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Last updated: March 03, 2021
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Founded in 1973, Masterbuilt produces a variety of affordable models designed to work with charcoal, propane, pellets, wood chips and electricity to enhance the flavor and texture of your smoked dishes. The best Masterbuilt smoker is a reliable, high-quality product with reasonable pricing which fits a wide range of budgets and lasts for ages if you maintain it properly, of course.
Factor in the cooking area and space capacity to estimate the number and amount of dishes you can prepare simultaneously. The next important thing you should consider before making your decision is the number of grates which will allow you to shorten the overall cooking time by making several dishes at once, as well as the type of their coating which facilitates efficient heat distribution and prevents the smoked meat from sticking to the grates. Other key factors include the dimensions and weight of the unit for storage and portability purposes.
With Masterbuilt models coming in diverse sizes, shapes, and styles, we sought the best Masterbuilt smoker based on individual features, customer feedback, and authoritative review sites. Our findings are compiled in this review, which incorporates a comparison table ranking the top-rated smokers according to their overall performance and unique features. We have also detailed the features of each unit as well as the pros and cons. You will also find a comprehensive buying guide with further analysis of the key features and an FAQ section with helpful answers to the most pertinent questions. The review ends with a summary of our top three choices.
Not only does Masterbuilt MES 130B Digital Electric Smoker come with a wide range of features, but it also has a user-friendly digital control panel which suits both newbies and professional chefs.
The ample cooking area accommodates up to six chickens, two turkeys, four racks of ribs or four pork butts and the four chrome-plated grates can be adjusted to fit in larger pieces of meat.
Convenient features include an overflow grease tray on the rear of the unit, wood chips which are loaded or emptied from the right side (eliminating the need to open the main chamber), a water bowl and a removable drip pan.
The smoker features a double-walled construction fully-insulated with foam to retain heat for even, consistent cooking. Heat is regulated by the top air damper, which controls the amount of smoke. To further assist you with that, the integrated thermostat displays the current temperature on the accessible digital panel at the top of the unit. This panel also features on/off digital controls and displays time.
The wheels, adjustable screw legs with boots for leveling and a rear handle improve portability while the ability for remote control makes this the best Masterbuilt electric smoker you can get with advanced features that are easy to operate. The unit comes with an instructional manual.
What we liked:
4 adjustable grates
Easy to operate
Top air damper
Wheels, adjustable legs and handle
What could be better:
Electric so might need an extension cord to use outdoors
What makes this model the best Masterbuilt electric smoker is the spacious cooking area, chrome-plated cooking grates, digital control panel with a handy LED display, and the convenient access to the drip pan and the wood chip loading system.
The model’s cooking area is a whopping 721 square inches. Together with four adjustable racks, it can smoke beef, chicken, hams, and vegetables in one go.
The built-in thermostat maintains cooking temperature ranging from 100 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit and the intuitive LED display is legible enough to view the time and temperature for thorough cooking, even in glaring sunlight.
Steady temperature is maintained by loading wood chips from the side of the smoker because you don’t have to open the main chamber, which may let heat escape. The drip pan is conveniently located at the bottom of the front side where all the excess grease drains through a hole into the grease pot underneath.
We like the set-it-and-forget-it nature of this smoker, which is easy to assemble and operate, as well as the availability of replacement and spare parts on the manufacturer’s website.
Although the LED panel displays the smoke’s temperature, this electric model does not come with a meat probe to show the temperature of the food you are smoking.
Masterbuilt MB20052318 MPS 230S Propane Smoker is one of the more affordable units with a generous cooking area which is large enough to smoke eight chickens, two turkeys, four racks of ribs or four pork butts. The four chrome-coated smoking grates can be adjusted or removed to accommodate larger meals.
The smoker is equipped with a stainless-steel burner with a high heat output of 15,400 BTUs, push-button ignition, and a built-in temperature gauge adjusted with a knob which provides consistent heat and a steady supply of smoke to prevent undercooking or overcooking food. An adjustable sliding vent on the rear of this unit regulates the amount of moisture and smoke for optimal cooking conditions.
One notable feature of this propane model is the patented porcelain-coated flame disk bowl which protects the burner from grease while allowing the flame to reach the wood chips. We like the inclusion of the water pan as it allows you to add some moisture and flavor to customize your cooking experience.
The manual advises against using pellets or converting this smoker to natural gas. You will also have to acquire a gas tank separately.
One weakness of this model is the placement of the temperature sensor, which protrudes about seven inches and limits the space on the third rack.
