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Sneak Peek: Weber SmokeFire Sear+ Reviewed And Rated

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Weber SMOKEFIRE STEALTH+ ELX4

The new SmokeFire Sear+ continues to improve upon the many impressive features of Weber’s innovative, one-of-a-kind pellet grill design, the most striking of which is the high temp searing performance that smokes other pellet “grills.”

We have always referred to pellet cookers as pellet smokers, never pellet grills, because ever since they were introduced in the 1980s, they have functioned as indirect heat ovens similar to the way an indoor oven works. In most pellet smokers, the heat source (firepot) sits beneath a metal plate as pictured below. Notice that the metal plate is slightly tilted to divert grease into a tray and/or bucket. This design does a great job at grease management. If you love smoked turkey, ribs, brisket, salmon, and more, it doesn’t get any easier than cooking on a pellet smoker. 

Shiny metal tray at an angle

Until SmokeFire, if you wanted a perfect sear on a steak or burger, you had to put the meat in a hot pan, on a griddle, or a griddle-like surface such as GrillGrates. Why is this important? Because brown tastes good. When foods sear and brown, chemical reactions called the Maillard reactions and caramelization happen, and they create desirable flavors. The browner the merrier, which is why we prefer to see an all-over browning of the surface rather than the partial browning of grill marks. Click here to learn more about these chemical reactions, why brown is beautiful, and why we don’t want grill marks.

Unfortunately, hot air does not deliver enough energy to properly brown the surface of a steak. Browning is best done by hot metal, like a griddle or by infrared radiation (IR), from glowing coals or a flame. Think about how your toaster browns bread but your oven doesn’t. Lots of IR in that toaster, not much in an oven. Most pellet smokers are like ovens. Click here to learn more about the thermodynamics of grilling.

Some pellet smokers are designed to expose a section of the cooking surface to direct flame called a sear zone. But that sear zone just never seems to properly sear a steak, and certainly no more than one or two, due to its small size. 

SmokeFire is designed like Weber’s gas grills with inverted V shaped “flavorizer bars” so that the meat is exposed to a lot more direct flame and IR across the entire cooking surface.

Barbecue grill with lid up and glowing flames.

As a result, you can actually get a good sear, especially in the center where the heat source is located. With fan and flames blowing, it feels like a gas and charcoal grill rolled into one.

The flat drip trays on other pellet smokers collect almost all greasy drippings and divert them into a grease bucket. When the first SmokeFires appeared, many were irate that the flavorizer bars allowed grease to drip to the bottom, where it could mix with ash and create a flammable sludge. Bloggers leapt over each other to declare this an outrageous fire hazard. We too were concerned. But it didn’t take long for us to adapt and just place a foil pan on top of the flavorizer bars, under the cooking grate to collect grease from fatty hunks like pork butts. That’s something we often did anyway with all pellet smokers to make clean up a little easier. And we now feel the tradeoff of dealing with SmokeFire’s unique design is well worth the excellent searing performance.

Another complaint with the original SmokeFire was the pellet hopper, which is located at the back rather than off to one side as on most pellet smokers. That’s not an issue, but instead of a tall box shape, the hopper is long and shallow with the auger feed opening on the left side as shown in this photo of an older model. Pellets on the left easily enter the auger feed door just below the depression in the pellets in the photo below, while those on the right linger in a pile. This “funneling” happens to a degree on all pellet hoppers, but funneling on SmokeFire was more pronounced than any we’ve seen.

Pellet smokers pellet hopper with lid open.

Weber says they have addressed this issue with the new versions.

Sear+ will not be available until sometime this spring, but we were treated to a sneak peek at Weber’s test kitchen.

It comes in two sizes: the mid-size ELX4 (771 square inches of capacity across upper and lower racks – MSRP $1,399) and large ELX6 (1.156 square inches total cooking capacity – MSRP $1,599). Both sizes have left and right side shelves and a large, fold-out warming rack (seen in the photo) to extend capacity.

Weber SmokeFire Warming Rack

Sear+ will be compatible with the Weber Crafted Outdoor Kitchen Collection. The Crafted Collection consists of a variety of optional accessories, such as a griddle and WOK, that fit into a special frame that replaces the standard cooking grate. This photo shows a Crafted Dutch Oven on the Genesis EPX-335 Smart Gas Grill.

Genesis Crafted Dutch Oven

When using the Crafted system you can store the unused, standard cooking grate by hanging it on hooks under the right side shelf.

Genesis EPX-335 Grill Grate hanging

Weber throws in their Crafted Dual-Sided Sear Grate as a package deal with this model. You won’t get this kind of high heat sizzle from other pellet grills.

Weber SmokeFire Sear+ Sear Grate

An interior light is useful when cooking after dark. Of course, Sear+ will use Weber Connect which controls and monitors your cooking from a control panel on the right side of the grill or an app on your smart phone. Additionally, the app features a library of guided recipes.

We’ll test Sear+ and publish our full, detailed review soon. Stay tuned.

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Product Information:

  • Model:
    SmokeFire Sear+ LX4
  • Item Price:
    $ 1,399.00
  • Made in USA:
    yes
  • Review Method:
    Looked Closely At It
    We have seen this product up close and we have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners, and other reliable sources.
  • Primary Function:
    Grill, Smoker
  • Fuel:
    Wood Pellets
  • Primary Capacity:
    771 square inches
    Large (about 38 burgers)

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Published On: 1/18/2023 Last Modified: 4/12/2023

  • Max Good, Full time grill tester - Max Good, AmazingRibs.com's Vice President of Product Reviews & Keeper of the Flame, is the man in charge of finding the best products for the AmazingRibs.com Equipment Reviews section. Max bottles his own barbecue sauce recipes and now sells them around the country.

 

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