Traeger Grills are all the rage of the BBQ Grilling world at this time. Remember the “It Girl” from your high school days? That’s a Traeger Grill. The question is WHY are Traeger Grills so ‘hot’ right now? In this article, we aim to tell you the answer to that question and many others so you can decide if a Traeger Grill is right for you.
What Makes Traeger Grills so Popular?
Traeger makes it easy to grill however you like best. we’re all about bringing wood-fired flavor right to the table – no matter which grill you go with, Traeger’s 6-in-1 ability means you can grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise and BBQ your way to pure, hardwood flavor.
A fast learning curve, simple to use grilling technology, the ability to get consistent temperature control, AND great value for the money has made the Traeger Grill brand one of the most popular in the US today.
Wanna see a Traeger in action? Check out this vid and get ready to join the Traegerhood…
The Original Traeger Grill – a Traeger History Lesson
Who invented the Traeger Grill?
The legend goes that a man named Joe Traeger and his buddy Jerry Whitfield experimented with various wood pellet stoves back in the early 1980’s. The theory for using wood pellets apparently came to Joe by the growing popularity of people using wood pellet stoves for home heating after the late 1970’s oil crisis. Joe ran a heating company and came up with the idea to use the wood pellet technology for an outdoor grill – the idea being that an electric motor spins an auger to feed wood pellets into a burn chamber and the stove’s thermostats can then control the heat – this is what allows pellet grill to be especially good at smoking meat at steady temperatures.
When was the first Traeger Grill made?
By 1985 Joe invented the original Traeger pellet smoker and patented his ‘invention’ the following year. Joe’s grill was a simple pellet smoker that offer the ability to control the grills temperature by low, medium, or high heat. For twenty years, Traeger was the only pellet grill on the market but it wasn’t widely known about and Traeger remained a small family business.
Fast Forward to 2006 – when Joe’s patent expired. The Traeger family tried fiercely defending its intellectual property and won various protections, however other companies found a way to break into the pellet grill market without violating Traeger’s patents and therefore we now have a number of pellet grills to choose from. This ended up being a good thing for consumers because new entrants forced all the pellet grill makers to up their game and make better pellet grills.
Why has Traeger become so popular recently?
If you’re wondering why Traeger Grills seem to be everywhere these days it’s because they had a leadership change in 2014 – that’s when a new dynamic young CEO took over named Jeremy Andrus. With an MBA from Harvard Business school and a successful backround in entrepreneurship, Jeremy helped the Traeger brand’s growth explode.
Under his watch, Traeger has gone from under $70 million in annual sales to over $400 million in annual revenue – much of that coming from the continued focus on new models and features that have been developed during Jeremy’s time.
Traeger = Grilling Art?
As the market leader in pellet grills and a solid history of building grills that produce wonders in the world of smoking meats, BBQ gurus and home cooks alike love cooking on their Traeger grills because they can make outstanding creations that are just as good as what you’ll find at the best known BBQ joint.
And now that Traeger Grills come in so many sizes, there is a Traeger Grill for everyone: whether you wanna cook for a crowd, or your family, or take one tailgating, you’ll find a Traeger Grill perfect for your needs.
What’s the Difference Between the Traeger Grill Models?
Because there are so many Traeger Models with different names, it can be intimidating to shop for a Traeger Grill in the beginning. For example, this is just one example of the many model options WITHIN just one model type (in this case the “Pro” Series”)…
But have no fear, we can help you understand the differences between the Traeger Grill models.
At the time of this article, Traeger currently make 4 models of pellet grills. They are:
- Traeger Portables – the most portable options of Traegers – including the Scout, Ranger, and Tailgator models. The Scout and Ranger are super mini versions, while the Tailgator looks more like a traditional Traeger but has folding legs.
- Traeger Pro – The most popular options for Traeger Grills. With a mid-range price points, the Pro Series are what most people will start their Traeger journey with.
