Skip to Content

Weber Smokey Mountain Temperature Difference | 9 Things To Know

Weber Smokey Mountain Temperature Difference | 9 Things To Know

Weber Smokey Mountain Temperature Difference

Smoking meat is more than just food preservation, it is an art. Over the decades’ pitmasters have developed new ways of bringing out flavor, from developing the striking pink ring to the various different rubs and types of wood used in cooking.

Technology has helped us to improve end results and make low and slow smokes much easier.

Now you can use app-connected thermometers that tell you exactly how your smoker is behaving, allowing you to relax in your house or even pop out to pick up some beers.

Barbecue culture has developed into a thriving community of people all wanting to share their passion. From purists to the new school of smokers, there is diversity, equality, and some rivalry that make barbecue in America what it is today.

Amidst all the new tech and the various techniques, there is still one fundamental element to barbecues that everyone the world over has to master. Temperature control.

If you aren’t able to control the temperature of your barbecue then you aren’t going to get the results you want.

You could end up with raw ribs or a burnt brisket! You might be cooking in great weather one minute, with your vents on the perfect setting, then the wind picks up and you lose heat. Understanding the balance and how the elements can disrupt temperature stability is an art form.

Learning the basics is vital if you are going to follow in the footsteps of your pitmaster heroes.

The Weber Smokey Mountain is a water pan smoker. The water pan really helps to master temperature control and is ideal for low and slow smokes as it will help keep your temp under 275 degrees.

You don’t always have to use water in the pan, but it is advisable if you are new to smoking. The WSM also has multiple vent options to help you make marginal adjustments to stabilize your temperature.

Providing the exhaust vent is always open more than the intake vents you will have a constant airflow which helps you to maintain the temperature you desire.

The WSM is one of the most popular smokers on the market due to the simplicity of use and multiple options to help regulate temperature.

A WSM is shaped like a bullet. Inside you have the fuel chamber, the smoke chamber with two cooking grates, and the lid.

Due to the location of the fuel chamber, the heat from your fuel will rise up.

Due to the heat rising, your upper and lower cooking grate temperatures will be different. Knowing the temperature difference between them will help you to produce quality smokes all year round.

Which Rack Is Hotter On Weber Smokey Mountain?

Multiple factors can cause a few fluctuations between the upper and lower racks of your Weber Smokey Mountain. In general, the dome of your WSM will be the hottest part, followed by the top rack and then the lower rack. Weather, water pan status, and temperature of your meat can change the temperature difference between the two.

Why Are The Racks Different In Temperature?

When you are using a bullet smoker you will find that the top is hotter than the bottom. Air comes into the WSM via the intake valves which feeds the fire, heat then rises to the top of the smoker and the exhaust vent releases the gases.

With the exhaust and intake vents open you are creating a constant airflow which releases the high-pressure hot air from the top of the smoker and sucks in oxygen at the bottom.

This keeps everything moving inside your smoker and will usually mean the top rack is hotter than the bottom.

What Meat Should Be Used On Which Rack?

If you want to cook hot and fast then the top rack is the best. Meat such as chicken or sausages are ideal here.

Wings, legs or even whole chicken will get a great smoke and if you remove the water pan, will get a crispy skin too!

Low, slow smokes are best on the bottom rack. Here you want to place your briskets and your butts.

If you are cooking multiple cuts of meat then it is perfectly fine to use the top grate but, it could be worth swapping the meat between the racks halfway through your smoke.

How Much Difference Would There Normally Be On The Upper And Lower Cooking Grates In A WSM 18.5?

This greatly depends on a number of factors including what you have in your water pan. If cooking conditions are good then you could expect the following:

  • Water pan full – 16 degrees difference between top and bottom rack
  • Water pan empty – 11 degrees difference between top and bottom rack

There are moments where the temperature spikes though so at times in your smoke you could see differences of up to 25 degrees or as low as 8 degrees.

How Much Difference Would There Normally Be On The Upper And Lower Cooking Grates In A WSM 22.5?

Within the WSM inner circle, it is said that the 22.5 WSM runs a little hotter than the WSM 18.5. The difference in temperature between the two grates will be similar to the 18.5.

There are so many factors that can change temperature differences so it’s important you get yourself a reliable and accurate temperature probe.

Do The Rack Temperatures Ever Get The Same Temperature?

As your smoke comes to an end you may see the temperatures become a little more equal. It is more likely that the top rack will remain slightly hotter than the bottom.

Should You Be Placing A Temperature Probe On Each Rack?

Having a temperature probe on each rack will give you the most accurate reading. It isn’t absolutely necessary though. Providing you know the temperature of one of the racks and can stabilize that, you can get an even cook. You can rotate the meat if you are smoking on both racks and are worried about an even cook.