If you love an authentic smoke flavor from a charcoal grill, the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 might be a good choice for you. Unlike other charcoal grills, this one is easy to use, and it switches between being a grill and a smoker with the swapping of the grill grates!
Meet the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560
The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 model number MB20040220 is a gravity-fed charcoal grill and smoker. Unlike other charcoal units, it keeps a steady temperature with very little effort from you, plus it’s so easy to use, even a beginner can get perfect results. It is also designed for your safety and has some handy features for your comfort.
It offers 560 square inches of cooking area which means you can grill a great lunch for your family and then in the afternoon, set the unit to smoking tomorrow’s dinner.
With a large hopper that holds 16 pounds of briquettes and a controller that is enabled for WiFi and Bluetooth, you’ll be able to create your smoky masterpieces without babysitting.
Like most mid-priced grills, this unit is constructed of a thinner metal. But if the metal was extremely solid the price would be much higher. The reversible grates are constructed of porcelain-coated cast iron for durability and easy cleaning. This grill should last 5 years or more if it is looked after.
The charcoal is fed from the top of the hopper to the burn area at the bottom using gravity. As the lower coals turn to ash, gravity will allow more coals into the fire. The hopper has sturdy clasps on its lid at the top and the access door at the bottom; those are the orange things. When those clasps are properly sealed, no new oxygen can enter and the only place for the heat and smoke to go is into the cooking chamber.
If you love using wood pellets, sorry but they are not suitable for the Gravity Series. They will fall through the charcoal grate; the gaps in the grate are big enough for the ash to fall through but not most of the coals.
This grill is designed to use lump charcoal or briquettes plus wood chunks about the size of a fist.
This video shows what is going on inside the hopper.
The heat is generated in the bottom of the hopper is moved to the manifold under the cooking area by an intelligent fan. The manifold then ensures that the heat is evenly distributed.
The Gravity Series 560 gets very hot, of course, and it has some thoughtful safety elements for your protection.
The main lid switch confines the temperature to a maximum of 500F when it is open. If the temperature set is less than 500F, it will hold that heat level.
The hopper lid switch and the ash door switch work together to prevent the stack of charcoal in the hopper from burning up. The fan blows air into the hopper to keep the charcoal burning, and if extra oxygen is pushed into it when you open the door this could create a chimney effect. For this reason, whenever you open either the hopper or the ash bucket doors, the internal fan pauses.
Other Comfort Features
- A timer that can count down or count up, depending on what you prefer
- Finger holes for lifting the cooking grates
- A lower shelf of expanded metal for storage
- 3 Knobs for hanging your tongs and tools at the side
Charcoal smokers have a reputation for requiring a lot of babysitting. Lots of playing with dampers and vents and testing the temperature.
Well, there are no dampers in this unit. There is no need because it is designed to maintain your chosen temperature once you’ve got it going.
There is an intelligent internal fan that is dedicated to keeping a steady temperature. It controls the airflow between the hopper and the cooking area, meaning no vent adjustment is required by you.
A big advantage is that the digital fan will respond quickly to any adjustments you make to the temperature, either up or down. It’ll get to 225F in about 8 minutes, 450F in about 10 minutes, and up to the maximum of 700 in about 14 minutes. Once it’s in operation, it’ll take about 10 minutes to reset the heat level, so you’re in charge of whether it’s set at cooking level or the intensity of a sear!
The temperature is selected with the controller unit along with cooking time, meat probe data, and countdown or count-up timer. In the image below you can also see the probe ports on the left and the on/off button in the middle.
There is an inbuilt thermometer in the lid for you to keep track at a glance. Although this is a nice addition, reminding me of older smokers, if you need to know the current temperature, you can check your controller.
If you’d really love an exact temperature reading from the lid, there is an upgraded lid thermometer available.
The supplied internal meat probe will ensure that the food is cooked to the correct temperature and ready to be served. There is room for 3 more meat probes, each with their own dedicated port.
The main smoke source is via the charcoal hopper. You can add a wood chunk every 2 inches or so at the time that you’re adding the briquettes.
If you’d like even more smoke, you could put a couple of wood chunks in the ash bucket under the hopper. Larger pieces of lit charcoal will fall through the grate, supplying embers. The wood chunks will flame up and provide more smoke.
There is no water pan included with this unit. But you could place a flameproof container of liquid on the grate with your meat.
Seasoning The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560
Don’t plan on using the grill immediately because this will take a few hours. Seasoning is something you can do every now and then to prevent rust.
- Fill the hopper with charcoal to between 25% to 50% full.
- Start the grill and set the temperature to 250F for 60 minutes.
