OT - Anyone Have Any Experience with Wood Pellet Grills Such As the Traeger?

Show All Comments

GlassCityBuckeyes's picture

They don't sear well that is true, but overall it's high quality. I rather sear on a cast iron skillet anyways.

HS
Brohio's picture

I was in a similar spot earlier this summer. I did a ton of research and decided that an offset barrel smoker/grill combo was the best option. Obviously I read the same things you did about the pellet grills. What it really came down to was a few posters in BBQ forums laid it out simply and asked “You ever seen a competition bbq team using a pellet smoker? Me neither” haha. To say I’ve been pleased with my smoker is an understatement. There is a whole thread on 11W about it if you look. 

HS
Atl_Buckeye72's picture

I've seen competition BBQ's using pellet smokers.

HS
Mostly Gray's picture

There are many, many BBQ competitors who use pellet smokers.  One of the contributing staffers at the Amazing Ribs website by the name of Candy Sue, uses a Yoder pellet smoker, she is also president emeritus of the Kansas City BBQ Society, one of the most prestigious BBQ associations in the country.  There are many teams who use MAK and Yoder among other manufacturers, both manufacturers and various vendors sponsor teams with pellet grills.

I started with a stick burner and one must have access to a significant quantity of quality seasoned woods.  Higher end units have thermostats and fans which greatly simplifies the cooking process on those long cooks like large briskets and pork shoulder.

Pellet smokers can be supplemented with additional smoke tubes if one desires more smoke flavor in their food.  

The Amazing Ribs website has terrific reviews of stick burners, pellet smokers, and charcoal smokers.  If memory serves me correctly, these reviews can be accessed through their free site.

HS
Atl_Buckeye72's picture

I own a Traeger a Green Egg and a gasser. They all have their place. The Traeger is a rib machine!! Low and slow is what the Traeger does best. Trouble with mine is that 400 is about the max temp that mine gets (and sometimes I can't even hit that). So, for steaks where you want a nice sear (or my preferred method reverse sear) the BGE is more of the machine for that. I pretty much do all my chicken on the BGE as well due to the low temps on the Traeger. I keep the gasser for when you just want to throw something on the grill and get it done. The Traeger is a very nice grill and it is nice to "set it and forget it" but IMO doesn't do everything. Mine is a couple years old so I'm not as familiar with the newer models, I would be a little surprised if they got to that 500 degree mark.

Cleaning isn't that bad. I keep foil over the drip shield to help with clean up and every couple cooks you need to clean out the fire box. I use a shop vac, quick and easy.

HS
ohiowhitesnake's picture

I own two. This is the first place I’d look. 

Man….. this football team.-Jeff Okudah 

HS
RCRoy45's picture

Had never heard of them - but thanks to you it looks like this is the direction I’ll go... really appreciate it!

“And in the night of death, hope sees a star and listening love hears the rustle of a wing.”

HS
OSU725's picture

This is on my want list. Just haven’t made the plunge yet. I think I am struggling since I can’t see them in stores. We have a small family; wife, two kids and I. Don’t have many big get together and like the flexibility of the trailblazer that I could take camping. But also worried it isn’t big enough. But having trouble making my mind up, since there is a nice difference between the trailblazer and the next size up (prize wish once I get accessories). But don’t want to get the smaller one and wish I spent the cash for the larger one. 

HS
bucks4nuts's picture

I entered the Green Egg World.. Haven’t really smoked much yet.. but plan to do so this fall. 

"To The House"

HS
Atl_Buckeye72's picture

The Egg is really awesome. I would recommend going the eggheadforum.com 

Very active website with endless info and recipes 

HS
NorCal Buckeye's picture

Char Griller makes an excellet kamado style grill for ~$300. I got one on sale 2 years ago for just over $200 and it's become my go-to for most cooks.

HS
MercyTex's picture

I use the Char Griller gas and charcoal combo with the little 10k btu side burner for my charcoal chimney starter.  Added a little $70 portable charcoal grill that bolts on to the charcoal side of the combo to function as the stick burner.  $400 all in for gas, charcoal and smoke.  It is not hermetically sealed but very functional.  It stays outside with a $40 cover that lasts a couple of years and I get 10 years out of the rig.  Versatile, simple, convenient and low cost of ownership.

Our people are everywhere, Esto Dignus.

HS
Buckeye0905's picture

I faced this same dilemma a few years back and settled on the Traeger Pro 34. There's nothing better than making some great brisket and/or ribs during football season. I usually throw them on around midnight the night before and let it smoke throughout the night. I do wish I ponied up and bought the Timberline so I could receive diagnostic updates to my phone if something were to go amiss when I'm sleeping or not home. 

My fiancee was skeptical at first but she loves using it to cook chicken, veggies, etc throughout the week. I usually buy the cheaper pellets from Lowe's for regular cooks (I believe Pit Boss brand) and Traeger branded pellets for longer smokes. 

