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Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker Review: 30 & 40″ Truth

Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker Review

The Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker is hands down one of the most popular electric smokers out there.

Now, it’s nothing fancy. But, the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker, also known as the 130B and 140B is cheap, it’s insulated, it’s got that incredible side loading woodchip port, and, it’s available in two sizes.

But, before you buy, it makes sense that you want to know if this cheapie really performs. And, how good the food is that you can make on one of these smokers.

So, in this Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker review, we share all of our experiences cooking on this bestselling smoker.

Here you’ll find out how smoky you can get this smoker, how it’s insulated body performs in colder weather, how even the temperature distribution is throughout, and, whether you can really cook bark covered brisket and tender, smoke-ringed ribs.

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Table of Contents

The Quick Version of Our Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker Review

If you’re looking for an electric smoker because you’re primarily smoking fish, live in a condo where you’re only allowed electric, or really need cheap, cheap, cheap but a big cooking capacity then go ahead.

The Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker does a pretty decent job for an electric smoker.

The temperature does stay pretty even throughout your whole cook, even though the heat distribution from rack to rack is significantly different. You will need to think carefully about where you place your meat because the top racks will be hotter and will cook faster than the stuff on the lower racks.

The side loading wood chip port is so great to avoid letting all the heat out just to refill the woodchips. I would hands down recommend going a Masterbuilt for this reason alone!

In terms heat retention and cold weather performance on the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker, it’s good there is insulation there but it’s not great.

The outside of the smoker does get hot to touch and you’ll be chopping through the power to keep the heat at your target if you’re smoking when it’s cold, windy or wet.

The smaller version, the 130B or MB20071117 is actually quite small.

Technically you’ve got 711 square inches of cooking space. But, because the racks aren’t that wide, you won’t be able to fit a full rack of ribs, a brisket, or even a large whole fish without cutting them into pieces.

So, for the little bit extra cost, the larger 140B or MB20072918 with it’s 978 square inches of cooking space gives you a lot more freedom and flexibility with what you cook.

Before you buy though, just be aware that the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker (as with most electric smokers) is cheap because it’s simply not the best quality out there.

The smoker itself does feel flimsy and does struggle with cooking larger cuts of meats.

If you want a cheap smoker that performs better than electric will, I would recommend looking at the Z Grills range or our best smokers under $300 round-up. There’s some great value for money options in there that will cook better and easier than this Masterbuilt will.

But, if you fish and want something that’ll do a great job of smoking up your latest catch, the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker is an awesome choice!

It’ll turn out absolutely delicious fish because it’s perfectly suited to the more gentle method of electric smoking. And, it smokes fast too.

About Masterbuilt

Masterbuilt are without a doubt the leading manufacturer of electric smokers in the world.

The company has been around since 1973. Over that time, they’ve built an extensive product line of analog and digital electric smokers, propane smokers, charcoal grills and smokers, and, fryers.

Most of Masterbuilt’s products are very competitively priced because they’re honestly, not the best quality out there. But, in doing that, they’ve managed to bring backyard smoking and grilling to many homes because they’re so affordable.

So, if you’re after top quality, look somewhere else. But, if you’re after pretty decent performance for a low price, Masterbuilt is a household name that has a solid reputation to boot.

About the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker

The Digital Electric Smoker is Masterbuilt’s bestselling electric smoker.

Looking just like a small fridge, it’s got insulated walls that house a simple heating element at the bottom with a water tray and woodchip tray above topped with 4 racks.

Now, electric smokers are often sold as a decent and cheap entry-level smoker. And, while they are, just be aware that electric smokers do work a little differently from other types of smokers.

The heat is generated solely from the electric heating element, cooking just like in a regular kitchen oven (except without the fan). Then, that heat makes the woodchips smoulder, giving off smoke to flavor your food.

So, where the real difference comes in is that there’s no actual fire. And, no flame means that no matter how good you are at smoking, you just can’t create that natural chemical Maillard reaction that causes a good bark to form.

