When you think about an electric smoker, we bet cooking does not come to mind, or does it? In the modern world, smoking your food seems like an underrated method of cooking, but you cannot judge it until you try it. As such, we will share with you how to use Masterbuilt Electric Smokers to cook the best picnic or backyard meal.
Masterbuilt is one of the top USA-based brands when it comes to smokers and grills. Founded in 1973, the family business soon evolved into a well-known company. If you own one of the Masterbuilt smokers, from their impressive range, you're not alone. Millions of people use their products when it comes to grilling, frying, and smoking meat or other food.
If you're new to smoking or using a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker or even if you've used one before or using it regularly, you must make sure you're using it correctly.
As such, let us look at the details of how to operate and clean your smoker the best way. Believe us; it will make you appreciate the technology that has made smoking food as convenient as using a microwave oven.
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How to Use Masterbuilt Electric Smokers
To make this guide as extensive and straightforward as possible, we have divided the guide into three phases. Additionally, we will also discuss key things one needs to know in each part for your convenience and we will have some useful tips.
What to Do Before Cooking
We all know there are several things to prepare before you start cooking. As such, here is a list of things you need to do and consider before you start cooking.
1. Prepare the Smoker
The first step of how to use a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker is to season it. It is a crucial step to bring your smoker to useable condition.
The aim is to free the smoker from accumulated residues during manufacturing and to prepare the surface for food. In addition, seasoning also helps prevent it from rusting.
Here are the steps:
- Set up the smoker properly by following the manufacturer's guide.
- Switch the smoker on by plugging it to a dependable power source.
- Set the heat to 270 degrees Fahrenheit (133 Celsius) to help burn all the substances inside the smoker. Leave it on for around three hours.
- After that, load wood chips and run for an additional 30 minutes to finish the seasoning procedure.
- Once the smoker cools off, use it for cooking.
2. Prepare Your Meat
All cooking recipes recommend marinating your meat before cooking, and so do we. That is because marinating helps make the meat become tender and promotes better and complete absorption of the spices and flavor. Hence, the longer you marinate, the better the flavor and texture of the meat.
By following the recipe and your preference of spices, always prepare the meat beforehand. In addition to flavors and better taste, marination also offers a lot of health benefits.
Dry rubs are a great way to add flavor to you meat before or after marinating. Click here to read our article Top Ten Dry Rubs for Beef.
3. Set the Right Temperature
The ideal temperature of the smoker depends on the type of meat you want to make. Usually, the recipe has details of the right temperature for your meat, so it varies based on what you intend to cook.
Setting the right temperature is essential since it will directly affect the flavor and tenderness of the meat. Thus, one temperature does not fit all needs, and you should follow the recipe to know the right temperature.
4. Preheat the Smoker
As the food is prepared with the help of the heat coming from the smoke, preheating the smoker is a must. Let us look at how to preheat your smoker correctly.
- Carefully load wood chips in the smoker, but remember to add them before switching the smoker on.
- Only add wood chips in half a cup and add in more once the previous bunch doesn’t make enough smoke.
- Leave it to smoke for 45 minutes, which is the standard preheating time.
What to Do During Cooking
After all the preparation, you are ready to make your meal. The better you plan for it, the easier the cooking phase becomes.
Once the smoker reaches the right temperature and smoke level, you have to put your marinated meat inside it. After that, regularly check the heat or smoke levels and meat.
Being vigilant throughout the phase will promise a flavorful meal. So, let us look at all the things to do while making your meat.
1. Preserve Your Meat’s Tenderness
It is essential to preserve the taste and tenderness of the food you are preparing, or you'll end up with dry meat that will not taste good. To do so, while roasting or grilling food, basting, also called mopping, is a technique used to keep the meat moist and the flavor preserved.
For this method, a cooking juice, which can range from melted butter to a concoction of sauces, is spread out over the meat. You should follow the recipe to decide on what to use for mopping.
Mopping should be done, again and again, depending on the size and thickness of the meat, as well as the requirement of the recipe. With that said, remember to be quick when mopping because you will lose heat and smoke when opening your smoker.
That would mean longer cooking time and using more wood during the process. Basting at the right interval at the right time will help to embed your meat with flavors while preserving its moisture.
2. Keep a Check on Wood Chips
As mentioned, maintaining the right temperature is as crucial as setting it. You should check the wood level regularly, and when you feel the smoke level isn't enough, add more. It should be added in a small proportion at a time to avoid fluctuation in the temperature.
Do note that regularly checking the level of the wood chip doesn’t mean the temperature will always stay uniform. When you add new chips, the temperature will increase, but not to worry. If you're adding in smaller quantities, it will go back down on its own without the need to adjust the temperature control.
3. Add Sauce One Last Time
You should baste your meat one last time before taking it out when you feel it is almost done. This final step will ensure good taste for you to enjoy your meal.
