At a glance
- Loads of grill space
- Gives food a great smoky flavour
- App is genuinely useful
- Noisy fan
- Expensive (especially in the UK)
- Hopper could be even steeper
The SmokeFire EPX4 is immensely versatile, allowing you to barbecue a huge variety of things, without requiring a lot of input. It adds a wonderful flavour to meat and performs reliably.
Price When Reviewed
Not available in the US
For most people, or at least most people I know, a barbecue is a simple, inexpensive outdoor cooker that involves cooking food on a grill over charcoal. Either that or it’s a gas barbecue which, though convenient, doesn’t quite give food the same barbecued taste as charcoal.
But there’s a whole other world of barbequing and, just as glamping is to camping, you can elevate your outdoor cooking to a completely different level with a beast like the Weber SmokeFire EPX4.
It uses neither charcoal nor gas, instead burning compressed pellets of wood. Weber recommends you use its own brand of pellets, which come in a range of different types of wood to give different flavours to your food. You can, of course, source other brands of pellets, but results aren’t guaranteed.
Unlike a lot of barbecues, you can cook whatever you like on the SmokeFire EPX4. From your standard BBQ fare including burgers, sausages and kebabs to steaks, ribs and more, the EPX4 lets you cook at the appropriate temperature, from 200-600F (95-315C).
The low temperatures, along with the SmokeBoost function, allow you to slow-cook ribs and other joints of meat which need many hours of cooking, while the highest allow you to sear steaks or even stir fry using a wok.
The EPX4 is smart, too, with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi so you can adjust temperature remotely, set timers and get alerts when those temperatures or times are reached.
To clear up any confusion, this is the brand new 2022 EPX4 Stealth Edition which differs from the regular (and cheaper) SmokeFire EX4 only in that the silver parts of that model are now black, including the shelf, handles and brackets for the castors. Other than that, it’s the same barbecue.
Features & design
- Built-in screen
- Supports up to four core temperature probes
- SmokeBoost function
- Built-in light for nighttime grilling
- Side table
Though it’s the little brother of the EPX6, the EPX4 is still an imposing barbecue. Weber says there’s enough room on the two grills to cook for six people and that’s not exaggerating. You can fit three whole racks of ribs in an EPX4 if you wanted to. The lower grills measure 610x460mm in total.
The dual upper- and lower grills are also useful if you’re cooking food that needs different temperatures: the upper grill gets indirect heat and is ideal for smoking meat, whereas the lower one has direct heat from the so-called Flavorizer bars.
The UK-specific model that Weber sent for review comes with three grills: one upper and two lower. And because of the Gourmet Barbecue System (or GBS for short), there’s a further grill that sits below the larger of the lower grills and which supports the alternative accessories mentioned already, including the dual-sided sear grate.
To the right of the grill itself is a useful shelf (though a little small) and a built-in screen that lets you see and control the temperature using the large dial. The large text is easy to see, even in bright conditions, but the info is replicated in the app as well.
Below the screen are four connectors for temperature probes that allow you to monitor the core temperature of whatever you’re cooking to ensure it’s properly and safely cooked. The number you get in the box depends upon your region. In the UK, you get one. Additional probes are around £23 / $18.
To be clear, this is the second generation SmokeFire – Weber has changed a few things following feedback from the first generation. In particular, it added an insert to increase the angle of the hopper to 33° so the wood pellets slide more reliably into the auger (the part that feeds them into the fire pot), and also changed how it manufactured the auger to reduce the chance of a jam.
And if a jam is detected, the EX4 will attempt to fix the issue without any manual intervention.
Build quality is excellent: the porcelain-enamel black finish on the outside is tough and easy to clean. It’s also easy to assemble, mainly thanks to the fact Weber has put instructions in the BILT app so you have step-by-step instructions in 3D. Plus, the various boxes are labelled and the instructions tell you which box the parts for each step are in.
For anyone coming from a traditional charcoal barbecue, the fact the EX4 lights itself is both amazing and convenient. Weber even provides two spare glow plugs in the box, which means there’s no need to hunt down the exact type when you need a replacement.
But even better than that, unlike gas or charcoal barbecues, the SmokeFire will maintain the temperature – just like an indoor oven – so you can pop your meat on the grill, shut the lid and do other things until it’s cooked, without worrying it will burn.
The Weber Connect app is split into three sections. Barbecue gives you control over the EX4’s temperature, lets you enable and disable the SmokeBoost function and set timers.
It also includes cooking programmes for a wide selection of meats, fish and even fruit and vegetables.
For example, under Pork is baby back ribs, along with the time they’ll take. Tap on it and you’ll find a breakdown of the various preparation and cooking steps, and where appropriate short videos show you what to do with both the meat and the barbecue.
Starting a programme will also fire up the EX4 to the correct temperature, and you’ll get alerts on your phone when you need to perform other steps.
Another section is Recipes where you choose the same categories of meat, fish and vegetables, but there’s no search function, so you have to scroll through and find something you like the look of.
Last, there’s the More menu which is where you can get to the EX4’s settings, though these extend to only changing its name and connecting to a Wi-Fi network.
It’s worth noting that if you only connect via Bluetooth, you’ll need to be within Bluetooth range of the EX4 to use the app. But if you set up Wi-Fi, not only can you use the app anywhere in range of your home Wi-Fi, you can also monitor and control the EX4 remotely from anywhere with an internet connection. And that’s especially useful for longer smoking sessions when you need to get on with other things and maybe pop to the shops for something you’ve forgotten.
