If you’re a barbecue or meat lover, owning your own smoker is a must. Making restaurant-quality smoked meats in your own backyard is a satisfying experience for any home cook. Plus, smoking meat at home instead of eating out saves money while earning you the title of #1 dinner host among your friends and family!
Masterbuilt is a family-run company with over 45 years of history in the barbecue business. Whether you’re a professional chef or a novice smoker, Masterbuilt's line of grills, smokers, fryers and combination units has something for everyone.
If you’re in the market for a Masterbuilt electric smoker, this article is a great place to start. Learn about the history of Masterbuilt and the different electric smoker models available from the company. We highlight 10 important considerations before you buy. Don’t forget to check out our 25 mouthwatering Masterbuilt smoker recipes!
Overview of Masterbuilt Electric Smokers
Masterbuilt has been building electric smokers since the company began in Dawson McLemore’s backyard in 1973. The Christian-based and family-run company, which is headquartered in Georgia, focuses on customer satisfaction and providing cooking units for all levels of chefs, from professional to novice.
The company offers an extensive product line including analog and digital electric smokers, propane smokers, charcoal grills, combination grill smokers, and fryers. Masterbuilt electric smokers come in two sizes (30” and 40”) and with either analog or digital temperature control options. The company also sells combination grill and smoker units. For the purposes of this article, we will limit our discussion to standalone electric smoker units.
10 Things to Know About Masterbuilt Electric Smokers
The Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smokers, also known as the 130B and 140B, are affordable, easy to use, and well-insulated. But which is right for you? These 10 considerations will help you decide which Masterbuilt electric smoker will best suit your cooking needs.
1. Masterbuilt offers competitive pricing.
Masterbuilt Electric Smokers are a great option for novice cooks because of their relatively low price point. A 30-inch analog electric smoker with 3 racks sells for $199 on the company’s website while the higher-end unit, a 40-inch digital electric smoker with a window, sells for $369.
This affordability often lands Masterbuilt on “top smokers” consumer guides. The reason for their low pricing is two-fold: the smokers are not made in America and, according to some reviews, the materials and construction feel like they’re a bit on the cheaper side. We get into materials in our next point.
2. Masterbuilt electric smokers are durable enough for the average cook.
Masterbuilt smokers are made of a mix of stainless steel, cold-rolled steel, and aluminum. They are fully insulated to retain heat, have chrome-coated cooking racks, and doors are rubber sealed with a door latch and gasket that keeps the smoke and heat in well and helps maintain a consistent temperature.
That being said, some users say that the construction feels cheap and not sturdy. Masterbuilt smokers come at a lower price point because they use cheaper materials (plastic for controllers and aluminum walls, for example). While the company is based in Georgia, products are manufactured in China.
These lower-end units are meant for average use, like in a household, not the heavy daily use of a restaurant. They are not meant to be high-volume machines. They should, however, hold up fine in a household that is smoking meat on occasion. But be aware that the aluminum walls will dent easily, so be careful with the body and the hardware in general to make your unit last longer.
3. Masterbuilt units come in different sizes and cooking capacities
Masterbuilt smokers are available in 30-inch and 40-inch models with three or four adjustable smoking racks. The smallest unit—a 30-inch unit with 3 adjustable chrome smoking racks—has the capacity to smoke 3 chickens, 2 turkeys, 3 racks of ribs, or 3 pork butts. A 40-inch unit with four racks has the capacity to smoke up to 16 chickens, 4 turkeys, 8 racks of ribs, or 8 pork butts. This is plenty of room for most home cooks.
4. Choose between analog or digital control
Masterbuilt electric smokers are available with digital or analog controls. The analog style features a thermostat dial while the digital style uses a digital screen and buttons to quickly select your temperature. The main difference is stylistic and is totally a personal preference of what’s easier to read and set. Of course, with digital components, there’s always a risk of something shorting out or breaking. But a digital screen also gives you more precise control over your cooking temperature, and units with analog controls tend to have more variability in temperature. This is because the unit reaches the target temperature, shits off, and then reheats to the target temperature repeatedly.
5. Masterbuilt electric smokers are easy to use.
Next to their affordability, ease of use is perhaps the greatest selling point of a Masterbuilt (or any) electric smoker. Simply plug it in, set the temperature, and load your meat and chips for smoking. The unit does the rest! Electric smokers are a great option for someone just learning how to smoke meat or who wants a no-fuss option for making fun and delicious meals at home.
Masterbuilt units employ automatic temperature regulation, so you don’t have to adjust it while cooking. The patented side wood chip loader lets you adjust the chips and experiment with flavors without opening the door and losing heat.
6. They’ve got a patented side-loading wood chip port
This feature is so unique and useful that we are highlighting it as a major selling point you should know. Meat smokes best between 200 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit, and maintaining a steady temperature will ensure you don’t overcook or undercook your meat. With Masterbuilt’s patented wood chip port, you can add more chips, and change the chips out for different flavors without opening the door and losing any heat.
7. Electric smokers are inferior to traditional smokers.
While their ease of use, affordability, and general safety make electric smokers a fantastic option for someone new to smoking meat or home cooks in general, they are inferior to traditional smokers. This is because the heat is solely generated by the electric heating element. This means it’s essentially a kitchen oven, without the fan.
This heat then makes the woodchips smolder and smoke. This smoke is what flavors the food. The key difference is that there’s no actual fire. Because of this, you can’t achieve a smoke ring with an electric smoker and the flavor is much more subtle.
9. The burn-in time for Masterbuilt smokers is longer than other brands.
The “burn-in” process for a new smoker is essentially running the smoker at a high temperature (275-300 degrees Fahrenheit) with nothing inside of it except for the racks and trays. This burns off any contaminants, helps to “season” the smoker, and gives you a chance to get used to the unit before your maiden cooking voyage.
The burn-in time for Masterbuilt electric smokers is at least three hours at the unit’s maximum temperature. After two hours, you will add some woodchips to begin seasoning the unit for the next hour. This is longer than many other smokers on the market, but it’s really only an issue the first time you set up your smoker. It is something you should be aware of if you’re making a last-minute purchase for some time-sensitive cooking.
8. Masterbuilt smokers are available at many convenient retailers.
Another plus of these easy-to-use and affordable home smokers is that they are easy to get your hands on at a good price. Masterbuilt smokers are sold at many major shopping chains, including Cabela’s, Home Depot, Bass Pro Shop, Ace Hardware, andSportsman’s Warehouse. They can also be purchased online through the Masterbuilt website (when they’re not sold out) or on Amazon.
10. Masterbuilt warrants all smokers and allows for returns
Masterbuilt warrants all of its products for 1 full year from the original date of purchase. The company states that products are warranted “to be free from defects in material and workmanship under proper assembly, normal use, and recommended care.” The warranty doesn’t wear and tear (like paint peeling or dents) from normal usage, nor does it cover rust. Because the units are meant for home cooking and not commercial use, the warranty does not apply to commercial use of any kind.
According to the company website, “You can return your product(s) purchased through the Masterbuilt website up to 45 days from the original date of shipment. All merchandise must be unused, unassembled, and returned in the original packaging.” The buyer must pay the shipping costs to return the item.
Summary: Pros and cons of buying a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker
In general, Masterbuilt electric smokers are highly rated for home cooks and are perfect for beginners and family households. They have a low price point, are easy to use, and come in two sizes with a choice of digital or analog control. All units have a patented side-load wood chip port. Potential cons are that the construction is on the cheaper side, the units are made in China, the burn-in time is longer than most other brands, and electric smokers in general provide a more subtle smokey flavor than traditional charcoal smokers due to the lack of fire.