Review: Weber Smokey Mountain 22 1/2 Inch Cooker
We’ll go ahead and admit it then, here at the pond-side pit, we are Weber junkies to the core. Like most of the grilling populous, we started out on the humble Weber kettle, cutting our teeth on the venerable grill, which straddled its ash pan stalwart through the ages. A grill by and far in which we still use heavily to this day. Eventually however, if you delve far enough into the BBQ arts, you will want to acquire yourself a good smoker. A rig designed to run low and slow for hours on end, demand very little baby sitting, and at the end of the day turn out some exceedingly good Q every time. The Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5 is what we have used for years now. It is your classic water or bullet smoker in design, reminiscent of a space droid blowing smoke out its head. And it is by far and away the best bang for the buck we have spent in the hobby of smoking meat. Here then is a more in-depth look at the WSM 22.5, in case you find yourself in the market, or if you just have a passing curiosity about the cooker. Because every once in while, we do occasionally need to do something useful around here.
Weighing in at a shipping weight of 76 pounds of glorious porcelain-enameled steel , it comes in one giant box, the cardboard of which is thick enough to flip out on the back stoop and serve as a guest room for visiting relatives.
Some assembly is required here, such as: screwing on the legs, the grate mounts, and one of the handles, the other being welded in place already at the top of the dome.
When erected, the beast stands roughly at 23 by 23 by 48 inches tall, and is guaranteed by the folks at Weber to last 10 years.
Included with the Cooker:
- 2 nickel-plated 22-1/2-inch-wide cooking grates
- 1 Steel charcoal grate
- 1 Three-Gallon porcelain enameled water pan and fire chamber
- Built in thermometer
- Aluminum fuel door
- 3 Aluminum legs
- 3 dampers on the bottom / one up top
- 2 Glass Reinforced Nylon Handles
- 1 Cover and owners guide included
- All hardware is included
All of this equals 726 square inches of premium smoking satisfaction.
To give you an idea of what that looks like in your world, think six racks of St. Louis cut ribs, or six 15 lbs pork butts. Or if you’d rather, you could do the thanksgiving turkey and a ham all simultaneously, with room to spare. Its big, people. Plenty big.
Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 22-Inch Charcoal Smoker, Black
A Closer Look
The fire bowl is comprised of the bottom enameled steel bowl, a steel fire grate, an inner enameled fire ring(fire chamber) three aluminum legs and three dampers. The general procedure here, as shown in the photo, is to fill the fire ring with charcoal. How much charcoal can the WSM 22 1/2 hold you ask? Well let’s just say, if you were so inclined, you could empty an entire 20 lbs bag of charcoal into the belly of this beast with ease. And we have. Set up with the minion method, as seen in the photo, the cooker will run at around 250 degrees for ten hours easily. We have heard of folks getting longer burn times than that even. Reminiscent of the big old American trucks with the 40 gallon tanks, that could go half way across the country before needing a fuel stop.
The nickel-plated cooking grates are your standard Weber affair. 22 1/2 inches in diameter and functional I guess. Nothing very exciting save for that there are two of them. The other one residing about a holiday ham distance below the top one. And this is what gives the cooker its large capacity. Three racks of ribs up top, and a couple of pork shoulders down below, dang, you’re ready to party!
The dome is gigantic feeling too. But then everything about this smoker is. Just lifting the lid is somewhat of an event. The dome is big enough to easily cover the largest turkey you’ll ever want to smoke. In fact, people have been known to somehow fit a young suckling pig in the 22.5. It comes with the standard Weber thermometer you see on most of their products, and we have found it to be reasonably accurate. But keep in mind it only registers the temperature at the top of the dome, and not at grate level, where most pit masters are interested. For grate level readings, you’ll need to use other devices, such as this probe, that we reviewed a while back. But for general smoker temps, it does just fine. The dome also comes with two nylon handles, one on the top, and the other at the perimeter, just below the thermometer. The 4-hole damper vent is just opposite the thermometer.
Just below the two cooking grates you will find the 3 Gallon enameled water pan. It hangs on four strategically placed, multi-purpose brackets, just above the fire bowl. The water pan does two things for this smoker. Firstly, it promotes a moist environment within the cooker, this operating on the plausible theory that such an environment will also help keep your meat moist. While this is of debatable value to some pit maestros, the other thing the water pan absolutely does is act as a heat sink. It absorbs a commendable mass of heat from the fires below, and in turn greatly assists the pit in operating at lower temperatures, whilst at the same time creating a lovely indirect heat that which envelopes your tasty spoils. In point of fact, when the water pan is full, the Weber Smokey Mountain has always seemed to us to be happiest running around 225- 250 degrees F. This is good, because that is also the ideal temperature range in which to tarry, if you want to engage in low and slow smoking activities. Which you certainly do, other wise you wouldn’t be reading this. Fire door opening is roughly 12 inches wide and 14 inches tall.
