Whether you’re preparing for prime grilling season, or it’s always grilling season in your household, you may be starting to think about cookouts with summer fast approaching. Is it time to upgrade your grilling station?
Traeger grills are worth it if you’re looking for an easy outdoor grill option to add a wood-smoked flavor to your food and are willing to spend a little money on the investment. It all comes down to what you’re looking for as Traeger supplies many different options and levels of their grills.
New to Traegers or unsure where to start? Here, we break down what Traeger grills do, the different models, and the pros and cons of owning a Traeger as well as some other similar options for all of your backyard grilling.
What Do Traeger Grills Do?
Traeger grills are the world’s top-selling wood-fired grill company, in business now for over three decades. Instead of cooking over gas or charcoal, Trager’s technology involves using wood pellets for fuel, therefore allowing consistent heat and consistent results for all your barbecue or smoking needs.
Whereas other grills, like a gas grill or a charcoal grill, involve cooking directly over the heat source, Traeger grills include a fan to circulate heat and smoke to apply a consistent heat source for your food. This is accomplished by what’s called an auger, which moves the fuel pellets to the fire in a controlled manner.
While the heat and smoke circulate within the grill, a drop tray prevents flames from flare-ups, and therefore prevents it from directly touching the food.
Additionally, one of the big bonuses to Tragers involve the woodfired pellet flavor. The wood pellets have been known to add a wood-fired flavor to the food cooked within the Traeger, giving it a delicious addition without having the additional step of smoking the food over wood chips before cooking it.
All of this is operated by a controller, which is as easy as operating an oven. Because the temperature of the grill can be controlled by the flip of a switch and the technology applies an even heat source, Traeger grills are known for being incredibly easy to operate, with minimal supervision, all while providing delicious flavor to whatever you’re cooking.
What Can You Make With Traeger Grills?
On a Traeger grill, you can cook everything you’d cook on a gas or charcoal grill, and more! For example, beef, pork, poultry, lamb, vegetables, seafood, wild game can all be cooked on a Traeger grill. Not only can any of these options be cooked on a Traeger grill, but you can even cook frozen chicken straight from the freezer!
While some people enjoy the classic barbecue style of flipping burgers on their Traeger grill, or cooking up a whole rack of ribs, Traeger grills often double as a type of oven, allowing for more options like baking an entire casserole or even a chicken pot pie.
Due to the even heat distribution and woodfired taste, these types of dishes have been known to make quite a delicious treat when cooked on a Traeger!
Additionally, people have been known to even make baked goods in the outdoor stoves. You can try a baked fruit pie or even a delicious skillet cookie!
How Much Are Traeger Grills?
Traeger grills come in all shapes and sizes, and therefore all different price points. The grills are divided into different lines: the Pro Series, Ironwood Series, and Timberline Series.
These are listed in ascending order in terms of features and price. Here’s the breakdown of each series and the models in each.
Traeger Pro Series
The Traeger Pro Series includes two models: the 870 and the 575. These models are exactly the same with the exception of the cooking surface: the Traeger Pro 870 includes 870 square inches of cooktop, whereas the Traeger Pro 575 includes 575 square inches of cooktop. Because of this, the Traeger Pro 575 retails for $799, whereas the Traeger Pro 870 retails for $999.
Because of this relatively lower price point, the Traeger Pro is the best-selling pellet grill in the entire world. Two recent upgrades include WiFIRE® technology, allowing heat adjustments from anywhere via an app on your smartphone. Additionally, Traeger’s new D2® drivetrain starts the pellet grill quicker than ever!
Traeger Ironwood Series
Just like the Pro Series, the Ironwood Series models are exactly the same, with size being the only difference. The Traeger Ironwood Series 650 includes 650 square inches of grilling space, whereas the Traeger Ironwood 885 includes 885 square inches of grilling surface. The smaller version retails for $1,199 whereas the larger version retails for $1,499.
