Traeger vs Pit Boss 2021 – Pellet Grill Comparisons


Hi, I’m Chris I started PelHeat.com back in 2007.

Traeger and Pit Boss are currently the most well known/popular brands in the pellet market right now. The Traeger brand started in the 1980s and is the foundation of the idea/concept of pellet grills. Pit Boss is a subsidiary brand of Dansons LLC which was founded in 1999. Dansons also own other pellet grill brands, Lousiana Grills and Country Smokers. How Traeger and Pit Boss sell/distribute their pellet grills is very similar. For instance, both brands sell various specific models in the Big Box stores (Walmart, Lowes etc). So let’s get into this Traeger vs Pit Boss comparison.

Traeger vs Pit Boss
How do the Traeger Tailgater and Pro 575 (left) compare against the Pit Boss Tailgater and Pro Elite 1600 (right)?

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.

In a rush? Jump to my conclusion on which Traeger or Pit Boss pellet grills are providing the best deal considering features such as temperature control technology, cooking area, weight, hopper capacity and price point.

Introduction To Traeger vs Pit Boss

Now, it should be noted that Traeger’s product range is more focused on their premium products, whereas Pit Boss is still heavily focused on the value/budget end of the market. Therefore, with the Traeger Ironwood and Timberline models, there is currently no direct Pit Boss competition. Therefore, this comparison will focus on Traeger’s cheaper models which compare more directly to Pit Boss on price. Namely the Traeger Tailgater and the Pro Series full-sized pellet grills/smokers.

Traeger Tailgater vs Pit Boss Tailgater

First off, we are comparing two portable pellet grills from Traeger and Pit Boss. Both of these units are designed with folding legs so they can be placed in the back of a car, truck or RV and taken camping or for a day out at the beach. First, I’ll provide some key details/features on each model, and then we’ll get into the comparison.

Traeger Tailgater

The Tailgater has been a stable of the Traeger range for many years now. And while its control panel has been upgraded to the ‘Digital Arc’ controller it is not fitted with the same PID/WiFi control panel technology found in more modern Traeger’s such as the Pro Series Gen 2 below.

Traeger Tailgater
The Traeger Tailgater was one of the original and most widely available portable pellet grills: Images – Traeger.com

Obviously been a portable pellet grill the cooking area and hopper size are pretty small compared to a typical full-sized pellet grill. However, the ability to use the Tailgater in pretty much any location (with a suitable source of power) gives it more utility than a typical backyard grill.

  • Total Cooking Area = 300 sq.in
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 8 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 450 degrees
  • Direct-Flame Access? = No
  • PID Temperature Control? = No
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $470
  • Availability = Traeger.comAmazon.comBBQGuys.comWalmart.com & HomeDepot.com

Pit Boss Tailgater

Much like the Traeger, the Pit Boss Tailgater is fitted with a previous generation Pit Boss control panel, hence no PID or WiFi functionality. However, the Pit Boss does include a feature not found on the Traeger, direct-flame access which will enable the Pit Boss to achieve higher searing/grilling temperatures.

Pit Boss Tailgater
The Pit Boss Tailgater was the second portable pellet grill to hit the market: Images – PitBoss-Grills.com

Another area where the Pit Boss is superior to the Traeger is its folding legs. The legs on the Pit Boss Tailgater are much quicker and easier to fold in and out and position through spring clips. You will also notice that the Pit Boss features an analogue temperature gauge on the lid, a feature not found on the Traeger.

  • Total Cooking Area = 340 sq.in
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 5 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees (Direct Flame @ 650 degrees)
  • Direct-Flame Access? = Yes
  • PID Temperature Control? = No
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $297 to $499
  • Availability = PitBoss-Grills.com & Walmart.com

Temperature Control & Cooking Performance

So as stated above, neither the Traeger Tailgater nor the Pit Boss Tailgater is fitted with the latest PID temperature control or WiFi/App connectivity. However, there are still differences between the temperature range of each pellet grill. While both pellet grills can go as low as 180 degrees, the Traeger will max out at 450 degrees and the Pit Boss can be set to 500 degrees.

