View Full Version : BBQ Newbie...here to make some like minded friends....

03-04-2019, 02:12 PM
Hey Everyone!
.....I inadvertently stumbled down the rabbit hole that is all things BBQ so much so that I don't know where to start.....perhaps a little back story would probably be the best place to begin.....my wife is usally pretty good at gift giving and really knocked it out of the park this year at Christmas. I had a WSM18 wrapped and well next to tree this year however with it being so stinking cold this winter so far I haven't had a chance to even break this thing out. While I haven't had a chance to actually use it, I have been left with ample time to watch youtube vids about cooks, mods and all things BBQ.

I have made two minor mods to the smoker so far. I put the WSM on casters and I also upgraded the thermometer on the top. Additionally I have purchased way a few sauces/rubs/marinates from Kosmos Q and a Maverick wireless temp probe.

I do have a few questions if you don't mind....
1) Even after watching all of these videos I know I am going to have some really marginal cooks until I even remotely get the hand of things. Is there any thing you would recommend as far as types of meats to start with? I don't want to blow good money on a brisket and end up throwing it away because it isn't edible...lol.

2) What is the minimum temperature you would consider smoking at? Here in the NE its seems like its been colder than usual this winter.

Really appreciate the comments and I look forward to being an active member of the board!


03-04-2019, 02:15 PM
Pork butt is the cheapest and easiest - it’s pretty hard to mess up pulled or chopped pork.
I believe 275* is The Best BBQ Temp - although I usually cook 300 to 325*..........Because I started out I had several different cheap drafty charcoal smokers that would not hold 275 -they would blow right past it to 300-325-350* so that’s what I got used to.........And on my stick burners - the first few were smaller and I’m too lazy to cut down my splits - so I cooked 300 to 350*..........

03-04-2019, 02:20 PM
Hi and welcome. I'm new to this forum as well, but not new to the WSM. The best first smokes will be ribs or pork shoulder. Ribs if you want a shorter smoke, or a shoulder if you want the full experience. It's hard to mess either up on a WSM.

As for minimum temp, I've dropped to 200 a few times with no problems....but it's best to try to keep it around 225 to 250. Even hotter seems to be the trend, but I haven't tried hot and fast yet.

03-04-2019, 02:29 PM
Pork butt is very easy, and a great place to start. I always considered ribs my favorite BBQ food, so I started with those. Much harder to tell when done than with the pork butt.

I have smoked as low as 11 degrees F outside. Wind is a bigger issue than just cold. People will commonly use welding blankets or wind breaks to surround the WSM to keep the temp stable in cold or windy weather.

Joe Black
03-04-2019, 02:39 PM
Welcome from SC. It’s really good to have you on this great site.

What is this like minded folk that you speak of? Once that you’ve been around here a while, you will realize that most BBQ folk have lost their minds a long time ago. If you are interested in like minded folk, I would suggest that you subscribe to “psycho monthly”.

Welcome, enjoy yourself, your WSM is a great unit to start on.

Big George's BBQ
03-04-2019, 02:43 PM
You need to season it and get it dirty A fatty- AKA smoked sausage log- Jimmy Deans and Bob Evans are good Do one naked 1st- no bacon or stuff rolled up inside Its not that cold in PA

03-04-2019, 04:40 PM
You need to season it and get it dirty A fatty- AKA smoked sausage log- Jimmy Deans and Bob Evans are good Do one naked 1st- no bacon or stuff rolled up inside Its not that cold in PA

You are right, it isn't that cold. Guess I figured it was too cold to smoke. I'm waiting for the temps to get in the upper 40s til I get out there and throw some meat on the WSM.

Phoenixville isn't too far away from the Lehigh Valley.

03-04-2019, 04:43 PM
The consensus appears to be a pork butt, thats what I figured as well. Has anyone gotten meats from Sams? Any comments about the quality of their products?

03-04-2019, 05:09 PM
Don't over think it. Buy some meat, smoke it, eat it.

