Traeger grills have been around an impressive 34 years, and their popularity is still holding steady. They produce some of the best-selling pellet grills on the market today. Why so popular? As a brand, Traeger ascribes to quality and durability, building grills designed to stand the test of time.
Joe Traeger began the company in 1986 intending to make grilling safer after an unfortunate incident in which his gas grill caught fire—and he succeeded. Traeger grills are some of the easiest and safest grills available.
In this in-depth review, we’ll explore the Traeger lineup to point you in the right direction of the perfect option for all your barbecue needs—and crown the best Traeger grill! Let’s jump in.
In a Rush?
- 418 square inches of cooking space – cook multiple chickens, burgers, racks of ribs, and hot dogs
- Grill, bake, smoke, roast, braise, and barbecue
- Lightweight and maneuverable at just 98 lbs.
- Temperature range of 180 to 450F for cold and hot smoking
- Durable powder-coated stainless-steel body
- Non-stick porcelain grill grates
How to Pick the Perfect Traeger Grill for Your Needs
Grill Cooking Space and Durability
If you don’t know what to look for when choosing a pellet grill, chances are you’ll end up choosing the wrong one. Traeger has designed its pellet grills to offer four main design categories that make it easier to select the perfect smoker and grill for your needs.
Their best models include a powder-coated stainless-steel body that offers superior durability. This sturdy construction is what makes Traeger a premium brand that commands premium prices. Traeger grills also include a flame deflector, porcelain-enameled grates, fire pot, and drip pan, all built with marine-grade stainless steel for the ultimate durability.
- Traeger Tailgater Series is made up of the brand’s portable pellet grills. They typically have about 300 square inches of cooking space and a lot less technology incorporated into their function.
- Traeger Pro Series are mid-range, mid-capacity pellet grills with 500 to 780 square inches of cooking space. They include Wi-Fi connectivity to the Traeger app available for Android and iOS devices and are perfect for pitmasters with mid-level barbecue skills, who don’t do a lot of outdoor cooking.
- Traeger Ironwood Series offers a more substantial capacity of 650 to 885 square inches of grilling space, and new technology like TRU convection and DownDraft Exhaust that help to optimize cook times.
Traeger Timberline Series are the most extensive and most expensive grills, typically featuring 850 to 1,300 square inches of cooking space. These beasts possess all the features of the Ironwood Series, as well as pellet sensing technology to monitor your pellet levels on the app.
Price is an important consideration, no matter what you’re buying. Pellet grills are more expensive than either electric or charcoal grills because they incorporate more technology. However, there is a good deal of price variance between models as well.
Although Traeger has pellet grills starting at $199, we strongly recommend that you buy those in the $400 to $2,000 range, depending on your pitmaster skills, the technology needed, and of course, how deep your pocket runs.
A cheap and low-quality pellet grill that doesn’t meet your needs will cost you more in the long term. Choose a grill that is affordable and durable for the best value.
Pellet Delivery Mechanism and Design
Pellet grills hold wood pellets in a hopper, from which they fall into the auger tube, and finally into the combustion chamber. The rate of pellet distribution to the smoke chamber depends on the temperature, which in turn depends on the digital controller.
The more pellets that enter the combustion chamber, the more heat will form. The wood pellets ignite and heat the cooking chamber by combustion. Air is brought in by intake fans, and smoke and heat disperse throughout the cooking chamber, smoking and grilling the food.
When choosing a pellet grill, make sure that the tip of the electrical-powered auger tube is at a safe distance from the combustion chamber so that the fire will not reach any unused wood pellets in storage. The auger should also be wide enough to avoid pellet jams and protected from outdoor weather conditions like sleet or rain.
Aim for a pellet grill with an easy-to-load, easy-to-clean hopper that makes grilling more comfortable and less messy.
Traeger pellet grills range in size from 300 to 1,300 square inches of cooking space, with larger capacity grills typically having higher price tags.
Consider your cook capacity before choosing a grill to ensure that you cook enough food for guests and family while optimizing the use of your fuel. Too small a smoker results in more cycles, which can be inconveniencing, while too big a smoker wastes precious wood pellets. The larger the hopper, the more cook time you’ll get per cycle without the need to refill wood pellets.
