I write a lot about the many different models of pellet grills/smokers now on the market. While I’m able to provide a thorough structured breakdown of product specifications and compare one brand/model to another I often don’t get the chance to get hands-on with them. As part of my research though I watch a lot of real owners reviews on YouTube. Therefore, I thought I would produce a summary article on the best Traeger reviews I’ve come across from owners of the various models covering both pros and cons.
Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or other sites are affiliate links and I earn a commission if you make a purchase.
Besides the three core Traeger products shown in the image above of the Pro, Ironwood and Timberline models there are two other smaller/portable models the Ranger and Tailgater. I’ve created a separate heading for each model where I’ve included what I believe to be the best YouTube owners review along with links to my own articles/thoughts about each specific Traeger model, enjoy! 🙂
Best Traeger Ranger Review
So the Traeger Ranger is a small portable/tabletop grill/smoker. Previously, Traeger did sell a similar and cheaper tabletop unit called the Scout which I’ve previously discussed in my Traeger Scout vs Ranger article. However, browsing the Traeger website it now seems the Scout is nowhere to be seen, only the Ranger is now available.
Therefore, I’ve just included what I believe to be the best owners review currently available on the Traeger Ranger from Sandy at Jus’ Piddlin BBQ. The reason I think Sandy’s is the best Traeger Ranger review currently available is as he states at the start of his video, its not an unboxing, its a review after using the Ranger for several cooks.
As discussed in the review above, the Ranger is fitted with the Traeger Digital Arc controller which was missing from the discontinued Scout and is also found on the Tailgater discussed below. While Traeger has not stated the Digital Arc Controller is running a PID algorithm like the D2 control panels found in their larger grills, I believe that to be the case as that would explain the more precise temperature accuracy compared to the previous generation Traeger grills.
The Ranger is obviously small and can cook around 6 burgers at a time. While the Tailgater may be larger which Sandy also owns its worth noting that he finds it more fuel-efficient than the Tailgater due to the smaller cooking chamber. Hence, if you want to keep pellet consumption down, not using a grill larger than you really need is a good idea.
Sandy found that the Ranger tops out at 460 degrees and with a set of Grill Grates he is able to get a good sear on his stakes. The Grill Grates will help the cooking surface temperature exceed that 460 degrees the control panel is reading, likely above 500 degrees which is really needed to start to get good searing results.
Best Traeger Tailgater Review
While Jus’ Piddlin BBQ also have a Tailgater review (here) I wanted to feature a different review on the Tailgater which discusses one of the biggest issues with it, the folding legs. The review from Jaunt Junkies below while they are happy overall with the utility of the Tailgater, they do find (and they’re not the only ones) that the folding leg’s need to be redesigned. Compared to other portable tailgating pellet grills/smokers from the likes of GMG, Camp Chef and Grilla Grills, the Traeger Tailgaters folding leg design is the least easy to use.
As discussed in the review above, the Tailgater due to the indirect cooking performance provided by the induction fan provides them with an oven which their RV doesn’t have. However, as also discussed it takes time to complete the cook, therefore starting the cook earlier with a pellet smoker is a good idea. Just note though, the Tailgater in the review above is fitted with a previous generation controller, and not the latest Digital Arc Controller.
Something I do think it’s important to note with both the Traeger Ranger and Tailgater is you need to have a source of 110V power available. With an RV as in the review above, that’s not a problem. However, besides an RV you need to explore the options of inverters and power banks. Therefore, I’ve also produced an article on portable power options which you may wish to review.
Best Traeger Pro Series (Gen 2) Review
If you are not aware, Traeger is now producing their second generation of Pro Series grills. I have an article discussing the differences between the Gen 1 and Gen 2 Pro Series. The key differences between the first and second-generation Pro series are the Gen 2 uses the more advanced D2 Direct Drive system and also features PID temperature control along with WiFi integration, or as Traeger brands the feature WiFire. While you may find a few outlets still selling the Gen 1 Pro Series, the Gen 2 Pro Series is far superior that for the price difference.
The Gen 2 Pro Series currently comprises of two models the Pro 575 and Pro 780, both models have the same features, its just the 780 is larger than the 575 and as such costs around $200 more with the Pro 575 typically priced at $800 and the Pro 780 at just under $1,000. Currently I think the best review on the Gen 2 Pro Series is by Steve of Smoke Trails BBQ where he does a good job discussing the pros but also the cons of the Pro 575.
In Steve’s review, he is generally very positive about his Pro 575 discussing the ease of use and general user-friendly experience of the Traeger along with the WiFi app. Importantly, Steve discusses the size of the cooking area and how he finds the Pro 575 is suitable for cooking for between 2 to 6 people, but for more than 6 people that’s where the larger Pro 780 may be a better choice.
In terms of the cons, Steve discusses the Pro 575’s likely biggest weakness and that’s its grilling/searing performance. As Traeger’s across their entire range lack porcelain-coated grates or direct-flame access, grilling/searing results on a Traeger are not market-leading. Grill Grates can indeed help, but its also true to say other grills as this same price point from Pit Boss, Camp Chef and Weber will produce better searing/grilling results.
