Along the years, people have developed many ways to cook meat and other foods. As a result, food tastes better and better, which is why it’s more of art these days. In some cases, of course. However, there are ways as old as time that still manage to please our taste buds. I am talking about smoked food.
Smoking is a very oldway of cooking and preserving meat. It is a slow method, truth be told, but very efficient. Not to mention that the taste is absolutely fantastic as long as you follow a few rules. But not everything about smoking food has remained intact. The principle is the same, but the methods used to do it have changed. Just as anything else in this world, smokers evolved, from that metal barrel with a fire built underneath, to hi-tech gas smokers.
The smokers that use propane as a power source are the most common. And I don’t know if you ever ate something made in a propane smoker, but let me just tell you that it beats store-bought smoked products. Some people are actuallyvery serious about it and don’t eat anything other than what they prepare.
The benefits of a propane smoker
Propane smokers have gained in popularity over the last few years. I can see why. There are a few advantages that make them as useful as a grill.
- ü Smoked meat, despite a lot of common misconceptions, is healthy. Mostly because it has a lower amount of fat than grilled meat, for example. The heat will simply lead to all that fat dripping off. Experts advise, though, that smoked meat should be consumedin moderation. But if you think about it, to have a healthy body, everything you eat must be in moderation.
- ü They are usually quite cheap. You can find a high-quality product for under 250$. It’s true that anything higher than that will bring a sturdier construction, but that is not a rule. Few people spend so much money on a propane smoker.
- ü They are designed for portability. Since their power source is a propane tank, you can take them anywhere you want. You can go further than your backyard. Propane smokers are very useful when you go camping or fishing. You can even use 14-ounce gas canisters. Full-size tanks weigh at least 20 pounds, and we can’t talk about portability anymore. It would be kind of hard to take along a 60-pound smoker and a 20-pound propane tank, don’t you think?
- ü Propane smokers have a smaller footprint than barrel smokers. There isn’t much smoke to begin with, and I believe it’s ideal if you don’t have a lot of available space. I’ve seen people who used regular barrel smokers, and they smoked their neighbors as well. Comparing to wood or charcoal, propane eliminates a small amountof smoke, which is also good for the environment.
- ü Are you familiar with that thick black soot that deposits on meat during smoking with wood or charcoal? That will not happen if you use a propane smoker. Propane burns efficiently, but cleanly as well.
- ü It’s not very difficult to maintain a certain temperature if you use a propane smoker. Most smokers come with a built-in temperature gauge. It is very easy to control, and almost effortlessly.
- ü Most models come with a push-button ignition, so you don’t have to start the fire yourself. Comes in handy most of the times.
Propane smoker buying guide
There are a lot of models out there, which can make you feel a little bit confused, especially if you are a beginner. What you have to do is look for certain features that interest you and take it from there. Here are the most important.
- ü Look at the smoker’s construction. Keep in mind that the temperature will be extremely high in there, so it must survive it. Look at the quality of the welding and check to see what the smoker is made of. The thinner the material, the lower quality it has. A flimsy product will not last very long.
- ü Make sure to pay attention to the smoker’s legs. You need something that will ensure stability, especially if the wind is an issue. If portability is what interests you, you can go for a smoker with wheels. Your choice.
- ü Look for a wide temperature range. Most smokers go from 100º to 500º The purpose of this feature is to make sure that you can cook anything. A salmon will not require a temperature as high as when you want to cook a prime rib. If the temperature ranges, you can cook virtually anything, even vegetables.
- ü There should be two doors in the front. One that opens the cooking chamber, and a smaller one (on the lower side) that allows you to check on the flame or the cooking fuel (water, wine, beer). That way you don’t have to open the entire thing. You don’t want all the heat to get out.
- ü Adjustable height shelving can come in handy. It mostly depends on what you want to cook, but you should be able to cook foods of different heights without struggling to put them on the cooking shelves. Salmon fillets are not an issue, but if you want to put a turkey in the smoker, that can become problematic if you cannot adjust the height of the shelves.
- ü I think that a front loading design is a lot more convenient than a top loading one, but this is an aspect that does not matter so much. It’s about preference, so you choose the design you like. It makes no difference.
- ü Be practical and check to see if you can find spare parts in case anything breaks. How is the warranty? Stuff like that can save you a lot of trouble sometimes, so make sure that you have everything figured out. You don’t want to find yourself in the situation of not finding a spare part. Otherwise, you have to throw the whole thing out when something breaks.
What are the best propane smokers?
