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Temperature Control in Weber Charcoal Kettle Grills

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    Temperature Control in Weber Charcoal Kettle Grills

    I’ve been reading Meathead’s book Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling, and he says to make sure you can lock in your grill to three temperatures: 225, 325, and “Warp 10.” How does one go about achieving these temperatures on the standard Weber Kettle Grill? How much charcoal? How much do you open your vents? How much will the weather affect these things

    It depends on how you plan on setting your kettle up? Are you planning to bank the charcoal, use the Weber baskets or use a slow n sear. But really it just takes a few cooks or even a couple dry runs adjusting vents in different positions and note what your temps are.
    one of the most important items you need is a good thermometer you can leave on the grate and know what the actual temps are at the food level.


      A leave in thermometer is very important to maintaining temps, but you don't really need to lock in one temp. It's good to be able to maintain a temp so you don't have to worry, but low and slow works for most things if you can keep the temp within a 50° to 75° swing.
      What I do is light about a dozen briquettes and drop them in one end of the SnS that is full of unlit briquettes. I then control the temp with the two vents. 225° had both vents less than half open. For 350°, I open the top vent a bit more. Warp 10 is getting the briquettes as hot as possible.
      One thing that helps is to mark on your Kettle where the vents should be, and all I did was to take a paint pen and run a mark across the vent cover and the Kettle lid. Use a color that will show on your lid.


      • Mr. Bones
        Mr. Bones commented
        Editing a comment
        True dat, ya jus gotta learn, then deal with any given cooker's swing. Many / most have a tighter swing than yer home oven.
        Don't go chasin temps, an dinkin or jackin round with yer vents every few mikes, especial watchin a leave in grate thermo probe....
        Weber kettle, judiciously adjust yer vents in small increments...
        Wait a good 15 minutes afore ya look at temps again...
        Drink a good cuppa joe, tea, beer, bourbon, whatever will keep ya from vent fiddlin, unless disaster was imminent...

      • Sweaty Paul
        Sweaty Paul commented
        Editing a comment
        My advice is you listen to Mr. Bones as he is a bit of a "kettle whisperer" and collector. A true aficionado.

      • RustyHaines
        RustyHaines commented
        Editing a comment
        Roger that Mr. Bones. My twin sons both are new to the kettle world and I gave them the same advise. Good thermometer, learn your machine, take your time, as nothing should happen fast in the kettle world. And if something does happen too fast get the lid on and shut all vents until the rocket ship returns to earth's orbit :-)

      Lotsa great information has already been offered, above ^^^^

      I'm also askin what kettle do ya have? 22.5"? 26.75"? 18'5"? Makes a definite difference as to what we give fer a good answer to git ya started down th Road to Kettle control... (I jus might have a kettle, as well )

      Other factours can be ambient air temp, humidity, wind, altitude....

      Arm us with more info, an th smarter folks here will git ya dialed in sooner (Not Me... )
      Last edited by Mr. Bones; September 11, 2020, 07:17 PM.


      • NotTheGolfer
        NotTheGolfer commented
        Editing a comment
        I have a 22.5 inch

      So... I am a novice compared to MH but I disagree about specific temps. What you DO want is a temp that's low and slow, one thats a low roast/faster BBQ and high (if you want to grill).

      The biggest thing to understand is that you can't turn a charcoal grill down easily. What this means is that you want to constrain the flow of air to start out with and open it up if needed. For 250F or so I start with the bottom vents at 1/4 and the top vent at 1/2. Light a few (under 12) coals, let the ash over, put them in one corner of the SNS and pour in the rest of the coals. put the lid on and walk away for ~15-30 mins to let temps stabilize.


      • jfmorris
        jfmorris commented
        Editing a comment
        Very good. You can always INCREASE the temperature by adding air, but once its too hot, you can't quickly make the fire smaller and cooler.

      Using a Slow 'N Sear in my kettle, I've mastered those 3 temp settings:

      Started 12 briquettes or equivalent amount of lump, pile in the corner of the SNS once ashed over, then fill the rest of the SNS with charcoal, top with wood chunks, add 1 qt hot water to the reservoir, and open top vent to 1/2, bottom vent to 1/3.

      Light a half chimney of briquettes. Fill the SNS halfway up with unlit briquettes, and dump the lit ones on top. Open all vents wide open. I also stabilize at this temp when direct grilling using a set of Grillgrates, with 1 chimney of coals on the charcoal grate, and all vents open.