Best Traeger Ironwood Review
The next step up over the Pro Series is the Ironwood, which my linked article discusses the improvements over the Pro models. For instance, as the review below from BBQ and Bottles, discusses the Ironwood has additional features such as Super Smoke to add some additional smokey flavour to the food over the standard temperature mode. Another notable difference between the Pro and Ironwood models is that the Ironwood has a downdraft rear exhaust instead of the side chimney. This again helps to acheive a bit more of a smokey flavour over the Pro models but also more even cooking temperatures across the cooking chamber.
The two models currently available are the Ironwood 650 at around £1,200 and the Ironwood 885 at around $1,500. Hence, these pellet grills/smokers are pushing the budgets of most casual backyard grill owners. As with the Pro Series, all Ironwood models feature D2 Direct Drive internals and WiFire app functionality.
The numbers associated with each Traeger model indicate the total cooking area of the particular model. However, that total cooking area includes both the lower and upper racks. While the Ironwood models purely based on the numbers may appear significantly larger than the Pro Series that is mainly due to larger upper racks and not a larger main cooking grate. As noted in the review above, with only a 4″ gap between the racks, the utility of the back of the main cooking grate can be compromised by the upper cooking rack, just something to keep in mind.
While all Traeger models as previously discussed are not strong on grilling/searing performance, they are very proficient as the review notes on doing long ‘low and slow’ cooks. Certain ‘other’ grills (Weber SmokeFire) have had issues with grease management on long cooking sessions of fatty/greasy meats. The twin-wall insulated sides of the Ironwood models also help to keep the heat in and reduce pellet usage.
Best Traeger Timberline Review
The Timberline is currently Traeger’s highest specification pellet grill/smoker, and as such, they are the most expensive. The smaller Timberline 850 currently retails for $1,800 whereas the larger Timberline 1300 currently retails for just under $2,000. Now, in any ‘normal’ persons opinion, that’s a lot of money to spend on a BBQ. Furthermore, as I discuss in my best pellet grills under $2,000 the Timberline faces some tough competition at this price range.
The best review on the Timberline I think which is currently available is from David, aka the ‘Old Fat Cooking Guy’. David has done a review of his Timberline 850 after 4 months of use and is generally pretty happy with his purchase. There were some issues with a control panel firmware update, but that appears to have been resolved pretty quickly. Due to David’s location in Canada and cooking in colder climates, this is where the full twin-wall construction of the Timberline models can pay dividends.
The Timberline models share the same downdraft exhaust design as the Ironwood models. Therefore, as David notes in his review stable temperatures across the cooking chamber are achieved, also helped by the PID temperature algorithm within the D2 control panel. However, as David notes on the Super Smoke mode temperatures will vary more than normal which is to be expected.
In David’s experience despite the lack of direct-flame access and a maximum temperature setting of 500 degrees he was happy with the searing/grilling performance. However, as also noted if you are looking for classic grilling marks and a proper crust you will not achieve that on the Timberline, or any Traeger for that matter. Traegers are very much focused on smoking as opposed to being the best at grilling/searing.
The best features of the Timberline models are their stainless steel internals and full twin-wall insulated cooking chamber. As David notes, on his Timberline 850 he is using half the volume of pellets compared to his previous smoker. And over time, especially if you are using a smoker often, that saving in fuel pellets will add up. Therefore, while the initial purchase price is quite high on Timberline models, you have to consider the lower running costs.
Conclusions On The Best Traeger Reviews
So my objective with this page is to update it over time as Traeger release new/updated models and to add in new owner reviews with real-world feedback. As you can see from the above, while Traeger now faces more competition than ever before, the latest D2 control panels and WiFire integration are right up there on ease of use and consistent cooking performance. Are Traeger’s the best pellet grills for searing? Objectively no, however, when it comes to smoking Traegers products are still well worth considering.
That’s it, I hope you found the real owner reviews above interesting/useful. If you have more questions about the Traeger range and their capabilties, please check out my Traeger FAQ. Otherwise, if you want to review pretty much all your current pellet smoker/grill options check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. 🙂
Back in 2007 when I first become aware of pellet grills and smokers the only brand I was really aware of was Traeger. Traeger is really where this whole concept of cooking with pellets started in the 1980s. It was a ‘slow burner’ (pardon the pun) but since the 2010s is really when pellet grills and smokers started to get mainstream awareness, discussed alongside gas and charcoal grills. There are now over 30 pellet grill/smoker brands that I’m aware of, and the link above goes to my A to Z list of brands article.
Now, you may already be aware of a few of the other brands such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Z Grills and I’m sure you are aware of Weber, though you may not have known they have entered the pellet grill game. However, they are now many, many more brands to look into. Some may be what are commonly referred to as ‘Traeger clones’, but many others are offering their own unique designs and features.
A pellet grill/smoker is only as good as the BBQ pellets you put into it. The type/quality of the BBQ wood pellets you use will impact temperature performance and smoke flavour. There are many pellet flavours including Apple, Hickory, Mapel, Oak and Walnut to name but a few. However, some brands are hardwood blended pellets whereas others are 100% single wood species.
In this article, I provide details on over 20 brands of BBQ wood pellets, their range of flavours, whether they are 100% single wood species or hardwood blended pellets, their typical price and where they are available. I also provide tips on how to get the best deal when buying BBQ wood pellets and how to test pellet quality. Finally, I discuss the new kid on the block, charcoal pellets and their special attributes compared to all other hardwood BBQ pellets.