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A little over a year ago, I purchased the 22-inch Weber Smokey Mountain and have spent almost every weekend smoking different kind of meats and experimenting. During this time I have really been able to learn what I like and what drives me crazy about this smoker.
I have smoked meat on a variety of different types of smokers, but the Weber Smokey Mountain still remains one of my favorite smokers to use. If you are interested in purchasing a Weber Smokey Mountain, this article will give you an honest and complete review of the Weber Smokey Mountain to help you make your decision.
Weber Smokey Mountain Review: Key Take Aways
Let’s get right to the point, the Weber Smokey Mountain is a great smoker for any skill level; however, it does have its flaws. And while it is a great smoker, this smoker isn’t for everybody. Here is a quick snapshot of what we like about the Weber Smokey Mountain and what we don’t like. Each point will be further discussed later in this article.
What We Like About The Weber Smokey Mountian
- Easy to use
- Great smoke flavor
- 22″ offers cooking area comparable to other smokers on the market
- Holds temperatures very well
- Sleek and cool design
- Comes with cover for storage outside
- Hosts a ton of accessories
- Great customer service
- Can be used as a drum smoker
- Quality material
- Built in water pan to keep food from drying out
- Easy clean up
- Easy to break down for storage or transportation
- Doesn’t take up a lot of room
- Great bang for your buck
- You can use it anywhere
- Available in 3 sizes: 14″, 18″, 22″
- Easy assembly
- Made in the USA
What We Don’t Like About The Weber Smokey Mountain
- My lid dented easily
- Front door leaks smoke and heat
- Not easy to add charcoal mid smoke
- Likes to run hot and hard to bring temperature back down
- Rubber gasket on the side is a pain in the you know what
- Need to manage a fire
- Lack of convenience to get started (not as simple as turn it on and go)
- Uneven heat distribution
- Meat on outer edge of cooking grate will burn
- Second rack is inconvenient to get to during smoke
- 14″ doesn’t offer a lot of cooking area
- Have to fill water pan up while it is in the smoker
- Water pan will get moldy if not cleaned after each use
What is the Weber Smokey Mountain?
First introduced in 1981, the Weber Smokey Mountain, also known as the WSM, quickly became a household favorite. From its affordable price to the quality of the product, there is no question why the WSM has become so popular. Fast forward to today and you will see, that while the WSM hasn’t changed much, it is still one of the most popular smoker brands on the market, and rightfully so.
The Weber Smokey Mountain is a dedicated meat smoker and is designed to cook food at low temperatures over indirect heat for extended periods of times. This allows pieces of meat to completely render making them tender and juicy. Charcoal and wood chunks power this smoker giving meat that sought after smoky flavor.
How Is The Weber Smokey Mountain Configured?
The Weber Smokey Mountain is a vertical style charcoal smoker. The WSM is comprised of three main sections that sit on top of each other.
The Base: Sitting at the very bottom of the Weber Smokey Mountain, you have the base. The base contains a rack and a fire ring which hold your charcoal and wood. The base also has three adjustable vents built in that allow you to control the temperature of your WSM.
The Mid Section: Sitting on top of the base, you have the largest section of the three, the mid-section. This section is a crucial piece in the design of the WSM as this is what separates the fire from the cooking chamber allowing for the low and indirect heat source. Not only does this mid-section distance your meat from the fire, it also houses a water pan which keeps your smoker from cooking too hot.
The Smoking Chamber: Lastly, situated on top, you have the smoking chamber. Two cooking grates are situated here allowing ample space to smoke multiple meats at once. This smoking chamber is topped off with the iconic dome shaped lid with a built-in thermometer.
Pros Of The Weber Smokey Mountain
Alright, enough messing around. It is time to get into the meat and potatoes of this article. After smoking almost every weekend on the Weber Smokey Mountain for a little over a year, here is a comprehensive, but unbiased, list of everything I liked about the Weber Smokey Mountain.
Ease Of Use
The Weber Smokey Mountain’s simple design and quality build, make this smoker quite easy to use for any skill level, meaning even beginners can jump right into it. Using the WSM does require a little more work than a pellet smoker, but managing a fire is made easy on the WSM.
WSM are porcelain enameled allowing them to hold their temperature quite well. Once you get your smoker temperature dialed in, there are usually very few adjustments needed. It is as close as you can get to a “set it and forget it” type smoker without actually getting a pellet or electric smoker.
