How to Use a Masterbuilt Propane Smoker: A Beginner Manual

July 19, 2023

I had to learn how to use a Masterbuilt propane smoker a few years ago. As propane models aren’t my go-to options, there was a learning curve.

The upside of this experience was that it gave me the knowledge to show you how to carry out this task by yourself!

How to Use a Masterbuilt Propane Smoker

Understanding the Masterbuilt Propane Smokers

There are three main Masterbuilt propane smoker models to choose from – Two Door 30 inch, Adventure Series 30-inch ThermoTemp, and 40 inch ThermoTemp XL.

While they are all vertical smokers and each have the same basic function, they do differ in terms of design and features.

Chunk of Meat Grilling on the Hot Grill

Due to this, it is important to always read your user manual before getting started. This will contain all the information that you need to know about your specific model. Not only will you then be able to use the propane smoker more effectively, you will also gain full access to the features.

How to Use a Masterbuilt Propane Smoker – A Step by Step Guide

Here are detailed guidelines on how to get your vertical smoker started:

Step 1: Add Wood Chips

If you are using wood chips, then you should only add it to the tray after the Masterbuilt propane smoker. For wood chunks, you should add these in before the machine is turned on.

Look for a small door that is right above the burner – you will find a tray there that is known as a flame disk bowl. This is where the wood chips will go.

Now, I have found that the chips have a tendency to catch fire too quickly on this tray, burning wood chips and causing a burnt flavor with the food. If you find this happening with your Masterbuilt propane smoker, then use a cast iron pan in this space instead.

What I like about using a cast iron pan is that it makes it easier to keep filling up the wood chips or chunks throughout the cook. This will need to be done about every hour or so. Having a pan with a handle makes the top up a breeze.

You can add in a cup of wood chips here. You can also use wood chunks if you want as these can burn for longer. Chunks are best for longer cooks, however, as they can take a longer time to ignite.

If you do use the chunks, you may find that the door where the wood chips go may not close properly. Don’t worry about this and proceed as normal.

For the best results, you can use both wood chips and chunks at the same time.

I do want to reiterate that this is a propane smoker. As such, you can’t use wood pellets in it, only chips or chunks. When buying fuel, make sure to choose the right one.

Step 2: Fill the Water Tray

The water pan is located right above the wood chip tray. You can choose to add water, beer, stock, or any other flavored liquid here. Some people will also add herbs to the mix.

The main function of the water tray is to help keep the temperature inside the cooking chamber even and low. The humidity created by the liquid in the water pan is also great for adding moisture to the meat.

Despite this, it isn’t a necessity to fill up the water tray. It is only if you wish to that you should. Otherwise, you can remove it or keep it in the Masterbuilt propane smoker without adding any liquid.

Step 3: Connect the Propane Tank

Check that the valve on the propane tank is closed. Then, connect the regulator hose on the Masterbuilt propane smoker to the tank. Turn clockwise so that the connection will be secure.

Juicy Sliced Meat on the Flaming Grill

The control knob should be in the OFF position. Open the doors and the valves of the Masterbuilt propane smoker. Then, completely open the valve on the propane tank.

Don’t worry about opening it all the way as the smoker has a built-in mechanism to monitor and adjust the flow of the gas.

Step 4: Power up the Masterbuilt Propane Smoker

Use one hand to push the temperature control knob down and then turn it clockwise. Don’t let go of this control knob – you need to keep pushing it down for the smoker to ignite.

Once you are pushing down the temperature control knob, press the ignitor button. Do this until you hear the burner has ignited and then let go of the ignitor button. Keep holding the temperature control knob for 5 seconds longer though or the fire will go out.

When this 5 seconds is up, you can then turn the temperature dial to your desired temperature. It is a good idea to keep the dial to about 5 degrees above your target cooking temperature. This is because once you start loading the food in, the temperature inside the cooking chamber tends to drop.

Close the doors and allow the Masterbuilt propane smoker to preheat.

Step 5: Arrange the Food in the Preheated Smoker

There is a trick to arranging food in a Masterbuilt propane smoker.

