Traeger vs Pit Boss in 2023


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 to see whose grills are better.

Traeger vs Pit Boss
How do Traeger pellet grills/smokers compare to Pit Boss products on features and price?: Images – Traeger.com & PitBoss-Grills.com

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.

Introduction To Traeger vs Pit Boss

Now, it should be noted that Traeger’s product range is more focused on its premium products, whereas Pit Boss is still heavily focused on the value/budget end of the market.

I’ve provided comparisons below of three Traeger and Pit Boss models against each other, representing different needs/price points.

        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 or tailgating or course.

        First, I’ll provide some key details/features on each model, including their cooking area, hopper size, temperature range etc, and then we’ll get into the comparison.

        Traeger Tailgater

        The Tailgater has been a stable of the Traeger range for many years now. 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, also discussed below.

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

        Obviously, being 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 = $529
        • 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 Tailgater 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 Pellet Grill/Smoker
        The Pit Boss Tailgater was the second portable pellet grill to hit the market: Images – Walmart.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 Tailgater features an analogue temperature gauge on the lid, a feature not found on the Traeger Tailgater.

        • Total Cooking Area = 340 sq.in
        • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 5 lbs
        • Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees (650+ Direct Flame)
        • 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 in the temperature range of each pellet grill. While both pellet grills can go as low as 180 degrees, the Traeger Tailgater will max out at 450 degrees, whereas the Pit Boss Tailgater can be set to 500 degrees.

        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, which is more likely going to be the type of food your cooking while tailgating.

        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 and make every inch of the grate work as hard as possible.

        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.

        I believe the additional weight of the Pit Boss is likely due to the thicker legs. Therefore, with the Pit Boss, I think its recommended as a two-person job to move it around.

        Pricing and Value

        The price of the Traeger Tailgater always seems pretty stable, around $529, whether its sourced 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, sometimes even slightly below.

        As a result, as the Pit Boss Tailgater comes in at a lower price point and offers a 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. But for the moment, the Pit Boss Tailgater is the better deal.


        Traeger Pro 575 vs Pit Boss Pro 1600

        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 where I discuss the differences/improvements.

        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 has the Platinum Series, which is priced similarly to the Traeger Pro Series. However, the Pit Boss Pro Series more closely aligns with the Traeger Pro Series in price and design/features.

        Traeger Pro Series 575

        The Pro 575, is the smallest model of the second-generation Pro Series, and it 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, which enables tighter temperature control.

        Traeger Pro 575 Pellet Grill/Smoker
        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 by constantly monitoring/adjusting the combustion process.

        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 = $899
        • Availability = Traeger.com, Walmart.com, HomeDepot.com & BBQGuys.com

        Pit Boss Pro Series 1600

        The Pro 1600 is a member of the second generation of Pit Boss Pro Series models and is, in fact, the largest model in the range along with its sibling the Elite discussed below.

        Over the first generation Pro Series, the Pro 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 1600 Pellet Grill/Smoker
        The Pro Series 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 Pro 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 Pro 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 = $999
        • Availability = Lowes.com

        Temperature Control & Cooking Performance

        While both the Traeger Pro Series 575 and Pit Boss Pro Series Pro 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 Pro 1600 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 Pro 1600 offers a 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 and stored in your garage/shed if you are not going to store the grill outside under a cover.

        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. However, 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 across all outlets and when purchased directly from Traeger.

        The Pit Boss Pro Series Pro 1600 is a Lowes exclusive, but likewise, its price has been stable for quite a while now at just under $1,000. Hence, these two pellet grills/smokers from Traeger and Pit Boss are in direct competition.

        When it comes down to it, the Pit Boss Pro 1600 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 without having to worry about the pellet hopper going empty.

        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 Pro 1600 holds with regard to the cooking area etc, and I think its the better deal currently.

        Traeger Ironwood 650 vs Pit Boss 1600 Elite

        I’m referencing to this comparison as the ‘premium’ option, however just to be clear, Traeger Ironwood models are not the top-of-the-line Traeger pellet grills, that’s the Gen 1 Timberline and Gen 2 Timberline.

        However, the Ironwood 650 aligns the closest to the most expensive Pit Boss the 1600 Elite on price. Therefore, that’s why I’m comparing these two particular pellet grills/smokers against each other.

        Traeger Ironwood 650

        While the external appearance of the Traeger Ironwood 650 is very similar to that of the Pro 575 above, there are significant differences internally. Not just that the Ironwood 650 features a taller cooking chamber with more volume.

