New Member, seeking guidance

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Original poster
May 20, 2024
Hello everyone, stumbled on your site after doing a google search on some smoking tips.

I've dabbled, successfully/unsuccessfully for a year or 2 on smoking, mostly wings and chicken legs, and still haven't gotten the flavor I like out of it after following the directions. Meat/skin usually has a very strong smoke flavor to it and directions don't mention to only smoke for a certain period of time. I am only using a Masterbuilt electric smoker for now as I don't want to invest in something expensive if I cant ever get the correct hang of it.....cost me $50 from Marketplace, so was a nice starting point.

I am assuming with my next test/batch, that I should only smoke for a short period of time and then just heat afterwards; is this correct? Example-smoke for 30 minutes and just heat for rest of time called for on directions.

I also assume that I could go with or without wrapping in foil for the wings and legs, but it is preferred for larger cuts of meats like loins, roasts, ribs, etc....correct? Example-3,2,1 method I've seen online.

Appreciate any and all feedback.....hope everyone has a great day!
Hello from RI.

The MES is a fairly simple smoker to use and I'm going on the assumption that you're using it as is,no mods of any type.

Smoke flavor or lack of can depend on a few things.You mentioned one and that's duration of smoke.Another is amount of smoke being produced on a load.Also type of wood certainly can be a contributing factor.

One thing that can contribute to a heavy smoke flavor or bitterness is excess moisture.I don't recommend soaking your chips beforehand,you'll get cleaner smoke without doing so.And I also don't recommend filling the water pan as this produces excess moisture in what is already a well insulated environment.Excess moisture can give your food an acrid over smoky or bitter flavor.

Also try using a variety of different types of wood.Fruitwoods like apple and cherry give a lighter flavor say compared to hickory or mesquite.

Once you start getting good consistent results you may wish to start thinking about some aftermarket accessories and mods that can turn the MES into a smoking machine.A great first accessory would be an Amazen tray or tube,these burn pellets or dust and can give you up to 10-12 hours of smoke eliminating the need to load chips ever half hour and when used in conjunction with the "mailbox" mod makes using the tray/tube even easier.A more expensive mod is adding what is called a PID controller which can give you precise temp control which is big when doing things like sausage.But I would say start getting some good consistent results as is before jumping head first into doing all kinds of mods.

One accessory I would invest in immediately would be a multi probe thermometer with more probes being better,use one probe to monitor chamber temp and the other(s) for food temp.The built in probe(s) on the MES are notoriously inaccurate.
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Make sure to keep top vent open, I personally find 30-45minutes of smoke is plenty with chicken in my mes. Also as mentioned wood chip flavors will change strength of smoke flavor. Hickory and mesquite are stronger then the fruit woods. Also you might want to finish on a hot grill or oven to crisp up the skin.
normanaj normanaj and smokerjim smokerjim are spot on. There are heaps of users here with MES experience who can speak to any "quirks" and best practices with that specific equipment. I would add that chicken wings/legs have fairly large surface-area-to-volume/meat ratio, so they can be a little finicky and inconsistent; larger cuts may help you with fine-tuning your approach.
Welcome to the forums from Mississippi. The guys above have you covered. Look forward to seeing more of you!

Welcome to SMF and howdy from central Missouri.

I have used an MES40 extensively, for years. I have had poor luck with chicken and turkey in it simply due to the low temperature that MES allows you to get to (usually 275F max). Skin stays rubbery. I normally do chicken on my charcoal grill at about 300F-325F. If I do smoke a turkey in my MES40, I usually finish it in the oven to crisp the skin. Pork steaks and rib-eyes are also done on my charcoal grill and not in the MES40.

^^^This^^^ being said, there is a ton of good things to smoke in the MES40...salmon, pulled pork, pork ribs, prime rib, fatty's, beer can or shot glass burgers, etc.
You guy's are great and appreciate all comments thus far. I like using Apple most of the time I use the unit. I used to keep vent mostly closed and last couple times have left it open, but still similar results; maybe not as bitter as when it was closed the whole time, but still not getting a good crispy exterior on skin either. I haven't used water tray at all and have used dry wood chips as well as soaked chips. I think next time around I'll limit the smoke and keep adjusting from there. Thanks again....
All this is great info... But one thing that wasn't asked or mentioned is... The amount of chips you put in every time... Do you put in a heaping hand full of chips trying to get them to last longer ?? If so... I think that is the problem... Next time just put in like a palm full (a couple of onces) each time .... This has worjed for a number of people that were putting to many in at a time...

Edited to say... You will never get crispy skin in a MES... As mentioned above... Pull when temps are 145-150ish then put them on a hot gasser to crisp up...
Meat/skin usually has a very strong smoke flavor to it and directions don't mention to only smoke for a certain period of time.
If the skin is wet , it can collect to much or acrid smoke . Like said in post 10 , hold in fridge uncovered , or dry on the counter before going into the smoker .
Masterbuilt electric smoker used to mean an analog unit .

MES is the digital model . ( Masterbuilt electric smokehouse )

The early MES had a " full " length chip loader . The later models had half of the loader blocked off , and if using chips , should only be loaded to the top of the loader . Don't pile them in .
Also , don't use pellets in the chip tray of any Masterbuilt smoker / smokehouse .
Use a tube or aftermarket tray for that .

Don't be afraid to ditch the skin all together . Use a rub you like on the flesh . It will create a crust , and still give you a nice , moist piece of chicken if using thighs or legs . is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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