The Bottom Line
Tho there are better smokers out there, in which the ceramic eggs and custom jobs come to mind, but if you cannot justify thousands of dollars to smoke your weenie on one of them, then the WSM is the next best thing. They are simply adept at doing what they do. Pit masters have won competitions with them, Slap Yo Daddy, Harry Soo for example. These pits just work. Once you dial in the temperature it stays there, no baby sitting, freeing you to go about the important business of loitering belly-up in your man chair, with a lovely beverage in hand. The 22.5 Inch WSM is $400. There are two other sizes out there as well. The 18.5 inch goes for $300. And the 14.5 inch you can find around $200. The porcelain enameled coating keeps these rigs looking sharp for years it seems. If you’re just getting into smoking meat, or want to dabble in competitive BBQ even, these pits fill the bill and your tummy alike. We absolutely love the Weber Smokey Mountain. We think it’s a dang good pit, and it’s our privilege to let you know. Mission accomplished.
Check them out sometime via our amazon affiliate link! Help put some meat on our grill, people!
Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 22-Inch Charcoal Smoker, Black
- Line water pan with aluminum foil, inside and out for easier clean up
- Start with all dampers fully open and gradually feather the lower ones until pit is running at desired temperature
- In place of water, you can also use ceramic briquettes or play sand in the water pan, which will do the same job of a heat sink
- Spray the cooking grates down with grease before hand to prevent sticking later on
- Brand new WSM cookers tend to run a little on the hot side at first, until a good layer of smokey grime is established on the inner walls
- The Minon Method is highly recommended when using this cooker for sustained low temps for long periods of time
- When adding more fuel, simply toss a chimney full of unlit coals through the aluminum fire door, doing so a half hour before you think you need to
- Fill the water pan with hottest water your tap can produce to get the cooker up to temp faster
- When the lid is off, avoid setting it on the concrete to prevent chipping the enameled coating
- Close all the vents when cook is done to snuff out the remaining coals and reuse them next time
*We are an Amazon Affiliate for this product and others, so when you go to amazon through our link, if you buy, we will receive a small commission. It’s a fantastic pit, and we’re proud to endorse it here at PotP.
thanks for the post. i luv bbq, especially when it’s smoked.
October 7, 2014 at 11:16 am
You’re welcome. Thanks for chiming in!
October 7, 2014 at 11:21 am
This is so helpful! David wants one of these and I have contemplated getting him one for this Christmas. Do you really think the Egg is better?
October 7, 2014 at 11:39 am
He would love it for sure. You cannot find a review from some one who bought a weber smokey mountain and didn’t love it. So, you won’t go wrong. That being said, and if your rich or something, the Big Green Eggs are even better, yes. They are sealed tighter, making for excellent combustion. They are versatile too. You can run them at 225 degrees fpr low and slow stuff, but you can also get them up to 700 degrees for them two inch thick steaks. Some day I may get one, but man, they’re pricey. Their other weakness is that if they for some reason tip over in the night, like one of your black bears there decides to sumo wrestle with it, you run a fair risk of cracking the ceramic, and that would make a pit boy quite sad.
But I do recommend the WSM. It would compliment the Weber Performer you already have, and bring a great over-all versatility to your BBQ exploits on the mountain.
Let us know what you get! Merry Christmas, David, in advance!!!
October 7, 2014 at 2:26 pm
Thanks for your input! I know he would be happier with a Weber. He threatened to get one this summer, but I talked him out of it. I saw a built-in wooden workbench for one of those eggs once. You don’t even want to know how much that was!! I tell you now that the grill is on the deck again I hope the bears don’t get any ideas. They didn’t mess with it on the ground, so they better not climb the steps……
October 7, 2014 at 2:57 pm
Indeed. Yeah if you ever did get the big green egg, best get one with the built-in work bench deals too, if only to discourage your bruins from knocking it over. True, you’ll you’ll have to set up a revolving payment plan tho! If they knock the weber smokey mountain over tho, no big deal. It ain’t going to break. Another reason for Weber right there.
