When it comes to pellet grills, Traeger is king.
Joe Traeger invented this new type of grill in 1986, and they remain the top-selling pellet grill brand today.
We’ve grilled and smoked on every grill in the Traeger lineup, and in this guide will be explaining the differences between each option, and see how they stack up against the competition.
Understanding the Traeger grill lineup
Shopping for a Traeger grill can be very confusing. With so many years in business, you’ve got a lot of different models and versions to compare.
These days, Traeger produces four main models of pellet grill.
How to understand the Traeger pellet grill lineup
- Traeger Pro Series – The most popular mid-range option now includes Wi-Fi connectivity to the Traeger app.
- Traeger Ironwood Series – A step up from the Pro series, offering slightly larger sizes plus some funky new tech known as DownDraft Exhaust and TRU convection to help optimize cook times. Also u[dated in 2022, you also get Super Smoke mode, the option to push a button and ramp up the smoke production, and a built-in pellet sensor
- Traeger Timberline series – Updated in 2022 with two sizes, including a huge 1320 square inches, a new cart, a touch screen, and a built-in induction cooktop.
- Traeger Tailgater – As the name implies this is a portable model, with 300 sq inches and a lot less tech but some nice features for taking it on the go.
The Traeger Pro name includes the grill size, while with the updated Ironwood and Timberline come in standard or XL so you’ll need to check the specs (or scroll down) for the exact size.
To help you decide which Traeger grill is best for you, we have reviewed our picks for the best models. This comparison tool is also very useful for comparing different Traeger models.
Best Traeger Grill Reviews
The Traeger Pro is the most popular and best-selling Traeger grill. It comes in two sizes. The 575 square inch model has enough space to cook five racks of ribs at once, or four chickens which should be plenty for most people.
You can also choose between black or bronze color.
It’s great to see Traeger include Wifi technology in the base Pro lineup. This ‘WiFIRE’ feature lets you connect your grill to the Traeger companion app and control it anywhere you have an internet connection.
The Traeger app is amongst the best of all pellet grills we’ve tested.
We have a guide that covers which Traeger grills have WiFi.
Traeger Pro 575 Specifications:
|Cooking capacity||575 Sq In|
|Pellet hopper capacity||18 Pounds|
|Main grilling area||418 Sq In|
|Secondary grilling area||154 Sq In|
|Exterior material||Painted steel|
|Price||Check latest price|
Temperature is controlled by the Pro D2 direct drive controller, which lets you cook anywhere between 180 – 450°F.
The RTD probe measures the temperature every second to maintain even temperatures within 15 degrees.
Another benefit of the D2 direct drive technology is the turbo temp fast startup which lets you start cooking quickly.
You get an 18lb hopper, and thanks to the cleanout feature, you can quickly change pellet flavor during a cook.
In terms of efficiency, the grill will go through about 2 lbs of wood pellets per hour on high heat and only 1/2 lb per hour on smoke mode.
The Pro is the best bang for your buck out of Traeger’s lineup. While you give up on a few handy features, some of these can be added later, like the pellet sensor.
The Ironwood sits in the middle of the Traeger lineup. Like the top-of-the-range Timberline, it was updated in 2022 with a new color display, improved insulated construction, and a range of customization options with the P.A.L accessory system.
The base Ironwood gives you 616 square inches of cooking space, while the XL pushes you up to 924.
Traeger Ironwood Specifications:
|Cooking capacity||616 Sq in||924 Sq in|
|Pellet hopper capacity||22 Pounds||22 Pounds|
|Grilling area||Rack 1 – 396 Sq in|
Rack 2 – 220 Sq in
|Rack 1 – 594 Sq in|
Rack 2 – 330 Sq in
|Weight||199 Lbs||243 Lbs|
The Ironwood is similar to the more expensive Timberline. You get the ‘DownDraft Exhaust’ and ‘Super Smoke® Mode’ features that used to be unique to the Timberline.
While it does sound a bit like marketing jargon, these features do seem to help circulate fresh smoke, keeping smoke in the chamber and maintaining even temp.
For a detailed look at this grill, check out the video below.
You’ve also got some handy features that make this grill easy to use. Like the keep warm mode and options to create custom cook settings via the digital control panel or app.
What we like:
- More usable tech – With the option to change the smoke level and a pellet sensor, the tech adds functionality you’ll actually use.
- Improved cart design – The Pro all but requires purchasing the front shelf. The Ironwood includes good prep areas and storage shelf, and the P.A.L system allows plenty of extra features to be added.
The Ironwood series is all about offering a middle range between the pricier Timberline and smaller more basic Pro series. With the Pro getting its last redesign way back in 2019, the Ironwood is the best option if you want most of the latest Traeger enhancements.