Whereas the Ironwood Series also includes the WiFIRE® technology and D2® drivetrain, there are many additional features once you upgrade to the Ironwood Series. Not only is the pellet capacity slightly larger, but this model includes a double side-wall insulation, making grilling in any weather an ease.
Plus, a pellet sensor connects with WiFIRE® technology to alert you when your pellets are running low. No need to keep checking the supply!
The Ironwood Series also includes several upgraded options, like Super Smoke mode, injecting more smoke into the grill for extra flavor. The TRU Convection® System also directs smoke to create a vortex to speed up the cooking time. Plus, a downdraft exhaust system keeps the smoke moving through the grill to ensure a constant, fresh supply.
Traeger Timberline Series
The Traeger Timberline Series is the top-of-the-line Traeger series. The Traeger Timberline 850 includes 850 square inches of cooking space, whereas the Traeger Timberline 1300 includes 1300.
In short, the Timberline series is the largest option, heaviest option, includes the largest pellet hopper capacity, and comes with all of the bells and whistles, outlined in detail below. The smaller of the two will cost you $1,799, whereas the 1300 model comes in at $1,999.
To compensate for the largest grill space, the Traeger Timberline includes three grill gates, all of which are made of stainless steel (as opposed to porcelain coated steel like the other two models). Not only are the walls double-insulated, but the entire construction of the grill is the most insulated, with a full double-wall stainless-steel interior. A concealed grease pan makes clean-up a breeze, and a stainless steel prep shelf makes prep work and assembly easy.
With all these features and all of this space, it’s estimated you can cook nine chickens, eight racks of ribs, or six pork butts all at once!
Are There Other Grills that Do the Same Thing as Traeger Grills?
A Traeger is essentially a pellet grill. While Traeger has become synonymous with this style of cooking, there are many other pellet grills on the market, many of which come in at a lower price point.
If you’re interested in the convenience of a pellet grill for its convenience and smoking capabilities but aren’t sure about investing $800 or more dollars into it, here are some great alternatives that might work for you.
Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett
If you’re more of a casual smoker who likes to barbecue while still being able to socialize at a party, the Green Mountain Davy Crockett model might be for you. Clocking in at just $299, this pellet grill boasts similar functionality without the solid body and all the bells and whistles.
This grill comes with a meat probe and peaked lid, like many of the Traeger models, as well as an option to monitor the grill via WiFi on your phone. In fact, the temperature reads out in five degree increments, which is one of the most precise WiFi temperature grill monitoring devices on the market.
However, the grill capacity isn’t nearly as great as a classic Traeger, and the craftsmanship is not as high quality, either. However, if you’re only using a pellet grill a few times a year, this model may do just the trick.
Plus, the Davy Crockett easily folds up so you can take it anywhere (unlike many of the non-portable Traeger models). But, on the flip side, these foldable legs probably won’t last as long as solid ones.
Z Grills ZPG-700D Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker
At first glance, this Z Grills ZPG-700D Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker may not turn any heads, but it’s actually a pretty solidly built alternative to a Traeger. However, it does boast only just shy of 700 square inches of cooking surface and can only reach a temperature of 450 degrees (as opposed to 500 degrees like a Traeger).
However, if those aren’t deal breakers for you, this might be a worthy option for you to save a few hundred dollars.
Like many off-brand items on Amazon, this grill does come with many accessories to help increase its value. This particular grill includes a grill kit, grill cover, and grill lights, which could either be quality or cheap versions you may just need to replace after a few months.
One of the best features doesn’t even have to do with the grill itself, but the built-in cabinetry beneath the grill, which is a pretty genius use of what would otherwise be wasted space. If you’re okay leaving a few grill essentials outside with the grill (and actually prefer it), this grill may be your best option for practicality.
Cuisinart CPG-6000 Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker
Here’s a fun one: did you know the popular small kitchen appliance brand Cuisinart makes outdoor wood pellet grills? They sure do, and this Cusinart CPG-6000 Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker is actually quite highly rated. While it retails for $599, it’s often on sale for over $100 less than the retail value.
