191 of 195 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best vertical-cabinet propane smoker for under $200
I recently decided to buy a propane smoker, and comparison-shopped the various models that were readily available and less than $200. I looked at Lowe's, Home Depot, WalMart, Sears, and Char Broil (the company is here in Columbus, Georgia.) After seeing each in person, and reading a lot of online reviews, I bought the MasterBuilt Pro smoker at Home Depot for $179...
Published 14 months ago by p3orion
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thermometer faulty
It works ok but the thermometer is dead. Need to get another one to replace it. The water pan is too small.
Published 4 days ago by Eduard Gorgan
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191 of 195 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best vertical-cabinet propane smoker for under $200,
This review is from: Masterbuilt 20051311 GS30D 2-Door Propane Smoker (Lawn & Patio)I recently decided to buy a propane smoker, and comparison-shopped the various models that were readily available and less than $200. I looked at Lowe's, Home Depot, WalMart, Sears, and Char Broil (the company is here in Columbus, Georgia.) After seeing each in person, and reading a lot of online reviews, I bought the MasterBuilt Pro smoker at Home Depot for $179.
I opted against "bullet" style smokers because only one rack is accessible without a lot of trouble. The Weber Smokey Mountains are supposed to be great, but they start at about $300. The Brinkmann Smoke 'N Grill I had for a while was such a piece of crap that I finally gave up trying to "fix" it, and sold it for $15 at a yard sale (and still was cheating the guy at that price.) Horizontal cookers hold a lot of meat, but it's notoriously difficult to control an even temperature in one unless you fabricate a reversing plate; they also take up a lot of space when not being used.
So I started investigating vertical cabinet-style smokers. The Char-Broil CB600X was tempting because I could buy one from the distributor here, already assembled, for only $100 (a savings of about $70.) However, it just seemed so cheaply made that I didn't want to deal with its many reported problems: leaking, bad thermometers, peeling paint, and a combination chip and water dish that everyone seems to hate. Also, every Char-Broil grill I've ever owned has rusted out in only two seasons.
I rejected WalMart's Great Outdoors smoker because it has only one door; tending the chips or water means you'll probably spend 30 minutes or more before the cooking area gets back up to temperature. Their Brinkmann Split-Door Smoker solves that problem, plus it costs a mere $74; many people online like the results they get with a Brinkmann after EXTENSIVE modifications, but I was looking for a smoker, not a hobby (plus it was out of stock.)
That left Lowe's "Master Forge" and the Home Depot "MasterBuilt Pro" (which was also at Sears for a similar price.)
The two are very similar in both appearance and features. Both smokers have a good amount of room for cooking on four 14x14-inch pull-out racks, room enough for several butts or racks of ribs, with all the meat easily accessible at the same time. They each have separate doors for tending the chip pan and water pan, so that you don't have to open the cooking chamber and let the heat and smoke out, and pushbutton electronic igniters for the propane. I don't expect to use anything but propane, but both the MasterBuilt Pro and the Master Forge smokers can also be used with charcoal. (Although some folks swear by charcoal, if you're doing things right, the only thing the charcoal provides is the heat; the flavor should come from the wood chips you use. Still it's nice to have the option. Electric can work well, but isn't convenient for tailgating, and just seems wrong somehow.)
The Lowe's Master Forge was a little less expensive at $169 (as of summer 2012, the very similar $149 propane-only #DGY784CP, although still shown on the Lowe's website, has been discontinued.) It has a shelf that folds down on the left side, but I'm not sure how handy that shelf would end up being, because it's blocked when the door is open. It also has a top-mounted smoke stack with a variable control, as compared to the simple sliding vent on the back of the MasterBuilt Pro; this might prove an advantage in windy or rainy conditions. Then again, without a smoke stack, the entire top of the MasterBuilt is available to set things on, as long as they can stand the heat.
However, unlike the Lowe's smoker, the MasterBuilt has insulated doors, which seem to make it hold the temperature a bit better than what I've read about the Master Forge. On mine, the temperature stays within about 10 degrees of the 220 I set it at unless I forget and let the water pan dry out (higher temps are definitely possible; I got it to about 450 while seasoning it.) The door latches are smaller and pull the door in a little tighter on the Masterbuilt, and are less likely to get bumped as you walk by, unlike the protruding handles on the Master Forge. Finally, the MasterBuilt has wheels on the two back legs, which would come in handy if you need to move it before it's cooled off. Neither smoker is really heavy (50 pounds, maybe) and the Master Forge has insulated handles, but I wouldn't want to try carrying it around while it's still hot.
