183 of 189 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2010
My Lil Tex (075 model) is now over our years old and has had some heavy use. The first two years, I couldn't stop cooking in it. I have since settled down to be a once or twice a week all seasons cooker.
The indirect cooking created by the barrel-shaped oven, the even heat and the use of wood food grade pellets make for some delicious meats and veggies. I won't go into the debate over pellets vs propane vs charcoal. Everyone's got their own opinion and tastes.
This review is not about the cooking but the overall quality and cost.
A disclaimer: I used to work for a retailer that sold Traeger's. I was the in-store expert on cooking and selling these units. When we first picked up the brand, I knew that spending $700 on a barbeque was outrageous. Then the company rep came around, did some demos in front of the store, and after trying chicken, pork roast, salmon and even acorn squash and other veggies, I was sold on the flavor of everything that can be cooked on a Traeger pellet grill.
Granted, I got a 30% discount from the company, but I still think the $700 retail price was fair, considering the results. Oftentimes, retailers have the 075 unit on sale for around $650.
It didn't take me long to become an expert on how to cook, barbeque and smoke with this grill. I had used a Weber Silver B propane barbeque for several years before this and I still believe that unit is outstanding. I wish I had kept it. It's easier and faster to BBQ hamburgers and hot dogs on a fast-heating propane flame than the slower heating wood pellet grills. I know wood pellet lovers have their rebuttals for this, but in my opinion, quick and easy means propane. I have supplemented my Traeger with a Weber Q series table top grill for hot dog days.
Who needs wood-flavored smoky taste on a hot dog, anyway? Just cook it, I say.
Now to the quality. My Lil Tex (075) is U.S. made, just down the road in Mt. Angel, Oregon where the Traeger thing all started. After four years of very heavy use, the auger motor and the 3-speed thermostat went under. The auger motor cost about $65 from a Traeger vendor in McMinnvile, OR. I got the thermostat from a dealer in West Linn, Oregon at a close out price of twenty bucks. Considering the amount of use I've put the unit through, it held up well. What a lot of people don't realize is that this is a sophisticated piece of electronic equipment that sits outside, usually uncovered in all types of weather.
(As I am writing this, a whole chicken is cooking on the 075, a half and hour on high and then 45 minutes to an hour on smoke. It's cold outside, about 45degrees, and cooking time is a bit longer than normal.)
A bit about pellets; there are many flavors of Traeger wood pellets from oak and mesquite to "sweet" pellets like maple and cherry. I use so many spices and marinades on the stuff I cook that I simply cannot tell the difference. Garlic pellets smell a lot different than mesquite while cooking, but honestly, I can't tell the difference in the final product. Get them on sale. Most vendors have specials from time to time, three bags for the price of two, etc., otherwise, you can expect to pay about $15 per 20# bag.
As for quality of the unit itself---I figure what I paid for replacement parts mentioned earlier is justified, considering the heavy use the unit gets and the superior taste of everything I cook or smoke on it.
Now to the China Syndrome.
If the legs on a Traeger are bolted rather than welded, it's Chinese. I assembled a few China Traegers before I left my retail company and it was disheartening when I had to add my own home-made shims to make the unit stable and not wobbly. Other than assembly, I have no experience with these units but have read negative reviews regarding the quality of the electrical components. Indeed, the West Linn, OR. company that sold me the replacement 3-speed thermostat have given up on Traeger and now sell another brand of pellet cooker.
Bottom line for me--my Traeger has cooked up the best food I've ever eaten from an outdoor or indoor cooker of any kind. I highly recommend the unit that's smoking away in my back yard right now. As for the newer foreign built models, I say ask around if you can about the quality--maybe they've improved. Check the warranty. It used to be a pretty good one. And check the dealers. Make sure they're happy with what they're selling and will help you with any warranty issues.
That's it. Good luck.
106 of 112 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2010
I purchased my Traeger grill about 2 months ago based on a recommendation, and I would not recommend a Traeger grill to anyone due to quality control issues. The design of the grill is fine, but the poor quality of Chinese construction has made use of this grill an exercise in frustration. I think Traeger is trying to mass produce a grill at an affordable price by sacrificing quality, but there comes a point where the grill isn't worth buying regardless of cost. If it is always broken there's no sense in owning it.
