If quality, affordability and versatility are your jam, you’ve got to consider the Weber Smokey Mountain for your backyard. This dedicated smoker from one of the industry’s top leaders really hits the nail on the head for anyone who’s after a great value-for-money barbecue that’s versatile and won’t just putt out after one season.
Ranking as one of the best smokers on the market, and our top pick for the best smoker under $300 (14″ version) this Weber Smokey Mountain review will give you all you need to know to decide if it’s the right smoker for you.
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Table of Contents
Features of the WSM
- Creates competition-worthy barbecue
- High-quality porcelain enameled body that doesn’t warp under high heat
- Available in 3 sizes helping you save on fuel or cook lots of food
- Two cooking grates create flexibility in what you can cook
- Compact vertical design
- Rust-resistant dampers make it easy to control temperature
- Built-in water pan means the meat won’t dry out during long cooks
- Separate fuel door makes it easy to add fuel without having to move the meat
- One of the longest warranties available on the market
- Compatible with the Weber iGrill 2 to add a bit of tech to your cook
Specs - 14", 18" and 22" Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
Barbecue type: Vertical charcoal smoker and grill
Fuel type: Charcoal
Barbecue material: Powder-enameled
Grate material: Plated steel
Cooking capacity: 14″ – 286 sq. in.; 18″ – 481 sq. in.; 22″ – 726 sq. in.
Price guide: $$
Model: 14″ – 711011; 18″ – 721001; 22″ – 731001
Dimensions: 14″ – 31.4″H x 14.7″W x 14.7″D; 18″ – 41″(H) x 19″(W) x 21″(D); 22″ – 48.5(H) x 23(W) x 24(D)
Weight: 14″ – 23lbs; 18″ – 39lbs; 22″ – 68lbs
Warranty: 10 years on bowl and lid, 5 years on plastics and cleaning system, 2 years on remaining parts
Overview of the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
Weber, without a doubt, know how to build a top of the line grill. But, when it comes to branching out to smoking, is the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker actually any good?
This vertical, bullet-shaped adaption of the original, charcoal kettle barbecue has not only built a bit of a cult-like following, but it’s also earned respect among competitive pitmasters around the world.
Don’t be fooled though. The WSM is so simple to use that it’s perfect for anyone and everyone. What’s more, it’s lower-to-mid range price tag makes it super affordable, especially when you consider the number of years and cooks you’ll out of this baby.
In terms of build, the Weber Smokey Mountain features the same high-quality porcelain-enameled body as their iconic charcoal grills. This not only makes it rust resistant, but also easy to clean. Inside there’s two cooking racks, vertically stacked above the charcoal pan, smoke chamber and water pan to stop your meat from drying out.
How to Smoke on the Smokey Mountain
To cook almost anything on a WSM, you’re going to be following/adapting these basic steps:
- Use a chimney starter to get your coals going
- Transfer your coals to the charcoal pan
- Add some wood chunks for flavor (see our guide on the best types of wood for smoking)
- Make sure there’s some water (or other liquid) in the water pan
- Load up your meat
- Adjust the vents until you hit 225°F
- Check the temperature every hour or so and make any adjustments if necessary
- Add extra fuel and water through the separate fuel door on longer cooks
In most weather conditions, you should barely have to touch the dampers to keep the temperature steady for hours. And, if you need a smoker that can handle more extreme weather conditions? The Weber Smokey Mountain is actually perfect.
Yes, the thinner metal doesn’t retain heat as well as chunky ceramic kamados. But, a fairly inexpensive thermo blanket combined with the already efficient fuel usage more than compensates and will allow you to use the WSM in rain, wind and snow.
Can You Grill on a Weber Smokey Mountain?
The Weber Smokey Mountain is a dedicated smoker. Because the fuel chamber is so far away from the cooking grates (to minimize direct heat for smoking), you can’t get it hot enough to grill or sear anything.
