Make your first Weber Smokey Mountain smoke a success by following these eight suggestions.

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So you bought a new Weber Smokey Mountain grill. Everything is unpacked and ready to go. Is that correct?

With a little practice, you’ll be turning out succulent ribs, butts, and brisket.

To help you get there quicker, we’ve compiled a list of eight recommendations from seasoned pitmasters to help you get the most of your new smoker as you learn how to operate it.

This tutorial covers everything from what to do before you cook to how to fire your Weber Smokey Mountain for the first time, as well as some tips from the professionals on how to cope with the Weber Smokey Mountain’s oddities.

1) Get to know your new smoker with a dry run

Make your first smoke on a Weber Smokey Mountain a success with these 8 tips

You won’t have to seek far to discover publications claiming that there is no need to experiment with dry runs. But first, let’s look at some of the reasons why we believe it’s a good idea.

Meathead Goldwyn of Amazing Ribs has this to say:

Meathead Goldwyn, The Best Weber Smokey Mountain Barbecue Smoker Setup And Accessories

After you’ve assembled your new grill or smoker, the first thing you should do is season and calibrate it by completing a few dry runs without food.

This will burn off any manufacturer grease and give you an idea of how to set it up to meet the two critical goal temperatures used in virtually all of my recipes: 225F and 325F.

Seasoning is the process of forming and leaving a coating of oil and soot on the interior of a smoker. A dry run is used to accomplish this.

Seasoning your smoker has a couple of benefits:

  • It creates an airtight barrier around the lid of the BBQ, making temperature control considerably simpler.
  • It also addresses a typical issue with beginning smokers. New units are lovely and glossy, which may seem amazing, but it implies that the temperatures within the unit are high as a result of the heat bouncing around off this reflecting surface.
  • A coating of oil and soot reduces the surface’s reflectiveness. Once the initial shine has worn off the interior of the unit, maintaining constant temps will be much simpler.

Seasoning your Weber Smokey Mountain is best done in two stages, according to Harry Soo of Slap Yo Daddy BBQ, a popular duo from California who are a frequent presence on the barbecue competition circuit.

Phase 1:

  1. Cover the water pan with foil.
  2. Fill your Weber Smokey Mountain to the brim with charcoal briquettes and let your smoker burn as hot as possible without any water in the pan. This will remove any grease from the production process.
  3. Clean up the ashes, and you’re ready to go on to the next stage.

Phase 2:

  1. Fill the charcoal basket halfway with unlit briquettes. Fill a well in the middle with a chimney of lighted briquettes. The idea is to heat the smoker to 275oF and run it for 3-5 hours.
  2. Place some fatty bits of meat that you don’t intend to consume on the grill plate. To make smoke, add a couple of lumps of wood.
  3. Repeat this method many times before cooking the meat you want to consume. This will guarantee that your cooker has a beautiful coating of grease seasoning on the inside.

A coating of grease is not the same as a filthy cooker. Your goal is not to accumulate creosote and rancid lipids. They will have a negative impact on the quality of your cook. With a grill brush, remove them from the interior of the dome, leaving just the coating of oil.

A few of dry runs will also allow you to get acquainted with adjusting the temperature within your smoker.

A digital thermometer is a wonderful investment.

The standard issue thermometer that comes with your Weber Smokey Mountain measures the temperature in the cooker’s dome rather than the grate, where the meat is really sitting.

A couple of dry runs allow you to tinker with the vents, observe temperature variations, and practice starting up your smoker without fear of destroying any meat. This will guarantee future barbecue success!

2) What to smoke the first time using your Weber Smokey Mountain

Your new smoker is well seasoned, and you understand how to regulate the temperature. It’s time to start cooking.

But what?

Chicken is an excellent choice if you need results quickly. You’ll be able to enjoy the results of your effort in less than two hours.

Our Smoked Spatchcock Chicken dish is quick and easy to make, and it includes some advice on how to produce beautiful barbecue chicken skin.

I smoke a lot of chickens this way, and I always keep an eye on the temperature with my trusty Smoke.

If you have a lot of patience and are confident in your abilities to regulate the temperature of your new cooker, pork butt is a terrific option for your first cook.

It will offer you an accurate exposure to the low and slow sensation in around 8-12 hours.

The fatty cut is particularly difficult to ruin and can survive temperature fluctuations far better than brisket or ribs.

You can find a beginners recipehere.

For additional inspiration, see our list of the top barbeque recipes.