After owning the grill for three weeks one of the handles attached to the grill came loose. The attachments are concealed, so I contacted Traeger to make sure I would not void the warranty if I disassembled the grill and re-attached the handle. Traeger out-sourced its customer service department staff, and although the new support staff are friendly, they apparently know little about how the grill is assembled. It took three phone calls before I talked with someone who understood how the grill was assembled and who could tell me how to dis-assemble the grill as needed. With some effort I was able to tighten the handle.
Two weeks later I started the grill, waited for it to pre-heat and put on the salmon steaks. When I checked on the grill 5 minutes later I found smoke billowing out of the pellet hopper - and the actual BBQ was cold. I turned off the grill and scooped smoldering pellets out of the hopper. The gasket that seals the hopper to the auger had come loose and was slowing being pulled into the auger that feeds the grill. This lack of an airtight seal caused a backdraft. To me this is a safety issue. The grill was / is not usable until Trager sends a new gasket. The replacement will require more disassembly. I've ordered the replacement gasket 4 times and have yet to receive it. The first time it wasn't shipped. The second time I was shipped the wrong part. The third time it was never shipped although I was told it would ship via overnight freight. The 4th time it was shipped regular mail although I was told it would be shipped overnight. I have yet to receive it.
Traeger is obviously experiencing growing pains, and in the process is sacrificing quality control. Until these issues are all resolved I would not recommend this product, and would suggest that a potential buyer look at other more dependable products. The company's intentions seem to be good, but the outcome is not.
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2009
I did a lot of research on smokers and one of the key requirements for me was that my wife, who is fairly good at charcoal grilling, must be able to use it and not spend too much time watching it. It came down between this and a Big Green Egg (another great product) and we decided for this because of a special at my nearby dealer. Part of that special was a chance to upgrade the controller at half-price to the digital model.
* Assembles easily (read all instructions). Came with tools but better off using your own.
* Packing excellent. Comes with a cook book but you can also hit the web site for more recipes
* Well built.
* EASY TO USE! That's the big seller on this item and righfully so. Switch it on to the settings you want and change them later during the grill for different results.
* Food: Excellent! You have to try food from these things. Juicy, tender, smokey flavors. When it comes to being able to produce good BBQ with minimal effort, it cannot be beat.
* 3 year manufacturer warranty(very rare). We have a service center near where I live so I know I can get help whenever I need it
* Doesn't get to a strong searing temp. For me it's not a problem since I can do that through another means.
* It doesn't come with a thermometer. The control unit takes care of that but the stock one doesn't have read out telling you what temp it actually is in the chamber. The upgraded control unit does, which is why I opted for it.
* You are buying into Traeger. Pellets you get from Traeger. This is not necessarily "bad" per-say but you have to understand what you're getting into before hand. We went into this purchase understanding this so it's not a surprise for us. But for those who didn't take the time to understand this I can see it becoming an issue.
* The upgraded control unit is a definite plus but I can see going without it in most cases. I would get it if you can. It allows you to smoke at 180 and gives you a read out of the temp in the chamber.
* The only difference between this model and the Elite Lil Tex is the Elite comes with the upgraded controller, a different door (stainless steel or something), and casters on all four legs instead of only two. So by getting an upgraded controller, you pretty much convert it to an Elite.
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2009
Okay, so I was not looking to get this grill. I went in with the objective of going with a built in Natural Gas grill. However, a friend had a Traeger, and got me to try some of the food from the grill. I was sold right then and there.
What I like:
1. Pretty easy to assemble. Took me a couple of hours, and would have been a bit less if I could learn to read directions. :)
2. Easy to use. I simply add the pellets, let the grill heat up, and put on the food.
3. Very uniform heat. The first time out, I cooked six steaks. Every single one of them came out perfectly cooked. No more having to move food around.
4. Taste. The unit has a 'Smoke' setting, which really did impart the flavor of the pellets (I was using Mesquite, but there are around 10 various). What I did not taste was that occasional chemical taste you sometimes get with Propane.
