Review of the Weber Smokey Mountain 18 Inch and Usage Test

Meet the Weber Smokey Mountain 18. Right out of the gate, the Weber Smokey Mountain was bred for hot smoking, but with a nifty little add-on (Weber Cold Smoke Generator), it’s ready to plunge into the cool world of cold smoking. Naturally, I put both modes to the test.

Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker

Unboxing the Beast

This smoker arrives in pieces, but it’s nothing a little spatial reasoning can’t handle. Even without peeking at the manual, a glance at the picture on the box and you’re pretty much set. But hey, if you’re feeling lost, there’s always the manual. Plus, it comes with a cover, which is a real bonus considering Weber doesn’t just give those away.

First Impressions Weber Smokey Mountain 18 Inch

Weber’s attention to detail is something to croon about. Like that little grey silicone grommet next to the aluminum side lid – it’s a gateway for your thermometer probe, and it’s pure genius. And the thermometer on the lid? It’s got the sweet spot for hot smoking temperatures marked out, so you can’t miss.

The Build

Three dampers are evenly spaced around the base, sporting aluminum legs and a plate to stave off rust. The bottom, middle, and top of the barrel hold together by sheer willpower and gravity – no screws, no clips. You lay down the coal grate, set the combustion chamber within its walls, and above that, a semi-circular water bowl hangs, ready to be filled and create a humid haven for your smoke session.

Rack ‘Em Up

Two grates stack inside for your smoking pleasure, with the lower one naturally a bit warmer, and – by design – slightly smaller. Cap it off with the lid, and this beast is ready to roar.

Keeping It Covered

When living under the open sky, that included cover becomes your best friend, shielding your Weber Smokey Mountain 18 Inch from the elements.

Manual Musings

Weber manuals are a bit like a well-aged bourbon – rich and complex. They might seem verbose, but they’re spot-on, leaving no stone unturned.

Control Freak Heaven

Four dampers – three at the base, one at the top – let you play god with the temperature. That top damper stays open during smoking, while the bottom ones let you dial in the heat. And the door isn’t just for show – it lets you add fuel to the fire without disturbing the smoky magic inside.

Operation Smoky

The manual suggests starting with just the bottom part for lighting up your coals. You don’t need all briquettes blazing at once, just the ones near the fire starters. Then throw in some wood chunks for smoke, stack it up, fill the water bowl, and lay out the food on the grates.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

I dabbled with Weber’s wood chunks, soaked and dry, and various smoking woods in the smoking box, concluding that this smoker is an omnivore when it comes to smoke sources. Just know what you’re aiming for – like whether you’re into soaking or not.

The Hot Smoking Verdict

In the end, hot smoking was a breeze, aligning perfectly with the Weber manual and my own smoking savvy: simple, swift, and utterly predictable.

Care and Maintenance

To ensure the Weber Smokey Mountain 18 Inch smoker stands the test of time, the manufacturer recommends a yearly cleanse. Just strip it down, remove all the grates and bits, and give the insides a scrub with a gentle detergent. The manual stays mum on dishwashing those shiny chrome grates, but I’d wager they could survive a cycle or two if they fit.

Best Choice
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
19 x 21 x 41 inches
It can accommodate a whole turkey and an entire ham at the same time!
Check Price

Practical Tests

The mission was simple: conduct a few easy experiments that any smoke enthusiast could replicate, and gauge just how user-friendly this smoking titan is. We went with affordable, accessible ingredients. For a kick-off, we hot smoked pork knuckles and a leg of lamb to dinner perfection. Encouraged by our success, we smoked two types of fish – pink salmon and mackerel – both hot and cold, as well as four variations of pork belly: cured and cooked, again with both smoke types.

There are more complex recipes and delicate deli meats out there, and other curing methods like wet brining. But we kept our aim straight – simple tests that don’t need a culinary degree to understand.

Smoked Pork Knuckles

We salted pork knuckles for a day with good old salt and pepper, then chucked them in the fridge. After their chilly stint, we vacuum-sealed and sous-vided them at 158°F (70°C) for five hours. They then ascended to the top grate of the smoker, where the coals had been lit and soaked wood added for flavor.

The Weber Smokey Mountain can handle big wood chunks or hefty chips – soaked beforehand in our case. We closed up the smoker and let the aromatic smoke do its thing. The knuckles were already tender from their sous-vide spa, so we smoked by time rather than temp.

A little over an hour later, our first dish was ready. The smoke had worked its magic, the meat was tender, the skin was soft and chewy. You could fit 5-6 knuckles on one grate, and with two grates, that’s a feast fit for an army.

Hot Smoked Leg of Lamb

A whole small lamb leg fits comfortably on each level of the smoker, but for our experiment, we went with a raw lamb leg, aiming for a medium finish.

We seasoned it with about a tablespoon of salt, some caraway, and a dash of chili flakes. After marinating overnight in the fridge, it landed on the lower grate.

We set up the iGrill for a medium cook and waited for the smoke to seep in and the coals to bring the lamb up to 149°F (65°C). The thermometer signaled the finish line, and oh boy, it was the perfect doneness and smokiness to satisfy any carnivore’s dream – and it was so simple.

Result: Excellent.

