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When it comes to the world of BBQ, there’s no denying that the popularity of pellet grills has grown like a weed over the last decade.
It’s for good reason too. These cookers can do it all – everything from grilling, searing, smoking, to even baking is possible on a quality pellet grill.
If you’ve done any digging into pellet grills, odds are you’ve come across the names Pit Boss and Traeger. Both of these brands have a large presence and are definitely worthy of your consideration in terms of quality.
In this article, we’ve created a complete brand comparison of Pit Boss vs Traeger pellet grills. We’ll go over everything you need to know about these two brands, and their products, so you can make the most informed decision as to which is a better fit for you.
Traeger Brand Overview
Odds are if you’ve heard of pellet grills before, you’ve probably at least heard of the Traeger name.
They were the first company to develop a pellet grill which they created, patented, and began producing in the mid 1980’s. The grills they created aesthetically looked quite similar to a traditional barrel style grill, but with one main difference.
Instead of utilizing charcoal or gas burners as a fuel source, Traeger’s invention relied on wood pellets to heat and flavor their food, which can be loaded into a hopper that’s mounted to the side of each grill.
From there, the pellets are fed from the hopper, through a rotating auger, and into a firepot where the wood pellets are burned to heat and flavor your food.
At the time, Traeger revolutionized the grilling game by creating a product that was hands off, easy to use, yet still delivered authentic wood fired flavoring to the food it cooked.
Traeger had a stranglehold on the pellet grill industry until their patent expired in 2007, so since then a few other competitors have entered the marketplace. However, Traeger’s grills have stood the test of time and they still remain one of the top and highest quality pellet grill and smoker manufacturers in the industry.
Pellet Grill Steaks – How to Fire...Pellet Grill Steaks – How to Fire Up a Delicious Steak on Your Traeger, Pit Boss, Etc.Pit Boss Brand Overview
Pit Boss was founded in 1999 by the Thiessen family, and over time they’ve earned a reputation for their products’ craftsmanship and durability.
As far as a product line goes, I’d say that Pit Boss’ bread and butter is pellet grills – but they offer a wider variety of grill types too.
You can find everything from kamado grills, flat top grills, to even specialty cookers like a vertical pellet smoker in the Pit Boss store. And on a per square inch of cooking space basis, they offer some of the most fair prices you’ll find too.
The one thing you can expect across all of their products is quality. No matter which type of grill Pit Boss creates, a solid track record of high quality products and great customer service follows them.
Pit Boss vs Traeger Comparison
When evaluating pellet grills, the grill’s ability to precisely control its ambient temperature is at or near the top of the list of important factors to consider.
After all, these grills are advertised as set it and forget it grilling and smoking machines. So you should expect to be able to precisely control your grill’s temperature right?
There are two main components to the temperature control conversation. First, we look at how well each grill is insulated and how well it retains heat as this is an indicator of how evenly and consistently it will cook your food. Second, we look at how precisely you’re able to set your temperature. All things considered, it’s better to be able to set your temperature with the most precision, with the smallest increments possible.
Traeger grills do a really nice job on the heat retention front. Each Traeger cooking chamber has two stainless steel layers to help with insulation and heat retention. So it’s very rare for heat loss to be an issue, even on colder or windier days.
Precision wise, Traeger’s standard grills can be set in 15°F increments, which is about average for a quality pellet grill when it comes to temperature precision. Some of their more premium models (like the Ironwood 885) can be set to 5°F increments.
Pit Boss grills also are built very well and do a fine job of retaining heat. You’re unlikely to run into problems with inconsistency or leaking heat and smoke on any of their grills.
One of the downside of Pit Boss pellet grills is their temperature precision, however. Most of their temperature dials can be set in 25°F increments, which is a bit high – it would definitely be nicer to have the dial reflect smaller temperature increments. Also, there are more than a handful of customers who have had issues where their Pit Boss grill runs too hot, and they can’t keep the temperature down.
Verdict (Temperature Control): Traeger
Traeger gets the clear nod in the temperature control department, simply because their grills make it a little bit easier to drill down into that perfect temperature for your cookout. It seems that some Pit Boss customers have issues with their grills running too hot from time to time too.
One of the biggest selling points for pellet grills is their versatility. Thanks to a smart control panel and internal heating system, pellet grills make it possible to grill, smoke, sear, and even bake all on the same unit.
