Weber SmokeFire pellet grill puts the heat on Traeger – CNET

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Weber SmokeFire pellet grill puts the heat on Traeger


Weber has a new pellet grill in the works, the SmokeFire.


Weber

Seasoned grill maker Weber has a new smoker in the works, and it burns wood pellets. Called the Weber SmokeFire, this cooker runs on hardwood pellets just like a Traeger. Those pellets make for delicious, smoke-fired flavor in the food it cooks. The SmokeFire will come in two sizes. One will have a 24-inch long grill for $999. The other has a 36-inch grill and costs $1,199. 

That’s a big deal, since it’s hundreds less than the comparable $1,799 Traeger Timberline 850. This model’s grill is 22 inches long, but it has three grill racks. Weber hasn’t confirmed the SmokeFire’s capacity yet, but the 36-inch version looks like it has lots of room. 

The Timberline series, which also includes the $1,999 Timberline 1300, are the only Traeger grills that have a hidden grease management system. According to Weber, the SmokeFire will boast advanced grease control too. The company says its smoker will be comparably easy to keep clean and a breeze to operate. In my experience, even with internal grease trays, Traeger grills are cantankerous. They require cleaning between cooks to avoid potentially dangerous malfunctions. 

Weber also says the SmokeFire will include app-based controls and detailed guided recipes. All this adds up to what could be a seriously compelling pellet grill, and some stiff competition for Traeger, especially on price.     

The pellet hopper runs along the back side of the SmokeFire.


Weber

A Weber-style wood smoker 

On the surface, the SmokeFire looks a lot like the Traeger Timberline 850. Both have bodies that consist of a fat, cylindrical drum turned on its side for its cooking chamber, and a lid that swivels open upwards. To the left of that sits a small shelf along with physical controls. The drum rests on four legs with rolling, lockable casters.

If you’ve used Weber gas grills, you’ll notice a familiar feature: Inside the cooking chamber you’ll find what Weber calls “flavorizer bars.” These angled metal plates stand between the fire box and the food grates above. They’re designed to prevent grease from collecting inside the bottom of the cooker. The idea is that dripping grease hits the bars below, then vaporizes into gas and smoke.

The SmokeFire is also built to direct ash and grease towards a pair of removable, disposable grease pans. These pans live under the grill grates, and will supposedly make clean-up a snap. Weber will sell the pans for $14 each.  

The bottom of the hopper is angled to feed pellets into the auger and firebox by gravity.


Weber

Running along the back side of the grill is a long hopper for wood pellets. The bottom surface of the hopper tilts downwards diagonally as well. Weber says this design uses gravity to help to feed pellets to a spinning auger. The auger then pushes the fuel into the SmokeFire’s firebox. Weber also claims that the firebox is close to the auger so pellets travel a relatively short distance. The end result, Weber claims, is fewer auger jams and a faster ramp up to your target temperature.

Weber claims a wide temperature range for the SmokeFire. It’ll smoke food low and slow for traditional barbecue. And it’s also designed to hit a maximum temperature of 600 degrees Fahrenheit (316 C), which is high enough to sear.  

Smarts play a big role

Weber will make connected features a core function of the SmokeFire. The grill links to Wi-Fi and you’ll be able to control it through the Weber Connect app. This alone is nothing new. Some Traeger smokers have a similar feature. And Weber’s iGrill accessory already lends phone-based temperature monitoring to virtually any barbecue. 

What sets Weber Connect apart is detailed recipes with step-by-step guidance. Weber also says the app will provide estimated cook times informed by meat probe readings in real time. Weber partnered with the makers of the June Smart Oven. According to Weber, the app will contain access to thousands of tested recipes. 

Outlook and availability 

Drooling over the chance to own a SmokeFire of your very own? You’ll have to wait until early 2020. That’s when Weber plans to ship the SmokeFire globally. You will be able to pre-order SmokeFire grills in the US starting on Cyber Monday directly through Weber, and from Lowes and Amazon

Other specs

  • $1,199 for 36-inch model, $999 for 24-inch model
  • Five pellet flavors: Apple, Mesquite, Hickory, Cherry, Grill Master Blend
  • 20 pound pellet bags cost $20 each  



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