This is not to say that SmokeFire is perfection in the barbecue. I have two fists. The first is that a lot of ash floats in the air the more you use it at high temperatures. The fan seemed overly aggressive at times. It’s not a bargain, but it’s something to be aware of and a good reason to keep the lid shut.
My other problem is that the temperature varies greatly across the cooking surface in my test. Of course, this can be taken advantage of. The center is the best place to get a good dish, and you can do this while you put the other things on the sides so they cook slower and don’t dry out. For example, you can go surfing by browning the steak in the middle and keeping the shrimp aside. But you are limited to the number of things you can burn at once.
These are relatively simple fists. My biggest issue with pellet smokers is the requirement to use the brand’s pellets. In this regard, SmokeFire is no different from any other pellet cook. For best results, you’ll want to stick with Weber’s granules.
Problems mostly solved
If you read customer reviews about Weber SmokeFire, you may encounter some angry people who have had bad experiences with the original model, including a large number of grease fires. I haven’t used this model, but I was very keen to test this new model to see if the issues were resolved. In my experience, the answer is yes and no.
One of the big complaints about the original SmokeFire was that the Weber app didn’t allow for much control. The app got off to a rough start, which I have covered elsewhere. The current version is still not quite as smooth as the Traeger app, but it now allows you to control every aspect of SmokeFire. It also has some additional built-in recipe templates for making ribs, brisket, chicken, and more. I think Weber solved the software problems that plagued the original SmokeFire.
To address hardware issues, Weber added a plate to the pellet hopper to make it steeper, so the pellets slide down the auger with ease. There is also a new auger. I’ve had no issues with either, which addresses all but one possibility: grease buildup.
In my testing, I had no problem with grease buildup, nor did I experience any major ignition or fires. But it’s easy to see how you can have problems, especially if you cook a lot of brisket or other fatty cuts. The SmokeFire design makes it easy for grease and ash to clog the drain holes, and more grease means more potential flares. The updated version does not cancel it.
For many people, this will be a deal breaker. However, I still think this is a great cooker. Just realize that you will have to clean it more frequently than you do with others on the market, including Traeger. If you get a pellet smoker, get an empty store, too. Believe me.
Also, the SmokeFire EX6 is a huge grill. The 1,008-square-inch cooking space can hold six racks of ribs without any problem, more if you use the top rack as well (an extra 360-inch indirect cooking space). For people who don’t grill regularly for the crowd, the slightly smaller EX4, at 672 square inches, may be a better choice. The EX4 is also a bit cheaper at $1,000, compared to $1,200 for the EX6.
In the end, I really enjoyed SmokeFire. The food that came out was absolutely amazing. Against Traeger Ironwood, it’s really hard to pick a winner. Both give great results. Traeger doesn’t have a potential grease blockage issue, but the Weber seems to be sold out more often. As long as you’re willing to clean it up, SmokeFire makes a great backyard cookout.