HS
NorCal Buckeye's picture

Keep in mind some brands like Traeger use flavored pellets for most of their pellets, often alder. Camp Chef brand pellets are made from the actual wood listed on the label and aren't any more expensive. You can find them on Amazon and have a 20# bag shipped for ~$20.

HS
Atl_Buckeye72's picture

This is interesting. I had never heard this. I found a little write up about this after reading your post. I'll have to check out the brand you mentioned.

HS
DurhamBuckeye's picture

I can't comment too much on pellet smokers, as I've never owned one.  but I did just go through the process of buying a new smoker, as my propane smoker of 4 years was starting to rust out.  

I have eaten food off pellet grills/smokers.  Smoked foods are very good, "grilled" foods I've had have been lacking because the temperature is too low to get a really good sear.

From what I researched, it looks like the best combination of smoker and grill would be a Weber original kettle and add on a "slow n sear" accessory to make smoking easier.  The only drawback here is the relatively low capacity. 

For the cost of a Traeger Timberline, you could probably buy a very good smoker, a very good gas grill, and a really good Weber Charcoal grill. 

HS
jmmysms's picture

I agree with this completely. I still have a rusty, dual fuel cabinet smoker but it never gets used. I keep it as it was the easiest and best way to make deer jerky.

I have a Weber performer with the table and gas starter. Bought it for around $300. After reading this site and few others I was interested in a Kamado type and bought the Char-broil kamander for $300. I made my own version of a slow and sear with two charcoal baskets and a water pan.

When I am home I do most of the cooking , tonight it will be filets. I can do a low and slow smoke for 8+ hours at 225 or a hot pizza cook at 600+ with the kamander, it is pretty good at searing also. The weber is great for anything and everything else, especially if you want to play with indirect and direct heat. So what I saved on grill costs I have definitely ate and drank better!

At $300 even if either of these break down in five years I will buy spare parts to fix or buy a new one. I will still be out ahead. Weber has an excellent warranty.

I do see the appeal of the pellet smokers. They seem easier to use and a lot less messy to clean up?

No matter what you choose enjoy! Odds are you may be buying something else in the future. Says the guy with three different grills/smokers, tons of cast iron and pizza stones.

JMMYSMS

HS
Mostly Gray's picture

I concur with your Weber suggestion.  A few years ago, I purchased a Weber Summit Charcoal Grill which is a top hinged steel insulated kamado style cooker.  It holds temperature fantastically, and can be used for smoking, two zone cooking and of course grilling with adjustable multi level charcoal platform.  It's so good that I passed on my Weber kettle and bullet smoker to my oldest daughter.

HS
QuadCitiesBuckeye's picture

I have a Camp Chef Woodwind series (SG 24) pellet grill and I absolutely love it!

I was originally looking to get a Traeger grill but Camp Chef has a number of features that Traeger grills (or any other pellet grill for that matter) do not have:

  • Side-mounted propane sear box - heats up to 900 degrees and is perfect for doing a reverse-sear, or even just cooking with gas
  • Direct-flame grilling option - a lever on the side that allows you to slide the heat diffuser aside so you can grill directly over the fire box
  • Easy clean-out system - eliminates the need to shop-vac ash for cleanup as required by other pellet grills. The firebox has a trap door on the bottom which dumps all of the ash into a collection cup.
  • Easy-empty hopper - a shoot on the bottom of the hopper allows you to quickly dump all pellets into bucket (or whatever). This is important because wood pellets will draw moisture and get soft if left in the hopper for prolonged periods of time during the summer months (or anytime with high levels of humidity) making them more likely to clog the feeding auger.
  • Bottle-opener - because why not?

As for the "they don't get hot enough" option, my grill easily reaches 550 degrees (the upper range varies depending on the type of wood being burned) which is hot enough for pretty much anything, but you won't get as much smoke at higher temperatures.

In general pellet grills take a longer to cook (15 to 20min) than gas grills, so bear that in mind if you're pressed for time.

Shandy is not beer

HS
Atl_Buckeye72's picture

A friend was telling me about this grill. The direct flame and the sear box would def help make a pellet grill and all in one solution. Almost looks like the folks at Camp Chef took the Traeger and added everything that it was lacking. The easy empty hopper and clean-out system both sound like great features! I would def consider one of these when the time comes to replace the Traeger.

HS
NorCal Buckeye's picture

I had a Traeger and KevinJ talked me into Green Mountain Grills. I heard that once the Traeger patents ran out the engineers there left and started GMG so they could implement the features and improvements they wanted to at Traeger but werent allowed to. The GMG Daniel Boone improved on a lot of annoyances my Traeger had. I would like the easy empty pellet hopper though.

