Masterbuilt XL Pellet Smoker Review: Strong First Impressions

I had my first look at the Masterbuilt XL Pellet Smoker today and it made a serious first impression.  If you haven’t seen this smoker before then the video below is a fun and QUICK introduction.

I saw a floor model at my local Academy Sports store and thought it looked beautiful.  The first thing that struck me was the sheer size of the smoker compared to every other pellet smoker I have played with.

Here is what Masterbuilt says it can handle in a single cook:


This smoker has six over sized racks and those numbers are completely reasonable.  You could easily smoke 12 racks of ribs at once without having to cut them in half or any of that silliness.

Six Cooking Racks

This is also the only vertical cabinet style pellet smoker that I know of and I think the design is striking.  I would be delighted to have something as pretty as this sitting on my deck.

The smoker has a two door configuration.  The top door opens the smoking cabinet.  The bottom door opens up to the heating element, drip tray and water reservoir.  This configuration lets you replenish the water levels without opening up the main smoking cabinet and losing heat.

The water reservoir, on the left side of the smoker, slides out for easy access and looks like it has a nice capacity.

Water Reservoir

The drip tray, which also serves as the heat deflector, is sloped to the left and directs any drippings to a grease tray.

The grease tray is on the side of the smoker and can be easily accessed and cleaned during the cook if needed.

Grease Tray

There is an tray for spent ashes on the front of the smoker that looks like it was designed for ease of access and cleaning.  It wasn’t clear to me how ashes get to the tray from the burn pot.

Ash Chamber

The smoker has a 17 pound hopper and uses approximately two pounds of pellets per hour.  So, if you want to do a 10 hour brisket cook you will need to plan on refilling the hopper at some point during the cook.

The smoker has a solid handle on the back along with some wheels that make it easy to move the smoker around.

Easy to Move


The Masterbuilt XL Pellet Smoker has a working temperature range of 180-350F. The BIG question about this smoker is whether or not the digital controls work like they should.  Masterbuilt makes great electric smokers but the biggest weakness with them is the reliability of the control panels.

Most pellet smokers can maintain a set temperature in the +/- 15 degree range.  The best smokers can hold +/- 5 degrees.  That being said, there is a lot of technology that went into those controllers and it isn’t something that you just buy off the shelf.

Here is another video from Masterbuilt showing the functionality of their digital control panel.

I have not been able to find any user reviews for this smoker on the reliability of the control panel.

This smoker comes in at a very attractive price of $599.

Smoker Cost

At this price point I really want to add this smoker to my list of the Great Alternatives to Traeger Grills or maybe even the best smokers under $1,000 but that just can’t happen until they have been tested enough in the real world.

If you have any hands on experience with this smoker, positive or negative, please leave a comment below so others can benefit.





    Wild temperature swings. Poorly insulated. Both meat probes went out in less than two months. Works fine for things pork butts and ham. Terrible for brisket and chicken because of the temperature swings. The insulation and the seals are lacking. You get what you pay for and $599 for a pellet smoker this size tells the story. You are better off spending the money for a high end insulated smoker. If you take pride in what you serve, you won’t buy this smoker.

    • David

      Thanks for the report, Mike! Do you think the temperature swings are due to the cold weather and poor insulation or is the fault of the controller?

  2. Matt

    I picked up this model of smoker a couple days before Thanksgiving 2018 because the other electric I had (Dyna-Glo) was not producing smoke at all.

    Set up was a breeze and had absolutely no problems with the temps and cooking times. The turkey I put it turned out fantastic and VERY juicy. The pork butt I smoked the day before just to test the smoker out fell right off the bone as well.

    I’m not getting the temperature fluctuations that Mike is reporting but have read about others who have. For me, this smoker is worth every single penny and I have smoked well over 50 pounds of meat in it since Thanksgiving. Now to see how long it lasts. If it lasts a good long time, then I’ll be getting another.

    • David

      Thanks for the update, Matt. I hope that it keeps performing great for you and is a reliable smoker overall. Seriously appreciate the feedback!

  3. Nikki

    On mine the auger clogs up fairly often. Have to completely remove it and dig out all the pellets. We smoke weekly. Have had it about a year and have had to do this at least four times.

    • David

      Thanks for the update, Nikki! Do you think rain water is getting into the hopper and causing the pellets to swell or is it more or a mechanical issue?

      • Nikki

        Mechanical issue. Seems the corkscrew has become disconnected.

  4. Rebecca

    I went got smoker used it 2 times was smoking meat door blew open on it burned my hair and arm needs to be recalled it’s very dangerous

    • David

      Wow! That sounds super scary…I am sorry that happened to you!

  5. Melissa Stedman

    We have had our elite xl smoker about a year and have only been able to use it twice. Ignitor went out a new one was sent finally due to it being on back order. Took 2 months to get a ne one and now it’s out again. Not really happy with this product and would really like our money back $600.00 is a lot of money for something we can never use.

    • David

      Melissa, I am very sorry about your bad experience. Thank you very much for sharing.

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