3) Get everything ready before you fire your smoker up

There is one more thing you should do before firing up your smoker to ensure a successful first cook.

First and foremost, your unit must be clean. This isn’t a problem if this is your first time cooking after seasoning. This is something you will have to do if you have managed to get a used barbeque.

Cleaning doesnt have to be difficult:

  1. Tip out any ashes
  2. Empty and clean the water pan
  3. Remove any loose debris from the lid and cooking surface using a brush.
  4. Clean the griddle pans. Often, merely cleaning them with a grill brush would enough. If they are really unclean, you may need to wash them in warm soapy water.

Before you even think of turning up the grill, prepare your meat. Once you’ve started the unit, you’ll be busy monitoring and changing the temperature, particularly if this is one of your first cooking.

You may apply the rub just before you start your grill, or if you’re very organized, massage it on the meat the night before you cook.

Before you start cooking, double-check that you have everything you need. Meat, rub (if you haven’t already), smoking wood, and charcoal are a must.

It’s also a good idea to double-check that you have your chimney, starter, and any thermometers you want to use on hand.

Also, have a fire extinguisher nearby. Of course, an emergency crisis is not in your first cook’s plans, but weirder things have occurred.

4) Starting your Weber Smokey Mountain using the Minion Method

The typical way for lighting the Smokey Mountain isn’t great if you want to cook low and slow (4+ hours).

You’ll need to reload the charcoal every 4 hours or so if you follow Weber’s directions.

There are other methods to ignite your grill, but the Minion approach is a fairly dependable way to put up any charcoal smoker for a low and slow meal.

There is no need to add fuel during the cook, and the cooker is less likely to get hotter than desired. Taking all of this into account, the Minion approach is an excellent choice for novices.

To discover how T-Roy Cooks accomplishes it, watch his YouTube video.

How To Cook on Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM)

Watch this video on YouTube

The basic Minion method goes like this:

1.  Fill the coal ring with unlit briquettes

Many experts agree that Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes perform best in a Weber Smokey Mountain for lengthy, steady burns. At the end of the day, the brand you choose is totally up to you.

2. Light some briquettes in your chimney starter

Take into account the weather. On a warm day, 20 briquettes should be plenty to start your fire. On a colder day, consider burning 20-40 briquettes; on a cold day, you may need to light up to 60 briquettes.

If you’re just burning a few briquettes, turn your chimney upside down and ignite them at the smaller end.

3. Put the lit coals in the cooking chamber

In the charcoal chamber, spread the lighted coals over the unlit coals. Reassemble your cooker and you’re ready to go.

There is some debate about utilizing unlit briquettes.

Starting Your Weber Bullet with a Virtual Weber Bullet

The Minion Method is controversial because it violates common thinking, which states that all charcoal briquettes must be completely lighted and coated with gray ash before cooking can commence.

Because everyone is aware of how horrible charcoal briquettes smell when lit, some people believe that this odor pervades the meat throughout cooking, as fuel is lit continually for several hours.

Interestingly, the Minion Method seems to have no effect on the look, fragrance, or taste of food, and it is utilized successfully by many winning teams on the competitive barbecue circuit.

We’ve never observed any difference in the smell or flavor of food prepared using this approach, therefore we say go ahead.

4) Make clean up easy by lining the water pan with aluminum foil

Lining your water pan with aluminum foil is a good idea. This will make cleanup faster and simpler, particularly following dinners when the water pan was not full.

Wrap your pan and set it in the smoker as normal. When you’re through cooking and everything has cooled down, crumple it up and toss it in the garbage.

Moisture will be trapped between the foil and the pan if you line it with foil. This will leave a stain in the water tray that cannot be removed.

While this is unattractive, it is not something that has to be cleaned. So you must determine if the discoloration in your water pan disturbs you.

5) Dealing with temperature variations

While the Weber Smokey Mountain is recognized for being a well-built, dependable cooker, there are a few of oddities to bear in mind when it comes to temperature management. The good news is that they are surmountable.

The Weber Smokey Mountain’s door is a touch weak and doesn’t seal very well.

There are few solutions to this issue:

  • To manage the temperature, you usually just need to adjust the bottom vents, but if the leaking door is creating problems, you may also try adjusting the top vent.
  • Use high-quality gaskets and food-safe adhesives to seal the door. Make certain that nothing you use will melt at high temperatures.
  • Replace the existing door with a better-fitting, heavier-duty door.

As oil and carbon accumulate and seal your stove, it will become simpler to adjust the temperature.

