What Is A Traeger Grill? [and How Do They Work?]

A Traeger grill is a brand of wood pellet grill (also known as a wood pellet smoker). Invented in the 1980s, the brand is now synonymous with wood-fired pellet grills.

Despite being the most popular make of pellet grill, most people don’t know what they are, how they work, and why they’re so special!

That’s why I’ve put this guide together. In the sections below, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Traeger grills and smokers.

You’ll find out the following:

  • What a Traeger grill is.
  • How a Traeger grill works.
  • How to use a Traeger grill.
  • What are the different parts of a Traeger grill?
  • Why you should choose a Traeger grill and what to look out for.
Traeger grill installed outside on a sunny deck.

Table of Contents

What Is A Traeger Grill?

A Traeger grill is a brand of wood pellet grill (also known as a wood pellet smoker).

Traeger grills were invented in 1985 by Joe Traeger in Mt. Angel, Oregon, USA. Joe ran a heating company. One day he came up with the idea of using the wood pellet technology used to heat homes for cooking food. And the famous outdoor wood pellet grill was born.

The brand is now synonymous with wood-fired pellet grills. Traeger is the market-leading manufacturer of wood-fired grills in the USA and globally.

How Do Traeger Grills Work?

A Traeger grill, also called a Traeger smoker, is a type of outdoor cooking appliance that combines certain functionalities of traditional charcoal grills, gas grills, griddles, smokers, and ovens.

Unlike traditional grills that burn charcoal or propane, a Traeger grill burns wood pellets. As they burn, the wood pellets produce heat and large volumes of smoke. Traeger grills require electricity to power their different components and to heat the pellets until they combust.

Traeger grills cook food with low, indirect heat over a long period of time> this type of cooking is called low n’ slow cooking. This method yields fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth textures.

Traeger grills are also sought after for their ability to produce massive amounts of smoke – which imparts the food with an unmistakable smokey flavor.

What Are The Different Parts of A Traeger Grill?

Traeger Hopper

A Traeger grill includes a hopper that holds the wood pellets before they are burned.

The hopper is similar to the funnel-shaped container that sits at the top of a coffee grinder. The hopper is effectively the fuel storage unit of the grill.

The wood pellets are pushed from the bottom of the hopper into the Traeger’s firebox by a mechanism called an augur.

Traeger Augur

The augur in a Traeger grill is a motor-driven, spiral-shaped shaft akin to an endless screw.

Once the augur motor receives a signal from the Traeger grill’s control unit, it begins to spin. The spinning motion pushes the wood pellets toward the Traeger’s firebox.

The speed at which the augur spins is determined by the preset temperature of the pellet grill and the feedback it receives in the case of units equipped with a PID control unit.

The higher the desired temperature, the more pellets will need to be burned in the grill’s firebox. And, the faster the augur will need to spin to push those pellets into the firebox.

Traeger Firebox

The Traeger firebox is where the wood pellets are burned

As the wood pellets burn, they release heat and create large amounts of wood-flavored smoke. The heat cooks the food, and the smoke coats it with intensely smoky flavors.

Traeger Hot Rod

Inside the Traeger’s firebox sits a hot rod or heating rod. This rod is akin to a heating element, like those inside electric toasters and ovens.

The rod heats up to high temperatures. When the pellets, pushed by the augur into the firebox, come into contact with the hot rod begin to smoke and burn.

Traeger Convection Fan

Traeger grills feature a convection fan.

The fan serves three purposes:

  • Supplies air to the wood pellets to allow them to combust properly.
  • Moves the heat around inside the grill for optimal heat distribution.
  • Produces large volumes of smoke.

Traeger Lid

The lid of a Traeger grill keeps the heat and smoke in. Unlike traditional grills and barbecues, it’s advised that you leave the lid of your Traeger down when cooking.

Keeping the lid closed will maintain a constant temperature inside the grill, cook the food properly, and make it even smokier.

Traeger Chimney

The Traeger chimney is composed of a flue and a trademark conical cover.

The chimney allows combustion gases and smoke to escape from the grill.

What Do Traeger Grills Burn?

Traeger grills burn Traeger wood pellets as fuel. Wood pellets are really the star of the show, and choosing the right pellets is just as important as the grill itself – if not more!

Traeger’s premium wood pellets are made from 100% natural hardwood and are sold in a range of flavors.

  • Traeger Signature BBQ Wood Pellets
  • Traeger Pecan BBQ Wood Pellets
  • Traeger Apple BBQ Wood Pellets
  • Traeger Hickory BBQ Wood Pellets
  • Traeger Mesquite BBQ Wood Pellets
  • Traeger Cherry BBQ Wood Pellets
  • Traeger Turkey Blend Wood Pellets + Brine Kit

Traeger also sells a range of limited-edition wood pellets:

  • Traeger Hickory BBQ Wood Pellets
  • Traeger Bold Blend Wood Pellets
  • Traeger Brisket Blend Wood Pellets

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How To Use A Traeger Grill

Step 1: Read The Traeger Grill Owner’s Manual

First of all, read your Traeger grill owner’s manual and understand how your particular model works. Always follow the instructions provided with your Traeger to grill safely and get the most out of your appliance.

