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The Ultimate Gas Smoker Buyers Guide

If you looking to jump into the food smoking game and are considering a gas model, then you’ve come to the right place.

In this ultimate gas smoker buyers guide, I’m going to be giving you everything you need to know for buying the best BBQ gas smoker.

The gas smoker category has turned massive, and they are a great alternative to traditional charcoal and wood smokers.

With advanced cooking options and modern, cutting-edge features, gas smokers are looking to bring home-smoked BBQ to the masses.

They offer a much simpler method of smoking foods while still imparting the wood-smoked flavor we crave.

These versatile smokers offer convenience and are great for learning temperature control as they are more forgiving than a charcoal smoker.

So, while many people limit their grilling or BBQing to heating some hotdogs at the park or throwing on a few steaks on a Friday night, outdoor cooking is anything but limited.

As a grill enthusiast, you’ve already mastered different grilling techniques for meats, vegetables, and even deserts. You can sear, roast, and even bake with your grill. But have you dipped your toe in the world of smoking yet?

Let me help you pick the gas smoker that is right for you.

What you can Expect from this Gas Smoker Buyers Guide

A gas smoker is an excellent option for beginners and pros alike. Here’s our take on the best BBQ Smokers on the market and how to find the perfect one for your outdoor cooking endeavors. 

We’ll break down the ins and outs of gas smokers. From the build quality to the temperature ranges, we’ve covered it all.

I’ll explain the must-have features, price points, and how to find the best one for your outdoor space.

In This Article, We’ll Explore:

Click a topic below to be taken directly to that section.

What is a Gas Smoker?

Just like traditional charcoal smokers, a gas smoker uses wood smoke to cook and heat food. Gas smokers are sometimes referred to as vertical propane smokers.

But rather than charcoal briquettes heating the wood chips, gas smokers use propane or natural gas as their fuel source.

How does a Gas Smoker Work?

Gas smokers are a little easier to use than traditional charcoal smokers. The gas is connected to a burner by a hose.

Once the gas is turned on, simply push the igniter button or switch, and the burner located at the bottom of the smoker produces a live flame. A wood tray sits above the flame which causes the wood to heat up and start to smolder.

A water pan above the wood chip tray ensures that the smoker doesn’t heat up too quickly. It also creates steam that contributes to the cooking process.

The heat and smoke then circulate throughout the cooking chamber providing smoked BBQ results

Why Choose a Gas Smoker?

Gas smokers are much easier to use than charcoal smokers primarily because they are easier to light and control the temperature.

Gas smokers are also affordable, clean to operate, and come in various sizes and designs.

You can also choose what features are most important to you.

For example, temperature control, double doors, multiple cooking, smoking, and warming racks, push-button ignition, and even Wi-Fi-controlled thermometers are among some of the most sought-after options.

Check out my guide on The Many Benefits of Gas Smokers

Gas Smoker vs Electric Smoker

Gas smokers are generally more affordable than electric smokers.

The difference is that gas smokers create an open flame below wood chips or pellets to create that distinct smoky flavor.

Rather than use a flame, electric smokers, on the other hand, heat a coil much like the one in your gas oven. The heat then causes the wood pellets above the coil to smoke.

What to Look for When Buying a Gas Smoker

Not all gas smokers are created equal. As is true with most cooking equipment, you get what you pay for. So, if you’re looking for a gas smoker you can rely on, then make sure you’re paying for the right features.

The features to look for include…

A Heavy Gauge Metal Build

High temperatures, food spills, and natural elements all take a toll on the life length of your smoker. So you’ll want to buy a smoker that’s made of durable, heavy-gauge metal.

The materials of your gas smoker will make all the difference in its efficiency and longevity. You’ll most often find gas smokers built with powdered steel, stainless steel, or aluminum.

If you want a gas smoker that will last a long time, then stainless steel and aluminum are your best bet. They’ll resist rust and hold up the heat for years to come.

The metal used for your grates is also important. You’ll likely find chrome-plated, aluminum, and stainless steel. While stainless steel will last the longest, it can be expensive.

So if you have a smaller budget, then chrome-plated comes in a close second place for grates that are easy to clean and that won’t rust or decay.

Trusted Brands & Build Quality

The best way to determine if the brand and model you’re looking at buying is trustworthy is to look at their warranty. If they back their smokers for several years, then you can have more confidence that it’s a quality build. 

Another thing you should always do is read customer reviews. If there’s a consistent problem or a piece that constantly breaks, you’ll definitely read about it and identify it before you buy when you read other customers’ experiences.

Some trusted brands you can look to include in your search include:

  • Masterbuilt
  • Camp Chef
  • Char-Broil
  • Cuisinart
  • Smoke Hallow
  • Cajun Express

These are the top gas smoker brands on the market today.

