Pellet Grill Face-Off: Traeger Ironwood 650 vs. Weber SmokeFire EX6

Can a new Weber rival a model from the leading pellet grill brand? Consumer Reports’ tests reveal the answer.

Traeger Ironwood 650 pellet grill (left) and Weber SmokeFire EX6 pellet grill (right)
Traeger Ironwood 650 (left) and Weber SmokeFire EX6 pellet grill

The indisputable king of pellet grills is Traeger, which has been making them for more than 30 years. But this year Traeger faces competition from Weber, which has introduced its first line of pellet grills after years of dominating the charcoal grill and gas grill markets.

And with pellet grills more popular than ever, this year also marks the first time that Home Depot and Lowe's have stocked these versatile outdoor cookers in stores, with Home Depot selling Traeger grills and Lowe’s selling the new Weber SmokeFire models.

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“The launch of these premium models at different major retailers means that for anyone shopping for a top-of-the-line pellet grill, the question comes down to Traeger vs. Weber,” says Mark Allwood, CR’s market analyst for grills. “They’re two of the most expensive and decked-out pellet grills you’ll find, and both have names associated with quality construction and stellar performance.”

To see if the new Weber can rival a Traeger, we pitted the Traeger Ironwood 650 against the Weber SmokeFire EX6. Read on to see how these two $1,2000 pellet grills match up in each of CR's tests.

Learn more about pellet grills in our grill buying guide and check our comprehensive ratings of more than 200 grills, including 12 pellet models.

Vitals

Traeger Ironwood 650: The Traeger has a barrel-style design that resembles a beer keg turned on its side. It provides nearly 700 square inches of cooking surface, split between a 460-square-inch main surface and a 235-square-inch elevated surface above the main grates, which can be used for indirect cooking. It has a 20-pound hopper for pellets and a claimed temperature range of 165° to 500° F. 

Quick Take

Traeger Ironwood 650 TFB65BLE

Price: $1,200

Evenness performance
Indirect cooking
Temperature range
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Weber SmokeFire: Like the Traeger, the Weber has a barrel-style design, but it’s quite a bit larger. In fact, it’s the biggest pellet grill we've tested. It offers 935 square inches of cooking surface: a 585-square-inch main surface and a 350-square-inch elevated surface. It has a 22-pound hopper for pellets and a claimed temperature range of 200° to 600° F. 

Quick Take

Weber SmokeFire EX6 23510001

Price: $1,200

Evenness performance
Indirect cooking
Temperature range
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Test by Test

Each year our test engineers run grills for thousands of hours and record millions of temperatures to find those that heat quickly and cook evenly. CR members can read on for the play-by-play. 

Indirect cooking: This test reflects how well a grill maintains its lowest temperature setting, which is especially important for a pellet grill because its main selling point is its ability to smoke foods like ribs and brisket for hours on end at a steady low temperature. We slow-cook pork shoulder in this test, and each grill earns a rating of Excellent for turning out moist, smoky pork without any dry parts or a burnt exterior. Your family will be begging for seconds from either one of these grills. 

Evenness: You want a grill that distributes heat evenly across the cooking surface, so all your burgers, hot dogs, and grilled vegetables emerge evenly cooked and finish cooking at the same time. For this test, we first record temperatures on the cooking surface to gauge how evenly the grill heats up, then grill a pizza to see if the crust is uniformly golden and crisp. The Traeger Ironwood 650 has a slight edge here, earning a rating of Excellent vs. the Weber’s rating of Very Good. On the Weber SmokeFire EX6, you’ll need to do the extra work of rotating the pie to get even results.   

Temperature range: Pellet grills are not for searing; they simply don’t get hot enough. Still, a broader temperature range means more versatility for cooking, so we evaluate the temperature range for each pellet grill we test. Many can reach temperatures of 500° F or more, which is plenty for, say, cooking pork chops. But in addition to the total range, this test also captures what the lowest and highest temperatures are. 

Weber claims a wider temperature range than Traeger does. But in our tests, the Traeger Ironwood 650 cooked evenly all the way down to 152° F, while the Weber SmokeFire EX6 got down only to 196° F. That may sound like we're splitting hairs, but those low and steady temperatures are exactly what you want for slowly smoking a brisket or rack of ribs. And while the Weber does reach a higher overall temperature, the heat isn't as evenly distributed across the grill as the Traeger on its hottest setting. Once again, the Traeger wins out over the Weber, with a rating of Very Good to the Weber’s Good. 

Cleaning: Our cleaning test reflects how easy it is to drain and clear fat drippings, empty out the hopper, and clean the inside of the grill. Most pellet grills require a shop vacuum to suck out the residual ash left behind by pellets. But those with fewer inner crevices score better, because there are fewer places for ash and grime to hide. Both models here lead the category in this test. Their hoppers and cooking areas are designed with few crevices, making them easier to clean than other models. 

Convenience: By their nature, pellet grills are the most convenient grills for cooking because you simply load the hopper with pellets and dial in a temperature on the thermostat. What sets one model apart from another on convenience is how easy it is to move around a deck or patio, and how much usable cooking area it offers. The Weber SmokeFiee EX6 gets the edge here. It has a locking caster on each of its for legs for moving it from place to place, and larger cooking surfaces than the Traeger Ironwood 650. The Traeger has only two casters, meaning you need to lift up one end to move it. 

Features: Both the Traeger and Weber have a programmable thermostat for setting the temperature, as well as integrated cooking probes. You can also download apps for both so that you can insert the probe into whatever you’re cooking and use your smartphone to check the internal temp of, say, a brisket, from across the yard. Each app also features video step-by-step guides for cooking on the grill, as well as recipes.

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