Grilling and smoking season is upon us. And that means it’s time to assess some machines so that you can find the perfect grill, smoker, or combo for your family.
To help in the process, we thought we’d take a look at a specific grill: The Masterbuilt 30 Electric Smoker.
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Before we get into those reviews, though, let’s take a look at what smoking meat is, and how to do it with an electric smoker. Knowledge is one of the most important aspects of deciding on the right type of smoker or grill.
Smoking meat is a process of flavoring and preserving meat by exposing is to smoke for a prolonged period of time. Exposing meat, or cheese or vegetables, to smoke adds layers of flavors that other cooking methods do not.
Smoking meat is a process that has been used throughout history to preserve meat and use it much later than unpreserved meat could survive without spoiling. Smoking meat dates back to prehistoric times when people first realized slow cooking with meat could preserve their food.
A major advancement in meat preservation was a device called the Torry Kiln. The Torry Kiln was invented in Scotland in 1939.
The Torry Kiln was used to allow for a uniform mass smoking process and is considered to the prototype for which all modern large scale commercial smokers follow. With the rise of modern transportation, however, it became easier for food to be transported long distances.
This advancement in transport reduced the need for smoked meats.
In recent years smoking meat has become more of a way to add flavor to the food rather than just preserve the food. As time has gone, on there have been further refinements in the techniques and technologies used in smoking.
Even though the process for smoking meat has become much easier, the basic steps have remained the same as they have been for hundreds of years.
There are four kinds of smoking methods used: cold smoking, warm smoking, hot smoking and by the use of applying of liquid smoke.
There is a process for using an electric smoker that sets it apart from other types of smokers.
There are two primary types of electric smokers to choose from: vertical water electric smokers and electric cabinet smokers.
A vertical water electric smoker tends to be mostly inexpensive smokers. These types of smokers operate best in warmer weathers and may have trouble in cold weather.
When cold weather hits the vertical water smokers, the machines have trouble maintaining the core temperature.
Due to this limitation, you should determine when you will be using it for smoking. If you decide that you will mostly be smoking meat during this summer than this may be the smoker for you, whatever your climate.
The other main type of electric cabinet smoker is designed and insulated like refrigerators. Most of the smokers with this kind of design feature a temperature gauge for keeping more precise control of the temperature.
Temperature control is a great feature because of how important it is to keep exact control of the smoking process. If the temperature is not closely controlled, there’s a chance the meat will either not get smoked well enough or could be over-smoked.
Once you have purchased your electric smoker, you’ll need to carefully read all of the instructions included with your smoker. Each make and model has its own unique operating directions which need to be closely followed for optimum use of your smoker.
If you don’t take the time to learn the ins and outs of the smoker, you may find yourself with meat that’s not up to the standard or quality that you want.
The next important step is determining which kinds of wood chips you’ll use for your smoker.
There are a wide variety of woods available for use. Some of these woods include:
Each one of these woods offer a different flavor that will affect the taste of your meat. Certain woods will pair better with certain meats.
Wood chips can be purchased at a variety of places, such as at a grocery store, hardware store, or online.
When purchasing the wood chips for you smoker it’s important to remember that you will need approximately 4 cups of wood chips for approximately every three to five hours of use of your electric smoker.
Next, you’re going to need to prepare your smoker by seasoning the grates, if required, or cleaning. Never use grates straight out of the box. Manufacturing oils and residues may still be on the grates.
If you need to season the racks or grates, you’ll need to gently wash them in warm or hot water and soap. Use a rag to dry them completely.
Then, with vegetable oil, or vegetable shortening on a paper towel, you’ll need to coat the grates or racks.
Now, turn on the smoker, and run it for about two hours.
After the smoker has run for two hours, turn it off, and let it cool completely before cooking anything.
Now comes the fun part. You’ll need to choose the marinade and meal recipes you’ll be using for your meat.
Choose a recipe designed specifically for meat to be smoked. These will take into consideration dry rubs, marinades, and other key factors for getting the most out of your smoked meat. Just follow the instructions in your recipes.
Once your meat or cheese is ready to smoke, often the next day after the rub and marinade have been applied, you’re ready to crank up your smoker.
Make sure to fill the water receptacle if you’ve got a vertical water electric smoker.
