Traeger and Big Green Egg are the two most popular brands in their respective categories: pellet grills and kamado grills. These different grill styles have different operating methods and pros and cons.
Traeger users are like Tesla drivers who want to get from A to B with minimal effort. Meanwhile, Big Green Egg is more like a Ferrari. It’s beautiful but requires more skill to drive and maintain.
Traeger VS Big Green Egg is really about pellet grills vs. Kamado grills
Comparing Traeger to a Big Green Egg is a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison. Most of your decision should come down to which fuel or type of grill you want to live with.
Here are the main differences between pellets and charcoal.
Heat production and flavor
The Traeger Ironwood XL uses wood pellets, while the Big Green Egg XL uses lump charcoal. One thing these materials have in common is they’re both made from hardwoods. This includes woods like oak and hickory, as well as fruit woods.
Wood pellets typically offer a smoother, smoky flavor. Meanwhile, charcoal is known for its richer and slightly heavier smoke flavor. But Traeger’s Super Smoke Mode helps enhance that smoky taste.
Ask smoking enthusiasts and many of them will say they prefer the flavor of charcoal over pellets.
The large hopper you get with pellet grills allows for longer cooking times without you having to do anything than you get with a Kamado grill. There are a lot of factors that go into it, but it’s not uncommon to run a Traeger for 20 hours without refilling.
This is why pellet smokers are great when cooking low and slow (leaning into that set-and-forget mindset we’ll explore below).
With a Kamado you’re looking at around 10-12 hours before needing to refill.
With pellet grills, you set the temperature using the digital control, and that’s it. With Traeger models, you can even control the temperature using an app.
Kamado grills offer a much more hands-on experience. You must control the temperature using the airflow system with upper and lower vents.
On the low end, you can get a new pellet grill for around $500. For a proper ceramic Kamado you are looking at around $1200 and up.
Both models we are comparing for this guide come in around the $2,000 price point.
Traeger is known for creating the Original Wood Pellet Grill and selling the most pellet grills. It has been leading the market since the 1980s. In 2022, Traeger sold over $350 million worth of grills.
We’ve already reviewed the best Traeger grills. While the Traeger Pro 575 Wood Pellet Grill is the most popular, we’re focusing on the Traeger Ironwood XL pellet grill. The Ironwood series sits between the more basic Pro grills and the pricier Timberline grills.
Traeger grills are known for their ease of use, advanced tech features, and add-on accessories, and the Ironwood XL perfectly fits this brief.
Big Green Egg
Traeger might have a hold on the pellet grill world, but Big Green Egg has been the king of Kamado grills since the 1970s. Why the name? Because the grills literally resemble big green eggs. The company has a cult following, with fans dubbing themselves Eggheads.
What sets Big Green Egg apart from competitors is its charcoal grills’s versatility, temperature control, and durability. We’re using the Big Green Egg XL for this comparison, which is still one of the best kamado grills on the market after nearly 40 years.
Traeger Ironwood vs Big Green Egg
Traeger Ironwood XL
As mentioned, the Ironwood is Traeger’s middle-of-the-range pellet grill. Includes features like a full-color touchscreen, WiFi connectivity, and a giant cooking space.
Traeger Ironwood XL specifications:
|924 square inches (594 bottom + 330 top)
|Check Latest Price
What we like:
- Cooking space: The Traeger has over double the cooking space compared to the Big Green Egg (924 versus 452 square inches). There’s no competition.
- Technology features: The touchscreen controller, built-in temperature probes, and app connectivity make grilling a breeze. You can just set it and forget it, letting the grill take control.
- Easy to clean: The large grease management system at the front makes clean-up much easier.
What we don’t like:
- Electrical source: The Traeger needs electricity to run.
Big Green Egg XL
There’s a lot to like about the Big Green Egg XL. You get more user control with the manual temperature control system, more authentic charcoal flavor plus a more compact grill for smaller spaces.
While it’s not for everyone’s tastes, you can’t deny the Big Green Egg design is timeless and looks great built into outdoor kitchen or on the stand.
Big Green Egg XL specifications:
|452 sq in
|Check Latest Price
What we like:
- Heat and moisture retention: Its thick ceramic walls retain heat and create an ideal cooking environment for smoking meat.
- Versatility: You do have to buy the extra accessories. But being able to transform your grill into a spit, pizza oven, or outdoor convection oven is worth the expense.
- The charcoal flavor difference: Cooking with lump charcoal (and being able to add different wood chunks) typically provides a richer smoke flavor than pellets.
What we don’t like:
- Smaller cooking space: Because these models are priced similarly, you get much less space with your Egg.
Ace Hardware package the Big Green Egg with the intEGGrated Nest+Handler, a solid and stable mobile base. You can easily move it around with its comfortable handle and two free/two locking wheel casters.
Traeger vs Big Green Egg: Head-to-head
Let’s put these grills head-to-head. They may be different grill styles, but they do have some similarities.
You’ll need two people when you first assemble both grills. But they’re relatively easy to put together with clear instructions.
Big Green Egg loves to boast about its NASA-pioneered ceramics. But the material is extremely durable and excellent for heat retention. The grill sits on the intEGGrated Nest+Handler for easy mobility. Meanwhile, the Traeger has a double-walled cooking chamber for better heat retention.