October 7, 2014 at 3:37 pm
October 7, 2014 at 4:26 pm
I always affectionately referred to my smoker as R2-D2…. Who after yeas of loyal service is now in need of replacing. Great post!!!
October 7, 2014 at 12:18 pm
Ah yes, one cannot help but to call the thing R2 from time to time. Wow,and you managed to wear one out?? Well done!!
October 7, 2014 at 2:27 pm
Nice, great review. Looks like C3PO. Had to laugh at your comment on the cardboard box it’s housed in, LOL, guest room for relatives, LOL!!!
October 7, 2014 at 5:05 pm
True story that cardboard box… no joke LOL
October 7, 2014 at 5:27 pm
Well only special relatives. Thanks!
October 7, 2014 at 6:24 pm
Wouldn’t trade my WSM 22 1/2 for ANYTHING! While my cinder block pit produced EXCELLENT results… You just cant beat the ease of use and lack of fiddling… Excellent post as usual sir! May the pork be with you…:)
October 7, 2014 at 5:24 pm
Haha nice! I have enjoyed your smoking posts over there. You have the hang of things indeed!
May the pork be with you also.
October 7, 2014 at 6:26 pm
Two things that make a Weber a Weber, the enamel coating and the dome lid. The enamel coat means it won’t rust EVER. And the dome lid turns it into a convection somker, meaning that your smoke takes a couple of trips around the meat before hitting the exit ramp to the top vents.
October 8, 2014 at 6:07 am
That’s right! They really are of an ingenious design. Functional and stalwart. And made in the USA no less. But yeah, the no rust thing is maybe the best thing. I’ve long enjoyed that aspect.
Thanks Mr Dodd!
October 8, 2014 at 10:13 am
Sweet … I have one of these on my Christmas list for Santa … my water smoker is an el Cheapo, Char Broil model I bought years ago … methinks it’s time to up my game … 🙂
October 8, 2014 at 5:07 pm
As a man of meat, it’s the only logical evolution! Carry on smokey brother!
October 8, 2014 at 6:11 pm
Good to see the WSM getting a little love. I’m a proud 22.5 owner myself and couldn’t think of a better advertisement than one of your blog entries. I also bought one of those asbestos mats that I put underneath it so the concrete stays nice an clean. Oh – and I’ve been putting an Aluminum pan on the lower grate to catch the drippings and use them in sauces and other such things… And the water pan stays clean. Cheers guys.
October 8, 2014 at 5:21 pm
Thanks Mr Quincho. Some good little tricks you mention there. I had never heard of the mat underneath. Cool idea. The pan idea is great, then you don’t have to dart about the yard carrying that water pan full of muck whilst figuring out what to do with it.
October 8, 2014 at 6:16 pm
Thanks for the review! I had one of the el cheapo models for a while but didn’t have much in the way of instruction in using it. One thing I did discover by accident was putting a sprig of rosemary in the water, it not only gave an extra little bit of flavor, it also kept the water from getting that funk growing in it if you couldn’t get the water dumped out right then
October 9, 2014 at 7:50 am
No kidding! That’s pretty cool. Yes the old water pan can look akin to a petri dish if you don’t get to it soon. Pretty crude looking stuff. Leave it to Dragnfli to sprinkle the aromatics of a little rosemary in it, and there by tame it down a tad. Nice!
Appreciate you taking the time to chime in. Thank you kindly!
October 9, 2014 at 9:27 am
Welcome. Rosemary and sage have antibacterial properties, one of the reasons they have been used on meats through time. 🙂
October 9, 2014 at 10:00 am
Awesome. I’ve been water smoking for nearly thirty years. By far my favorite way to cook meat. I’m glad Weber stepped into the fray. It looks like they have done a great job. Thanks for sharing.
October 9, 2014 at 9:13 am
Agreed, old boy. The world is a better place indeed with water smokers in them, no doubt. So good!
Weber did very well. You’ll have to get yourself a Christmas present some time…
Take care my friend!
October 9, 2014 at 9:20 am
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I own a 22 1/2″… Love, love, love it!
June 14, 2015 at 8:05 pm
Like wise. A fine pit for the money. Solid. Stalwart.
Good of you to drop by old boy. Been a while! A long while indeed.
June 14, 2015 at 9:22 pm
Great review guys, very help. We love our Weber Smokey Mountain cookers here in the UK. There are now 3 sizes available 37cm, 47cm and 57cm https://www.bbqs2u.co.uk/27-weber-smokey-mountain-cookers
March 9, 2016 at 8:05 am