Gravity has come a long way since the days of Isaac Newton. We can now harness it to make a fantastic plate of tacos thanks to the folks at Masterbuilt. Its line of Gravity Series grills aims to do all manner of outdoor cooking under the sun, and the 800 model is perhaps the most versatile offering yet. But does this all-in-one actually do it all, or will we find it lacking in at least a few areas? Let’s dive deep into this grill in this Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 review.
What is the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 Digital Charcoal Griddle, Grill, and Smoker?
— Dimensions: 55 inches L x 31 Inches W x 51 inches H
— Weight: 204.2 pounds, fully assembled
— Temperature Range: 225 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit
— Fuel Type: Charcoal, with the option to mix in wood chunks
— Materials: Iron, including the reversible cooking grates and flat top griddle insert
— Cooking Types: Grill, smoke, sear, griddle
— Cooking Area: 800 square inches
— Hopper Capacity: 10 to 16 pounds of charcoal
— Features: Digital thermometer, Bluetooth app support, built-in meat thermometer
This smoker is the latest in a line by grilling giant Masterbuilt. It operates much in the same way that popular pellet grills work. In lieu of wood pellets, this beast is powered by charcoal, which dispenses in a large hopper to the right of the cooking area. There’s no guesswork here when it comes to temperature, and the built-in digital thermometer allows you to set it from 225 degrees to 700 degrees Fahrenheit. Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 is the third offering in the Gravity line, which began with the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 and continued with the Masterbuilt Gravity 1050. While it’s got less cooking space than the 1050, the 800 model has one major upgrade: a wide flat-top griddle. More on that later.
There’s not much in the way of surprises here. Even total barbecue neophytes would recognize the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 as a grill. Of course, once you lift the lid, the guts of this outdoor cooking device offer much in the way of innovation. You cook on large reversible porcelain cast-iron grates: one side for smoking, the other for searing. There are also two removable porcelain-coated smoking racks that provide a whopping 800 square inches of cooking area. Or, in meat math: 12 chickens, six racks of ribs, 57 sausages, or 36 burgers. There are a few accouterments any grill should have, including a collapsible front shelf and wheels for easy movement.
Tech and Power
It may not look like it, but the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 is a fully digital grill. Despite its charcoal power source, you do need to plug it into a power supply. The science behind it is fairly simple if you’ve ever used a chimney starter. You fill the Gravity 800 hopper with charcoal, light a flame under the stack to get it going, and let gravity do the rest. Of course, you must also remove the heat and air intake slides, and set your digital thermostat to the desired temperature. A fan near the bottom of the grill pushes this hot, smokey air into the grill where it cooks food to perfection. You can choose between two different heat options: one for grilling and searing, and the other for use with the griddle. Before you start cooking, you pick which one you want, slide it in, and set the other aside. Both fit in the bottom rack near the base of the grill for your convenience. As previously mentioned, the Gravity Series 800 runs on both ends of the heat spectrum, from a low and slow 225 to a ripping hot 700 degrees Fahrenheit.
Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 Digital Charcoal Griddle, Grill, and Smoker Review: Is it Worth It?
It’s hard not to look at the inner workings of the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 and think of a popular line of pellet smokers. Ubiquitous as they may be, these devices leave me cold. They promise versatility but struggle on the higher end. You’d have better luck searing a steak in a microwave than on a Trager grill. The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 is a much different monster though, and it promised much more power. But would it deliver?
Building a new grill is never fun unless you’re the kind of person who really gets a kick out of using power tools. Luckily, I’m married to one such person, and working together, we were able to assemble it within half an hour. Lighting it up for the first time would take actually reading the instruction manual. First, I filled the hopper up with charcoal. It holds up to 16 pounds of the stuff, which provides up to 10 hours of cooking fuel. Next, I slid a flat fire starter into the bottom of the hopper and lit it using a torch that one keeps around for such tasks. Don’t forget to remove the air and heat manifolds so that air can get into the hopper for the fire to light the charcoal. Let gravity do the work by lighting the charcoal pile from the bottom, the powerful fan providing the necessary oxygen to feed the fire. I had no doubts that a grill in this price range would be able to handle the lower end of the heat spectrum, so on my first go around, I set the grill to 700 degrees.
The Heat is On
Masterbuilt says that the Gravity Series 800 heats to 700 degrees in 14 minutes. I couldn’t be more offended by this bald-faced lie. In fact, it came up to temperature in only 12. Speedier than advertised, at least when it’s operated in a balmy Sacramento backyard. Knowing quite well the heartbreak that comes with trying to sear a slab of beef on a pellet grill, I decided to try out Masterbuilt’s heat to rustle up a marinated skirt steak for carne asada tacos.
I slapped the steak on the grill and in an instant, not only did I hear a sizzle, but lots and lots of smoke emerged. The kind you want to see when you put a steak on some grill grates. In about seven minutes, the steak was cooked to medium-well, with constant flipping for a nice crust. In the same cooking space, I was also able to char up some green onions and corn tortillas for the lunch to come.
Cooking on the low end was equally fruitful. I braised a couple of days' worth of St. Louis pork ribs at 225 degrees. About two hours later, they emerged with fall-off-the-bone perfection. Of course, the temperature was incredibly stable when smoking, considering this style of cooking usually happens with a closed lid. Now that I knew that the highs and lows were more or less perfect, I tested out the mid-range of the heat pumped out by the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800, setting the temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. The only way to improve on fresh summer plums and raspberries is to bake them into a tasty crisp. After 20 minutes in the Gravity Series 800, I was pleased to see that the grill also worked pretty well as an oven. This likely has to do with the powerful fan that transmits the heat evenly. I was able to enjoy a hot, bubbling summer fruit crisp, without having to turn on a massive appliance that would heat up an already sweltering house. And no, the crisp didn’t taste even a little bit smokey.
