The SmokeFire is Weber’s first foray into the pellet grill space, and while it checks a lot of boxes, it has its quirks. The Weber SmokeFire is a good option if you’re looking for a grill that will allow you to both smoke at low temperatures and grill with high heat. Coming in two sizes, the SmokeFire starts at $999.
The Weber SmokeFire is made out of enamel-coated steel with double-wall sides for insulation. Unlike many pellet grills, the SmokeFire utilizes three vents in the rear of the chamber for exhaust, instead of a chimney. The cooking grates are made of plated steel and the main cooking surface on the EX4 is 18″ x 24″ while the main cooking surface on the EX6 is 18″ x 36″. Both grills have a small upper cooking surface as well, making the total cooking area 672 square inches and 1,008 square inches on the EX4 and EX6 respectively.
Check out my preview video, where I go over the design and features of the grill prior to cooking on it:
Both models have a built-in shelf with utility hooks on the right side as well as the controller. The controller features a large, backlit LCD screen that’s easy to read in daytime as well as night. You adjust settings using a rotating knob that pushes in for confirmation. It’s very easy to use, unless its cold outside. When the temperature is cold, the liquid crystals seem slow to respond and you need to turn the dial slowly in order to change the temperature. The controller has four probe ports while the SmokeFire only comes with a single temperature probe.
There is a grease & ash pullout tray underneath the cooking chamber that works fairly well and is much easier than vacuuming the fire pot out manually, but more on that later. The SmokeFire is perched on four casters, two of which lock. While the casters are fairly small, I’ve found that doesn’t make much difference unless you’re moving it around all the time. On the rear, you’ll find the long and narrow pellet hopper that holds around 22 pounds of pellets. That said, the pellet hopper is a little too narrow and I find that it’s difficult to keep pellets from falling on the ground during refill. Also, once the pellet hopper insert is installed (discussed later) the capacity gets down closer to 20 pounds.
Assembly of the Weber SmokeFire was really easy, especially when using the BILT App, which is a mobile phone application that takes you through the installation instructions step-by-step, using three dimensional diagrams that you can rotate and zoom into. Assembly took about 45 minutes with two people, but it can mostly be done by one person as long as you get some help with the heavy lifting.
Here’s a quick gallery of assembly pictures:
Check out my full review video, where I talk about all of the cooks I’ve done on the Weber SmokeFire and talk about whether or not I recommend it:
I did a number of cooks on the SmokeFire, from low and slow smoking to high heat grilling. The one thing I will say for sure about this pellet grill is that it can really grill. Unlike most pellet grills that require accessories (which of course are sold separately) in order to sear a steak, the Weber SmokeFire can be set to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, reaches the target temperature in about 10-15 minutes and does a great job cooking burgers, chicken breast, steak, and anything else you’d grill at high temperatures.
While it does have some flaws, you can tell that Weber did a ton of research on the pellet grills on the market and tried to improve upon some of the common user complaints. Some of the issues they tried to solve include:
- This one is obvious, but you can tell Weber’s main goal was designing a pellet grill that can hit those high temps to grill and sear. They replaced the standard full-size deflector that comes with most grills and instead the SmokeFire utilizes a smaller deflector directly over the firepot with smaller flavorizer bars spread throughout the grill. This allows for more direct heat when you want it and indirect heat when you don’t.
- Ash and grease management: Weber designed the SmokeFire in a way that lets the grease fall to the bottom of the grill and funnels it into a pull-out grease tray. The firepot is also perforated to allow the ash from the pellets to fall into that same pull-out tray. While neither was 100% solved, this is a step in the right direction.
- Burnbacks: A common problem with pellet grills is that the pellets inside the auger catch fire from the firepot and burn almost like the wick of a bomb, back toward the pellet hopper. With the industry-first inclined auger design, it’s almost impossible for a burnback to happen in a SmokeFire thanks to the distance between the auger opening and the firepot.
- Another reason the inclined auger is an innovative feature is that it also prevents pellet jams. During the shutdown sequence, the auger will run in reverse to clear the auger of pellets, which often are the cause of jams in other grills.
As I mentioned, I did a number of cooks on the SmokeFire. I was most excited to check out the high heat grilling, but I would have been remiss if I didn’t also test out the low and slow smoking performance.