- Increase the temperature to 400F for 30 minutes.
- Shut down the grill.
- Allow the unit to cool down completely.
- Using a clean cloth, rub a light coat of cooking oil on both grates, both racks, the charcoal grate and the inside of the lid and body.
- Start the grill again at 350F, leave for 30 minutes.
- Once again, shut the grill down and allow it to cool completely.
- Ready to grill!
Ease Of Use
This charcoal smoker is easy to use; now those phrases don’t normally go together! This unit practically looks after itself. And it’s happy to tell you all about it via the app.
How To Use The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560
- Open the door under the hopper and shake give the charcoal grate a shake to make sure that the ash from the last cook is passed down to the bucket.
- Remove the shutdown slides from between the hopper and the cooking chamber. The larger upper is the “heat intake” slide and the lower smaller one is the “air intake” slide; they are known collectively as the shutdown slides. These slides regulate airflow. When they’re in place, no air is getting to the fire, so guess what, the charcoal won’t light if you forget to take them out!
- Spray the grates with cooking spray or olive oil spray.
- Add charcoal to the hopper. If you’re adding wood chunks add a chunk every 2 inches or so.
- Add a couple of wood chunks to the ash bucket.
- Decide which grates you need and adjust as required.
- There is a slot above the ash bucket about 2.5 inches wide immediately below the charcoal grate. Place a fire starter into the slot and push it in.
- Make sure the lids and doors are all open to allow a flow of oxygen.
Light the fire starter from the bottom with a grill lighter or a wad of burning paper. If you’re using the paper method, you can throw the burning wad into the ash bucket for safety after lighting.
- When the fire is lit and you can see smoke, close the lids and door.
- Using the controller, set the temperature and time.
- While you allow the grill to heat up you can get your food ready.
- If you’re using the app, you can monitor the cook from your mobile phone. If you’d prefer to keep an eye on the smoker’s progress yourself, you can completely ignore the Bluetooth and Wifi features.
- When the cook is finished, turn off the controller and ensure the lids and the door are closed.
- Make sure to replace the shutdown slides, otherwise you’ll waste the charcoal that was left over.
Flexibility Of The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Digital Charcoal Grill + Smoker
The Gravity Series 560 has got you covered! Just by switching the reversible grates, this grill becomes a smoker!
The cooking area is 560 square inches in total and is made up of the two smoke/sear grates and two removable warming racks.
You can comfortably fit 8 chickens or 4 racks of ribs or 37 sausages or 21 burgers. Certainly enough for a hungry family!
The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 grate dimensions are 11 inches wide and 14.5 inches deep for each of them. This gives 320 inches of cooking area. The warming racks are 22.244 inches wide and 5.394 inches deep. This adds 240 inches to the cooking area, giving a total of 560.
As you can see in the image below, you have some choices where you place your upper warming or indirect heat racks. They can be placed at the back of each height, or they can be both placed on the same level for a big piece of meat.
If you’d like to have some extra space in reserve, you can purchase an additional set of upper racks, giving you an extra 240 inches of cooking space. Each level will have 2 full racks, as in this image:
The overall dimensions of this grill are 54.13 wide and 24.65 inches deep, and it stands 51.97 inches high.
The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 weight is 147 pounds, so portability is not a feature. However, it has two 8-inch locking wheels on the right-hand side and two 3-inch casters on the other side.
Assembly of The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560
Assembling the unit is pretty straightforward according to customer experience, but leave a couple of hours because there are a lot of parts. It’s a good idea to have someone available to help you with the unboxing and assembly.
The tools needed for the assembly are:
• Phillips head screwdriver
• Adjustable wrench
• 19mm socket wrench
Very helpfully, the hopper arrives already attached to the grill body.
The main assembly required is for the accessories, such as the cart and the shelves. The diagrams in the instruction manual of the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 are better than average, although I think it could do with a table of contents.
A lot of the parts destined for the inside of the grill are coated in oil to protect them from rust. Maybe consider setting down a tarpaulin or paint sheet when unboxing. Plus, this oil needs to be burned off before using the grill for food, so make sure you do your seasoning!
Cleaning The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560
- Turn the power off at the controller.
- Re-insert the shutdown slides.
- Wait until the grill is completely cooled down.
- The sear and smoke grates in the main cooking area are cast iron and can be scraped like any other grill grates. Scrape both sides of the sear and smoke grates.
- The warming racks above the cooking area are porcelain-coated, so they can be cleaned with warm water and mild dish detergent.
- Remove the grill grates to reveal the heat manifold.
- Scrape the manifold.