Home, Home on the Range
The main feature that sets the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 apart from the models that came before is the inclusion of a big cooking range. There’s something about a griddle that makes millennial home cooks like me giddy. Maybe it’s the connection to Spongebob Squarepants. Regardless, the Gravity 800 has one, and after a week of continuous use, it may be the grill’s best selling point.
The griddle heats up just as fast as the grates, give or take a few minutes. After using it a couple of times, I started to err on the side of caution when it came to heating this griddle. The efficiency of the griddle made it a very effective cooktop even in mid-range temperatures. On the Fourth of July weekend, I made Sonoran hot dogs for a small crowd. After griddling the bacon-wrapped hot dogs, I browned up a pile of veggies in the rendered bacon fat. It cooked almost too quickly, and I had to bark at my niece to bring a plate for me to put these toppings in before they went from perfectly caramelized to burned. Not that I’m complaining. The less time over a hot stove, the better.
Next came my white whale. I don’t live anywhere near a Brooklyn bodega, so I can’t simply order a delicious chopped cheese sandwich. I’ve seen this sandwich posted across social media, and after months of fantasizing about it, I used the Masterbuilt Series 800 griddle to make it a reality. It’s a simple sandwich, after all, as long as you have the hardware. On one side of the griddle, I grilled a sourdough hoagie roll; on the other, ground beef, and onions melded into a sloppy, delicious mess before getting a helping of neon American cheese. Pure alchemy. Enough to make a Williamsburg podcaster weep.
The one drawback of the griddle is that it requires a different heat manifold than the other cooking styles, so you have to get into the guts of the grill to replace it. This isn’t an impossible task, but it is at least a little annoying compared to grilling, smoking, and searing. Considering how the heat manifold’s design evenly heats the griddle, it’s a much easier pill to swallow. If I’m being honest, after the chopped cheese experience, the Series 800 is used as a griddle about 80 percent of the time.
The Heat Is Not On (Inside Your House)
Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 handles the heat exceedingly well, but more importantly, it handles it outside. Temperatures in my neck of the woods are what I can only describe as “disgustingly hot.” But like it or not, when dinner time rolls around, you’re going to have to eat. This means turning on a hot stove, or worse, an oven, to make dinner happen. Stoves produce heat, turning an already hot house into a sweltering one. Sure, the prospect of cooking outside during the summer isn’t a new concept. However, I’d like to see any gas, charcoal, or wood-pellet grill provide the same versatility as the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800. Over the course of one week, I used this grill to make chicken cutlets, braised pork chops, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, cheese steaks, and even a batch of freezer Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies.
This brings me to what I think would make this outdoor cooking powerhouse perfect: a cooking range. Many grills have them, in fact. A single cooktop to boil pasta or stir sauces and glazes for say, smoked meat, and the Masterbuilt could totally replace my stove, at least during grilling season. This would be a strange prospect, considering that it is primarily a charcoal-powered grill, but its secondary power source may be able to muster up enough BTUs for a small hot plate.
Other Features, From Okay to Awesome
Speaking of its digital bonafides, there are a few here, though I found myself only trying them a couple of times before abandoning them completely. There are up to four places to plug in a meat thermometer probe, and the device comes with one to try out the feature. It works, no question. You can also sync your grill up to a smartphone app (available on Google Play and App Store) to keep track of temperature, and cooking time, and even check out tons of recipes. The range of these apps always leaves me cold. When cooking, I’m either parked next to my Masterbuilt Series 800 or far off in an air-conditioned bedroom, which causes my phone to disconnect from my grill. But when you’re in range, the app does work the way you want it to. Navigating the temperature and time functions was mostly done right on the grill itself. The buttons and LCD display are straightforward and easy to use and didn’t require me to stare at my phone even more than I already do.
What feature I do love is how easy maintenance for the Masterbuilt Series 800 is. No matter how hard you try, eventually, you’re going to have to clean a grill, but luckily, it’s not a slog here. A simple wipe down under the grates once the grill cools down takes care of most messes, with a small grease trap covering the rest. Just under the charcoal hopper, a basket catches the ashes so you can dispose of them quickly and easily. After cooking is done, the heat and air intake slides slide back into their positions, killing the fire quickly so you don’t waste any fuel once you’re done cooking. I didn’t need to refill the charcoal hopper until about a week and a half of continuous use. Your results may vary, but I’d like to see a pellet grill be half as fuel efficient. If the prospect of using charcoal leaves you cold, eco-wise, we recommend using Good Charcoal Company lump charcoal, as it burns hotter so you’ll need less of it, and contains no chemical additives.
Final Thoughts on Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 Digital Charcoal Griddle, Grill, and Smoker
Hats off to you Isaac Newton, you powdered wig-wearing visionary. Because of your research that pioneered physics, Masterbuilt was able to harness the power of gravity to make one seriously versatile grill. Cooking on that game-changing griddle will forever ruin you for other grills, and keeping it working like new is so easy, it’s almost an afterthought. Considering its reliability, accessibility, and versatility, the price of this grill is shocking: this top-line model is still a fraction of the cost of crummy wood-pellet-fired grills. Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 isn’t simply a grill, it’s a force of nature.
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This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.
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