      I do this for wood fired pizza. Full chimney of lit charcoal in the SNS. Chunks of wood on top, and crack the lid on that side of the kettle. Put pizza stone or in my case cast iron pan on a hover grill to get it up in the dome, and bake your awesome pizza.

      Half to full chimney in the SNS, and sear directly above the glowing red hot coals, with bottom vent open and lid open. My IR gun says its over 1000F.

      As far as weather - I don't see it making a huge difference for me. As others say, the size of the kettle, and how you are setting up the charcoal, all are a factor.
      Last edited by jfmorris; September 11, 2020, 07:56 PM.


      • jfmorris
        jfmorris commented
        Editing a comment
        Panhead John if you wait for ALL the coals to be fully grey and ashed over, even when just doing a quick burger cook or something, you've expended a lot of the fuel by that point, and won't get a long cook. I just wait for it all to be ignited and the flames to die down, then dump it from the chimney, get the temp I want, then start cooking.

      • Panhead John
        Panhead John commented
        Editing a comment
        I’ve gotten 6-7 hours of 225*-250* in my WSM with putting food on after coals are ashed. I dump in a full chimney of coals, mostly all grey at least, not 100%. I usually don’t do a cook longer than 6-8 hours, if so I’ve added coals during the cook. I live by myself and mainly cook just for me. I don’t do a full packer brisket, maybe half of one. I got 6 hrs.of steady temps for my chuck roast last week on the SnS, adding mostly ashed over coals from the start. Next slow cook I’ll try that. 👍
        Last edited by Panhead John; October 5, 2020, 04:19 PM.

      • jfmorris
        jfmorris commented
        Editing a comment
        Panhead John 6 hours is a minimum time on a WSM - you need to be using the minion method there for sure.

        Look here:


      Warp 10 can also be achieved with a conical fuel basket, and a pizza tray with the center cut out and placed on the lower grate to host the basket. This earlier pick shows me using foil instead. The air is channeled only into the fuel basket, giving you a Warp 10 searing center.

      Sometimes I run my performer Louie indirect, then move the slow and sear stuff over to my flaming read-head Lucille to finish things up.

      Click image for larger version

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      Inverting the fuel basket to be wide-mouthed up top increases the temp even more. I've cut two pizza trays as drip trays and air channels, depending on how I use the fuel funnel.

      This is also a great way to do a whole hen, by putting the center grate in place and centering this on top:

      Click image for larger version

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      I just noticed I got photo-bombed... LoL


      • Steve R.
        Steve R. commented
        Editing a comment
        World-class photobomber right there! lol

      For low n slow. I really like my thermoworks signals with bellows air controller. It's not cheap but I've been using it for a year or two now and love it. I set the temp and can keep the temp within 10 degrees of the set temp for many hours. It's not ideal for cooks that need to be 325 or hotter. It will help. But I had to open the bottom vent a little.
      But I use fogo lump charcoal. Haven't used briquettes in a few years.
      For 225 to 250 or so, bottom vent closed off and top vent about 1/4 open.
      I like the idea of setting an all-night cook and being able to go to bed and not have to check it until morning.


        This was helpful for me.



          My 22” ran hot (I now have a 26”) and I learned quickly to use less than a chimney of charcoal for low and slow.

          As Mr. Bones notes, resist the temptation to adjust the vents too dramatically or too frequently. A small adjustment makes a big difference and it often takes ten minutes for the temp to adjust.

          Weather can be a factor. Wind, especially gusty wind, is the pitmaster’s biggest nightmare

          Finally, don’t stress if you can’t hit 225 or 325. Most low and slow meats are fine between 225-250. I smoked chicken tonight and ran about 335 with great results. Avoiding big fluctuations is more important than hitting 225 exactly.


            NotTheGolfer everything you need to know about setting up your Weber kettle is right here: https://snsgrills.com/pages/slow-n-s...g-instructions.

            The Slow n' Sear is a really nice addition to your kettle, but the principles of how to control temperatures remain the same, even without that accessory.
            Last edited by Steve R.; September 14, 2020, 07:20 AM. Reason: Somehow screwed up copying and pasting the link. Thanks, GolfGeezer!


            My kettle settles in at 240* with both vents open just a hair, and the lid held closed with binder clips. I’ve never gotten it to go lower. 240* is fine.


            • Reds Fan 5
              Reds Fan 5 commented
              Editing a comment
              This is my experience, too, Mosca. The kettles have their own personalities. Once I realized I could ride along successfully at 240 or 250 smoking became a lot easier and a lot more fun.

            I found this a while back
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