In order to get maximum versatility though, the grill needs to have a wide temperature range. Most smoking recipes call for 225°F to 275°F temperatures, and if you’re making a steak on the pellet grill you ideally want that temperature at or north of 400°F.
Most Traeger grills have an advertised temperature range of 180°F to 400°F, which is a nice range that allows you to easily cook all of your traditional grilling and smoking recipes. Their premium grills however can achieve a much wider range of 160°F to 500°F.
Pit Boss grills on the other hand have a temperature range of 180°F to 500°F.
Verdict (Temperature Range): Tie
It’s hard to pick an outright winner here even though Traeger’s don’t really start to have the wide temperature range until you get to their premium lines.
Plus, this point doesn’t make a huge difference for most recipes, but if you plan to use your pellet grill to bake pizzas or go after some serious sear marks, you should pay attention to temperature range.
Cooking Surface Area Value
When comparing Pit Boss vs Traeger lines of pellet grills, both brands offer a pretty robust line of products. That is, you can find everything from portable sized grills all the way to commercial grade cookers that are big enough to feed a small army.
Since both brands have a size of grill for everybody, what we really care about is how much cooking surface area you get per dollar you spend.
Verdict (Cooking Surface Area Value): Pit Boss
If you’re strictly looking at how much grilling space you get per dollar spent, Pit Boss edges out Traeger. Of course, there are other considerations to take into account – but if you’re on a tight budget and have lots of mouths to feed then Pit Boss may be the way to go.
I’m not normally the type to care too much about bells and whistles, but in the case of pellet grills – there are definitely a few extra features that can make a big difference in the grilling experience.
Verdict (Extra Features): Traeger
Traeger has recently rolled out their WiFIRE technology, which connects your grill to an accompanying smartphone app. From the app, you can control all aspects of your cook. You can turn your grill on, set the temperature, set timers, and monitor the internal temperature of your food while it cooks via a probe thermometer.
While Pit Boss grills are certainly well made, they are pretty bare bones on the extra features and what you see is what you get – which is partly why they’re able to offer lower prices.
Hopper capacity is an aspect of pellet grills that might get overlooked during the comparison process, but it’s definitely something you should take into account.
As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to burn through anywhere from 1/2 pounds to 1 1/2 pounds of wood pellets per hour of cooking, depending on how hot you run your grill’s temperature. If your hopper is too small and you use your grill a lot, it will become a hassle to constantly refill your pellet supply.
Almost all full size Traeger pellet grills have hoppers that will hold up to 20 pounds of wood pellets. This is a generous size and plenty of volume to get you through multiple cooks and long smoking sessions.
Pit Boss grill hopper sizes vary a little bit more based on the specific product, but you can expect to find hopper capacities anywhere in the range of 5 pounds to 27 pounds depending on the grill. Most of Pit Boss’ newer grills have 20+ pound hopper capacities though.
Verdict (Hopper Capacity): Tie
For the most popular grill sizes, Pit Boss and Traeger grills have comparable hopper sizes.
One of the first things I always look for when comparing one grill or smoker to another is the manufacturer’s warranty. To me, a strong warranty not only protects your purchase – it’s an indicator of the quality of the underlying product.
Verdict (Warranty): Pit Boss
Both Pit Boss and Traeger offer generous warranties, but Pit Boss edges this category out simply because their coverage term is longer. Traeger grills are covered by a 3 year warranty which is solid – but Pit Boss pellet grills are covered by a 5 year manufacturer’s warranty.
Overall Pit Boss vs Traeger Winner
Choosing a winner between Pit Boss vs Traeger feels like splitting hairs. At the end of the day, both brands are great and you’d be doing well to add one to your outdoor cooking set up.
If I had to pick a winner though, I’d give the nod to Traeger. Pit Boss presents a slightly more affordable line of grills, however, I think the overall quality of Traegers are just a little bit better across the board.
If money is less of a consideration for you, I think the best overall grill between the two brands is the Traeger Ironwood 885. It’s an all around hoss of a grill, but it’s just on the more expensive side of things.
Pit Boss vs Traeger Grill Reviews
Traeger Grills Ironwood Series 885 Pellet Grill
If you’re looking for a premium grilling experience, the Traeger Ironwood Series 885 Pellet Grill is a spectacular cooker that’s loaded with features and extras.
