Traeger Nation, it’s a thing. Traeger has been turned into a verb because you can Traeger up some meat, or “I just Traegered some chicken.” It’s a thing, don’t fight it, just embrace it. Which is exactly what I did when I decided to give in and buy a Traeger grill. I already have a Grilla Grills Silverbac which I adore, but I wanted to add a smaller pellet grill, and it had to fit a certain footprint in order to work in my outdoor kitchen. At first I was open to any brand, and I researched them all. You should have seen my browser, I had 25 tabs open and a spreadsheet going, it was serious business. However, at the end of the day, there is something to be said about being a part of a community, and that was one of the reasons I decided on a Traeger.
I went to every Traeger dealer in my area trying to look at as many models as possible, and ironically enough, I purchased an “As Seen on TV” model that is only sold online. However, my footwork wasn’t for not, because I was able to figure out that the 20 models were too small so I was looking for something more like the Pro Series 22 Model. That size would fit the space I had picked out for it perfectly. I really liked the idea of the Green Mountain Daniel Boone with the built in wifi, but I just wasn’t in love with the look and I nearly pulled the trigger on the Rec Tec Trailblazer (RT-340), but it was a bit smaller than the Renegade Pro I ended up buying, and Rec Tec doesn’t sell in stores and I really wanted to be able to feel the quality. I got lucky with my Grilla because that was purchased blind, and it’s a great machine, but this time I really wanted to be able to feel it first, or at least feel similar models first, and I just couldn’t do that with the Rec Tec.
Part of me secretly wanted to be a part of Traeger Nation, I think that’s why I kept coming back to it, even when I honestly felt some other brands offered more for the money. Their online presence is impressive, and their recipe index has everything you could imagine, and often times three or four different ways to make it. As I mentioned earlier, it makes you feel like you are part of a community, and that was something I really liked.
While sifting through my 25 tabs on my browser I realized that the best bang for my buck from Traeger was the “As Seen on TV” models. They offer the 2017 Renegade Elite and the 2018 Renegade Pro. Both are the same price, and both come with two bags of pellets, a grill cover, a rub and a cookbook all for $749.97. My research told me I wanted the updated Digital Pro controller and new Seahorse Chassis, and that was only on the 2018 Renegade Pro, so after much debate and spreadsheet analyzation I decided on the 2018 Renegade Pro.
I am located in Florida, and they have a warehouse in Georgia, so while it said delivery could be 5-7 business days, I received my grill and accessories in three days. The minute it arrived I put it together and got it primed, I was so excited for my first cook. As I just mentioned, I live in Florida, and it’s late July to it’s hot, like real hot, like center of the sun, you hate your life and don’t understand why anyone would live in this wet hot cloud of a state hot, so I ran into a little trouble on my first cook. I decided to do a pork butt which was being cooked at 225 for about 8 1/2 hours. The temperature outside ranged from 85-90 degrees with 1 million percent humidity and it rained on and off all day. The issue I had was huge swings in temps and a couple flameouts, making for a stressful day of cooking. My temps would drop down to 115 degrees and then fly up to almost 400, the swings were huge, and then a few times I got the dreaded flameout. I had a GrillEye thermometer in the grill to monitor the temps from my phone, so I was keeping a close eye on the swings all day. In the end, the pork was still damn delicious, but the normal set it and forget experience that I have had with my Grilla was not present for this cook.
I spoke to customer service the next day, and they were super helpful. First, I just want to give a major shout out to Traeger customer service, because they were so kind and patient and talked me through all the mistakes I made, and things I can try for the future. The first problem is that after I primed the grill I forgot to clean out the ash before my long cook. Strike 1. Second, I left the door open for a few minutes during the Smoke function, but apparently with the new grills you don’t, and shouldn’t do that because it causes more ash, which meant I just added more ash to the already existing ash from the prime. Strike 2. Lastly, being in such a warm climate makes it harder to hold temps below 250, which can just cause more ash and the burn out. Strike 3.
So I took this knowledge, cleaned out the grill after the pork butt fiasco (although I shouldn’t call it a fiasco because the food was still awesome), and tried again with a higher cook temp and shorter cook time with some fish and chicken. This time the Traeger worked like a charm. The GrillEye and the Traeger were a dead on match for temps, the grill heated up quickly and held temp the entire time. My fish and chicken were cooked perfectly and I got to try out my new GrillGrates which I was super excited about because now I can get pretty grill marks. Now that I have my Traeger working properly, I absolutely love it, and I plan to Traeger up some chicken and hotdogs tonight! You see what I did there?
Because I am a curious person by nature, I also plan to take two racks of baby back ribs and put one rack on the Grilla and one rack on the Traeger and compare the final product. I suspect I won’t be able to tell a difference, but I am excited to see the results.
For a full lineup of the pellet grills Traeger has to offer or to find a local dealer near you, please visit their website www.traegergrills.com.
Do you own a Traeger grill? What’s your favorite thing about it?