on November 16, 2013
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 (Home Depot) 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, and it's so much easier to clean it up.
Now go out there and start smoking!! Have fun !!
on 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.
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.
on May 1, 2012
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.
on November 1, 2011
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.
on September 5, 2011
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.
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.
on June 15, 2013
I have had my smoker for just under a year now and I love everything about it! I did a bunch of research on the different Makes and Models of smokers and decided this one is the one for me. This smoker had so many features that I love.
This model is simple to set up, and get right down to business with!
I like the feature this smoker has of having two doors. I can resupply wood chips to the fuel pan, as well as refill the water pan, and not lose all the heat in the cooking chamber.
The way the inside racks are easily adjustable, as well as slide in and out while supporting a full load of meat, is a fantastic design! I am interested in ordering additional racks from Masterbuilt so I can maximize space as I make my own jerky!
The ability of this smoker to use Propane or Charcoal to do the work adds more options. This gives me more flexibility in the many ways I want to use my smoker for all sorts of tasty treats.
Some time ago I had some questions about the operation of my smoker and needed to contact Masterbuilt to see if they could help me resolve an issue I was having. The customer service they showed to me was absolutely the best customer service I have ever had. They made me feel like Masterbuit was a family, and I was part of them.
Their product is fantastic, and customer service is even better! I believe in this Smoker and Masterbuilt so much I have talked one of my neighbors as well as a brother-in-law into purchasing these models for them as well. They have enjoyed them as much as I have.
Check out my images of my smoker at work on those Baby Back Ribs and Cream Cheese Jalapenos!
on June 10, 2014
Like many others, I did a LOT of reading before I chose this smoker. I was somewhat leery when I read a few of the negative comments but overall this appeared to be just what I needed. I was prepared to make the simple modifications (cast iron skillet, different water pan, door seal, and thermometer) to make this a top-notch smoker.
The first thing I did when I received delivery was to test the door thermometer. I live at 675' above sea level, so my water boils at 211°F. My thermometer gave a reading of 205°F when I tested it, but bearing in mind that only the tip of the probe was submerged I tend to believe that the thermometer was VERY close to being dead on. The 6°F difference was certainly something that I could live with. Let me say that I also purchased a probe thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the meat and have another probe thermometer ordered to use to check the temp of different parts of the smoker and to use as a backup or in additional meat cuts. The thermometer in the door is certainly not an issue for me.
Since some folks have commented about the doors leaking a LOT of smoke I researched different products to seal the smoker doors, but it turns out that I need not have worried about that aspect of this smoker. Indeed, my two-door smoker did leak a VERY SMALL amount of smoke during the curing process, but when I noticed that the latches are adjustable I simply tightened them up a couple of turns and I barely get a wisp of smoke out of them now. This was a very pleasant surprise.
I purchased a small 8" cast iron skillet for wood chips and simply placed it over the existing wood chip tray and covered the chips with aluminum foil that I had punched holes in with my phillips head screwdriver. These holes turned out to be a very workable size. I did not pre-soak my wood chips and they gave off good smoke, but I may change over to wood CHUNKS in order to have a longer smoking time between changes. I think that the cast iron skillet will help keep the smoker burner cleaner as there are no slots that will allow ashes to fall down on the burner. It only takes a few minutes to get the small cast iron skillet up to heat and that is no problem since I preheat my smoker anyway.
About the water tray... this was a concern since many said that they needed a larger tray and/or they had to constantly refill the tray with water. I was considering several options (steam table tray, casserole trays, cake pans, etc.) but when I saw the water tray that came with my new smoker my first thought was that it is pretty large. Maybe they changed the design and went to a larger tray, because when I smoked a large bone-in turkey breast for just under 5 hours, I still had a little bit of water left in the bottom of the water tray. I smoked the turkey breast at 235° and may have had to refill the tray once during the smoke had I been smoking at a higher temp. The tray also was large enough that it caught almost all, if not all, of the drippings. Of course I was only smoking a single breast. So far I see no reason to make any changes in the water tray. I love the sliding grate that the water tray sits in... it makes refilling and cleaning it a breeze.
I got the two-door model and I really do like having the second door for easy access to the burner, wood, and water. I found that opening the large upper door resulted in a temp drop of over 20°F and took some minutes to build back up, whereas opening the bottom door only resulted in a drop of about 5°F. These temp drops would both be higher is either door was left open for an extended period, but I am talking about opening the doors for about 30 seconds, which really is long enough for anyone to do what they need to do. Having this lower door really helps me keep the food at a stable temp and this is one of the main reasons I opted for the 30" model. It is a great feature that is usually only found in high-dollar smokers.