It’s just science, you’re not doing anything wrong.

Now, there are times when you don’t want that more intense, dark colored, crispier bark. Smoking fish is one of those.

So, if you’re looking for a smoker to do fish in, electric is perfect.

But, if you’re a beginner looking to cook serious smoked meats, you’ll probably find that electric just won’t cut it.

That’s when I’d recommend looking at a pellet smoker instead. The temperature is automatically regulated as well and the smoked meats…. mouthwateringly competition worthy.

Check out our full Z Grills range review for some affordable but good quality pellet smoker options. Or, check out our best pellet smokers under $500 review.

Features of the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker

Construction:

  • Fully insulated body for improved heat retention
  • Chrome-coated cooking racks
  • Door latch and gasket keeps smoke and heat in
  • Maximum temperature of 275ᵒ F 

Ease of use:

  • Digital temperature dial
  • Automatic temperature regulation – set and forget
  • Patented side wood chip loading system lets you add smoke without opening the door
  • Slide out wood chip tray for easy ash removal
  • Slide out drip tray for easy cleaning

Included extras:

  • Water pan to add extra moisture if wanted

Unboxing and Setting Up the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker

The great thing about electric cabinet style smokers is there’s not much to do in the way of setting them up.

The Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker comes in one big box and you’re simply going to slide the whole unit out.

Then, you’ll screw on the feet and wheels, connect the digital control unit, add the rear handle and insert all the trays.

The whole setup process should only take 5 – 10 minutes and you’ll be ready to burn your new unit in.

Before you get too excited about starting cooking, just be aware that the burn-in time for the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker is longer than a lot of other smokers out there.

Set aside 3 hours for the smoker to heat up, season and burn off any leftover reside you don’t want near your food.

To do this you’ll be running the unit at it’s maximum temperature of 275°F.

Make sure all of the racks and trays are inside your smoker. And, don’t add water to the water pan.

After 2 hours and 15 minutes, you’ll add wood chips to through the side loading wood chip port.

Then, once you reach that 3 hour mark, turn the unit off and let it cool down. I always like to give a new barbecue a quick wipe out after having done the burn in as well but Masterbuilt don’t require this.

After all of that, you’re ready to cook!

Construction and Build Quality

Don’t expect great quality from the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker!

It’s a cheap smoker that gets the job done. But, the whole unit definitely feels lightweight and quite flimsy.

Now, don’t get us wrong, a bit flimsy doesn’t mean the whole unit is rubbish.

The gasket and door latch give the unit a very tight seal and we’ve never had any smoke leakage from around the door or anywhere else on this smoker.

But, the metal boxing isn’t strong. It will dent easily. The trays inside are lightweight and bendable. And, the side loading wood chip port needs to be treated gently to avoid getting damaged.

We’re pretty careful with our smokers and after even a few uses, moving it in an out of a garage, our Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker has quite a few scratches and dings on it.

These absolutely don’t affect the smokers performance.

But, I just want you to be aware that the low price of the Masterbuilt Digital Electric does in this case reflect the quality of it’s build so that you’re not expecting a super solid unit. You will need to treat it very carefully to keep it in tip top condition.

But, a scratch or two isn’t going to break it’s smoking performance.

Capacity

With the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker you’ve got a choice of two sizes, the 30″ (also known as the 130B or MB20071117) with 711 square inches of cooking space or the 40″ (also known as the 140B or MBMB20072918) with 970.

Now, both smokers sound like a lot of space and they are.

But, just be aware that the grates in the smaller Masterbuilt 30″ Digital Electric Smoker are only 15 inches wide (or 38 cm). If you’re cooking a full rack of ribs, a brisket, or a long, whole fish, you’ll have to cut it down to fit on the racks.

For that reason alone, we recommend that most people size up to the 40″ Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker because you’ll have much more freedom in what you cook in there.

