Electric smokers

  • Hello. I have been smoking a couple years using the Big Green Egg. Although it does well it is cumbersome to keep temperatures below 180 so I have been researching electric smokers. Although I would love a pk 100 it is not in the budget. I have been looking at the char broil and master built digital electric smokers but see a lot of people say the temperature is off and other issues. Just looking for some thoughts from the community about a good electric smoker under $500.00 and what they like and don’t like. Thank you

  • @astatler I have the MasterBuilt 30 special edition, and it works great. I’ve never had any issues with it and the temps stay very stable and there is only a couple degrees difference from top to bottom. All in all I love mine, and it works incredibly well.

  • Walton's Employee

    @astatler A lot of guys use the master built on here. I’d say that it has a better reputation than some other equally priced units. Now, it might still have some issues but probably less.

  • Power User

    @astatler I have had 2 charcoal smokers over the years and the last one was a brinkman propane , when the burner started to go I bought the msaterbilt 30 this last spring and have no issues of any kind with it

  • Power User

    @Jonathon I’ve been a strong supporter of the Masterbuilt products for years despite numerous failures. I’ve been seriously let down by the company lately. I’m on hold with the company as I type this. My vote is Pit Boss for a sub $500 smoker!

    UPDATE: I was on hold for 13 minutes 16 seconds before they had a message that said they were closed. (biting my lip)


  • Walton's Employee

    @Joe-Hell Yikes, that’s not good…so @astatler if you are still interested Joe knows what he is about here so you can take his advice. @Tex_77 @mac0217 @parker230 @tarp @craigrice @raider2119 Any input from any of you?

  • Power User

    @Jonathon I am happy with my mb 30 for the amount that I use it in @joehell’s case he uses his a lot I see a pk 100 in his future !

  • @Joe-Hell man no good. Thank you. I’ve heard a lot of people having issues with newer models. Every time I think I found a good candidate I here of problems. Maybe I go the pellet direction or stay with the BGE. I use an Auber controller on it but still hard to keep at Low temps. Might just save for the PK 100 . Thank you for info

  • Power User

    @craigrice I’m happy with every MB30 that I’ve had but they never last more than 2 years. This current MB40 didn’t work right out of the box. Temp was all over the place. They sent a new control panel which didn’t work then sent a replacement cabinet which seemed to do the trick. My most recent issue was similar to the first but this time the temp spiked HARD and I lost an entire load of premium ribs. They were completely scorched with a set temp of 220 and less than 2 hours in the smoker. I’ve been in contact with one of their reps and John McLemore II since early December with promises that customer service will reach out…zilch. I can’t get anyone to return my messages.

  • Power User

    @Joe-Hell that is not good but I believe that you use your smoker more than the average consumer that they were intended for, I have looked at the pit boss also and I can see advantages and disadvantages for sausage production in general they are a good grill/smoker

  • Power User

    @craigrice The three MB30’s that I’ve owned got some a fair amount of use but the current MB40, not so much. In fact, I hadn’t used that one since last June or July. At most it had 4-5 good months after the initial repair. We have a cookshack at the shop…not a fan of that one either.

  • Power User

    @Joe-Hell that is why I said that I see a pk 100 in your future ask @johnathon how much that the one they have in their test shop gets used

  • I just picked up a Camp Chef XXL vertical pellet smoker for $500. I have been using a Bradley electric for years with no issues, but decided to make the switch to the XXL because of the bigger smoking chamber for sausage making. I think the pellet smoker will do a better job of getting up to temp when it’s Minnesota cold out. I plan on making some snack sticks in the next week or two. I will do a follow up review if anyone is interested?

  • Power User

    @craigrice I’m thinking I need something far larger!

  • Smoking-it #2 here. Does everything pretty good, wish the cabinet was a little bigger. They didn’t make anything larger than the #3 when I purchased mine. Still works flawless after 9 years.

