How to use a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker: A Beginners Guide

Review of the new Masterbuilt Electric Smoker.
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Every smoker has its personality quirks and the Masterbuilt electric smoker is not without some quirks. Still, the Masterbuilt electric smokers are by far one of the easiest to operate.

I own a Masterbuilt electric smoker and recommend them to friends, family, and beginners alike. With the design of their electric smoker looking more like a mini-fridge then a smoker and having insulated walls, they are very consistent.

In this article, we will cover the basic operations and some tips for using your Masterbuilt 30-inch electric digital smoker. For our review of this model click here(Review of Masterbuilt Electric Smoker)

Note: most links in this article are Amazon.com Affiliate links, see Affiliate Disclosure, thank you.

How to operate a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

How to operate a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

The basic operation of the smoker is as simple as pushing a few buttons. To start, turn the unit on by pressing the on/off button. Next, press the Temp button to set your cooking temperature as you desire with your arrow keys. Finally, press the Time button to set your cooking time with the arrow keys.

Seasoning your electric smoker

First, before you cook in your smoker, you need a good dry run so you can Season your Masterbuilt Smoker. To season your smoker, lightly spray the inside with vegetable spray. Add a second coat of spray to the top and glass window (if your model has one) for easy cleanup. Take care to not spray the heating element.

Run the electric smoker for two hours on the highest setting with a full tray of wood chips. When you go to cook in your smoker for the first time you will be rewarded for this effort with yummy tasting smoked meat.

Here is our video Seasoning a Masterbuilt 140B Electric Smoker.

Preparing your smoker

homemade foil drip pan

It is always a good idea to load water in your smoker when you are cooking in it. I put water in the main grease tray, which I don’t use to collect grease. Then on the bottom rack, I put in a large disposable pan or make a tin foil pan to catch the dripping. The closer to the edges you place the tin foil pan the less mess you will have.

Preheating your smoker is a must, and this smoker needs more time than a propane smoker. Put your smoker on the highest setting for meat or poultry and let it run for an hour before putting in food. Also, when preheating put a few woodchips in as instructed in the next section.

Loading wood chips

By far, one of my favorite features of the Masterbuilt electric smoker is the way you load the wood chips. The smoker has a loading tube with a handle. You turn the tube and pull it out of the smoker, fill it with chips, and then slide it back in and turn it to fill the tray.

You can fill the loading tube twice to fill the tray completely, but I recommend not overfilling it as it will reduce the smoke output. As you are running your smoker put one load of chips in each hour to keep constant smoke and even temperatures. Also always use small wood chips with this smoker because if you don’t it will not smoke well. We will talk more on this subject in the tips below.

Loading your meat

I arrange my meat on grill mats for fast and easy loading before I open the smoker. When you open the smoker stand to the side a bit and let that first puff of smoke dissipate so you can breathe while loading. You can check out a grill mat with this Amazon.com affiliate link.

Slide your food onto the racks as quickly as you can, starting with the top rack when cooking meats and poultry. Use the lowest rack first when cooking fish. The temperature will be higher at the top of your smoker, so you arrange thicker cuts on upper shelves and thin ones on lower shelves.  

Your smoker has a built-in wired temperature probe that you can insert into the middle of the thickest piece of meat so you can check its progress. I am a fan of using a separate probe thermometer because I think they are more accurate, but if you use a wired probe try to run it out the bottom of the door so as not to disrupt the seal.

Setting your smoker

Set your smoker for the maximum time and 10 degrees over the desired temperature; you never want your smoker to stop early. When you are done cooking, it is good to burn a small batch of wood chips to clean out your smoker. Setting the temperature is better to error over just a bit, so your food is cooked completely. If your food is done cooking early, you can rest it in your oven or a clean cooler.

MasterbuiltGS560

Click here to see the price on Amazon.com

Accessories

Cover

A custom-fit cover is always a good investment especially if you keep your smoker in an uncovered area outdoors. Masterbuilt smoker covers are available that will help keep the weather and bugs out of your smoker. (click here to see this item on Amazon.com) Aftermarket covers are available at lower prices but are not always an exact fit.

Stand

A Masterbuilt smoker stand can be a great accessory to help avoid a sore back. All of the mechanical parts of your smoker are located near the bottom of your smoker so everything from loading wood chips to emptying your trays will have you on your knees. You could always improvise with a metal table or something durable, but it would not be a custom matching piece. (Here is a link to the Masterbuilt leg kit on Amazon.com)

Masterbuilt smoke generator

Smoke generator

Masterbuilt smoke generator is the best of the best accessory for their electric smoker line. The one shortcoming of the Masterbuilt electric smoker line is that they are not overly smokey, but one of these units makes up for that by kicking loads of smoke into the smoker.

The smoke generator was made as a cold smoker device, but I have found that it can take your smoker to the next level. These units can be hard to find but there are many other brands available on Amazon.com.(click here to see an option)

Click here for our article How to Smoke a Brisket in a Masterbuilt Smoker

Masterbuilt electric smoker tips and tricks

In this section, we are going to cover some tips that will make your learning curve smooth and answer a few questions along the way. Also, we are going to go into greater detail on some topics that we have covered in the how-to section.

How often to add wood chips to Masterbuilt smoker?

Adding one tube full of chips about every hour should be perfect. If you are running your smoker at temperatures above 250 degrees, it is possible to burn wood chips faster so for the first few hours check for a smoke every thirty.