Digital Controller Mechanism
Pellet grills with digital controllers represent better choices as they make grilling and temperature control more straightforward, allowing for a convenient set-and-forget method of smoking. These controllers should be accurate and reliable and suitably built into the body of the grill’s design.
Digital controller types include:
- PID Controllers – enable autopilot smoking by implementing complex algorithms to keep the temperature within specific ranges.
- Non-PID Controllers –allow you to change your pellet grill’s temperature in 5 to 10F temperature intervals. Pellets still feed into the combustion chamber in fixed cycles, so you can only expect an accuracy range of 15 to 20F. They also feature LCD screens, meat probes, and an additional one-touch button.
- Three-position Controllers – are typically found on lower-priced grills, come with three heat settings low (225F), medium (325F), and high (425F). At fixed cycles, the controllers feed pellets into the combustion chamber, leaving you less control over the temperature.
PID controllers are an ideal choice as they relay the temperature variations inside the smoke chamber and maintain the temperature range to within 50 degrees of your set temperature. Some PID digital controllers also come with Wi-Fi features that allow you to smoke from anywhere, using the convenience of your smartphone.
Many pellet grills come with outputs in their controllers to plug-in meat probes as well. That way, you can read meat temperatures on the pellet grill’s digital LED display.
Most pellet grills have temperature ranges of 180 to 500F perfect for smoking, baking, and grilling.
If you intend to smoke low and slow, pellet grills that operate in the 180 to 250F temperature range are best. However, if you want to sear or hot smoke your food, ensure that you choose a pellet grill that can reach temperatures of 450F to 550F.
Technology and Added Features
When choosing your pellet grill, think about your barbecue style and which features are optional or must-haves. Do you prefer a more involved approach, or a set-and-forget style, giving you more time to entertain your guests?
Keep in mind that the more features a grill has, the more you can expect to pay. Your options include:
- Folding Legs for simple, secure storage and transport
- Wi-Fi ability to grant you control from a distance using your smartphone and the Traeger app
- Searing Attachments for higher temperatures for searing and hot smoking
- Multiple Level Cooking Racks to cook different kinds of food at the same time at various heat levels
- Built-in Lighting to make smoking and grilling outdoors in low light conditions quicker and easier
Top 5 Traeger Grill Reviews
The Lil Tex Elite 22 is a sturdy pellet smoker with decent grilling space of 418 square inches. You can barbecue approximately sixteen burgers, four racks of ribs, twenty-four hot dogs, or four whole chickens in one go, perfect for the average weekend family cookout.
The 18-pound capacity hopper on the Lil Tex gives you hours of grilling without the need to refill pellets, and the glide-on wheels allow for easy maneuverability while grilling outdoors. This excellent value smoker also has an auto-ignition that is simple to use.
The unit features a digital controller, which shows the inner temperature on its LED display for quick and easy monitoring. A built-in probe monitors inside cooking temperatures, keeping the range to within a 20-degree temperature variation.
As well as being relatively lightweight, this pellet grill has a super bronze finish on powder-coated stainless steel that is durable and aesthetically pleasing. It also features a convenient grill, exhaust, and induction fan, with a cover for safe operation.
- Versatile, six-in-one functions: grill, bake, smoke, roast, braise, and barbecue
- Maintains a +/- 20-degree temperature control that guarantees precision grilling
- Durable powder coat finish and sturdy construction for longevity
- Lightweight, well-built, and easy to use
- Quite expensive
- Temperature controls can be challenging to master
This large capacity pellet grill is one of the best Traeger grills for big cookouts. With 884 square inches of cooking space, the Pro Series 34 can accommodate approximately seven racks of ribs, eight chickens, or forty burgers at a go. And there’s no need to keep refilling the hopper, no matter the amount of food you’re grilling. With an 18-pound capacity, you’re guaranteed hours of cooking without the need to refill your wood pellets.
The Traeger Pro Series 34 features hot and fast smoking as well as low and slow smoking temperature ranges and has excellent versatility with the ability to smoke, grill, roast, bake, braise, and barbecue.
The in-built digital controller allows for precise temperature control and easy grilling, maintaining a 15-degree temperature control variation. Dual meat probes also help to check the progress of your barbecue accurately and quickly.