More often than not, the hottest part of the smoker is at the very top. Thus, put large cuts of meat or ones that need to be cooked for a longer period of time on the top rack.

The other trick is to make sure that you place the food in the very middle of the rack. Also, always leave a good amount of space between each food item. This allows for better airflow, ensuring that the food cooks at a more even rate.

If you want to smoke large quantities of food, it is best to do so in batches. Prepare for this and start smoking at an earlier time.

If you aren’t filling every rack with food, you may want to place aluminum foil pans below each of the racks containing meat. This way, the pans catch any drips. This makes up for easy clean up later on.

However, you shouldn’t cover the grates with foil. This will prevent the heat and air from traveling throughout the smoker. As such, the food will not be able to cook at the same rate.

Depending on the cuts of meat you are dealing with, you may need to adjust the cooking grate supports. By doing this, you will be able to alter the distance between each of the grates, increasing or reducing as needed.

Monitoring Cooking Temperature and Internal Temp

If you are cooking on cold or windy days, then there is higher risk of a flame blow out. You shouldn,t assume that it has happened, though. Instead, always open the door and check if you have suspected that this has taken place.

If it has, keep the door open while your reignite the machine. Close the door and then continue to smoke. To reduce the risk of future blow outs, you could turn the temperature up higher.

As you are aware, when you are smoking meat, you need to pay attention to the internal temperature of the smoked food. This is how you can determine the rate at which the meat is being smoked and when it is done.

Man Slicing Grilled Meat

The issue is that the temperature control on the various Masterbuilt propane smoker models aren’t entirely accurate. Therefore, it can be tricky to know just how slowly or quickly your food is cooking.

It is due to this that I would recommend a thermometer for each rack that the meat is being placed on. This allows you to keep track at the rate at which the food on each rack is being cooked.

This cuts down on the risk of overcooking your meat or taking it out before it is ready.

The other suggestion that I would make is that you invest in a door or hood thermometer as well. Yes, every Masterbuilt propane smoker has one attached to the door but this isn’t entirely accurate. Having an additional one can help you to note any discrepancies and keep a closer watch on the food.

Step 6: Shutting Down the Masterbuilt Propane Smoker

Once the meat is fully cooked, take the smoked food out of the Masterbuilt propane smoker. Make sure to use silicone or other protective gloves as you do so to ensure that you don’t burn yourself.

Shutting this propane smoker off is fairly easy. Simply turn the control knob to the OFF position. Next, close the valve on the propane tank down. After a few minutes, you can disconnect the tank and store it as needed.

Step 7: Cleaning the Masterbuilt Propane Smoker

The cooking process can take quite a bit out of you, but I still abide that you should clean your propane smoker every time that you use it. For one thing, maintaining your Masterbuilt propane smoker properly ensures that it is going to last you longer.

What’s more, cleaning your propane smoker after every cook means that it is ready to use the next time around. As such, you don’t have to waste time cleaning out the smoker and can simply get to smoking.

Always wait for your Masterbuilt propane smoker to cool down before cleaning it. However, you may want to take out the racks out while they are still a bit warm. This makes it easier to scrape food and grime off of them. Make sure to wear protective gloves as you do so.

You can use a grill brush for this, but I would advise against using a wire brush. These are falling out favor as they have a tendency to break off and can be rather dangerous to use. The good news is that there are numerous designs to choose from these days.

Once the propane smoker has cooled down, then remove the wood chips tray and discard any ash or wood chips there. Wipe it down well so that grime and gunk won’t build up here.

Next up is the drip tray. Remember, there is probably fat and grease here so use soap and water to get rid of any residue. In the future, you can use aluminum foil as a cover for this. Then, it is just a matter of discarding the foil once you are done.

Always wipe down the internal components of your propane smoker – or allow them to dry completely before returning them to their proper places.

Once you do this, then close the doors and the vents and then place the cover over the smoker.

Using Your Masterbuilt Propane Smoker for the First Time

Haven’t used a propane smoker before? Then, here are some pointers on how to use a Masterbuilt propane smoker for the first time:

Test for Gas Leaks

It should go without saying but leaking gas isn’t a good thing! Propane gas is highly volatile and while the propane tank may be secure, you need to check that the same is true for the connection as well.