As you’d expect with a top of the line grill like this one, the price isn’t cheap – but if it’s in budget you’re handsomely rewarded with one of the top pellet grills on the market, regardless of brand.
There’s 885 square inches of cooking surface area to work with, plenty to smoke or grill for a large gathering of people. Even if you don’t cook for many often, the extra space and breathing room makes the flow of your cook much smoother.
The Ironwood Series from is one of their first lines of grills to roll out their WiFIRE technology. Pellet grills were already pretty easy to use, but WiFIRE takes things to the next level – every aspect of your grill and cook can be monitored from a smartphone app that is also responsive to voice commands.
This grill also features Traeger’s new D2 Direct Drive, which is an upgraded auger system that self regulates and never jams.
The Navigator Series from Pit Boss is their latest and greatest when it comes to combining years of technology improvements and sticking to what works. In particular, the Pit Boss Navigator 850 Pellet Grill is the best selling option on this line of grills and offers a generous amount of grill for a very reasonable price.
With a temperature range of 180°F to 500°F, there’s no BBQ task that you can’t complete with this cooker. You’re also afforded 879 square inches of cooking surface area to work with – plenty of room to smoke a couple of packer briskets at once.
The 27 pound hopper capacity is huge – and frankly one of the biggest hoppers I’ve seen on a standard sized pellet grill. This comes in really handy if you use your grill a lot, because you won’t be constantly having to refill your hopper with pellets mid cook.
This grill also comes with a slide plate that you can move to actually grill over direct heat, which is something that you can’t accomplish on most pellet grills. A digital LED read out and built in probe thermometer make managing your cook as easy as it can possibly get.
Built in tool hooks, a durable side shelf, and a front folding shelf all are just gravy on top of this fantastic unit.
Traeger Grills Pro Series 575
The Traeger Pro Series 575 is a fantastic grill and one of their most popular products – it’s the perfect size for most patios and can easily fulfill the needs of 4-10 eaters at once, or more.
All new model Pro Series 575 grills are kitted with WiFIRE technology, so you can also manage all aspects of your cook from the convenience of a smartphone. Everything from setting timers, to setting your grill temperature, to monitoring the internal temperature of your food is easily done from the accompanying phone app.
The Pro Series features 575 square inches of cooking surface area and an 18 pound hopper.
Pit Boss Classic 700 Pellet Grill
If you’re in the market for a solid, all around pellet grill at a reasonable price – the Pit Boss Classic 700 is a great place to start.
As the name suggests, it features 700 square inches of cooking surface area to work with. Along with that, it has a cooking temperature range of 180°F to 500°F for maximum versatility.
By nature, pellet grills cook food with a similar style to a convection oven. After the wood pellets are burned in the firepot, a fan distributes the heat and smoke convection style throughout the cooking chamber. This is precisely why pellet grills are known for cooking food so evenly and consistently.
Pit Boss has actually built in a flame broiler feature to this grill that allows for you to actually cook over direct heat in addition to the traditional convection style of a pellet grill. It’s a nice little feature that allows for you to achieve a next level sear on your steaks or burgers.
Pit Boss Austin XL Pellet Grill
If you are looking for maximum cooking surface area at an affordable price, the Pit Boss Austin XL is an extremely popular grill that features just over 1,000 square inches of cooking surface area to work with.
It also has a 31 pound hopper capacity, which is a definite upgrade from most other pellet grills in their catalogue.
Similar to the classic 700, the Austin also comes with the flame broiler feature that allows you to convert your pellet grill to a direct heat cooking set up.
Traeger Grills Ranger Portable Pellet Grill
If you’re looking for a pellet grill that can be taken on the go, Traeger makes a great portable pellet grill – the Traeger Ranger.
Despite the small profile, it features an 8 pound hopper capacity and 184 square inches of cooking surface area and makes for the perfect grill to take with you to the camp site or tailgating.
A baffled lid has built in latches that are heavy duty and make the transportation process incredibly easy. A cast iron griddle also comes included to help you make a griddle steak or whip up an amazing breakfast.
If you came into this article wondering which pellet grill is better for you between these two extremely popular brands, I hope you’ve found your answer!
At the end of the day, both of these brands make great products and have great reputations – and either one would make a welcome addition to any back patio.
Which one did you end up going with? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below.
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