The key to good grilling is to realize that you are setting yourself up to cook in a whole new environment. This is one of the main purposes of grilling – to get yourself outside – Barton Seaver
Grilling isn’t a job, it’s a culinary adventure that encourages you to leave the nine to five world behind and focus on the important things in life. Family, friends, and good food.
But like any adventure, if you’re going to make the most of it, you’ll need the right equipment, and in the backyard barbecuing and in the outdoor cooking world, that means finding the right grill.
And when you’re tasked with trying to eliminate all of the wrong options and find your perfect grilling weapon of choice, your search will probably come down to the same two brands that every other would-be and veteran griller alike does, Pit Boss and Traeger.
They’re the biggest dogs in the grilling yard and between them, they seem to have the backyard scene just about sewn up, as their reputation for designing and building grills that are simple and straightforward to use, imbued with all the bells and whistles that you’ll need to make your life at the grill face as easy as possible and will last for a lifetime are second to none.
Which begs the question, how do you choose between them? How do you know if you’re a Pit Boss kind of person, or whether you’d feel more comfortable moving into the Traegerhood?
It isn’t an easy question to answer, which is why we thought we’d give you a little help and pit (forgive the pun we couldn’t help ourselves) both brands against each other in an attempt to find out whether or not the extra that you’ll pay for a Traeger grill is actually worth it.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you’d like to take your seats, the show is about to begin. Welcome to the Trager vs. Pit Boss showdown…
In The Beginning
The best place to start is, we’ve always found, at the beginning, which is why we’re going to take a moment to introduce both of our competitors and establish a little of their grilling history…
The Traeger Tale
Grilling brands may come and go, but there is only one Traeger. They were the people who put wood pellet grilling on the backyard barbecue map, or rather their founder, Joe Traeger did when he invented the first pellet-fueled grill in 1986.
Thanks to Joe being a little more business savvy than most inventors, and patenting his design, Traeger had a twenty-year wood pellet grilling monopoly that led to the becoming the only player in the game and the bonafide leaders of the wood pellet grilling pack.
That all changed in 2006 when their patent ran out and every grilling firm began to scramble around in an attempt to design and get their own pellet grills out into the big wide world in an attempt to finally compete with Traeger.
After their twenty-year reign came to a close, everything changed at Traeger, and while the band continued to go from strength to strength, the man who had founded and created Traeger decided that his destiny elsewhere and after two decades as the head grilling honcho at Trager, Joe packed up his office and turned off the lights for the last time, and headed out of the door for pastures new.
The Pit Boss Story
And the pastures new in Joe’s case, was Pit Boss. That’s not quite true, as he actually accepted a corporate position at Dansons, who own Pit Boss. but it was a move that caused uproar in the grilling world, as the former head of Traeger was now, ostensibly in charge of both Pit Boss and Louisiana Grills, the two backyard institutions that fell under the purview of Dansons.
Even though Pit Boss weren’t exactly newbies, with Joe in charge they began their slow but steady rise to the top of the grilling mountain and finally became one of Traeger’s main competitors.
And their main advantage over Joe’s former brand and the one that they’ve always emphasized, pushed, and placed great stock in? They’re a blue-collar grilling brand that has made it their mission to make affordable, functional grills that every American family can afford.
It’s A Question Of Greenbacks
So where should we begin our grilling titan showdown? Well, as we’ve just mentioned Pit Boss’ core mission, and as we’re living in an age of economic uncertainty, maybe we should start by talking about money. Or more accurately, how much money a Pit Boss grill and a Traeger grill usually cost.
Realistically, the budgetary battle is over before it can even begin as Pit Boss grills are more affordable than Traegers are and cost between five hundred and one thousand dollars, while an entry-level Traeger model will set you back more than six hundred and if you want to push the boat out and go for their top of the line models, you can expect to pay somewhere in the region of two grand.
