How does a Gas Smoker work?

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There are a lot of moving parts that go into smoking your food. It may take some practice and a little bit of trial and error. But once you get it right, there’s just no turning back. Traditionally, smoking your food meant using a charcoal smoker to get the right flavors and aroma. However, with more innovative resources available today, you don’t have to go old-school just to get the right smoking quality. 

One of the most innovative additions to cooking resources is the gas smoker. It’s a more convenient method of smoking your food. And you can still use wood for smoke and flavor but rely on gas for heat. Along with electric smokers, gas smokers have changed the way backyard barbecues work. 

Today, we’ll take you through the basics of what these smokers are, how they work, and some useful tips to get the best results.

What is a Gas smoker?

A gas smoker is a convenient cooking device that can smoke your meat or veggies using propane as the source of heat. They are easy to use, clean, and operate. So, you don’t have to be a charcoal-smoking champion to start using one of these simple machines.

Gas smokers (or Propane smokers) come in a wide variety of types. You can have differences in cooking space, temperature control, double doors, warming racks, and additional features. With so much variety in style and design, you should check our propane smoker reviews before making final purchases. 

How do Gas Smokers work?

The primary feature that sets gas smokers apart is the fuel source. It uses propane gas to get the heat going. Since this requires a rack-story design, they’re also called vertical smokers. But they are similar to traditional smokers in that they can use wood as part of the inputs.

Your gas smoker uses propane (or natural gas) to heat the cooking chamber. The air then circulates as it heats the food through convection. The smoke can engulf the meat placed inside. This achieves two things. One, it warms the internal temperature making the meat ‘cook.’ Two, you get that rich and smoky flavor you’d want from a smoker.

To better understand the gas smoker’s mechanism, I recommend getting a raw feel for the smoker’s main components.

Main features of a Gas Smoker

Since gas smokers use a vertical design, they hold the cooking area on top. The fuel and heating source raises the temperature by working from below. With this mechanism, you’ll find the following components in most gas smokers.

1. Smoke racks (or grill racks)

The grill racks are where you usually place the meat for smoking. These racks typically come in stainless-steel so that it doesn’t contaminate the meat. It can also serve as holders or frames for the cast iron skillets if you’re looking for a more roasted cook. 

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2. Burner

The universal component in every gas smoker is the gas burner at the bottom of the design. The burner uses propane gas to create flames, which act as the heat source for the device. It’s also usually made of stainless steel. Some gas smokers may use conversion tools to burn natural gas instead of propane.

tejas smokers

3. Wood tray

The wood chip tray sits above the burner. You can place wood chunks or chips on this tray so that they can gradually burn and send smoke towards the cooking chamber. You can season wood so that you get the best flavors and effect. 


4. Water Pan

The water pan is another vital component of gas smokers. It sits right above the wood tray. You fill it with cold water so that it doesn’t immediately go hot. This helps in slow-smoking the meat inside the cooking chamber. Once the water gets heated, it gives off steam that allows the cooking process. 

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5. Vents (Dampers)

One of the most critical factors of quality meat-smoking is to get the right airflow. You control the flow of air into the chamber through vents or dampers. There may be vents at the bottom that controls the inflow of air. This inflow can increase the oxygen content and get the heat up. You can use the dampers on the top as outflow for air. This allows both air and heat to escape, bringing down the temperature. 


Useful Tips

Gas smokers are incredibly convenient devices for both beginners and seasoned cooks. So, it only makes sense if you apply some of these tips to make the experience even better.

Prioritize cooking area

Vertical smokers usually give a lot of overall space, but single racks can be relatively narrow. Make sure you choose a model that offers ample cooking for both large portions of meat and smaller assortments. Trust me; you’ll need both alternatives for personal use and those great barbeque get-togethers. 

Clean well & Clean often

Propane gas doesn’t leave debris or residuals like charcoal, so maintenance is pretty straightforward. Since the device takes care of this part, just make sure there are no charred remains of meat left after use. This will ensure that your smoker remains friendly and durable.

Get the right heat levels

Most gas smokers today come with a built-in thermometer. But for best results, get a quality meat thermometer that can give accurate readings. Smoking meat can go for over an hour for every pound on average. Also, it can vary depending on whether you’re preparing a brisket or a rib rack. So, getting the right heat level is a crucial bit. 

Choose wood wisely

There aren’t any rigid rules for choosing wood for gas smokers. But some hardwoods are known to work better with certain food items. Whether you’re smoking lamb or grilling steak, the wood choice can certainly matter depending on your tastes. Longer smoking sessions need different woods like with briskets. Remember, these woods aren’t hard and fast rules for recipes. So, feel free to go for new woods, experiment, and try new combinations as you go along.  

About The Author

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James is a writer who is a self-confessed kitchenware and coffee nerd and a strong advocate of Sundays, good butter, and warm sourdough.