Which Traeger Should I Buy? The Complete Guide To Traeger Pellet Grills


Traeger make quite a few models, so choosing the right grill can be confusing. Every Traeger is an amazing pellet grill, so the differences between the models aren’t necessarily quality, but choice. Every Traeger is different, but similar, so it’s just a matter of finding one that suits your needs. I wanted to learn everything there is to know about the world’s most popular pellet grill, so I went deep into the world of the Traeger.

There are three main Traeger models, and deciding which grill to buy will depend on your budget, the amount of food you want to cook, your patio space, the climate where you live, and the level of technology you prefer. I’ll help answer some of those questions and then look at each Traeger model in great depth.

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How Many Traeger Models Are There?

There are three main Traeger pellet grill models and a line of smaller portable grills. The three Traeger models are:

  1. Pro SeriesA standard entry-level line of pellet grills.
  2. Ironwood SeriesMid-level pellet grills with higher cooking temperatures and more insulation.
  3. Timberline SeriesTop-of-the-range grills, higher temperatures and double insulation.
  4. Tailgater SeriesPortable mini grills.

How Much Does a Traeger Cost?

Traeger prices change constantly, so if you want more up-to-date prices, check the Traeger Price Comparison Chart on the Traeger website.

Which Traeger is For Me?

Before you decide on a Traeger model, you need to ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is your budget? A few hundred dollars or a few thousand?
  2. How many people are you cooking for now?
  3. Do you want to cook for large gatherings in the future?
  4. Do you live in a cold climate?
  5. How much room do you have on your patio?
  6. Do you want a hi-tech grill with the latest technology?
  7. Do you want a portable grill?

All these questions are important because not all Traeger grills are equal. Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a better idea of which Traeger is best suited to you.

How Much Food Do You Need To Cook?

An important consideration when buying a Traeger is the amount of meat you need to cook at one time. Do you want to cook for large crowds once or twice a year? Or are you happy just grilling for your average-sized family? These are questions you need to ask yourself when deciding between Traeger models. Below is a table that compares the cooking capacity of each Traeger model.

What’s Your Climate? Is It Cold?

If you live in a cold climate, then your pellet grill is going to be working twice as hard and burning through more pellets than usual. The best Traeger models for cold weather have double side-wall insulation that can retain heat and run more efficiently. You’ll find the best cold weather Traeger grills in these models:

  • Traeger Timberline Series
  • Traeger Ironwood Series

The Ironwood and Timberline models have double sidewall insulation, which helps the grill provide a more consistent temperature, make it more efficient by not burning through too many wood pellets. The Ironwood and Timberline have more power, so they can get hotter much quicker to cook through the cold weather.

Traeger Insulation Blanket

If you can’t afford one of the well-insulated models, Traeger make an insulated blanket for the Pro Series so you can still grill through the winter. The insulation blanket attaches to the grill and prevents heat from escaping while you are cooking in freezing temperatures. I recommend an insulation blanket to anyone who lives in climates that drop below 35°F, so then you can cook year-round and won’t burn through all your wood pellets.

Keep the Weather Off Your Grill

It’s also worth buying a decent cover to keep the weather off your grill, because when the grill metal is freezing, it takes a lot of time and a lot of wood to bring your grill up to temperature. A grill cover will keep some weather off your grill and save time and pellets when you go to cook.

How Big Is Your Yard?

Another important consideration is the amount of space you have in your backyard/patio area. All three Traeger models – Pro Series, Ironwood and Timberline all have a smaller version to suit every outdoor space.

If you have a tiny yard, or like cooking on-the-go, Traeger has the Tailgater grill that’s perfect for small decks, courtyards or tailgates. If you want to go even smaller than a Tailgater, there’s also a range of portable Traeger grills.

If you need a smaller grill, then consider one of these Traeger models:

Do You Want a High-Tech Grill?

To some, the merging of technology and barbecue is a beautiful thing, but to others, technology and fire are a terrible mix. Traeger has embraced technology but hasn’t done away with the older models for people who like to keep things simple and avoid high-tech gadgets.

The new generation Traeger grills have a Wi-Fi digital controller that allows you to monitor the temperature of your grill from your smart phone. WIREFIRE, the Traeger digital controller, gives you the ability to adjust the temperature of your grill from anywhere via a cloud based App and lets you control your grill from work or while you’re at the store.

