You’ve most likely already browsed other reviews of Weber’s SmokeFire pellet grill, which hit shops early this year. And you most likely left those evaluations believing the SmokeFire sorta draws. Fair enough. It’s got a temperature level variety that no other elegant grill and smoker on the marketplace has, however a variety of issues with the SmokeFire’s elements and companion app at launch made it tough to validate dropping $1,000 or more on what was beginning to appear like a flop. After a flurry of customer grievances and skilled cautions, Weber got its flaming shit together and rolled out a series of fixes. With those fixes now in place, is the SmokeFire deserving of its Weber pedigree?
It’s a gamble– a costly gamble. While my time with the SmokeFire EX4 (the smaller sized of the two SmokeFire models) has actually been outstanding, there are a lot of tales of software and hardware problems still appearing on forums and item review areas for me to advise the SmokeFire based upon my experience alone. But if you want to risk possible headaches– including the migraine of sending your grill back to Weber for a complete refund, if you take place to get a lemon– the smokey, meaty goodness you get out of it may make it a strong bet.
Part of the reason I wished to review the SmokeFire specifically– as opposed to a Traeger, Memphis Grills, or among the other wifi-connected pellet grills now on the marketplace– is since I have years of positive experience utilizing Weber grills, and I wanted to see whether the SmokeFire is what Weber positions it to be: a do-everything machine. You can smoke a brisket for 15 hours low and sluggish, or crank the heat up to a scorching 600 degrees Fahrenheit– at least 100 degrees hotter than many other contending pellet grills– to give that ribeye the crust it should have. If real, this would generally make the SmokeFire my dream grill.
While I still have the traditional Weber kettle grill and enjoy it, my everyday grill for the previous number of years has actually been the four-burner Weber Spirit II, which won our Battlemodo obstacle for the very best gas grill under $500 back in2018 Gas grills are especially terrific if you’re hectic and do not wish to heat up your kitchen area during the summertime, but they’re more comparable to an outside oven with a grill-mark feature than a charcoal grill, which takes more perseverance however cooks objectively much better for many basic grilling fare. The SmokeFire is, at least in some ways, the very best of both worlds– and then some. It warms up quickly enough for a fast supper– about 10 minutes, give or take, depending on your wanted temperature level– but is a far superior method to cook a good steak than its propane-burning brethren. Most notably, however, is its capability to smoke meat with the tap of a button.
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Yes, you can smoke just great on a kettle grill (and badly on a gas grill, in my experience), however a pellet grill like the SmokeFire makes it simple. And the results are just … damn. I just drooled on my keyboard even thinking of it. If it weren’t wildly unhealthy to consume smoked meat for every meal, I would. I might anyhow. That’s how much I like the food the SmokeFire produces. It’s actually, truly damn excellent.
Part of what makes the SmokeFire (and other pellet grills like it) so easy to use is that it’s connected to wifi and can be controlled by an app, Weber Connect. When it initially released, Weber Connect did not have a variety of crucial features that have actually because been included, including the ability to remotely change the SmokeFire’s temperature level and closed down the grill completely. Those features are now basic. Weber Connect likewise taps into the SmokeFire’s four temperature level probe connections, permitting you to keep track of the progress of your food while, say, sipping a glass of whiskey in a hammock. If you make the most of the app’s pre-programmed “cook programs,” which cover a dizzying selection of different meats and cuts (however not everything), you’ll get an estimated time till whatever you’re smoking or barbecuing is done. (You can also simply set a probe to whatever temperature you like and avoid the presets.) The app also lets you trigger Smoke Increase mode, which pumps more smoke out at low temperature levels, in case you really wish to max-out the smoke taste. All of this is incredibly helpful and takes a great deal of the uncertainty out of low-and-slow cigarette smoking, which takes a good deal of skill and can otherwise leave you piddling around nearby for hours in case you need to tend to the fire.