  • Regular Contributors

    @astatler for what its worth im not sure i should be commenting as i have not owned the mb30, pit boss, or bradley. However i have read alot of posts that pit boss evently start on fire. With that people usually put them by the outside walls of their house starting the house on fire as well. And with @Joe-Hell having isses with masterbuilt i would shy away. If i can suggest anything with worth i highly recommend saving up for the ProSmoker pk100. I know its a chunk of change off the top but i think you would buy one of those compared to 3 other brands if people are replacing every two years. Now this may be easier for me to say since my ProSmoker 100SS was $9200, the PK100 is just a drop in the bucket but i dont know what your finances are. Good luck on what ever you decide.

  • Regular Contributors

    @astatler I would definitely look into a pellet cooker, there are a ton of brands at all price points, I’m big believer in you get what you pay for though. On you BGE, you said you have a controller, I assume that means to control a fan to maintain temps? I’m in the market for a fan, but the controller I will be using is a Fireboard.

  • I normally use my RecTec 700 pellet smoker for anything above 180 I can control the temps within 1 or 2 degree’s but anything below that doesn’t lend itself to sausage making… I used a recently acquired MB30 and it worked but I wasn’t to familiar with time and temps…I did notice the sensors are on the back wall and the units ambient temp was a horse of a different color in comparison to what it said it was running at…I’d have been up the proverbial creek had I not had an external two probe sensor…so I just worked with what I knew and came out great…necessity is truly the mother of invention…? I think if I were to make a fair amount of sausage, I’d pick up a good surplus commercial all stainless refer and build my own pid controller for it and control it to the gnat…you can build one for $60… tough call but doin right is important all the way around…

  • @Larry-Eck I’ve only uses my Rec Tec 680 to make sausage with fantastic results. I’ve been working on improving lingusia for 2 years now & I’ve scored with my 4.3 version. My summer sausage with high temp cheddar was killer too.
    linguisa 4.3
    summer sausage wcheese5 1.11.19.jpg

  • @tmeiners82 awesome. Let us know how it goes.

  • @Tex_77 yes. Its. Controller with a fan operates off of your WiFi if you desire .you control it from your phone .It’s a company called Auber instruments . Has a lot of good features. Ones you get it down it really is set it and forget it . I highly recommend this controller. It’s great for long cooks. Still difficult to get anything lower then 170 on it. Looks like I may go with a pellet or save for the pk100.

  • Regular Contributors

    I thought my Fireboard was pricey, but doesn’t seem to bad compared to the price of those. Looks like that company makes a lot of cool stuff.

  • @Tex_77 yes. The price was good and did everything I needed it to do. Definitely tell from the company they know what they are doing wot PID controllers . I’ll have to check out the fireboard. I like the fact I can actually not be at home to monitor or change temp. Nice in case I have to run to the store or something.

  • Regular Contributors

    @astatler Yup, Fireboard is wifi as well, makes its really nice to be able to be anywhere and know what is going on with your cook.

  • @macsinsac looks great! What’'s you’re times and temps on you’re 680?

  • @Larry-Eck 180 is the lowest setting & I take them to 160 I.T. or if they’ve got enough color & not to 160 they go into a 160 degree water bath 'till they’re done.

  • @macsinsac interesting you don’t fat out starting at such a high temp and finishing with a sous vida process? I would almost think a person would start out with a water bath or sous vida process and finish w/smoke and drying out period…but that’s what seems logical? What ever you’re doing, they look pretty darn good…I’ll be smoking up some summer sausage I made yesterday…using a jalapeno snack mix as a base and threw in a little mustard seed and coarse blk pepper for good measure…we will see?

  • I have an older Masterbuilt that I had to replace the element in last year. It still works pretty good. I just bought a new 40" Masterbuilt as a back-up and additional capacity. It is terrible. Temperature is 15 degrees off at 175, it is at least consistent in that. With a full load of snack sticks, it seems to do fine up to about 150 degree meat temp. After that, it seems to severely lag compared to the older unit. Very disappointing, especially reading here how terrible their customer service is. I have been gathering data using it the last couple days and planned to call them Monday. Guess I’ll save my breath and start saving for the TK…

  • @Brianh Let me revise my post from yesterday. I just went out to fire up the new smoker for my last batch of summer sausage and the control is clearly shot. It is flashing random temperatures of over 200 degrees while sitting in a 60 degree garage and having not run. It will not take any adjustments. Save your money, don’t waste it on a Masterbuilt.

