Traeger Pellet grills are one of the leading pellet smoker manufacturers in the world. Traeger has been around for over three decades. They are a brand that is known for innovation within the industry and Traeger products have continued to evolve with the times.
One of the most frequent questions we see asked is if Traeger smokers are really good. So we have been down the rabbit hole and looked at Traeger from all points of view. Our final verdict is yes: Traeger products are definitely in the list of the best bbq smokers in the market.
But no worry, we won’t let you just with a yes or no answer. We have listed all the main characteristics that a good smoker should have and have compared how the Traeger models respond to them. This approach provides you additional information so you can decide for yourself.
So without further ado, let’s begin.
Table of Contents
- 1 What makes a good smoker?
- 2 What will you use your Traeger smoker for?
- 3 Capacity
- 4 Ease of use
- 5 Size
- 6 Versatility
- 7 Durability
- 8 Accessories and Customization
- 9 Can you also grill?
- 10 What is so special about a Traeger Smoker?
- 11 Conclusion
What makes a good smoker?
Smokers have been around for a while now. Their popularity is simply because they work. The smoked meat is filled with flavor and tenderness. This is a balance that can be difficult to achieve using other cooking methods. The evenness with which the meat is smoked is a thing of beauty.
Having said that, not all smokers are equal. Besides considering the brand that you are purchasing, there are other ways to look for in a smoker.
This is not an absolute deal-breaker. It is important for you to know the temperature at which your smoker is cooking your meat. This is perhaps even more important when following a recipe. A good smoker will have a thermometer screen through which you can keep tabs.
The reason that I don’t consider the absence of this feature to be a deal-breaker is that there are ways around this. You can purchase standalone barbecue thermometers to use with your smoker. These would give you the functionality that you are deprived of by not having an inbuilt one.
All of the Traeger smokers in the Pro Series, Timberline Series, and Ironwood Series come with a digital temperature monitor.
A good smoker makes it easy for you to regulate its internal temperature. This is often done by making it easy to facilitate airflow between the chambers. The placement of heat resistant handle in the right places goes a long way.
The more advanced Traeger smokers make this even easier by providing an intuitive control panel. The Traeger Controller with WiFIRE® Technology is one such system. It allows you to set the time for your smoker to run.
All good smokers boast of the ability to preserve their heat. This is one of their key differentiators from regular grills and barbecues. Excessive fluctuation in temperature often results in unevenly cooked meat. Being able to open the lid safely, be it with the use of protective gloves helps.
Heat preservation is also associated with the maintenance of flavor. In simple terms, a good smoker is one that can be completely covered. It is the purpose of the lid. Traeger smokers come with doors that can be shut to preserve heat.
Several models in the Pro Series, Timberline Series, and Ironwood Series come with an option to preserve heat by the touch of the button. Although the temperature is bound to fluctuate, the settings provide the smoker with a heat reference point to return to.
Smokers come in a range of prices. Picking a good one will require you to factor in how much you want to spend. This will cut off some of the legwork. A Traeger smoker will cost you between $599.99 and $1499.99 at the time of writing. We leave to you to judge as the budget always hits very personal preferences and needs.
What will you use your Traeger smoker for?
What are you going to use the smoker for? Your response should guide you when choosing the ideal smoker from the line of products. A smoker for home use can be fairly small in size. This is because it is not expected to cater to multitudes. There may be a great emphasis on how it looks. It would perhaps need to match with other things around the home.
If you are looking for a smoker to use commercially you would want to check its capacity. Commercial smokers are measured on their output. Getting one that will cook a large spread in one go would be ideal. There are several Traeger ones that would do the job. You may also consider the material that it is made of.
If your smoker is going to be used on the road, let’s say in a food truck or at events you need one that is portable. Going with a marble top would not be ideal. Most Traeger smokers have a fairly sturdy build. So you would need to be even more selective in this case.
We have briefly mentioned the output. Capacity will certainly be a factor when considering the output that your smoker will produce. A good practice when considering capacity is to start with considering what sort of food you will be cooking in the smoker. Large pieces of meat will require more capacity than ribs.
The Timberline Series 850, for instance, has enough room for 9 chickens, 8 Rib Racks, and 6 pork butts. In contrast, the Pro 575 has room for 4 chickens, 5 rib racks, and 24 burgers. Finally, the midrange Ironwood 650 has room for 8 chickens, 5 rib racks, and 6 pork butts.
Ease of use
All Traeger Smokers come with a manual that is easy to follow. It covers setup, use, clean up, safety, and maintenance. There is not much of a learning curve when using these smokers. Even better is the fact that the manuals also give you a guide on what sort of wood goes with which food when smoking.