That is a tough question to answer. There are many brands that can provide high-quality, dependable propane smokers, which is why choosing the best one is not as easy as one may think. Here are a few suggestions that should make your task easier.
Masterbuilt 20051311 GS30D 2-Door Propane Smoker
This smoker is perfect to put in your backyard and have some of the tastiest meals you have ever had in your entire life. It doesn’t have to be just meat. You can put vegetables in there as well. Personally, I will always devour a smokedcorncob.
The Masterbuilt comes with four chrome smoking racks. That’s about 717 square inches of cooking area. The shelves are removable, so if you want to shove a whole turkey in the smoker, you just remove the top trays, and you are good to go. The chrome that the racks are made of will make sure that they are easy to clean and that rust will stay away, just in case you don’t use the smoker for a couple of months.
The push-button ignition will make your experience a lot easier than having to build a fire yourself. Actually, I consider this feature to be one of the things that appeal customers the most. Barrel smokers, for example, are very hard to ignite. You have to build a fire from scratch, which is not as easy as it seems, especially when you want to smoke meat. It’s not like you can just throw a few pieces of wood in there and let them burn. The fact that the Masterbuilt has two doors is very useful. You can check the flame, or you can see if there is enough water in the pan without letting all the heat from the cooking chamber to come out.
The wood chip tray and the water pan are porcelain coated. That makes them durable and very easy to clean. When you put water in the pan, cleaning it is easy anyway, but if you put wine or beer, all the sugar in them will stick to the pan. The porcelain will prevent that from happening. The Masterbuilt also features a built-in temperature gauge which will allow you to control the smoking as best as you can. The cooking chamber door stays sealed shut, and the cool touch wire handle will prevent you from burning your hands. In my opinion, this is an excellent product considering that it has an affordable price. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
Smoke Hollow 38202G 2-Door Propane Gas Smoker
The capacity of this propane smoker is of 3.4 cubic feet. It comes with four cooking racks that are detachable. Whenever you want to smoke something big, you can just remove two or three racks, and you will have a lot of space. You can even insert a whole turkey in there.
The welded steel cabinet comes with two doors. That will make changing the water and checking the flame very easy. Not to mention that it will not allow all the heat from the cooking chamber to get out. That way you can control the temperature and moisture in an easy manner. The wire handles are designed to prevent hand burns.
The Smoke Hollow comes with a gas control system that will provide ultimate control. You can change the temperature from low to high at any given time. For more control, there is even an external built-in temperature gauge. Like many models, this product has a push-button ignition system.
The best feature on this propane smoker is the vents. Few models have them. It adds a bit to the cost, but it’s worth it. It gives you more control over the smoking. They are located on the upper and lower side, which means that all the air and flavor will be circulated. It gives a great taste to the food, especially if you are cooking meat and vegetables at the same time, but the cooking chamber will have the same temperature. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
Camp Chef Smoker
With Camp Chef you can cook virtually anything. You can cook meat, doesn’t matter which kind, vegetables, and even baked pies or bread. It features a fullyadjustable heat control (heat control dials), three damper valves (one on top and two on the sides), and a door thermometer that will make controlling the temperature very easy.
The temperature ranges from 160º to 400º Fahrenheit. The wood chip tray is made of heavy-gauge steel, and the water pan is removable for easy cleaning. These two will make sure that your food will be moist enough and will have the right flavors.
The vault has two adjustable smoking racks and one jerky smoking rack. You can fill this vault with anything you want, no matter the size. Even turkeys can fit in there. The ignition is matchless because the Camp Chef Smoker features a snap-ignition. It will make things very easy for you. Just so you know, the burner is protected, which will provide maximum heat control.
Along with the Camp Chef Smoker, you will also receive a book that contains cooking tips, ideas, and recipes. Not that you can’t find them online, but it’s nice to read them in a book for a change. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
It’s a tough choice because all three products come with a lot of features and benefits, but the one I choose is the Camp Chef Smoker. I’ve seen it in action, and the way steam comes out through the three valves, and the smell that comes with it is absolutely fantastic. The built is sturdy, and it looks and feels as if it will last for a very long time. That is why I believe that this is one of the best propane smokers on the market.
Before I found out about gas smokers, I didn’t even know people still do it. I knew about the barrels from a long time ago, but I’ve never heard about propane smokers. Somehow it didn’t occur to me that you don’t necessarily have to burn wood to get that amazing flavor. Apparently, just a few chips will do. Click here to buy on Amazon
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