03-04-2019, 05:15 PM
The consensus appears to be a pork butt, thats what I figured as well. Has anyone gotten meats from Sams? Any comments about the quality of their products?

Sams is fine for meat. Just find the best marbling in whatever cut you choose. I smoke on a 22 WSM.

Iíd say the biggest piece of advice I could offer is to not chase temps too much. For example If your goal is 250 but your WSM just wants to sit pretty at 280, just let it. Also donít ever tell your wife what time dinner will be ready.

03-04-2019, 05:20 PM
Welocme to the asylum. You can check out anytime you like, but you can NEVER leave!

03-04-2019, 05:48 PM
I buy meat at Walmart, Sams, Kroger, Albertsons and HEB (Texas Only) - who ever has a Sale........

03-04-2019, 05:58 PM
The consensus is pork butt but you can get a 10lb bag of chicken quarters cheaper. I would (did) start with them and work your way up. 165 IT. The best part about this site is if you have a question it will almost always get answered by someone who's done it. Welcome aboard and good luck.

03-04-2019, 08:16 PM
Since you are learning, start short. Chicken, or porksteaks or even a good meatloaf. I run my UDS around 280-290 and the food works out good. Figure out how to start a fire, shoot for a temperature (275 is a decent start) and how long to wait for the temperature to settle in. After you have that figured out, do a pork butt which is longer. Keep the temp the same, and just work on watching the cooker, to see how it acts for 8 to 10 hours cooking. When you get there, think about spending money on brisket.

03-04-2019, 09:52 PM
I have cut my teeth on a WSM as well for the last 3 years and agree with all the suggestions above, and would only add chuck roast as something easy and affordable to learn/experiment with. I would also suggest that you look in too adding half inch gasket to improve the seal around the door and possibly the inside lip where the lid seats.
Welcome. If you have the bug for creative food and dialogue, you will love this place!

03-04-2019, 09:59 PM
The consensus appears to be a pork butt, thats what I figured as well. Has anyone gotten meats from Sams? Any comments about the quality of their products?

I get all of my pork butts at Sams. They are very good. I personally prefer bone-in.

03-05-2019, 02:51 PM
I also started on WSM (albeit 22"). I started with a few pork butts on my WSM and I also used pork butt when I was figuring out how to run an offset. They can take wild temp swings with ease and still turn out great.

My WSM ran a little wild until it got gunked up a bit on the inside. I did wind up putting a gasket on the door and the top lid. It can now hold temps perfectly fine once it's up to temp. T Roy Cooks and Harry Soo both have great videos on YouTube that show how they run WSM's.

Have fun! Get ready to become addicted to smoking and going on journeys to buy meat. CostCo is where I tend to buy most of meat. If I'm really feeling adventurous I go to the butcher shop by my house, but they tend to be $$$.

03-05-2019, 06:15 PM
Hi Like Nike says "Just Do IT"..We are always here to help with any problems or questions
Don't over think it. Have fun and enjoy it. We are NOT building rocket ships.

03-05-2019, 07:08 PM
I think you'll be surprised with early results, sounds like you've done your research

03-05-2019, 07:11 PM
Here in MN coldest I've cooked is low teens, below that it's more an issue of me not wanting be outside

Swine Spectator
03-05-2019, 08:00 PM
A few tips: A WSM gets easier to use once it's "seasoned". Brand new, they are quite leaky, but after a few cooks it gunks up and seals (this is good).

Pork butt are cheap, but take a while to cook. I always recommend starting with chicken thighs. While challenging to perfect, they are almost impossible to ruin. They will give you a chance to learn your WSM in 2-3 hour stops vs. 8-10.

I never use water in mine, just a foil wrapped terra cotta plate as a heat sink. Learn to catch the fire on the way up. Set your temp and get clean burning before you add food. I get my best results at 275 for pork and brisket, 300-325 for chicken.

Also - Learn to brine birds.