- Traeger Ironwood Series – If you want to enjoy more features than the Pro offers, the Ironwood Traegers may be for you. Here you’ll find larger cooking space and more technology (TRU convection, Super Smoke Mode, DownDraft Exhaust, and more).
- Traeger Timberline series – Looking for a top-of-the-line Traeger? Then The Timberline is for you – these are the biggest, macked-out Traeger’s you can buy, with up to 1300 sq inches to grill on and all the tech Traeger has to offer.
- Other Models: Traeger also has models & model combinations under the names Bronson, Renegade, Texas & Lil’ Tex, Junior Elite, XL, and Commercial. Some are sold at Big Box Stores like Costco or online.
Here’s a look at the four main model types – from the ultra portable Traeger Scout to massive Traeger Timberline.
What do the NUMBERS mean on the Traeger Grill Models?
As of 2019, the number that you see on the Traeger Grill Models means how large the COOKING SURFACE is. So, for example, the Traeger Pro Series 780 Pellet Grill will have 780 square inches of cooking space. And just like that the mystery is gone!
How to Decide between Traeger Pro 575 vs Pro 780
We recommend the Traeger Pro 780 over the Traeger Pro 575?
The most popular Traeger Grill Pro Series model (especially for newbies) is the Traeger Pro 575 however we are recommending you strongly consider the Traeger Pro 780.
Check Current Prices of the Traeger 575 & 780
You really can’t go wrong with either model, but you can go RIGHTER (if that’s a word?) with the Traeger Pro 780 because time and again on forums and Facebook groups you’ll hear people who have the 575 say “I wished they would have bought the 780 instead.”
Why do people like the Traeger 780 vs the 575? It really comes down to grilling SPACE. Remember, the Traeger Pro 575 has 575 square inches of grilling space, while the Traeger Pro 780 has 780 square inches. That’s a pretty big difference.
The fact is that you will LOVE whichever Traeger model you get and you will WANT to cook on it all the time. That means you’ll be cooking for more and more people and trying new and different things – the Traeger Pro 780 will give you the space you need to experiment on it to your heart’s delight.
How to Decide between Traeger Pro Series 34 vs Traeger Pro 780?
The Traeger Pro Series 34 is an awesome “1st Generation” Traeger and it’s actually BIGGER than the Traeger pro 780 that I’m recommending. The Traeger Pro Series 34 has 884 square inches of grilling space vs 780 square inches on the Traeger Pro 780. The additional grilling space on the Traeger Pro Series 34 will let you cook another rack of ribs (7 vs 6), 2 more chickens (8 vs 6), or 6 more burgers (40 vs 34).
The Traeger Pro Series 34 is consistently highly rated on Amazon and other sites and if you need the biggest Pro series grill, then the Traeger Pro Series 34 could be for you, BUT you’ll be giving up all the new tech that comes standard on the Traeger Pro 780 – that includes the WiFire technology and more. If the tech doesn’t matter and you just want SPACE, then the Traeger Pro Series 34 is a great buy, just know what you’re giving up so you can make an informed decision.
How to Decide between Traeger Ironwood vs Pro
The quick summary is the Traeger Ironwood has all the best features of the Treager Pro AND also includes double side-walled insulation, a free side-shelf, an adjustable lower grill grate, a slightly larger hopper, Traeger’s Downdraft Exhaust System, and the Tru Convection option.
Traeger threads on Reddit and other forums about the Ironwood vs the Pro are somewhat mixed, however the majority of people who have actually purchased the Traeger Ironwood seem to be really happy with it – especially as the Downdraft Exhaust and Tru Convection seem to provide more smoke in the chamber longer for more smoke flavor.
How to Decide between Traeger Timberline vs Ironwood
Here’s a quick summary of the differences between the Traeger Ironwood vs Timberline grills…
- Cooking Space: Timberline offer 885 or 1300 square inches of grilling space vs the 650 or 885 square inches on the Ironwood
- # of Racks: Timberline has 3 vertical cooking racks vs Ironwood single rack + warming shelf
- Grill Grate Materials: Timberline features solid 304 stainless steel cooking grates vs the Ironwood ironwood porcelain coated grates.