  • @Brianh man sorry to here that. Seems like this is been a problem with many on newer models. Looking more and more of f getting a vertical pellet or the ok 100. I hope your able to get help from customer service

  • Power User

    @Brianh mine was all over the place on temps too. Take as many photos of everything you have experienced with the smoker…serial numbers, receipts, display areas etc… CS won’t do much to help without it.

  • Regular Contributors

    My mater-built get went to the graveyard yesterday. After 12-15 years a couple of rewires it finally quit. In market for a new one I can hang some sausage in. It’s hard to get a low temp in my big smoker. The last couple years my old one wouldn’t hold temp’s very well at low settings so you had to stay and watch it. My wife gave me a copper Weber for Xmas to help get me by’( but I think she just wants that charcoal favor on grilled meets more that the gas grill. PKs are a little to pricey on my retirement budget but I guess I may need to bring more roses home to the wifey ,LOL
    Happy New Year and don’t forget to eat your black eye pea’s so you’ll make more money in 2020

  • @tmeiners82 have you done any Cooks yet on the Campchef?

  • I am going to make snack sticks this weekend, Sunday will be the first time using it.

  • Power User

    @tarp The other day I bought some black eyed peas at the store after seeing a curry recipe that sounded good. I’ve actually never had them before but figured, why not? I’ve never heard of them as a New Years Day good luck charm so with a quick recipe search I decided instead on a Black Eye Pea salad with citrus and garlic dressing, tomato, green pepper, cucumber, red onion and avocado. It was delicious! Thanks for the inspiration and Happy New Year!

  • Regular Contributors

    Thanks for the info on the new masterbuilts, Looks like I’m going to look for something else to use. Will need to study more on them. Mine was so old there’s no reason to go to CS for help on it. I can make my big Boathouse smoker work at low temps but its hard to maintain, but at least I got something in the meantime

  • Power User

    I know this post is about electric but have you considered gas? I have two MB LP smokers. Older MB 30 is very hard to control temps. More recent one is the Pro Temp XL. This is thermostat controlled. Will hold temp at +/- 2 deg no matter what temp it’s set at. I can get it as low as 120 in the winter months and 128-130 in warmer weather. Under $300. Just a thought.

  • Regular Contributors

    @PapaSop Never thought about it but that’s my kind of $$$ range I’ll like to be at

  • Regular Contributors

    @PapaSop Were you talking about the Masterbuilt MPS 340G ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker It look good but had quite a few bad reviews about staying lit.
    Or is there another brand ? All review I read about different Masterbuilt smokers seem to have lot of bad reviews, wondering if they let their quality go down.

  • Power User

    Yep. Never had an issue. Especially with staying lit. One time I had it blow out but that was under extreme windy conditions. Been using it for nearly 1 1/2 yrs. Just looked at a few reviews that all seemed positive. I’ve come to realize that reviews are subjectable. Some even petty. Just my take…

  • Regular Contributors

    A lot of people don’t install thing properly. Seems if you get a good one delivered people like it . Do you know if there’s much difference in the other models like 330 or should I just look at the newest.
    thanks for the input. I just got a email from Jonathon look like I won the Dec. giveaway ,awaiting on a reply, but Yea to the new year so far…

  • @tarp I’ll have to check this one out

  • Power User

    @Stats77 If you’re looking for a cheap alternative I started with a used vertical gas unit, put the cast iron fire box right on top of the gas burner and gapped the door open and it worked great. Used it for years, you could pick something like that up on facebook marketplace for $50. I never got overly concerned about the temp initially but now that I can control it, I’m all over it. Use the smoker to get smoke on it then move sausage to the water bath to cook it and save up for the PK.

  • @Parksider sounds like a cool smoker. I’m all about trying different smokers. The custom ones are awesome . I’ve used offsets to drums. Very cool. Would love to see a pic of it .

  • Power User

    Really don’t know about the other models. I know I’ve had great success with this one. Been my go-to. Will be firing it up in the next couple weeks. Luv it.