Weber Link connect with the SmokeFire by means of Bluetooth and/or wifi, and you’ll want to get this set up as soon as your SmokeFire is built. (It’s huge and heavy, so make certain to have a pal around to assist you construct it if it’s not pre-assembled.) That’s since your grill will likely need a firmware update, which can take about 10 to 20 minutes. Once that’s done, load up some pellets– Weber suggests utilizing its own brand name, which is available in a variety of various woods, but there are other brands out there that work just as well. Next, plug in your grill and crank up the temperature to 600 degrees utilizing the SmokeFire’s control panel on the system itself. (You can’t begin the grill from an app since nobody wants to butt burn-down-their-house.) Let it blaze for an excellent 30 minutes to cook off any residue left from the production procedure– this is called the burn in and is important to do with any brand-new pellet grill. Once your burn in is done, you can begin cigarette smoking.
In General, the Weber Link app is standard but great. I make sure I ‘d have stronger feelings about it if I were writing this review in February when it still lacked crucial features like temperature control and had connectivity problems, however as it is now, it works. The app never crashed on me, never detached during a cook, and it dependably alerted me when the SmokeFire hit its target temperature or when something I was smoking cigarettes was all set to come off the grill. The main point it’s actually missing out on is a time price quote when you set a target temperature level for a probe without utilizing among the in-app presets, and I wish to see this in future updates. Of course, you can likewise control the SmokeFire using its on-board control panel, but besides altering the temperature level, I discovered it less intuitive than the app and actually just helpful for shooting up the grill.
So, the pressing problems with Weber Connect have been basically resolved. What about the grill itself? The primary problems people come across with the very first SmokeFires off the assembly line were the auger (the important things that moves the pellets to the heating unit, called a Radiance Plug), the pellet hopper, along with some dangerous grease fire concerns.
The SmokeFire’s very first auger, which was so busted that Weber sent out early customers replacements that they had to install themselves, was found to cause pellet jams, spray ash over the bottom trapping in grease that might cause flare-ups, and general drawn. The new auger, which is now included out of the box, appears to fix these problems, at least from my tests. You still require to clean the SmokeFire more than you would a gas grill (which you’re most likely not cleaning often enough) due to the ash pellet grills create and the quantity of drippings produced during a slow cook. And cleaning is a little bit of a chore given that you need to eliminate the grates and the “Flavor Bars”. However for me at least, this isn’t a big offer. Other SmokeFire owners are more annoyed by it, based upon the online forum comments I have actually read, and other pellet grills are less made complex to clean.
The 2nd major complaint is triggered by the pellet hopper, the slope of which can lead to so-called pellet hollowing– basically, when the pellets fail to slide into the auger, which can, in turn, trigger temperature level changes and even trigger the flame to head out entirely. Weber resolved this by offering clients a complimentary hopper insert that has a steeper slope, which aids with pellet circulation. Mine came pre-installed, but other consumers have needed to request one from Weber and install it.
Other issues consist of the Radiance Plug stressing out, flare-ups, and inconsistent heat across the grates, particularly at higher temperatures. Far, my Glow Plug is still glowing– approved, I have actually just been utilizing the SmokeFire for a little over a month, so we’ll have to wait and see there. And the flare-up problem seems, based on customer comments on numerous forums, to more badly affect the larger, $1,200 EX6 model. Plus, you can assist reduce this issue by frequently cleaning the grill and using drip pans on top of the Flavor Bars, especially during long, sluggish smokes. Likewise, I have actually generally been home the whole time I’ve been utilizing the SmokeFire due to this little pandemic we’re having, so making certain the hopper has plenty of pellets and that the pellets are making their method into the auger hasn’t been a big issue. If you’re attempting to run errands throughout a long cook, nevertheless, I can see how issues might pop up. They simply haven’t occurred to me.
The irregular heat across the grates is one inconvenience I’ve experienced, with a clear hotspot in the middle of the grates while the edges are a bit cooler. Most grills I have actually utilized or tested have this concern to one degree or another, and while it did trigger me to burn some grilled vegetables the first number of times, I was able to mentally map out the different heat areas quickly enough to where I can utilize them to my benefit, positioning more delicate foods in the cooler areas. As far as temperature variations throughout low-and-slow cooks go, I experience one drop from 225 degrees to around 180 degrees during a five-hour smoke of an entire chicken, however that appears to have been associated with me triggering Smoke Boost mode, which just works listed below 200 degrees.