That said, Trager does equip their grills with far more technology and user-friendly tools than Pit Boss do, but at the end of the day, if you’re just looking to cook with your grill and nothing else really matters, and your grilling budget is an issue, then Pit Boss have the fiduciary edge over their competition.
Cooking Up A Storm
One of the most important factors that you’ll need to consider as a new griller is how many people you’ll be cooking for and how much space you’ll need your grill to have, and luckily both Pit Boss and Traeger are way ahead of you.
Both of them have a number of different-sized grills in their arsenal, that range from five hundred and fifty to eleven hundred square inches of cooking space, so trying to choose between them and find a clever winner is next to impossible. In the space race, Traeger and Pit Boss are tied for first place.
Fueled And Ready
As well as space, if you’re going to be spending a long time in front of your grill or you’re going to need to feed the five thousand, you’re going to need a big hopper to hold all of the fuel that you’ll need to power your grill.
Based on size alone, Pit Boss is the clear winner as their hoppers tend to be larger than Traegers are, but if you add how efficiently a grill uses that space to make the heat that it needs, to do what it does best, then Traeger takes the chequered flag.
This leads us to the only conclusion that we can make, as far as hopper size and efficiency are concerned, it’s another dead heat.
How hot a grill gets and how well you can control the temperature, and its range is also incredibly important in determining which grill is going to help you reach your barbecuing goals.
And as both Traeger and Pit Boss use precision digitally controlled heat that’ll let you reach a maximum heat of five hundred degrees of Fahrenheit and are built using heavy-duty insulation that’s designed to retain every degree of that heat, there’s very little to choose between either of them.
Built To Last
As we’ve raised the subject of what the grills are actually made from, it might be prudent to mention that both Pit Boss and Traeger have taken the fact that their grills are going to spend the majority of their lives outside, and have been built to last.
Having said that, Pit Boss’ grills tend to reflect their lower price and don’t feel quite as sturdy and durable as Traegers do, which means that in the battle for build quality, we’d have to give Traeger the edge.
A Warranty You Can Count On
As you’d expect, both brands make sure that their grills have cast iron warranties that you can count on and customer service departments who are there for you and will help you troubleshoot any problems that you might have.
However, as Trager only offers a three-year guarantee, and Pit Boss offers a five-year warranty, there is an undisputed and clear victor in the peace of mind grilling championship, and that’s Pit Boss.
It’s All About The Extras
Unfortunately, when it comes to the grilling extras that are made to make your life easier, Pit Boss can’t even begin to compete with Traeger.
While the former are still using manual controls on all of their grills, the latter has brought all of theirs into the digital age and has equipped them with their own patented WiFire system, which means that you can control the grill from any smart device.
Yes, you’re going to pay more for a Traeger grill, but there’s a good reason for it, and that reason is that it comes with wifi, so you can control your grill from anywhere you want to. Fire it up and you’ll be able to cook with confidence and control everything from your cell phone. In the war of the extras, there’s only one brand that comes out ahead, and that’s Traeger.
But Wait… There’s More
Before we decide on a victor, we thought that maybe we should take a closer look at the three best selling grills that Pit Boss and Trager manufacture, and to make things a little fairer, we’ve grouped them by price, running from their entry-level models to their top of the line grills that were created to make your neighbors seethe with jealousy. So let’s get started…
Family Friendly Entry Level Grills
Pit Boss 700 Pellet Grill – There’s a reason why Pit Boss called this pellet grill the 700, and that’s because it has a combined, total cooking space of 700 square inches, which is enough to feed any hungry family.
Its eighteen-pound hopper can hold enough pellets to ensure that you’ll have enough fuel to last for an afternoon and evening of grilling, and it’s easy to use electronic auto-ignition and digital temperature control, which lets you grill at anywhere between one hundred and seventy and six hundred degrees Fahrenheit.
The 700 also uses a “Flame Broiler”, which means that you can grill using direct or indirect heat, which increases the cooking options and lets you control the cooking process from beginning to end. And best of all? All of the grilling power and cooking space that the 700 will place at your disposal comes in at just under five hundred dollars.