If you’re a technophobe and like to keep things simple, consider the Pro Series 22 and Pro Series 34. These are Traeger’s 1st Generation Pro Series grills without Wi-Fi.

The Traeger App contains hundreds of recipes and useful information in the Traeger GRILLGUIDE, which can be downloaded directly onto the WIREFIRE digital grill controller. Once your Traeger has downloaded the recipe instructions, your grill will actually guide you through the cooking process with step-by-step instructions.

Traeger Hopper Capacity – How Long Can I Cook?

As you probably already know, Traeger grills are fueled by wood pellets, and each Traeger stores pellets in a hopper. When the grill is in use, an auger feeds the pellets from the hopper into the fire. So the larger the hopper, the longer you can cook without having to refill the pellets. It can get annoying constantly refilling the hopper during a long brisket smoke, so if you want to do long cooks, consider a grill with a large hopper capacity.

It’s important to know how many pellets your grill can hold because if you’re wanting to cook large cuts of meat like brisket or ribs, you’re going to need a large pellet hopper. A whole packer brisket make take 12-plus hours to cook and will burn through a lot of wood. If you choose a Traeger with a smaller hopper, you can still manage a brisket, but you will need to keep topping up the hopper with pellets during the cook which can get annoying.

The Pro Series have ample sized hoppers and can store 18 pounds of pellets. The Ironwood stores 20 pounds and the Timberline holds 24 pounds of pellets. The smaller Tailgater and Ranger only hold 8 pounds of wood and the Scout only holds 4 pounds.

Traeger Pro Series

The Pro Series is the standard entry-level Traeger grills, and there are four to choose from in this series. The Pro Series is available in two sizes and two generations.

1st Generation Pro Series:

2nd Generation Pro Series:

1st Generation Pro Series 22 & 34

The Traeger Pro Series 22 and the Pro Series 34 belong to the first generation in the Pro Series is the world’s number-one selling pellet grill. Traeger Pro Series 22 and 34 are the same grills, but of different sizes. The Pro Series 22 has 572 square inches of cooking area, while the Pro Series 34 has 884 square inches of grill space.

The 1st-Generation Pro Series are great entry-level pellet grill that will allow you to grill, barbecue, smoke, bake, roast and braise. The Pro 22 & 34 are perfect if you’re after no-frill grill without all the fancy extras. This model can easily handle smoking big packer brisket low-and-slow, and the larger Pro Series 34 can cook 7 racks of ribs, 8 chickens or 40 burgers.

The Pro Series 22 & 34 are the most affordable pellet grills in the Traeger line up and are a few hundred dollars cheaper than the 2nd Generation Pro Series and other Traeger models. You can pick up a Traeger Pro Series 22 for about $650 and a Pro Series 34 sells for around $750. Check latest price here.

Features – Pro Series 1st-Generation

  • Duel meat probes
  • Digital controller (25 degree increments)
  • Powder coated steel construction
  • Non-stick porcelain-coated grill grates
  • All-terrain wheels
  • Extremely stable sawhorse chassis
  • 18 lbs wood pellet hopper capacity
  • Additional grill rack
  • Grilling area of 572 or 884 Sq.In.

Differences Between Pro Series – Old vs New

So what are the differences between the old Pro Series and the new Pro Series? The newer Pro Series 575 and 780 have some big upgrades, including:

  • Wi-Fi digital controller
  • More power
  • Gets hotter faster
  • Higher temperatures
  • Larger cooking chamber
  • A much taller unit
  • More expensive

Traeger Pro Series 575 & 780

The New Grills are Larger

The new Pro Series is a bigger grill than its predecessor, it’s two inches higher for a more comfortable grilling height and has a larger barrel which increases the cooking space.

Wi-Fi Controller

One of the biggest differences is WIFIRE, the built-in Wi-Fi digital controller that allows you to monitor and adjust the temperature from your mobile device. The controller allows you to adjust the temperature in 5 degree increments.

Traeger App and Cloud

The digital controller operates through the Traeger App. The Traeger App contains hundreds of recipes through GRILLGUIDE which gives you the ability to download recipes directly to the WIFIRE grill controller so your grill can walk you through the entire cook with step-by-step guides.

