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Weber Smokey Mountain: which size to get?

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I'm going to buy the WSM. Just not sure if I should get the 18.5" or the 22.5". I have a small family, but do frequent entertaining. 10 people would be a large gathering. Will the smaller one suffice?

To ask a different way, what's the most you've cooked on the smaller one?

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  1. The original WSM has been a great entry level cooker,and still used by many comp teams-usually in multiples.

    There seems to be a lot of excitement over the coming of the new ,slightly larger model.

    Most folks can get four fairly large butts on the small one.

    Depending on shape,you might get four medium[maybe 10-11 lbs] briskets,or a couple 15-16 pounders.

    The extra grill space could help in racks of ribs?

    You might get 30 thighs on two racks on the old one.

    Most cooks will tell you to decide the one that will work,and then always buy the next larger size.

    ,
    The convenience/versatility/space will always be welcome.

    Tom

    1. I looked at the specs here:
      http://virtualweberbullet.com/22wsm.h...

      A single 18" grill would hold at least 10 chicken breasts or the equivalent amout of steaks--it depends on the size of the portions, of course! The 22" can hold 45lbs of meat, 6 slabs of ribs or 6 beer can chickens...even a hungry group of 10 would have plenty of leftovers with that amount of meat! Are you cooking for 10 or 50?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Caralien

        "as one is supposed to fill it on one half in order to provide direct and indirect heating "

        It depends on what you are cooking. A pork shoulder can easily go over 12 hours-- I have gone 16. I wouldn't assume that would be the same amount of charcoal as a 2 hour smoke for chicken.
        Also, where is the direct heating area in a WSM? The water pan sits between the heat source and the food--it is all indirect. Are you sure you aren't thining of a regular Weber grille?

        1. re: AHan

          I edited that part out after realising my mistake. :)

      2. Are you sure you want the smoker? If you're looking for a grill go for the 22.5 inch, the 18 inch is pretty small especially if you plan on entertaining. If you're going to get the regular grill get the 22.5 inch and by all means go for the one touch gold version.

        7 Replies
        1. re: HaagenDazs

          I'm looking for the smoker. I've got a gas grill for everyday use. The smoker will be for weekends if I'm doing ribs or a pork butt or a brisket. According to what I've read so far the WSM souns easy to use, reliable and efficient.

          1. re: grandgourmand

            OK cool - yeah, it's a nice smoker - I don't have one but I've used one. The new sizes are just out this year (there used to be only one size) so I wanted to make sure you knew what you were talking about - you do. ;-)

            1. re: HaagenDazs

              Oh, so the 22.5" is a new model? Makes me think that if people were doing just fine (and that's what it looks like from all the google hits) on the old 18.5" model, then so should I.

              If, as TomFL says, you can squeeze four butts onto the smoker, then that would be plenty. I can't see myself doing more than 2, frankly, a Turkey at Thanksgiving (Canadian) and maybe 6 racks of ribs. Those are separate occasions, of course, not all at once.

              1. re: grandgourmand

                Yeah, Weber brought in the 22 inch last Fall. This site has a pretty good explanation of the differences down to measurements and weights of all parts so it's a good site to review before you make the final decision. The newest models are at the bottom.

                http://virtualweberbullet.com/history...

                1. re: HaagenDazs

                  Thanks for the link. The pictures are great for visualizing capacity. Mind you, I still don't expect to ever cook 6 pork butts, but you know how it goes when you get the visual stimulation.

                  oh, and I really liked those pics showing how it could be used as a grill (i.e. by removing the large cylindrical piece and placing grill right above coals). that could justify the purchase of the 22".

                  1. re: grandgourmand

                    Yeah, I had no idea Weber introduced a 22.5" bullet, or even that they "improved" the 18.5" one. I would have been completely happy smoking away on my old 18.5", but now...

                    I don't know whether to thank you or curse you... (No, really, thanks.)

