My gear reviews usually involve photo gear so this one is a bit of a switch. Bear with me though, there’s some good stuff coming.
I fancy myself a Grillmeister. I use my gas grill all year long and have been known to shovel a path through the snow to get to the grill in the winter. It’s also not unusual, especially lately, to see me standing by the grill with tongs in one hand and an umbrella in the other in a pouring rain. I love me some BBQ. Then a few years ago I started learning to smoke meats. My first smoker was the typical kettle style and while it did okay it was not the easiest thing to work with. Three years ago the kettle smoker got the heave ho and I got a barrel style smoker with a side mounted fire box. It was quite a bit more efficient than the kettle but was still very labor intensive. For some reason I couldn’t master the art of keeping a consistent pit temperature. It was okay for things like pork shoulders and pork butts for pulled pork but very difficult to adequately cook ribs or brisket. Both of those require a fairly consistent pit temperature to be successful.
Then it happened! At a family get together in Kansas 2 years ago several family members were attending a Kansas State football game so I was elected to be in charge of smoking a pork shoulder for pulled pork sandwiches and was tasked to use my nephew’s Masterbuilt smoker. Electric smoker? I had visions of the venerable “Little Chief” aluminium smoker with 1 electric element. No temp control, very primitive. I went to the Schroeder’s house for a crash course in how to turn the smoker on and how to use it and came away surprised at the quality of construction. Next morning I fired it up, put the meat on, and added smoke. Simple. And the results were outstanding. I came away determined to own one of those smokers and started thinking about when.
This year, all the things came together and I got one. My son, Chris, borrowed the barrel smoker for a cookout at his friend’s house last summer and it somehow never made it’s way home. I was traveling for work at the time and home mostly only on weekends so it wasn’t a big deal. But this year I got the itch and when I saw one on Amazon for $100 off with free shipping, BOOM! Order placed! And that’s how I ended up with one of these things. Now that I’ve used it a couple of times here it’s time for a review.
Aside from the quality construction the best part of this smoker is the electronic controls. The pit temperature is controlled electronically and there’s a timer that will shut the smoker off at a designated time. There’s also a built in meat temp probe which, in my opinion, is essential to proper bbq cooking. 5 years ago when I bought a digital instant read thermometer with a meat probe my cooking improved 1000%. You simply have to have a meat temp probe and this one is external. This model also comes with a remote so I can monitor and adjust things from the comfort of my big poofy leather chair.
Adding wood chips couldn’t be simpler. the chip tray slides into the side of the smoker and rotates to dump the wood chips in a tray just above the heating element. Easy peasy.
And the results….Yummmmy! The first thing I did was a pork shoulder which is the easiest thing to cook properly in a smoker. All I did was put a dry rub on the shoulder and let it marinate overnight in the garage fridge. For the smoking process I filled the water tray with apple juice and used applewood chips for the smoke. 11 hours at 225 degrees got the shoulder to an internal temp of 185 which is perfect for pulling. (You’d want to stop at 165 for sliced pork) Next up, country style ribs. If you’re not familiar with country style ribs you need to know that they’re not really ribs. They come from the same area as the pork shoulder. Just like long skinny pork chops. Again, dry rub for a few hours, apple juice in the water tray, but much shorter cook time. 4 hours at 265 degrees and the things were fall apart tender. All in all, easy.
So far, I don’t have anything bad to say about this device. I’ve used a Masterbuilt Electric smoker 3 times and all 3 results have been excellent. If I had anything to criticize at all it would be this: The chip tray is small so it’s easy to under smoke the meat. You have to have a system and here’s mine. For the 4 hour cook time today I filled the chip tray every 20 minutes for 2 hours then stopped. For the country ribs that was perfect. Enough smoke to flavor the meat but it wasn’t over-smoked which can lead to a bitter taste.
If you’re a BBQ fanatic like I am and if you’re into smoking your own meats, this is by far the best smoker I’ve come across. It’s easy, it’s efficient, and the results are terrific. 2 thumbs way up!