Gas Smokers: Is a Propane Smoker Right for You?

If you’re looking for a smoker but not sure that a gas smoker is right for you… you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re like me you love the smells of outdoor cooking especially the smell of slow cooking in a smoker. Just fire up the smoker and watch family and friends suddenly show up with a side dish, pitcher of iced tea or a six pack.

Iced tea pitcherImage Source

Beer with FriendsImage Source

I love to use the smoker whenever possible and experiment with different foods, wood chips and cooking time.

Let’s take a look at some gas smokers to help you decide the best type for you. I’m sure that you’ve heard of Masterbuilt and Dyna-Glo gas smokers and we’ll review both. We’re going to answer some questions such as, are propane smokers safe, how do gas smokers work and can gas smokers use natural gas?

Click the item in the table below to skip to your most pressing question, or continue to read the whole review.

Are propane smokers safe?

You may have some concerns about propane smoker safety such as:

  • Can it be used on an apartment/condo patio?
    • The rule for propane smokers is the same as propane grills, check the apartment/condo rules.
  • Can it be used on a wooden deck?
    • Since the smoker heating element sits several inches above the deck, you should be fine. As a precaution consider placing the smoker on a steel pan. An oil drip pan from an auto parts store works great.
  • Is carbon monoxide a problem?
    • As with all propane appliances ensure that the smoker is used in a well ventilated area, preferably outdoors.

You should consider having a fire extinguisher nearby whether you’re using a propane smoker or grill.

How do gas smokers work?

Gas smokers are pretty simple consisting of a vertical type cabinet with an access door, gas burner connected to a propane tank and a tray for smoking chips or wood chunks. The tray is located above the burner.

Between the burner and smoking chamber is a water pan for keeping the food moist during long cooks.

The smoker usually has an adjustable damper to vent the smoke.

In addition to heating the food the gas burner fires the wood chips or chunks to add the delicious smoke flavor.

Can gas smokers use natural gas?

Factory supplied natural gas smokers are usually the commercial type and range in price from $2000 to $3000, while residential type smokers use propane which allows for portability.

If you don’t frequently move your smoker consider a natural gas conversion kit. Natural gas is piped from a supplier to your house while propane is stored in bottles or tanks.

Natural gas conversion kits are available for purchase and can be installed by a person with some technical knowledge and skills. If you’re unsure if you have the expertise consider professional help.

Note that propane burns hotter than natural gas which can be an advantage since low heat is recommended for smoking.

If you’re looking for a couple of large easy to use and good quality propane smokers you can’t go wrong with the Masterbuilt 44-Inch Black Propane or Dyna-Glo 43-Inch Wide Body Gas Smoker.

If you’re more interested in a smaller propane smoker you can’t go wrong with the Masterbuilt Sportsman Elite 30” Gas Smoker with Push-button Ignition.

Masterbuilt Gas Smoker

The Masterbuilt 44-Inch Black Propane Smoker is a great reasonably priced gas smoker.

It has an extra-large capacity with 2,000 square inches of cooking space, four (4) smoking racks, dual doors, a viewing window, in-door thermometer, two (2) burners, push-button ignition, a wood chip tray and water pan.

The cooking space and 4 racks provide plenty of room for 100 lbs. of your favorite foods. The dual door design provides easy access to the wood chip tray and water pan while keeping the heat in the cooking compartment.

The viewing window and in-door thermometer lets you check on the food while keeping the door closed and heat in.

Convenient access to the wood tray and water pan lets you add your favorite wood chips such as hickory, apple, mesquite, etc. and water to keep the food moist. Although easy access allows for easier clean-up we recommend that you line the water and grease pans with aluminum foil to reduce the clean-up time.

DO NOT cover the racks with aluminum foil as the heat will not circulate properly.

Masterbuilt recommends that you use a 50/50 mixture of water and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and a soft sponge during clean-up. DO NOT use harsh chemicals.

Assembly is no problem with fairly easy instructions included. All you need is an adjustable wrench and a Phillips head screwdriver. The major parts to attach are the legs, control panel, burner box, heat shield, air damper, body and door handles and propane tank retainer.

Make sure to heed all warnings in the user manual such as the soapy water test.

After the smoker is assembled make sure that it is pre-seasoned before the first use. Pre-seasoning will burn off the chemicals and oils left over from the manufacturing process. Pre-seasoning usually takes about 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now that your smoker is assembled and pre-seasoned you’re ready to fire this baby up for some mouthwatering food.

If you’re wondering the type of wood chip to use here is a guide.

WOOD TYPE POULTRY FISH HAM BEEF PORK LAMB
Hickory – Pungent, smoky, bacon like flavor X X X X X
Mesquite – Sweet and delicate flavor X X X
Alder – Delicate, wood smoke flavor X X X
Pecan – Bold and hearty flavor X X X
Maple – Sweet, subtle flavor X X
Apple – Sweet, delicate flavor X X X
Cherry – Sweet, delicate flavor X X

Smoked ChickenImage Source

 

Dyna-Glo Gas Smoker

The Dyna-Glo 43-Inch Wide Body Gas Smoker is a highly rated extra-large propane smoker.