HS
Earle's picture

Anyone have experience with Holland Grills?  I just inherited one and have never used one.  My understanding is that they work more like an outdoor oven than a typical grill.

HS
Atl_Buckeye72's picture

I can't say that I know much about them. Their website is gone so I'm assuming they are no longer in business. Looks like they were high end gas grills. The Egg and the pellet grills will operate more like an oven than typical grill does like you mentioned.  

HS
Earle's picture

Yeah, I can’t fund much on them. I think it was pretty pricey when new. It doesn’t appear to have any temp control. Just on and off. All indirect heat. It does seem to have a place to put chips for smoking but I’m not sure how it works if you can’t control the temp. 

HS
erniefurgler's picture

As for Holland grills...Never owned one but my bro-in-law has one.  Well made, but no temp control...just turn it on & it heats up.  Seemed to take a while to grill simple foods like burgers/dogs/brats.  Never got real hot, maybe 375-400*?

HS
albinomosquito's picture

As with anything that has a lot moving parts, you'll have a lot more maintenance. I LOVE my pellet smoker, but I've had to replace several parts over the last couple of years to keep it going. I would still recommend them, just something to be aware of. My Weber takes a lot of abuse and just keeps trucking. The pellet is a bit more fragile.

HS
NorCal Buckeye's picture

My GMG is garage kept and has fortunately had no problems. (knocks on wood)

HS
GunnerBuck's picture

Stay away from Traeger IMO. Quality has shot down over the last couple years and parts break more and more. 

If you want a decent cooker for a good price, check out Camp Chef. Definitely the most bang for the buck. Plus you can get a sear box for the high heat sear stuff. I've had a RecTec and Camp Chef, my RecTec was 2x the price, easily and doesnt have the features the Camp Chef has. I havent had any issues with mine and it's stored outside all year, under a porch awning but outside none the less. I use it 2-3 times a week usually as well. 

"Come on, you sons of b!tches! Do you want to live forever?" -- Dan Daly, WWI

HS
Atl_Buckeye72's picture

How hot do the RecTec and Camp Chef get, not including any searing add-ons?

I have been happy but there really isn't anything that Traeger does that is different than all the other pellet grills that are on the market. You can find whatever brands at WalMart, Target, Home Depot etc... The concern that I would have was brought up in some one else's comment. These have moving parts that expect will require replacements for years to come. Which brands will actually survive and be around for me to get these replacements?

HS
QuadCitiesBuckeye's picture

How hot do the RecTec and Camp Chef get, not including any searing add-ons?

I hit 550 on my Camp Chef with a "competition blend" of pellets on a 78 degree day.

Max temp depends on the type of pellet (different types wood burn at different temperatures) and ambient air temperature.

Shandy is not beer

HS
GunnerBuck's picture

As said, about 550. 

Though I had to exchange 2 rectecs because finish issues after I ran them hot. 

Like it’s also been said pellet grills are essentially electronics. They’ll require some new parts here and there. Though that hasn’t been my experience with the camp chef yet. They do have fantastic customer service though and parts from what I have found are extremely cheap. 

The biggest difference you’ll find between brands from low end to high end is the quality of electronics and metals. IE camp chef is made overseas, same with Traeger, Pitboss, Most rectecs from what I remember, etc. I may be mistaken but I think the higher end GMGs are made in the US, same for all Yoders but you’re also getting into 1000+ grills at that’s point. You’re also getting thicker metals, WiFi controllers, etc with more expensive models. 

"Come on, you sons of b!tches! Do you want to live forever?" -- Dan Daly, WWI

HS
QuadCitiesBuckeye's picture

The biggest difference you’ll find between brands from low end to high end is the quality of electronics and metals

After-market upgrades are also available for the controllers, PID controllers are the crown jewel (with their ability to maintain temp w/in a +/- 5 degree range vs a +/- 20 degree range [20 degrees per the manual, in practice it's more around +/- 10 degrees] on my Camp Chef) but are also overkill since most foods don't require that level of precision.

A couple of links for after-market controller upgrades:

https://www.savannahstoker.com/collections/all

https://smokedaddyinc.com/product/pellet-pro-exclusive-pid-controller-pellet-grill-upgrade/

Shandy is not beer

HS
NorCal Buckeye's picture

One big annoyance I had with my Traeger was how big the temp swings were, +/- 20. My GMG will stay +/- 1 degree because it has a more variable fan than the Traeger did. You can hear constant micro adjustments and it recovers really well after I open the lid without overshooting (which the Traeger badly did).

HS
Atl_Buckeye72's picture

I haven't had too much an issue with maintaining temp and have not experienced +/-20 swings, mine seems to stay within a couple degrees if cooking between 200-300. That would be a big issue and I would assume that something is need of calibration or replacement with 20 degree swings. The biggest issue I've had was if I hadn't cleaned out the fire box for a few or so cooks then it really struggles to get above 350, and has gone out on 2 occasions (also seemingly related to dirty firebox). Not sure if this is an issue with my specific unit or if this common with traegers or pellet grills in general.