- Grill Hood: Timberline has a full doubled lined hood (not just side walls) and a gasket all the way around the grill that is commercial grade (which could help with keeping cooking temps consistent in colder weather).
- Hopper Sensor – Timberline’s hopper sensor alerts you when your wood pellets are getting low.
- Bamboo Cutting Board – standard with the Timberline.
How to Shop for a Traeger Grill
If you’re in the market for a Traeger Grill, you’d be wise to think the about the following…
How big of a Traeger Grill do you need?
As noted already, Traeger has a lot of models – so whether you want to just grill for two people or whether you want to cook for a crowd, you’ll find a Traeger perfect for you.
Traeger also makes it easy for you to shop for the right grill size because you’ll often see helpful hints in their product descriptions. For example, the Traeger Grills TFB38TOD Renegade Pro Pellet Grill says the following “Perfect size for the at-home cook: 380 sq. in. cooking capacity that can accommodate 2 chickens, 3 racks of ribs or 12 burgers.” You can use this info to compare the models and pick what’s best for you.
Do you want a Portable Trager Grill?
If you want to be able to take your Traeger Grill with you while camping, tailgating, or to other social events, then you’ll want to look at the the Scout, Ranger, and Tailgator models. The Scout and Ranger are super mini tabletop versions with no carts or legs, while the Tailgator looks more like a traditional Traeger but has folding legs.
What kind of Technology Features do you want?
Do you want Wifi to be able to monitor your Traeger Grill from another room? Do you want your grill to be Amazon Alexa enabled? Do you need a Pro Controller? What about TurboTemp, TRU convection, Super Smoke Mode, or DownDraft Exhaust?
Traeger’s Pro Line have features suitable for most beginners, while the Ironwood and Timberline offer the most technology.
Do you plan on doing lots of LONG cooks?
If you want to cook for hours in your Traeger and make things like pulled pork, brisket, and more, then you’ll want to pay attention to the Hopper capacity.
What is a Traeger Hopper?
The hopper is the part of the Traeger Grill that holds the wood pellets you cook with. Traeger hoppers range in capacity – from 5 to 24 pounds. The benefit of having a larger hopper is that you don’t need to keep refilling it with more wood pellets.
What kind of Temperature Control do you want?
Traeger Grills boast the benefit of “Set it and Forget It” grilling as you can see in this pic…
One of the primary ways to use the Set it and Forget it cooking method is via the type of Temperature Controller you choose. Here are your 3 Traeger Grill Controller Options:
- Digital Elite: The basic controller for Traeger’s has an easy-to-read digital display, however this options does NOT include meat probes to help you monitor internal temperatures of what you’re cooking.
- Digital Pro: The display of the Digital Pro controller is the same as the Digital Elite but (depending on the model) you’ll also get 1 or 2 meat probes that can show meat’s internal temperature on the controller display so you can then adjust the grilling temperature if need be.
- WiFIRE: Traeger’s newest controller features wifi trademarked wireless digital control that allows you to connect to a mobile device and then remotely control your grilling temperatures anywhere within your WiFi range.
How much do you want to spend?
You can pick up a portable Traeger Grill for under $300. Plan on spending at least $500 for the Pro line. The Ironwood entry point is over $1000 and the Timberline series will set you back closer to $2000.
What are the Best Accessories for Traeger Grills?
Keep in mind that in addition to the Traeger Grill itself, you’ll likely want some accessories too so be sure to budget for them too. Whether you want to add more shelves for storage, popular cooking surfaces, magnetic hooks, and more, there are a lot of cool accessories you can get for your Traeger Grill.
Click here to shop for Traeger Accessories (or) check out these articles to learn more about the best Trager Grill accessories:
Shop the Traeger Store on Amazon
Now that you know more about Traeger Grills, check out all the models on the official Traeger Grill Amazon Store…
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