From Memorial Day to Labor Day, barbecues are on our mind. These feasts can range from simple, with burgers and hot dogs cooked to perfection on the grill, to complex, with delightfully tender cuts of meat that are smoked to perfection. The simple kind of barbecue is great, and you can get it with just about any open-flame grill. The more complex barbecue, with dishes like brisket, pork shoulder, and ribs, take more time and a different kind of equipment: the smoker.
Smokers differ from grills in that they are designed to cook food indirectly for hours using relatively low heat. A good smoker will be able to retain this heat for the entire duration of the cook, providing you with a fall-off-the-bone, smokey barbecue.
The Masterbuilt 30 Vertical Propane Smoker is an entry-level smoker that features 700 square inches of cooking space, enough to feed a huge party. Not just that, its well-insulated body is designed to actually have the capacity to cook all of that food without losing heat, as is the case with most of the competitors. If making minor adjustments to an otherwise well-designed smoker for a bargain price seems to fit with your barbecue plans, this Masterbuilt smoker might be for you.
Four Chrome-Coated Smoking Rack: The most enticing feature of the Masterbuilt 30 vertical propane smoker is its size. With four racks, the cooking area is a gigantic 700 square inches that is advertised to hold up to 80 pounds of meat. These racks are removable so that you are able to control the space between each level of food, depending on what you intend to cook.
Dual-Door Design: Another great feature is this smoker's dual-door system. These doors both open to the front of the smoker, with a larger door on top giving you access to the barbecue and a smaller door below that gives you access to the water bowl and wood chips. Because these doors are separate, you are more likely to maintain the internal temperature of the smoker than you would be with a door that opens entirely in the front. These doors are also equipped with a temperature gauge that is supposed to help you limit the amount of times you need to open the body of the smoker, but many users have complained that the original temperature gauge is faulty and should be replaced by a third-party thermometer. We always recommend having a good digital thermometer on hand for precise measurement.s
Propane Flame and Push-Button Ignition: There are two benefits to working with propane: 1) you will have a real flame that produces smoke, which adds complexity to the smokey flavor of your barbecue and 2) using a propane tank adds a level of portability to your barbecue. This particular model also features a Type 1 regulator hose and a push ignition. The regulator is intended to help maintain a consistent flame so that your smoker's temperature remains constant. Meanwhile, the push-button ignition means that you can start the smoker without any additional equipment.
Heavier Weight than Competitors: Insulation is a key aspect for a well-functioning smoker, and often, the thicker the walls of the smoker, the more heat it will be able to retain throughout the day. On top of that, the more food you expect to cook in the smoker at one time, the more you need to rely on good insulation. This is why it is a good sign that the Masterbuilt 30 vertical propane smoker is a bit heavier than its competitors. It means that it is more likely to retain heat so that you don't waste any of your day getting your smoker back to your desired temperature.
Masterbuilt 30 Vertical Propane Smoker Detailed Review
This Masterbuilt smoker is a solid, stainless steel appliance that comes in at a hearty weight of sixty-six pounds and is advertised to have the capacity for eighty pounds of food. It runs on propane with a Type 1 regulator hose to control the rate at which the propane is released. Its thick, well-insulated body is more than capable of retaining heat for a long period of time. In addition, this smoker has a double-door design that allows you to adjust the heat source below the barbecue without disrupting the heat and smoke around the meat. Finally, this model features chrome grates that are meant to be rust-resistant as well as a stainless steel burner.
While the actual dual-door and well-insulated design of this smoker far surpasses the design of the competitors, the accessories on this model leave a lot to be desired. In addition to faulty thermometers and the like, many users have had issues with the smoker rusting after only a handful of uses because of a poor-quality lining inside the smoker. To remedy this, you will probably want to take extra precautions with this smoker. You can choose to line the bottom with aluminum foil and remove it after each use, and you can follow the advice of Masterbuilt and clean the interior of the smoker with only hot water and apple cider vinegar. Both of these have helped users to prevent rust inside their smokers.
Ultimately, if size is the most important factor for you, this smoker is a good size to handle enough food for a large party, despite its design flaws. It can also be a good smoker to bring along for camping because it runs on propane.
This propane smoker is rather easy to put together. It comes with twenty-six pieces, and the instructions include pictures to make the process easier. You will probably not need more than half an hour to put everything together. After that, the instructions also include the best way to season this smoker.
The Masterbuilt 30 Vertical Propane smoker is not the easiest to use, so beginners should be wary of investing in this model. Because the heat source is propane, and because the smoker is rather well-insulated, many barbecuers had a hard time keeping the temperature of the smoker low enough. Specifically, especially when it is warm outside, this smoker will easily make it to 300°F, which may be too hot for your desired cook.
To compensate for the capacity that this smoker has to retain heat, others have invested in third-party gas needle valves to minimize the fire's heat source. Otherwise, some users also found larger chip trays that could take more of the heat from the fire.
If you are able to keep the smoker in the desired 200-250°F range, the Masterbuilt 30 Vertical Propane smoker does deliver an excellent cook. Because it uses a real fire source from the propane versus an electric source, there is a hint of "natural" smoke flavoring that can be layered with the flavoring of seasoned wood chips. Nonetheless, to achieve an excellent cook from this smoker, you will most likely need to pay a lot of attention to the temperature as the smoker is known to heat up quickly and retain that heat. Additionally, there's an optional cold smoking kit for such things like beef jerky, smoked salmon, and smoked gouda.
Like most smokers, this model features a removable porcelain-coated water bowl and wood chip tray. This means that you will be able to thoroughly clean out these parts between uses. In addition, the smoker is not very deep, and so you shouldn't have too much difficult reaching the interior of the smoker.
For barbecuers who are very experienced in the art of smoking and who are looking to have a smoker that can handle enough food for a huge party, the inexpensive price of the Masterbuilt 30 Vertical Propane Smoker is hard to pass up. However, the lower price of this smoker versus another smoker does show in the quality of its accessories, so you will likely need to be prepared to make adjustments to this smoker so that it works at its optimal conditions. That being said, the body of this smoker is very solid, and because it is able to hold so much food, it could be a great option for those who host large parties.
Beginners, however, may find this smoker to be a bit too challenging as a beginning smoker.
Let's take a look at some of the Masterbuilt 30 Vertical Propane Smoker's competition:
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