- Capable of 600-degree temperatures, allowing you to both smoke and sear
- 22-pound pellet hopper features a low-pellet sensor and quick-change chute
- Weber Connect mobile app makes the grill compatible with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- Back-vented barrel design creates smoke circulation inside grill
- PID controller allows for fine temperature adjustments
The Weber SmokeFire is a one-of-a-kind machine that doesn’t behave like any other pellet grill on the market today. Normally, pellet grills function like BBQ smokers — a chamber (most often a barrel) is uniformly heated and filled with smoke to cook meats at low temperatures. There’s usually a large, full-coverage heat baffle underneath the cooking grids, which functions as a massive internal heat diffuser.
Weber, however, has done away with full-coverage heat baffles in favor of its classic Weber flavorizer bars. The result is a pellet grill that, while capable of holding steady smoking temperatures, can also cook with high heat just like a traditional grill.
Our experts tested 3 Weber SmokeFire models for of this review: 2 EX6 models and 1 EX4. Testing was completed over the course of several weeks and included heat readings at each corner of the grill, the far left and right side, and the center. We put the SmokeFire through the full range of temperatures it can produce, cooking huge amounts of food on both models to test ash and grease management while smoking as well as grilling. For good measure, we continuously cycled the grill’s ignition and shutdown systems. It’s safe to say our experts pushed this grill to its absolute limits.
The SmokeFire marked Weber’s first foray into the pellet grilling industry, and the storied grill company came looking to make a splash with an aesthetically pleasing, well-designed model. While the grill’s cooking chamber and lid are made from porcelain-enameled steel, the handles, side shelf, flavorizer bars, and accents are all stainless steel. Aluminized steel is used in a few of the components, namely the fire pot’s heat baffle and the interior panel of the side walls. The cooking grates, meanwhile, are galvanized steel-plated.
Thanks to the air gap in the double side walls, the Weber SmokeFire has enough insulation to hold temperatures well. Being headquartered in Louisiana, we were unable to test in snowy conditions, but even in chilly weather we saw no major issues with temperature maintenance. Additionally, we consider the SmokeFire’s stainless steel locking casters a nice addition.
Generally, smokers and grills operate on very different thermodynamic principles. Smokers require low and steady temperature for long periods of time to infuse meat with smoky flavor, whereas grills rely on huge amounts of airflow to achieve the intense heat needed for quick searing. By combining an open-body design with large air vents and a powerful, variable-speed fan, Weber created a pellet cooker perfectly capable of producing the airflow necessary to reach searing temperature. In fact, there are only a handful of pellet cookers on the market able to reach temperatures in excess of 600 degrees Fahrenheit. We were able to achieve temperatures of 600 degrees in under 20 minutes each time we started the grill.
The SmokeFire is able to function as a sear box, but it’s just as capable of operating like a smoker. Our experts cooked burgers, bacon, steaks, and sausage on high heat, and they smoked beef ribs, pork ribs, and whole chickens low and slow. The results of each cook were mouth-watering and flavorful, which leaves us with no doubt that this is a solid cooker whether you’re smoking or grilling.
To support the launch of the SmokeFire pellet grill, Weber also rolled out the Weber Connect companion app. The current version of the app provides temperatures for up to 4 probes as well as a grill temperature reading to keep you informed through every step of your cook. You can closely monitor your food as it smokes, or go hands-off and set a temperature alert that informs you when your meat has reached the desired internal temperature. Weber has announced plans to add recipes and guided cooking programs to the app with future updates.
You can connect to the SmokeFire via either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection. As soon as you connect for the first time, your SmokeFire will update with the latest firmware from Weber. The SmokeFire uses a PID controller, which controls both the DC-powered, variable-power auger motor and the variable-speed fan.
Pellets from the large-capacity pellet hopper at the back of the cooking chamber are fed to a vertically inclined auger that carries them up to a stainless steel pellet slide. Pellets then slide down to the fire pot below. This design is an innovative feature that actually allows a larger cooking fire and higher heat. The pellet hopper of the SmokeFire can hold 22 pounds of fuel and comes with a quick-change chute that lets you switch pellet flavor on the fly.
Things To Consider:
While there are aspects of this grill we enjoyed, we noticed some things that potentially get in the way of a great grilling experience. Our experts have some advice on these points that can help you make the most of your Weber pellet grill. It’s worth noting that most of the points below were unique to the larger EX6 model — the EX4 performed better in virtually every test we conducted.
