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The Weber Smokey Mountain smoker (WSM) is a charcoal smoker that has won the praise of users far and near and it is much deserving. I have the 22.5 inch version but there is also a smaller unit that is only 18 inches in diameter if you are wanting something a little smaller.
This smoker takes everything that is wrong with most other bullet water smokers and comes out of the box ready to run like a champion even if you are an amateur smoker enthusiast.
Many smokers in this category must be heavily modified to make them work as they should including drilling holes in the charcoal pan, adding on a suitable temperature guage, and even moving legs and other components from where they were originally designed to be.
This smoker comes out of the box, requires very little assembly and can be in use in a very short time. If I sound like I really like this smoker, it's because I do.
I have done everything from chicken to brisket to ribs in this unit and it just does an absolutely fantastic job even on those things that require 16-18 hours to cook.
In these instructions, I want to show you how to get started by adding charcoal, lighting it and maintaining the target temperature.
How to Use the Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker
Add lump charcoal to the charcoal bowl then place a piece of firestarter down in the center of the charcoal and light.
Let the fire go for about 5-7 minutes then place the middle section on top of the charcoal bowl or bottom section. I usually pile a little of the charcoal around and over the flame to help it catch better.
Fill the water pan with about 2 gallons of cold water then right when you place the food on the grate, place a stick of wood or 4-6 fist sized wood chunks on top of the charcoal in close proximity to the center.
Place the lid on the smoker.Once the temperature guage is reading about 200 degrees close the access door and adjust the bottom vents to half closed.
Once the temperature climbs to 225 close the vents to about 1/4 open and further adjust as needed to maintain your target temperature. I usually recommend keeping it between 225-240 for almost all smoking.
As you can see here, at grate level it is 225 degrees but in the dome it is still only showing around 200 degrees. Once the smoker has been going for a bit, it will stabalize and the temperature will even out.
My favorite meat thermometer is the Maverick ET-732.. it's remote and has dual probes. One is for the smoker temperature and one is for the meat. You can carry the receiving unit with you all over the yard and you always know what's going on in the smoker.
I usually end up finally setting the bottom vents to about 1/8 open to maintain 225 degrees with the top vent about 1/2 open at all times. It will maintain this temperature for several hours.
If after several hours the temperature starts to drop, this usually means that ash is building up on the coals. A good solid kick to one of the legs will usually make the ash drop down and the temperature will once again come up and stabalize at around 225 degrees.
Be sure to keep a close eye on the water and add more as needed to keep the water pan full. I usually have to add water about every 4 hours or so.
Keep it Clean
I recommend wiping down the outside of the smoker with a little glass cleaner and a paper towel after each use to keep it nice and shiny. I have had mine for several years and you can see that it looks almost as good as the day I bought it.
I also take a minute or two to brush the grates once I remove the food and while it still hot. Spray a little water on the grates while they are still hot to create steam and help release the tough stuff.
Doing this at the end of the cook instead of at the beginning of the next one will save you a ton of work and you'll find that you like the smoker already being clean for the next time you get ready to use it.
Every once in a while when I dump the ashes out, I will spray the charcoal bowl out with a water hose and brush it lightly to remove anything that's stuck to the inside.
I also recommend keeping a cover on the smoker when it's not in use. Mine came with a heavy duty cover that is rain proof and even in heavy rains, it keeps the water out of the smoker. I have been impressed with the quality of the cover in that has barely faded in the sun and is still keeping the rain out as good as the day I got it. That's been more than 2 years ago.
I have not done any major modification to this smoker since it works so well right out of the box. The only thing I have noticed from day one is that the access door does allow air to get in and this prevents me from having complete control of the airflow in the smoker.
To correct this situation, I went to my local Big Green Egg dealer and purchased a new felt liner. This stuff is fire retardant, about 1/8 inch thick and about 3/4 inch wide. I bought the one for the XL since I wanted to have plenty but the Medium would probably be enough.
I taped off the area around the door except for about 1 inch from the edges. I then sprayed Super 77 spray adhesive around the door and cut pieces to fit as seen in the picture. This created a near-airtight fit for the access door and I can now completely control the airflow using the bottom and top vents.
As it turns out, I later realized that I did not need the strip on the bottom;-)
I do recommend letting the felt/glue cure for about 24 hours before using it.
I will add more to this page as I think of things that need to be included. Until then, enjoy the WSM!