- Remove the grease tray, empty it, and clean it with warm water and mild dish detergent. The grease tray is at the lower front.
- Slide out the bottom tray from the rear of the unit and scrape it off.
- Spray the grill grates and manifold with cooking oil to act as a re-seasoning.
- The ash bucket is accessed by the door under the hopper and makes emptying the ash very easy. Tap or shake the charcoal grate to knock all remaining ash into the bucket.
- Remove the ash bucket, empty it.
- Before replacing the ash bucket, wipe out any residue in the bucket compartment.
- The hopper doesn’t require emptying because any remaining charcoal will be saved for the next cook. No wastage!
- The exterior of the grill can be wiped with a damp cloth.
- Replace the cover, store the grill in a sheltered dry place.
Storing The Gravity Series 560
The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 is an outside grill but it appreciates a cover because it does not take kindly to being in the weather. An enclosed or sheltered dry spot would suit it best to keep the charcoal from getting damp and of course, the electrical control panel doesn’t do well if it’s wet.
Masterbuilt Gravity Series Troubleshooting
Temporary Lining In The Firebox
Your Masterbuilt GS 560 will arrive with a stainless-steel liner in the lower section of the hopper. Its only purpose is to hold the firebrick in place during shipping. It is designed to disintegrate gradually after the first burn. The residue will fall into the ash bucket.
The food-grade ceramic firebrick will then be exposed and will harden with use.
The Display Says That The Grill Is Open But It’s Not
Even though it looks like all the doors are closed, they might not be quite closed. Open and reclose the main lid. You can also try pressing the lid safety switch a few times; it may be stuck. It’s at the front on the right-hand side.
The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Fan Is Not Working
The fan won’t work if the grill thinks that the hopper lid or door is open. This is for your safety. Open the hopper lid and press the safety switch a few times and then latch it firmly. If the fan doesn’t come on, do the same with the hopper door.
Ensure that you’ve set the temperature, otherwise the fan will not come on.
During the cook, the fan will turn off and on depending on what the cooking chamber needs to keep a steady temperature.
The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 App
Masterbuilt has an optional free app available that will allow you to control and monitor the temperature of the cook. It will also communicate various areas if it determines that certain conditions exist.
There are very mixed customer reviews concerning the apps. Some say it works as it should, some say that opening the lid of the grill causes the app to disconnect.
In short, the app is not yet perfect and it’s a good idea to still physically check your grill from time to time.
Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Error Codes
If you’re using the app, it may communicate certain situations with error codes. These errors are Err 1, Err 2, and Err 5 relate to the meat probe and its temperature, Err 3 warns about the grill overheating, and Err 4 warns that ignition didn’t work. Here is a summary of the codes, what they mean, and what to do.
The warranty is for 1 year, which is less than other units.
Does The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Provide Value For Money?
For less than $1,000 with the versatility to be a grill or smoker plus being so easy to use, we think this is value for money.
Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Summary
What’s Nifty About The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560?
- Versatile – Unique design to allow grilling or smoking, just switch the smoke/sear grates over
- Holds steady temperature – the intelligent internal fan monitors and maintains the cooking temperature
- Wide temperature range – this unit can go as low as 100F for smoking and up to 700F for searing and pizza plus temperatures in between for grilling
- Fast heating up (and down) – there is no hanging around waiting for the temperature to update; the time it takes to heat up provides just the right time to prepare your food
- Charcoal can be added without letting heat out of cooking area – no heat or smoke will escape if you need to add more charcoal; keep in mind you need to reload when the temperature is less than 250F.
- Controller enabled for Bluetooth and WiFi – thanks to the app, the controller can speak to your phone and keep you up to date with the progress of the cook
- 4 Temperature probe ports – no more squashing the probe wires under the lid and there are 4 of them! Love it. One probe is included with the grill. The size of the meat probe plug is 3.5mm. It is a standard aux (auxiliary) style connection.
- Easy to light – this unit is lit using a fire starter and the charcoal is fed by gravity
- Easy cleanup – there is an ash bucket and a grease tray, both easily removed, no need to empty the hopper because the charcoal is saved for the next cook
- Safety features – when the hopper lid or door are opened, there are switches that turn the fan off to avoid a sudden rush of oxygen and subsequent flare-up plus, when the main lid is open, the temperature is adjusted to 500F for your safety, and then it returns to your set temperature when the lid is closed
What’s Not So Nifty About The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560?
- Needs to be situated near an electrical outlet – yes, this is a charcoal grill, but the controller and the internal fan required electricity; this is not a blackout grill
- Power cord connection is fragile – the connection to the controller is a soldered join and it needs to have the tension relieved to stay attached. When you’re packing up the unit, disconnect the power cord before storing it to protect the join. Consider using zip-ties to hang the power cord under the unit to take the strain off the cord.