In 2022 Traeger released a new version of the Timberline with an updated design that makes it more of a full outdoor kitchen.
The new design includes a cabinet, more storage options, and a built-in induction plate for prepping sauces, sides, and searing meat. The Gen 1 Timberline can still be found in some stores and is still a decent grill, especially considering the epic price point of the new Timberline.
I’ve been cooking on the TImberline for about a year, and it really surprised me.
Traeger Timberline Specifications:
|Cooking capacity||880 Sq In||1320 Sq in|
|Pellet hopper capacity||22 Lbs||22 Lbs|
|Grilling area||Rack 1 – 396|
Rack 2 – 242
Rack 3 – 242
|Rack 1 – 594|
Rack 2 – 363
Rack 3 – 363
|Weight||238 Lbs||289 Lbs|
|Exterior material||Painted steel|
During my cooking tests, I found the brisket I smoked had noticeably more flavor from the smoke output.
I was also pleasantly surprised that I could get the grill grates hot enough to sear steaks.
This makes it a versatile option for those who want to cook a wide variety of food.
The grill starts relatively fast for its size, and the few extra pellets it burns through is probably worth it.
One downside to the Timberline is its price point. It is one of the most expensive pellet smokers on the market, but it’s worth the investment if you plan to use it as your main outdoor kitchen. The P.A.L. Pop-And-Lock system is a nice way to customize your grill with various attachments.
Read our full Traeger Tailgater review.
The Tailgater is Traeger’s attempt to offer the convenience and flavor of cooking with pellets, in a portable format.
With 300 square inches of cooking space, the Tailgater should still be able to handle 3 racks of ribs or up to 2 whole chickens.
The grill weighs 62 lbs and measures 36 x 37 x 18 inches. The pellet hopper can hold 8 lbs which should allow 4-6 hours of cooking without refilling.
The EZ-Fold legs are a handy feature that allows you to wheel the grill onto the bed or your truck.
What you gain in portability you give up on features. The Tailgater doesn’t include WiFi or any of the other improvements in the Pro, Ironwood, or Timberline grills.
Having said that, this grill still performs well and can handle anywhere from 180 – 450 °F. The digital elite controller keeps temperatures fairly stable within 20 degrees of your set temperature.
Traeger Tailgater Specifications:
|Cooking capacity||300 Sq In|
|Pellet hopper capacity||8 Pounds|
|Main grilling area||300 Sq In|
|Exterior material||Painted steel|
Traeger also sells the smaller Ranger which we cover in more detail in our best portable pellet grills guides.
While there’s something nice about grilling with charcoal when you are camping, you can’t beat the versatility of a pellet grill. Being able to bake, grill and smoke is super convenient when you can only take one grill with you.
Where are Traeger grills made?
According to Traeger, all residential grills have been manufactured in China since 2008.
Their larger commercial grills are still manufactured in the United States.
Some people have complained about Traeger moving to manufacture their grills in China but the simple fact is the vast majority of consumer grills are manufactured there.
If buying American-made is important to you, then you might want to consider a Yoder pellet grill, although you’ll end up paying at least double the price.
Other brands to consider
Thanks to the popularity of Traeger wood-fired pellet grills, there are now many more brands to choose from. While Traeger is still the most popular, these brands are definitely hot on their tails.
I’ve tried to provide a general overview of how each brand compares with Traeger, but because each brand produces many different grills if you need specifics I would suggest comparing individual specs from the manufacturers and then looking at a few different reviews.
Not sold on Traeger? Check out our list of the best Traeger alternatives.
Camp Chef VS Traeger
The popular DLX 24 pellet grill is also worth checking out.
Unlike Traeger, Camp Chef produces a variety of outdoor cooking products and other types of grill, so they definitely aren’t as specialized.
The option to purchase a sear box with Camp Chef is really nice since even a top-of-the-line Traeger can’t get quite hot enough for searing.
Camp Chef has a really nice system to dump and switch out the wood pellets.
Traeger is definitely more expensive and comes with more technology.
To learn more, check our detailed Camp Chef vs Traeger head to head comparison.
Green Mountain Grills VS Treager
Green Mountain Grills (GMG for short) have been gaining a lot of popularity since they launched in 2008.
They were ahead of the game when it comes to including WiFi as standard option with their wood pellet grills. No other brand offers WiFi at this low price point.
Well built and competitively priced, they are a strong alternative to Traeger.
A lot of their fame comes from the excellent Trek portable pellet grill, which is one of our favorite portable pellet smokers. This grill competes with the Traeger Tailgater, but with the GMG you get WiFi which is really handy when you are camping.
- Includes front and side shelves
- Peaked lid gives you extra headroom
- No warming rack means less total space
For the price, Green Mountain Grills make an excellent Traeger alternative. You just don’t have the full range of sizes available.