Before you put your meat in, make sure that the temperature of the smoker reaches the pre-heat temperature recommended on your recipe.
Throughout the process of smoking the meat, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the internal temperature of the smoker. Smokers will include an internal gauge you can use to do this.
The Masterbuilt 30 electric smoker is a digital electronic smokehouse that’s full of useful bells and whistles.
The Masterbuilt 30 is a thermostatically controlled smoker that can reach smoking temperatures from 100 to 275 degrees. This means that it is geared more toward slow smoking, rather barbecuing at higher temperatures. You’ll need to gear your recipe choices towards this method of smoking.
The Masterbuilt 30 includes an internal monitor for keeping track of the meat with a probe. The smoker also features internal lights for monitoring the meat.
These electronic features can be tracked and controlled with a radio frequency, or RF, remote.
The Masterbuilt 30 also includes a side door for feeding wood easily and safely into the fire compartment. This means you won’t disrupt the smoking process when you add in more wood.
One of the key features of this electric smoker, as well as all other electric smokers, is that you don’t have to monitor the machine nearly as frequently as charcoal or propane smokers.
If you tend to be busy, even when at home, you should definitely strongly consider an electric smoker over the others.
A more complete list of features include:
The cooking area of the grill is 730 square inches.
The full dimensions of the grill are 20.3 inches long by 19.7 inches wide, by 32.1 inches height.
The weight of the grill is 54.37 pounds.
A major feature is the digital control panel which has a vivid blue LED display.
The Panel features a control on/off switch, time, light, and temperature.
The smoker features a monitor for keeping track of the internal meat temperature.
The radio frequency remote controller comes with the smoker for easy adjustments and monitoring.
There are 4 chrome coated racks for smoking meat.
The smoker features easily convert to become a 6-shelf smoker with a sold separate rack accessory kit.
The smoker has a side loading system in which chips can be added to the grill without having to open the smoking door.
For consistent temperature during the smoking process, there is an 800-watt heating element.
The smoker includes an integrated thermostat temperature control.
There’s an easy-to-remove wood chip tray for disposal of the ash.
There’s an easy-to-remove drip pan for easy clean up.
The smoker features a full view window for viewing the smoking process in progress.
There’s an air damp control that’ adjustable for smoke levels.
The body of the smoker itself is fully insulated to help maintain consistent temperatures during the smoking process.
The interior LED lights are high-output to clearly see the meat being smoked.
For ease of use, the smoker has a rear mounted handle.
Positive Masterbuilt 820 electric smoker reviews praise many aspects of the machine.
One veteran of a using a variety of types of grills and methods said that they would recommend this particular model to any grill enthusiast, regardless of their experience, whether they’re brand new to smoking food, or pretty much an expert.
Other Masterbuilt 30 electric smoker reviews praise the smoker for how well-made and put-together the machine is.
A professional chef said that the grill was comparable to the tools that he used in the kitchen on a daily basis. Because the smoker has such consistent temperatures and can heat quickly enough, the chef was able to make restaurant quality food with ease using his own at home.
Another buyer, a first-time meat smoker, praised the Masterbuilt 30 for how easy it is to both set up and use. The instructions included with the smoker are easy to follow. Newbies can have their smokers set up, seasoned, and running in no time.
Criticism of the grill seems to only include a few limited things.
One of the mentioned flaws for the Masterbuilt 30 is that the wheels on the legs are not of greatest quality. This can sometimes mean the user has to use additional effort to move the grill about on more difficult surfaces, such as gravel or grass.
One user mentioned replacing the wheels with better ones and recommends other users may wish to consider doing the same.
Another minor complaint was that the racks included in the grill cannot hold a full rack of ribs at once. One user said that he they had to cut the racks in half to be able to fit them onto the smoker grates. If you make ribs a lot, that could definitely be a drawback for the Masterbuilt 30.
One user complained about the size of the tray that holds the smoke pellets. For the use of the meat that was being smoked, the user felt that the tray was far too small for the task at hand. The user eventually ended up modifying the grill to accommodate the need for more chips to help with smoking.
We think that this is a great grill that is worth investing in. While size is definitely a factor, if you’re not planning to smoke ribs often, then you’re looking at a really great option in the Masterbuilt 30.