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This gravity-fed charcoal grill cooks with tons of barbecue taste


The Masterbuilt Gravity Sequence 560 cooks with common charcoal however runs like a pellet grill.

Brian Bennett/CNET

As barbecue grills go, the $500 Masterbuilt Gravity Sequence 560 is an outlier. It cooks with the large taste of charcoal, but affords the set-and-forget digital temperature management of a pellet smoker. To get that mixture you’d usually should improve an atypical charcoal grill or kamado with an aftermarket product. Examples are the Smartfire and in style DigiQ devices.

LikeBurns lump or briquette charcoalAutomatic temperature controlMeat probe included (four supported)Smokes and sears meals with loads of taste

Do not LikeCould be extra efficientNot water-resistant

One other upside to the Gravity Sequence is that it might probably burn both normal briquettes or lump charcoal. Each forms of gasoline are a lot simpler to seek out at your native grocery store than proprietary wooden pellets. This grill is flexible too, letting you smoke low and sluggish or sear at excessive warmth.

That mentioned, the Gravity Sequence 560 is not flawless. It is not as gasoline environment friendly as Traeger pellet people who smoke I’ve used. It additionally tends to eat extra briquettes than my trusty Weber Basic kettle. You can also’t use the 560 within the rain because it is not climate resistant. Nonetheless, this charcoal cooker is comparatively reasonably priced, succesful and handy. That makes the Gravity Sequence 560 good in order for you basic charcoal barbecue taste with much less stress and hands-on time tending your hearth.

The Masterbuilt Gravity Sequence 560 positively has the look of a pellet smoker.

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Appears to be like like a smoker

On the surface, the Gravity Sequence 560 appears lots like many yard pellet people who smoke. Its black metallic physique is taller than it’s lengthy. The cart-style grill additionally stands on 4 legs outfitted with casters on the entrance and wheels on the again. A big rectangular charcoal hopper sits to the precise of the cooking chamber. 

The shelf on the 560’s left facet homes the grills controls and temperature show, together with 4 ports for meat probes. Masterbuilt consists of one probe within the 560’s field. You should purchase extra probes immediately via Masterbuilt ($20 every). 

Opening the grill’s lid reveals two cast-iron cooking grates plus a pair of porcelain-coated warming racks. Altogether, Masterbuilt says they supply a complete cooking house of 560 sq. inches. In keeping with the corporate that is sufficient for 4 racks of ribs or eight chickens. 

For comparability, the Traeger Timberline 850 is roughly the identical measurement. Even so, it offers an even bigger 850 sq. inches of cooking house. Traeger says that can accommodate eight racks of ribs or 4 chickens. Whatever the accuracy of both firm’s chicken-to-rib ratio for estimating grill capability, the Traeger pellet grill permits you to grill extra meals directly.

The Masterbuilt app permits you to management the grill, watch meat probe standing, and skim recipes.

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Grill with the app

Like many higher-end grills immediately, together with the Traeger Timberline 850, the Gravity Sequence 560 connects to Wi-Fi. You may also management it through a cell app. This Masterbuilt app is not as superior as Traeger’s. Traeger’s software program permits you to ship precise temperature settings and prepare dinner instances to its grill. The Timberline will then run the directions as an executable program. It is good to have because it means much less twiddling with grill controls.

In contrast, the Masterbuilt app offers temperature management, meat probe monitoring and a library of textual content recipes. Whereas the app’s checklist of recipes is not as in depth or as flashy as Traeger’s and its many colourful photographs, the directions are straightforward to comply with. What’s extra essential right here is having the ability to observe the progress and standing of your meals remotely, which Masterbuilt’s app offers. 

A special type of smoker

The Gravity Sequence 560 does not function like a standard charcoal or kamado grill. It does not prepare dinner meals in the identical chamber as burning charcoal. As an alternative, an electrical fan and vent channel warmth and smoke from lit charcoal contained in the hopper into the cooking cavity.

To start out the grill, you first mild coals from the underside finish of the hopper. A charcoal grate helps the burden of charcoal within the hopper above it. The grate additionally has a slot so as to add your most popular hearth starter. 

Begin the grill by putting a hearth starter on the backside of the charcoal hopper and lighting it.

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Flames right here will ignite the underside layer of charcoal. As they burn, their ashes fall via the grate right into a detachable ash tray under. Moreover, heavier unlit charcoal on the prime of the hopper forces spent gasoline into the tray.

The entire setup jogs my memory of an offset smoker, although one assisted by a fanned temperature-control system. It is much like how pellet grills run too, save that they mechanically feed pellets from their hoppers right into a separate hearth field inside their cooking chambers.