But, if you don’t have a separate grill, you can get away with using the WSM at a pinch. Before you light up, simply remove the middle section of the smoker (the piece with the fuel door) then place the cooking grate carefully on the rim of the charcoal chamber. This will keep it steady and close enough to cook over the high heat needed for grilling.
The only downside to this is that there’s no lip for the lid to sit securely on the base piece. It will just balance there. But, you do need to be really careful not to knock the hot lid off. Not ideal, but doable if it’s a once off.
What Size WSM Should I Buy?
When it comes to size, going with the Weber Smokey Mountain means you’ve got choice. There’s a 14″, 18″ and 22″ model offering a modest 286 square inches, moderate 481 square inches or generous 726 square inches of smoking space.
If you’re not sure which one’s right for you, think about the largest cut of meat you’re likely to cook. The smaller models definitely have enough space to cook for a family of 4 plus a few guests. But, if you want to lay a whole brisket or rack of ribs flat, the 22″ diameter will give you the extra width you’ll need.
For a more detailed look at the different WSM sizes, check out our Weber Smokey Mountain 14 vs 18 comparison and our Weber Smokey Mountain 18 vs 22 comparison.
Another thing worth mentioning in this Weber Smokey Mountain review are that it’s compatible with the Weber iGrill 2. This app connected thermometer comes with probes to measure the internal temperature of your meat and sends updates to your phone, giving you that extra piece of feedback for smoked meat that’s hit that perfect sweet spot.
And, because you’re looking at a ‘cue from industry leader, Weber, the WSM also has one of the best warranties around. You get 10 years on the body, 5 years on all the plastics and 2 years on everything else. That, along with it’s super reasonable price is definitely one of the reasons the Weber Smokey Mountain is so popular as an alternative to more expensive kamados and harder to use offsets.
It’s without a doubt, a winner in our backyard!
Pros of the Weber Smokey Mountain
- Durable build backed by long warranty
- Choice of sizes depending on your needs
- Vertical design takes up less ground space
- Double racks = more cooking space
- Built-in water pan negates the need to wrap meat to keep it from drying out
- Porcelain-enameled body retains heat well
- Separate fuel door makes it easy to add more charcoal and wood without moving meat and letting heat out
- Charcoal chamber keeps fuel tightly packed for better fuel efficiency
- Dampers are easy to use making it simple to get the temperature right
- Built-in thermometer is reasonably accurate
- Charcoal grate it thick enough to handle high heat without warping
- Option to use with a heat blanket in really cold conditions
Cons of the Weber Smokey Mountain
- Leaks some smoke around the door which isn’t a major (IMO) but can be fixed easily by fitting a gasket smoker seal
FAQs About the Weber Smokey Mountain
Q. Does the Weber Smokey Mountain come with a cover? Yes.
Q. Can you use the Weber Smokey Mountain with wood only? Yes. No reason why you can’t. It’s easier to get it going using a bit of charcoal but then chunks or small logs work well.
Q. How easy/hard is it to clean the ash out? Super easy. It takes about a minute to take the ash pan off, dump and put it back on.
Q. Can you grill on the Weber Smokey Mountain? It’s not designed to as the charcoal grate is set further away from the cooking racks to create the indirect heat needed for smoking. Some people do remove the middle tube section and balance the cooking grate and lid in there. But, there’s no lip so the lid can fall off easily. Be careful if you decide to do it.
Our Verdict on the Weber Smokey Mountain Review
Weber have not disappointed when it comes to creating a purpose-built smoker from their tried-and-true kettle grill. The quality, ease of use, results and affordability of the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker definitely make this ‘cue stand out when it comes to the top smokers on the market.
Ideal for anyone from beginner to pro, the WSM packs a tonne of punches that’ll see you enjoying next-level-good smoked meats in your backyard for years to come.
You can also check out our article on the best vertical smokers for a comparison of the Weber Smokey Mountain to similar smokers.