Smoking meat no longer means standing on your feet for 8 hours in a charcoal haze. If you want flavorful smoked meat, on a modest budget, a propane smoker is a way to go. Propane smokers provide hours of consistent heat while burning clean, odorless fuel.
Using a propane smoker comes with the bonus of a simple and convenient set-up, especially for those who have not smoked meat before. Modern propane smokers have removable racks, built-in thermometer, and glass windows, which help bring meat smoking into the 21st century.
Types of Propane Smokers
There aren’t many differences between propane smokers besides size and features. When considering size, ask yourself how much meat you will be preparing and where you will want to use your smoker. For example, the Black Portable Propane Smoker by Masterbuilt is perfect for smoking meat at a tailgate or campsite. As for features, you can’t go wrong with a push to ignite button and built-in thermometer. For our first time, we will be using the 30″ Propane Smoker by Masterbuilt.
Preparing the Smoker for the First Time
Make sure to have read the manufacturer’s instruction manual. Most manuals urge users to do a test run without food in your smoker initially. These are your unofficial first and second steps.
Now that we’ve done the safety legwork, let’s get smoking!
Step 1) Set up the Propane Tank – Connect your propane tank and make sure the connection is tight before you turn the valve on to release the propane.
Step 2) Start the Propane Smoker – Power on your smoker and set to your desired temperature (200°F-220°F is optimal). Be sure your vents and chimneys are open and the door is completely closed.
Step 3) Add Woodchips – The flat pan above the burner is where you will add your wood chips. Allow the propane smoker to continue preheating and build smoke in the chamber.
Pro tip– Smoke should only be coming from the vents and chimneys. If smoke is coming from anywhere else shut off your smoker, turn off your propane and consult the manufacturer’s manual.
Step 4) Set up the Water Tray – Directly above the woodchip tray is the water tray. You can fill this tray with water, cider, or beer for added flavors.
- Pro tip– Line the water tray with foil to allow a smoother cleanup process!
Step 5) Add your Food – Once you’ve reached your desired temperature, place your meat on the racks.
- Pro tip-For an even better smoking experience, try smoking veggies like bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms.
Step 6) Check on your Smoker – Every 30 minutes, inspect the food, check the trays and replenish if necessary. Whenever you open the door to your propane smoker, you should use safety gloves to protect your hands. If your smoker has a glass window, do a visual inspection to avoid opening the doors as much as possible.
Step 7) Check the Internal Temperature – For accuracy, gauge the temperature of the thickest part of your meat. You can measure the internal temperature of your meat by using a meat thermometer. Different meats require a different internal temperature before being considered fully cooked. Refer to your recipe for direction.
Step 8) Remove your Food from the Smoker – Carefully place your meat on a plate using a grill safe utensil and safety gloves.
Step 9) Turn off your Propane Smoker – Switching the temperature knob off will turn the flame off. Once off, close the propane valve to stop the release of gas, then disconnect the tank from the smoker.
Cleaning your Propane Smoker
First, allow your smoker to completely cool before you begin cleaning. Next, remove the trays and racks from the propane smoker and scrub them with a good wire brush in order to remove food remnants. Finally, discard any ash or wood chips and wipe surfaces with soapy water.
Smoking meat is an easy task with a delicious pay-off when using a propane smoker. Smoking can transform your beef, pork, poultry, or seafood into a tender, flavorful dish that everyone is sure to love. Following these key steps will make your first meat smoking experience as effortless as the meat falling off the bone.