The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 22.5″ is the newest and largest version of their popular charcoal smoker. WSMs are high quality, charcoal fueled, bullet-shaped smokers. They can often be seen competing head to head with large commercial cookers at practically every BBQ competition. And winning. They take very little time to master, and there are a lot of tricks the experts use to produce incredible food.
Like the original 18.5″ WSM, this big unit cooks at a remarkably steady temp for hours and raising or lowering temp is fairly easy by opening and closing the vents. Problem is we had difficulty getting it down under 275°F. We like to smoke at 225-250°F. At 275°F meat can get tough. There are tricks you can employ to get it down, but it is tricky. That’s why we gave it a silver medal. The smaller model loves to cook at 225°F, and it gets our gold medal.
The big advantage to the 22.5″ model is capacity. The grates are 21″ across compared to 15.5″ on the little unit. You can actually get a few slabs of ribs to lay comfortably on the grates without cutting them in half or bending them. You should be able to fit up to eight five-pound pork butts with plenty of room for smoke to circulate. Above is shown a whole center cut pork loin with room to spare.
Construction is solid and finish is beautiful. Weber really knows how to make long lasting porcelain and chrome coatings. The legs are sturdy and there is a bowl-shaped aluminum heat shield attached to them. If you cook on a wood deck, we recommend setting your WSM on a grill mat.
It has an inaccurate bi-metal thermometer built into the lid, but in 2014 they added a soft grommet on the right side for easy insertion of your digital thermometer. There is a side door for adding coal, wood, and water, although adding water and lit coals through the door is tricky. The door leaks smoke and lets in oxygen, making it hard to shut down the supply of oxygen and kill the coals. We bent ours slightly to make it fit better, but wondered how Weber could craft the door so poorly after crafting the other parts so well.
The water pan in this big guy is huge, and you need to add more water than you think it needs because of the increased surface area. Also, it is waaaay to large to fit flat in a standard sink for cleanup, and you can’t line it with foil easily because it is wider than even the largest sized consumer grade foil. Hopefully someone will market a disposable pan liner.
We also wish WSM had a wider lid. It rests inside a lip in the center section allowing rain and melting snow to get in. We would prefer that the lid overlap the center section, just like the lid on the Weber Kettle.
If you are trying to decide between the Smokey Mountain 18.5″ and the 22.5″, keep in mind that a full slab of ribs will not fit onto the cooking grates of the smaller unit without some trickery, and if the meat gets too close to the sides the heat rising around the water pan can scorch it. On the other hand, it is hard to get temp down below 275F on the 22.5 incher.
Cooked On It
We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.
692 square inches
Large(about 34 burgers)
Weber-Stephen is one of the oldest and most respected manufacturers of BBQ equipment and related accessories in the world. Weber grills and smokers cook beautifully and have great features that are clever, effective and easy to use. As popularity and demand for BBQ gear grows worldwide, Weber continues to earn their long standing reputation for quality, durability and outstanding customer service and support, (7 days a week from 7am to 8pm CST), in an increasingly competitive environment. Even in this crowded marketplace, many consumers are still willing to pay more for the Weber name and they are rarely disappointed. They make a variety of cookers and smokers. Their iconic black charcoal kettles are known throughout the world. Indeed Weber is expanding globally.
Weber-Stephen was family owned since it was founded in 1952 by George Stephen. At the end of 2010 the Stephen family sold a majority stake to Chicago investment group BDT Capital Partners. In 2012, Weber settled a class action suit out of court regarding their use of the phrase, “Made in USA”. Weber previously qualified the “Made in USA” statement by specifying their products are assembled in the USA with some components that are sourced globally. Here is an excerpt from Weber’s statement “Weber believes that because all Weber grills and the disputed accessories are designed and engineered in the USA, and all grills save for one line [Spirit]* are manufactured and assembled in the USA using component parts primarily made in the USA, it did nothing wrong and therefore has valid defenses to plaintiff’s claims. The court has not held a trial or ruled in favor of either party on any disputed issues. Weber and the plaintiff have agreed to settle the matter to avoid the costs of continued litigation.” As a result of this suit, Weber can no longer claim to be made in America.
Since then Weber, like many others, has outsourced manufacturing of more product lines. Things change, but we believe Weber’s commitment to quality and innovation has not.
The biggest barrier for many folks is price. Webers are not cheap, but when you consider that they last decades, the price is easy to justify. Many some cheap grills fall apart after three years or so.
Our main complaint: All Webers have the obligatory bi-metal dial thermometer in the hood that gives you a ballpark reading of what the temperature is high above the meat. Since we cook on the grates, though, it’s always better to bring your own digital thermometer and place a probe there. It appears this is beginning to change as Weber enters a new era of digital technology and software based products.
Published On: 3/25/2013
Last Modified: 1/18/2023
Meathead, BBQ Hall of Famer - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.