HS
NorCal Buckeye's picture

It had to do with the fan only going on full throttle or completely off, and the controller program for the auger feed and fan. The GMG I own has a variable fan that seems to "pulse" lightly as needed to keep the combustion going consistently.

Imagine trying to drive your car where you can only only slam the gas so the way down or take your foot completely off. No way you're going to be able to keep your speedometer consistently on 65mph.

HS
Atl_Buckeye72's picture

Makes sense. That was the issue when I first started smoking with an electric smoker. The element comes on and the temp spikes goes off and it drops

HS
GunnerBuck's picture

I’ve used them before. I had one on my Camp Chef for a while. Just simply put the factory one back on until it craps out. 

"Come on, you sons of b!tches! Do you want to live forever?" -- Dan Daly, WWI

HS
CanuckBuckEh's picture

I bought the LG900 from Louisiana Grills about a month ago now.   Have given it a pretty good workout since and have absolutely no complaints so far.  The price from Costco is fantastic.  

HS
NorCal Buckeye's picture

I love looking at the LG setups at Costco when I'm cruising through that aisle by the front door. I hope my current PG lasts a long while but I wouldnt be as upset when getting to upgrade to one like the LG.

HS
JimCleOSU's picture

I have your solution:

Get the Rec Tec 800 with a searing kit.  I just got it about a month ago.  We use it on average 4 times a week. 

Best burgers I've ever had in my life.  Did a reverse sear with Ribeye Steaks.  Best grilled steak I've ever had (aside from a high end restaurant).  Cooked a Flank Steak this weekend.  Usually they come off dry and chewy.  This was tender and juicy.  Amazing. 

I still use my traditional smoker every once in a while but the Rec Tec is the best investment I've made.  Have to get the searing kit.  It will heat up to 500 degrees.  Searing kit adds another 100 degrees.  

I thought I had a problem so I called their service line.  I had two call backs in consecutive days making sure things were working and they were. 

Only complaint . . . it takes longer to heat up than a traditional grill but it is waaaaay worth it.  Plus it comes with thermometers, I've never cooked pork as perfect as I did last week.  It was amazing.  You can get your meat to the exact temperature needed. 

Get the Rec Tec and report back to me.  You won't be disappointed. 

HS
Atl_Buckeye72's picture

What does the searing kit for the RecTec do? It just looks like a different grate. How does that add 100deg? Not trying to give a you hard time just curious what they were doing for searing. The RecTec looks nice but that's a pretty hefty price tag. 

If I could only have 1 grill I would probably stick with the Big Green Egg. Not the set it and forget it ease that the pellets offer but it really can do everything and unless you break something the only real maintenance cost is a gasket once every few years (not to mention that it isn't made out of metal so I expect it to still be as good as new in 10 years). Knowing what I know now and if I were buying a pellet grill today I would probably go with the Camp Chef for price, searing and clean out features.

HS
JimCleOSU's picture

To answer your question . . . I am not sure.  I asked Rec Tec and they said it is the metal that it is made of.  Lot more science than I can handle, lol.  

Make steaks tonight. Amazing. Also cooked red potatoes.  The grill is amazing. 

HS
RCRoy45's picture

Just ordered my RecTec 700 Nd it should be here Thursday of game week... looking forward to it and Thanks again for all the input

“And in the night of death, hope sees a star and listening love hears the rustle of a wing.”

HS
Atl_Buckeye72's picture

Enjoy the new grill!! You gotta post some pics from your first cook! 

HS
Day_Man's picture

I just purchased a Yoder YS480s pellet grill/smoker, and so far it's amazing. I've only done a few cooks on it, but it is well worth the money. Didn't purchase the grill gates, so can't comment on the grilling aspect of it yet. But the smoked foods I've done so far have been outstanding.

HS
Dublin Buck's picture

For anyone that has a Camp Chef, do you have the Smoke Pro DLX?  And did you opt for the sear box?  This is the one I'm eyeing.  It's within my price range and has good reviews on Amazing Ribs.  

HS
QuadCitiesBuckeye's picture

I was originally considering the Smoke Pro w/ sear box before opting for the Woodwind with sear box instead.

Woodwind has:

  • thicker sheet metal
  • a larger cooking area (811sq/in vs 573sq/in)
  • slide-and-grill option
  • a second meat probe
  • larger hopper (22lbs vs 18lbs)
  • more stable leg configuration (thanks to the shelf)

If you stick with the Smoke Pro I would strongly consider getting the sear box if you don't have another grill. Cooking things like brats and hamburgers are easier (and faster) with the sear box.

Shandy is not beer

HS