During a 12- hour cook of a pork shoulder, the temperature level briefly jumped to 285 degrees after I altered the temperature level from another location from 200 to225 Otherwise, it was consistent, and I never experienced anything that screwed up my meal. The onboard internal probe read precisely the very same temperature level as my Thermoworks Smoke probes. And while the Thermowork probes revealed more in-depth temperature level variations than the Weber, which just reveals temperatures in five-degree increments, it was never ever more than a couple of degrees up or down.
As for build quality, it’s a heavy, solid-feeling grill. The lid, which closes firmly to keep the precious smoke inside, could be a bit heavier, and I wonder to see how it holds up over time. The chrome deals with and bands on the lid are a nice touch against the glossy black finish (it just is available in black). And the grates and Flavor Bars are great– what you would get out of a Weber product. While some users reported disliking the back-loading hopper, I didn’t find this problematic considering that I have enough room on my deck to reach it, however I could see how it might be irritating to load in a tighter space. My primary complaint is the absence of shelf space, which does not leave much room for all the food and tools you undoubtedly need to carry out from indoors. Weber offers an additional rack that hooks to the front, however it’ll cost you an extra $70, and I really wish it came requirement.
Faulty hardware, a bad app, flameouts, and flare-ups– these are all issues Weber should have found out prior to apparently hurrying the SmokeFire to market. Now, as we head into completion of prime grilling season for a great deal of us, the company has actually largely fixed most of them– at least in the unit I received. There still may be some SmokeFires at shops around the U.S. that have the shitty auger and less-functional pellet hopper, which is a problem you can’t fix with a firmware update. If you’re looking to purchase a SmokeFire, ask your salesperson to verify you have actually a model produced later in the year, and reach out to Weber to get that totally free hopper insert if yours does not come with it pre-installed or at least included.
These problems ultimately interfere with the primary factor any of us care about any of this: the food. And on that front, the SmokeFire is exceptional. I made a lot of my meals over the past month on the SmokeFire– steak, hamburgers, entire chickens, salmon, bok choy, asparagus, potatoes, pork butt, tri-tip, bacon, and much more– and all of it came out way much better than this amateur smoker deserves. And I think I utilized my gas grill simply as soon as given that the SmokeFire got here. There’s something spiritually incongruous with relying on an app and a computer-controlled fire to smoke meat– an ancient practice. And I still have not shaken the strange feeling of plugging in my grill. Possibly that’s simply me being old-fashioned. There’s also the truth that you don’t need to drop $1,000- plus to smoke meat– a regular kettle grill or a less modern smoker, something to capture on fire, and portions of excellent wood to make smoke will work. Throw in a great thermometer or 2 (I use the Thermoworks Smoke probes, as pointed out, and the Thermapen instant-read), and you can accomplish the same outcomes or better, at least with a bit of practice, for easily half the expense.
There’s no overlooking the fact, then, that the SmokeFire is a luxury tool for yard cooks with cash to burn. And while you can discover other quality pellet grills for under $1,000, opportunities are those of you seeking to drop a grand or more on a grill will not mind spending a few hundred extra bucks to get a grill that’s tried and true from brands like Traeger, Green Mountain Grills, or Rec Tec. As far as I can tell, nevertheless, those options do not offer the extra-high temperature level range that the SmokeFire provides while still enabling you to develop exceptional low-and-slow meaty goodness. For somebody who actually desires one grill to do it all, that might make an otherwise dangerous choice downright basic.
- You’re really going to wish to purchase a cover for your SmokeFire. Mine stood up to hurricane rains and a handful of other thunderstorms without busting, however leaving an electronic gadget out in the aspects was stressful, to say the least. Add on that expense.
- You might require to get an extension cable too, depending on where your outlets are.
- I discover it irritating that Weber only consists of one probe in package when there are four probe slots available.
- Pellets for cigarette smoking meat aren’t as widely readily available as charcoal or full lp tanks, so you’ll require to prepare ahead more than you would with other grills.
- Make homemade bacon however you can (even in your oven!). It will make you happy.