I made a number of quick weeknight meals on my SmokeFire, including
- Chicken breasts (a number of times) that were well cooked on the exterior and juicy on the inside
- Bubba burgers that were a little overcooked, but that was user error, as they cooked a lot faster than I expected when the grill was set to 600.
- Ribeye steaks that were cut a little too thin by the butcher, however, I was able to achieve really nice grill marks while cooking them to a medium-rare on the inside.
For my low and slow test, I smoked a corned beef, otherwise known as a Pastrami. I placed the corned beef on the top shelf with a water pan directly underneath. The SmokeFire imparted a great smoke flavor and held well at 225 while it still had pellets in the auger. I say that because I ran into pellet tunneling issues a bunch of times during this approximately 6-hour cook. Pellet tunneling occurs when there isn’t enough slope for the pellets to fall down to the auger, and while this happens from time to time on most pellet grills, the issue is more exaggerated on the SmokeFire than any of the other pellet grills I’ve tested. Weber tried fixing this by shipping a pellet hopper insert, which increases the slope of the hopper while reducing the hopper capacity from 22 lbs to about 20 lbs, but for some reason, this still did not fix the issue. For a pellet grill, where the major selling point is that you can “set it and forget it,” the fact that I can’t trust the SmokeFire to do an overnight smoke is a significant fault and may be the most frustrating downfall of the grill.
While we’re talking about downsides, let’s talk about some of the other faults of the SmokeFire after having tested it thoroughly.
- Software: While nice looking, the Weber Connect app feels unfinished. While you can set alerts for each of the four probes and there are a few guided recipes that the app can take you though, I’m left wanting more. I’d love to be able to change the setpoint temperature or put the grill into shutdown mode from the app. I’d also love to see some temperature charting, showing how my grill has been performing against the setpoint.
- Ash flying everywhere, except for on the food. The SmokeFire’s fire pot is perforated to allow the ash from the spent pellets to drop down into the ash tray, however the fan stoking the flames tends to cause ash to fly around the grill. Strangely, and positively, I didn’t notice any ash collecting on the food itself, but you may want to avoid cooking on a flammable surface, such as a wooden deck, because I did witness hot ash flying outside of the grill.
- The design of the grease collection at the bottom of the cooker needs work. The grill is designed to channel grease down the center of the grill into the grease collection tray, however, the ash I mentioned above also collects in the grease channel. Ash + grease = blockages. If you do not clean out the grill after every cook, you run the risk of a grease fire if the grease channels are blocked. While it’s good practice to clean out your grill once in a while, I’ve never used a grill that required so much maintenance.
- Uneven cooking: No matter how I wiggled or jiggled the large, central diffuser, I couldn’t get the grill to heat evenly, whether it was low and slow or high heat. The central diffuser isn’t held in place like most pellet grills I’ve reviewed, and because of this the diffuser can easily shift left or right by accident while cleaning. It’s difficult to know exactly how to align the diffuser and this can lead to large temperature swings from the left to the right of the grill. During testing, I measured a difference in temperature of almost 70 degrees between the left and right sides of the grill. See photo below. During high heat grilling, I noticed that the food on the right side of the grill was finished sooner than the food on the left side.
In conclusion, my testing has confirmed that Weber’s SmokeFire achieved most of what it set out to do; build a pellet grill that can smoke low and slow for weekend projects and sear with high heat to act as a gas grill for quick and easy weeknight meals. While it can certainly do both, the SmokeFire has some quirks that make it difficult for me to recommend it to friends at this time; mainly the fact that I can’t leave it on its own for a long low & slow smoke, and the uneven heating throughout the chamber at both low and high temps. I am confident that Weber will iron out these quirks, which is why I would recommend waiting until the next iteration of the SmokeFire. I’ve used Weber products for years and can attest to their high quality and excellent customer service, so I have no doubt the SmokeFire will get some great improvements sooner than later.
You can purchase your Weber SmokeFire directly from Weber by going to WeberGrills.com or calling your local dealer.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: The ability to both grill/sear and smoke is a game-changer; The screen is easy to read day or night; Quality construction; Easy to assemble; Auger design helps prevent burnbacks; WiFi-connected; Makes delicious food
What Needs Improvement: Pellet hopper can’t be trusted delivering pellets to the auger, so I wouldn’t leave it for an overnight smoke; Uneven temperatures throughout the cooking chamber; App needs more features