5. Cookbook comes with the unit.
6. No flare ups. Since there is no direct fire, you get no flare ups as grease melts, drips and burns.
7. Easy clean up. The grease you do get drips onto a plate which leads to a bucket. I lined the plate with foil, and the bucket collected just a bit of grease. Soap and water took care of that.
8. Steaks were extremely juicy. Even my misguided friend who likes his steak the texture of shoe leather commented on how juicy the meat was. I could not believe how much juice ran out of his steak!
So, what do I not like?
Well the price is a bit high (though I now think worth the cost), and I did have to assemble the dang thing myself. Seems to use a fair amount of pellets, so the ongoing cost may be high. I have not used it enough to know for sure about that, though.
Overall, I really like this grill, and I strongly recommend it people give it a look. Better yet, try the food hot off the grill, and you will never look back.
41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2010
Shortly after I bought a Traeger it began to shed paint. Then it was coming off in sheets. They had a known problem learning how to powder coat and nearly all units had the problem.
The issues were well documented and even went to litigation. All searchable on line.
Their solution when confronted was to offered to send a free can of spray paint.
Another letter was written and yielded their final answer (after 2 calls and several transfers, finally to George Costner); "Sorry, out of warranty, too bad for you".
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2011
Pros: All of the fine reputation for cooking continues in the new generation of Chinese made units. Easy to cook great tasting fish, poultry, and meats.
Cons: I was warned. You are now warned. The quality of the new Chinese versions will bite you. So far I haven't suffered any of the electrical issues that seem commonly reported. But...
I encountered an issue only recently discussed: peeling paint. After 8 months, and always covered when not in use, the paint peeled badly from multiple locations of the body and chimney. These were replaced gratis by Traeger, but I had the job of disassembly/reassembly/disposal. Costco offered to take back the unit, but it just didn't feel right forcing the responsibility on a retailer that I really appreciate.
So in the 2 years left on my warranty, I really do expect to be replacing parts again. Such a shame. Such a waste. Buyer be ware.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2011
PLEASE READ ALL THE WAY THROUGH THIS REVIEW, AS IT HAS BEEN UPDATED SEVERAL TIMES.
I am on my second Traeger grill. The first one was replaced in 2010 after one year of light use (in warranty) because the powdercoat was peeling from the grill body in large sheets. The customer service folks were really good: there was no problem with the replacement, although I had to disassemble the defective unit, transport it to the Traeger distribution center (about 40 miles) and then reassemble the new one when I got home.
Now, less than one year later (January 2011) I just replaced the door on the replacement grill because the powdercoat was peeling. In the interim, I had to replace the igniter in this grill as well.
The customer service staff at the company is helpful and they honor their guarantee while the product is covered under warranty, but I have no illusion that once the warranty expires the helpful staff will be just a memory. For the price of these grills, I would expect a long, trouble-free life of barbeque happiness. That just is not the case, and I would not recommend this grill to a family member or a friend until the manufacturing and quality control issues at Traeger are resolved.
Review Update: October 2012
I'm now on my fourth grill. The replacement I wrote about in the review above eventually failed, and was replaced. That one failed, too.
Having said all of this, Traeger does stand behind their products. Replacement was made without hesitation by the main Traeger warehouse in Beaverton, Oregon, and this time they delivered the replacement to me, saving me the 50-mile round trip. Their customer service people are good, and I believe they want satisfied customers. Now, if they could only get their Chinese manufacturing operation to work the way their American counterparts can....
Review Update: September 2013
The replacement grill from one year ago has held up just fine. I use the Traeger cover, just like the manufacturer recommends. So far not a trace of peeling on thie powdercoat, which has a different look and feel than I found on earlier models. I have to say that Traeger has, indeed, backed up their warranty. I am fortunate, because I am dealing with the factory folks out here in Oregon. I suggest that if anyone ever has trouble with a warranty claim while going through a local dealer, call Traeger out here in Oregon for action.
