- Our testing experience suggests that Weber has heard (and solved) prior flaws
- Temperatures ranging 200–600 degrees Fahrenheit help you smoke and sear
- 22-pound pellet hopper features low-pellet sensors and quick-change chute
- Weber Connect app makes the grill compatible with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- Back-vented barrel design creates high smoke circulation inside grill
In our experiences, the second-gen Weber SmokeFire solves the sorrows of the first.
The Weber SmokeFire aimed to be a one-of-a-kind machine that didn’t behave like any other pellet grill on the market. (Credit where credit is due — it succeeded.) Pellet grills tend to function like BBQ smokers, after all. But when Weber replaced the full-coverage heat baffles with its classic Weber Flavorizer Bars, it designed a pellet grill that, while capable of holding steady smoking temperatures, could also cook with high heat like a more traditional grill. Our original testing pushed the first-generation Weber SmokeFire to its rational limits — cooking immense amounts of meat within its full range of temperature capability while scrutinizing its ash output and grease management.
To speak delicately, the original run had its issues. Weber has tried to address them both publicly and through internal research and development. That’s why we put our very own Chef Tony on the case — while fading natural light and a spinning clock above our expert’s scrutiny of user forums doesn’t exactly make for exciting video footage, our expert spent countless hours researching user experiences and taking notes. Armed with those expectations, he ran this pellet grill through a new round of rigorous examination to stress-test its predecessor’s weakest links. His findings? The Weber SmokeFire Gen 2 made a worthy follow-up.
As far as aesthetically pleasing and well-designed pellet grills go, Weber SmokeFire II is a serious contender. We set the mad chef loose with a pair of calipers and an XRF gun — the lid handle, accent trim pieces, side shelves, and Weber Flavorizer Bars all proved to remain constructed from genuine 304 stainless steel. Weber retained aluminized steel in other components; the fire pot’s heat baffle and the interior paneling of the side walls come to mind. Galvanized steel-plating still comprises the cooking grids.
Those calipers measured thickness for the Weber SmokeFire’s cooking grids at 6mm (a perfectly fine thickness for a pellet grill), the porcelainized fire box at 16-gauge steel, the porcelainized enamel lid at 12-gauge, and those trademark Flavorizer Bars at 17-gauge. By design, an air gap in the double side walls provides enough insulation to hold those temperatures steady — there were some scattered complaints with air flow apparently getting into the ash system, but we didn’t find any reasonable concerns in that area.
On that note, it’s time to address the elephant in the room: the grease management system. Though it’s fantastic that a pellet grill would even offer a pull-out, full-width grease and ash drawer, there were some unfortunate design choices that presented problems with the original model. Chef Tony did not experience these problems with the Weber SmokeFire II’s grease management system. From his extensive testing, the grease management system worked like a dream — he personally witnessed no evidence of sparking, flares, or fires.
To say Weber SmokeFire II performed admirably here is putting it mildly. While there are some impossibilities in the physics of a thermocouple test on a pellet grill — recall that, by nature, they operate by completely different thermodynamic principles than standard gas and charcoal grills — Chef Tony’s findings fell in line with what he expects to see in this type of cooking environment. At its worst, he saw a disparity of 85 degrees Fahrenheit in one tiny spot; this was on the top-tier, screaming hot searing point of 600 degrees, which is a temperature point nearly unheard of on most pellet grills. (Thanks to the open body design, large air vents, and powerful variable-speed fans, he repeated hit that mark in 20 minutes.) In real-world usage, that sort of disparity isn’t just expected; it’s perfectly acceptable.
Speaking of real-world testing, Chef Tony bombarded the grill with wave upon wave of brisket, burgers, steaks, chickens, and enough meat to satisfy an entourage of medieval Vikings. On our test models, here’s what he found as a stand-out: whoever you want fed first, cook their entrees on the right-front quadrant of Weber SmokeFire II. That section of the grill runs hotter than the rest by a noticeable margin. While we won’t call that a feature per se, a little planning ahead can make it one.
Finally, Weber made a few positive adjustments to the grill’s performance. One recurring concern Chef Tony’s research unearthed was that the previous model allegedly suffered power issues. He intentionally ran every test on the same 40-foot extension cord; from beginning to end, he saw no electrical issues. Furthermore, Weber reworked the angled slope of the pellet hopper. On the higher end at 425–500 degrees, expect 2–2 ½ hours of prime pellet grilling before you have to touch the pellets. On the lower end, he saw that low-and-slow cooks would generally last 8 hours before requiring a pellet check. From his findings, Chef Tony concludes: “I’d say nearly all pellet grillers will be satisfied with these hopper revisions.”
Weber SmokeFire II still shines in its grilling output with its 22-pound pellet capacity and a rear trap door releases pellets to swap flavors at a whim. This continues to dazzle us. Equally rare for pellet grills is the direct flame access afforded by the main cooking area; with two hanging knobs for accessories and that 304 stainless steel side shelf for prepping food and holding pans, it’s clear Weber had the hands-on multitasker in mind in the design phase. A robust PID controller continues to supervise the DC-powered auger motor and fan (each of which boasting variable speeds). Throw in that pair of leave-in internal temperature probes and an innovative pellet auger design that provides larger cooking fire and higher heat…
In support of the original launch, the Weber Connect companion app released with limited functionality via wireless or Bluetooth connection. Compatible with iOS 12+ and Android 7.0+ and backed with the industry-leading JuneOS, recurring app updates have upped the app’s capabilities — monitor (and now control!) your SmokeFire grill’s temperature remotely, study readings from up to 4 temperature probes, set timers and probe temperature alerts, receive timely and relevant push notifications, and more. Registering a Weber ID provides in-app product and warranty information. Weber plans to roll out in-app recipes, guided cooking programs, and further quality-of-life updates. While we can’t comment on them (SmokeFire didn’t give us these problems), we’ve also heard of firmware algorithm changes to solve aggressive temperature overcorrection.
But we think the feature you’ll love most circles back to the grease management system. Chef Tony put the second-generation Weber SmokeFire through every test available — and his continuous pellet grilling experiences make the apparent faults of the original ash and grease catch a bad dream. While Weber doesn’t run their SmokeFire shipments through us (nor would we ever wish that upon ourselves), the ones we’ve tested proved to have ironed out the kinks from before. Between the assumed redesigns of the power delivery system and full-width pull-out tray, our resident expert Chef Tony expressed confidence in recommending this pellet grill to just about anybody.