Choose a Gas Smoker with Great Insulation

If a smoker can’t hold in heat, it will significantly inhibit the low and slow smoking process. This is especially true if you live in a colder climate.

Again, thick-gauge metal is a must as it will help absorb and reradiate heat into your food.

If your smoker is built with high-quality materials and comes with a good warranty, then great insulation shouldn’t be a problem.

Seal Integrity of Doors & Dampers

Besides the metal quality, you’ll want to look for smokers with quality seals around the doors and dampers. Otherwise, heat and smoke could escape. 

Look for a gas smoker that includes fiberglass mesh or felt gaskets for the best insulation.

Good Airflow & Temperature Management

Regulating temperature is key to achieving the perfect smoke on your meats.

One advantage of a gas smoker is that the temperature can be more exact since you control the fuel source.

Generally, gas smokers can reach higher temperatures than electric smokers, so you’re less likely to have to worry about undercooked meat.

Additionally, dampers will contribute to the overall temperature and airflow. Adjusting the dampers will allow more or less air to circulate around the food.

Make sure there are at least two dampers or vents on the smoker you purchase. Without both, controlling the temperature will be a pain.

Why the Ability to use Water Pans is Important

Water pans are crucial to great BBQ. They create a high level of humidity in your smoker to keep the food from drying out.

They also help regulate the temperature and keep it from getting too hot. The water pan absorbs heat then redistributes it throughout the smoker.

You can also use your water pan to infuse other flavors into your food by filling it with vinegar, beer, or fruit juices.

You Need Accurate Temperature Gauges

You can’t regulate the temperature of your smoker if you don’t have an accurate temperature gauge.

Opening your smoker to check the temperature will only let out heat and smoke and leave you with a false reading.

For best results, buying a smoker with two thermometers (one on each end) will help you keep a close eye on temperatures and adjust them as needed.

Check for Overall Sturdiness

The last thing you want to worry about is a broken smoker leg or wheel. They’re difficult to fix and make it impossible to use.

Make sure you check the sturdiness of the smoker to avoid any setbacks or premature trips to the dump.

Other things to check include the quality of the hinges and latches and how smoothly the dampers open and close.

Total Capacity & Size

The larger the smoker, the more food you can cook at once. If you opt for a large cooker, pick one with durable wheels to transport easily.

Of course, you may not need a large smoker. A smaller, portable size will be perfect for camping or if you have limited outdoor space.

The Temperature Range

Gas smokers can reach higher temperatures than electric smokers. But you’ll want to make sure it can reach those low-and-slow levels as well.

Ideally, the temperature will range between 50- and 550-degrees Fahrenheit for the most versatility.

Choosing the Gas Smoker Class

Now that you have in mind the size and shape of gas smoker you want to buy, you’ll want to choose the class. What quality, features, and price range will best fit your lifestyle?

Practical Propane Barbecue Smokers

If you want something straightforward and easy to use, then the practical class is perfect. There’s no learning curve with the analog controls, and it’s budget-friendly.

While the materials used in construction are mixed, most companies offer moderate warranties.

Thankfully, these smokers are made in part with thick steel that retains heat, and they’re set apart from entry-level smokers by some unique cooking features.

You can see some practical gas smoker’s examples here: Practical Gas Smokers

Entry-Level Propane Barbecue Smokers

If you’re brand new to gas smoking and don’t want to sink a lot of money in upfront, then an entry-level smoker is ideal.

These smokers are designed to keep costs low, but they’ll get the job done.

Just make sure you purchase from a reliable company like Weber Smokey Mountain, as other companies tend to have limited warranties and low-quality materials.

An entry-level gas smoker won’t last as long as a more expensive smoker, and it won’t come with any fancy features. However, if you only plan on using it a few times a year, they’re a great place to start.

You can see an entry-level gas smoker examples here: Entry-Level Gas Smoker

Additional Things to Consider Before Buying a Gas Smoker

As we mentioned earlier, not all gas smokers are created equal. There are a variety of features that can make all the difference in your smoking experience.

Here are a few additional things to consider in your new gas smoker.

Having Two Doors on a Gas Smoker will Make your Life Easier

If you don’t want to worry about a sudden drop in temperature every time you add wood chips, then choosing a gas smoker with two doors is essential.

Having a second door lets you access the wood chip drawer without affecting the temperature of the food chamber above.

Number of Burners

Multiple burners give you more heat and smoke when used simultaneously. It also gives you the option of preparing separate dishes at the same time.

You can even use different wood chips on each side to experience distinct flavors.

Most importantly, that second burner will help regulate your temperature for even cooking across the board.

Ability to Add Wood Chips or Charcoal Easily

Easy access to the wood chip tray shouldn’t be negotiable. If you can’t add in more wood chips or charcoal throughout the smoking process easily, you’ll quickly get frustrated.

