Grilling On The Weber Smokey Mountain

2 zone cooking method

Meat smokers like the Weber Smokey Mountain are great when it comes to cooking large cuts of meat like brisket and pork butt. It provides low, indirect heat to cook meat which allows the meat to cook slowly and take on smoke flavor.

But what about leaner, smaller cuts like steak, chicken, or burgers. These meats are typically grilled as they do better cooked over intense, direct heat. This allows the meat to sear bringing additional flavor to the meat.

While the Weber Smokey Mountain is a dedicated smoker, with a few adjustments, you can use the WSM as a charcoal grill.  In this article we will go over how to use your Weber Smokey Mountain as a charcoal grill.

How To Set Up The Weber Smokey Mountain To Grill.

The WSM is not meant to be used as a grill, therefore, it is not going to be the perfect set up. With that said, there are two ways you can set up the Weber Smokey Mountain to grill.

The Mini Egg Method

Mini egg method

I like to call this the mini egg as it looks just like an egg when put together. This method is simple because you are essentially only removing the mid-section.

1. Light Your Charcoal

When grilling with charcoal, you are going to want to use an entire chimney full of charcoal. We want our smoker really hot so we can get a good sear. Additionally, I really like to use lump charcoal when grilling on the Weber Smokey Mountain. It burns hotter and cleaner giving me a good sear.

Using a chimney starter, it will take about 15 minutes for your charcoal to be ready.  I highly recommend using a chimney starter to get your charcoal started. They are very affordable and make it so much easier and quicker to get your charcoal started. This chimney starter on Amazon is a great choice!

2. Place Charcoal Into the Base of the WSM

WSM fire ring with charcaol

With our charcoal lit, we can place it in the base of our smoker like we normally would for smoking meat; however, when placing it in the base, you want to place all of the charcoal to one side of the smoker. When placing the charcoal, try to get and even and flat layer across half of the smoker.

This will give us 2 zones in our smoker. One zone directly over the coals, and a second zone off to the side of the charcoal. This is incredibly important as cooking directly over the coals for the entirety of the cook is often too much heat. Doing so can cause you to burn the meat.

3. Place The Cooking Grate On Top Of The Fire Ring

The cooking grate will sit right on top of the fire ring. This doesn’t give you a lot of room between the coals and the meat so you need to keep an eye on your meat. Being this close, to the meat they will sear quickly. This is where the 2-zone method comes into play. We can quickly sear the meat to our desired doneness, then move it to the indirect heat zone to finish cooking without worrying about burning the meat.

pork chops on grill

4. Place The Lid Directly On The Base

The lid is the same diameter as the base of the smoker so it will fit and create a tight seal; however, there is nothing to lock the lid into place. It simply just sits on top of the base. I haven’t had issues keeping the lid in place, but it is not the most secure thing in the world. Just be careful around it as a small bump could make the lid fall off.

5. Leave All Vents Wide Open

When grilling we want the temperatures really high. Leaving the vents open completely will allow the fire enough air to get us those high temperatures.

Grilled Pork chops

The Second Method

The second method of turning your weber smokey mountain into a charcoal grill utilizes the whole smoker. In this method, we are placing the charcoal where the water pan would typically go.

1. Light Your Charcoal

Same as the method above, use a full chimney of charcoal.

2. Place The Charcoal Grate In The Mid-Section

Take the grate that typically holds the charcoal in the base of the smoker, and place it directly onto the tabs that hold the water pan in place.

3. Place The Fire Ring On Top

Place the fire ring on top of the charcoal grate as you normally would.

4. Place The 2nd Cooking Grate

Now instead of placing the charcoal in the fire ring like normal, you are going to want to place the second cooking grate on top of the fire ring. This second grate is where the charcoal is actually going to sit. The fire ring is there simply to bring the charcoal closer to the cooking grate.

5. Add Your Charcoal

With the charcoal lit, add it to the second cooking grate. Again, make sure you are using the 2 zone method and creating a nice even layer of charcoal across half the grate.

6. Place The Cooking Grate And Lid

The cooking grate is going to sit on top of the mid-section as it normally would. Then place the lid on top and grill away. Same as above, make sure you leave all the vents wide open when grilling on the WSM.

Final Thoughts

While not optimal, you can grill on the Weber Smokey Mountain with a few modifications. I wouldn’t replace my grill with the Weber Smoky Mountain, but in a pinch it is possible to grill on it. If you are looking for an affordable charcoal grill, I would highly recommend the Weber Kettle (Amazon link).

Want to know more about the Weber Smokey Mountain? Check out my review of the Weber Smokey Mountain here.

Michael W.

Half of my family lives in Texas and we would visit them often. As a food lover, naturally I fell in love with smoked meat. Smoked brisket and peach cobbler is a staple around where my family grew up and quickly became a favorite of mine. Unfortunately we didn't have good BBQ where I grew up. After enough years, I finally decided to get a smoker so I didn't have to wait for good BBQ until I went to Texas. Getting into a new hobby can be overwhelming. When I first started smoking meat, there was so much conflicting information and so many different styles and techniques that I didn't know where to start. I started this website to help people BBQ better and learn the ropes by sharing my knowledge and experiences.

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