            2. re: grandgourmand

              this is in response to grandgourmands post on the ontario board asking about the green egg. I have both the egg and the wsm. The egg was a recent purchase and is generating some great meals. The wsm produced a lot of great things as well. The drawback, for me at least, is twofold. First, it is not very efficient in terms of charcoal consumption. I was rarely able to do a several hour cook without going through 8-10 lbs of charcoal. As a result, i would only use it when cooking for company. The second drawback is that i found that i could not use it during the winter or in windy or unsettled weather. if these issues are not a concern to you then go with the WSM. It is reasonably priced, easy to use and will produce some great food. Check out the "silver bullet" website which will give you all kinds of help, info and recipies. If you would like more info on the egg let me know and i will give you my thoughts on that as well.

          2. Additional considerations include the improvements made to the 22". 50% larger water pan, larger access door, larger dampers, greater distance between grates are all significant.

            1. Me definitely larger. I cook not only the main course but love to grill stuffed bread, onions, peppers, etc the etc space will be well used. Any time I grill for friends I almost always make one of my stuffed baguettes. I stuff them with mushrooms and cheese, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, baby shrimp scampi, a greek stuffing of feta, sundried tomatoes and olives, carmelized onions and gruyere, pesto and mozzarella all kinds of combos. It is a great crowd pleaser and simple but takes a bit of space on the grill.

              My vote the bigger one

              2 Replies
              1. re: kchurchill5

                Grills and smokers are different things. Read up on the discussion above.

                "baby shrimp scampi" Shrimp scampi is a dish all to itself. I think you meant to say just baby shrimp (?).

                1. re: HaagenDazs

                  And the end of smoking I also make my bread on there and grilled onions. I use it for lots of things. I understood

                  I smoke a lot and when I do I make alot, not just the meat but put other things on as well.

              2. I have the original 18.5" grill and can smoke plenty of meat. I can get 4 whole pork shoulders on the grill. Or 2 pork shoulders and a whole brisket.

                My normal load is either 2 pork shoulders or 1 brisket on the bottom rack. I start out with top rack holding a whole pork belly for bacon. The bacon only takes a few hours, so after it's done I fill the top rack with tasso, chicken, and sausages.

                The only reason I'd go with the bigger one is if you plan on doing a lot of grilling. Setting up the grill with a hot side and cold side, I can do two steaks, but that's about it. Fine for a small family, but not for entertaining.

                5 Replies
                1. re: vanillagorilla

                  YEah, I think I'd be fine with the smaller one for smoking purposes. But the whole grilling aspect makes the 22" more attractive. I know, better to have an actual grill for that, but I don't want too many piece of equipment.

                  1. re: grandgourmand

                    I have to say though, it doesn't make a very good grill. The only way I've found to successfully grill is to completely remove the middle section, and place the grate directly on top of the charcoal ring. You can then balance the lid on top of the base if you need it.

                    This works ok, but the grill is basically on the ground at this point, and is kind of a pain to use.

                    If I were you, I'd get the 18.5" one, and some sort of weber kettle grill.

                    1. re: vanillagorilla

                      Is it unstable on top of the charcoal ring?
                      thanks for the heads up. I don't mind if it's low to the ground. Frankly, I won't use it for grilling that much. I've got a gas grill for that. I know that's a no-no for the aficionados out there, but hey, we've all sinned, right?

                      1. re: grandgourmand

                        the grate is perfectly stable, it's the lid that isn't perfect, but it's not going to fall off if you're careful.

                        1. re: vanillagorilla

                          again, thanks for the info. i like to analyze these purchase from 1,000 different angles. so the feedback helps.

                2. The 18.5 WSM is a good size, just perfect, in fact..... until your beloved family and friends start bragging about the ribs and brisket you feed them. Then you'll have people coming out of the woodwork, looking for Q. Your family will want Q once a week or more... Instead of bringing a bottle of wine to dinner parties, friends will want ribs and pulled pork. And then you will start smoking for the freezer so you won't get caught short.....

                  It's always better to have the extra size and not need it than need it and not have it. Especially at thanksgiving. It's gotten so bad here, that I'm looking at getting the 22.5 in addition to the 18.5!

                  My husband and his family are addicted to brisket and smoked turkey, while my side of the family are nuts over ribs. Even my 8 year old niece can pack away a whole rack on her own and then eyes everyone else's plate.