Again, ideally, you shouldn’t have to open up the food chamber to add wood chips. That will only drop your temperature and add to your cooking time.

Look for that second door or drawer you can access separately to add wood chips and keep cooking without interruption.

Internal Layering Structure is Important

Multiple grates allow you to cook multiple dishes at once with different methods. No one likes to wait around looking at the first part of the meal get cold while the second half starts to cook.

It will save a lot of time and effort if you look for multiple layers in your smoker.

In addition to multiple grates, you might want a smoker with a warming rack. It’s perfect for when one part of your meal finishes cooking before the other.

Opt for Grates Instead of Trays

Grates allow for better airflow and more even cooking than trays. Additionally, grates are a lot easy to clean because there is less surface area.

Ease of Maintenance & Cleaning

Here’s the part no one likes about owning a smoker—the cleaning and maintenance.

Save yourself some time and a headache by looking at how easy it will be to clean and maintain. It should be easy to take apart and have large ash pans that aren’t difficult to remove.

Invest in a Gas Smoker with Digital Controls

Digital controls are more accurate and easier to read. If you opt for a smoker with digital displays, you can get super precise with your temperature and timing.

Consider these Extra Features

Shelf storage and warming racks are a must if you’re going to invest in a gas smoker.

You can use them to store plates, utensils, and more right there with your smoker.

The warming rack will let you pull food off the smoker the moment it is at the perfect temperature while still keeping it warm until the rest of the meal is ready.

Another extra feature is a built-in meat probe so you can make sure your food is safe to eat and not overcooked either.

Look for Easy Mobility

Ideally, you want to be able to move your gas smoker without it being a hassle. If you don’t have a covered area to use your smoker, you might have to regularly move it in and out of storage.

A lightweight, portable smoker is ideal for mobility. If you opt for a larger cooker, then make sure the wheels are sturdy and work smoothly.

Cost Considerations

You can find a quality gas smoker that’s within your budget. The size, extra features, and built quality all affect the price, so you’ll need to decide what’s most important to you.

If you’re a casual smoker, then you shouldn’t need to sink a bunch of money into your cooker. However, if you want long-lasting equipment that you plan to use regularly, investing a little more is the way to go.

Keep in mind that wood chips and propane tanks will be additional costs.

Final Steps Before Making a Gas Smoker Purchase

Before you seal the deal, make sure you double-check things like customer reviews and the company’s reputation. It might be the deciding factor for which gas smoker you decide to buy.

Check Current Owners Feedback & Opinions

The most accurate information you’ll get on a gas smoker is from current owners. Before you buy, check out reviews, forums, and smoker social media communities to get a well-rounded idea of what smoker would be best for you.

You can even ask questions, share recipes, and learn helpful smoking tips from these communities.

Good Customer Support Matters

If there’s something you’re not sure about on your new smoker, or you are facing a problem that can only be fixed by the company, then you’ll be happy that you chose a brand with good customer support.

You’ll learn a lot about customer support in reviews and ratings, so do your homework before you buy. The last way you want to spend your weekend is stuck on hold, trying to find answers to your questions.

Get to Know the Warranty Options before you Buy

The length of the warranty is a good sign of how long your gas grill will last. If a company doesn’t back their product for more than a year, then don’t expect it to last longer than that.

Ideally, a quality smoker should have at least a 10-year warranty. Of course, occasionally, even the best products can have pieces that break, so make sure that the warranty makes it easy to replace parts whenever needed within that timeline.

Gas Smoker Tools & Accessory Must Haves

Now that you’ve got your gas smoker, you’ll want to ensure you have all the right accessories that make smoking safe, easy and produce delicious results.

Heat-Resistant Gloves

Heat-resistant gloves are essential for adding wood chips or more liquid to the water tray during a lengthy smoke. They also work really well if you need to pull the grates out or rearrange them while the smoker is still hot.

You check out my recommended Heat-Resistant Glove here:Best Heat Resistant Gloves For Grilling

Thermometers

The only way to know if your food is cooked to your desired doneness is to use a thermometer. Cutting into meat to check the color is not only inaccurate but lets out those savory juices before you have a chance to enjoy them.

The most accurate thermometer is a dual probe smoker thermometer, but any instant-read thermometer will do the trick.

Check out my recommended Instant Read Thermometers here: 10 Best Instant Read Thermometers

Check out my recommended Digital, Dual-Probe Smoker And Grill Thermometers here: 10 Best Digital Meat Thermometers

Smoker Grilling Tongs

Nothing handles hot sizzling food as well as a good set of grilling tongs. Unlike a grill, you won’t open up your smoker much or use the tongs to flip food, but a good set is perfect for handling the hot food after a long cook.