The picture above is of the Masterbuilt 40″ Digital Electric Smoker loaded up with a full salmon fillet, full rack of ribs and a small brisket. They all fit with plenty of space around for the heat and smoke to circulate.

But, to give you an idea of what you can cook on each of these smokers, the Masterbuilt 30 Inch Digital Electric Smoker will fit 4 racks of ribs (cut in half so one on each rack), 4 pork butts or 2 whole turkeys (with 2 racks removed).

The Masterbuilt 40 Inch Digital Electric Smoker will cook up to 8 racks of ribs at one time, 8 pork butts or 4 whole turkeys.

So, even though the larger smoker only gives you a couple of hundred square inches more cooking space, you can actually cook twice the capacity. And for that, it’s a low price to pay to upgrade.

A quick note on loading up the Masterbuilt Digital Electric – You need to be careful not to overload each smoker shelf.

Loading too much meat onto any particular shelf inside the Masterbuilt Digital Electric will block the flow of heat and smoke, causing larger temperature variances and very slow cook times on the top racks.

Go the larger size instead of just thinking you can cram everything you can into the smaller 30″ model.

Smoking Performance

Smoking on the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker is very simple.

With automatic temperature control, all you need to do is plug it in, set the clock, set the temperature and the smoker will pretty much do the rest.

Masterbuilt do advise giving the smoker about 45 minutes to heat up before loading up it up.

And, this is definitely good advice to follow. Your smoker will struggle to get up to temperature and your cook will take longer overall if you jump the gun and add the meat early.

It’s just a lot for it to deal with in one hit. So, plan this heat up time (which is longer than some other types of smokers) into your cook and it’ll save you time in the long run.

Another thing I’ve noticed works better with the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker is leaving the top vent fully closed while it’s doing this initial heat up.

This just holds as much of your heat in as possible and speeds up the preheating time.

Using Wood Chips in the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker

Now, onto the matter of wood chips…

You don’t NEED to use wood chips in the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker. But, if you don’t, you’ll be cooking purely with heat and won’t get any smoky flavor at all. So, most people will want to use wood chips to create that smoked flavor.

So, once you’ve loaded up your meat and closed up the door, grab your bag of wood chips and add about half a cup.

You don’t need to measure it out because you’ll struggle to fit more than a cup into the wood chip loader anyway. It really does the job for you.

Simply slid the wood chip loader out, fill it up, push it back in, turn it to tip the wood chips into the wood chip tray (the picture below shows where the wood chips will end up loaded above the heating element).

Then, turn the wood chip loader back and you should see smoke coming out of the top vent within a few minutes.

What size wood chips should you be using in the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker?

Look for something that’s about the size in the pictures above. Smaller is okay. But, too large and your wood chips will struggle to smoke evenly.

You can’t use wood chunks in this smoker.

Do you need to soak the wood chips before adding them to the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker?

You can soak your wood chips if you want but you don’t have to.

Soaking your wood chips in water for about 30 minutes before cooking with them will produce a more mild smoke. So, if you want a stronger flavor, go dry and if you want that more subtle flavor, try them wet. There’s no harm in experimenting with both options and seeing what you prefer.

How often do you need to add wood chips to the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker?

In our experience, adding more wood chips every 30-45 minutes will keep your smoke levels up.

But, exactly how often you’ll need to add wood chips will depend on how hot you’re cooking and what type of wood chips you’re using (some woods will smoke faster than others).

A clear way to see when you need to add more is by simply checking out the top vent. If there’s no smoke coming out anymore, add another half a cup and you should see smoke coming through within a few minutes again.

Another thing to mention about using wood chips in the Masterbuilt Electric Smoker, or any electric smoker for that matter, is that you don’t HAVE to keep adding them all throughout the cook.

If you wrap your meat at any point during your cook, the smoke won’t be able to penetrate the wrap anyway. So, you can skip on the wood chips from this point on, saving you time and money.

Which wood chips do we recommend using in the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker?

Our favorite wood chips for smoking in the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker are the Western BBQ Smoking Chips.

