How long does it take to burn a pan of wood chips in a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker MES140b? TESTED!

As an electric smoker expert, I am often asked how long it takes to burn a pan of wood chips in a Masterbuilt electric smoker. Answers on the internet vary widely, so I felt I had to do a test and document it with video for proof.

After doing the test and evaluating the results, I still felt that the results were skewed, but I will cover that a bit in the test summary.

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Experiment Overview

Today, I ran a test to determine how long it takes a Masterbuilt electric smoker to burn a pan of Smokehouse Products wood chips. Typically, the pan is loaded through a hole in the side of the smoker with a unique wood chip loading lube.

The loading tube holds approximately ½ cup of wood chips, so I will test that volume. However, it is essential to note the wood chip burning pan can fit slightly more than ¾ cup of wood chips.

My first step in this test was to preheat the smoker by setting the smoker controls to the maximum time and a temperature of 160°F. Preheating the smoker for 30 minutes will encourage good airflow due to rising heat. 

Next, I added the loaded wood chip burning pan to the smoker, started the timer on my cell phone, and set the temperature to the maximum temperature of 275°F. Changing the smoker’s temperature to the maximum setting will cause the woodchips to burn constantly until the smoker reaches that temperature.

After about 20 minutes, the wood chips were completely consumed, and I stopped the timer. Per the video recording, my official time was 18:55 for the woodchips to stop smoking.

Key Takeaway

  • A half cup of Smokehouse Products wood chips in a Masterbuilt MES140b will burn completely in 20 minutes when the burn is on constantly.
Filling the load tube of a Masrebuilt Electric Smoker

Choosing the test parameters

In testing the burn time for a pan of wood chips in a Masterbuilt MES140b electric smoker, I wanted to get repeatable results that a reader or viewer could reproduce at home. It is important to me that my results are credible and not just some parroted results I read on the internet.

First, I chose ½ cup of wood chips because that is a standard amount of chips that will fit in the loading tube. Of course, the pan is slightly larger, and most other electric smokers are larger, but that is another test for another day.

As for a low preheat and a high test run temperature, I wanted the smoker to start smoking fast, stay smoking, and have good airflow. Preheating the smoker gets good airflow as the rising heat will air in through the loading tube and out of the top vent.

By raising the smoker’s temperature to the maximum setting the burner/heating element stayed on for most of the test. When the element was off for a few minutes during the second half of the test, the wood chips continued to burn and release smoke.

As for wood chips, I prefer to stick with the brand I use and recommend to friends, family, and you! One downside to using one brand is not every variety of wood is produced by every company, and many are regional varieties. As far as I know, Masterbuilt doesn’t produce a wood chip, but if they did, I would try it.

Observing the Burn Process

When I conducted this test to determine how long it takes to burn a half cup of Smokehouse Products wood chips in the Masterbuilt electric smoker, I had to watch the smoker closely. Of course, I set up the cameras for YouTube, but I also needed to stay with the smoker the entire time to monitor the progress.

After planning and practicing each test step and in what order, I turned on the cameras and watched the smoke output closely. When I could no longer see smoke, I checked the pan to see that all the wood chips were consumed.

The camera has a harder time seeing smoke than you can in person, so there is a bit of faith in the process, even though I filmed it. I cut a few of the maintenance steps out of the video but was careful not to eliminate the timer from any of the shots.

One downside to filming this test was that there were no retakes, so when I messed up, I had to do the whole test over from the beginning.

Wood Chip Sizes and Types

Wood Chip Sizes and Types

During my experiment with the Masterbuilt electric smoker, I used a half cup of Smokehouse products’ standard wood chips. They offer two sizes of wood: wood chips and wood chunks. The wood chip is smaller than the wood chunk and contains a lot of wood fibers that fill the gaps between the larger chips.

Smokehouse products’ wood chips are smaller than the average from other companies’ “chips.” Also, their wood is consistent in size throughout all their products, making them a great choice for changing flavor with similar smoke levels.

When it comes to wood chip sizes, not every company’s definition is the same. For example, Weber’s wood chips are larger than Smokehouse products’ wood chips. Cameron’s wood chips are even finer, and they have extra fine varieties like maple that I find perfect for smoking bacon.

Why does wood chip size matter? Larger wood chips burn slower and last longer, while smaller wood chips burn faster and provide a stronger flavor.

Wood type is another factor to consider when gauging burn time. Hardwoods like oak and hickory will burn slower than softer fruit woods like apple. Also, most hardwoods have more robust flavor profiles than apple or cherry.

Finally, whatever wood chip brand you land on, as long as it is consistent in size, stick with that brand. You can always adjust other factors, like amount, temperature, and time, but this is just another aspect of practice. 

Concluding the Experiment

After conducting the experiment with a half cup of Smokehouse Products wood chips in a Masterbuilt MES140b electric smoker, I can confidently say that it takes approximately 20 minutes for the wood chips to be completely burned up.

It’s important to note that the controls were set to the maximum time and temperature of 275°F to ensure a constant burn. Additionally, the wood chips burning pan was not full. Adding ¼ cup more wood chips would fill the pan and add smoke time.

However, it’s worth mentioning that preheating the smoker closer to the cooking temperature may extend the burn time to around 10 minutes due to the element turning on and off.

It’s also important to consider the size of the wood chips used. Larger wood chips will burn slower and last longer, while smaller wood chips will burn faster but provide a stronger flavor.

When factoring in the above points, a more real-world smoke time is 35 to 40 minutes during a cook for a complete burn, which I have repeated in many cooks. 

Overall, this experiment provides valuable information for those using a Masterbuilt electric smoker with Smokehouse products wood chips. By using consistent wood chip size and adjusting preheating and cooking temperatures, one can achieve optimal smoke flavor and timing for their desired dishes.


What amount of wood chips fit in a MES140b burning tray?

The Masterbuilt MES140b electric smoker can fit slightly more than ¾ cup of wood chips in the tray. However, the load tube will hold ½ cup of wood chips before they start to spill. I recommend loading 1/3 cup of wood chips twice. This will fill the nicely without overloading it and possibly spilling wood chips or jamming the load tube.

Should I preheat my electric smoker?

Always preheat a smoker. When you add food to a smoker, you want it to be as close to the cooking temperature as possible. Next, a hot smoker has better airflow, reducing the chance of bitter-smoke flavor. Also, a hot smoker will start smoking faster after adding wood chips. Finally, a hot smoker will recover temperature faster after opening and closing the door.