Here are some great Grilling Tool options: Grilling Toolsets

A Good Grill Brush

You’ve got to keep your grates clean. Your food will cook more evenly, you’ll have less sticking, and you won’t have to worry about dangerous carcinogens building up on your cooker.

The best option is a bristle-free brush. Metal bristles can break off into your food if they get too worn down.

You can see our recommendations for the Best Bristle-Free Grill Brushes Here: 10 Best Bristle Free Grill Brushes

A Basting Brush/Mop

Using a basting brush or mop is a great way to top your meat with your favorite marinade and add extra flavor and moisture.

Ideally, you’ll want one with a durable head built to withstand high temperatures and a long handle so you can avoid burns.

I recommend one like this: Basting Brush/Mop

A Quality Butcher’s Block

Your kitchen cutting board probably won’t be able to handle a large brisket or rack of ribs. That’s why a large cutting board or a butcher block is essential to your smoking arsenal.

Wood is better to cut on also than a plastic cutting board or a glass plate because it will be less likely to dull your knives in the process.

Here is a highly recommended Butcher’s Block: Quality Butcher’s Block

Smoker Insulation Blanket

While you should always invest in a smoker with good insulation, cold weather can still affect the overall internal temperature.

If you live in a cooler climate, then a smoker insulation blanket is a must. It keeps heat in when outdoor temperatures reach below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure you don’t use it if temperatures are higher than that.

Also, you’ll want to make sure that you get a smoker blanket that’s specifically designed for your smoker model if it’s going to work properly. So you’ll want to keep that in mind when choosing the best BBQ smoker.

Here are a few quality options: Smoker Insulation Blankets

Gas Smoker Cover

An electric smoker cover will keep your smoker and all its parts and pieces safe from the elements around it. It will protect your smoker from dirt, moisture, and sun exposure that could cause it to decay faster.

You can find smoker covers easily that will fit any make and model. Quality covers are essential to the longevity and efficiency of your smoker.

Gas Smoker FAQ

If you still have questions, we’re here to help. Our goal is to arm you with enough information to not only buy the best Gas Smoker for you but to also provide you with everything you need to know to be successful in using and maintaining your smoker for years to come.

If you don’t know much about gas smokers but are in the market for one of these convenient cookers, we’ve got you covered!

These popular smokers offer convenient features that standard wood and charcoal smokers don’t and are perfect for outdoor chefs who want the wood-fired flavor without the extra hassle.

Below we provide answers to a few frequently asked Gas Smoker questions to get you started. For a much more comprehensive Gas Smoker FAQ guide, check out this article: The Ultimate Gas Smoker FAQ

Are Gas Smokers any Good?

Yes, gas smokers are very good at smoking meat and vegetables. They offer set-it-and-forget-it convenience and a good smokey flavor. They are typically cheaper than electric smokers and are more portable as well. Look for cabinet-style gas smokers with two doors so you can access the wood without affecting temperature.

How Often Should I Add Wood Chips to my Propane Smoker?

A good rule of thumb is to add wood chips to your propane smoker every five or six hours. This can change depending on the temperature you’re smoking at, outside weather, and the number of chips you are using. When in doubt, look at the quality and quantity of the smoke and go from there.

Are Gas Smokers Easy to Use?

Yes, gas smokers are quite easy to use when compared to charcoal and wood smokers. They are almost as easy to use as electric smokers and provide better flavor. They are as close to set-it-and-forget-it food smoking as possible while still providing a wood-fired, smoking experience.

Do Gas Smokers Use a Lot of Gas?

Gas smokers do not use any more gas than a typical gas grill. The only difference is that a gas smoker will typically need to run a lot longer to get your desired results. That’s the nature of cooking low and slow. You’ll have about 18-20 hours of cooking time with a standard 20 lb. tank.

Final Thoughts on our Gas Smoker Buyers Guide

A gas smoker is easy and affordable to use. Whether you use it for meats, cheeses, desserts, or something else, you’ll achieve one-of-a-kind results with your smoker.

Whichever class of smoker you choose, you’ll want to invest in one that is durable and is built with quality materials, Mobility, good warranty options, and fantastic customer support should play into your decision as well. These main features will help keep your smoker ready to use, wherever you want to use it, for years to come.

Don’t forget to invest in accessories like grate cleaners, long-handled smoker tongs, and heat-resistant gloves. Meat thermometers are a must too.

I hope this gas smoker buyers guide has given you plenty of ideas as you get ready to shop for your smoker.

The smoker with just the right number of features is out there for you at the perfect price point. So don’t waste another minute. Get smoking!

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Cheers,

Patrick

Disclosure: At The Grilling Life, I am committed to researching and writing thoughtful, informative and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your outdoor cooking needs.  If you like what I do, you can support me through my chosen links, which earn me a commission.  This allows me to continue sharing with you my love for all things barbecue.  Your support is truly appreciated.