We’ve found them to be a good size for the side loading wood chip port and use the stronger flavors when we want a smokier result and the apple or cherry when we want a more subtle flavor.

You can grab a 4 bag variety bundle here.

Smoke Leakage

Cheaper electric smokers are notorious for smoke leakage. The seal just usually isn’t that great.

But, straight out of the box, I’ve never seen any smoke leaking through the door or side loading wood chip port on the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker.

The door gasket and lock do a great job of creating a tight seal.

But, if yours does leak a bit of smoke, you can simply tighten the hex nut in the door latch and it’ll pull the door in tighter for a stronger seal. No modifications necessary.

Temperature Accuracy

With an automatically regulated smoker like this one, it’s really important that the temperature stays around about where you’ve set it to get the results you’re after.

Temperature dips and spikes can cause your food to dry out or simply take way too long to cook, leaving you hungry at dinner time.

Masterbuilt don’t actually give a temperature range that the Digital Electric Smoker is meant to stay within. But, over our regular use, we found that most of the time it stays within about 15°F of where you’ve set it.

We’re okay with this amount of temperature variance when you’re smoking and don’t find that it negatively affects the results.

But, even with the insulated body, we have found that the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker does struggle in cold and/or wet conditions.

It’s pretty understandable. It is a cheap smoker. And, trying to keep a regular heat in poor weather conditions is a tough gig.

Masterbuilt used to sell a smoker blanket for both the 30″ and 40″ models but this hasn’t been around for a while. So, I try to avoid smoking in the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker when the weather’s average. Save it for a better day.

Something that even the instruction manual tells you to do is AVOID opening that door during cooking!

The full door on a vertical cabinet style smoker just pours all the heat out when you open it and the temperature drop does really affect your cook.

In the cook summary from the MEATER Block above, we were smoking a brisket and opened the door around the 3.5 hour mark to wrap it. The temperature took around about 1 hour to get back up to where it was before opening the door. That’ll have a significant impact on the total cook time for your meal.

One last thing to mention about the temperature accuracy of the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker is that the temperature variance from rack to rack is wild!

The heat rises and sits near the top of the smoker making each rack higher, hotter.

How hot am I talking about? With the smoker sitting at a 225°F target, the bottom rack will measure less than this, the middles around about this mark and the top rack can be 25°F hotter than you’d like.

So, a bit of careful planning is needed to make sure you’ve got the right pieces of meat where you want them. If you’ve left your heavy brisket down the bottom in the cold, it’s going to be really far behind the ribs you’re smoking at the top.

But, this temperture variance isn’t a total negative.

Chuck the faster cooking fish or ribs down the bottom with the heavier meats up the top and you can have them all ready at around about the same time even though you put them all on to cook in one go too.

Meat Thermometers and the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker

With the huge temperature dips from opening the door on the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker, you’re really not going to want to be using a cheap instant read thermometer to check when your meat is ready.

So, if you haven’t already got one, I’d strongly recommend pricing in a smoker thermometer to go with your Masterbuilt (see our top wireless smoker thermometer picks here).

You’ll then be able to see exactly what’s going on inside your smoker throughout the cook and use the feedback to plan your meat positioning and timing better and better for the next time.

We use the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker with our trusty MEATER Block.

It is pretty much as expensive as the smoker. So, absolutely don’t feel like you have to go such an expensive wireless meat thermometer setup.

But, we do like using it for with the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker for two reasons.

Firstly, there’s absolutely no wires to try to run through the top vent or the door without messing up the gasket. And, secondly, each probe gives you the ambient temperature as well so you can really monitor the temperature variance from rack to rack and adjust accordingly.

But, if you want a cheaper meat thermometer, you should be able to run the wires through the door. Or, the top vent, depending on how long the probe wires are.

If the gasket is too tight and looks like it will get damaged by closing the wires on it, you can simply loosen off the hex nut so the door seal isn’t quite so tight.

