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389 of 402 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 on September 17, 2012 by p3orion

versus
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It works with some modifications
My biggest complaint is that the construction of the box is shoddy. the hinges for the doors do not line up creating a gap between the doors and the box allowing a significant amount of smoke and heat to leak. I also have some concerns about the strength of legs and wish casters had been put on them as this unit is awkward to move around and I am afraid one of them might...
Published 13 months ago by Richard Marlar


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389 of 402 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best vertical-cabinet propane smoker for under $200, September 17, 2012
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.

********

UPDATE:
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.
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169 of 174 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good but keep your eye on a few things, May 1, 2012
By 
MGB "Ethel" (L a, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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.
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182 of 195 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Up to the task, September 5, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Masterbuilt GS40 Black Propane Smoker, 40-Inch (Lawn & Patio)
Make sure you burn this unit in before cooking the first time, there were a lot of noxious chemicals that burned off.
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.

Pros

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

Cons

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.

Verdict

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.

Update:

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.
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77 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Smoker, November 1, 2011
This review is from: Masterbuilt GS40 Black Propane Smoker, 40-Inch (Lawn & Patio)
When something is so great as this smoker, where to you begin. I made the decision to get a propane smoke as it is a lot easier to maintain a consistent temperature than the traditional charcoal or wood smoker. Also, you don't have to stay glued to this smoker like the traditional smokers to stoke the coal or wood. The smoker went together with ease. Wanting to do a Thanksgiving turkey, I did a trial run and prepared a 17.5 pound turkey. I preheated the smoker to 250, I set the turkey in the middle of the smoker cabinet and loaded the pan with hickory as well as the water pan. After reloading the pan with hickory blocks three times and the water pan twice the turkey was ready in 7 hours. First of all, I am not crazy about turkey but this turkey was moist and had a fantastic taste. The next order of business before Thanksgiving is ribs and brisket.

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.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT Smoker ! Make the following improvements......, November 16, 2013
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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 !!
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The bomb!, January 14, 2012
By 
C. King (Orange Park, FL) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Masterbuilt GS40 Black Propane Smoker, 40-Inch (Lawn & Patio)
I too read all the reviews about this smoker, so if you are reading this and this is your first smoker read carefully:

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!

2/29/12 Update:
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!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Smoker, August 12, 2013
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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.

Gene Guthan
Santee, SC
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It works with some modifications, August 12, 2013
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My biggest complaint is that the construction of the box is shoddy. the hinges for the doors do not line up creating a gap between the doors and the box allowing a significant amount of smoke and heat to leak. I also have some concerns about the strength of legs and wish casters had been put on them as this unit is awkward to move around and I am afraid one of them might snap off when moving it.

The other issues I have is that the water pan is small and have had issues with the wood chips catching on fire due to the design of the pan that holds them.

To fix the first issue with the smoke leaks, I ordered some Nomex gasket material, got some high temperature adhesive and lined the smoke and fire box with around the edges. I do not know how long it will stay attached but for now it made a big difference.
I'd say the leakage was cut by 75%.

Re the water pan i have substituted aluminum steam table inserts which are a little deeper but still clear the pan holding the wood.

Re the wood chips catching on fire, for using chips, I got 2 cast iron boxes at HD in their grill dept that allows one to put wood chips in a grill. Using tongs I can then rotate the wood chips when they have been consumed and replace them out. for wood chunks I wrap them in foil and put holes in the foil. This a trick I used in the old tube smoker and it works fairly well.

I am still thinking out how to reenforce the legs and put wheels on them and will update that later.

I have seen conversations on the door temp gauge and will say mine is within 10 degrees but a thermometer for the grill surface and a wireless thermo for the product is a must have. The wireless I got at Wal Mart for under 20 bucks and it works fine.

So far I have cooked 2 shoulders, 2 pork tenderloins, 2 whole large chickens, and some boneless chicken thighs. I got compliments on everything so this unit functions but I feel like I am having to rebuild it and question its long term durability.

All in all this unit is ok but the company's quality control should have caught the obvious door alignment issue and the poor joint welds. I would not order from this company again unless I can see in person what I am buying.
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35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a great smoker!, November 4, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Masterbuilt GS40 Black Propane Smoker, 40-Inch (Lawn & Patio)
After owning many other kinds of smokers, home made freezer smoker, bullet with a aftermarket propane burner, and sometimes anything I could find, this is a great smoker. It does have it's issues with the small water pan, and the goofy chip tray, but other than that I am very happy with my purchase. I am waiting to get my free factory "retro kit" (a new style chip pan and water pan I believe) after Nov. 20th. I didn't use a cast iron skillet as a chunk pan, I used a pie tin inside of a cake tin on the top of the factory chip pan, I just offset it from center as much as possible and got 3 hour smoke times on one fist sized chunk of hickory. Normally when I run a smoker I have solid billows of smoke, and in spite of never having creosote problems, I went on the advice of many GS40 owners and just had a constant "wisp" of smoke the entire smoking time which for me diod not impart the level of smoke flavor I wanted. After burning off the bad fumes in the smoker's tray, I wiped it out, sprayed it with Pam and threw in some chunks. Temperature was right on after I reset the gas valve once, it was set it and forget it. The Masterbuilt cover recommended for the GS40 doesn't fit. The Char-Broil 433592 vertical smoker cover fit perfectly, and cost half as much 15.00 versus 30.00
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome smoker, February 10, 2013
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This review is from: Masterbuilt GS40 Black Propane Smoker, 40-Inch (Lawn & Patio)
I have used this for 1.5 years now. I have not even touched my wood smoker since owning the Masterbuilt, I never even took the cover off the wood smoker last season. This uses a LOT less wood but still gives good results. Brisket is what I do most and I only smoke for the first 6-8 hours. Compared wood usage I can go through several logs of wood with my old smoker or the equivalent of less than one log with a propane smoker, I pick propane. I would guess in one season of smoking with the propane smoker I would use less wood total than what I would use in my wood smoker at one time. For me charcoal is for the grill not the smoker ;-)
I dont have to constantly check on the propane smoker like my wood one, no more staying up all night for brisket. I use a two probe wireless thermometer, one probe for the meat and one probe for the smoker temp. I only check on the smoker when its time to add more wood. After the 6-8 hrs and I am no longer adding wood I just look at my wireless thermometer every few hours to make sure temps are where I like them.
Ive done brisket, pork, chicken, ribs the typical stuff, all come out great. I cook my brisket anywhere from 12-20 hrs depending on how big it is. In a 20 hour smoke I would say I used a little over 1/3 of a 20lb propane tank, keeping temps 180-200 deg and about 60-70 deg outside temp.

My biggest complaint and others have mentioned is the smoke tray. If I could go 1/2 star I would have rated this 4.5 due to the smoke tray, but since its an easy work around ill round up rather than down. I tried a few different methods and have found the cast iron pan works but, what I dont like about it is the ring it sits on is starting to deform a little from the heat and weight of the pan.

Another method I used once so far and suggested by a friend is a large stainless steel dog dish. With the wood in the dish I tucked some aluminum foil loosely in the dish to keep oxygen out which keeps flames away. Im not sure if there would have been an issue with flames so I am going to try it without the foil next time. I also have two dishes so I can rotate them out quickly, they are cheap. I put my wood in dry, no soaking.

I was looking at the electric smoker and almost purchased one. What changed my mind is you can only get up to 275 deg and the heating element can go bad. I have gotten my temps up to 400 in this thing and I think it would go higher if needed. I think propane smoker will be much more reliable and I can still use it if I loose power.
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Masterbuilt GS40 Black Propane Smoker, 40-Inch
$249.95 $165.75
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