I tested the Masterbuilt AutoIgnite Series 545 BBQ and its automated controls make it a hassle-free option for even BBQ novices

If you're a barbecue enthusiast or you just love a spot of outdoor cooking, the Masterbuilt AutoIgnite Series 545 is a great choice

masterbuilt autoignite series 545 in front of a wall of ivy
(Image credit: Future)
Ideal Home Verdict

The Masterbuilt AutoIgnite 545 is a great smoker and grill and the automated control features make it super reliable for long smoke sessions. You just have to bear with the time and effort it takes for the initial assembly.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Easy to use

  • +

    Easy to clean

  • +

    Wide range of cooking settings

  • +

    Automated temperature control

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Set-up is on the difficult side

  • -

    Does not come with outdoor protection cover

  • -

    Wi-Fi connection unreliable

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When it comes to barbecuing, Masterbuilt has a name synonymous with innovation and its latest offering, the AutoIgnite Series 545, is full of fancy automated features to make cooking outdoors easier.

As someone whose other half follows the latest trends in grilling technology very closely, I couldn’t wait to review this new release in our garden.

From its auto-ignition system to the robust build quality, each of its features is designed to make outdoor culinary adventures hassle-free, whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or a weekend griller.

Without further ado, I’ll take you through the features and performance of the AutoIgnite Series 545, exploring how it stands out from some of the best BBQs around.

Masterbuilt AutoIgnite Series 545 product specs

masterbuilt auto ignite bbq front view on a white background

(Image credit: Masterbuilt)
  • Type: Charcoal
  • Dimensions: W118cm x H111cm x D61cm
  • Cooking Dimensions: 3516 cm2
  • Weight: 59kg
  • Colours: Black body
  • Temperature Indicators: LCD
  • Temperature Range: from 120 - 345°C
  • Features: QuickStart Automatic Ignition, Internal charcoal MiniHopper, WiFi technology, DigitalFan™, Masterbuilt App, Enclosed bottom cabinet for storage, Removable ash pan, 2 side shelves
  • Accessories Included: Warming rack, Removable QuickSear™ griddle

How I tested

profile picture of Jenny McFarlane
Jenny McFarlane

Jenny McFarlane joined the Ideal Home team as Senior Digital Editor in 2023 following a couple of years working across sister brands Real HomesHomes & GardensLivingetc and Gardeningetc. As part of Ideal Home's commitment to how we test products we recommend, I tested this BBQ over several weeks and tried a variety of food and product functions.

Unboxing, assembly and first impressions 

The barbecue was delivered in a large cardboard box on a wooden pallet. The box was bulky and heavy and needed 2 people to carry. The packaging was robust with internal cardboard boxes and polystyrene to prevent damage. There were lots of small parts in different packages, which needed to be sorted and organised before assembly.

The set-up was in a word; complicated. I’d say altogether it took me about 3 hours to assemble fully. The body of the grill unit is completely separate, so you need to attach legs, handles grill rack, firebox control unit and shelves, however, I will say the assembly instructions were excellent, with step-by-step images for each stage.

The Masterbuilt AutoIgnite 545 bbq unboxed on a patio

(Image credit: Future)

One problem I did find was that the location of some of the bolts made it awkward to place the screw, then position the screwdriver to tighten it up. I built this barbecue by myself, but if doing it again I would make sure I had a helper for some of the more awkward steps.

The setup and seasoning were pretty straightforward. Once the assembly was completed the initial heat up and seasoning of the grills was easy, and it was ready to cook the same day. Setting up the Wi-Fi and installing the app was simple too.

Part of the Masterbuilt AutoIgnite 545 bbq on a dining table

(Image credit: Future)

What is it like to use?

This grill is not a traditional charcoal grill layout, with grate and coals below the grill. There is a firebox to the right of the grill and this is loaded with charcoal and smoke wood chunks (if desired).

The firebox is lit from below by the igniter function, then the onboard fan moves air over the coals to circulate heat (and smoke) and uses changing airflow to control the temperature.

Masterbuilt Ignite 545 igniter drawer

(Image credit: Future)

I was really impressed with how quickly the grill reached the smoking temperature and how accurately the control system maintained the set temperature. We did several long smokes of ribs, brisket and pork shoulder and they all turned out great.

They needed very little checking, and I was able to monitor grill and meat probe temperature remotely using the Masterbuilt app on my phone.

Masterbuilt AutoIgnite 545 hoper with charcoal

(Image credit: Future)

The smoked meats turned out great, and you really noticed the benefit of a well-controlled constant temperature compared to other smokers in the tenderness and moistness of the meat.

Another plus is that this is a very efficient smoker and it only requires a few kilograms of charcoal for a four to five-hour smoke, as well as a few large chunks of smoke wood.

belly ribs with meat probe on the Masterbuilt Ignite 545 grill

(Image credit: Future)

When operating as a grill for steaks, chicken or burgers it performed well too. Because the coals aren’t directly below the grill you need to wait to get the cast iron grill up to temperature and you will get really nice grill marks on your meat.

Just remember to close the grill lid.

belly ribs cooking on the Masterbuilt AutoIgnite 545 grill

(Image credit: Future)

On the downside this grill requires a mains connection to operate, so if you haven’t got an outdoor socket you will need to trail an extension lead out the door or window.

Also, I had some problems with the Wi-Fi connection dropping in and out. It doesn’t come supplied with a cover, so unless you are storing it indoors, you will definitely need one.

Due to the shape of the grill and shelves you need to get the Masterbuilt cover, available at places like Appliances Direct, which are specifically designed for these grills.

What's it like to clean?

Cleaning is easy. The fix box method makes sure almost all coals are burnt down to ash, so you just need to remove the ash drawer once cooled and dump the ashes.

The cast iron grills can be scraped with a wire brush after cooks, and if desired are small and light enough to be removed and washed in the sink or dishwasher.

How does it compare to similar BBQs?

Compared to other smokers the Masterbuilt is so simple to use and gets up to temperature super fast. You might notice slightly less smoke flavour compared to using a Kamado or offset smoker like the CharBroil Professional 3400.

As a grill, it is as good as most charcoal barbecues. Its reliable temperature control and the offset firebox mean there is less risk of burning when grilling.

Should you buy the Masterbuilt AutoIgnite 545?

Overall, the Masterbuilt AutoIgnite 545 is a great smoker and functions well as a grill too.

It is easy to use and clean and the automated temperature control, meat probes and remote monitoring are great for managing long cooks without having to constantly check the grill.

On the downside, the initial assembly and set-up was a project in itself, and the Wi-Fi was unreliable with connections dropping in and out. And if you are storing outdoors you really need to buy the Masterbuilt cover to go with it as it sadly doesn't come included.

Jenny McFarlane
Senior Digital Editor

Jenny is Senior Digital Editor and joined the team in 2021, working across Ideal Home, Real Homes, Homes & Gardens, Livingetc and Gardeningetc. Since getting on the property ladder, her passion for interior design and gardening has taken on a new lease of life. She loves collecting and salvaging unique items (much to her other half's despair) but sniffing out stylish home bargains is her one true love. When she has a spare minute, she loves crafting, having studied textiles at university – although she hardly gets the chance with her daughters keeping her permanently on her toes.