What Is a Gas Smoker? (EVERYTHING You Need to Know)

Gabriel Woods
Published by Gabriel Woods
Last Updated On: June 20, 2024

Gas smokers are popular tools among home cooks and professional chefs alike, and they can be found in many different sizes and price ranges.

I've spent years studying each smoker on the market to see which is the best for novice smokers learning how to cook meats at proper temperatures. Before we delve into the advantages of gas smokers, let's see what’s behind this machine.

Quick Summary

  • Gas smokers are also called vertical propane smokers. These devices use wood for cooking food, just like charcoal smokers.
  • The most significant advantage that the propane smoker has over other types is the constant flame produced by the burner.
  • Gas smokers are simple to use and come in various shapes and designs. The majority of them have a cast iron or stainless steel frame.

What is a Gas Smoker?

Stacks of meat being smoked

A gas smoker is a piece of outdoor cooking equipment that cooks food by smoking it and uses propane as a heat source.

Vertical propane smokers, also known as gas smokers, are similar to their charcoal counterparts in that they use wood.

The difference between propane smokers and charcoal smokers is the source of heat. Gas smokers, unlike charcoal cookers, rely on a constant flame to smoke the food.

Feel free to check our findings on the best propane smokers out on the market.

While charcoal cookers require you to feed wood into the fire, burning it steadily manually, propane smokers do not require any intervention.

A propane smoker is simple to use and comes in various designs. They're mostly made of cast iron or stainless steel.

The finest gas smokers provide different features, cooking area, temperature control choices, warming racks, double doors, multiple cooking racks and smoking racks, and accouterments such as push-button ignition and WiFi-enabled digital thermometers.

Other Names for Gas Smokers

Gas smokers are also known as:

  • Propane smokers
  • Vertical propane smokers
  • LP smokers
  • Smoke Vault

5 Components of a Propane Smoker

Propane gas fire close up shot

There are five main components of a vertical gas smoker:

1. The Gas Burner

Every gas smoker has a propane-fueled gas burner at the bottom (though some propane smokers may be converted to operate on natural gas with a conversion accessory). This stainless steel burner generates a live flame, the heat source for this kind of smoker.

2. The Grill Racks

Most gas smokers come with stainless steel grill racks, and you may either cook food straight on them or use them to keep cast iron skillets hot while they roast.

Vertical gas smokers are similar to gas grills in that they require a propane tank as an attachment.

The heating capacity of a gas smoker is measured in British Thermal Units (BTU) per hour.

3. The Water Pan

The water pan sits beneath the grill racks and helps to keep the food moist. This is especially important when smoking meats, as they can dry out quickly.

4. Wood Chip Tray or the Smoke Box

The wood chip tray is where the soaked wood is placed. This is what will create the smoke that flavors the food.

5. Dampers and Vents

The dampers and vents help regulate the temperature inside the smoker's cooking chamber. You can control how much heat and smoke are produced by opening or closing the dampers.

6 Advantages of a Gas Smoker

Close up shot of propane gas flame

There are several other benefits to choosing a gas grill over a charcoal one: 

  1. Consistent Heat

The consistency of the gas flame produced by the burner is the propane smoker's greatest advantage over other versions.

There's no need to monitor the fire or add more fuel. You'll get a constant burn and consistent heat as long as there's plenty of gas in the tank.

Turning it on and off, and managing the intensity of the flame, is all that's required.

  1. They Are Inexpensive

Propane smokers can be found for around $250 or less. Even better, spend a little more, and you may get a stronger model with a bigger cooking surface without exceeding $500.

  1. The Efficiency Of A Clean Burn

A clean burn is when the fuel is burned completely. This means there is little pollution, and the fire produces less ash. Propane burns cleaner than wood or charcoal, making it better for the environment [1].

  1. Easy To Use and Clean

The majority of models feature a push-button ignition and are simple to light. They're also extremely easy to handle. Increase the heat by turning the knob that controls the burner.

To get a smaller flame and lower the temperature, do the reverse. You'll see the temperature difference almost immediately. There is no need to worry about any ashes since there is very little residue.

Cleaning it is also a piece of cake. I clean mine by spraying some soapy dishwasher and wiping it with a cotton cloth.