To guarantee this, you will need to run the soapy water test. This is outlined in the manufacturer’s instructions.

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Meat Grilling on the BBQ Grill

To prepare for this test, you will need to:

  • Remove any cookware and accessories from the Masterbuilt propane smoker
  • Turn the propane tank valve and the control knob to the OFF position.

Prepare the soapy solution by combining one part dishwashing liquid with three parts water.

Apply this solution to the propane tank valve, the hose regulator, and the full length of the hose as well.

Apply the soapy solution to the area where the burner and hose are connected. This is located underneath the control panel.

Turn the tank valve ON and watch for bubbles but don’t leave the tank on for more than 12 seconds at a time. If no bubbles appear, then this means that no leak is detected at this point.

If there are, though, you will need to turn the valve OFF, retighten the fitting, and repeat the test once more.

Once the valve is secured, then turn it on again, but avoid doing so for more than 12 seconds at a time. Look for bubbles appearing either along the hose or at the other end of the connection.

If bubbles appear at any of the connection points, then you can tighten these and repeat the test. However, if the bubbles appear at any point along the hose, then stop the test immediately. It means that the hose is leaking and can’t be used.

You will need to replace the hose before you can use the Masterbuilt propane smoker again.

In case there are no issues to be found, then shut off the valve, wait for 5 minutes for the fumes to dissipate and then start up the smoker.

It is a good idea to run this test every few months or so. This will ensure that everything is fitted properly and that the hose is still in good working order.

Seasoning Your Masterbuilt Propane Smoker

Before you can learn how to use a Masterbuilt propane smoker, you must first season it. This gives the smoker time to get rid of any tastes or odors that may be left over from the manufacturing line.

It is important to do this before you get the smoking process started for the first time.

Step 1

Start by cleaning out the smoker. Take out the racks, the drip tray, wood chips tray, and water tray. Wash these down with soapy water and dry thoroughly.

Clean the interior of the smoker with a damp cloth to get rid of any dust and grime. Make sure to wipe it down with a dry cloth afterwards.

Step 2

Keep the racks outside and open all the doors. This will ensure that the smoker is completely dry before you season it.

Step 3

Using a new and clean paintbrush, apply a thin layer of vegetable or grapeseed oil to the entire interior of the smoker, including the inside of the door. Do the same to the cooking grates.

You can try to use a paper towel to get the job done but I have found it to be rather messy in the past. It is best to use a paint brush as it also paints broad strokes, allowing you to get the job done faster.

Man Holding a Tray with Grilled Meat and Beer

Step 4

Replace all of the internal cooking components of the smoker. Replace the water tray as well but don’t fill it up.

You should add a cup of wood chips into a pan before placing it into the smoker, however.

Close the doors and the vents. You can reopen the vents later but for now you need to get the temperature of the smoker up quickly.

Attach the valve of the tank and then turn on the smoker, setting the target cooking temperature to 350 degrees F.

Step 5

Let the smoker maintain the desired temperature for 2 hours.

Keep any on the wood chips. If they burn through, add wood chips at intervals. A cup every hour should do the trick.

Once the two hours are up, turn off the smoker and let it cool.

Step 6

Coat the inside of the smoker with vegetable oil once again, racks included.

Replenish the wood chips and turn the smoker on once more, with the temperature set at 350 degrees.

Let the smoker heat up for 30 minutes before powering down.

You can now use the smoker to cook food.

How Often Should You Season Your Smoker?

Depending on how often you use your smoker, you may want to season the machine once a year or so. It is unlikely that you will need to do it more often than this, but use the taste of your food as a guide.

If you find that grime and dirt are building up inside the machine, then you will need to do a deep clean. In case of this, you would need to re-season it again, like you did the first time around.

Wrapping It Up

There you have it – a total guide on how to work a Masterbuilt smoker all by yourself! Sure it can get a little tricky at certain points but with this guide you will figure out how to get past them. Good luck!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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