This is my review of the new Traeger Grills Timberline Pellet Smoker model:
I was lucky enough to be a beta tester for this grill. Of all the neat things I’ve gotten to do as a food/grill blogger, this is one of the coolest. My grill came with this beta tag on it:
The next day, with much more light I was able to get a good look at this bad boy:
The first thing that comes to mind when looking at it is the amount of grilling space it has for such a small footprint:
I take that back, the first thing that came to mind was when I was assembling it with my dad was not about capacity. It was about weight. We were unboxing the handful of smaller boxes inside the big box it came in. I picked up one of the grill grates and was floored at how heavy even the narrowest top grill grate was. It was stainless steel, but was as heavy as cast iron. That alone told me that things have changed quite a bit for Traeger. The stories of poor craftmanship and construction are over and one day will be a myth. It’s little things like heavy duty grill grates and solid rubber tires that tell me these cookers are built to last:
Did I mention the hinge? I’ve had so many grills over the years. The hinge is what usually gets a lot of wear and tear and can be the breaking point of a lot of grills. The hinge on this is pretty unique and I don’t think we have to worry about it breaking down:
The far right is the hinge, but it’s also attached to the lid by FOUR screws:
Some might think it’s just a hinge, no big deal. I’m a grill junkie. A cooker connoisseur if you will. This is a big deal. The lid is held onto the metal hinges on the side by 8 screws. That’s 4, count ’em, 4 on each side.
Some of you are thinking, “With so many screws, I bet that took a long time to assemble.” Assembly consisted of putting the legs, wheels and shelves on. That’s it. Legs, wheels and shelves. The rest was already assembled. It does take two people to put together because the main unit is heavy which again alludes to the high build quality. But it took all of about 20-25 minutes to put it together for dad and I.
Back to those shelves. Exterior shelves this time. There are two stainless steel shelves and a wooden one. There’s this big one on the left side:
And then we have this removable wooden cutting board over the hopper:
And then there’s the front shelf:
This shelf isn’t the most useful shelf. It’s a great place to set your beer or to put the edge of a big cutting board and wedge it against your waist while putting copious amounts of meat into the mammoth cooking chamber, but beyond that, it doesn’t do much. I would like to see a bigger shelf like the one on my classic Traeger 34.
OK, let’s fire this mother up!
I’ve got pellets in the cooking chamber:
I have to warn you. When you break this rig in for the first time it’s going to smoke and I mean smoke. Like so much smoke that a neighbor two houses down came by to see if my house was on fire as did some woman who was driving down the street. That’s right. Some lady pulled her car over and asked if she should call 911! Or as I like to call it, the weekend
Once this smoke bomb goes off (maybe 3-5 minutes) thin blue smoke comes out with such a lovely smell that my wife who came in through the front door (I was on the driveway and left the outside and inside garage doors open) asked if I had lit a scented candle.
So why a pellet grill over a charcoal grill or a gasser? A gas grill is for hot and fast meals. I call it my week night grill so I can cook seafood or burgers after work for the fam. With a charcoal grill I have to keep messing with the vents, and getting my hands dirty adding coal. The Traeger is set it and forget it. I just fill the hopper with Traeger pellets, set the temp and ignite:
Did I mention I can get the Timberline to 500 degrees? That’s right. It can do low and slow and it can do hot and fast. I loves me some versatility!
Speaking of high temps and my family. See, I have 4 kids. As of the publishing of this review, my children ranged in ages from 8 years to 1 year. Right, I have little kids. With the amount of grilling I do, it’s only a matter of time before one of them is heading to the ER after a burn. Let me show you something cool about this grill. Here’s my hand flat on the grill for not one Mississippi but two:
And here’s the temp of the Traeger:
As a father of four small children, that peace of mind means the world to me.
Did you notice that bottom number and that little white male jack in the pic above? That’s the temp of the probe inserted into my tri-tip which was my inaugural cook. Here it is after I reverse seared it. Actually it was more like reverse roasted. More on that in a second:
Why is it a reverse roast rather than reverse sear? Well, reverse sear is smoking first then searing. I smoked it at 225 and once it hit about 110, I pulled the tri-tip out of the Timberline and cranked up the heat to 500. Once it hit 500, I tossed the tri-tip back on. While the air inside the Traeger is 500 degrees, I didn’t get any grill marks because I don’t think the metal inside was raging hot.
Here’s a 2.5 pound cowboy rib eye I did the the same way but let the cook chamber sit at 500 for a few minutes. I got a hint of some grill marks, but not what I’m used to:
Both of those reverse sear cooks, had a certain time pressure to them in that I had people waiting for food and so I couldn’t let the grill sit at 500 for say 20 minutes. I’m hoping for better grill marks then. I’ll update the review when I get a chance to test that without any time pressure from annoyingly hungry people in my family (the nerve!).
Let me show you one other cook I did on the Timberline:
That’s a pound off bacon spread across a couple cast iron griddles. That’s right, I cooked bacon on the this cooker. Put the griddles on, crank the Traeger up to 500 degrees and come back in about 20 minutes and insert the bacon. Pretty soon the bacon will look like this:
Bacon cooked to absolute perfection. There was not one slice of bacon that was crispy in the middle with those rubbery tips. Each one was crispy from end to end. Bonus! Being a pellet smoker, the bacon had an extra infusion of smoke too.
I didn’t even get into the fact that you can control this rig with your phone over their new WiFire technology. I haven’t even have a chance to use that piece yet.
Let’s sum up some pros and cons
- Ease of cooking – Set it and forget it
- Simple assembly
- Outstanding flavor of the food
- Sturdy construction
- Copious amount of grilling space
Let me elaborate on that last one with this picture:
That’s six slabs of St. Louis style ribs and I probably could’ve gotten 9 on there, but I only had 6. Three on the bottom, 2 in the middle and 1 on the top. I probably could’ve gotten a 4th slab on the bottom, a 2nd on the top, and 2 halves on the middle rack.
One more pic of those gorgeous ribs on the bottom rack:
- I wish the front shelf was deeper
- It takes some time for the smoker to get to 500 degrees (maybe 15 minutes)
- I would prefer a dedicated sear station on one side so I could do a reverse sear much faster
Other than that, I’m ecstatic with the Traeger Timberline
Full disclosure, Traeger compensated me for this review, but this is an honest review and my own words. Traeger did not edit this review one bit.
Oh, and one more pretty rib pic of those six slabs on the cutting board just because I know you love the grillporn!