To learn more, check our detailed Green Mountain Grills VS Traeger comparison.
Pit Boss VS Traeger
Pit Boss line of wood pellet grills is their attempt to take on Traeger by offering very similar grills at a lower price point.
Pit Boss 440 Deluxe and going all the way up to the Austin XL with 930 square inches of grill area.
One unique feature on the
On the upside you can hit temps as high as 500°F which is a full 50°F higher than on the Traeger Pro.
Build quality is pretty similar to Traeger.
For more info, we have a guide comparing Pit Boss VS Traeger.
Z Grills VS Traeger
Z Grills are the newest competitor to Traeger. While it looks like they appeared out of nowhere, they’ve been manufacturing grills out of China for other companies (potentially including Traeger) for several years.
Check out our detailed Z Grills Review.
The main advantage of Z Grills is value for money. The Z Grills 700D4E offers 700 square inches of cooking space, a 3-year warranty, and similar construction quality to Traeger, all for a significantly lower price.
After some people reported issues with the temperature control unit, this has been upgraded in the latest 2019 models.
Z Grills are a good choice if you don’t mind buying from a relatively unknown brand without a lot of customer service history.
Traeger VS REC TEC
REC TEC are a much smaller company than Traeger and is developing a reputation for high-quality pellet grills at a mid-range price point.
The popular RT-700 AKA “The Bull” compares positively with the Traeger IronWood.
Check out our detailed REC TEC VS Traeger comparison for more information.
Other factors to consider when buying a pellet grill
With so many models and brands available, deciding which model to buy can be intimidating.
But finding the best grill is all about weighing up your needs. I find it helpful to think about a few different factors when buying a new grill.
The Pellet grills we’ve looked at in this guide range from 300 – 1300 square ft. An easy way to narrow your search down is to work out how big you want to go.
Generally the larger you go, the more expensive the grill will get. Although a large grill from a budget brand like Z Grills will still cost less than a more premium brand like Traeger.
If you go too small you won’t be able to cook enough food to feed all your guests. But if you go too big your grill will cost more to run and you’ll waste some wood pellets.
You also need to think about size of the pellet hopper. The larger the hopper the more cooking time you get without re-filing it.
My recommendation is to choose a grill slightly larger than you think you’ll need.
Some people like to have all the latest tech on their grills, while others prefer to invest all their budget in a grill that focuses on superior build quality.
Have a think about which features are nice to have, and which are non-negotiable.
Some common features on pellet grills include:
- WiFi connectivity – Do you want the ability to control your wood pellet grill from your mobile phone?
- Searing ability – Pellet grills make great smokers and ovens, but can struggle to sear. Lots of manufacturers include a searing attachment, or come up with a clever way to achieve higher temperatures.
- Portability – Do you need a light weight grill with legs that will fold up ? Think about if you will ever need to take this grill on the road.
Every factor we’ve talked about contributes to the price. Pellet grills have more tech in them, and generally cost more than other types of smoker.
I would recommend a starting budget of $400. From there you can go all the way up to $2,000 for the largest state of the art Traeger.
Traeger Brand History
I always like to know a little bit about the brand of grill I’m buying. And Traeger has quite an interesting brand story.
Traeger grills was the result of Joe Traeger and Jerry Whitfield experimenting with wood pellet burning stoves.
Joe Traeger was the first person to develop the pellet grill in 1985 and he patented it in 1986.
Thanks to this patent, Traeger had the pellet grill market all to themselves for the next twenty years.
Early Traeger grills used a simple LMH controller which lets you choose between low, medium and high heat.
These early models were fairly basic, as the auger timing didn’t allow for weather conditions or the amount of food being cooked.
During this time Traeger remained a small family company based out of Oregon.
When the original patent expired in 2006, there was a rush of new brands entering the pellet smoker market. By 2014 there were 27 different companies manufacturing pellet grills.
Jeremy Andrus joined Traeger in 2014 when he acquired the business in with private equity firm Trilantic Capital Partners and moved the business to Salt Lake City.
Today Traeger is still the largest manufacturer of pellet grills, selling more than $300 million worth of product per year.
Like any big company, you hear mixed stories when it comes to customer service. From digging through the complaints it seems like most people object to long wait times to order replacement parts for faulty grills.
Wrapping it up
For many years if you wanted a pellet grill Traeger was the only option you had.
With the rush of companies entering the market, Traeger has had to seriously up their game.
With the release of the 2019 lineup of Traeger wood pellet grills, they are now offering some of the most advanced pellet grills available in terms of technology.
Having said that, as a big company they do spend a lot on marketing and you can definitely get good value deals on some of the other brands like Camp Chef or Green Mountain Grills.
We suggest you shop around and look at a few different models before you pull the trigger.