The Masterbuilt Pro MDS 230 Dual Fuel smoker is an interesting beast. You can have a lot of fun with one of these things but keep in mind that you will not be getting top of the line build quality.
Lets take a look at the pros and cons of this smoker and see if it is something you want to spend your money on.
What Is A Dual Fuel Smoker?
Here is the promotional video from Masterbuilt for the MDS 230 that walks you through the basic features.
What makes this a Dual Fuel smoker is that the metal “Flame Disk” located over the propane burner can be filled with chunks of wood for use as a propane smoker or filled with charcoal for use as a charcoal smoker. What is really nice is that the slits in the Flame Disk lets you use the propane burner to light the charcoal!
The propane burner is rated at 15,400 BTU/hr and can be dialed down to run at 225F or cranked up to easily get this smoker up to 400F. The burner can be lit by the push button ignition system but also has an access slot inside the smoker for manual ignition if needed.
MDS 230 Features and Reviews
- Four 180 square inch plated steel cooking racks
- Two Cool Touch Handles
- Water pan included
- Top and bottom air dampers
- Weight 59 pounds
- Double walled and insulated front door.
- Single wall non insulated construction for the rest of the smoker
This smoker has been around long enough that it has a pretty solid history of reviews. Here is a snapshot of the current reviews from Home Depot.
Out of 762 reviews 88% are either 5 or 4 stars while only 7% are 1 or 2 stars. Most of the negative reviews mentioned build quality and cases of the bottom rusting out.
If you take a look inside the smoker you can see why some people are having issues with the bottom rusting out. The grease drain hole is only a small opening in the base of a flat bottom.
The opening is small and the base does not slope towards it. This means that it will be easy for ashes, water, marinades, grease, etc to accumulate in the base of the smoker unless you are very proactive in cleaning it out after every cook. The accumulated grill gunk can create a very corrosive environment and will tear the metal up if left unattended.
Things I Like About This Smoker
This is superficial but I just think the MDS 230 is a good looking product. I would be happy to see this guy sitting on my back porch. It has attractive badging, a sturdy stand and I like the two cool touch handles.
I like that, unlike the Masterbuilt electric smokers, this guy can get up to 400F so you can crisp up your chicken wings or even do a little baking.
I like that you can start smoking with a load of charcoal and then, after you have laid down that base flavor profile, switch over to propane to finish the cook.
Basically I like that this is a great propane smoker that has some extra functionality available.
Things I Don’t Like About This Smoker
I don’t like the grease drainage system or the undersized grease tray.
I do not like the build quality and lightness of the smoker. This is a double edged sword because it is also one of the factors that makes this thing affordable.
I do not like the cheap factory thermometer that is built into the door of the smoker. You are going to need to replace it or just use a digital thermometer that you can slip into the smoker.
I wish the smoker was wider. The folks at Masterbuilt say that you can smoke a slab of ribs on each cooking rack but the only way that is possible is if you are working with 2-3 pound slabs of baby backs. There is no way that you are going to fit a 5-7 pound slab of spare ribs onto one of those grates,
I think the Masterbuilt Dual Fuel Smoker is a fun little cooker that, once you figure out its quirks, will turn out some pretty good barbecue.
Expect to be dealing with some rust after a year or so and make sure you wipe the inside of the smoker clean after every use. The build quality is “meh” and you will have issues eventually. There is a reason that the warranty on this smoker is only 90 days.