You might get a little smoke leakage around the door but you should be able to find a happy medium between getting the wires through and door sealed pretty well.

One tip – Don’t sit your meat thermometer receiver on top of the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker!

The unit does get really hot to touch on top. And, while it might be okay, I wouldn’t recommend chancing it with the potential of ruining your perfectly good meat thermometer set.

The Results of Smoking on the Masterbuilt Digital Electric

Overall, I’d say that where the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker excels is in smoking fish.

Fish is absolutely ideal for this type of smoker and the larger 40 inch model gives you the space to fit lots of larger fillets or whole fish to smoke up your whole weekends catch in one go.

The lower temperature range of the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker compared to some other types of smokers is perfectly suited to the delicate nature of fish. And, in less than an hour you can have hot smoked fillets done without any struggle.

In terms of smoking meat on the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker, it can definitely do the job. It can be a struggle with the temperature taking a long time to rise, a slow recovery time from opening the door to wrap and/or unwrap, and, the significant temperature variance from rack to rack.

Usually for me, ribs, pulled pork, lamb, brisket, chicken, they all take longer to smoke on the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker than they do for me on any other type of smoker.

And, the instruction manual does actually state that if the outside temperature is lower than 65°F (18°C) and/or the altitude is above 3,500 feet (1067m), cooking times will most probably be longer.

It does eventually get there. But, I find I need to get the smoker on and going much earlier in the day to avoid trying to crank that temperture up so I don’t have a late feed. And, it’s especially stressful if I’m trying to cook up a lot of meat to entertain.

But, once the meat is done, what’s it like?

An electric smoker of any type isn’t going to give you that deliciously crispy bark that’s generally a sign of great barbecue. The chemical reaction just isn’t there because there’s no actual flame.

But, tender meat? Definitely. Moisture content? The smoker holds a lot of that moisture in so the meat turns out really moist even if you don’t fill the water tray.

A decent smoke ring? Yes, just keep your wood chips topped up for at least the first few hours of your cook. And, a noticeably smoky flavor? For sure. Again, you just need to keep on top of feeding in those wood chips at the start of your cook.

A Word of Warning: Do Not Use In The Rain

One common problem with the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker that we experienced as well is that the control panel is not well sealed or set up for wet weather smoking.

Ideally you’d never be smoking in wet weather. But, if you live somewhere with changeable weather, sometimes it might rain a little when you’re in the middle of a long smoking session.

What can happen with the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker is that water gets into the digital control panel and stops it from working.

Now, it shouldn’t short out the whole unit. But, if you find that one or multiple buttons aren’t working (like you can’t set the time so the smoker won’t start heating), you might have some water in there.

The fix is simple. Grab a screwdriver and take off the control panel by removing the two screws on the back. Then, remove the bottom piece of plastic, exposing the circuit board.

Use a towel to dry off any moisture in there and then you can spray a little CRC to displace any remaining water.

Screw it all back together and your buttons should be working. Check out the video below for a step by step guide.

But really, you can’t use the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker in wet weather. Or, store it in the rain.

Either plan well so you know for sure it’s not going to get wet mid-smoke or use it in an undercover area.

Unfortunately the top of the smoker gets so hot while your smoking that sitting something over the control panel to keep any rain out isn’t an option.

Powering Masterbuilt Digitial Electric Smoker

The Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker obviously requires electricity.

A plus and a minus…

You don’t need to buy wood, charcoal or pellets to have enough fuel (although you will need wood chips for smoky flavor).

But, power outages are definitely not your best friend. If you do have one during cooking, you’ll need to reset the clock and temperature settings after the power is back on, the smoker won’t just turn back on by itself.

In terms of power usage, I do notice higher power bills when I’m smoking on the Masterbuilt Digital Electric a lot.

It makes sense, you’re running an electric element outside to heat a large cooking space for hours. But, I would say it’s more power hungry than a pellet smoker. Then again, you don’t have the added expense of having to buy wood pellets for fuel as well.