        Traeger Ironwood 650 Pellet Grill/Smoker

        The Ironwood 650 is the cheapest Traeger with their ‘Tru Convection’ downdraft exhaust design that creates better smoke/heat circulation within the cooking chamber.

        The other improvement is the Ironwood 650 features twin wall insulation on the sides of the cooking chamber to aid heat retention and improve winter/cold weather performance.

        Total Cooking Area = 650 sq.in (418 sq.in at the main grate)
        Pellet Hopper Capacity = 20 lbs
        Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees
        Direct-Flame Access? = No
        PID Temperature Control? = Yes
        WiFi/App Control? = Yes
        Typical Price = $1,399
        Availability = Traeger.com, HomeDepot.com & BBQGuys.com


        Pit Boss Pro 1600 Elite

        Yes, you will probably notice from the image below this Pro 1600 Elite has a very similar appearance to the Pro 1600 from the comparison above. They are very similar pellet grills, with the ‘Elite’ featuring some improvements, most notably the extensive use of stainless steel.

        Pit Boss Pro Series 1600 Elite Pellet Grill/Smoker

        However, there is another difference, the Pro 1600 Elite doesn’t feature a smoke stack on the right hand side of the cooking chamber like the standard Pro 1600. The Elite features an adjustable rear vent design.

        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 = $1,299
        Availability = Lowes.com

        Temperature Control & Cooking Performance

        One area where the Pro 1600 Elite has an improvement over the standard Pro 1600 is in temperature control. Where both grills are using a PID controller, the software on the Pro 1600 Elite allows for temperature control in 5 degree increments which is not available on the standard Pro 1600.

        Why is that? Well, the main reason is the Pro 1600 Elite features an upgraded brushless auger motor which allows for the finer adjustment of pellet fuel into the burn pot, enabling the tighter temperature control in 5 degree increments.

        The Traeger Ironwood 650 can match the Pro Elite 1600 in temperature accuracy/adjustments in 5 degree increments, and both grills can be set up to 500 degrees.

        However, as with the other Traeger vs Pit Boss comparisons above, the Pit Boss Pro Elite 1600 features direct-flame access where the Ironwood 650 does not.

        Hence, the Pit Boss Pro Elite 1600 is going to provide better searing/grilling performance over the Traeger Ironwood 650 as well as matching the Traeger on temperature adjustment.

        Cooking Area, Weight & Hopper Capacity

        The Traeger Ironwood 650 features the same main cooking grate as its cheaper sibling the Pro 575 at 418 sq.in. With its larger upper rack though it does provide a larger overall cooking area at 650 sq.in.

        A Pit Boss Pro Elite 1600 offers a larger main grate at 615 sq.in and a significantly larger overall cooking area with its two upper racks, providing up to 1,598 sq.in.

        The Pro Elite 1600 also features a stainless steel lid, stainless steel cooking racks and twin-wall insulated on the sides of the cooking chamber and the lid.

        A Traeger Ironwood 650 does feature sidewall insulation, but its cannot match the Pit Boss Pro Elite when it comes the extensive use of insulation or stainless steel.

        When it comes to weight, the Traeger Ironwood 650 is significantly higher at 149 lbs compared to the Pit Boss Pro Elite 1600 which comes in at a hefty 230 lbs.

        Likewise, the hopper on the Traeger Ironwood 650 at 20lbs is dwafted by the 32 lbs pellet hopper found on the Pit Boss Pro Elite 1600. Hence, the Pit Boss offers a significantly longer run time.

        Pricing and Value

        With the improvements found on the Pro 1600 Elite over the standard Pro 1600 (better temp control, more insulation, stainless steel) a price premium of $300 up to $1,299 should not be too surprising.

        Likewise, you would expect price premium going from a Traeger Pro 575 to the superior Ironwood 650 with its larger cooking area, slightly larger pellet hopper etc.

        However, the improvements are not as significant, yet the price premium is more significant at $500, with the Ironwood 650 priced at $1,399.

        Therefore, I think its pretty clear in this instance that the Pit Boss Pro Elite 1600 is offering the better value over the Traeger Ironwood 650.

        Conclsions On Traeger vs Pit Boss

        In the three comparisons above, the Pit Boss Tailgater, Pro Series Pro 1600 and Pro 1600 Elite all work out as the better deals based on their features compared to their Traeger counterparts.

        The two key benefits in the favour of the Pit Boss products 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 when making a purchase. And currently for their respective price points, the Pit Boss pellet grills/smokers are offering the better deal.

        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. 🙂

        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.com

        Hi, I’m Chris. I started PelHeat.com back in 2007. This website is intended to be an educational resource on BBQ pellets, pellet grills & smokers. I hope you find the information useful.

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