  1. You'll Get Tender and Juicy Meats

A gas smoker cooks food at a low temperature, producing tender and juicy meats. The long cooking time also allows the smoke to penetrate the meat, giving it that authentic flavor.

  1. They're Portable

Another great advantage of a vertical propane smoker is that they are portable. You can enjoy the smoky flavor at home, but you can also take it with you when camping or going on a road trip.

“Gas grills are easier to use, because the heat is manageable and there's barely any mess!"

- Gordon Ramsay, Professional Chef

3 Disadvantages of a Propane Smoker

Sausages being smoked

Just as there are advantages, there are also disadvantages you need to look out for:

1. The Taste Is Not as Strong

While the flavor of a gas smoker is not as strong as that of a charcoal smoker, it's still quite good. The key is to use high-quality wood chips and soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before adding them to the smoker. This will help to produce more smoke and give the food a better flavor.

2. Size Limitation

If you're smoking a big roast, brisket, or whole rack of ribs, be aware of the smoker's width. Because most vertical gas smokers have a locker design, their breadth may not accommodate larger meats.

3. Propane Tank

It's always good to make sure you have enough propane before beginning a lengthy cook, especially if it's your first time using the device.

Keep spare propane tanks on hand, and you will never have to worry about running out of fuel three-quarters of the way through your cooking.

4 Tips for Using Gas Smokers

A male chef thinking

Gas smokers are considerably easier to operate than other types of smokers, although they're not quite as simple as electric smokers.

Whether you're a novice or seasoned pitmaster, there are a few basic pointers any aspiring pit boss should follow:

1. Keep your smoker clean to make sure the propane burning is clean. If you don't, it will be harder to cook and it won't be as clean. Clean your smoker after every meal by taking out the charred food waste and cleaning the pans and grates.

2. You should cook meat at the optimal smoking temperature. To cook meat delicately and add smoke flavor, you need to plan for a long cook time. This will depend on how much meat you are cooking.

Many modern vertical propane gas smokers now include built-in temperature gauges or WiFi digital thermostats, but for accuracy's sake, it's always best to invest in a high-quality remote probe thermometer to check on the internal temperature.

3. Try different types of hardwood. Some new electric smokers do not include a wood-burning option, but the best smokers almost always do. In my experience, the beef tastes great when smoked with all woods except apples.

Chicken is delicious smoked with everything other than oak and maple. Fish tastes fantastic with alder, oak, or mesquite. When smoked, vegetables taste great with hickory, pecan, or mesquite.

4. Allow yourself plenty of space to prepare your meals. While you don't want your smoker to overwhelm your patio, make sure you locate one with a large enough cooking surface that you can execute precise meat preparation during outdoor cooking.

Also Read: How to Smoke Meat on a Gas Grill

What to Look For When Buying a Gas Smoker?

Two people shopping for appliances

The first thing to look for when buying a gas smoker is quality. You will want one that has thick steel walls, sturdy hinges for the lid, and overall construction that feels robust.

Other features you may want to consider are a digital temperature display and control, a built-in meat thermometer, multiple grill racks or shelving options, and a wood chip tray.

Finally, consider how large the smoker is, how easy it is to assemble and clean, and what kinds of accessories are available.

Read More: Gas Smokers vs Pellet Smokers


Are Gas Smokers Any Good?

Yes, gas smokers are generally considered to be quite good. They are easy to use and produce consistently tasty food. However, different models can vary in quality and features, so it is important to do your research before buying.

Do Gas Smokers Use a Lot of Gas?

No, gas smokers do not use a lot of gas. They are actually very efficient when it comes to fuel usage, because they tend to use far less gas than other types of smokers, so you'll save money in the long run.


  1. https://onlinepublichealth.gwu.edu/how-to-reduce-climate-change/
Was this article helpful?

About the author

Gabriel Woods
Chef/Food Editor
Gabrielle Woods holds a BSc degree in Hospitality Management with a summa cum laude distinction from the University of Santo Tomas, majoring in Culinary Entrepreneurship. She helps clients achieve specific fitness goals through protein-based meal prepping. She believes cooking is both an art and a science best done with a balance of tradition and innovation.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Leave a Reply

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