The construction is durable and sturdy to match the size and 163-pound weight. This sturdy build guarantees longevity, and the stable, high-quality powder coat finish, sawhorse chassis, porcelain grill grates, and all-terrain wheels make this grill a long-term and worthy investment.
- Maintains a +/- 15-degree temperature for precision grilling
- Large cooking capacity
- Six-in-one cooking functions
- Sturdy and robust construction for the ultimate durability
- On the higher side of the price spectrum
- Not suitable for set-and-forget cooking
The Traeger Renegade Elite has an impressive 34 features packed into its compact build, making it one of the most comfortable pellet grills to use on the market. Notable features include the drain system for grease management, and the hopper cleanout door, making cleaning this baby a breeze.
With a manageable weight of 120 pounds and a beautiful red and black build, the Renegade also features a sturdy wire front with food prep rack, and a front-facing tool caddy rack to keep all of your utensils and condiments.
The digital controller comes as standard, along with an auto-ignition system. Cold-smoke or hot-smoke with ease using this grill, which operates comfortably in temperatures of 180 to 450F.
- Integrated tool rack for handy operation
- Wire front prep rack for easy loading and unloading of food
- Perfect cook capacity for the average family
- Electronic auto-start ignition for safe on/off operation
- Limited cooking space for large productions
- The auger is unpleasantly noisy as it rotates
The Traeger Select Elite is the ultimate no-mess, versatile pellet grill. It has an ample 589 square inches of cooking space, which can hold approximately six large racks of ribs, twenty burgers, or five chickens in one cook cycle. It features sturdy porcelain-enameled grates that can accommodate for barbecuing, grilling, baking, roasting, braising, and smoking.
What stands out about this compact, portable pellet grill is its six-in-one cooking function, which means that it can grill, barbecue, smoke, braise, roast, and bake with a specialized wood pellet to fire the hopper.
The Tailgater is also easy to use and features a simple, integrated adjustable temperature control with a rotating dial and 20-degree temperature interval feature, operating from 180 to 250F. It also utilizes auto-start ignition.
Its beautiful bronze finished with gold painted covering makes it look more expensive than it is, and it also includes an ergonomic handle for easy opening and safe operation.
- Lightweight—great for camping and tailgating
- Easy to travel with or store
- Takes less than half-an-hour to assemble
- The instructions manual is unclear
- Prone to defective temperature control units
The Traeger Select Elite is the ultimate no-mess, versatile pellet grill and one of the best pellet smoker. It has an ample 589 square inches of cooking space, which can hold approximately six large racks of ribs, twenty burgers, or five chickens in one cook cycle. It features sturdy porcelain-enameled grates that can accommodate for barbecuing, grilling, baking, roasting, braising, and smoking.
The built-in digital controller helps to maintain accurate cooking temperatures within 20-degree temperature interval variations over a range of 180 to 450F, which favors both cold and hot smoking. The LED display also lets you quickly read the inner temperature of your grill.
Despite the high cost, the features are worth it. The built-in shelves are useful if you have to store grilling condiments and food, lessening any mess. The device also comes with glide-on wheels and locking casters for easy maneuverability and storage.
- Easy to keep clean and maintain
- Comes with convenient storage
- Large cooking capacity
- Easy-glide wheels for increased mobility
- Difficult to assemble
- Quite heavy on delivery
How Traeger Grills Work
Final Verdict: Best Traeger Grill for Your Money
All Traeger pellet grills lend themselves to both amateur and professional use. The main differences between these grills are the cooking space and featured add-ons. The Traeger Tailgater 20 is the perfect affordable choice for small barbecues on the go. At the same time, the Traeger Lil Tex Elite 22 is ideal for cooking decent amounts of barbecue for large backyard family cookouts.
Our top pick, the Traeger Pro Series 22, represents the best of both worlds. Read our article comparing Pro Series 22 to other band.
This unit is affordable, with a durable and beautifully easy-to-use design, a mid-range capacity, and tech features that make it a breeze to operate, including an elite digital controller with LED display and convenient Wi-Fi connectivity.
These features make it one of the best Traeger grill choices on the market in 2020.