During our testing of the SmokeFire, we noticed ash from the fire pot falling into the pair of grease trenches on either side of the fire pot. These trenches are designed to funnel grease from the cooking grates into Weber’s drip pan, but when the errant fire pot ash mixed with grease, it blocked the trench openings and prevented normal grease management.
After a full day of low-and-slow smoking on the EX6, we purposefully left this grease and ash in the bottom of the cook chamber overnight. The next morning, we kicked on the grill and began preheating to 600 degrees. When the grill reached temperature and our experts opened the lid, they noticed the dams of grease and ash on either side of the fire pot had ignited, creating small fires in the belly of the grill.
We then cleaned the grill and spent about 8 hours smoking moderately greasy meats before repeating this test the next morning. Again, our experts found that the ash and grease inside the cooking chamber had ignited during preheat. We attempted this test a third time — this time on the EX4 — and didn’t experience the same issue. We found that, in general, the EX4 handles grease and ash slightly better than the EX6.
Our Advice: We recommend you clean the interior of your SmokeFire’s cooking chamber before each cook. Make sure to remove any stuck-on grease, ash, or scales from the bottom of the grill’s interior with the included scraper tool. This will help prevent any ash or grease buildup that could lead to ignition.
We also think it best to place a pan filled with water or another liquid between the flavorizer bars and cooking grates when smoking meats at low temperatures for long periods, especially with meats that produce a lot of grease like pork ribs or butts. Weber also recommends this practice in the SmokeFire owner’s manual.
Pellet Consumption and Hollowing
Pellet hollowing happens when pellets get stuck in the hopper rather than falling into the mouth of the auger that leads to the fire pot. During our testing of the SmokeFire EX6, we noticed pellet hollowing occurring in a fairly consistent manner. When smoking at low temperatures, we repeatedly experienced pellet hollowing within the first 3–5 hours of operation. When grilling at temperatures above 550 degrees on the EX6, pellet hollowing began within the first hour of operation and continued at half-hour to 1-hour intervals throughout the cook. The EX4, however, did not produce a single instance of pellet hollowing at any temperature.
Our Advice: When cooking on the EX6, you should occasionally check your pellet hopper to make sure pellets are feeding correctly. In our experience, periodically adjusting the pellet load down the ramp by hand was enough to prevent pellet hollowing.
Ash and Ember Management
Temperatures of 600 degrees don’t come easily in a pellet grill. The grill has to feed a ton of pellets to the fire pot and the fan has to really put out to maintain searing temperatures, which in turn creates plenty of ash.
While Weber’s perforated fire pot and ash drawer system catch the majority of this ash, we still noticed a lot of ash accumulating in the bottom of the cook chamber and some being kicked out of the grill. We could also see lit embers getting kicked out by the extra airflow through the fire pot, and a small percentage of them made their way onto the floor. The EX4 produced less ash overall than the EX6, but we observed lit embers falling from the ash drawer while testing both models.
Our Advice: Operate your grill on non-combustible surfaces only. If you plan to use your SmokeFire on a combustible surface like a wooden deck, make sure to place a non-combustible grill pad under the grill.
Plug & Power Considerations
Our experts noticed the SmokeFire operates much better when plugged directly into a standard wall outlet rather than an extension cord. When we used an extension cord or power strip/surge protector instead of a wall socket, the grill wasn’t as responsive and took much longer to reach desired cooking temperature.
Our Advice: Plug your Weber SmokeFire directly into a standard voltage outlet rather than an extension cord or power strip.
Uneven Heating at High Temperatures
Because the Weber SmokeFire is designed differently than other pellet grills, it struggles to maintain even heat across the cooking surface at high temperatures. It should be noted that heat remained fairly even at lower temperatures.
Generally speaking, the SmokeFire was hotter at the center of the cooking grates than on either side, and one side consistently ran hotter than the other at high temperatures. The temperature difference of the EX4 was not as pronounced as on the EX6, but there was still notable disparity between left, right, and center.
Our Advice: During installation, you’ll have to position the pellet slide, fire pot, and fire pot housing. The placement of these components can affect the evenness of heat from left to right. Try to center these components as much as possible for best results.
It’s also a good idea to use the grill’s tendency to be hotter in the center at high temperatures to your advantage. We recommend placing items like thick-cut steaks closer to the center of the grill when you need that extra boost of heat for searing.
BBQGuys® recommends reading your owner’s manual completely before operating any grill. You may find helpful information, troubleshooting guides, or exact instructions for how to avoid certain issues when using your grill.