Many smokers in this price range leak so badly that you have to install some type of gasket around the doors to prevent loss of heat and smoke. I had planned to go ahead and buy an oven gasket when I bought the smoker, but I forgot to do so. As it turns out, it leaks so little that a gasket won't be necessary. I also won't have to replace the stock thermometer, which (at least on mine) turned out to be only about 10 degrees off, much better than many I've read about. (I calibrated it by testing it in some boiling water before I installed it in the door. That 10-degree fault may not be consistent for every temperature, but 212 degrees is close enough to the temperature I'll use for smoking that this thermometer will do just fine.)
Assembly of the MasterBuilt was very straightforward, with clear and concise English instructions (Spanish was in a separate manual) and neatly packaged parts and hardware. It took me about an hour to put it together, and it probably would have been less had I not been watching TV at the same time. I left off an arm that bolts onto the left side to stabilize your propane bottle; it seemed unnecessary to me, and the arm would certainly get in the way when I store the cooker in the garage.
Overall, after using it several times, I am very pleased with my MasterBuilt Pro. It cost about $10 more than the Lowe's "Master Forge," but I didn't have to spend $20-$30 on a gasket and new thermometer as I had expected (plus Home Depot even honored the 10% off coupon I had for Lowe's!) Furthermore, I haven't had to make any tedious other modifications to get it to work. It holds the temperature quite well while using fuel sparingly, about 24 hours on a tank. On longer cooks, I'll probably replace the stock water pan (which is a little too small) with a $1 aluminum pan just for the extra volume. But the only other change I plan is to add a beer opener to the side, and with that in place I expect to get many years of enjoyment out of this smoker.
A couple of times this spring I decided to try firing the unit with charcoal rather than propane (despite my earlier comment about flavor coming from the wood chunks and charcoal providing only heat, there really DOES seem to be a little "something" missing in the propane-fired meat's flavor.) Lighting it was really easy: I just piled the pan full of lump charcoal and hickory chunks, and lit the propane underneath for a few minutes. I used more charcoal than I expected (almost a whole bag over eight hours) but that may have been because of the small size of many of the pieces in what I was using. I also had to replace the water more often, but I guess that's to be expected since the heat is a couple inches closer. I does seem to be a little harder to keep the temperature at 250 using only charcoal; it wanted to hover around 200-220 degrees, and was very slow to recover after any time I opened the door. Kicking the propane back on for a few minutes seemed to help though, and in the future I may try running the propane continuously at a very low setting in addition to the charcoal. Overall, my results were still good though, and using the smoker with charcoal involved only a little more attention than propane only.
74 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good but keep your eye on a few things,
This review is from: Masterbuilt 20051311 GS30D 2-Door Propane Smoker (Lawn & Patio)I bought this last week after having continues frustrations with my barrel smoker. This seemed to be able to help with e biggest problem I was encountering with e barrel smoker, regulating and maintaining a low heat. I like to go low and slow!! This is a great smoker, takes about 30 minutes to build with very easy to follow directions. Connect the propane bottle and place some chips in the dish. I turned onto a medium heat to get it going and then down to a low heat to maintain. I managed to keep it around 180 degrees. I poured apple juice in the liquid tray. I smoked a chicken and a rack of ribs. Both turned out better than I have EVER smoked before. A few things you have to keep your eyes on. You have to maintain your wood chips for smoking every 30 minutes or so, and keep your liquid tray full as I let it boil dry and now have encrusted crystallized apple juice on the bottom. It is a seriously good smoker I reccomend it. Ohhh before I forget, I've seen some comments on smokers saying that they got a metallic taste on their food, YOU HAVE TO read the instructions and CURE your machine with olive oil. It burns off e new paint smell and you get no aftertaste, it's easy to do and only takes an hour.
95 of 100 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Up to the task,
I broke this unit in with two racks of pork ribs, two racks of beef ribs, two chickens, a whole brisket, one rabbit, and five pounds of sausage.