Moving the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker

Compared to other smokers, moving the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker isn’t the easiest out there.

The whole unit is pretty light so it’s not a weight issue. But, the smaller wheels do struggle over bumpy ground. And, the external grease tray isn’t well set up for moving the smoker while warm.

To move the smoker, you need to remove the external grease tray so it’s not in the way and rock the unit onto it’s back wheels. So, if your smoker still has water or liquified fat on the internal drip tray, a lot of that is going to leak out the drip hole and make a mess of your patio or outdoor area.

So, either try to give your smoker a permanent home where you can use it as well.

Or, either empty the inside trays or at least wait until the unit has cooled down well before moving it so the fat has solidified a bit before tipping it back.

Included Extras

The Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker comes with four standard cooking grates inside, the water pan, wood chip tray and drip tray.

There’s no smoker cover or meat probes included (there’s nowhere to plug these into anyway). So, there’s nothing in the way of extras. But, you don’t need anything else. You’re good to smoke away without having to fork out money on anything else.

Do note, the Masterbuilt Digitial Electric Smoker out of the box is designed for hot smoking only. You can’t cold smoke on it unless you grab the cold smoke attachment which we’ll discuss in the next section.

Optional Extras

Without a doubt, the most popular add-on for the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker is the Slow Smoker attachment.

This small box fits into any Masterbuilt Electric smoker that has the side loading wood chip port, including this one, the 30 inch and 40 inch Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker.

The box automatically heats up wood chips to smoke for up to 6 hours without needing to refill.

It can do lower temperatures for actual cold smoking. But, also turns the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker into what’s basically a set and forget smoker, automatically taking care of your wood chips and smoke up to it’s regular smoking temperature of 275˚F.

The Slow Smoke attachment is a pretty cheap add-on and will increase how much you can use your electric smoker for, making the ideal setup for smoking cheeses, jerky and cold smoke fish.

Other add-on accessories you can get for your Masterbuilt Digital Electric smoker are of course the cover, and, the universal leg extension kit.

As we mentioned before, the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker isn’t that tall.

So, instead of just sitting it on the ground, you can raise the height an extra 10 inches and make it that much easier to move around.

Totally not an essential. But, the leg kit does round out the look of the smoker while lessening that back strain.

Cleaning the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker

Cleaning an electric smoker is never the most fun job… they do get to be quite a mess inside and quite quickly.

The Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker does have a couple of features to help make the job easier though.

Firstly, there’s a grease collection tray that sits out the back of the smoker and collects liquified fat and drippings that are funneled to the outside of the smoker.

After each smoke, this one’s so easy to wash. Simply pick it up, tip what’s in there out and wash with warm soapy water.

Inside the smoker, there’s also the drip tray that sits at the very bottom of the unit.

Simply slide it out along with the water tray and cooking racks and wash with warm soapy water.

As for the inside walls of the smoker, you’ll need to wipe these down every now and then. A 50/50 mix of water and vinegar works well and means you’re not putting chemicals inside the smoker that will later leech into your food.

Warranty

Masterbuilt is one of the cheaper smoker manufacturers out there so the 1 year warranty is pretty expected on their Digital Electric Smoker.

The warranty is there to cover if you have any material or workmanship issues as long as you’ve assembled it properly, used it just for home use and followed the recommended care guidelines.

It does not cover rust or the paint finish burning off from regular use.

So, while it’s good there’s some protection there, don’t expect great warranty coverage. It’s a cheaper smoker and the support is what you’d expect from a cheaper manufacturer.