With 700 total square inches of cooking surfaces, this Cuisinart pellet grill surely delivers, with a large pellet capacity and high temperature targets. Plus, they do offer digital control support just like a Traeger.
However, the price certainly comes with a cost, in which you’ll likely be spending several hours assembling this grill.
Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill
Camp Chef is a name that has been known for what it says: camp grills, or larger outdoor cook spaces at an affordable cost. This Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill delivers just that: it delivers just about the same cook surface capacity as the lowest Traeger model with the same pellet capacity for a fraction of the cost, just under $500.
That price does come at a cost, however. Camp Chef says you can “set it and forget it” when it comes to the temperature, but that promise only pertains to within 20 degrees of the target temperature. This may be just fine for some novice chefs, but could be a huge dealbreaker for the grilling enthusiast.
Advantages Of Traeger Grills
Traeger grills are some the best on the market, so naturally they have quite a few things going for them. Let’s explore the most prominent.
Traeger Quality Grill & Smoker
One of the biggest bonuses of a Traeger grill or pellet barbecue is its ability to cook the meat and smoke the meat at the same time. Instead of dealing with fire (charcoal or gas) and woodchips, the wood pellets act as both the fuel and the flavor.
Infusing your cooking with flavor can be a huge elevation of your cuisine.
Set it and Forget it
One of the biggest advantages of Traegers grills are their lack of need to constantly monitor the cooking. Even before WiFi technology, Traeger grills were known for their ability to cook meat thoroughly and evenly without the constant need to rearrange your food over the heat source or ensure the heat is still pumping.
Instead, Traeger’s pellet stove technology allows for an even distribution of smoke and heat due to the technology of the grill, not to mention the safety and peace of mind that comes with being able to walk away from the grill. Their advanced WiFi technology now allows for even less maintenance, as you can now control the heat from your phone (with some models) and receive alerts as to when the pellet supply is getting low.
Versatility Like an Oven
While Traegers have become pretty synonymous with a barbecue and cooking meat, they’re actually pretty versatile items, in which they can operate like an oven.
Because of this, you’re not limited to what can be cooked over an open flame and can make all sorts of items like casseroles, pot pies, and even some baked goods due to the even temperature distribution.
The Name & Support
Of course, the name Traeger has become synonymous to pellet grills in the last several decades. In fact, many people use the word “Traeger” to refer to any wood pellet stove.
With a Traeger, you purchase the assurance that you’re purchasing a quality product that will be around for decades to come, with plenty of product support to help you if any issues arise–though many people have reported Traeger grills are solid as a rock.
Disadvantages of Traeger Grills
As great as they are, no grill is ever perfect. Here’s a few considerations to think on before buying a new Traeger.
Quality Comes at a Price
Traeger grills are definitely an investment, with models starting at $799 all the way to $1,999. While the quality is certainly there, if you’re a casual barbecue enthusiast or casual smoker then you may not want to invest quite that much for something that will only get occasional use.
Pellets Can be Pricey
The pellets can cost a pretty penny to run the stove. While this could be minimal cost to cook something simple like burgers, you could go through several bags (a large bag costs about $20) to cook a pretty epic meal, especially for many mouths.
On top of the price, you’ll also need to locate pellets and order them ahead of time. If you have a local grilling store, then you can check there. If not, you’ll need to plan a week or more in advance and buy the pellets online.
Tragers Use Electricity
Pellet grills use electricity in order to function, unlike a gas grill or charcoal grill that is self-contained with the fuel. If you’re cooking at home and have an easily-accessible outlet, this may not be an issue.
However, if your electric supply is limited or you’re hoping to take your grill camping or on the go, you may want to think twice as to whether or not this is the best option for your needs.
Are Traeger Grills Worth It?
If you’re looking for a solid wood pellet grill that will last for years to come, Traeger grills are absolutely worth it if you’re a constant outdoor cook who also likes to entertain.
However, if you’re simply looking for a grill for convenience as opposed to repeat use, a lower-end option may do just the trick for not nearly the cost.