Besides the guide included in the manual, Traeger smokers are beginner-friendly. A number of them come with the “Super Smoker” mode built-in. This is a mode that allows you to enhance the smoker’s performance increasing the amount of smoke released, hence producing an additional smoky flavor.
Here is a video with the initial firing instructions
The size of your smoker, although not usually related to performance matters. Traeger Smokers come in various sizes. What sets them apart from others is that they offer the same model in different sizes. This does not compromise on functionality.
For instance, if you are keen on the Traeger Pro Series. The larger 34 Pellet and the smaller 22 Pellet carry identical functionality as well as aesthetics. You keep the same features.
The 22 Pellet has the following dimensions: 49 inches height, 27 inches depth, and 41 inches width. The 34 Pellet has the following dimensions: 49 inches height, 27 inches depth, and 53 inches width.
This ties into the use cases that we discussed earlier. Perhaps you expect more from your smoker? I know that there are days when I’d rather roast or bake than smoke. Wouldn’t it be better if the same device could meet these additional requirements?
The mark of a versatile smoker includes it giving you the ease of access when the lid is open. Not only do you have ease of access but can also use it for other grilling activities when the lid is off.
There are several Traeger smokers that could fit the bill. I encourage you to consider each one of its merits. They won’t all be ideal for you.
When spending money on a lower end grill/smoker we may not give durability as much thought. However, when you make an investment into what is supposed to be a fine smoker. It had better give you longevity. My experience and that of other users is invaluable at letting you know what to expect.
Having said that, it is not always enough. There are exceptions to every rule. What has been a strong grill for me might turn out to be quite flimsy when you purchase it. When considering reviews, you should place greater value on the most recent purchases. They tend to be a better indicator of current product quality. In any case all Traeger grills come with a 3-year warranty cover if you are in the US.
Pair your intended use with the material used when considering durability. A smoker that has lasted years in a stationary position in my home, may not fare as well when taken on the road.
Accessories and Customization
In line with versatility, you have accessories and customization. The accessories that are available to you will go a long way in helping you get the most out of your smoker. Browsing through the available accessories will give you some useful ideas that you may not have considered.
The list of accessories that you can get for your Traeger include:
- Additional Shelves
- Barbecuing tools
- Protective liners
- Grill covers
- Repairing parts
Additional shelves will mean additional storage space in a more compact manner. This can be an invaluable addition when you have limited space to work with. The barbecuing tools that you use do not have to be from this brand. I have several from various brands, including some homemade ones.
If you want tools that complement your grill/smoker’s looks, these would be an option. Protective liners come in the form of drip tray liners and bucket liners. I cannot tell you how much of a godsend these are when it comes to cleaning up.
Instead of having to scrub the oil out of surfaces on which it has dried, you simply list the liner out.
Grill covers are of tremendous value when it comes to longevity. They are more important for grills that are stored in an open area. The covers will keep the color and surfaces protected from the elements.
There will be some mishaps when you smoke. I wouldn’t want to replace the whole thing because of a small issue. That is why having parts available is amazing. You can get fuses, induction fans, power cords, and so on.
Can you also grill?
Traeger smokers can be considered smokers that have grilling capacity. They have product lines that muddle the line between a smoker and a grill.
All three of the top lines that Traeger carries, Pro Series, Ironwood Series, and Timberline Series are smokers. They all feature a separate chamber in which the pellets burn. The heat generated in this chamber is then funneled across to the meat.
There is an option to have the flame directly underneath the meat.
What is so special about a Traeger Smoker?
Objectively speaking there are various brands that offer similar smokers to the Traeger. What are some of the things that would push you towards this brand instead of others? Well, we have already discussed how there is a clear attempt to build a community around the brand. Having others to share tips and tricks goes a long way.
The extensive line of accessories, recipes, sauces, rubs, and apparel is another incentive. They all add that feeling of belonging. This is especially true about apparel. The sauces and rubs make it easier to follow one another’s recipes.
As an American brand, deliveries are quick. You also have access to good customer service and the community that they continue to build is always happy to offer assistance.
We have considered Traeger both as a brand and for the product range. The final verdict, as already said at the very beginning, is that Traeger stands out as strong brand and is able to put on the market various products that may well fit the bill. So for us it is a clear thumbs-up.
With that said, let me reiterate some of the key things to look for when choosing which smoker to buy. I would encourage you to find a smoker that is suitable for your space. You should also ensure that the smoker is durable and where durability is concerned check the warranty cover.