Masterbuilt Smoker Not Smoking? (5 Fixes)

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Matt Richard

Are you trying to cook food in your Masterbuilt smoker but realize it’s not producing enough smoke (or any)?

Don’t worry. That doesn’t necessarily mean the unit is broken.

Even though Masterbuilt is a solid entry-level brand, issues like this are common. You can often resolve the problem by following the suggestions outlined in this guide.

Key Takeaway

If your Masterbuilt smoker isn’t smoking, try these tips. 1) Ensure your smoker isn’t turning off because of the temperature controller, 2) turn the wood chip tray over so the wood falls into the chamber, 3) only use dry wood chips, 4) dial down the temperature after preheating, and 5) add more wood chips as old ones burn.

Keep reading for a further explanation of each troubleshooting suggestion.

#1: Consider the Temperature and Weather Outside

Your Masterbuilt smoker must reach a specific temperature to heat the wood chips using the built-in heating element.

The heating element typically cycles on and off every few minutes to maintain the smoker’s temperature.

When your smoker is outside on a hot day, the outdoor heat can fool the temperature sensor into thinking the cooking chamber is warmer than it truly is.

As a result, the heating element may turn off when it shouldn’t.

A heating element turned off means it can’t produce heat to smolder the wood chips, which is necessary to create the smoke.

So, if you’re operating your smoker while the outside temperature is elevated, ensure your smoker is staying on while you’re cooking.

#2: Turn the Wood Chip Loading Tray Over so the Wood Falls Out

A common mistake beginners make is forgetting to flip over the wood chip tray after filling it.

Once you’ve inserted the loaded tray back into the smoker, you must turn it so the wood chips fall into the bottom part of the chamber.

This is how the wood chips heat up so they can smolder. You won’t get any smoke if you leave the wood chips in the tray upright.

#3: Don’t Soak the Wood Chips

Many recipe blogs tell you to soak wood before putting it in a smoker. The idea is that it’ll make the wood last longer and produce more smoke.

Clearly, those recipe websites have never operated a smoker before.

Important Note

Soaking wood chips doesn’t produce more smoke. Instead, you’d see steam coming from the wood, not smoke, imparting the flavor you desire.

Why is this the case? If the wood is wet, it’ll heat up to the water’s boiling point (212°F). The water must evaporate before the wood becomes hot enough to produce adequate smoke. [1]

If your wood chips are damp and you’re wondering why your Masterbuilt smoker isn’t generating smoke, this could be why. In that case, consider using dry wood.

If you don’t have any extra wood, then don’t worry. The wood will eventually start smoking, but it’ll take longer.

#4: Dial Down the Temperature After Preheating the Smoker

Your smoker may take time to reach its desired temperature (often 30 to 45 minutes). So, it’s always best to pre-heat it before putting your food inside.

And while you must always cook your food at a safe temperature to prevent food poisoning, keep in mind that overheating your food can ruin it.

Additionally, more smoke is produced when the temperature is lower.

If you’re cooking well above the required temperature, you can dial it back a bit to achieve a lower temperature and produce more smoke. Hence, the “low and slow” cooking method!

#5: Add More Wood Chips As Old Ones Burn Up

As wood chips burn up in your smoker, you’ll need to add new ones to keep the smoke production steady. But how often should you add them, and how much at a time?

A good rule of thumb is to add no more than 5 wood chips every 60 minutes because that’s typically how long it takes for them to stop making smoke.

It’s best to start with a small amount and add more as needed.

Pro Tip

You don’t want to overload the tray because too many wood chips at once can cause excess white smoke, which imparts an unpleasant taste.

Even worse, it could cause backdraught or blowback, which occurs when oxygen quickly enters the oxygen-deprived chamber and a large puff of smoke occurs. [2]

Frequently Asked Questions

If you still have a few questions about your Masterbuilt smoker not smoking as it’s supposed to, check out the FAQs below.

Should I Always See Smoke From My Smoker?

Yes, you should always see smoke coming from your smoker because that’s how you know it’s working correctly. If you don’t see any smoke, you may need to add more wood or begin troubleshooting.

Should Smoker Smoke Be Clear?

When you initially add wood chips to your smoker, you’ll see white smoke. As combustion occurs, the smoke’s color will transition to a thin, blue smoke. That’s when it’s safe to add your food.

Can There Be Too Much Smoke in a Smoker?

Yes, there can be too much smoke in a smoker. This occurs when you have excess wood or are not adequately controlling the vents. Excessive smoke can make your food taste bitter and be a safety hazard.

Final Thoughts

Whether you have a Masterbuilt electric smoker, propane smoker, or charcoal smoker, it has one primary purpose: to smoke!

So, it can be frustrating when your smoker doesn’t cooperate and fails to produce the smoke flavor you need for a delicious barbecue.

Luckily, this is often an easy fix. So, try out the solutions outlined in this article to get your smoke session back on schedule!

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Hey, I'm Matt Hollingshead, a BBQ enthusiast, beer connoisseur, and the founder of Grill Mentor. When I'm not trying new recipes with my Traeger or sampling a craft beer, I'm publishing articles for this site.

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