More Powerful

The old and the new Pro Series have the same temperature range, however, the new Pro Series is more powerful and able to reach the maximum temperature faster than the old model.

Temperature Probes

The 1st Gen Pro Series comes with two temperature probes that allow you to monitor the grill temperature and the meat internal temperature. The new Pro Series comes with a single probe for measuring meat, while you can monitor the grill temperature through the Traeger App.

Wood Pellet Hopper Capacity

The pellet hoppers are the same size, but the new Pro Series has a more efficient pellet delivery system. The hopper pellet dump door is magnetic and can switch pellets much faster than the 1st Generation Pro Series grills. Traeger has also switched the hopper to the opposite side on the newer models.

More Expensive

Expect to pay $200- $300 more for the new 575 and 780 models. Check the latest price on the Traeger website.

Features – Pro Series 575 and 780

  • WIFIRE technology
  • Traeger App
  • Built-in meat probe
  • All-terrain wheels
  • 18 lbs wood pellet hopper capacity
  • Grilling area of 575 or 780 Sq.In.
  • Non-stick porcelain-coated grill grates

Traeger Ironwood Series

The Ironwood is Traeger’s midrange pellet grill and is a step-up from the Pro Series with several upgraded features. Ironwood is Traeger’s midrange pellet grill and is a step-up from the Pro Series with several upgraded features. Traeger Ironwood is available in the 650 and the 885 sizes.

Ironwood 650 & 885 Features

  • Double Side-Wall Insulation
  • Downdraft Exhaust System
  • Wi-Fi Digital Controller
  • Traeger App
  • Built-in Meat Probe
  • Remote Pellet Level Monitoring
  • Porcelain-Coated Cooking Grates
  • Super Smoke Mode
  • All-Terrain Wheels
  • 20 Pound Pellet Hopper
  • High Temperature 500° F

There are several differences between the Ironwood and the Pro Series. Here are the main upgrades.

Downdraft Exhaust System

One of the key features of the Ironwood is the downdraft exhaust system. Most pellet grills have a chimney or smokestack on top, but the downdraft exhaust system in the Ironwood pushes the smoke through the exhaust out the back of the grill, producing better smoke for your meat.

Double Side Wall Insulation

Another upgrade from the Pro Series is the Ironwood’s double side walls for better insulation. Smokers and grills constructed with solid metal can hold in heat, which makes them more efficient when cooking in the colder months. Pellet grills with thinner metal have to work twice as hard in the cold and burn through twice as many wood pellets.

Super Smoke Mode

The Ironwood also has a Super Smoke mode which gives you three times more smoke. Super Smoke lowers the temperature of your grill into the 165°F to 225°F range. By slowing down the grill, the meat will have more time to sit in the smoke and absorb more smoke flavor.

Bigger Pellet Hopper

The Ironwood holds 20 pounds of wood pellets, an upgrade from the Pro Series which only holds 18 pounds. The extra pellets allow you to cook longer without having to worry about topping up the hopper halfway through a long cook.

Pellet Sensor for Remote Monitoring

Another useful feature of the Ironwood is the pellet control sensor that sends you a notification via the Traeger App to let you know if the wood pellets need topping up. It doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection, you can track the pellet supply on your grill.

Higher Temps

The ambient temperature of the Ironwood is 500°F, but this model has an adjustable lower rack that can drop to the bottom and sit just above the fire pot, giving you a searing temperature upwards of 600°F.

Probe Storage

The Ironwood also has a small storage compartment for the meat probe. This is a handy feature because probes break easily, so it’s a great idea to have a protective storage box.

Larger Digital Control

The digital controller on the new Pro Series only has two buttons; a Menu and Ignite button. The Ironwood has a much larger controller with more buttons such as Keep Warm Mode, Timer, Super Smoke, Menu, Ignite and a Standby to wake the grill.

Traeger Timberline Series

The Timberline is the ultimate cooking machine and Traeger’s top-of-the line pellet grill that will cost you about $2000, but worth every cent. The Timberline has all-round insulation, giving it amazing heat retention so you to cook through the winter without loosing heat. This grill has a huge cooking capacity with a three tier cooking grate that can hold 12 pork butts or 12 chickens and can cook for longer with a 24 pound pellet hopper. Plus, the Timberline has all the technology and features of the Ironwood and Pro Series. The Traeger Timberline is available in two sizes: the 1300 and the 850.

