The Skinny:
  • Pairs the flavor of charcoal with the convenience of pellet grilling
  • Digital controls and wireless compatibility make operation effortless
  • Quick preheat time whether you’re smoking, searing, or anything in between
  • Removable ash bin and drip pan allow unusually easy cleanup for a charcoal grill
  • Reversible grill grates and adjustable overhead racks provide customized cooking

Masterbuilt Gravity smokers combine the best of both charcoal grills and pellet grills to give you a worry-free yet versatile cooking experience.

What if there was a charcoal grill that functioned like a pellet grill? It’s a bold thought, but Masterbuilt more than delivered on that concept with a grill that defies conventional wisdom. Indeed, Masterbuilt Gravity Series models burn charcoal but have many of the conveniences commonly found only on pellet grills: a self-feeding fuel hopper, an internal fan to maintain the fire, a digital control panel, and even Wi-Fi/Bluetooth capabilities. The result is a grill that’s unmatched in ease of use among charcoal cookers. Just for good measure, Masterbuilt Gravity smokers also have no problem holding higher temperatures than the average pellet smoker, all while providing the classic charcoal flavor you know and love.

It’s easy to be dazzled by the innovation at work here — our experts certainly were — but our reviews don’t rest on first impressions alone. As with all products, we closely examined the quality, performance, and features of Masterbuilt Gravity Series charcoal grills to give you a complete picture of how they stack up against other models of their kind. Let’s take a look at the findings from each key area we studied.

Quality:

Painted steel construction is about what we’d expect from a Practical grill, but we’re more impressed with the overall design.
  • Masterbuilt manufactures the Gravity Series using painted steel as the exterior material, a cost-effective option that helps keep down the price of these grills. While painted steel doesn’t necessarily promise decades of outdoor use, it’s par for the course among charcoal grills and smokers in the Practical class. The main cooking surface, meanwhile, consists of double-sided cast iron cooking grates — a wide side that channels maximum heat for searing, and a narrow side that gives more room for smoke to circulate when cooking low and slow. It’s a thoughtful touch that reinforces Masterbuilt Gravity smokers as some of the most versatile charcoal grills around.

    Though most of the grill is made from painted steel, there are a few other materials included in certain components. The secondary cooking racks, for instance, have a porcelain coating for extra rust resistance, while the side shelf is made of stainless steel (as is the folding front shelf on 1050 models). Masterbuilt Gravity Series grills and smokers carry a 1-year warranty, which is notably slim for Practical charcoal grills.

  • Masterbuilt Gravity Series Grill with lid open

We also have to spotlight Masterbuilt’s design — after all, developing a charcoal grill that works like a pellet grill takes some serious engineering. The main body looks like a traditional gas grill, just with a vertical charcoal hopper attached to the side. Heat and smoke travel from the charcoal grate at the bottom of the hopper to a manifold below the cooking surface, similar to the transfer setup you’d find on an offset smoker. To ensure smoke and heat disperse evenly within the grill, Masterbuilt designed the manifold with graduated ports along each side. From there, smoke circulates through the cooking chamber before escaping via a rear vent, coating food on every grate level. It’s one thing to have a groundbreaking idea, but we’re glad to see Masterbuilt follow through with careful innovation.

Performance:

Hands-off operation, quick preheats, and a wide temperature range are the crowning achievements of this grill.

A charcoal grill that claims to run like a pellet grill will always be judged on its performance, and we’re pleased to say Masterbuilt Gravity smokers passed our tests with flying colors. Let’s start with the key word in the product name: “gravity.”

While pellet smokers mechanically feed fuel from the hopper to the fire pot, these Masterbuilt models rely solely on gravity to keep the flames going. How? Charcoal inside the hopper sits on a grate, which permits ash and burned-out bits to fall into a removable ash bin (quite handy for cleanup, by the way). As spent coals exit the hopper, unlit fuel from above drops into the fire and ignites as well. That means you avoid the hassle of adjusting coals mid-cook — at most, you’d just have to add more fuel to the hopper, which can hold 10 pounds of lump charcoal or 16 pounds of briquettes. That’s good for about 8 hours of cooking of 1050 models, and 12–15 hours on 560 models (more on them in a minute).

  • You might have also noticed Masterbuilt refers to these cookers as “grills” and “smokers.” That’s not just hollow marketing; the Gravity Series can smoke at 225 degrees Fahrenheit just as easily as it can sear at 700 degrees. As if sheer versatility isn’t enough, Masterbuilt Gravity grills and smokers have astonishingly quick preheat times: the 1050 edition takes just 10 minutes to reach 225 degrees and only 15 minutes for 700 degrees, with shorter times for the 560 model. The differences in time come down to the difference in size — each model is named for its total cooking area, which combines the main grilling surface with the pair of porcelain-coated warming racks. We like how the racks can be set at two different levels, placed at the same height for a larger indirect surface, or removed altogether to accommodate larger items.

  • Masterbuilt Gravity Series Grill internal mechanism

Our lone issue with the performance of Masterbuilt Gravity smokers is the ignition system. To get the fire going, you have to insert a fire starter into the built-in slot on the charcoal grate inside the hopper, then manually light it. It’s the only part of the entire process that isn’t like true pellet smokers, which have automatic ignition in addition to the built-in fans and PID controllers that oversee temperature maintenance.

Features:

Masterbuilt made a charcoal grill with digital controls and connectivity. What more could you ask for?

By charcoal smoker standards, the Masterbuilt Gravity Series is as technologically advanced and featured-packed as they come. The digital components obviously steal the show, starting with the easy-to-set, pellet grill-style PID controller that runs nonstop calculations to keep temperatures stable. It’s simple and intuitive, with just 5 buttons and a temperature dial that link to Masterbuilt’s trademarked DigitalFan technology. Masterbuilt doubled down on the convenience factor by making Gravity Series smokers compatible with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which can be used to access the Masterbuilt App. Once you’ve paired your device with the grill, you can control temperatures, set timers, and receive notifications when food is ready. The app also puts you in command of the included meat probe and thermometer, resulting in hassle-free cooking we weren’t sure would ever be possible on a charcoal smoker.

The Masterbuilt Gravity smoker and grill also include some of the more standard features we expect on charcoal models. A set of locking casters improves portability, side and bottom shelves offer more storage and prep room, and a grill cover and rotisserie kit are available as included accessories (we’d recommend getting at least the grill cover to protect the electrical components).

A removable drip tray is a nice touch to smooth along cleanup, as is the ash bin below the charcoal hopper. Speaking of the hopper, the grill comes with a pair of slides that can be inserted into the fuel area to cut off airflow, shut down the fire, and save fuel for future cooks. It’s that kind of thoughtful design — along with fearless innovation — that makes the Masterbuilt Gravity Series a worthwhile purchase for charcoal enthusiasts looking for a new twist on their favorite pastime.