It has dual cast iron burners for a heat capacity of 20,000 BTU’s and six (6) adjustable cooking grates for 1,904 square inches of cooking space. The smoker also includes, dual doors, in-door thermometer, sausage hooks, rib rack, push-button ignition, wood chip box and water bowl.

The cooking space and 6 adjustable grates provide plenty of room for lots of your favorite foods. The dual door design provides easy access to the wood chip tray and water pan while keeping the heat in the cooking compartment.

The in-door thermometer features a “smoke zone” indication which lets you monitor the temperature while keeping the door closed and heat in.

The pre-installed sausage hooks and removable rib rack provide cooking flexibility.

The push-button ignition is electronic which provides quick and easy lighting. One (1) AAA alkaline battery is required for the push-button ignition.

The smoker comes with door seals to retain heat for better cooking efficiency and to minimize smoke loss.

The easily accessible wood chip box and water bowl are made of heavy gauge porcelain enameled steel which better withstands long term heat and use. The wood chip box and water bowl lets you add your favorite wood chips such as hickory, apple, mesquite, etc. and water to keep the food moist.

As with any smoker, we recommend that you line the water and grease pans with aluminum foil to for easier clean-up and reduced clean-up time.

DO NOT cover the racks with aluminum foil as the heat will not circulate properly.

Dyna-Glo recommends that you clean the water bowl and cooking grates with hot, soapy water. A damp cloth should be used on the inside and outside of the smoker.

After cleaning, you may want to lightly coat the interior with cooking oil or cooking spray which will aid clean-up after the next use.

Assembly is estimated to take 25 minutes with fairly easy instructions included. All you need is an adjustable wrench, pliers and a Philips head screwdriver. The major parts to attach are the smoke stack assembly, legs, lift and door handles, burner & control unit, cooking grates and temperature gauge.

Make sure to heed all warnings in the user manual such as the soap solution (50/50 mix of dishwashing soap and water) test.

After the smoker is assembled make sure that it is seasoned per the manufacturer instructions before the first use. Seasoning seals the paint and interior of the smoker to enhance flavoring, durability and overall performance. Seasoning usually takes about 45 – 60 minutes at around 175 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now that your smoker is assembled and seasoned you’re ready to fire up your new Dyna-Glo and tempt your friends and family with some delicious smoke flavored food.

Smoked Brisket with attribueImage Source

Masterbuilt Sportsman Elite 30” Gas Smoker with Push-button Ignition

The Masterbuilt Sportsman Elite 30” Gas Smoker with Push-button Ignition is a heavy duty propane smoker.

It features a single stainless steel burner with a heat capacity of 15,400 BTU’s and four (4) cooking racks which can smoke up to 80 lbs. of food. The smoker also includes, dual doors, in-door thermometer, push-button ignition, control knob, wood chip box and water bowl.

The cooking space and 4 grates provide plenty of room for your favorite foods. The dual door design provides easy access to the wood chip tray and water pan while keeping the heat in the cooking compartment.

The in-door thermometer lets you monitor the temperature while keeping the door closed and heat in.

The push-button ignition is the Piezo type which provides quick and easy lighting and unlike electronic push-button ignitions does not require a battery.

The smoker comes with door seals to retain heat for better cooking efficiency and to minimize smoke loss.

The wood chip box and water bowl are easily accessible which lets you add your favorite wood chips such as hickory, apple, mesquite, etc. and water to keep the food moist.

As with any smoker, we recommend that you line the water and grease pans with aluminum foil to for easier clean-up and reduced clean-up time.

DO NOT cover the racks with aluminum foil as the heat will not circulate properly.

Masterbuilt recommends that you clean the unit including water bowl and cooking grates with mild cleaning agents such as soapy water. A damp cloth should be used on the inside and outside of the smoker.

DO NOT use oven cleaner.

After cleaning, you may want to lightly coat the interior with cooking oil or cooking spray which will aid clean-up after the next use.

Assembly is estimated to take 25 minutes with fairly easy instructions included. All you need is an adjustable wrench and a Philips head screwdriver. The major parts to attach are the legs, control panel, burner box, heat shield, body and door handles, cooking grates, cooking grate supports and temperature gauge.

Make sure to heed all warnings in the user manual such as the soapy water test which is performed using a 50/50 mix of dishwashing soap and water solution.

After the smoker is assembled make sure that it is pre-seasoned per the manufacturer instructions before the first use. Seasoning seals the paint and interior of the smoker to enhance flavoring, durability and overall performance. Seasoning usually takes about 60 minutes at around 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now that your smoker is assembled and seasoned you’re ready to fire up your new Masterbuilt smoker and tempt your friends and family with some delicious smoke flavored food.

Pork Loin Roast Medium okay with attributeImage Source

 

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