Furthermore, adjusting the temperature is done by a simple turning of the vents. If your smoker is too hot, simply close your vents down. If you smoker is too cold, open your vents more. This gives you more control over your temperatures.
So while there is a little bit of a learning curve when it comes to managing a fire, overall the WSM requires little input making it beginner friendly and relatively hands off.
When looking at the different types of smokers, each type of smoker is going to give you a different smokey flavor. This is largely due to the type of fuel being used. Burning wood splits is going to produce a much more pronounced and flavorful smoke than wood pellets would.
Because different types of smokers are designed to use different types of fuel, inherently certain types of smokers are going to produce better smoke flavor than others. The Weber Smokey Mountain is one of those! I like to think of the types of smokers on a scale of smoke flavor and ease of use.
|Type of Smoker||Type of Fuel||Smoke Flavor||Ease of Use|
|Electric/Gas Smokers||Electricity or Gas||Least amount||Easiest|
|Pellet Smokers||Wood Pellets||Good Smoke flavor||Easy|
|Charcoal Smokers (WSM)||Charcoal/Wood Chunks||Better Smoke flavor||Moderate|
|Offset Smokers||Charcoal Wood Splits||Best Smoke Flavor||Advanced|
On one end, you have offset smokers that are going to produce the best and most authentic flavors; however, they are also going to be the hardest to use and require constant management of your fire. On the other end, your electric and pellet smokers are going to be incredibly easy to use, but you won’t get the flavor you would in an offset smoker.
The Weber Smokey Mountain is in the middle! It offers great flavor that closely resembles that of an offset smoker, but with the ease of use similar to that of a pellet smoker.
Great Bang For Your Buck
If you have been shopping around for smokers, you will quickly see how expensive smokers can get. You have pellet smokers and offset smokers going for thousands of dollars. That’s insane! The Weber Smokey Mountain, however, is much more affordable.
Weber offers the WSM in 3 different sizes, which at the time of writing this article, are priced at $229, $349, and $459. There aren’t many cheaper smokers on the market than the Weber Smokey Mountain, especially when you look at the quality of the WSM.
As far as getting your money’s worth, the Weber Smokey Mountain is one of the best, if not the best, bang for your buck smoker on the market. There are even pitmaster’s that use the WSM at BBQ competitions! If the professionals are using it then you know its good.
A common problem with cheaper smokers is that they usually lack the quality of materials. Cheaper smokers usually have trouble holding temperatures, deteriorate easily, and leak smoke and heat. That is not the case with the Weber Smokey Mountain.
The WSM is porcelain-enameled which not only protects your smoker from rusting, but also helps it to retain heat. Unlike a lot of cheaper smokers on the market, the WSM is going to hold steady temperatures. And while its not perfect (more on this later), it is a well sealed system reducing the amount of smoke and heat lost.
The WSM is not perfect but is quality smoker that will last you a long time. In fact, I know of several people have, and still use decade old WSM’s.
Keeps Food From Drying Out
The Weber Smokey Mountain is a water smoker meaning that it is designed to be used with a water pan. This water pan not only helps the WSM regulate temperature well, but also helps to keep the cooking chamber humid. This in turn helps prevent meat from drying out while cooking for long periods of time.
Recall the last time you visited the desert. Ever notice how dry your skin was? Low humidity pulls moisture out of meat just like low humidity pulls moisture from your skin. By utilizing a water pan, we are keeping the smoking chamber humid.
While this won’t add moisture to your meat, it will prevent it from drying out. This can be especially helpful for beginners just learning how to smoke meat. This is also one of the main reasons why I recommend using a water pan in a pellet smoker.
Can Be Used As A Drum Smoker
If you are looking at the Weber Smokey Mountain, then you are probably familiar with its main competitor, the drum smoker. The drum smoker is a different style of smoker, but is able to produce some amazing tasting flavors. But what if I told you you could use the WSM as a drum smoker.
Unlike the Weber Smokey Mountain, the drum smoker smokes it meat directly over coals. When fat renders and runs off the meat, it drips directly on to the coals and turns back into smoke. That added flavor allows drum smokers to create some amazing flavors.
By simply removing the water pan, you can turn your smoker into a makeshift drum smoker and achieve the same effect. I was turned on to this idea a few months ago when I was talking to my local pitmaster. He has a few WSM’s almost always cooks without his water pan.
Easy Clean Up & Set Up
Because the Weber Smokey Mountain is such a simple design, it allows for an easy set up and clean up. Straight from the box, it took me less than 30 minutes to get this smoker ready for its first smoke. The initial set up is quick and easy and comes with a detailed manual to help you.
As far as every use, it is not as simple as turning it on and setting the temperature; however, it is still easy. Getting your WSM ready to smoke takes 20-30 minutes and looks something like this
- Light your charcoal and get your fire started in the base of your smoker
- Add your wood chunks
- Place the mid section on the base and fill up your water pan
- Place the cooking grates in and the lid on top
- Wait for your smoker to come up to temperature and the thin blue smoke
- Add your meat and adjust your vents as necessary
Clean up is also a breeze. All the ashes produced from your charcoal are captured in the base. Once I am done with a smoke, I take apart the smoker and dump the ashes in the trash. The base isn’t very heavy and can easily be picked up.
And for the rest of the smoker, the only other clean up necessary is the water pan. If you don’t clean out the water pan after each smoke, it will start to grow mold.
Good Customer Service
When I first received my Weber Smokey Mountain and put it together, I noticed that I was missing the second cooking grate. I emailed Weber support and they shipped me a new one. Not only did it get to my house in a couple days, but they also didn’t give me any trouble getting it or ask any questions. They just took care of my request simply and fast.
And after reading similar experiences online, I can conclude that Weber has good customer service. This doesn’t surprise me to much seeing they are such a large company, but it is nice to know that if something happened, Weber would take care of it.
You Can Use It Anywhere
Because the Weber Smokey Mountain uses charcoal, you can use it anywhere. It is also relatively portable because the WSM is made of 3 sections instead of one large section. I have the 22” WSM, and I have brought it in the back of my car multiple times to group events and my parents house to use.
The Weber Smokey Mountain is easy to store. The WSM is a vertical style smoker which makes it’s footprint small. Its slim and sleek design takes up less room that a pellet smoker or offset would.
In addition to that, Weber also provides you with a cover for your WSM allowing you to protect it from the elements when not in use.
Cons Of The Weber Smokey Mountain
Here is a list of the things that I don’t like about the Weber Smokey Mountain. Some of these are specific to the WSM while others are specific to the type of smoker the WSM is. These are all things I would want to know before deciding if the Weber Smokey Mountain was right for me.
Set Up Isn’t As Easy As Pellet or Electric Smokers
While I love my Weber Smokey Mountain, and I listed easy set up as one of the pros, it is important to know that there are easier smokers to set up. There is a process to getting the smoker ready for use and it is not as simple as turning it on and setting the temperature.
It is not hard per say and only takes about 20-30 minutes; however, there are days when I’m too lazy to go through the process. This also makes it a little hard to smoke during the weekdays. Sometimes due to lack of time or laziness, I wish I had a pellet smoker where I could just push a button and let the smoker do the work for me.
At the end of the day the WSM is going to produce better flavor than a pellet smoker so it really comes down to are you willing to take that extra effort for the better flavor?
Rubber Gasket On The Side Is A Pain
On the side of the Weber Smokey Mountain is a round rubber gasket with slits in it allowing for you to insert thermometers. It is conveniently located below the first cooking grate so it can give you a more accurate temperature reading.
Additionally, the rubber gasket allows you to use Bluetooth thermometers which are left in the cooking chamber during the smoke all while keeping your smoker sealed. So, while this was a great design feature and is extremely useful, the functionality is a little off.
First, the slits in the rubber grommet are very tight (required to keep it sealed tight) and require some force to insert the thermometer, but if you push too hard, the rubber gasket comes out. Likewise, if that rubber gasket comes out, it can be quite difficult and frustrating to put back in. its a really tight fit and requires patience.
Secondly, this makes adding a thermometer in the middle of a smoke almost impossible. The side of the smoker is too hot to touch, and smoke will be billowing out. Now I just leave my thermometers connected to my smoker when not in use, so I don’t have to insert them every smoke.
Hard To Add Charcoal
If you need to add fuel to the Weber Smokey Mountain during a cook, it is very inconvenient. Because the WSM is a vertical smoker, and everything sits on top of each other, you can’t just take apart the smoker to get to the fire box in the middle of a smoke.
To access the fire box in the middle of a smoke, you have to go through the metal door on the front. The problem is that the door is small and located on the side. You can’t simply pour more charcoal into the fire box.
I usually end up adding unlit charcoal by hand which is a minor inconvenience. Adding lit charcoal is a little harder because you don’t want to touch hot coals. The WSM does allow you to add more charcoal during smoker; however, it is a little inconvenient due to the location and access of the fire box.
The Front Door Leaks Smoke & Heat
Everyone talks about the quality of the Weber Smokey Mountain, and they are right. It’s a well built and insulated smoker; however, for whatever reason, Weber decided to put the cheapest and flimsiest door they could possibly find on this smoker.
The main issue with the door is that it just doesn’t sit flush with the smoker. There are gaps between the door and smoker (pictured below) which heat and smoke come out of every time.
The door can also be quite annoying to use. The door isn’t attached to the smoker and is completely removable. Most of the time when I undo the latch to the door the door just comes completely off or sits weird. It can also be a little awkward to get the door to sit back on the smoker.
At the end of the day, this isn’t a huge deal as there are aftermarket doors that fix this problem. It is just an area that Weber can improve upon.
Getting To The Second Cooking Rack Is Inconvenient
In order to give customers plenty of cooking area to use in the Weber Smokey Mountain, Weber had to make the most of the space available. To do this they utilize two cooking grates situated on top of each other doubling the amount of cooking area.
However, to get to the second cooking grate you have to completely remove the top cooking grate. This is inconvenient when you are in the middle of a smoke with meat siting on the top rack. Not only do you have to find a place to set the rack, but you also have to worry about meat falling off.
If you get the largest, this won’t be too much of an issue as most of the time you have enough space on the top rack. I rarely use the bottom rack on my 22″ ; however, if you are someone who is constantly smoking large amounts of meat, this could get annoying very quickly.
Likes To Run Hot And Quite Hard To Bring The Temperature Down
Because the Weber Smokey Mountain is so well insulated, it holds its temperature very well. And from my experience as well as others, it seems that the WSM likes to run hot. You should aim to keep your smoker between 225° F and 275° F. If you are not careful, the WSM can run away from you and cause temperatures well outside of this range.
I have had multiple instances where I had too much lit charcoal in my WSM and I was pushing temperatures of 350° F. I closed down my vents almost completely to try and bring my temperature down, but I just couldn’t get them down. I ended up removing the coals completely and restarting the cooking process.
This is largely user error, but it is important to know that the WSM does like to run hot and if you aren’t careful, your temperatures could run away making it very hard to get them back under control. I have more information about in my recent article, Weber Smokey Mountain Too Hot? 6 Reasons Why!
Temperature Gauge On Top Is Not Accurate
This is a problem for most smokers on the market, but it is still a con. The thermometer on the Weber Smokey Mountain is located on the very top of the dome lid. Look inside the dome lid and you can see the end of the thermometer. The thermometer, like most smokers, is usually off a good 25° F because they aren’t measuring the temperature where the meat is cooking.
This can throw off the timing of your meat when cooking. For the most accurate temperature readings, it is best to record the temperature at grate level where the meat is cooking. This is why you see so many people using Bluetooth thermometers.
Hard To Fill Water Pan Without A Hose
The water pan is a crucial design of the Weber Smokey Mountain and one of the main reasons the WSM is such a great smoker; however, it needs to be filled up while still in the smoker. If you have a hose, this is incredibly easy. Without a hose it gets more difficult.
If you try to fill the water pan up outside the smoker, getting the filled pan back in is a pain. Not only is it heavy, but there is not enough room inside the smoker for you to drop it in with out spilling water. There has been two times where I went to put a filled water pan in the smoker, and I spilt water onto my lit charcoal killing my fire completely.
Again, the easiest way is to use a hose but sometimes you just don’t have access to a hose.
Uneven Temperature In The Cooking Chamber
Most grills and smokers are going to have this problem because it is hard to get a consistent temperature throughout the smoker. In the WSM, different parts of the smoker have different temperatures.
I have found that the lowest temperature is at the very front of the smoker and the temperature progressively increases as you move towards the back of the smoker. Additionally, the temperature at the lower cooking grate is going to be lower than your temperatures on the upper cooking grate.
This isn’t a huge deal, but more something you need to be aware of when smoking. It will take some time to learn the hotspots and understand that some areas will cook meat faster. And again, this isn’t an issue specific to the WSM. Most smokers and grills have their hot spots.
The Edges Of The Cooking Grate Get Direct Heat
The water pan in the WSM acts as a shield from the heat produced below protecting the meat from getting direct heat; however, the water pan leaves a slight gap around the very edge of the smoker where heat can pass. Meat that is left on the very outer portion of the cooking grate will receive this direct heat.
This is only usually a problem when I am smoking a lot of meat at once and my cooking grate is full. I remedy this by periodically moving my meat to prevent burning.
The Lid Dented Easily
While I do think the overall quality of the Weber Smokey Mountain is very good, it is not perfect. I have had an incident that did make me question the durability a little.
During a smoke, I had taken the lid off to do something and set the lid on a chair next to me. Somehow the lid slid off the chair, fell 2 feet, and landed upside down on the handle situated on top of the dome lid.
This impact dented the inside of my lid ever so slightly where the handle attached. While it is still functional, that impact effected the fitment of my lid. Anytime I have to put my lid on, I have to push it into place. I was a little disappointed to see that it didn’t take much for me to dent my lid.
Who Should Buy The Weber Smokey Mountain?
Overall, I have been extremely happy with my WSM and would recommend it to anyone interested in it. After a year of using, it as well as using other types of smokers, I believe the answers to the following questions can help determine if the Weber Smokey Mountain is right for you.
How Hands Off/On Do You Want To Be?
The Weber Smokey Mountain is a great smoker for someone who is ok with being a little more involved in the smoking process. Like mentioned above, while pretty close to a set it and forget it smoker, you do have to manage a fire and will have to make adjustments throughout the smoke.
If you are looking for a true set it and forget it type smoker, one that doesn’t involve much work, you would be better off with either a pellet smoker or an electric smoker. If you are looking for a smoker that is very hands on and requires a lot of attention, you should look at getting an offset smoker. If you want something in between, then the WSM is a great option.
How Important Is Flavor To You?
The WSM is going to be for those who are willing to put in a little work to get better flavor. Offset smokers are going to produce the greatest flavor but also require the most amount of work/management. Pellet smokers are going to be the easiest to use but you will sacrifice some flavor. The WSM is in the middle! Flavor close to an offset and ease of use similar to a pellet smoker.
How Much Versatility Do You Want?
The Weber Smokey Mountain is a dedicated smoker and isn’t going to do anything other than smoke meat. If you are looking for a smoker that does more than smoke meat, the WSM might not be for you. Pellet smokers and Kamado style grills (pictured below) give you the ability to smoke, grill, bake, braise, sear, etc. You can even use them as a pizza oven. These are all things you can’t do on a WSM.
What is Your Budget?
If you are looking for great bang for your buck, the Weber Smokey Mountain might be for you. The WSM is one of the more affordable smokers on the market especially when it comes to the quality. A good pellet smoker, offset smoker, or Kamado style smoker will cost you over $1,000. For what you get with the WSM, its hard to beat the price.
What Size Weber Smokey Mountain Should I Get?
The Weber Smokey Mountain comes in three different sizes, 14”, 18” and 22”. Below is a quick snapshot of the three. And while I personally have the 22” and would recommend it to others, the best size for you comes down to how much cooking area you want.
|Size||WSM 14″||WSM 18″||WSM 22″|
|Cooking Area||286 Sq in||481 Sq in||726 Sq in|
|Weight||23 lbs.||39.1 lbs.||68 lbs.|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||31.4″H x 14.7″W x 14.7″D||41″H x 19″W x 21″D||48.5″H x 23″W x 24″D|
|Price (at the time of writing)||$229||$349||$459|
How much meat do you plan on smoking, which type of meats do you want to smoke, and how many people do you plan on smoking for? These questions will help you to determine how much cooking capacity you need.
When answering these questions, it is best to overestimate. I see it time and time again people don’t think they are going to need bigger and end up wishing they had gone bigger. It is better to go bigger and have the extra space than to go smaller and wish you had more. You never know when you will need the extra space.
For most, the 18” and 22” are going to be your main choices. The 14” is just too small and will restrict you too much. For example, you can’t fit larger cuts of meat like a whole brisket on the 14”. The 14” is better for people who smoke smaller cuts of meat for a few people.
Between the 18” and the 22” it comes down to cooking area. The picture above shows two racks of ribs on the 22″ Weber Smokey Mountain. You can see how much room it takes up.
The 18” is a little too small for me; however, if you rarely smoke multiple meats at the same time or do not regularly smoke large amounts of meat, then the 18” would be a great option; however, chances are that some time into the hobby you are going to want to start doing more.
Ready To Buy The Weber Smokey Mountain?
Ready to buy the Weber Smokey Mountain? You can buy the WSM online from a few different vendors! For the latest pricing, click on the links below.