However, as the Pit Boss Tailgater is also fitted with a sliding grease tray insert to enable direct-flame access in the centre of the cooking grate it will be able to achieve temperatures in excess of 650 degrees. Hence, the Pit Boss is set up much better for grilling/searing steaks and burgers.

Cooking Area, Weight & Hopper Capacity

The cooking area of the Pit Boss Tailgater offers a little bit more than that found on the Traeger Tailgater at 340 sq.in and 300 sq.in respectively. Though obviously as both of these pellet grills are small portable models you would have to manage the space effectively.

As these are portable pellet grills, their weight is also a consideration for loading and unloading. The Traeger Tailgater comes in at 62 lbs whereas the Pit Boss Tailgater comes in quite a bit heavier at 79 lbs, likely due to the thicker legs. Therefore, with the Pit Boss, I think its recommend as a two-person job to move it around.

Pricing and Value

The price of the Traeger Tailgater always seems pretty stable around $470 whether its directly from Traeger or one of the other retailers above. The Pit Boss Tailgater is a little different. While I’ve seen the Pit Boss priced as high as $499, typically its priced much lower and closer to $300.

As a result, as the Pit Boss Tailgater comes in at a lower price point and offers the larger cooking area, direct-flame access and better folding legs I think its currently a better deal over the Traeger Tailgater. Now, if/when Traeger upgrades their Tailgater with better legs and one of their modern PID/WiFi control panels that may change.

Traeger Pro Series vs Pit Boss Pro Series

We are now on the second generation of the Traeger Pro Series, and I have an article on the Gen 1 vs Gen 2 Traeger Pro Series. The same is true for the Pit Boss Pro Series, therefore please check out my article on the Gen 1 vs Gen Pit Boss Pro Series to understand the differences/improvements.

Now, Pit Boss also have their Platinum Series which is priced similarly to the Traeger Pro Series. However, the Pit Boss Pro Series more closely aligns to the Traeger Pro Series not only on price but also design/features.

Traeger Pro Series 575

The Pro 575 which is the first model of the second generation Pro Series features notable improvements over first-generation models. Namely, the Pro 575 is fitted with the D2 Direct Drive platform, which is now using variable speed motors for the auger and combustion fan.

Traeger Pro 575
The Traeger Pro 575 is the smallest model of the second-generation Pro Series: Image – Traeger.com

Another key feature of the Traeger D2 platform is a PID algorithm for much more accurate temperature control. Furthermore, the Pro 575 comes with WiFi/App communication, or as Traeger brands the feature WiFire. As such you can monitor and control the Pro 575 via your phone from pretty much any location with a WiFi/cellular signal.

  • Total Cooking Area = 575 sq.in (418 sq.in at the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 18 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees
  • Direct-Flame Access? = No
  • PID Temperature Control? = Yes
  • WiFi/App Control? = Yes
  • Typical Price = $900
  • Availability = Traeger.com, Walmart.com, HomeDepot.com & BBQGuys.com

Pit Boss Pro Series Elite 1600

The Elite 1600 is a member of the second generation of Pit Boss Pro Series models and is in fact the largest model in the range. Over the first generation Pro Series the Elite 1600 has some notable improvements, most importantly a PID and WiFi-enabled control panel that can communicate with the Pit Boss SmokeIT app.

Pit Boss Pro Series Elite 1600
The Pro Series Elite 1600 above and the rest of the Pit Boss Pro Series is a Lowes exclusive: Image – Lowes.com

Like the first generation Pro Series models, the Elite 1600 features direct-flame access and porcelain-coated cast-iron cooking racks for superior searing/grilling results. However, the direct-flame access feature is better controlled on the Elite 1600 via a sliding lever on the left-hand side of the pellet grill.

