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Propane vs Charcoal Smoker

There are plenty of people wondering about which is better, a propane smoker or a charcoal smoker. Despite most people expecting a clear answer, I will sadly have to disappoint you right here.

It is not possible to clearly say which type of smoker is better. One has to take a completely different approach to this, it is individual aspects of each smoker that have to be compared in order to better understand each of them.

Only this way can you make an informed choice on what you think is better in the propane vs charcoal smoker comparison. Below I have prepared a detailed description that presents the upsides and downsides of both smokers so that you can come to your own conclusions on which is better in your situation.

On Charcoal Smoker

The number one among all smokers and grills when it comes to flavor. No other type of smoker will give you a more characteristic and distinct smoky meat flavor. It is the main reason why this type of smoker has earned such a huge popularity and always upholds it.

A charcoal smoker requires a lot of skills and most of all attention when smoking, it all depends on you and you only. It’s a great choice for real BBQ enthusiasts who want to take care of the smoking results 100% by themselves.

On the other hand, unfortunately, what requires a lot of attention and most of all time might be discouraging to many.

Technically speaking, one certain upside is the affordable starting price and very low risk of malfunctions. A charcoal smoker doesn’t come with any complicated elements in its structure, it is free from any systems that rely on electricity.

To a large degree it is another reason why manufacturers focused more on the quality of entire structure, which makes it possible to find affordably priced models that are covered with as many as 10 years of warranty.

When buying a Charcoal Smoker, you have to be aware that it is a type of smoker for patient people who are into real BBQ. Just getting the charcoal burning and reaching the temperature takes some time, add to that all the other things ( fuel control, temperature control, adjusting the air vents ) and you’ll see how much time you need.

The result of all that effort is a unique flavor that you won’t find in any other type of smoker.


  • Intense smoky flavor
  • Price and Warranty
  • Durability
  • Fun


  • Much more effort and attention throughout the smoking process
  • Necessity to get the charcoal burning
  • Cleaning

On Gas Propane Smoker

It is a much more convenient and easier to use smoker that I definitely recommend to beginners. Propane burns clean which means there is nothing left to clean up except for grease and food remains.

In order to start smoking, you just have to refill the wood chips bowl, start the burner and set the knob properly – that’s it, you’re done.

When it comes to the flavor, I believe that it is just a little bit poorer than the flavor of meat from a charcoal smoker. Propane itself has no impact on flavor, but inside every propane smoker you will find a bowl for wood chips, which create the smoke required for smoking.

It is definitely a less popular type of smoker and an option for those who don’t want to spend half a day watching over the smoking process. It is also a great choice for those who don’t like the traditional ( and complicated to many ) BBQ.

One downside is certainly small mobility since a propane smoker relies on a propane tank. On top of that, I suggest always keeping a spare tank around in order to avoid surprises halfway through smoking.

Another downside compared to its competitor is the warranty as well as durability. A propane smoker is prone to significant malfunctions such as in the controller plus they’re not built as well as charcoal smokers which is mostly visible in the much shorter warranty period.

You don’t need to worry about air vents, although it is still recommended to control the temperature and adjust the burner knob often.


  • Convenience and Speed
  • Cleanness ( propane burns clean )
  • Good flavor of food


  • Prone to malfunction ( burner, hose & regulator )
  • Poor warranty

Gas vs Charcoal Smoker – Conlusions

The final choice is up to you, sadly I cannot tell you who is the clear winner as it all depends on what criterion we take into account.

If you want to have the most characteristic smoky charcoal flavor and love traditional BBQ then there is nothing to ponder about, a charcoal smoker will be perfect for you. You have to take into account, though, that this type of smoker requires some skills and is not as simple to use as a propane smoker.

On the other hand, though, if you want convenience, speed and time saving then go for a brand new propane smoker. I know that not everyone likes to stand by the smoker for majority of the smoking process, to some people it’s something nice while to others it’s nothing but a waste of time.

When it comes to flavor, a propane smoker gives great results as well, not quite as intense as a charcoal one, but it is still a very tasty food.

As you can see, the choice actually depends on your preferences which is why I am not going to be convincing you about one particular type of smoker. Think very carefully about what you prefer and what suits your cooking style the best so that you’re not disappointed later.