and convenience at an affordable cost.

They can cook delicious food without a lot of expensive bells and whistles (like WiFi) you find on pellet grills.

If you are put off by the thought of spending 16 hours slaving over charcoal then gas could be the way to go.

They share a lot in common with electric smokers, with a few distinct advantages which we cover in our propane vs electric smoker guide.

Unlike electric smokers, many pro pitmasters are big fans of gas:

Steven Raichlen

Steven Raichlen, A guide to vertical gas smokers

A long night spent tending the fires might make you question your decision (not to mention your sanity) to go old-school—it sure seemed a good idea when you bought that wood- or charcoal-burning offset barrel smoker. Hey, what’s so wrong with the “set it and forget it” philosophy, you wonder as you grope to silence your 2 a.m. alarm?

If you desire a less demanding mistress (or a good night’s sleep) and have a couple hundred dollars to spend, consider a propane-fueled vertical smoker.

These convenient, easy-to-use smokers deliver a lot of bang for the buck whether you’re new to smoking or have many long smoke sessions under your belt.

If you want the set it and forget it option for a low price then gas is a good option. While you can get pretty hands off with some charcoal smokers with the right knowledge and skill, it usually requires a much more expensive smoker (like a kamado style ceramic grill) to get the same level of temperature control and stability than you get with some affordable gas smokers.

If you’ve already done some smoking but are fed up with managing a fire then a gas smoker makes a great 2nd smoker to add to your collection for those extra long smoking sessions.

What to look for in a propane smoker

Propane smokers are actually quite easy to shop for. Unlike gas grills or pellet grills that can come with a crazy amount of features (and marketing jargon), most pellet smokers share a similar design.

Here are a few key features and potential issues you should look out for.

Two doors are best

You want to be able to access the wood chips without opening the door to the main cooking chamber.

Most of the smokers in this guide utilize a two-door design. Sometimes you can find a smoker with one door, but the chip trays are loaded separately like the Smoke Hollow 44.

Watch out for the smoker width

If you only look at the total amount of grill space you need to be careful. Propane smokers can brag about huge square inches of surface area, while the actual width is quite narrow and can’t fit a full brisket or a rack of ribs.

The Camp Chef Smoke Vault we reviewed at the top of this post is nice and wide, allowing you to fit plenty of food at once.

Build quality and leaky doors

A lot of these smokers are built from cheap, thin metal. The door to the cooking chamber can be especially vulnerable to leaking.

We’ve pointed out in the smoker reviews above which smokers struggle with leaking. It’s not a deal breaker, as you can always do an easy mod and install high temp gasket seal.

A bit of leaking is fine and won’t affect your food quality. Luckily propane is already incredibly cheap to run.

How propane smokers work

Like their cousin the electric smoker, propane smokers use a very simple design. You will almost always see a gas burner at the bottom connected to a propane tank.

Graphic showing the various parts of a propane smoker

The most popular are cabinet style. Racks for holding your food are stacked vertically above the water pan, wood pan and gas burner. This explains why you might also hear these described as “vertical smokers”.

Meathead goes into more detail about how a typical gas smoker works, and why you should always look for a smoker with two doors.


Meathead Goldwyn, Gas Smokers: Buying Guide

There is a burner at the bottom, usually brass or cast aluminum, very durable, with numerous jets. Above the burner is a shelf for a pan for the wood, and above that is a shelf for a water pan.

Above that are four or more shelves for food. The bottom vents cannot be adjusted to make sure the gas gets enough oxygen.

At the top there is either a chimney or a damper or two. You should always leave the top vent open all the way to prevent soot buildup on your meat.

My favorites have two doors. A small one at the bottom so you can check the flame and add wood and water. The main door provides access to the cooking chamber.

The pros and cons of buying a gas smoker

As we’ve mentioned a lot of the pros and cons of buying a gas smoker are the same as you would see with an electric smoker.

  • Set it and forget it smoking – There’s no doubt that like electric smokers, gas is much less work to maintain than a charcoal or wood smoker
  • Easy temperature control – Related to the ease of use, most gas smokers have a push button ignition and simple temperature controls

There are also a few advantages unique to cooking with propane.

  • More portable  – Unless you have an electric generator, you’re not going to bring your electric smoker camping with you. Propane tanks are much easier to take with you camping or tailgating.
  • Better smoke flavor – While it won’t match cooking with charcoal or wood, the general consensus is that gas produce better flavor than electric.
  • More reliable – There’s less that can go wrong than with an electric smoker. And because you don’t rely on electricity they are more reliable and make a good back up in case you lose power to your house.

Gas smokers aren’t without their issues though. Some potential problems include:

  • Sometimes you’ll have to switch out the propane tank during a long cook – You can minimize this by always starting with a full tank and making sure you have a few spares on hand. This isn’t really any different from having to top up the charcoal though, but it does give the edge to electric smokers for convenience.
  • Some models run on the narrow side – Makes it difficult to fit in larger cuts of meat like a whole turkey or large brisket. In our reviews for the best gas smokers above we’ve commented on width for each smoker.