Pros and Cons of the Masterbuilt 30 and 40 Inch Digital Electric Smokers

What We Like Masterbuilt Digital Electric

  • It does an awesome job of smoking fish and is large enough to handle a higher capacity if you go fishing
  • Door seals well so that there’s no smoke leakage
  • The side loading wood chip port is a huge time-saver! Having to open the door to reload would absolutely shoot up the total cook time because of the temperature drop
  • One bag of wood chips will last you a really long time and there’s no other fuel to have to buy and store
  • The slow smoke attachment (sold separately) is one of the easiest ways to cold smoke
  • Available in two very affordable size options to suit your needs

What We Don't Like About the Masterbuilt Digital Electric

  • It will take longer to smoke meat, especially larger, heavier cuts, than a lot of other types of smokers
  • Even though there’s insulation, the smoker does struggle in colder weather
  • The temperature varies significantly from rack to rack. And, is even more impacted by putting a tray, foil or overloading a shelf
  • You cannot leave this smoker in the rain because water will get into the control panel, stopping the buttons from working
  • The build quality is poor. But, pretty much what you’d expect from a really cheap smoker
  • It’s not totally set and forget because you need to add more wood chips pretty frequently unless you get the Slow Smoke attachment to automatically feed woodchips for up to 6 hours

Should I Buy the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker?

The Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker is ideal for you if you’re looking for:

  • A smoker with a large capacity on a small budget
  • Want something to primarily smoke fish – seafood turns out so great in here!
  • Have to go with electric smoking because you live in an apartment or somewhere else fires aren’t permitted
  • Are looking for something that can cold smoke too. But, remember you’ll need to grab yourself the slow smoke attachment that’s sold separately too
  • Want a smoker that’s relatively easy to operate

What Other Smokers Should I Consider?

Wondering if there’s a better electric smoker out there?

The Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker is such a popular choice because it’s so affordable and the side loading wood chip port is hands down great.

But, we do rate these other electric smokers you might want to check out in comparison.

You can also check out our best electric smokers under $200 round up, best electric smokers under $500 round up, and, best electric smokers overall reviews.

Bradley BS611 Digital Electric Smoker

  • True set and forget electric smoker thanks to automatically feeding bisquette system
  • Two heating elements, one for smoke and one for heat gives greater control
  • Smaller 572 square inch cooking capacity
  • Slightly more expensive than the Masterbuilt Digital Electric

Smokin-It Model #1 Electric Smoker

  • Great build quality
  • Much smaller 22 pound capacity than the Masterbuilt Digital Electric 130B and 140B
  • More expensive than the Masterbuilt
  • Need to open door to add wood chips
  • Analog electric controls

Smokehouse Big Chief Electric Smoker

  • Best suited to smoking fish only (meat needs to be finished in oven)
  • Even cheaper than the Masterbuilt Digital Electric
  • Fixed low temperature of 165°F
  • Holds up to 50 pounds or 576 square inches

Non-Electric Smoker Alternatives

If the poor build quality, variable temperature, struggle to cook larger cuts of meat or inauthentic results has you questioning whether an electric smoker at all is right for you at all, check out these Burning Brisket favorites.

We’ve tried to pick smokers that are at a similar price point to the Masterbuilt Digital Electric as well.

But, if you want a super easy, set and forget smoker that will give you authentically wood smoked meats, we’d recommend pellet every single time! They might be a bit more expensive. But, have a look at our best value for money pellet smokers here.

You can also check out our best overall smokers under $300 round up.

Z Grills 450B Pellet Smoker

  • True set and forget smoker
  • Precise and even temperature control
  • Impressive build quality for the price
  • Smaller 459 square inch cooking capacity
  • Slightly more expensive than the Masterbuilt

Read our full reivew of the Z Grills Pioneer 450B

Pit Barrel Cooker Junior

  • Set and forget charcoal smoker
  • Lets you cook quite a lot by hanging on included hooks
  • Great quality
  • Portable if you want to be able to smoke your fish straight after you’ve caught it

Check out our review of big bro Pit Barrel Cooker.

Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker

  • More hands on smoking experience than Masterbuilt Digital Electric
  • Huge 1,890 square inch cooking capacity
  • Slighty cheaper than the Masterbuilt

Read our full review of the Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker.