Oh, and welcome to the Brethren. Best site on the Internet.


Happy Hapgood
03-05-2019, 10:20 PM
Welcome to the site. The know all end all is tvwbb.com
But you should come back here after you learn some basics. This site will take it to the next level.

You have one of the best smokers ever made. Take the time to get to know it.

03-06-2019, 06:52 AM
Also donít ever tell your wife what time dinner will be ready.

This is the single most helpful comment in this thread. :mrgreen:

03-06-2019, 08:22 AM
Welcome, Kris. You will certainly get the info you seek right here. In fact, I will bet a year from now you will be advising the newbie that just got a WSM how to go about getting started with it. It is nice that you have a Maverick, but as most here will advise, only use that as a guide. All meats are different, and you will learn to check the doneness by probing it. For now, get that thing fired up, seasoned and the thin-blue rolling.

03-06-2019, 01:54 PM
Welcome to the Forum. I own a 22 WSM and love it. I "graduated" to it from a COS that I had modified quite a bit and which eventually rusted out. Night/day difference in the two cookers, obviously. My WSM produces outstanding results.

I started with chicken, as others have suggested. More so to get some grease/smoke/gunk into it. The next cook I did multiple pork butts. I was off and running from there.

I use water in my pan(tons of opinions on what/how to use the water pan). It works well for me, and I have a wooded lot where I dump the water in the woods when the cook is finished.

Your 18.5 probably has the rubber grommet to run a probe wire through. Mine 22 is old enough that it doesn't have one. Regardless you might want to consider cutting a "notch" into the lid base for your temp probe(s). I used a dremel type sander and it took 15 seconds. I've had a my Maverick for over 3 years and have had zero issues with the probes using this method.

Happy Cooking!! You are in the right place to learn a LOT. The amount of knowledge on this website, and more importantly, the willingness of people to share it, is amazing!!

03-06-2019, 02:01 PM
My first smoker was the 18" WSM and I cooked some good food on it. I think my first cook was ribs. I usually cooked most everything between 275 and 300 which is where mine seemed to like to run. The best brisket I ever cooked was on the WSM.

I always used a wind break with mine and it seemed to help keep temps pretty steady.

I also never used water in the water bowl, I just foiled it.

Use the minion method to setup your charcoal and you can cook for hours without refueling.

I would recommend you check out the Virtual Weber Bullet website which is dedicated to the WSM and has a lot of great tips and people on there on how to run this smoker.

I eventually sold mine and moved on to something bigger but I think the WSM is a great smoker for those just starting out. Welcome and good luck.

03-06-2019, 04:18 PM
Welcome and you came to the right place Kris.

03-06-2019, 04:54 PM
Welcome to the WSM club! I highly recommend the fatty as well. They're easy to cook, season up the cooker REALLY nice (mmmmm fat!) and you can start getting a hang on the temp swings of your WSM.

Note, the swings will decrease as you cook more and seal it up more.

03-06-2019, 06:36 PM
I found this book to be very informative.


Smoke on Badger Mountain
03-06-2019, 10:21 PM
Welcome aboard. I also say smoke a butt!

03-07-2019, 08:00 AM
Welcome! I just picked up my first WSM last weekend (22") and fired it up for the first time. It was chilly (about 15 degrees) here. First cook I did up a couple of fatties and a rack of baby backs just to play with it. It settled in at about 260 and held steady there (within 10 degrees either way) for the entire cook. Everything turned out great.

I followed the guide Harry Soo has on his website for the first cook. Built a donut of unlit charcoal and dumped lit coals in the middle. Opened one bottom vent and left the top about 1/2 open and played with the top vent to get it stabilized. I think I probably started with too many lit coals and that's why it was running at 260ish rather than 230 or 240 I was shooting for. Not a big deal. The factory door on mine wasn't even close to making a seal. Probably a 1/8 gap at least. I bent it around and tried to seal it up with foil as best I could but it wasn't perfect and more than likely contributed to the higher temps as well. I just got a Cajun Bandit steel door delivered yesterday so that'll be going on this weekend.