Because of the design of the chip tray and heating element, you should never overload your wood chips, or you will not get constant smoke and heat. Always use small chips and not large chunk type wood. The large type is hard to light and can jam the loading tube.

Do you soak wood chips for Masterbuilt electric smoker?

Do not soak your wood chips because most electric smokers do not perform well with soaked wood chips unless the element runs very hot. Electric smokers are designed to get just hot enough to burn dry chips at a slow, steady rate to give you an even smoke.

Additionally, we recommend never soaking wood for any type of smoker because it will not burn clean. As the wood chips start to heat they will steam before smoldering and releasing dirty smoke.

removable drip tray/water pan

How do I add water to the Masterbuilt electric smoker?

On the lower tray of your smoker is a removable drip tray/water pan that slides out to empty and fill. If you fill this halfway with hot water, the humidity in your smoke should stay at a level to keep your meat nice and juicy.

I put water (or cooking liquid like chicken or beef stock for smoked gravy) in my homemade drip tray on the bottom rack. A splash of water in each tray can help with clean up as it can keep juices from baking on to trays.

How do I make a disposable drip tray?

Take a pan or a box that fits in your smoker on the bottom rack, and there should be no more than a half-inch gap around the sides. Next, you take a large piece of foil and form a pan over the bottom of the box. Carefully fold or roll up the corners so your foil pan will keep its shape.

If you are lucky, you could find some disposable trays at the dollar store or check out this amazon affiliate link. Try not to overthink the drip tray because this is a tool to make your life easy with quick cleanup and is not necessary for good food.  

How do I clean my Masterbuilt electric smoker?

Cleaning a smoker should be limited to loose debris, grease, ashes, and pan drippings. You never want to remove your smoker seasoning, as this imparts that wonderful smoked flavors to all your meats.

I start by running my smoker with a pan full of hot water to steam the inside of the unit. Then, using a clean rag (old t-shirt), wipe down all the racks and remove them as I go.

Next, I wipe the inside top, and down the side walls to remove the debris and grease. The trays near the bottom should be catching anything that falls so you can pull them out and dump them into your garbage. Continue wiping the remaining surfaces including the inside of the door and the door seal.

I don’t recommend any cleaners, but if I were going to use a cleaner it would be a citrus-based food-safe cleaner like Simple Orange. A light mist of citrus cleaner will not leave a chemical smell in your smoker. If you don’t like the orange smell you can re-season your smoker in just a few hours of operation.

Finally, you need to wipe out your wood chip tray each time, prior to preheating your smoker, for the best results. Any ashes or used wood debris can reduce the amount of smoke this unit will produce.

Click here to read our roundup of Masterbuilt smokers

My Masterbuilt electric smoker is not smoking?

The Masterbuilt electric smoker is not a high smoke unit. Electric smokers’ main appeal is their ease of operation over charcoal or propane smokers. We can do a few things to help. There are even ways to improvise that will improve your smokers’ output.

First, before we modify anything always double-check that the wood chip tray is clean each time you use your smoker. Fill the wood chip tray halfway with chips and wait for it to start smoking prior to beginning the normal chip loading process.

Crush a few pieces of charcoal into four chunks, and put a few chunks into the tray before you start. Then add one chunk of charcoal each time you load chips into your smoker. By adding charcoal, the burning temperature will increase and add a nice charcoal flavor.

Run your smoker above 200 degrees, because the thermostat will turn the heating element off when it reaches the temperature setting. At this point, your chips will stop burning. Due to how the thermostat works this smoker would be a very poor choice for cold smoking, but we can fix that.

There are many ways to add smoke to your unit. A factory smoke generator, an Amazin’ smoke tray(link to Amazon.com here), or even an external burner tray modification. The Masterbuilt smoke generator is by far the easiest way to go and will provide the best experience.

The smoke generator is easy to set up. It slides into the chip loading tube and pumps massive amounts of smoke into your unit. The one downside to the smoke generator is that if you plan on cold smoking you will need to add an extension tube to drop the smoke temperature.

My favorite device for all-around ease of use is tray Amazin’ smoke tray. You load the tray with pellets of your choice, light the corner with a torch, and put it on the bottom tray of your smoker.

It works best if you remove the loading tube from your smoker, so there is enough oxygen for a good burn. Another advantage to this item is that you can use your smoke element to control cooking temperatures, and not worry about burning wood chips.

The Amazin’ smoke tray advertises that it will burn for up to sixteen hours. In my experience, this claim is a bit inflated. That being said, I have been able to get a solid twelve hours of quality smoke, which is still quite impressive.

This tray is versatile, and can also make a great addition to your gas grill. I often use the tray in my gas grill to add a little smoke flavoring to everything from salmon to pork. (click here to check this out on Amazon.com)

Lastly, you can put a single burner (hot plate) at the bottom of your smoker, or better yet, attach a ventilation pipe to the side of your smoker. This will allow you to use the pan smoker method, which is very reliable and controllable. Being able to customize your pan type and temperature allows you to burn any smoking medium, including pellets, chips, chunks, or charcoal. You can even take it camping with a small propane burner, making it easy to smoke fresh fish or steak in the great outdoors.   

For more information check out our article Why is My Masterbuilt Smoker not Smoking

 Summary

An electric smoker can be the easiest way to smoke meat and fish. Operating a Masterbuilt electric smoker is simple! We hope this guide helped you learn the basics, as well as some easy tricks to get the most out of your purchase.

If you would like to read our review of this smoker click here to check it out.

Check this smoker out right now on Amazon.com click here