Keep in mind that your cooker will run hotter on a hot day. On the other hand, it will run cooler on a chilly day.

If youre still struggling to control temps:

  • Make sure no wind is blowing straight into the vents. The additional oxygen will fuel the fire and cause it to burn hotter.
  • Don’t remove the cover of your stove believing it will lower the temperature. This will just add additional oxygen to the fire, causing it to burn hotter and quicker.
  • Finally, don’t be too worried about the occasional temperature jump. This will happen spontaneously throughout the cooking process.

6) Cook to temperature, not time

Smoking charts like this one are a fantastic place to start, but they should not be relied on.

It is recommended to invest in a high-quality thermometer to measure both the temperature inside the cooker and the temperature of the meat.

As previously stated, the thermometer that comes standard with the Weber Smokey Mountain monitors the temperature in the dome rather than at the cooking grate.

The amount of temperature variation from the dome to the cooking grate is determined by a number of variables, including the ambient temperature and whether or not your Weber Smokey Mountain is in direct sunshine.

Place a thermometer probe approximately an inch away from the meat, but without touching the grate, to get an accurate reading. Remember that meat on the bottom grate will be a few degrees colder than meat on the top grate.

When inserting a meat temperature probe into the flesh, be sure it does not come into touch with the bone. Cables should be routed via the top vent hole.

7) Don’t overdose on wood

It’s important remembering Meathead Goldwyn’s words of wisdom:

There is always the potential of oversmoking, so don’t add any additional wood until you fully know your machine.

Too much wood will result in an unpleasant, too smoky flavor, so reject the “more is more” approach. As a general rule, 2-6 fist-sized bits of wood are sufficient for the whole cook.

Wrapping it up

Now that you know how to use your Weber Smokey Mountain, it’s time to go out there and try it! We hope you found these suggestions for making your first cook a success beneficial.

Weber Smokey Mountain is a favorite among pitmasters. A few experienced tips and methods go a long way toward making even your first few cooks a success.

Do you have any other suggestions for utilizing the Weber Smokey Mountain? Are you a newbie with questions that we haven’t addressed in this post? Please leave them in the comments section below.

If you found this post useful, please share it with your friends.


How do you get good smoke in Weber Smokey Mountain?

Throughout the cooking period, keep the top vent completely open. Close all of the bottom vents to help bring the temperature down to 225-250°F. Open the access door and set your wood pieces on the hot coals with care.

How often do you add charcoal to Weber Smokey Mountain?

It all depends on how much extra cooking time you need. Most of the time, I fall about an hour shy of my projected cooking time. In such scenario, I’ll fill the charcoal chamber with 40-50 lit briquettes. That’s around half a Weber chimney starter’s worth of Kingsford charcoal.

How much water do you put in a Weber Smokey Mountain?

Even with water in the water pan, you can always get the temperatures you want to smoke at. Overfilling or using too much liquid will result in steaming, so stick to 2-3 liters of water, beer, apple juice, or wine.

Can you use Weber Smokey Mountain without water pan?

Yes, you may grill meat in the WSM without a water pan or diffuser, allowing the fat to flow straight onto the hot coals. Some of the fat will evaporate and produce smoke, imparting a grilled taste to your meat. Some individuals like this flavor, while others want their barbecue to be free of cooked meat.

Do you put fat cap up or down on Weber Smokey Mountain?

I propose directing the fat cap in the direction of the major source of heat. This means fat cap down on a smoker like the Weber Smokey Mountain or a pellet grill. Because the heat will be coming from above on a well-insulated offset smoker, you should cook fat side up.

Do you put the lid on when getting charcoal ready?

SHOULD I OPEN OR CLOSE MY GRILL LID BEFORE I START CHARCOAL? While you arrange and ignite your charcoal, keep the lid open. Close the lid after the coals are well-lit. Most charcoal grills become hotter shortly after they’re lit.

Does adding more charcoal increase heat?

Alternatively, add 8 to 10 unlit briquets to the already-lit coals.

Unlit coals are obviously simpler to add, but “they produce a lot of smoke and heat up as they ignite, raising the temperature in the cooking area.”

How do you arrange coals in Weber Smokey Mountain?

To summarize, fill the charcoal chamber with unlit charcoal, then top it with a little amount of lighted charcoal. The ignited charcoal will retain a continuous heat and gradually light the charcoal on the bottom over the course of many hours, providing a lengthy, consistent burn period.


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