The SmokeFire EX4 takes around 15 minutes to light itself and heat up to the temperature you’ve set. It’s very good at holding that temperature, but you need to keep the lid closed as it cools down fast quickly when you open it.
The pellets themselves are basically compressed sawdust and look exactly like the pellets you’d feed sheep and cattle. The whole point of using wood pellets is because they seriously enhance the flavour of your food, more so than charcoal does. You can choose from various hardwoods including hickory, maple, cherry and blends of those.
The EX4 burns through pellets at a rate of knots, especially at higher temperatures. It’s best to ensure the hopper is full if you’re going to cook low and slow for several hours. It’ll take a full bag – 20lb or just over 9kg – with a bit of room to spare, meaning you can empty an entire bag even if there are still a few pellets in the bottom.
Bags aren’t cheap, at around £18 / $19 each, but should last a few sessions each. Just bear in mind you’re not going to find them in your local supermarket, so it’s important to make sure you have enough to hand before you invite guests over.
Despite the steeper slope in the hopper, I found pellets didn’t always slide, especially when the level is fairly low. There isn’t much else Weber can do about it, but it would be better if it was even steeper.
Like all wood-pellet grills, the EX4 has a fan which helps to keep the fire going as well as ensure the heat is directed around the entire ‘cookbox’, much like a convection oven.
It’s quite noisy, especially during the shutdown process which takes around 15 minutes and – annoyingly – has the fan spinning up to maximum speed and off repeatedly. If you’re eating near the barbecue that’s enough of a problem to consider swapping it out for a quieter one and we’ve seen a few people do this with Noctua PC fans with, apparently, great success.
However, this is a minor gripe and it’s worth enduring for the fantastic flavour you get from cooking on the EX4. Whether you’re keeping it simple with traditional burgers and hotdogs or going for the full smoked effect by using SmokeBoost for the first couple of hours of a low-and-slow session, results are mouth-wateringly good.
I tried SmokeBoost, which reduces the temperature to 165-200F / 74- 93C, with both ribs and a joint of beef – the kind we usually cook for a Sunday roast in a slow cooker. And both had a noticeable smoky flavour that made it that much more enjoyable to eat.
For those that care about such things, it also gave the meat a lovely smoke ring – a pink ribbon a few millimetres wide around the edge.
It also cooked everything else we tried very well, without burning it, and without constant attention and turning of the meat. Obviously, it is possible to burn things if you leave them on too long at too high a temperature, especially anything thin, which can also dry out.
Weber recommends using a metal tray, half filled with water, to help keep meat moist when smoking, and also to catch excess grease to stop it falling to the bottom and potentially blocking the drain holes.
In fact, it’s interesting that the design hasn’t changed between the first and second generation in this respect: grease still drains through two small holes at the bottom of ‘slides’ either side of the burn pot.
And despite the claims of the easy-clean system with a removable drawer that catches the ash and grease, you’ll still have to scrape out grease from the cookbox every few sessions, and that can be quite messy.
But it’s important to do it to ensure there’s no possibility of a grease fire. I had no real problems during testing: the EX4 performed almost faultlessly. The only issue that cropped up was a solitary auger jam, but the barbecue sorted that out itself in a few minutes, presumably by reversing the corkscrew and forcing the pellets back into the hopper and trying again.
Price & availability
You can buy a SmokeFire EX4 direct from Weber in the US where it costs $1099. The EPX4 Stealth Edition isn’t available yet for US buyers. You can also buy an EX4 from Amazon in the US for the same price.
The EX4 is more expensive in the UK at £1,599 from Weber and £1,899 for the EPX4 Stealth Edition.
Availability in the UK wasn’t great at the time of review, with the EX4 showing low stock and EPX4 completely out of stock on Weber’s website.
However, you’ll find both models available at lower prices from other retailers.
In the UK you could pick up an EPX4 for £1619 from BBQworld, and the EX4 for £1439 from the same retailer.
You’ll almost certainly want to buy the fitted cover to protect the barbecue from the elements, which costs $72.99 / £119.99 – again, considerably more expensive in the UK. It’s worth hunting around for bundle deals which include the cover and other accessories rather than paying full price for them individually.
At this price, the SmokeFire EPX4 (or even the EX4) isn’t something you’re going to buy on a whim. But based on my time with it, it’s money well spent. You’ll probably find you barbecue a lot more than you would with a charcoal grill, too, and the fact you can monitor temperatures from indoors means it’s no problem to barbecue even in the winter as there’s little need to be outside while your food is cooking.
Also, the fact it can do everything from low-temperature smoking to high-temperature searing means it’s more versatile than most barbecues.
Finally, because you have to shut the lid and you food cooks without needing constant attention, you can spend time with your guests instead of standing at the grill.
If you’re after something similar but on a considerably tighter budget, then take a look at our Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 review, which is less than half the price of the EPX4.
- Temperature range: 95-315°C / 200-600°F
- Fires up within 15 minutes
- Gravity-fed hopper
- Stores between 9kg / 20lb of pellets
- Upper and lower grills
- 4270cm² total cooking space
- Night-time illumination
- Built-in temperature gauge
- 1 meat probe supplied (supports 4)
- Weber Connected App (Bluetooth or Wi-Fi)
- 5-year warranty