The Masterbuilt MB20050116 MPS 20B Patio-2-Portable Propane Smoker is rated among the best Masterbuilt smokers on Amazon. It comes with two chrome-coated grates and a stainless-steel burner which produces 5,000 BTUs of heat to smoke four chickens, one turkey, two racks of ribs, or two pork butts.
This is a compact unit with enough features to prepare a variety of meals for a small family. Its low weight of 22.2 pounds together with the folded legs increases its portability and has made it popular for camping and RVs.
The built-in temperature gauge helps you to maintain consistent heat while the regulation knob adjusts the flame to your preferred temperature once you have ignited the smoker with the push button.
This propane unit is easy to assemble and operate, and the removable pan and tray make it easy to add water and wood chips, respectively. You may, however, need to refill regularly because of the small size of the water pan and wood tray.
The manufacturer recommends using the smoker with the one-pound gas cylinder or getting an adapter hose to use with a regular propane tank (20-pound) which has a protective collar.
Charcoal smokers can use wood pellets or wood chips to provide restaurant-level tastes and aromas.
One advantage that charcoal smokers have over even the best Masterbuilt electric smokers is the distinctive authentic smoky flavor which has made smokers a popular staple in American households.
In addition to wood chips, Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet Smoker diversifies your palate with wood pellets which enable you to customize this flavor. You can add a personal touch to the dishes prepared on the 395.4 square inches of cooking space which can fit 10 to 15 pounds of meat.
The portable unit, weighing only 15.3 pounds, features a thermometer integrated in the lid to provide accurate readings and a charcoal pan and water bowl coated with porcelain to withstand high temperature and resist abrasion and corrosion. The two smoking grates are also coated with this durable material which prevents deterioration from natural elements. This makes this smoker ideal for backyard cooking, tailgating, and camping trips.
Refilling charcoal is convenient owing to the front access door, but the location of the water pan makes it more difficult to add water. Buyers have also reported internal fluctuation of temperature.
This cost-effective smoker is ideal for beginners, average-size families, campers, and travelers who would like to enjoy their favorite smoked meals on the go.
What we liked:
Integrated lid thermometer
Light and portable
What could be better:
Inconvenient water refilling
Things to Consider
In this guide, we will look at the benefits of owning a Masterbuilt smoker and the key features to consider before making a purchase. The FAQ segment provides greater insight into smoker covers and the most economical types of smokers to run.
Why choose a Masterbuilt smoker?
Versatile fuel – Masterbuilt smokers are available in electric, propane, charcoal, and pellet models.
Budget-friendly – The smokers boast of solid, robust construction and reasonable pricing, which makes even the best Masterbuilt electric smoker more affordable than other similar brands.
Diverse sizes and capacity – You can get a compact model for your RV, a sizeable smoker with a high capacity to cater to a large party and everything in between.
Advanced features – Some smart features include built-in thermostats, remote control, Bluetooth technology, and a patented side wood chip loading system for convenient refilling with minimal heat loss.
User-friendly – Masterbuilt smokers are easy to assemble and operate.
Features to consider while choosing a smoker
The following features will help you to identify the right smoker, which will provide you with maximum return on your investment.
There are four main types of smokers: electric, charcoal, gas, and pellet. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages.
Electric models are both eco- and user-friendly, only requiring you to plug the unit in and set your preferred temperature. However, they require an electric outlet and are the least effective type in achieving the original, smoky flavor.
Pellet smokers are equipped with digital thermostats and meat probes and powered by electricity. They automatically feed the flame with wood pellets which come in various flavors to generate heat and personalize the taste. They are also costlier than other options.
Charcoal and wood smokers like the Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker are typically the most affordable type of smokers. They provide the most authentic smoky flavor and the best crusty texture but require more effort and attention than the other types.
Gas smokers work with natural gas or propane used by the Masterbuilt MPS 20B to achieve the highest heat output, which is ideal for searing. They also feature push-button ignition and temperature gauges, which are convenient to operate.
This is the cooking surface which may range from 250 to 2,000 square inches depending on the model.
Manufacturers usually specify the size of the cooking area in square inches, and may even indicate the food capacity for one smoking session. For instance, the Masterbuilt MES 130B allows you to smoke two turkeys, four racks of ribs or four pork butts in one go whereas the Masterbuilt MPS 230S has a capacity for eight chickens, two turkeys, four racks of ribs or four pork butts.
The ideal capacity will be determined by your available space, the amount of food you intend to prepare and the number of people you are feeding. One pound of meat per person is the generally accepted guideline.