Both grills have stainless steel grates and are built to last using high-quality materials. But Big Green Egg goes one step further with its lifetime warranty. Traeger only offers a 10-year warranty.
Ease of use
This one is not a contest.
With the Traeger Ironwood, you only have to add the pellets to the hopper and use the digital controller to set your temperature. The grill does the rest, and the app allows you to change the temperature or turn the grill off remotely.
The Traeger also has a quick start time, reaching 350 degrees in about 15 minutes.
In contrast, the Big Green Egg requires more prep time and knowledge. You need to light the charcoal and maintain the temperature by controlling the airflow. Once you’ve mastered cooking with charcoal, the end result is a more intense smoke flavor.
Another difference between pellets and charcoal is how easy they are to smoke with. Pellet smokers are great for smoking low and slow (a.k.a you can set it and forget it). Meanwhile, charcoal can go too hot, and you have to know what you are doing to control the airflow.
You must be on standby to control the temperature. So, the Traeger definitely wins in terms of ease.
The Big Green Egg has a patented air-flow system with upper and lower vents. These are easily adjusted and help regulate the temperature. But this type of temperature control can take a hot second to master. The calibrated temperature gauge also provides precise readings from 150 to 750 degrees.
The Traeger is automatic, so you set and forget. Let the grill’s Smart Combustion technology regulate how many pellets are needed to maintain consistent cooking temperatures. The 22lb pellet hopper means fewer top-ups, too.
The Traeger’s insulated double-walled cooking chamber also helps reduce temperature fluctuations. The Ironwood has a digital thermometer for its temperature range between 165 and 500°F. It’s easily adjustable in 5-degree increments. It also has a Keep Warm mode alongside its Super Smoke mode.
For beginners, the Traeger is hands down the better option.
With the XL in their names, both grills boast large cooking spaces for their grill styles. But when you look at the grills side by side, you know the Traeger Ironwood XL wins this round. It has over double the cooking space compared to the Big Green Egg: 924 versus 452 square inches.
The Big Green Egg XL also only has one single cooking rack. The Traeger Ironwood XL has an upper and lower rack so that you can cook a feast for a large crowd.
What the Big Green Egg lacks in size, it makes up for in versatility thanks to the extensive Eggcessories range. It includes a rotisserie kit, a rib and roast rack, pizza and baking stone, and the convEGGtor. This provides a barrier between the food and the charcoal to facilitate indirect cooking. It essentially transforms your Egg into a smoker.
Traeger doesn’t have food-related accessories like the Egg. Instead, it has its P.A.L (Pop and Lock) system. You can buy accessories that pop onto your grill and lock in place. These include a cup holder, a roll holder, a front shelf, and a storage bin.
The Big Green Egg wins this round with its array of accessories that can elevate your grilling experience.
The Big Green Egg doesn’t have any extra storage. It only has two side shelves. But you can buy a package with a table or build it into your outdoor kitchen, which a lot of Eggheads do.
The Traeger has a large side shelf and a heavy-duty bottom shelf where you can store pellets and other supplies. So Traeger wins for “free” storage.
Pellet grills are typically easier to clean. The Traeger Ironwood comes with the signature EZ-Clean Grease & Ash Keg. This grease management system collects drippings and pellet ash in one large container. It’s easily accessible at the grill’s front for quick and convenient cleaning.
The Big Green Egg requires a little more clean-up. You’ll need to remove the remaining charcoal ashes through the Draft Door. It also doesn’t have a grease collector like the Traeger. Instead, most people just use a drip pan when smoking. Otherwise, residual heat burns off any excess grease.
You can see the cleaning process in action in this video from Malcolm Reed.
The Big Green Egg XL varies depending on what package you get. You can get it from Ace Hardware with a bag of lump charcoal and the mobile stand for $2,119.99. The Traeger Ironwood XL comes in just shy of $2000.
Traeger’s stand-out feature
What sets Traeger apart from Big Green Egg and other competitors is its WiFIRE technology. The Traeger has a full-color touchscreen D2 Direct Drive PID controller. It has two probe ports connected to two color-coordinated probes.
Connected to an app, you can monitor your grill from anywhere. The app also has recipes if you’re in immediate need of dinner inspiration.
If you like the sound of the Big Green Egg but want some of the smarts of the Traeger
If you still can’t decide between Traeger and Big Green Egg, let’s throw a third option into the ring. The Kamado Joe Konnected Joe is kind of a hybrid of both, bringing together the best of both worlds. It gives you many of Traeger’s high-tech features like automatic charcoal ignition and smart temperature control with Big Green Egg’s ceramic charcoal grill.
Best of all, you can run it completely manually if you want to take control.
For Traeger versus Big Green Egg, it comes down to personal preference.
Choose Big Green Egg for:
- More user control regarding temperature.
- There is more potential for better smoke flavor.
- Greater grilling versatility. Grab those accessories to effortlessly smoke some ribs, roast a chicken on the spit, or cook a pizza.
Choose Traeger if you want:
- Advanced technology features so you can set and forget.
- A massive cooking space with storage.
- Easy clean-up.