Traeger Grills Pro Series 575 – Okay there’s no way to avoid the massive price differential between the 700 and the Pro Series 575 or the fact that the Traeger while being more expensive, has less total cooking space than the Pit Boss does, but it does have a few tricks up its sleeve that the 700 doesn’t.
The Pro Series is imbued with Traegers six in one versatility, which means that it won’t just grill, you can also use it to smoke, baste, roast, and bake whatever you want to, and as it uses Traegers WiFire technology, you can control the entire cook using either your Smartphone or Alexa. All you need to do is load the 575, and let technology do the rest.
Mid Level Grills
Pit Boss Austin XL – We’re moving up a few Pit Boss gears with the Austin XL, but the extra greenbacks that you’ll lay down for this incredible backyard machine will give your one thousand square inches of total cooking space and a thirty-one-pound hopper, which mean that you can load and go and cook all day and night without having to think about refueling.
The only thing that doesn’t endear us to the Austin, is that for some reason best known only to themselves, Pit Boss turned down the heat on this grill, and while it’s still easy to control with Pit Boss’ one dial digital heat system and auto-ignition, it’ll only let you grill at a maxim of five hundred, rather than six hundred degrees Fahrenheit.
Traeger Grills Ironwood 885 – With less cooking space and a smaller hopper than the Austin, again it all comes down to versatility and the fact that the Ironwood isn’t just a grill, you can also use it to bake, roast, and smoke whatever you want to cook, and all that you need to do is load the Ironwood’s porcelain shelves, fill the hopper, set the temperature, hit the auto-ignition and step back and let Traeger do the rest.
You can control every moment of the cooking process from your smartphone, by adjusting the temperature and monitoring what’s happening inside the grill, and if in the unlikely event that the hopper does begin to run out of pellets, Traeger’s WiFire powered app will alert you and you can just add more fuel to the fire.
The Top Of The Line Models
Pit Boss Navigator 1150 – One thousand one hundred and fifty square inches of cooking space. No, you didn’t imagine that number, you read it correctly.
That’s how much cooking space the Navigator offers, and when you combine that with a thirty-two-pound hopper that has an easy-clean door that’ll let the ash just fall out of the grill, well that adds up to out of this world grilling experience that can, and will transform the way you think about, and approach grilling.
With two meat probes that’ll keep you up to date and informed about what’s going on inside the grill and an easy to control digital temperature dial that’s let you grill at anywhere between one hundred and eighty and five hundred degrees Fahrenheit, the Navigator is a monstrous cooking machine that’ll enable you to cook for your entire neighborhood. We just wish that it could reach the Pit Boss golden number, and ultimate grilling threshold, six hundred degrees.
Traeger Timberline 1300 – If you really want to push the boat out as far as it can possibly go, then the only grill that you’ll ever need is the Timberline 1300. Sure, you’ll need to take out a second mortgage on your home to be able to afford it, but it’ll be worth it.
The Timberline doesn’t just give you thirteen hundred square inches of WiFire controlled cooking space that you can monitor, adjust and master from the comfort of your favorite chair using your cellphone, it also has the six-in-one Trager versatility.
And on top of that, it also has a built-in bamboo chopping board, a pellet management system and a hidden grease management system and so many other extras that it would literally take us all day to list them. It’s the grill to end all grills and the backyard cooking monster that every amateur griller dreams about.
And The Winner Is…
There is no outright victor as both Traeger and Pit Boss have conquered and rule their respective areas of the grilling world. Pit Boss has managed to deliver a series of exquisitely designed efficient grills that are easily affordable, while Traeger has dragged the art of grilling into the twenty-first century.
Is the premium that you’ll pay for all of the grilling technology that Traeger possesses worth it, or would you rather choose to grill with the more down to Earth, tried, tested, and true Pit Boss method? That’s a question that only you can answer, which means that ultimately the only person who can decide a winner in the Traeger Pit Boss showdown, is you.