Number and coating of grates
The best Masterbuilt electric smoker comes with multiple grates which allow simultaneous preparation of several types of dishes. These adjustable grates can be removed or adjusted to fit in larger pieces of food and expand the cooking space. A model that embodies this is the Masterbuilt 30″ Electric Digital Smoker which features four grates you can adjust to extend the 721 square inches of cooking area.
Grates are mostly made of steel and cast iron which is then coated with porcelain or chrome-plated.
Chrome is a non-reactive and non-porous material which does not impart or transfer flavor when smoking different types of dishes and is effective at heat distribution.
Porcelain, found in the Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker, is the most common material used to coat grates because it is durable and can withstand high temperature. It is also non-sticky, easy to clean, and resistant to rust, corrosion, and natural elements. However, it is prone to chips and cracks, so avoid abrasive cleaning material.
Dimensions and weight
Masterbuilt smokers are available in a variety of sizes and weights which give you more options to customize your choice to your preferred volume and variety of smoked meals, and fit in the space you have designated for set up and storage of the unit.
Remember to leave enough clearance around the smoker to prevent obstruction of air circulation.
The size and weight of the smoker mainly depend on the construction material (e.g., steel), thick insulated walls, and the size of the cooking area and cooking space.
If you intend to smoke food for a small family or to take the unit with you on road trips or to campsites, consider a compact and lightweight model such as the Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker which has a portable weight of 15.3 pounds and dimensions of 19.1 x 21.6 x 31.5 inches. Another suitable choice would be the 22.2-pound Masterbuilt MPS 20B.
All the smokers we have recommended in this review weigh less than 60 pounds and feature compact space-saving designs with a small footprint which fits in small spaces.
In-built thermometer: Although this feature is commonly found in electric and pellet models, all our reviewed smokers come with an integrated thermometer which maintains consistent heat for even cooking. The Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker has a built-in thermometer integrated into the lid. A meat probe can be bought separately to monitor the internal temperature of the meat.
Temperature control panels: These digital push-button controls allow you to adjust the cooking temperature and smoking time. Consider a smoker with a wide range of temperature or the high heat output of propane models like the Masterbuilt MPS 230S and Masterbuilt MPS 20B for various cooking methods.
Ease of use: Look for a smoker with accessible and removable water pan, wood tray, and drip pan which are convenient to refill or empty.
Heat distribution: To regulate the amount of heat and limit fluctuations, opt for well-insulated steel construction which retains heat, doors that close tightly, unobstructed air vents which can be sealed shut, and efficient replenishment of fuel and water with minimal heat loss.
Portability: Models such as the Masterbuilt MES 130B are equipped with handles, wheels, and adjustable legs to improve mobility, maneuverability, and storage.
Warranty: Research the warranty, brand reputation, customer support, and availability of parts and compatible accessories for an informed decision.
Electric models such as the Masterbuilt 30″ Electric Digital Smoker are the most economical type of smokers to purchase and operate. They are affordable, and you don’t have to worry about running out of charcoal, gas, or pellets. Although charcoal smokers have a cheaper initial cost, they have higher running costs and require more maintenance.
Generally, each pound of chicken takes 30 to 45 minutes to smoke at 250 °F. Smoking a whole chicken at 225 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit takes three to five hours depending on the size and weight of the chicken, the type of smoker, the cooking temperature and heat fluctuations. Since smoking time is subject to these variables, you should use an internal thermometer instead to determine when the chicken is ready; the meat temperature will be 165 °F.
Although Masterbuilt smokers don’t come with a cover, you definitely need one to shield your smoker from dust, debris, moisture and harsh natural elements which might damage the electronics and internal components and cause rust, fading, and corrosion. Masterbuilt has protective fade-resistant covers which can be bought separately. The durable covers made of high-quality polyester and coated with polyurethane are designed to fit different sizes of Masterbuilt smokers.
We consider the Masterbuilt MES 130B the best Masterbuilt electric smoker because it can hold its own among costlier high-end models. The impressive model allows for remote operation and maintains steady heat and smoke for consistent cooking. Optimal smoking temperature is accomplished by using well-insulated double walls which prevent heat loss, as well as an integrated thermostat and digital panel which monitor time and temperature.
Coming in second is a hassle-free plug-and-play model which is worth every penny for the spacious cooking area, four adjustable grates, precise heat regulation, and intuitive controls. The Masterbuilt 30-inch Electric Digital Smoker also incorporates the patented side wood chip loading system which is a staple of the best Masterbuilt electric smokers.
Our third pick is the Masterbuilt MPS 230S, which is the best Masterbuilt propane smoker. Its notable features include high heat output, push-button ignition, built-in temperature gauge, and wheels which improve mobility for backyard barbecues and campsite cookouts.