New To Smoking - Christmas Present

  • Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
SMF is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Original poster
Dec 18, 2013
Every year around Thanksgiving, I get tempted to fry a turkey or buy a smoker. This year, I broke down bought a fryer, actually kept it this time, and made a pretty good turkey. I joked with my wife that I should probably try to smoke one at Christmas.

Well, last night the Masterbuilt Digital Electric 40inch showed up. Now its just sitting behind me in the box taunting me. While I have eaten a lot of BBQ over the last 50+ years, I have never smoked anything myself, and I'm really not sure what all I will do with it - other than the turkey that I somewhat "committed" to doing.........and possibly some ribs and fish.

My biggest concern is - did she buy the right one? After all, she married me, how good can her judgment be? I was personally torn between this one, a propane version, and the Bradley Original.

My first goal was to do a turkey (or should I just stick with frying?). If getting/keeping a smoker, it needs to be easy to use - not a bother, needs to make good tasting food, and I would like something that will last - I hate reading about all of the failures & issues, but also realize that issues and complaints motivate people to leave reviews.

Will it do a good turkey? Is it a good, or decent unit and option? What’s better at a similar price, or within a couple hundred (she got it at Academy for $299)? I have read a lot of comparison type reviews - I almost feel like I have to buy a few of them and try them myself.  As of now, I don’t care too much about the different operating costs - that will only be a problem if I get deeply hooked.

Last edited:
Oh boy.....that's a tough question posed. It's a gift....protocol sez you must keep it & smile?? or does she care if you return it? A Bradley is nice but you're locked into their puck system. Propane is good....easy to use but no set & forget's got flames. I had a Master Forge gasser and had a time maintaining temps...they tend to leak a lot around doors, needing mods done. Electric is great, easy and fairly cheap to use. Digital is awesome for maintaining temps...analog units will swing some in each direction. I feel quite comfortable leaving my Smoking It #3 watt burner going all night for large butts. I would suggest reading some threads on the new Mes units and decide for yourself IF this is the unit for you.  I found the one by Tjohnson quite informative & it helped me in my decision making process. Use the search bar above and type in Mes reviews and many threads will appear......Willie
Hi FullTilt, and welcome to SMF!  The MES40 is good rig, especially if its the first generation unit (the digital control console is located on the top of the cabinet near the back, the exhaust vent is on top of cabinet on the right side).  I cooked on one of these for a long time and liked it alot.  It makes a great "starter smoker"...easy to use, low maintenance, and it does a good job of maintaining temps.  I cooked many a great turkeys in mine (although we love deep fried turkeys too).

Now I mentioned first generation...if yours is the one with the digital control console on the front of the cabinet, with the exhaust vent in the left panel near the top, it's a second generation model.  My understanding is that Masterbuilt has had some quality control and design issues with this as Willie said, you might want to read Todd's thread about this before you decide to keep it.  Here's a link to that thread:

Also, if you do decide to keep it, you might want to check into an AMNPS, an ingenious little smoke generator invented by one of our members (TJohnson, already mentioned above).  The MES and the AMNPS are a perfect compliment for each other.  Just click on the Ad for A-Maze-N Products at the bottom of this page to check it out.

Whatever you decide to do, Good Luck!  You've found a good place for information, so just ask if you have any other questions or issues and someone will surely help out.

Hello and welcome from East Texas. This is a great site, lots of information and great people that are willing to throw in their two cents worth on about anything.   
[/h1][h1]  [/h1][h1]Gary[/h1]
thanks - its evidently a first gen unit - controls center in the back, smaller window, vents on the right side

And the only thing I cant return is the finger has grown around it anyway.
As a new smoke chef I'd keeo that gen 1 mes..... and the wife, too. She's a savvy shopper finding that generation 1 and getting a 450 dollar unit at 299. The gen 2 has all kinds of issues, but the one you have can put out good q. Easy and cheap to operate. Lots of room for plenty of food for crowds and you don't have to babysit the thing all day. Ribs, chicken, pork roasts, brisket, fish..... you'll be smokin' like a pro in no time. All the best to you.
ok - the whole Gen 1 and Gen 2 topic is a bit confusing to me - I wanted to make sure that I have the "right" one.  See photo - thanks for your help and patience.
That's the one you want. I've owned both and I gave up on the new design gen 2 after, get this, FOUR failed smokers in 7 months. You're lucky to find a new gen 1. Happy Smokin'. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Hot Threads