If you’re looking to buy a smoker, then you have probably come across the Weber Smokey Mountain cooker before. Perhaps a friend has recommended it. This is not surprising at all because the WSM is one of the best there is. However, your search does not end here. You still have to choose between the different WSM cookers.
The name Weber has long been associated with quality and their Smokey Mountain Cooker is no exception. But the question is which of the three models – the 14-inch, 18-inch and 22-inch – is right for you? What are the features that make one model different from the other? Which one gives you more value for your money. All these questions will be answered in this comparative review to help you make the right choice.
- What is the Difference between the Models?
- What are the “standout” features of the WSM?
- How easy is it to season and prepare the smoker?
- How do other people rate the smoker?
- Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker vs a Kamado Cooker – which is better?
- Which size is right for me?
- What type of fuel can I use in the WSM?
- Does it hold the temperature?
- The Verdict
What is the Difference between the Models?
The Smoky Mountain Cooker comes in several different sizes designed to meet every buyer’s needs. In this section we take a look at the features offered by each model:
14 Inch Weber Smoker
The Weber 711001 14 inch smoker is a compact and affordable smoker, perfect for first-time users. It is also a good choice for you if you only plan to use the smoker on certain occasions to cook for just a few people. The 14-inch model is easy to use and serves as a good introduction to the joys of cooking and eating smoked food.
One of the key features of this smoker is the temperature grommet. This makes it easy for you to track the temperature of the smoker without having to open the door. The built in thermometer is especially useful for checking the internal temperature, and the water pan (porcelain enamel) assists in the addition of steam as it smokes, ensuring meats are tender and moist.
The aluminium door is resistant to rust and simplifies the addition of wood chips or chunks. There are also air dampers that ensure air flow is at its optimum level. Another important feature here is the charcoal chamber as it helps keep the fuel in a specific location so temperature is constant.
18 and 22 Inch Weber Smoker
The Weber 721001 18 inch smoker and the Weber 731001 22 inch smoker share a lot of common features; in fact, the only real major difference between the two is the cooking area size (481 square inches and 726 square inches respectively).
Both have heat-resistant nylon handles, essential when grilling or smoking and both have storage covers, lid and bowl vents and built-in thermometers. Like those on the 14-inch cooker, the built-in thermometers are very accurate, and a lot of changes have been made compared to the older models.
The door in the new Smokey Mountain is larger than the previous ones, and this makes it easier to put in wood chunks, chips, and charcoal. The door also has a latch and comes with a lever and is spring loaded, making it secure. Another notable improvement here is the ash catch pan at the bottom: any time you smoke with charcoal there’s bound to be ashes and the pan is the perfect way to clean it up.
The 14-inch smoker is the cheapest of them all and it’s also the most compact option. It’s great for those who will only be using the smoker occasionally and tends to prepare food for a few people. It has temperature grommet that allows you to track the smoker’s internal temp without having to open the door. Its aluminium door is also rust-resistant. The temperature remains constant in a particular area of the smoker due to its charcoal chamber.
Meanwhile, the 18inch smoker and the 22-inch smoker have the same features like heat-resistant nylon handles, storage covers, built-in thermometers, larger and more secure doors, and a built-in ash catch pan. The only major difference between the 2 is their cooking area size (18 inches and 22 inches). Of course, they are also more expensive than the 14 inch WSM.
What are the “standout” features of the WSM?
No matter which size you decide to buy, there is no question that you’ll receive a lot of benefits.
Built-in lid thermometer: we have already gone over this so there is no need to repeat what has been noted. Suffice to say that it’s a good thing Weber included this in the smoker so you don’t have to buy another one.
First-time smokers often find it difficult to moisten and tenderize the meat. However, this is made easy by the Weber because the water pan automates the addition of steam.
Durable grates: Weber cooking grates are known for their durability and these smokers are no exception. The grates are heavy duty and owing to its plated steel properties can handle extensive cooking, smoking and grilling.
Strong flavors: of course all these benefits and features won’t amount to much if the smoker doesn’t produce strong, smoky flavors but the good thing is it does.
Easy cleaning: there is no need to wash the interior as all that’s needed is a grill brush.
The smoker is versatile enough to handle different types of meat, and the larger the model you buy the more you’ll be able to cook. If you opt for the 22-inch model you can prepare food for up to forty people. With a cooking area of more than 720 square inches, you’ll have no problem smoking full sized turkeys, dozens of burgers, ribs, and hotdogs with no trouble at all.
Another benefit that comes from using the 18 or 22-inch smokers is there’s no need to confine yourself to only one meat; with such a large cooking surface you can smoke entire ribs or a dozen pork shoulders slowly but surely.
How easy is it to season and prepare the smoker?
It is not difficult at all provided you take the right approach. Just like with all smokers and grills, you should season first: all you need to do place aluminum foil over the pan and fill it with briquettes. Allow the smoker to run at 350 F without water in the pan and then remove the residue and ash.
The next step is to put unlit briquettes in the basket, about halfway full. Add another half of lit briquettes and let it burn for up to 5 hours at 275 F (if the thermometer reads 72 F make the appropriate changes). To generate as much grease as possible, add as many meat scraps as possible (the ones you don’t want to eat) as well as a couple of good sized wood chunks. Do this twice and the Weber is ready to use.
The Weber smokers can be used in different ways, and the same thing can be said for its preparation. You could for instance, just put foil over the water pan so you don’t have to clean the pan. However, this method only works if the smoker has been seasoned, hence its importance.
How do other people rate the smoker?
Other customer reviews have been generally positive. One reviewer says it’s a significant improvement over the already good Weber smokers, and another one said it is practical and easy enough for daily use. A quick look online will also show that most of the reviews have 4 or 5 stars, a testament to how good it is. While there are a few negative reviews, the general feedback is that the Smokey Mountain is a powerful and easy to use smoker.
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker vs a Kamado Cooker – which is better?
Many kamado cookers are known for their quality, and the better cooker between the two really depends on your needs. Many of those who have owned a Kamado cooker have remarked that it does a great job when it comes to smoking, searing and grilling. However, the Weber Smoker Mountain is a lot cheaper and has accessories available at a lower price compared to the former. Many of those who also own a WSM say they never feel the need to get another smoker or grill.
Which size is right for me?
The question of size really depends on the number of people you usually cook for. The 14-inch model is for cooking for one to three people. The 18-inch model is the family size and good for 4 to 6 people (can handle up to 7 chickens). The 22-inch model is if you’re the type who likes to cater and throw backyard parties for your neighbors, relatives and friends.
What type of fuel can I use in the WSM?
You can use wood, charcoal, wood chips and liquids. If the cooker is set up for smoking you will want to use charcoal as it is the most effective and it is the only one that can keep the fire burning without being too hot. When smoking food, add some wood to increase the flavor. As far as options go you can opt for cherry, apple, hickory, mesquite and others. Between chunks and chips, it’s better to use wood chunks.
Does it hold the temperature?
Yes, it does. Whether you set it up as a grill or smoker you’ll have no trouble getting the temperature you want. Once the charcoal heats up and the heat rises, it will strike the water pan and boil the water. When this level is reached steam will remain at 212 F, ensuring your smoker reaches the appropriate temperature. Once this level is reached the smoker is able to maintain the 225 F temperature. The WSM offers accurate and constant temperature inside the cooker and you can also check the temperature using the built-in thermometers.
The Weber Smokey Mountain cooker is one of the most popular smokers today and given its set of features, that should hardly come as a surprise. Probably the only problem you’ll have is figuring out which one to buy, but with our guide, that should no longer be an issue. Regardless which of the three models you choose, we are certain you won’t be disappointed.