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WSM 18.5 for Higher Temp Cooks

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    WSM 18.5 for Higher Temp Cooks

    So yesterday, I attempted to cook Meathead’s Ultimate Grilled Turkey recipe, but ended up punting and sticking the turkey in the oven. The problem? I COULDN’T GET THE SMOKER HOT ENOUGH. How do you get your WSM 18.5 to run in the 325-350 degree range for hotter cooks like this one?

    It could be so many different things….
    Poor Fuel
    Windy and cold outside
    Poor air flow
    Turkey was big and really cold

    Just a thought but you could do a test run with the same fuel and same location and just see if you can get it up on temp without anything in it?


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ID:	1121487 This what I’m currently debating right now. I also have a pellet smoker. I did my one and only turkey 🦃 on my WSM 2 years ago on Thanksgiving. Turned out awesome. Naturally I didn’t write down any notes on what I did so here I am wondering just what the heck to do.

      I do remember injecting the bird with a butter based liquid and using sage and some other spices on it. I also spatchcocked it.

      The one thing I can’t remember is what I did with the water pan. When I have done chicken on the WSM I have always removed it, so I’m assuming I must’ve done the same with a turkey. If I did leave it in, it definitely would have been empty. I only use the minion method when starting the charcoal, and I probably use a full charcoal starters worth of charcoal to get it going. I also remember the weather wasn’t too bad either so that didn’t really come into affect. I’m still torn between using my WSM This year or using my pellet smoker. Also thinking of buying a Thermoworks Billows too.


      • bbqLuv
        bbqLuv commented
        Editing a comment
        I vote Pellet smoker. Have not done a turkey on my Traeger yet, so pictures would be nice also too.

      Not a problem in my pellet grill 😁
      as @Dadof3Illinois said, "It could be so many different things…."
      Keep trying, the fun of BBQ is learning and eating your way to success.


        Some details on how the WSM was set up would definitely help :-)

        When I set my WSM 22 up to cook hot for a turkey, here’s what I do

        1 full dragon chimney (80 briquettes) lit, dumped on 1 full unlit chimney in the charcoal ring
        no water pan
        gravy pan on the bottom grate to catch drippings, smoke, etc
        turkey on the top grate
        Start with all vents wide open, adjust them once WSM top grate is over 300F

        The WSM 22 is going to be different from the WSM 18 because there is basically double the volume of space in the 22.
        Last edited by ecowper; November 7, 2021, 12:08 PM.


          Yes, we definitely need more details. Type of fuel? Temp outside? How much lit fuel, how much unlit fuel? Vent positions?

          I've done a couple of cooks on the WSM 18". I've filled the charcoal basket with unlit briquettes (like a donut, with a 5-6" hole in the middle), and then dumped 10-12 lit briquettes in the "hole". Look up the Minion method if you haven't heard of it. I start with all vents fully open. After 30 minutes it hits 150° C / 300° F easily, and then I can start dialing it down, typically by closing one of the bottom vents fully, and then reducing the top vent a bit.


          • ecowper
            ecowper commented
            Editing a comment
            as I expected, the WSM 18 can get hot much easier than the WSM 22. Air volume is a big deal.

          Thanks for all the input! As far as my set up goes, I used probably about 1/2 to 3/4 of a weber chimney of wet charcoals. I took these out of a fire ring of Kingsford blue charcoal. I’m using a thermal works Billows, and had the top that open, with the bottom vents shirt except for the one that the Bellows was hooked into. I couldn’t get the temperature above about 250°. The outside temperature was in the 50s and 60s yesterday when I did it. Hope that’s more helpful!
          Last edited by NotTheGolfer; November 7, 2021, 02:11 PM.


          • Razor
            Razor commented
            Editing a comment
            I have an identical setup and could never hit those temps either when I first started cooking on it.

            Knowing what I know now, try starting with a full lit chimney, and removing the Bellows, all vents wide-open. (I don’t think the Bellows can provide enough air.) Maybe even try letingt it run for a little bit with the lid off, just to get it up to temp, then put your bird on.

            I don’t know how Henrik gets to 350 with only 10-12 briquettes. That would take me hours. 😂

          Assuming you mean lit charcoal, not wet charcoal and that is just a typo. Did you have the water pan in? Was there water in the pan?


          • NotTheGolfer
            NotTheGolfer commented
            Editing a comment
            No water pan. Just the gravy pan underneath. And yes, I meant LIT charcoal. 😂

          No water pan, prop open the door for more airflow. I’m able to get mine to 350° Using Kingsford briquettes. Look on the Virtual Weber. Site for lots of good info.


          • Mr. Bones
            Mr. Bones commented
            Editing a comment

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          Started with half chimney of lit coals and let it spread into unlit. Used a water pan with boiling water. Put a foil covered water pan in place of lower rack to catch drippings. Monitored WSM and bird temps with a Maverick. Top vent left 3/4 open. Controlled temp using lower vent. Had no trouble getting over 300. Used John Henry Pecan Rub. Crisped skin at end with a searzall.


          • Henrik
            Henrik commented
            Editing a comment
            Yep, I use boiling water in the water pan also, good point.

          • Mr. Bones
            Mr. Bones commented
            Editing a comment
            Magnificent Bird Presentation, Brother! I also am an advocate of th water pan.

            Does it help? I dunno, scientifically...

            Does it hoight? Nope, lol!
            Last edited by Mr. Bones; November 8, 2021, 04:51 PM.

          • jlazar
            jlazar commented
            Editing a comment

          Great input, folks. I am doing my trial bird tomorrow. Will be using a dry water pan (or shallow plate if it gets delivered) very similar to what ecowper is doing. I have the small Weber chimney. Should I get the larger one for bird cooks?


          • Panhead John
            Panhead John commented
            Editing a comment
            I’d get the larger chimney anyway, there’ll be many times you can probably use the extra coals.

          • crazytown3
            crazytown3 commented
            Editing a comment
            2nd on getting the larger chimney. I have both large and small, and use them for different applications depending on what I'm doing.

          Super easy to get the temp up on the WSM 22 for turkey, the smaller one should be even easier. Leave the water pan dry, line it with foil. Put a foil pan on the lower grate. I use Harry Soo's donut method to get the coals lit and open up all of the vents top and bottom. When within about 40 degrees of target smoker temp adjust vents very slightly to slow it down. I wouldn't use a blower controller to achieve higher temps as it isn't needed and might blow ashes all inside the chamber getting it on the bird. Meathead's recipe is incredible and spot on for turkey. Have fun!
          Last edited by Hulagn1971; November 12, 2021, 04:40 PM.



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