FAQs About the Masterbuilt 130B and 140B Digital Electric Smokers

Q. Does Masterbuilt make good smokers?

Masterbuilt are without a doubt, the largest manufacturer of electric smokers on the market today. They specialise in making some of the most affordable electric smokers as well. So, expect the quality of a Masterbuilt Electric to be a little cheaper, lighter and flimsier than some out there.

But, Masterbuilt are so popular for a reason. The price point compared to the quality and their performance is still quite impressive.

Q. How often do I need to add wood chips to the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker?

Exactly how often you’ll need to add wood chips to your Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker will depend on how hot you’re cooking. But, every 30 – 60 minutes is a rough guide as to how often you’ll need to refill that side loading wood chip port.

To check when it is time to add more wood chips, you don’t need to open the door!

Instead, have a look at the air coming out of the top vent. If it’s still smoky, there’s still wood chips in there. But, if it’s running clear, add some more.

Q. Do I need to soak wood chips before using them in a Masterbuilt?

Soaked wood chips will smoke slower, giving off a more subtle flavor. Dry wood chips will heat faster for a more intense smoke.

So, soak them if you want a lighter flavor and use them dry if you like it strong.

Q. Does the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker need wood chips or wood chunks?

The Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker can only be used with wood chips. Wood chunks are simply too large to smoke properly in this smoker.

Q. Can I use hardwood smoking pellets in the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker?

Masterbuilt specify that you should use the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker with wood chips only, not wood pellets.

Q. What kind of wood chips should I  use in a Masterbuilt electric smoker?

Our wood chip of choice for the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker is oak.

Oak gives off a moderately smoky flavor that’s more evident than lighter fruit woods but not as intense as something like hickory or mesquite. Oak also works well with all types of meat including fish.

But, when it comes to wood flavors, don’t be afraid to experiment! Try different flavors with different types of meat and work out what you like the best.

Masterbuilt’s written a quick guide on wood flavors to use with their electric smokers. Click on the link to learn more.

Q. How many years of use is realistic to expect from the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker before it breaks?

As long as you’re using and storing the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker out of the rain, following the user instructions, and, cleaning it regularly, you should get more, maybe many more, than the 1 year warranty life out of this smoker.

People have been using this model, the Masterbuilt 130B and Masterbuilt 140B for 3, 5, 7 and up to 8 years without problems.

Others have had to replace components like the heating element along the way.

Q. Does the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker have a water pan to add liquid?

Yes, the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker does have a water pan so you can add your liquid of choice if you want to. Equally, you don’t need to add anything to the tray. Mine simply catches drippings most of the time.

Q. How well does the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker maintain temperature if it’s cold outside?

We have tested the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker in cold but not freezing conditions. We find that the meat does take longer to cook when the weather is cold. The heat up time is extended and temperature dips from opening the door mid-cook take longer to recover from.

You can still get it done but I wouldn’t say that it’s the most ideal smoker to use in cold weather.

Q. Can I use the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker inside?

I’m afraid you cannot use the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker or any other smoker for that matter, inside.

The smoke that is put out requires proper ventilation.

Q. Does the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker come with internal meat probes?

No, there’s no meat probes or meat probe connection port on the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker.

You can use it with your own meat thermometer. We love and recommend the MEATER Plus or Block. But, there’s cheaper wireless meat thermometers you can use with this smoker that will still give you great results. Here’s our favorites.

Specs for the Masterbuilt 30 and 40 Inch Digital Electric Smoker

Barbecue type: Digital electric smoker

Barbecue material: Insulated steel

Grate material:Chrome-coated wire

Cooking capacity: 711 sq. in. / 970 sq. in.

Heat Range: 180-450°F

WiFi: No

Price guide: $

Model: MB20071117 or 130B / MB20072918 or 140B

Assembled size (in): 25.6″ W x 33″ H x 19″ D/ 20″ W x 41.3″ H x 19.9″ D

Weight: 46 lbs / 58 lbs

Warranty: 1 year