    Congrats on winning 👍

  • Power User

    @Parksider I agree with what you said I had a brinkman vertical gas smoker and it was fine for ribs, chicken and the normal things till I also got into sausage and it kind of worked out the burner went on it and I bought a mb30 so far no complaints !

  • Power User

    Used to do the same with cast iron fire box. Now only use the the amazing smoker.

  • @PapaSop always good when you find something that works. And thank you but not sure what I won lol.

  • @Joe-Hell An update on my situation with the new Masterbuilt, still haven’t heard a word from them despite sending a ton of photos and descriptions. Not a single reply. Guess I’ll chalk it up to a $300 lesson and start saving money for a better unit. I should have done some research before buying the new one. I assumed since my original one was such a good unit they were a safe bet, buyer beware!

  • @Brianh that really blows… . I hope they reply to you.and fix the problem . Did you purchase online or at a store? Possibly be Able to get assistance from where you bought it. I bought a gas grill for my work at Lowe’s . When I got it out of box the side burner was damaged. I called them up to see about getting me a new replacement part and they just repacked the whole grill. Worth a shot

  • Power User

    @Brianh The Masterbuilt rep from instagram reached out this morning and also contact the son of the owner. I’m sure they will eventually make it right but we will see. They said if I don’t hear by the warranty department by Monday at 5:00 to let them know. Despite my current and past issues with their products I have always spoke fondly of them. When they work I feel they are the best bang for the buck on the market.

  • Power User

    @Stats77 I purchased this one online and had temp issues from day one but just chalked it up to winter temps being the culprit. As spring approached and the weather warmed I knew there was an issue. Customer support was again hard to connect with but they were happy to send out a new control panel. Well…that wasn’t it. They then sent me the entire cabinet as the wiring is embedded within the walls. That did the trick and I enjoyed many months of a perfectly functioning smoker. I hadn’t used the smoker from early August through November and ran 32 lbs of Canadian Bacon with zero issues. One week later I put 4 racks of pork ribs in the smoker set to 210 degrees and walked away for a couple hours. When I went to check on them there was an alarm going off that I never heard before and the temp had spiked to the point to where the ribs were burnt to a crisp.

  • Walton's Employee

    @tarp Wait wait wait…you are the winner of December?! Sorry guys, I am so far behind on everything here recently. CONGRATULATIONS! We are thrilled that a heavier Meatgistics user won something! I think @macsinsac was the last person who used it a lot to win!

  • I’ll stick with old faithful, my Treager, it has its faults but I can work through them. It has a bad habit of shutting down on long smokes at lower temps. I have a new controller with dual temp probes, but yet to put it in. The thing just chugs along and makes the neighbors mouths water every time I fire it up.

  • I also have a Big Green Egg but I needed something that would maintain temps between 120 - 170 deg. to make snack sticks, smoked sausage, jerky and bacon. I broke down and bought a 40” Masterbuilt for the sole purpose of making the above listed items. I got fed up with the large temp swings. I would get a +15 to a -15 of the set temp, I finally ripped out the Masterbuilt controller and replaced it with a PID controller. Now when I set the PID to any temp, the temp of the smoker the stays rock solid at that temp without any +/- temp devastation. I highly recommend the use of a PID.

  • Power User

    @Retired-RailRoader Perhaps that would help with my Masterbuilt problems. What controller do you use?

  • @Joe-Hell The PID controller I use is from Auber Instruments. The model number is WSD-1501GPH


    As I don’t know how to post pics here below is the link of the write up of my mod I posted on another smoking forum. Hopefully I’m allowed to link to another site. Jonathan If I’m not please delete.


    John Belvedere

  • Regular Contributors

    @Jonathon Yea Me lol Finally …

  • @Retired-RailRoader they are great controllers. Wat to think outside the box on using it with the MB.

  • @Stats77 I also flipped the heating element so it’s in the center of the Masterbuilt so it heats dead center instead of the side. I also screwed in 2 pieces of angle iron into the sides so I could use a real water pan rather then the small original pan. BCE3BBFE-8579-4F79-A939-CC7EF2D79091.jpeg 3D7E3E73-1ECC-420F-B332-E97B6C1A4ED6.jpeg 288F7676-1171-403D-A88C-749BE1C8316E.jpeg

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