Timberline 1300 & 850 Features

  • Wi-Fi Digital Controller
  • Downdraft Exhaust System
  • Double Wall Insulated Hood, Sides and Back.
  • Traeger App
  • Built-in Meat Probe
  • 3 Tier Cooking Rack
  • 500°F Maximum Temperature
  • Remote Pellet Monitoring
  • Porcelain-Coated Cooking Grates
  • Super Smoke Mode
  • All-Terrain Wheels
  • 24 Pound Pellet Hopper
  • High Temperature 500° F
  • Magnetic Bamboo Cutting Board
  • Stainless steel grates
  • Stainless Steel Front Shelf

Timberline vs Ironwood Differences

Fully Insulated

The Timberline is a step above the Ironwood and has superior insulation. The Ironwood only has double walled sides, but the Timberline has double walled sides, a double walled hood, and a double walled back. This allows the Timberline to retain heat and maintain stable temperatures.

Larger Cooking Area

The Timberline can hold meat on three levels, with adjustable racks. The enormous surface area can hold 12 chickens, or 15 rib racks, which is enormous.

Additional Timberline Features

There are also a few minor differences between the Timberline and the Ironwood such as a concealed grease pan, a stainless steel shelf, a magnetic bamboo cutting board. The grill grates on the Timberline are made of stainless steel, whereas the Pro Series and Ironwood have Porcelain coated steel grates.

Price Comparison

The Timberline 1300 is around five-hundred dollars more expensive than the Ironwood and about one-thousand dollars more than the Pro Series Traeger. Check here for the latest price comparison.

Spec Comparisons – Timberline vs Ironwood & Pro Series

SpecsTimberline
1300
Ironwood
885
Pro 780
Price2k1.5k1k
Grill Space 1343 Sq.In885 Sq.In780 Sq.In
Size58 W x 51 H
x 28 D
53 W x 47 H
x 27 D
49 W x 55 H
x 27 D
Weight255 lbs170 lbs145 lbs
Max
Temp
500 F°500 F°500 F°
Pellet hopper
Capacity
242018
Grill Grate322
Wi-Fi ControllerYesYes Yes
Extra InsulationDouble-Wall, Hood and Back InteriorDouble Side-Wall InteriorNo
Downdraft ExhaustYesYesNo
Bottom Sear GrateYesYesNo
Side ShelfYes YesNo
Front ShelfYesNoNo
Grill GratesStainless SteelPorcelain Coated SteelPorcelain Coated Steel
Meat Probe Storage BoxYesYesNo
Magnetic Bamboo Cutting BoardYesNoNo
Keep Warm ModeYesYesYes
Super Smoke ModeYesYesNo
Turbo TempYeYesYes
TRU Convection SystemYesYesNo
Concealed Grease PanYesNoNo
Pellet SensorYesYes
Hopper CleanoutYesYesYes
DC Brushless MotorYesYesYes
Variable Fan SpeedYesYesYes
Power Cord HookYesYesNo
Locking CastersYesYesYes

Tailgater – The Mini Traeger

Traeger produces a range of portable pellet grills that are suitable for people with small patios or balconies. These mini Traeger grills have gone by a few different names over the years, including the Junior Elite, the Bronson, and now, the Tailgater. This small Traeger is an affordable option if you’re wanting to dip your toes into the world of pellet grills.

The Tailgater is very light, only 62 pounds so it can throw it in the back of an SUV or pickup truck with ease. As long as you have access to electricity, you can fire up this little Traeger anywhere.

This model Traeger is perfect if you only need to cook for a few people and have a small backyard. At 36 inches high and 37 inches wide, the can fit nicely onto a small deck or a balcony. The Tailgater is HOA compliant, which means you can use it on patios or balconies of condominium buildings.

Tailgater Cooking Capacity

The Tailgater has a small cooking capacity, so it’s only suitable for cooking on-the-go or small families. You can cook two whole chickens, or 12 burgers, or 3 rib racks on the Tailgater’s 300 square inches of grilling area. People who use this model say they have smoked 10 to 15 pound brisket in the Tailgater.