Although this is optional to do, we recommend it as it makes your meat ready to eat fresh out of the smoker. As we know, barbeque is great, but it is even better when it is warm.
What to Do After Cooking
Once the food is ready, there are a few things to do before you dive into it. The following will make a great difference in the longevity of your smoker. Often, people forget these steps, which creates a problem for them later.
1. Switch the Smoker Off
As soon as you are done using your smoker let it run dry for 15 minutes. Running dry means remove wood chips, water, drippings, and any foil trays, so the smoker can dry out.
Lowering the temperature to 235 degrees will dry your smoker and avoid unnecessary overheating, which can damage your smoker as well as make it harder to clean. Once you switch it off, let it cool down before you clean or store it.
You just learned how to use these smokers the best way possible. That said, we are not done yet.
2. Clean Up
Right after using the smoker, cleaning is far easier than weeks later, as the grease and residue from cooking are fresh and easy to wipe off. You do not have to scrub off residues that stick on the inside of your smoker.
Additionally, the damp and dim interior of the smoker encourages molds to grow inside it. So, if you don’t clean it right away, they can infest your smoker, especially during the winter. These growths are toxic, as well as hard to clean.
Easy Ways to Clean Your Masterbuilt Electric Smoker
Cleaning is vital for the durability of your smoker as well as to prepare hygienic food in it. We already looked at how cleaning the smoker right away after use reduces a lot of cleaning efforts for you. Either way, whatever time you pick to clean your smoker, the process is the same.
There are different components of a smoker, like racks, windows, and interior. Thus, you need to clean all parts separately for better results.
Let’s briefly look at how to clean your smoker.
1. Equipment You Need
We bet you are wondering if the things you need are hard to procure, but guess what? They are mostly household items. Also, not all items will be used for all parts of the smoker, as some are relatively easier to clean than others.
The basic things you need for most parts are a metal can, soft brush, cleaning cloth, spray bottle, and sponges. We also advise you to go for a soft bristle brush, which is not made of metal, as you do not want to scrape your smoke.
Additionally, our favorite cleaner for your smoker is diluted apple cider vineagar, in a spray bottle if possible. Mix water half and half with the apple cider vinegar to get the perfect balance of acidic natural cleaning solution. Apple cider vinegar helps to kill bacteria but reseason your smoker after cleaning to eleminate the vinegar smell.
2. Clean the Interior
The first thing you need to do is remove all parts from the inside, as you need to clean them separately. We will first focus on cleaning the inside chamber, and the leftovers from previous cooking endeavors.
Start by sweeping all the leftover particles into a metal can, using a brush. Make sure you get each corner and nook of the chamber. Lightly spray the inside of your smoker with the diluted apple cider vinegar and scrub the chamber. After that, finish off by drying the chamber with a cleaning cloth.
3. Clean the Individual Parts
Here are some of the key parts of most Masterbuilt models that you must clean after use.
- The Racks
During the seasoning process of the smoker, like MES 140 G Digital Electric Smoker by Masterbuilt, it is important to oil the racks. It helps to prevent rusting and food from sticking on the racks. However, the remains of cooking juice can build up during basting, creating the need to clean them.
The first step is to clean off the leftover using a brush and a cleaning cloth. After that, you scrub it using apple cider vinegar, but soapy water works fine as well.
Doing this helps remove all the grease from the racks. We advise you to scrub them using hot water, as it's better at fighting oil.
After a preclean, many people will put food racks and drip trays in the dishwasher. For best results use high heat and a low amount of dishwasher soap.
- Ash Tray
The use of wood chips creates ashes that accumulate in the ashtray. To avoid the ashtray from overloading, you need to clean it off to prepare it for the next use. So, you will need a metal can, apple cider vinegar, and hot water to clean it.
Firstly, you will remove all the ashes into a metal can, and then clean the tray using a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar. After you spray the mixture on the tray, by using a brush or cleaning cloth, finish it off and let it dry. Always remember that cleaning the ashtray is important because the soot can blacken the tray the longer it is left out in it.
- Water Pan
It is the easiest part of the smoker to clean. The water pan does not get too dirty during the cooking process. You need to discard the water and dry it using a cleaning cloth. You can also wash the pan using clean water before drying it.
4. Clean the Exterior
In your smoker's exterior, the windows are the main parts requiring regular cleaning. Not to worry, it is one of the easiest components to clean, right next to the water pan.
All you need to do is spray it with a mixture of apple cider vinegar diluted with hot water, and scrub it using a brush. After that, wash it off with cold water and dry it using a cleaning cloth.
Tip: One step we like it to make a disposable foil tray for the bottom food rack. Most of your cooking juices will fall into the foil pan for easy disposal.
With that said, always keep the manual of the smoker at hand in case you ever feel uncertain and need assistance. In the end, this guide is insightful for both first-timers and regular users.