I wanted a smoker, bad...
Recommend this product?
I'm an avid fisherman and hunter. I also enjoy cooking and good food. I especially like trying new recipes using the fish and game that I have taken. After using a friends Brinkman smoker several times, I was hooked. We smoked fish, poultry and made some kick ash jerky on his smoker; I was hooked lined and sinkered.
At the time I was living on my own in an apartment. I did not have a grill, or any other cooking appliances. I saw the 7 in 1 smoker advertised in Cabela's. Cabela's was advertising the 7 and 1 under their own label, but the smoker is (or at least was) manufactured by Masterbuilt. The 7 in 1 was the answer to all my outdoor cooking needs, smoker, BBQ, fryer, steamer, propane, charcoal... I could'nt wait to broil, boil, baste and smoke.
Santa brought my 7 and 1 about 2 months later. I took it home and put it together as soon as I could, this is where the problems began. First as I unpacked the pieces I noticed that the metal construction of the smoker body was very thin. The metal vents, door, nuts, bolt and fasteners also seemed thin and cheaply constructed. Despite my initial reservations, I proceeded with the construction. Let me state that I am a handy person. I've worked in facilities maintenance and I have some construction and mechanical experience. The instructions where difficult to follow and confusing. I made several mistakes and had to take a few pieces apart after using the wrong screws or nuts on the assembly.
As I was attaching several pieces the finish on the smoker body cracked and chipped from the application of the nuts and screws. I began to wonder if I had picked the right smoker.
After assembly I followed the instructions for breaking in the smoker, I also seasoned the smoker by burning some oak and hickory chips. I began using the smoker and grill as soon as it was broken in. I used the gas grill to make dinner for my girlfriend and myself. I had a hard time keeping the temperature on the grill even. I discovered that the regulator valve was not working properly. I made some adjustments to the regulator and handle and was able to get it working.
I next used the smoker with the propane burner to make some jerky for an upcoming backpacking trip. Unfortunately about half the batch was ruined because the temperature in the smoker was too high. This is how I discovered that the temperature gauge was off by about 15 to 20 degrees.
I have had plenty of success with the smoker/grill and I have made some great meals, and a variety of smoked treats. I can also say that I liked using the propane burner with the frying kit. I've made fried chicken, buffalo wings and french fries without any problems.
The smoker can be used with two racks or can be converted into a smaller unit by taking off the top rack and center smoker body. I have used the smoker with both gas and charcoal with success. I have also used the grill with propane and charcoal. In order to grill properly you must use the lower grill rack and the lid. The top rack does not get hot enough to grill properly. The grill can be used both as a propane grill and a charcoal grill. I would recommend using aluminum foil to line the charcoal pan. The charcoal pan is also the water pan for the smoker, without lining the pan while using it for charcoal grilling, it will not last very long. Expect your smoker disk to wear out fast. Mine began to rust through after the first year of regular use.
I've had the smoker now for about 4 years. The door has fallen off, the smoker disk has completely rusted through, and I have had to change the brackets that hold on the grill racks, the brackets were made of cheap metal and did not hold up for much past the first year. I went to the Masterbuilt website to see about purchasing replacement parts. There were very few replacement parts available for this product, and most the repairs I have made have required me to improvise with other parts and hardware.
I would not purchase the 7 and 1 again. I do not recommend this grill/smoker to anyone who smokes or grills regularly. The 7 and 1 might hold up for occasional or seasonal use, but hardcore grill/smoker/BBQ users will quickly wear this unit out. I used mine regularly year round, and it did not hold up.
My suggestion is to shop around and spend the extra money on a heavy-duty grill/smoker that can hold up to regular use. With the growing popularity of fryers, they are inexpensive and can be purchased separately. In fact I purchased a second fryer for $19.95 USD at a summer clearance sale.
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Amount Paid (US$): 130