Small Pellet Hopper

The problem with these small Traeger grills is the wood pellet hopper can only hold 8 pounds of wood pellets, which means you have to keep topping it up. This is especially annoying when you’re smoking brisket low-and-slow for 10-plus hours. Compare this to the Pro Series, which has an 18 pound pellet hopper.

Tailgater Temp Fluctuations

The other downside of the Tailgater is its less insulated than other Traeger models, which cause uneven temperatures. Tailgater owners complain of temperature fluctuations between 10 to 20 degrees either side of the set temperature.

Tailgater Cost

These small Traeger models usually sit in the $470 to $700 price range. The Tailgater is at the high-end, but check your local stores for old versions of the Tailgater such as the Benson and Traeger Junior. There isn’t much difference between the old and new models, they are the same grill with minor differences. The Traeger website usually only lists newer models, but your local stores still may have older models in stock. Check the latest price of the Tailgater here.

Traeger Portable Grills – The Ranger & Scout

Traeger has a range of portable grills that you can take anywhere. This portable lineup includes the Scout and the Ranger. These mini Traeger grills are super light and great for camping. However, they don’t run on batteries so you will need some portable power.

The Ranger

The Ranger is a lightweight (60 pounds) grill perfect for camping if you can supply the 110 volts to power up. The Ranger has 184 square inches of grilling area which can cook either 1 rack of ribs, or 6 burgers or 10 hotdogs. The hopper can hold 8 pounds of wood pellets which should be enough for a few days of camping. The Ranger can reach temperatures of up to 450°F which is pretty awesome for such a small wood-fired grill. The Ranger costs about $400, which is only about one-hundred dollars cheaper than the bigger Tailgater. See the latest price on Traeger.com here.

The Scout

TScout is Traeger’s smallest grill and has slightly less cooking area as the Ranger. The Scout can cook 10 hotdogs, or 6 burgers, or 1 rack of ribs. Traeger Scout only holds 4-pounds of wood pellets compared to the Ranger’s 8-pound pellet hopper. The Scout is much lighter than the Ranger, weighing in at 45-pounds but it can reach temperatures of 450°F. The Scout is about one-hundred dollars less than the Ranger, check the latest price here. If it’s unavailable on the Traeger website, you can find it on large online stores like ACE Hardware.

Portable Traeger Grill Area Comparison

Traeger ModelHotdogsBurgersRibs
Scout 1061
Ranger1061
Tailgater123

My Favorite Meat Smoking Tools

Thanks for checking out this article. I hope you learned a few things. Here are some of my favorite tools I use when smoking brisket that may be useful to you. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase any of these products, I’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the tools I recommend to my family and friends who are just starting out.

Meat Thermometer: There are dozens of fancy thermometers on the market, but I still use my trusty TP20. For around $50, I have a high-quality meat thermometer with two probes, and can track the temperature of my smoker with one probe, and my meat with the other probe. The ThermoPro TP20 is an Amazon Best Seller because it’s the easiest thermometer to operate, is durable, highly accurate, and comes with pre-programmed meat settings.

Instant Read Thermometer: Arguably, the second most important tool you need is a fast and accurate instant-read thermometer. These tools play an important role in the latter stages of the cook when the meat needs regular checking in multiple areas. I use the ThermoPro TP19 because it can do everything a ThermaPen can do, but for a fraction of the cost. You can check out the TP19 on Amazon here.

Butcher Paper: Wrapping brisket in butcher paper has become a huge trend in barbeque thanks to Aaron Franklin. Wrapping your brisket in paper will give you a nice brisket bark. However, you can’t just use any old paper, it has to be unwaxed, food grade paper. You can find it on Amazon here.

Advanced Thermometer and Automatic Temperature Controller: Once you’re ready to take things seriously, the FireBoard 2 Drive is a six-channel Bluetooth/Wi-Fi thermometer that can monitor up to 6 pieces of meat, control and graph your cook sessions on your smartphone, and attaches to an an automatic blower that will convert your charcoal smoker to a set-and-forget. This is one of the most advanced meat thermometers on the market. You can check it out on the FireBooard website here.

Related Articles:

The Best Pellet Grills – The Complete Pellet Smoker Buying Guide

How to Smoke a Brisket on a Pellet Grill

How to Smoke Bacon on a Pellet Grill




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