While this last point isn’t unique to this type of smoker, there does seem to be a large number of cheaply made smokers that leak heat and smoke.

Poor insulation makes it especially hard to maintain a long and stable cook.

Getting the most smoke out of your propane smoker

When you buy a propane smoker you’re getting ease of use, for a great price, at the expense of quality.

The most common issues people run into are related to cheap construction. When you look at the price tag compared to some other smokers, that is understandable.

If you want a high quality set it and forget it smoker that’s super easy to use, then we recommend saving a little more cash and investing in a pellet smoker.

But before you think we’re gas smoker haters, let’s make one thing clear:

You absolutely don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to produce great barbecue

In fact, many home barbecuers are able to produce fantastic results by making some simple modifications to their gas smokers.

1. Replace the shoddy stock wood pan that came with your new smoker

For some reason, most manufacturers insist on providing poorly made wood chip boxes/pans with their smokers. So when you fire up your new gas smoker you struggle to generate enough smoke.

Luckily there are a few simple and cheap enhancements you can make.

First off, the cheap chip box that came with your smoker needs to go. Instead of that you can pick up an 8-12″ cast iron skillet (the biggest that will fit in your smoker).

Watch this video to see how a skillet can replace the crappy box that comes with your smoker.

Master Forge 30" Smoker Chip Pan Modification - Lowes # 0516432

The best setup will depend on your individual smoker and may require a bit of experimenting.

You can try to place the skillet (with wood) on the tray, or if you are still not getting enough smoke then try placing it directly on the burner

These simple upgrades can make a world of difference.

Some smokers won’t fit them, but we find that wood chunks of work best. So ditch the chips and grab a bag of wood chunks like these applewood chunks from Weber.  

Add enough to cover the bottom of the cast iron pan without stacking them.

Then you’ll need to add 1 or two new chunks every 4 hours or so. While you can use chips, you’ll find yourself having to refill much more often, which defies the whole point of going for propane.

2. Get more smoke with a pellet box

If you can’t get your hands on a cast iron skillet, then you can also pick up something called a A-MAZE-N Pellet smoker. These work perfectly with electric and gas smokers when you need to keep generating smoke and don’t want to be feeding new wood chips in every half hour.

Think smoking pork butt for 13 hours or beef brisket for 16 hours. Not fun at all on a gas smoker without any modifications.

A fully loaded tray should burn for around five hours creating a continuous perfect amount of smoke. While it won’t last for an entire smoke, by 5 hours the meat should have absorbed an optimal amount of smoke anyway.

If you really want to keep churning out the smoke you can easily refill it as well.

3. Add charcoal to a gas smoker for better flavor and smoke production

We’ve seen people have success by adding a second firebox and placing two pieces of charcoal in their smoker. This helps give you the best of both worlds with a little bit of charcoal flavor with the ease of gas smoking.

Just follow these simple steps next time you’re smoking and see if it improves the flavor:

  1. Wrap some wood chunks in foil
  2. Make a small charcoal pile above the heat dispersers
  3. Place the wood parcels over the hot charcoal and you should start to see smoke after a few minutes

Other ways to improve gas smoker performance

The above methods can all help you produce better food and none of them will cost you much money or require you to learn how to solder.

The main other ways people get more out of their gas smokers include:

  • As many gas smokers run hot, it’s best to set them to the lower end of the temperature range (think 225°F – 250°F
  • You don’t usually get a tank included, so you should buy two tanks and always keep a full spare tank on hand to avoid ruining a cook when you inevitably run out of gas halfway through.
  • To ensure the temperature holds steady make sure you invest in a proper smoker thermometer setup (and ignore the inbuilt thermometer that’s telling you lies)
  • One handy suggestion we learned from was to add two or more rib racks to increase the amount of meat you can fit, as many gas smokers run small.

Can I connect my gas smoker to natural gas?

Most smokers run by burning propane gas and cannot be connected to natural gas. If you are really keen to try this, make sure you talk to a proper gas plumber and get them to hook it up for you. You can also try searching for your smoker + gas conversion to see if it will be possible.

Some smokers like the Camp Chef have a natural gas conversion kit that you can buy off Amazon.

Wrapping it up

That concludes our guide to the best propane smokers.

Hopefully, you’ve narrowed down your options and are ready to decide.

For the money, we think you can’t go wrong with the new Masterbuilt MPS 340/G ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker.

One last thing, always carefully consider how many people you plan on smoking for, and if you want to stick on the budget side, or spend a little extra cash for better build quality and temperature control.

Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below, or if you think we’ve missed a smoker that should be on this list.

Similar Posts

One Comment

  1. Jonathan Dahlin says:

    What about clean burn of propane, to feed into the charcoal and wood boxes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *