Okay, so you want to buy a Weber Smokey Mountain but you’re not sure what size is right for you? And, it’s an all-important question. You only want to buy one, once. So, making sure it’s big enough for what you need without overshooting it, bumping up that initial expense and gaining yourself slightly higher running costs is worth a thought or two.
In this article, we’ll help you walk through the differences between the different WSM models. We’ll also help you look at three important factors in deciding which size Weber Smokey Mountain is right for you. Here, we’re specifically looking at the two smaller options, the Weber Smokey Mountain 14 vs 18.
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The Quick Version: Weber Smokey Mountain 14 vs 18
With the exception of the ash try design, the Weber Smokey Mountain 14″ and 18″ smokers are practically the same. With a vertical 2 rack, charcoal water smoker design, when you’re choosing between these two, it’s really down to size.
Offering a modest 286 square inches of cooking space, the 14″ Weber Smokey Mountain is ideal for smaller families who are keen to smoke a couple of pork butts for entertaining. It’s also pretty compact and lightweight making it ideal for anyone after a more portable version. And, is our top pick of the best smokers under $300!
The 18″ Weber Smokey Mountain sizes things up to 481 square inches of space. On it you can squeeze smaller racks of ribs laid flat. And, you’ll be able to cater for about double the number of people making it well-suited to larger families, or anyone who’ll be using it for entertaining on the regular.
Either way, both are awesome smokers! You can’t go wrong with either. Generally though, we say unless you want something that’s easily portable, go for the larger 18″. It’ll give you the extra flexibility without costing much more to buy or run.
A Bit About the Weber Smokey Mountain
If you’re looking for info about which size of WSM you should buy, it’s probably pretty safe to say you know what they are and why they’re so good.
But, as a super quick overview, the Weber Smokey Mountain (also known as the WSM), is one of the most popular, dedicated charcoal smokers on the market. Made by one of the industry leaders, Weber, they’re great quality and are sold for a pretty great price, especially when you consider how long one of these barbecues will last you.
The compact vertical design of the WSM makes them really easy to use, pretty fuel efficient and the results you’ll get off of them are second to none.
Regardless of which size you go for, inside, you’ve got 2 vertically stacked cooking grates. Below that is a water pan and a charcoal grate that’s accessed through the large fuel door so you can add more charcoal and wood without disturbing what you’re cooking above.
Overall, the Weber Smokey Mountain is such a solid, all-round smoker that’s suitable for anyone from beginner to expert. Affordable, durable and effective, it’s a great choice for anyone who loves that charcoal smoked flavor.
For more information, read our full review of the Weber Smokey Mountain here.
What Sizes Does the Weber Smokey Mountain Come In?
The size of each Weber Smokey Mountain roughly refers to the diameter of the cooking grates and overall unit.
Just to be annoying, the grates aren’t actually a whole 14 or 14.5 inches. And, the diameter of the whole unit isn’t 14 or 14.5 inches either. It’s close. But, the inch measurements are there to give you a good idea of how much cooking area you’ll get on each models and how big the step up to the next size is.
Here’s an overview:
WSM 14" Cooker
286 square inches
31.4"H X 14.7"W X 14.7"D
WSM 18" Cooker
481 square inches
41"H X 19"W X 21"D
WSM 22" Cooker
726 square inches
48.5"H X 23"W X 24"D
What Are The Differences Between the WSM 14 and 18?
The first is obviously the size.
The WSM 18″ is larger so it holds more meat and also uses more charcoal to heat the larger cooking area. The whole unit is also heavier and takes up more space outside.
The second difference, that’s not discussed as often, is that the 14″ model doesn’t have an external ash pan like the 18″ model has. This means that in the smaller version, the ash simply collects at the bottom of the bowl and needs to be emptied once you’ve finished smoking and the barbecue has cooled down.
On the larger 18″ model, the ash drops out of a hole in the bottom of the bowl and collects on the tray you can see in the images. You can brush it away while the smoker is on but usually, it’s not necessary mid-cook.
Does the different ash tray affect performance?
Not really. Because the 14″ model uses less charcoal, it produces less ash so we’ve never found that the amount of ash is significant enough to affect burning and heat. The ash tray is converted to external on the larger model because it does need it for optimal performance.
So, What Size Weber Smokey Mountain Should I Get?
What size Weber Smokey Mountain is right for you pretty much depends on 3 things:
- How much space do you need to cook? And, do you want to cook large cuts?
- Do you want your smoker to be portable?
- And, how much do you want to spend?
Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail.
Offering 286 square inches of cooking space divided between 2 racks, the 14″ Weber Smokey Mountain is best suited to people who want to cook smaller quantities of meat.
At any one time, you can fit 2 pork butts on the 14″, 2 chickens, or, 3-4 short racks of ribs (you might be able to fit more if you’re using a rib rack). That should cater for at least 4-6 people, potentially more if you use the pulled pork for tacos or something that’s served alongside other food.
But, keep in mind that because the cooking grates are just under 14″ in diameter, you simply won’t fit whole racks of ribs or a whole brisket. There’s nothing stopping you from cutting them down to fit. But, just be aware that you will need to do that with larger cuts of meat.
The wider racks will accommodate smaller racks of ribs laid flat. You’ll still struggle to fit a whole brisket. But, if you get creative and drape it over a chunk of wood or a small bowl, you might get it in there without having to chop a brisket in half.
Regularly, you’ll fit 4 smaller pork butts, chickens or up to 4-6 smaller racks of ribs on the WSM 18″. That means you should comfortably be able to feed 8-10 people from a single smoke.
Small turkey’s can be done too by removing the top rack and just cooking it on the bottom one.
Both the Weber Smokey Mountain 14″ and 18″ models are reasonably portable. They both break into 3 sections; the base with legs, the middle, and, the lid. So, broken down either can fit in the back of a car pretty easily. And, at 23 and 39 pounds respectively, neither are that heavy to move around.
In saying that, if portability is one of the major things that attracted you to the WSM, the 14″ model is considerably smaller and lighter. It will be easier to fit into smaller space in an RV and is easier to carry further if you’re car camping and want to set up a bit further away from where you’ve parked.
Of course the last thing that ties into your decision on which size Weber Smokey Mountain to buy is budget.
When looking at the prices, keep in mind that this is a barbecue that should last years and years. If you think you’ll need more cooking space as your family grows or you start entertaining more, spending a little more now could save you in the long run as you shouldn’t have to fork out again for a larger ‘cue a couple of years on.
Click on the links below to check the latest price of the Weber Smokey Mountain on Amazon.
Our Verdict on the Weber Smokey Mountain 14 vs 18
With 286 square inches of cooking space, the 14″ Weber Smokey Mountain is a good sized smoker to cook for at least 4-6 people. At a low, low, low price, it’s affordable, durable and does a great job of smoking for smaller families or groups.
The 18″ Weber Smokey Mountain has almost double the space with 481 square inches. It’s a great mid-sized option that’s still exceptional value and is wide enough that it can just accommodate smaller racks of ribs laid flat. You’re looking at being able to feed at least 8-10 adults from one smoke.
But, regardless of which size option you go for, the WSM is a great buy that turns out competition-quality meats relatively easily. You can be confident it’s going to serve you and your family well for years to come. And, it’s got an impressive warranty to match!