Cooking with the Gravity Sequence

My expertise cooking with the Gravity Sequence 560 was a nice one. After I hearth up my old-school Weber kettle, I normally mild the charcoal in a chimney starter and allow them to burn for 15 minutes earlier than I put them within the Weber. After I’m planning to prepare dinner low and sluggish for barbecue, I make use of the snake technique. This requires stacking briquettes in systematic layers in a semicircle across the kettle’s interior edge. It is efficient, but additionally takes a while to get it going. 

These further steps aren’t vital with the 560. The grill’s charcoal hopper serves as its personal chimney starter. With the hopper full (12 kilos of briquettes), a hearth starter ignited a ample quantity of coals in about 5 minutes. Then I buttoned up the hopper, eliminated two vent consumption slides, and turned the grill on.

Sensors on the lid and hopper doorways inform the fan to spin up when the whole lot is closed. Subsequent I punched in my goal grill temperature, and it is off to the races. Offering I had a correct ignition, the Masterbuilt 560 shortly ramped its inside warmth ranges to the place I wished them. 

For instance, it hit 225 levels Fahrenheit (107.2 C) in 6 to 7 minutes. From there it solely took a couple of minutes extra to leap to 350 levels (176.7 C). The identical is true to succeed in the grill’s most temperature of 700 levels (371.1 C).

Thermocouple readings matched the grill’s inside thermometer.

Brian Bennett/CNET

To get a really feel for the Gravity Sequence 560’s chops, I cooked just a few racks of child again ribs. I set the grill at 225 levels and monitored temperatures with each thermocouple and the Meater wi-fi meat thermometer. Typically, they each matched the grill’s inside temperature sensor.

Ribs smoked within the Masterbuilt Gravity Sequence got here out nicely.

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Whereas I noticed just a few quick spikes, issues typically stayed between 225 and 235 levels for the 5 hours, 36 minute prepare dinner time. I admit that my grumpy household pressured me to crank up the warmth in the previous couple of minutes to make dinnertime.

Ah, child again ribs. A stunning sight.

Brian Bennett/CNET

Subsequent, I fired off two ribeye steaks. For the primary one, I used Masterbuilt’s reverse seared steak recipe equipped by the app. First I flipped the reversible cast-iron cooking grates over to their searing place. Then with the grill’s wired probe, I cooked this steak (at 225 levels) till its inside temp hit 110 levels and set it apart. 

Then I dialed the grill as much as 700 levels. I then seared this steak and one other raw ribeye at excessive warmth till each had inside temperatures of 140 levels. As anticipated, each steaks had a pleasant quantity of sear however the second was inconsistently cooked. 

Steak I cooked within the Gravity Sequence was properly seared.

Brian Bennett/CNET

The primary slab of meat (reverse-seared technique) nevertheless, was sheer perfection. Past tender, it had a caramelized exterior but was way more juicy.

Roasted barbecue hen on the Masterbuilt Gravity Sequence 560.

Brian Bennett/CNET

Lastly, I roasted a spatchcocked hen at 350 levels. I gave it the barbecue therapy, a candy and smoky rub. I threw a bit of pecan smoke wooden into the grill’s ash tray, too, for further oomph. After 1 hour and 19 minutes, I used to be handled to at least one improbable hen. Its pores and skin was crisp whereas its flesh was juicy, with a delightful smoke taste. 

I do have just a few issues although with the 560. The most important one is that it isn’t climate resistant. Basically you’ll be able to’t run it within the rain. For an atypical grill I would not thoughts, however for a smoker that usually wants to finish lengthy cooks spanning a number of hours, it is a problem. Different electrical grills reminiscent of Traeger pellet people who smoke are successfully sealed and insulated from the weather.

The Gravity Sequence was additionally much less environment friendly than my trusty Weber kettle. Whereas the formulation of briquettes has modified through the years, one charcoal snake usually lasts me 7 to eight hours. That is roughly 80 briquettes, or a full chimney starter’s value, to prepare dinner child again ribs for between 5 and 6 hours. The identical job on the Gravity Sequence consumed about three quarters of an eight pound bag, or about 112 briquettes. There are worse sins in barbecuing, actually, however when you’re an lively griller particularly, you are going to need to be sure you have extra charcoal readily available than you usually would possibly.

The decision

I actually loved my expertise with the $500 Masterbuilt Gravity Sequence 560. It grills with excessive warmth, smokes low and sluggish, and the whole lot in between. The 560 additionally conveniently controls its personal pit temperature like a pellet grill, but burns common lump or briquette charcoal. Nearly the whole lot I cooked within the Gravity Sequence 560 got here out tasting fabulously good.

This grill does not make sense for everybody. It is many instances the worth of standard charcoal cookers that may ship meals that is simply as scrumptious with somewhat follow. Nonetheless, for individuals who search an automatic smoker that runs nearly like a Traeger, the Gravity Sequence is a compelling and extra reasonably priced different. Simply strive to not get it moist. 

About the author: SubSellKaro

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