As others have mentioned above I'd start with just about anything you feel like eating... maybe hold off on brisket until you get the hang of it. This weekend I'm going to try to dial the temp up and do a bunch of chicken. Have fun with your new toy!

03-07-2019, 08:02 AM
This is the single most helpful comment in this thread. :mrgreen:

I second this! My standard reply of "you can't rush greatness" has never seemed to make her happy. It's done when it's done.

03-07-2019, 02:56 PM
I guess I'm in the minority here, thinking he should start out with maybe a nice rack of pork loin ribs. A long enough cook to be practice at holding temps, but not too long as to want to give up too early and pull the meat.
I'm sure many here could give a straight forward step-by-step...maybe even without foiling to keep it simple.

03-13-2019, 04:21 PM
I appreciate all of the sage advice! I am going to put this baby to work this weekend with some chicken I think!

I will keep everyone posted!

Thanks again!

03-13-2019, 07:01 PM
Welcome Kris! Lots of great advice already. Boston Pork Butt, bone-in is a fantastic first cook. Focus on finding a temp your cooker likes and try maintaining that temp across the entire cook time - BPB is extremely forgiving. My WSM 22 loves to roll at 265... so that’s where I cook. If you haven’t already grabbed one - find an instant read thermometer.

Best advice is just get out there and play and get to know your cooker. It’s supposed to be fun!

03-19-2019, 08:57 AM
Went with some chicken quarters and man did they taste and smell amazing! I went with some Worcestershire sauce as a binder and put some KosmosQ rub on it. Finished with a pineapple habanero glaze...even leftovers were fantastic!

Pork Butt will be on the smoker this weekend!

Really silly question here but I have a fair amount of charcoals that aren't full burned. Can I just put some fresh charcoal on top that aren't fully turned to ash?

Sorry for the sideways pic, not sure how to rotate the attachment.

03-19-2019, 09:41 AM
Those look great! What was your cook plan? How was the skin?

03-19-2019, 09:57 AM
The only plan I had was to not burn them...lol. They cooked about 300 for about an 90 mins, then I applied some glaze and a little BBQ sauce. All in it was about 2 hours.

The skin was good, was hoping it would crisp up a little with the glaze but it didn't. Very pleased with the results though.

03-19-2019, 10:09 AM
Nice. If you like crisp skin, you likely should go high temp on the cook or direct on the skin side. Along with high temp, try the boiling water trick. Works every time, if your cooker will get up in the mid to high 300s.

03-19-2019, 02:35 PM
Let me ask a pork butt question. Is this something I can start for a few hours, wrap and leave unattended for like 2-2.5 hours to leave and watch my sons baseball game and then finish up? Any advice is appreciated.

03-19-2019, 02:49 PM
Although you can do hi-temp pork butt cooks, I prefer 225 - 250 range, for 12+ hours, till 203 IT range and probe tender. Some have gone as long as 16 hours, for me.

03-19-2019, 10:05 PM
So, I'm new here, but not new to BBQ. I started out smoking Boston butts, and I always recommend starting with them if you are new to BBQ. Pork shoulders are very forgiving, and have a meat thermometer built in (if you buy a bone in). Chicken is a little cheaper, but getting the skin done correctly can be challenging. The main thing is to BBQ what you like to eat, and learn from mistakes.

I buy pork shoulders from Sam's club all the time, and have been really happy with the results. In fact, I'm getting ready to buy a case of pork shoulders from Sam's club in the near future. You can find case sales on thier website.

I have only used a WSM a couple times, and that was years ago, so I don't have any real tips on running the WSM. You might want to look into getting a temperature controlling device like a BBQ Guru if you want to leave it unattended for awhile. Or you can smoke it for about 4 hrs, and then finish it in the oven. I would recommend getting a disposable pan if you are going to finish it in the oven.

Hope this helps!