Masterbuilt MB20051316 40-Inch Propane Smoker with Thermostat Control
Best propane smoker for high-volume cooking
Top performance and huge cooking capacity meet both domestic and commercial needs.
1 Masterbuilt MB20051316 Review
Whether you’re the proud owner of a BBQ restaurant, have a large family, or love to throw big parties in your yard, the Masterbuilt MB20051316 is the best propane smoker for you.
Designed with high-volume cooking in mind, it offers a huge cooking area – 961 square inches, to be precise – that can hold up to 16 whole chickens at a time. Or around eight racks of ribs, if you’re not quite into poultry.
This propane smoker is also all about cooking ease. Its greatest highlight is the convenient thermostat that makes it easy to set the temperature and walk away. And when you do want to check your food status, you won’t even have to open the smoker, thanks to the glass panel integrated with the door.
We also like the customizable interior with four removable cooking racks, albeit they could be sturdier. That said, they are still easy to clean and hold up pretty well. The smoker is easy to control, and a propane gauge allows you to check the fuel level. No doubt, the best propane smoker for high-volume cooking.
Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical 36″ Propane Smoker
Best for most homes
Very easy to use; this smoker is perfect for beginners and experienced BBQ chefs alike.
2 Cuisinart COS-244 Review
Want the best propane smoker but don’t want to break the bank? Check out the Cuisinart COS-244. This propane smoker is a tad smaller than our best in class and has fewer perks – you won’t get a fancy glass door. Despite that, this unit can quickly satisfy with its ease of use and performance.
It boasts 785 square inches of cooking space, which is enough to cook up to eight whole chickens or four racks of ribs at a time. Regulating the temperature is also easy, thanks to the adjustable gas supply and built-in thermometer.
Like our best in class, this smoker comes with four removable grates and boasts a two-door design. Perfect for families yet performing enough to appeal to restaurant owners, it brings unrivaled value for money.
Masterbuilt MPS 230S 30″ Propane Smoker
Highly-performing, two-door propane smoker
A patented wood chips pan allows the flame to easily reach the wood chips and shields the burner from grease.
3 Masterbuilt MPS 230S Review
If you like our best in class but don’t need such a big smoker, the Masterbuilt MPS 230S is an excellent alternative. It comes from the same brand and provides the same cooking space as our best value.
Cooking space aside, the two smokers are also similar in terms of features. You can expect a two-door design, built-in temperature gauge, electric ignition, and easy smoke control. A difference between the two is the wood chips pan, which also acts as a shield for this model’s burner.
Its only drawback is that the wood chips can catch on fire due to the pan design and create more smoke than you’d like. But this issue is easy to solve by replacing the wood chips bowl with a cast iron pan.
That said, you can expect the iconic Masterbuilt quality at an affordable price tag. No doubt, a bargain for your yard.
Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP 36″ Vertical LP Gas Smoker
A cheap alternative
Double door design and sliding air dampeners allow for seamless smoke control.
4 Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP Review
The Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP is an affordable propane smoker for home users and BBQ chefs on a budget. Size-wise, it’s similar to our best in class, but it has fewer fancy features.
The main difference between this smoker and all others is its cast iron construction. Although durable, this unit is heavier than both Masterbuilt and Cuisinart, which are made from alloy steel.
Another difference is the lack of a thermostat. The smoker still comes with a temperature gauge, though, so you’ll always be able to keep the cooking temperature under control. All in all, an excellent choice if you don’t want to break the bank.
Best Propane Smoker 2021 Buying Guide
1. Types of smokers
Smokers come with endless versatility in terms of slow cooking and can successfully replace your infrared grill or gas grill if what you’re after is a tender and flavorful food that tastes like authentic barbecued meat.
There is a bountiful range to choose from on the market, including the popular propane smokers.
Here are the most common options:
- Charcoal smokers: Are perhaps the most traditional and provide an authentic flavor to your dishes. Many of these smokers are inexpensive and easy to use, but it’s often near impossible to have a precise temperature control.
- Wood smokers: Have a construction very similar to the charcoal models, but use wood chips instead of charcoal. Both their advantages and flaws are similar to those of a charcoal unit.
- Propane smokers: Are the most rudimentary after the types described above but they are very effective and easy to use. Propane smokers are powered by liquid propane which burns wood chips placed into a pan above the burner. This process gives a unique flavor to the food, and most models come with easy-start features, easy to control temperature and attractive price points.
- Electric smokers: The easiest to operate and control, the electric smokers are highly efficient but come with a major drawback – they provide no authentic flavor to your food.
- Pellet smokers: Are electrically powered appliances that burn wood pellets to cook and smoke your food. Bringing the best of both worlds, these smokers have the efficiency of the electric units and provide the authentic flavor to wood or charcoal smokers. However, they are quite expensive.
2. Why invest in a propane smoker?
By combining the benefits of the charcoal or wood smokers with those of their electric counterparts, propane smokers are the most convenient.
They are compared with the electric smokers in terms of operational ease and with the charcoal or wood smokers in terms of food flavor.
Propane smokers are also much cheaper than the pellet smokers, a feature that makes them popular among many people.
3. Propane smoker capacity
An important thing to consider when choosing a propane smoker is the capacity of the appliance, which determines how much food you can cook at a time.
Manufacturers produce these appliances in various sizes and their capacities typically vary from around 250 square inches of cooking surface in the smaller smokers to 2,000 square inches or over in the large commercial smokers.
4. Heat control
Smoking food to perfection requires an even temperature and constant heat, but not all foods have the same heat requirements. This is why heat control is important. There are two essential things that allow you to control the heat, an adjustable temperature feature and a thermometer.
- Adjustable temperature: Adds versatility, allowing you to cook more dishes. A temperature range from 100°F to 500°F is desirable if you don’t want to have limits regarding the recipes you can try.
- Thermometer: The best propane smokers come with integrated thermometers and exterior gauges that allow for a no-frills check of the temperature level inside the unit. Some even have wireless gauges that allow you to check the temperature from the comfort of your couch. If the smoker you like lacks this feature, consider investing in a thermometer to use for this purpose.
5. Workmanship and durability
Another important consideration must go to the workmanship. If you want to invest in a propane smoker that will last for years, it is advisable to check the sturdiness of the appliance and its overall build.
Ideally, the moving parts including food racks and hooks must be made of stainless steel which is rust-resistant and easy to clean. The frame of the smoker must have solid welds and no sharp edges, robust legs and wheels, and must be coated with a water- and rustproof paint.
You should aim for a smoker made of thick steel, as this material absorbs and distributes the heat evenly. The best propane smokers also have dual doors and dampers to prevent heat loss and increase the smoking efficiency.
6. What other features to look for?
- Portability: Surprisingly, not all propane smokers are portable. Large, industrial-grade units often have a freestanding design whereas the smaller home-use appliances come with portability features like handles and wheels. If you want to move the smoker from one place to another, check the unit’s weight too besides the mobility kit.
- Style: The vast majority of the propane smokers are vertical but some manufacturers also propose horizontal units, which are usually larger. Since there are minimal differences between their cooking capabilities, choosing one over the other is a matter of preference.
- Countertop: Some of the best propane smokers come with integrated workbenches that boost versatility. A countertop is particularly useful if you want to use the smoker outdoors.
- Footprint: Before buying a propane smoker, don’t forget to check the footprint of the model you like and make sure it fits in your space.
- Maintenance: Since most foods can make quite a mess, you should also consider how easy it is to clean and maintain your appliance. High-end propane smokers come with drip pans that retain grease and minimize cleaning and maintenance.