Great temperature control with the propane. Was able to keep it the desired temperature and forget about it
Capacity is great, could easily smoke four whole turkeys in there
Adjustable grates were very useful in makeing room for everything
Comes back up to temp very quickly after the door was opened
Temperature gauge is dead on accurate and verified by an oven thermometer
Drip/water pan is a joke, especially for a unit of this size, I overcame by using a large foil pan.
Smoke pan looks like a fire trap, especailly using the drip pan that came with it I used an old cast iron skillet which did the job very well
Seems to use a lot of propane, about 1/2 tank for 10 hours of smoking
Some smoke leaks out the door which means that some heat is escaping that way as well, could accout for the larger than expected propane use. I will be sealing it with some fireplace rope.
Temp control is great, with the addidtion of a cast iron skillet, the ability to control the smoke is awesome
Capacity is more than enough for all but the largest of home events
The food came out great, everything was most and tender because low and slow is the way to go.
I would recommend it with the easy modifications I have mentioned(seal door, use cast iron pan for wood chunks, use large pan for drip/water pan)
Rating is four stars for too small drip pan and faulty design of the smoke tray. The issue with the door seems to be a common thread for this type of smoker, no matter where it comes from.
The unit preformed very well with a large task for its first use.
This unit continues to perform very well. I have made my own drip pan and continue to use a cast iron skillet for the wood chunks/chips. Turkey turns out fantastic and with the great temp control, there is nothing to fret or fuss over. I have added fireplace rope to the door to seal it, that really helped reduce the propane usage. I have run the smoker for more than thirty hours on a single take of propane.
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Smoker,
After reading a bunch of reviews, there was a consistent report regarding the temperature gauge on the cabinet door and the pan you put the wood blocks in. The remedy for these two negative were easy to handle.
1. Purchase a 8" iron skillet to place over the pan that is furnished with the smoker. Putting your wood blocks in the skillet will insure that the wood does not catch on fire which it will if you use the pan furnished with the smoker.
2. The temperature gauge on the cabinet door is off anywhere from 20 to 25 degrees. It is not dependable. I used a digital thermometer and stuck the probe in the thigh of the turkey and ran the wire out the cabinet door. I also placed another thermometer of the same type to monitor the cabinet temperature. I took a metal clip and stood the probe in the air attached to one of the grill bars.
I found that after 7 hours of cooking, I had used very little propane. At 250 degrees which was almost the lowest setting on the control gas knob This grill is worth the money and should generate great BBQ for a long time. Beware...with this large smoker cabinet don't be surprised if your neighbor tries to talk you into letting them put some meat in the cabinet along with yours.
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great customer service and smoker,
This review is from: Masterbuilt 20051311 GS30D 2-Door Propane Smoker (Lawn & Patio)I can't address the 1 star review but I can address my experience with this smoker. This is my first true smoker but I have owned Kamodo barbeque smokers/grills. This smoker has performed very, very well and lived up to my expectations. First of all, we're talking about a $200 smoker built for residential use. In that forum, I've been very impressed and everything we've smoked came out great. I did have one issue with the temperature gauge not reading over 300 degrees. I wrote an email to customer service and it was replaced without question and came within 5 days of my original email.
Things to remember, do break-in the smoker per the instructions which will make it easier to clean the grills later on. The four grills are easy to move for larger cuts of meat and clean easily. The wood chip tray is easy to use and clean provided you don't go overboard with the number of chips you use...remember it's designed for 2 cups & make sure you soak the chips prior to use. I typically soak them overnight which seems to make them last longer. While the water tray is somewhat small, having the lower door access makes it easy to add water. If you forget and let the tray run dry, be careful not to cause a flare-up fire by adding water to the hot tray!
The gas valve to control temperature is very sensitive and requires some adjustment to set the correct temperature. Once you get the feel of it, it's not a problem.
I never open the upper smoke vent as keeping it closed keeps the smoke in! Don't forget to add chips during the initial 2 hours to get the best smoke flavor. I was very happy with the propane use as the smoker does not use a whole bottle each time you smoke. My first bottle lasted through 6, six hour smokes and I can live with that rate of use.