  • Total Cooking Area = 1,598 sq.in (615 sq.in at the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 32 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees (650+ via direct flame)
  • Direct-Flame Access? = Yes
  • PID Temperature Control? = Yes
  • WiFi/App Control? = Yes
  • Typical Price = $900
  • Availability = Lowes.com

Temperature Control & Cooking Performance

While both the Traeger Pro Series 575 and Pit Boss Pro Series Elite 1600 are fitted with a control panel running a PID algorithm for accurate temperature control to within 5 degrees of the set temperature, there are currently some differences. For instance, on the Traeger you can control the temperature in 5-degree increments, however, the Pit Boss is currently limited to jumps of 10-25 degrees.

Likewise, while both pellet grills are fitted with WiFi communication and can be monitored and controlled through their respective Apps, there are differences. Currently, the Traeger app is more comprehensive with video recipes etc. However, the Pit Boss app could and should improve over time with similar features.

When it comes to temperature range, both pellet grills offer a 180 to 500 degree range. However, only the Pit Boss offers direct-flame access for the higher searing temperatures at the grate along with porcelain-coated cast-iron grates for better heat retention.

Cooking Area, Weight & Hopper Capacity

Checking the stats above its clear the Pit Boss Pro Series Elite 1600 offers the significantly larger overall cooking area compared to the Traeger Pro Series 575 at 1,598 sq.in and 575 sq.in respectively. However, the Pit Boss is fitted with three racks and the Traeger has just two racks. Therefore, the difference in the size of the main grate is far less significant with a 197 sq.in advantage for the Pit Boss pellet grill.

As neither of these models are intended as portable pellet grills, weight its not so much of a consideration. However, as neither pellet grill is stainless steel, ideally they would be kept in a garage/shed when not in use. As such, the Traeger at 124lbs is going to be easier to roll around compared to the 209 lb Pit Boss pellet grill.

When it comes to hopper capacity, the Pit Boss offers significantly more at 32lbs compared to the Traeger at just 18lbs. Hence, the Pit Boss is more suited to long overnight smoking sessions without worrying about running out of pellets. Though the Traeger can be upgraded with the Traeger Pellet Sensor.

Pricing and Value

While the Traeger Pro 575 is sold at many different retail outlets the price has been holding steady at just under $900. The Pit Boss Pro Series Elite 1600 is a Lowes exclusive, but likewise, its price has been stable for quite a while now at just under $900. Hence, these two pellet grills/smokers from Traeger and Pit Boss are in direct competition.

When it comes down to it, the Pit Boss is currently offering more for the money which includes a larger total cooking area and main grate along with direct-flame access which is missing on the Traeger. Furthermore, the significantly larger hopper on the Pit Boss makes it more practical for longer smoking sessions.

I would give the Traeger the edge with more adjustment on temperature control and the features/functionality of the Traeger WiFire App. However, I don’t think that those features outweigh the core advantages the Pit Boss Pro Series Elite 1600 holds with regards to the cooking area etc.

Conclsions On Traeger vs Pit Boss

In the two comparisons above, the Pit Boss Tailgater and Pro Series Elite 1600 work out as the better deals based on their features. The two key benefits in their favour are the larger cooking areas and direct-flame access for better searing/grilling results.

While I do think Traeger still has the edge when it comes to their App software on their WiFire enabled pellet grills, as that’s software through updates Pit Boss has the opportunity to improve theirs over time. It makes the most sense to focus on the hardware you are getting with a pellet grill/smoker.

That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you found the above Traeger vs Pit Boss comparison useful. Please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide to review more of your options. 🙂

Click above for our suggestion tool to help you find a pellet grill/smoker within your budget

A to Z List of Pellet Grill/Smoker Brands

A to Z List of Pellet Grill/Smoker Brands

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 to Z List of The Best BBQ Wood Pellets

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.

Chris - PelHeat

Hi, I’m Chris. I started PelHeat.com back in 2007. This website is intended to be an educational resource on how pellets are made and their various uses. I hope you find the information useful.

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