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Pretty new to all this....a few tips needed before my 1st test run please!


Joined Jul 14, 2016
Hi there,

I hope everyone is well?

It was recently my birthday and my absolutely brilliant buddies clubbed together and got me a Weber Smokey Mountain. This comes after years of me trying to turn our BBQ into a smoker….trying to recreate pulled pork in the slow cooker (actually sort of effective if you don’t want a bark….but who doesn’t want the bark?!)…constantly talking about smokey goodness and finally last year doing a bit of a US roadtrip (I’m from London) to sample some simply superb barbecue.

In addition to the smoker they also got me a chimney starter, charcoal, some mesquite chips, a thermometer and an approx. 2lb/1kg pork shoulder joint, effectively creating me a bit of a starter pack. Now I've heard mesquite should be used sparingly as it can cause bitterness and also that wood chips burn up far faster than chunks, but for now it is what I have to work with – I am going to be doing this test run on Saturday and there is nowhere near me that I can get chunks or an additional wood type from (I was thinking about perhaps some hickory for next time?). The question that I have is that though I've heard to use it sparingly, as I have never smoked anything before I don’t know how much you would usually use, therefore I don’t really know what a sparing amount is. If anyone can help me with the amount I should be using and how long I should be smoking for (as well as what the total smoke time and any other info you think might be useful for me to know!) it would be hugely appreciated!

I am totally new to this but am so keen to get involved, any tips or tricks would be welcomed - like should I smoke it with the fat side up or down? As I have chips is it worth soaking them?

Also, if anyone has any pointers to any good guides for 1st time pork shoulder smoking I would love to know - I've seen a fair few on the internet and in various books but they all seem to differ so I'm really not sure what would work well for me. 

Thank you for your time, fingers crossed I don’t completely mess it up this weekend!


chad e

Smoke Blower
SMF Premier Member
Joined Feb 20, 2016
Have you seasoned your WSM yet? Search here in the forums if you haven't. Points to your brilliant buddies for the excellent smoker choice.
Smoke flavor is a personal preference. Some like more some like less. Others like just a hint of flavor. Although the exact time is a never ending debate, it is agreed that your meat of choice only takes smoke for a portion of the cook. Keep a consistent thin blue smoke going for a couple of hours and judge for yourself if you prefer more or less. Most importantly, enjoy the learning curve.
Happy smoking!


Joined Jul 10, 2016
I would start out with a little more than a handful of wood chips for your first cook. When your cooking with mesquite you are better off getting a little less smoke flavor than too much. Mesquite can be bitter is you use too much. I would also recommend you trying the minion method with your WSM. This will give you a long consistent burn throughout your cook and you wont be burning all your wood chips at once. There is plenty of threads on here showing you how to do the minion method if your not familiar with it. 


Epic Pitmaster
OTBS Member
Joined Oct 4, 2012
Get chunks not chips for your smoke wood. The chinks should be 2"-3" in size and you mix them in with th your lump or charcoal. For long cooks I use 4-6 chunks for shorter cook 2-3.

As mentioned mesquite can be over powering. Cherry seems to my go to for all meats. Or a mix of cherry/pecan or cherry/kiawe. Apple is good too.

There are many ways to run the WSM. What works best for me is to load the basket with fuel and smoke wood. Then I take a propane torch light it and stick it in one of the lower vents. This is known as the sidelight method. In short you let the torch run until the pit is 25-30 degrees above your pit temp, then shut it off. Temp drops repeat until the temp doesn't go 10-15 degrees below pit temp you want. Then let smoker come up. Slowly close lower vents to hit target temp.

One more thing leave the top vent open when smoking. You only need to adjust the lower vents to maintain temps. Closing the top vent will create stale smoke which doesn't taste good.

If you haven't already buy a good multiprobe therm like the iGrill2 or the Maverick 732-733. The stock therms are usually off. And you really want to know pit temp where you are cooking at grate level not the top of the lid. Plus you'll need the probes for meat as everything is best when cooked to the proper internal temp (IT).


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Group Lead
Joined Apr 12, 2013
Hi HL - welcome to the forum. It is great to see others on here from the south. I am from Kent so not too far from you.

The WSM is a great smoker to start with. Temperature control is straightforward and by using good quality briquettes you will be able to cook for 7/8 hours + on a single charge which will be good for your pork shoulder.

The photos below are actually with a ProQ Frontier but the preparation and control is exactly the same as with the WSM.

Firstly you need to get some good quality briquettes as a base for the heat. If you can find Heat Beads then these will give you the longest duration and most even cooking.

Place a can of beans or equivalent in the centre of the fire basket and pour the briquettes around it. Pull out the can to expose a hole in the centre. This is where you are going to put your burning coals.

Get about a dozen briquettes up to temperature in the chimney starter and pour these into the centre

You can then lay your wood of choice on top of the unlit briquettes with some just touching the lit briquettes. Above you can see an example of wood chunk and pellets but you can just use your mesquite chips on top. These will burn slowly over the duration of the cook providing continuous light smoke. 3 or 4 good handfuls of your mesquite chips will be fine over the coals. There is no need to soak the chips.

Open the bottom vents fully.

Half fill the water pan with either water or sand and put it in place. The main purpose of this is to act as a heat buffer between the coals and the cooking chamber. If this is your first time using it them water will be fine.

Attach the body of the WSM. What kind of thermometer do you have? Is it designed to have a probe permanently inside the cooking chamber? (e.g Maverick ET-732/733). If so then clip the probe of your digital thermometer onto the cooking grate. If you do not have a thermometer with a probe designed to stay in the cooking chamber then you may want to get one as the lid thermometers are usually quite inaccurate.

Place the lid on the WSM with the top vents open and monitor the temperature as it rises. This will take 20-40 minutes. As the temperature gets to about 3/4 of the desired smoking temperature begin to close the bottom vents in stages. You need to find the balance where there is enough air going over the coals to produce enough heat to just keep the cooking chamber at the desired temperature. Do not let it over run as it is much easier to increase the temperature than it is to reduce it. Do not close the bottom vents completely or the coals will go out.

The day before, trim off any skin from the pork shoulder. If you like crackling then this can be cooked separately in the oven. The night before rub the whole joint with your chosen rub, wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge overnight. The day of the cook place the joint on a wire rack over a roasting pan (fat side up) on the top rack of the WSM. The roasting pan is to collect the juices from the meat which will be added back after it has been smoked and pulled. If you want to place the meat directly on the top cooking grate then place the roasting pan underneath on the rack below.

Cook at about 110-115 C (230-240 F) until the centre of the pork has reached 88-90 C (190-195 F). This will take 7-8 hours depending on the size of the joint. If it takes a little longer then that is fine.

Take the pork off the smoker and double wrap in foil. Leave to rest for at least an hour. When cook enough to handle, pull. Retain all of the juices from the foil and add to the juices from the roasting tray. Allow to settle and skim off and discard the layer of fat. Once pulled, pour the juices over the meat and serve.

I hope this gives you a good start and don't forget to take photos and post them here. We love photos.

Last edited:

joe black

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Jan 25, 2015
Welcome from SC (USA), HL. It's good to have you here.

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