If I have additional trouble with this grill I will update the review. But in summary I will wrap this up by saying Traeger had a problem that persisted for quite some time. It appears that the problem has been resolved. And all the way through, they stood behind their product and honored the guarantee.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2011
I was concerned based on reviews from 2009 and 2010 but I bought the little tex anyway. I must say three things have really impressed me so far. 1) the quality of the grill. I bought it from a hardware store using ship to store option. the grill was perfect. Easy to assemble. 2) the food is great, cooked 3 meals so far - all perfection. 3) The customer service is outstanding. Traeger has a FB page and they monitor it all the time. I see from the posts, other with issues had them fixed immediately. I love my grill and am impressed with its cook-ability. BTW I upgraded to the digital thermo myself - it was easy.
EDIT 1/4/14: 3 years and its going strong, no issues. This grill is great for pizza and turkey. Its like having a wood fired oven. ALSO - two important notes regarding grilling meat: To sear/grill steak or burgers, you must place the meat around the outer perimeter of the grilling surface not in the center of the Grill. Always preheat to 450 before cooking steak/burgers. They come out perfect this way.
EDIT 5/30/14: Finally broke down on me. I left pellets in the hopper and they got wet as the hydrotuff cover has a small leak. I turned on the grill and the motor strained. I wound up breaking teeth off he gears in the motor and it needed replacement. Had to remove the auger to clear the jam. I purchased a new motor and new cover, put it back together today and it works like new. So far i am impressed with the Traeger. I use it frequently and have never had to replace the hot rod (although i have a spare on hand that i bought when I originally purchased the grill). A couple of weeks ago i set it to 450 and cooked crab cakes wrapped in tin foil, had a cast iron pan getting hot and dropped a fillet of salmon, grilled asparagus and roasted red potatoes. One grill one meal all at the same time... I cant complain about the grill its still awesome 4 years later...
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2009
Was a bit skeptical at first about paying so much money for a grill. However, the store that sells high-end grills where I bought mine from (Barbeque Mercantile in Colorado Springs) had this grill fired up and cooking chicken wings on a wing hanger. Let me tell ya, as I was listening to him explain the benefits of wood pellet grilling I was also watching him diligently removing the wings from the racks. Talk about mouth-watering, as he grabbed the wings with the tongs juice squirted from the wings like it was a water balloon. The skin was crispy and golden brown. He proceeded to cut the wing into three peices and offered me the wing to try. OMG!!! The inside was as extremely juicy as if it was boiled. The skin was crispy, sort of like it was tossed into a frying pan. Not sure which chicken rub he used but it worked exceptionally well. Needless to say, after learning that the 20 pound bag of pellets produced less than a cup of ashes (that were to be sucked out by a vacuum for ease of cleanup), along with the fact that it was a "set-it-and-forget-it" grill, I was sold. I purchased the larger Texas 75 Traeger with the front shelf, expansion rack, chicken hangers, and grill cover. Once you cook on one of these it will be extremely hard to go back to charcoal or propane grilling.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2013
Day one: Unpacking and assembly
In the grand scheme of things easy to assemble, and not bad as far as fit goes. A little light on materials
Service Call #1. Unit arrived with a broken wire to the temperature probe. Display reads, "Err". No other functions work.
Resolution: Replacement shipped two days later, arrived 4 days after that. Installed within 20 minutes.
Service call #2. Unit fails to power up after replacement of the temperature probe. After diagnosing trouble over the phone (about 1.5 hours, including work with a multimeter) a new burner unit is sent out FedEx GROUND.
Spent waiting for replacement burner and control unit.
Replacement arrives. 3 hous spent between taking the old unit out, packaging, and then installing the new burner and control unit. Traveling this weekend, so the first meal will have to wait until the following week.
Start up sequence initiated. Unit turns on normally, and takes about 10 minutes to begin to drop pellets unto the burner unit. Turn the unit to off per directions while I prep the chicken. Turn the unit back on with the power switch, and turn the temperature control to smoke. Wait 15 minutes for the temp to stabilize, and go back outside to check the grill. 415 degrees, temperature control knob spins freely, with no "click" for the temperature ranges.
Service call #3. No temperature Control
Resolution: Service will send another burner/ccntrol unit, while I wait another 7-8 days to cook my first meal.
I'll send another review when I'm done my third repair.