Anyone watching the Food Channel on a regular basis probably has a couple favorite shows. Bobby Flay got me hooked on barbequing things I never considered grilling such as fish tacos, asparagus, even pizza! My latest find on the Discovery Channel, BBQ Pitmasters. These pros spend 10's of thousands on equipment but for about $190 I can produce the same quality, just on a smaller scale. I've done babyback ribs on my Weber grill using water logged mesquite chips, they turn out fine but nothing like my latest batch of slow cooked ones in our Masterbuilt smoker. After doing several hours of research, comparison shopping and getting feedback from consumer reviews, I chose the mid- sized 30 inch 4 rack model. By removing 2 racks I can cook (2) 12-14 lb turkeys. I'll let you do the math on how many that serves but at least 20 people.
Recommend this product?
From the outside the Masterbuilt looks like a small refrigerator but on the inside it's more like a toaster oven. Mine is the lesser expensive powder coated black steel verses the $100 more stainless steel model. I'm only noticing a few minor disappointments I feel worth mentioning. The measurements below give "outside" dimensions so take this into consideration, it's not as wide as I thought. You'll have to cut your racks of ribs in half or only be able to fit a 13 inch wide Pyrex full of Johnsonville Brats with a an inch to spare on each side. The chip loader is a bit flimsy and takes a little getting used to, meaning, once inserted it doesn't want to turn that easily. If frustrated, one could bend or twist the handle off.
I just grab a cup full (dry chips) and place them into the loader, insert into the opening, then give it half a twist. In about 30 seconds (if the element is on) there's smoke, not much, nor enough to be offensive. Once I place the meat on the rack, close the door, I can hear the unit cycling on the 800 watt element. Now's the time to add the chips, then just a small handful every 60-90 minutes. I haven't over added chips yet but too much smoke can ruin the taste. There's an adjustable air damper on top which helps control how quickly the chips burn plus keep flare ups to a minimum. I keep mine barely open which minimizes heat loss.
For the most part it's pretty much a "set it & forget it" process. Except for my rib recipe, not once did I open the door to take a peek, even with an overnighter, a 15 hour pork butt. I used small chunks of hickory instead of chips. If they're flat enough they will fit through the opening. When I cook babyback ribs I remove them to wrap in foil then let them simmer for the last hour. I've found they taste even better as leftovers, when re-heated in the foil on our "Weber to-Go" grill.
Made in China:
I'm trying my best to help our economy by not buying overseas products but thought you should know where Masterbuilts are manufactured. I didn't know until I looked on the box it came in. The majority of negative reviews stem from consumers with inoperative control panels or bad heating elements. These parts are only warranted for 90 days and they're not cheap or readily available.
The control panel: #990050048 - $67.
Heating Element #990790033 - $45.
For $70.00 more I can buy the whole thing!
Overall this seems to be a solid well built machine but as far being durable, a mere 90 day warranty and the negative reviews pretty much explains the quality of the electrical components.
Product Features: (from Masterbuilt) (*) me
· 2-1/2-cubic-foot electric smoker with powder-coated steel exterior
· 4 smoking racks; push-button digital control panel; 24-hour timer; auto shut-off
· Thermostat-controlled electric temperature; insulated for energy-efficient cooking
· Air damper; side-loading wood tray; removable drip pan and rear-mounted grease pan
· Measures approximately 19-1/2 by 18-2/7 by 34 inches
· Weight, approximately 50 lbs(*)
· Inside cooking area, 4 removable racks, 4"H x 15"W x 12"D (*)
· 5 ft 3 prong power cord (*)
It takes longer to unpack then to put together. A Phillips head screwdriver is needed to secure the control module. To make the unit level the bottom legs will need adjusting.
The adjustable door latch can be a little awkward but a necessity, especially with little one or pets about. Due to the black surface, and if place in direct sunlight, the unit gets very hot. The unit is fairly well insulated and while in operation there doesn't seem to be much heat on the surface. One could actually touch it without discomfort or worry of getting burned.
The unit comes with a drip tray and for excessive overflows, an external auxiliary drip pan. I don't plan on ever using this.
Once the timer reaches 0:00 the element automatically shuts off but the temperature continues to give a reading until you power down by manually pressing the on/off button.
The worst part...
Has to be cleaning. I don't mind the grease mess, it wipes right off. The brownish stain from the smoke is normal. Compare cleaning this smoker to a "broken in" cast iron skillet.
The best part....
Once you've placed your entree into the smoker, your only requirement is to add chips at the proper time. It takes some practice but even your mistakes can be just as rewarding.
The food that comes out is a 5 out of 5, the Masterbuilt smoker is a solid 4.
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Amount Paid (US$): 191.00