About the heat control... again, I heard comments about how this might be a problem so I researched other regulators and was prepared to order a Bayou Classic 10 psi regulator if necessary, but I doubt that I will need to order one. When I was curing the smoker I had no problem getting the smoker up to the required 400°F mark. It took a few minutes but was very doable. I also tested with the control on the "Low" setting and found that the smoker stays at about 200°F. This was on a 70°F afternoon. This is a temperature that I am happy with since I have no plans to make jerky or to smoke any other products that call for a temperature lower than 200°F. I will probably mostly be smoking pork with the occasional beef roast or brisket and these temps are well within the range I will need. I did find that the gas control is very sensitive to change and only requires the very smallest of movement when a temperature adjustment is being made. I got the hang of it after moving the knob a few times and am sure that it will be no problem as long as I make the knob movements very small. The ideal setting on my smoker turned out to be about the 28-29 second mark if you view the knob as a clock or watch with a second hand. Your smoker or desired temp may vary but I offer this as a possible starting point. You will quickly find the best setting for your smoker.
NOTE: So far I have kept the vent on the top rear of the smoker in the "CLOSED" position, since it is not completely airtight and seems to allow just the right amount of air and smoke out. I just don't think I could set it any better even if the vent was airtight and I needed to make adjustments. I think I could probably make it a little bit tighter by tightening the single phillips head screw that holds it together, but it is perfect right now and I think I will just leave it as is. There is an opening (hole) in the vent that is perfect for slipping a thermometer probe through, even when the vent is closed. I found this to be very handy.
My smoker did not come with wheels and I am not sure if others have wheels but I have read where some have added wheels to their smoker. I use my smoker in my back yard and do not need to move it around so I am really glad it came without wheels. That would just be one more thing to worry about and I doubt it would stand in place quite as well if it had wheels. Also, I have read where some are questioning the strength and durability of the legs. My opinion is that the legs are very sturdy... in fact, after reading a few of the negative comments about them, I was surprised at how sturdy they actually are. I see absolutely no problem with the design of the legs. After I assembled my smoker I needed to move it about 20' to it's place in the yard and it was very easy to "walk" it using the rear legs. This may sound funny but it worked and the rear legs showed me just how strong they really are when I did this.
ASSEMBLY was very simple and took me about 45 minutes, but during that time I was talking with my wife about this and that and we were also enjoying watching the dog and the cat play around in the yard, so I probably could have assembled it easily in less than 30 minutes had I been in a rush.
A couple of comments about the assembly: The only tool you will need is a phillips head screwdriver because some of the smoker comes pre-assembled. You may need a small wrench or an adjustable wrench if you wish to tighten the door latches, but that is a very simple operation also. When you begin the assembly you will be putting the legs on first. Make sure that you put the legs with the extra holes (to mount the control panel) on the front of the smoker and the others on the rear of the smoker. You can tighten the rear legs but DO NOT TIGHTEN the front legs until you have loosely mounted the Burner Box to the main body and the Control Panel to the front legs. Then when you tighten the control panel, the burner box, and the front legs you will have a nice proper fit. I was really happy to see that the gas line came pre-mounted to the control panel. All I had to do was to make sure that the orifice from the burner was centered into the metal gas line tube. It is really a nice simple assembly.
A lot has been said about a COVER for this model of smoker. My plan was to just use a large black plastic trash bag on mine until I found one that fit and was of decent quality. My wife has some Industrial Strength Black Plastic Trash Bags that she uses for bagging aluminum cans and she gave me on to use until I could find a good one. Guess what? It slipped over the smoker and was a PERFECT fit! I love it and am going to stick with it. It slides right over the handles of the smoker and is a good snug fit. The length is perfect as it covers the Control Panel with a couple of inches to spare. It does not reach quite to the ground and there are a few inches where air can get in from the bottom, but I like this because I do not want to see any moisture get trapped inside the smoker. I only wish my wife could remember the exact brand but she threw away the box. She only remembers that she got the bags from the Do-It-Best hardware store. If we get a chance we may drop by and see if we can get an exact size and brand of this bag for the rest of you. It is perfect and is very heavy duty.