- Not suitable for small spaces – this unit is 54.13 x 24.65 inches and although it has wheels, it’s not what I would call portable
- Short warranty – this length of the warranty is not unusual among the other grills on the market, but it is quite short
How Could The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Be Improved?
Any improvements would increase the cost, of course. Having said that, a more robust power connection would be appreciated.
The performance of the app has mixed reviews, but, as with all apps, this is an ongoing project.
Who Is The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 For?
This grill smoker combo is for someone who wants an easy way to produce a smoky feast for the family. No more cursing at the smoker because it won’t stay at the right temperature. It’s like a pellet grill, but better.
+ 2 Warming Racks
or 10 Pounds Lump Charcoal
- Holds steady temperature
- Wide temperature range
- Fast heating up (and down)
- Charcoal can be added without letting heat out of cooking area
- Controller enabled for Bluetooth and WiFi
- 4 Temperature probe ports
- Easy to light
- Easy cleanup
- Safety features
- Needs to be situated near an electrical outlet
- Power cord connection is fragile
- Not suitable for small spaces
- Short warranty
Optional Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Accessories
Tips For Best Performance Of Your Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560
- When you’re setting up for each cook, remember to remove the two shutdown slides to allow airflow.
- Tap or shake the charcoal grate to release the ash from the last cook into the bucket.
- As you add the charcoal, add a wood chunk for every couple of inches for your favorite smoky taste.
- For even more smoke, add a couple of wood chunks to the ash bucket.
- If you like to add a water pan, a flameproof container such as a foil tray can be placed on the grate with the food; there is no designated water pan.
- Wear your BBQ gloves to reload charcoal during the cook; the hopper will be hot!
- Be gentle with the power cord, try to give it some slack, and always disconnect it before winding it around the cord wrap.
Contacting The Manufacturer
Submit a form on the Masterbuilt “Contact Us” page. You can include images of your smoker to show your problem. Please note that your unit needs to be registered before sending your query.
Alternatively, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at (706) 256-3943.
We like this grill a lot. In return for gentle treatment and care, it will give you hassle-free charcoal-cooked meals.
Should You Buy The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560?
This is not for someone who is looking for a griddle. Only the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 includes a griddle. This unit needs some serious space, and it needs somewhere dry to keep it to extend its lifespan. This is a “plug and play” charcoal grill and smoker, so it won’t need any tinkering with the vents or temperature, so if you enjoy doing this, another charcoal grill might suit you better.
What About Other Models Of The Masterbuilt Gravity Series?
If the Masterbuilt GS 560 isn’t big enough for your family’s needs, or if you’d really like a griddle, maybe one of the other Gravity Series grills would suit you.
If you’d like to see more about how they all contrast, you can have a look at our comprehensive Gravity Series comparison article. For now, here are the fundamental differences among the Gravity Series models.
|Feature||Gravity Series 560||Gravity Series 800||Gravity Series 1050|
|Grill, Smoker||Grill, Smoker, Griddle||Grill, Smoker|
|What It Looks Like|
Temperature Range (F)
|Cooking Capacity||8 chickens or|
4 racks of ribs or
37 sausages or
|12 chickens or |
6 racks of ribs or
57 sausages or
|17 chickens or |
7 racks of ribs or
67 sausages or
|Cooking Surface |
(W x D x H Inches)
|54.13 x 24.65 x 51.97||30.5 x 55.1 x 50.9||61.02 x 33.07 x 52.17|
|Lower Shelf||Expanded Metal||Solid|
With Imprint For
Manifold Not In Use
|Warming Racks||2 Removable Half Racks |
With Extra Racks Available
|2 Foldaway Racks|
No Need To Remove
|2 Foldaway Racks|
No Need To Remove
|Inner Walls||Aluminized Steel|
Some Sections Double
|Lower Front||Lower Front||Left-Hand Side|
|Tool Rack Style||3 Knobs||3 Knobs Plus|
|3 Knobs Plus|
How Does The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Stack Up Against Similarly Priced Smokers?
If you miss being able to use wood pellets, maybe one of these would suit you.
|Smoker Name||Smoker||Hopper Capacity (Pounds)||Cooking Surface (Square Inches)||Weight (Pounds)||Footprint |
(W x D x H Inches)
|18||575||124||41 x 27 x 53|
|22||811||132||42 x 30 x 49|
Wishing you sunny smoking days!
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- Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Review - February 12, 2022