Weber’s Smokey Mountain is known for its quality and performance.
The water pan smoker has an army of fans from beginners to masters of the pit. This makes the WSM forums a hive of activity with so many people sharing recipes, advice and ideas.
When you buy a Weber Smokey Mountain you become part of a growing community that is passionate, encouraging and produce fantastic barbecues!
Also known as The Bullet, this smoker is incredibly simple to use but there is no compromise on its ability to produce master smokes.
There are multiple barbecue champions that have been born using a WSM which just goes to show how versatile and well designed it is. It’s earned its reputation as one of the most iconic smokers money can buy.
One of the most vital parts of smoking is being able to manage your temperatures.
Stabilizing temperature is actually quite tricky! Heat rises so it’s likely the lid of your smoker will be hotter than the body of your smoker. Heat can also be directional so you may find it spiking in one direction.
The weather can also play a part and even though the WSM is built to withstand great temperature changes, if it is really cold outside then you may find you need more checks to stabilise the smoke chamber. Many smokers are sold with a built-in thermometer to help you establish the cooking temperatures.
These tend to take the temperature of the chamber, not the internal temp of your meat. They are also situated at the top of most smokers and this can give you an incorrect view of the smoke chamber. The result? at best longer cook times, at worst underdone or even unsafe meat.
Sounds complicated? It doesn’t have to be.
Check out our guide to getting WSM thermometer accuracy and how to achieve the best temperature stability.
How Accurate Is Weber Smokey Mountain Thermometer?
The Weber Smokey Mountain thermometer is relatively accurate but only to the temperature within the lid.
This means you could find yourself over or under by as much as 50 degrees in the smoke chamber. Not ideal, especially when cooking low and slow.
As with all built-in thermometers you aren’t getting quite enough information. The temperature of the smoke chamber is really important but, the temperature of your meat is important too.
How To Control Temperature On Weber Smokey Mountain
Because your Weber Smokey Mountain is from the water pan family, using a full pan will help you to control the temperature of your whole smoker. It’s particularly useful for longer smokes.
You also have two sets of vents on your WSM. The exhaust vent is located at the top, on the lid. This should always be open, as it helps draw air through your intake vents at the bottom and keeps your smoker free of gases. Under the fire pit, you have a set of three intake vents. The intake vents will give you control over your temperature. If they are all open your Weber Smokey Mountain will get hotter. Once you reach the desired temperature you then close off your vents. Usually having 1/3 of the vents open is enough to achieve a stable temperature. You should play with this to ensure your temperature is stable.
It’s also important to check the temperature every 15 minutes until you reach a stable core temp. This gives the heat in the smoke chamber time to settle.
What Area Of The Smoker Does The WSM Thermometer Measure?
The WSM thermometer measures temperature at the lid, which can give a less accurate reading. In all models from 2014, Weber inserted a silicone grommet which allows you to insert a thermometer at the grate level. This will improve your temperature reading.
How Do I Know If My Smoker Thermometer Is Accurate?
One of the simplest ways to test the accuracy of your WSM thermometer is to place it in boiling water. A pot boiling at sea level will measure 212 degrees exactly. You can take off 1 degree for every 500m of elevation. If your thermometer reads 212 (or the adjusted temp at higher altitudes) then you know the thermometer is accurate.
Weber Smokey Mountain Thermometer Calibration
The Weber Smokey Mountain thermometer unit cannot be calibrated. With some smokers, you can remove the thermometer to check if it’s accurate with the boiling water test. If it isn’t you can calibrate the gauge by wither twisting a screw on the back or moving the gauge itself.
You could run a few tests on dry runs. Inserting a temperature gauge on both the bottom and top grill and taking readings at certain points. Make a note of the reading on your WSM thermometer and then you will have a better understanding of the actual grill temperatures. A less complicated way would be to buy a digital thermometer and run it through the grommet.
Should You Trust The WSM Thermometer?
The temperature of your smoke chamber is the most important element of the cooking process. A small mistake in temperature could ruin your whole barbecue. With this in mind, it’s recommended to purchase an additional thermometer for the smoke chamber.
WSM Thermometer Alternatives
If living on the edge isn’t for you, buying a secondary thermometer is a great choice. The most basic of all would be a single prong meat probe. These come in analogue or digital (which will give you a much faster reading) you can use these to check the temperature of your meat throughout the cooking process. While this doesn’t help you stabilize the smoke chamber temperature, it will ensure your meat is in the safe zone. You should be aware that the basic meat probe will require you to open the door of your smokey, which will affect the stability of your temperature.
The ideal set-up, and a great weapon to have in your smoking bag of tricks, is a dual probe thermometer. This great piece of tech will give you two readings, The internal temp of the smoke chamber and the temperature of your meat. You will have a display that sits outside of your smoker, which gives you the ability to monitor the temperature while relaxing or socialising with your guests.
The ultimate set-up would include a dual probe thermometer on both the bottom and top rack plus a wifi-enabled unit that allows you to monitor your chamber temp from the comfort of your own home. This is ideal for longer, slower cooks. Some of the wifi-enabled units can alert you on your phone if your temp drops below the ideal. Bringing smart home technology to your backyard!
Weber Smokey Mountain Thermometer Upgrade
It is possible to upgrade your stock WSM thermometer. Purists would recoil at this suggestion, recommending you leave the WSM thermometer as original and use the dual thermometer option in the smoke chamber. However if you want to know the temperature reading on your WSM lid is as accurate as possible, or you wish to replace the current thermometer with one that can be calibrated, then it is relatively simple.
Installation is pretty simple although you should be aware that removing stock parts from your WSM could void your warranty. It may be worth speaking to Weber themselves before you change any parts on the smoker.
Don’t forget, before you start making changes to your WSM, make sure it is seasoned properly. You may find that the temperature settles more once you have built a good coat inside the smoker. So get to know your model first and then consider making changes as you get more experienced!