Overall, I think this is a fantastic smoker and would be a bargain even if it were at a higher price. I have read absolutely no complaints from anyone about the quality of the finished food made using this smoker, and the purchase of a cast iron skillet was not really what I would call a mod. I am thrilled that I chose this smoker over some of the others I looked at. I doubt that I could have found a smoker that better meets my needs had I spent triple the price of what I paid for this one. I wholeheartedly recommend this smoker for the person who wants a fantastic bargain on a nice family-sized smoker.
Update: The plastic bags that my wife bought at the hardware store are "42-gallon Contractor Bags." They measure 33"x48" and are the perfect size to use as a cover for the 30" Masterbuilt Smoker. The hardware store had three different brands of these bags, all of them the same size, and the ones she bought were $9.99 for a box of them. We are still using the first bag and since these are pretty strong bags, I expect it to last for quite a bit longer. If I were to get someone to make me a custom-made vinyl cover for my smoker I would ask them to make it to these exact dimensions. The bag fits like it was made for this smoker.
on November 26, 2012
Build quality was acceptable for what I think is a starter smoker. I have now used this it 3 times with no issues. (See Customer Images)
Note that you can also use charcoal in the wood chip tray. Each time, I use charcoal and only use the propane to light it. It holds the coal heat in nicely. Maybe 1/2 bag of charcoal for a 7hr smoke, adding additional coals halfway through and turning the propane on for a little bit.
I bought this model over the electric version due to too many reliability issues stated by others. It seemed the electronics wouldn't last more than an year. With the propane model, there's not many things that can break.
on August 13, 2013
Have had (3) smokers over the past (25) years I've been smoking. The first one was makeshift & based on a gas grill. Second one I built because I couldn't find a smoker that had everything I wanted (like wide enough to do full slabs of ribs without having to cut them).
Now I have the 40" vertical MasterBuilt -- billed as the new generation of the GS40. Looks the same except for the door handle and side handles. I like propane for the consistent temp's I can get. Instead of the wood pan provided, I snagged the old tray I had from my other smoker -- it's cast iron, about 8"wide x 16" long x 4" deep. Great for getting wood up to temp and keeping it there (I arrange a layer of charcoal on the bottom and put the wood chunks on top). Found it at local home/lumber store in their grilling section. I have always used wood CHUNKS versus chips, and I'm doing the same with this new smoker and they've worked great. In addition, I use the throwaway aluminum half pans you can buy at Costco/Sam's, etc, to use for the water bath. A little deeper, and a little more water than the pan provided.
After seasoning, I used it for the first time to do (4) shoulders and (6) slabs of baby backs with an 80/20 ratio of Pecan to Apple wood chunks. Results were more than I expected from a new smoker. Temp regulated very nicely and stayed just where I wanted it -- 225 to 250 range. Temp also recovered quickly any time I opened the door to spray the meats or add some wood. My old homemade smoker did a great job, but it wasn't as easy to load/add wood or keep temp's consistent as this smoker is. If I had one suggestion, it would be to have a regulator capable of getting down to or slightly below 200o F. Even opening the rear vent only brought it down to 225. Not a big thing, just something my other smoker was able to do.
Some would argue that using propane isn't true smoking. Maybe not in "competition" circles, but I'm not worried about competition cooking. My approach is that smoking is about the use of various woods to flavor the foods, not the medium you use to get it up to temp. I've used the charcoal smokers and I ended up spending a lot more money on bags of charcoal than I ever did on propane. Propane is much easier to hold temp's than charcoal, especially here in the North East in the wintertime with howling winds stirring things around. I smoke all year round and I'll take the propane any day. I'm not in it for the "competition" -- I'm in it to please my family and friends when they come over for dinner!
This MasterBuilt smoker, for the price, is well built and fits 99% of everything I've looked for in a smoker and it produced excellent results right out of the gate.
on October 19, 2014
Keeping Flame from going out:I have had this thing for six months now and I do love it and works perfect for me.Here is what I did;
1.Put a cast iron skillet on top of stock wood tray for your wood chips/chunks
2.Buy high temp gasket for both door(I use Nomex gasket)that will seal the doors and keep heat/smoker in
3.Take the stock water pan and replace it with 7 1/2 by 5 aluminum drip pan
4.To Keep Flame from going out or If you wanna turn the gas control to low,you need to shield the smoker from wind on all three sides except the front of the smoker. You can even use large box to do this as shown in the picture.