                  1. I've got 3 18.5 Weber smokers and a Kamado ceramic grill. A single 18.5 is more than enough for most families. A single smoker can easily handle four 8lb pork shoulders OR two 12-14lb briskets OR 4 full racks of ribs. You can also increase capacity by buying clip-on racks available at the Big Green Egg website. There's also a device known as "the Stacker" which basically adds a center portion to your smoker.

                    That said, I'm planning on selling one of my 18.5" smokers to upgrade to the 22", primarily because the 18.5" is a little tight for the size briskets I've been smoking. I usually use an inverted turkey rack on the grill and drape the brisket over the rack. Otherwise, it's hitting the outside of the cooker.

                    Either way, the Weber smoker is a great little machine that with a few modifications will smoke from 8-10 hours unattended. They've also got a huge support community at virtualweberbullet.com. Highly recommended.

                    http://nylonthread.blogspot.com/2007/...

                    1. FYI I did an 8lb pulled pork shoulder and a 12lb Texas beef brisket bbq this weekend. I threw two racks of ribs on WSM #2, but had I timed it right, I could have thrown those on the first smoker as well. Here are some pics:

                      http://nylonthread.blogspot.com/2009/...

                      1. Well, after much deliberation, I "settled" on the smaller version. I figured that it would suit my purposes 99% of the time, would require less coal and, frankly, the 18.5" size has done just fine for many people for a few decades now, so should work for me.

                        I have to say, though, that in the showroom, the 22'5" looks massive.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: grandgourmand

                          I realize these are "old" posts, but I just bit the bullet (sorry for the pun) and bought the 22 inch WSM. Sears online has the 22 inch for $315 which is by far the best price I've seen. I took the ad to Loews and they matched the price. Can't wait.

                          1. re: jnk

                            Nice score! About 6-7 months ago, I picked up the 18.5" one on Amazon for about $275. If the 22 had been that cheap, I may have gotten it.

                            1. re: bagofwater

                              I'm just opening the box now. Can't wait. Any hints or suggestions?

                              1. re: jnk

                                1. The thermometer in the lid may be inaccurate. You will probably want to buy an oven thermometer and calibrate it, just to give you a sense of how true the temps on your lid read.
                                2. Don't try to micromanage your temps - if you spike from 250f to 275f for a period, it's not going to ruin your food. Just be aware of it, and be prepared to take action if your temps start running away.
                                3. Check out the Virtual Weber Bulletin Board for advice much better than I can give. It's a good forum and source of information, and most of the other users are rocking the WSMs (http://tvwbb.com). I'm a bit of a newbie, and learned a lot from these folks. (my username on the board is "Sean H").

                                1. re: jnk

                                  Get yourself a #10 can, open on both ends. This works out great for the method on the virtual bullet for cooking for extended periods without adding coals. It holds about a chimney starter full of coals. Once it's full, use chanel locks to pull it out of the fire box and it continously lights the next ring of briquets. With this method you can smoke several pork shoulders for 10 hours without having to reload coals and maintain that 250 temperature easily for that entire time. There is a lot of info on the weber virtual bullet web page. This was my favorite tip.

                                  1. re: mikie

                                    Thanks guys, I've been smoking on a 22 inch kettle for about a year now using the minion method that "woodburner" on chowhound mentioned last year which is building a rope of briquets around the kettle and adding wood chunks periodically. It worked well but was a tremendous amount of work trying to maintain temps over pork butt length burns. I can't wait to try this. Thank you both for your advice and will definitely bee on tvwbb.

                          2. I just purchased a 22.5. Thought about what I would smoke first and decided on brisket. They say it is the most difficult meat to smoke, so I thought...what the hell, lets go all out. Put the brisket on the top rack, smoked at 230-275 and didn't even peek until the meat was internal 190*. A 9hr smoke. I only added about 10 pieces of charcoal at the 7 hr mark. This smoker temp was spot on the entire time.
                            The most juicy brisket I've ever smoked. The 22.5 is THE MACHINE!!!!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: rickwood

                              I've got both the 18.5 and the 22.5 and my experience has been that the larger WSMs maintain a more stable temperature for a longer time.