Hot Smoked Mackerel

Our hot smoking adventures were begging for a fishy participant. We started with the humble frozen mackerel, which we let thaw in the fridge over a day. We went old school with the dry cure: a blend of salt, sugar, ground cinnamon, pink and black peppercorns, a few crushed cloves, and cardamom pods. We gutted the fish and rubbed the mixture inside and out. Two days of curing in the fridge, and it was ready for the smoker.

We gave the mackerel an hour in the smoker at a moderate heat – the lid thermometer hovered around 212°F (100°C). Forty minutes in, and we had perfectly hot smoked mackerel. It was delicious, but beware – after this, store-bought hot smoked mackerel just won’t cut it anymore.

Result: Excellent.

Hot Smoked Pink Salmon Fillet

The pink salmon, thawing alongside the mackerel, got a different prep. This wild fish from the Far East didn’t need a spice parade: just a backbone and head removal, a tablespoon of salt, sugar, and freshly ground Kampot pepper for a brighter aroma.

Smoked following the same method as the mackerel, we ended up with a delectably hot smoked red fish.

Result: Excellent.

Hot Smoked Pork Belly

We prepared four cuts of pork belly for four smoking styles – including ribs and cartilage parts, and pure bacon. We cured the pork with a mix of 1% salt and 1% curing salt relative to the meat’s weight, a five-pepper blend, cinnamon, ground bay leaves, brown sugar, and dried garlic granules. After a four-day cure – one night at room temperature and the rest in the fridge – we were ready. But a pro tip: you could cut the salt by 20-30%.

One piece went into the sous-vide at 158°F (70°C), another straight onto the smoker’s grate after a pat down to remove excess spices.

Two hours of smoking with a gradual increase in temperature – the lid thermometer stuck around 212°F (100°C) before we cranked it up to around 266°F (130°C).

The cooked and smoked pork belly turned out just as you’d imagine from the supermarket but tastier. The skin was tender, the smoke aroma sweet, and the flavor concentrated without being overpowering, slicing beautifully for sandwiches. The pleasing pink hue was thanks to the curing salt.

The raw belly on ribs smoked in the same time, soaked up more smoke than its boiled counterpart, and was devoured by our tasters post-photoshoot. It left us thinking about its potential as an ingredient for pea soup, bigos, or beans stewed with ribs.

Result: Excellent.

Plain Hot Smoked Chicken

We kept the chicken simple: a farm-raised bird rubbed with salt inside and out, a touch of oil, and smoked alongside the pork belly.

The result was a succulent bird, achieved with virtually no prep work.

Result: Excellent.

Cold Smoking Mackerel and Pink Salmon

The Prep

The fish was prepared as detailed earlier, but with a twist the night before smoking – left under a fan in a cool place to let the flesh dry and firm up a bit. We were on edge; cold smoking was uncharted territory for all our testers. But as usual, when it comes to Weber gear, the worries were unfounded. The soldier sleeps, the service continues, and the outcome? Beyond praiseworthy.

The Smoke Session

A 12-hour smoke led both types of fish to a full, flavorful cure, slicing beautifully with a taste that was nothing short of superb.

Result: Excellent.

Cold Smoked Pork Belly

The Salt and the Smoke

We’ve covered the cure and process: one piece boiled to an internal 158°F (70°C), the other simply salted. Let’s focus on the finish. The photo of the cold-smoked cooked pork belly speaks for itself – a delicacy of the highest order. The raw cold-smoked was even tastier. For this dish alone, it’s worth having the ability to cold smoke. With the tested device, you can do it without any fuss, and in quantities ample for a large family or to treat friends and relatives.

Result: Excellent.

Weber Smokey Mountain 18 Inch Conclusions

Weber’s Wonder

The Weber Smokey Mountain 18 Inch is simple, user-friendly, and a joy to use for hot smoking. Add a spiral smoke generator, and voila, you have cold smoking too. No complaints about the device or the proprietary consumables – no flaws to be found.


Just two things to note: first, you’ll be dealing with coal or charcoal briquettes, and second, it’s quite large, meaning it’s meant for smoking in bulk. So if you’re looking to smoke a chicken once a year, it might be overkill.

Price and Value

Many will balk at the price, but two things soften the blow. One, there’s no doubting the long service life of a Weber – solid, thick, and metallic, it’s likely to last over a decade with proper care. Two, when you compare the cost of smoking in a Weber with the price of store-bought smoked goods, the device pays for itself within a year with intensive use.

Best Choice
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
19 x 21 x 41 inches
It can accommodate a whole turkey and an entire ham at the same time!
Check Price

The Real Deal

But the main draw isn’t the cost; it’s the simplicity and predictability of the process. Minimal “witchcraft” required, unlike charcoal grilling: just light it up, load it, and unload by temperature or timer. It’s a gift for lazy gourmands.


  • Thoughtful and simple design
  • Large capacity
  • Minimal and easy maintenance
  • Consistent results
  • Accessory for cold smoking available


  • Requires significant space for setup and storage
  • Overkill for small volumes and infrequent use
Liam Turner

Gear Review Specialist. Liam’s expertise lies in testing and reviewing smoking equipment, ensuring our readers make informed decisions.

Rate author
Add a comment