Step 2: Set Up Your Traeger Grill

To start cooking on your Traeger grill, you need to ensure that it’s clean, hooked up to mains power and that the hopper is filled with Traeger wood pellets.

VERY IMPORTANT: Before you use your Traeger grill for the first time, you’ll also need to season it.

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Step 3: Brush Up On Cooking Times & Temperatures

Before you start cooking, figuring out the temperature and timings for each type of food you want to prepare will also be helpful.

Cooking on a Traeger grill is easy, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t just throw anything on at any temperature for any amount of time. Each cut of meat has its own preparation and cooking requirements.

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Step 4: Start Grilling!

Once you know how to operate your Traeger grill, have it all set up (and seasoned), and are familiar with the cooking temperatures and times for your food, you can put your food into the grill, close the lid, set the temperature, level of smoke and cooking time. And then keep an eye on it.

Step 5: Get Stuck In!

When your food is ready, it’s time to remove it from your Traeger grill. And get stuck in!

Step 6: Shut Down Cycle

When you’re finished cooking on your Traeger grill, follow the correct procedure for the shutdown cycle. Shutting down your Traeger grill properly is just as important as cooking with it properly.

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How To Turn Off A Traeger

Step 7: Cleaning & Storage

A clean and well-maintained Traeger grill will make for better-tasting food, a longer-lasting grill, and a safer grilling experience.

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Are Traeger Grills Easy To Use?

Traeger grills are very easy to use. If you can use a traditional BBQ, you can use a Traeger. Traeger grills are “set-and-forget”. Their digital display and control unit makes the whole grilling experience a breeze.

Traeger offers great support, its website is packed with resources such as recipes and guides, and they’ve built a passionate online community – people like you who have the same questions and are ready to share their experiences.

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Why Choose A Traeger Grill?

For a more complete overview, check out: Are Traeger Grills Worth It?

Wood Pellet Grill Pioneers

Traeger grills are the original wood pellet grills. They invented the concept of cooking food with wood pellets.

All the other brands out there have built on the foundations that Traeger laid. So when it comes to grilling and smoking with wood pellets, Traeger can teach everybody a thing or two.

Outstanding Build Quality

Traeger grills are designed and engineered in the USA and built overseas. They use the best, sturdiest materials, and their products are known to last for years.

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Innovative Features

As the pioneer in wood-fired grill technology, Traeger has been on a constant path of innovation since day one.

Traeger grills are packed with innovative features, such as their PID control units, DC brushless motors, super smoke feature, or WiFIRE technology which allows users to set cooking parameters and monitor their grill via an app on their phone.

Amazing Resources

Traeger offers great support (either online or on the phone), replacement parts are readily available, their website is packed with resources for their customers such as recipes and guides (grilling tips, maintenance, cleaning, etc.), and they’ve one of the (if not THE) best online grilling community.

Traeger has built a real following and is more than just a brand of wood pellet grills.

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Best-in-Class Warranty

Traeger offers a whopping 5-year warranty on its products. That’s how confident they are in the quality of their products, and it makes Traeger an absolute no-brainer if you ask me.

What to Consider Before Buying a Traeger Grill?

If you want to buy a Traeger smoker, here are some things you should consider before buying one.

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How big is your backyard, garden, patio, deck, or balcony? Traeger grills come in different models with different sizes, from the smaller Town & Travel models, through the Pro series, Ironwood series, and up to the larger, premium Timberline series.


What is your budget?

Are you looking for an entry-level model such as the Tailgater, which will set you back around $500, or the range Timberline 1300 with all the bells and whistles that cost in the $2300 region?

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What features will you need?

Do you need to cook for a large family or a couple? Do you want a meat probe or a Wifi enabled model for extra control?

The more features your Traeger grill has, the more benefits it will offer. However, the price will also increase accordingly.


Is there anything else you may need?

For example, you may need to buy a set of Traeger cooking utensils and Traeger cleaning tools or wish to experiment with different types of Traeger wood pellets. Make sure to factor in all these “added costs” when choosing your grill.

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If I’ve done my job correctly, you know now what a Traeger grill is and how they work. You’ll know what the different parts are, what they do and how they work together to produce heat and smoke. You should also have a better feel for what makes Traeger stand out from the competition and what to look out for when buying one.


I’m Glen, an ordinary guy with an extraordinary passion for grilling. I was recently gifted a Traeger wood pellet grill for my birthday. I knew little about setting up, operating, cooking with, or maintaining a Traeger grill. I started this website to document my findings as I learn to "master the flames".

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