I would recommend this smoker to anyone who wishes to have a great smoker that doesn't take up much space, works great, and isn't overpriced!
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a great smoker!,
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The bomb!,
This smoker produces GREAT quality meats. So far I have cooked a shoulder, tons of babyback ribs, sausage and much chicken. I am very pleased! I was apprehensive after reading the reviews, but noticed that there were no complaints about the food! After about 4-5 smokes I am very pleased with the quality of food produced by this smoker. Now, about the the main complaints, the chip pan and the water pan:
1. You can solve the chip pan problem by using aluminum foil across the bottom of the chip pan which prevents the direct flame. I use it folded three times and pressed against the bottom of the pan. Simple.
2. Use a caterer's type throw away aluminum pan from Sam's for water which you can buy in bulk for about .50 each and BAM!
By the way, this smoker is excellent on the propane, and I didn't have a lot of smoke escape from around the edges of the smoker. The thermometer shows only about a 7 degree deviation on the temp. I am telling you, take the plunge, this thing is great and huge! I got mine delivered free to the store at 179.00. I think I am in love!
The foil didn't allow enough air to circulate, so the temperature would not go as high as I'd like without jacking up the control, so I tried the the cast iron pan. Smoke was better, but had the same problem. However, once I raised the chip pan about 3/4" to allow air flow above the burner opening (used 3 flat steel electrical junction type boxes, one for each leg) works perfectly with the cast iron pan on top of the original pan. Now I have to dial the temp down, so I am saving propane! Still in love!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT Smoker ! Make the following improvements......,
This review is from: Masterbuilt 20051311 GS30D 2-Door Propane Smoker (Lawn & Patio)This is a great smoker and I agree with the other buyers that for the money, you will NOT find a better quality smoker sold by an EXCELLENT company with great customer service. I made the following improvements that were recommended by previous buyers, and I included some pictures. I highly recommend these improvements!! 1) Fill the flame disk bowl with a 7 pound bag of small LAVA ROCK (HD) and then place the wood on top of them. 2) Buy 4 SMALL casters at (LOWES) and install them. There is plenty of place on the bottom of each leg to get 3 screws in. What a difference in moving the smoker around. 3) Get a pack of Weber DRIP PANS, 7.1 x 11 inches, and 2 inches deep, and gently push them in to the original opening for the water/drip pan. You increase the water capacity and the dripping surface. Now go out there and start smoking!! Have fun !!
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars read this review,
This review is from: Masterbuilt 20051311 GS30D 2-Door Propane Smoker (Lawn & Patio)this is my first gas smoker purchase and I read many reviews on different brands and models. Decided I did want a 2 door smoker over a one door. I ended up purchasing the masterbuilt 2 door smoker. recieved it quick thru Amazon, assembly was great, very quick with 0 problems. seasoned the smoker with oil. no problem. seems like a very tight unit. insulated doors. little smoke leak from door edges but very minimal. This unit had 0 hooks on the ceiling for hanging sausages and I fixed that by fuying 9 stainless steel hooks threaded on one end with a nut. drilled very tight holes in the top of smoker and spaced these 9 hooks out so that a 3 inch sausage can be hung without touching each other. solved that. Will add a 8 or 10 inch cast iron skillet for the wood chips cause the furnished one makes it very easy for the chips to catch fire. No trouble in getting the heat up to over 400 degrees for seasoning like some reviews mentioned. I will want to be able to have a low temp of 100 degrees for drying out sauasages before smoking. Don't think this will be a problem cause can always crack a door to help lower temps. Without a doubt I believe I made the best purchase for what I will use it for. smoking summer sausage (venison). very very happy with this purchase
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Smoker,
This review is from: Masterbuilt 20051311 GS30D 2-Door Propane Smoker (Lawn & Patio)This is the third smoker I have owned in last 20 years or so.
So far it's the best. Easy to use and holds temps great.
Made three modifications that greatly improved operation.
added a large aluminum loaf pan for more water capacity, sets in existing pan.
added lava rocks to burner pan, distributes the heat better.
added a small metal pie pan for the wood chips, set on top of lava rocks,
provides good smoke and no flame flare ups.
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Masterbuilt 20051311 GS30D 2-Door Propane Smoker by Masterbuilt