Pit Boss vs Traeger

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 24, 2021

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Wood pellet grills are a firm favorite among home cooks. That’s because they’re the perfect combination between a normal grill and a smoker, so they eliminate the need to purchase these two separately.

Wood pellet grills usually feature a generous cooking surface that enables you to cook a variety of different meats at the same time.

This means you can smoke brisket while grilling sausages and burgers simultaneously. As such, wood pellet grills are an ideal investment for anyone that likes to entertain from home as they’ll enable you to cater to a large number of people.

We, therefore, write this battle pit boss vs traeger to clarify.

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Pit Boss or Traeger? When buying a new pellet smoker, this question appears a whole lot of times. I have decided to provide an objective info on those two brands and present my personal choice.

There is no doubt that Traeger and Pit Boss are very popular brands on the market. Sadly, it is hard to find an objective opinion on which one of them is better, which is why I have prepared an article in which you will see who will win in the Pit Boss vs Traeger confrontation.

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I will make a general comparison of both brands based on their most popular models in similar sizes and configurations.

History

Pit Boss – One of the first manufacturers that upon the expiration of Traeger patent started selling their own pellet smoker. The company was founded in 1999 and right from their start their goal was to manufacture pellet smokers for everyone’s budget. The purpose of Pit Boss is to manufacture a smoker at the lowest possible price while maintaining a decent quality. In the hindsight one could notice that they did a great job. Today the Pit Boss offer includes bbq smokers of very similar sizes and qualities to Traeger.

Traeger –It is the brand responsible for creating the first pellet grill and promoting it, it was founded in 1985, and one year later they already patented their product which gave them a monopoly for selling pellet grills for whole 20 years. Through all that time Traeger was responsible for promoting the pellet grill which is why today whenever someone hears about the pellet grill they instantly think of the Traeger brand. To this day they are still the best selling pellet smoker even though after the patent expired there were a lot of new competitive brands. Even though you will find many other more interesting manufacturers on the market, none of them has gone down in history as much as Traeger.

Price

Pit Boss – The price is definitely lower and more convenient compared to other manufacturers. I can clearly say that most of the Pit Boss offer is models for everyone’s budget. Pellet smokers are associated with very high prices whereas Pit Boss proves that one can make a decent pellet grill at a low price. Right from the start, the goal of Pit Boss was the lowest possible price so that the sales would be very high and that plan was accomplished.

Traeger – From the moment the Treger patent expired, a lot of manufacturers appeared on the market, willing to compete for every client. That way a lot of much cheaper and better models were made which resulted in an opinion that by buying a Traeger product you’re overpaying for the brand only. Sadly, I have to partially agree that grills from Traeger usually have a higher price than models from competitive brands with similar quality and size.

Heat Management

Pit Boss – Here it was solved in a completely different way by giving the customer more options. First of all, the fire pot is located right in the middle of the smoker and doesn’t have a heat deflector. Instead, the furnace was covered with a metal dome with open slots right above the furnace. Such solution makes it possible to cook using direct heat ( grilling ). Of course smoking was also taken into account here, if you’re not interested in grilling then all you have to do is move another metal cover that will cover the slots, creating perfect conditions for smoking.

Traeger – Upon opening the lid and looking deeper into the structure one could see right away that the fire pot is located on the left side of the smoker. It is also clear that the fire pot is covered by a heavy steel heat deflector, and then located above those elements is a solid metal grease tray.

Flame Broiler

What I mentioned above, which was the ability to choose between grilling or smoking. Sadly, Traeger doesn’t come with such feature, but you will find it in Pit Boss. The furnace is covered with a metal plate that has slots that flames go through. You can cover the slots by covering them with a second plate which I think is a great solution.

Top Features

Pit Boss – It comes with all the basic features that were also present in the older series from Traeger. Sadly, with development of technology most people these days expect a better digital controller, Wi-Fi etc. You need to know that in a pellet smoker for this kind of money something like that cannot exist, but Pit Boss offer does include more advanced versions, although they cost more.

Traeger – As recently as 2018 I would say that there is no difference when it comes to the basic features and equipment compared to Pit Boss. It all changed with introduction of the new refurbished series from Traeger, which includes plenty of useful features up to date with modern technology. ( developed digital controller, Wi-Fi and much more ).

Pellet Hopper

In both cases the capacity of pellets containers is very similar or even the same. In practice, a full container is enough to last for very long and there is no need to install any bigger one.

Structure

The structures of pellet smokers from both manufacturers are very similar, they only differ in minor details. Pit Boss added a shelf under the grill that is not present in Traeger, which is a pity as it’s a very useful solution.

Temperature Range

By default you can expect a temperature range of 0-500 ( or even 550 ) degrees F. Both manufacturers have very similar parameters when it comes to the maximum temperature. Some models from Pit Boss declare a maximum temperature of around 600 degrees but in reality you actually get around 500.

Brand & Marketing

Pit Boss – A brand perfectly known among BBQ enthusiasts but not quite as much as its competitor. It mostly comes from the fact that Pit Boss is a much younger brand and their target market are people with a limited budget.

Traeger – The brand responsible for creating and then promoting this type of smoker. Traeger did a great job when it comes to marketing and because of that to this day it’s a brand that sells most pellet smokers. Every person, even when not into BBQ, recognizes that brand, they are a sponsor of many important events and teams and plenty of important people or celebrities are very happy to talk about them on their social media etc.

Warranty

Pit Boss – Despite much lower price, it is Pit Boss that offers a much better warranty. Most models are covered with whole 5 years of warranty period which is something rare in this type of smoker.

Traeger – Considering the price, popularity of the brand and the whole history, three years for even the most expensive models is a pretty disappointing warranty period. One could expect more from a brand like this, especially considering the pretty high prices for their grills.

Traeger vs Pit Boss – Conclusion

Who won this clash in my opinion?

I compared both brands objectively as a potential customer, to whom the most important factor is the ratio of price to what they get. In this regard, the winner is definitely Pit Boss, which offers more for less.

What is surprising is how a much cheaper manufacturer can provide a much longer warranty for their product.

Therefore, based on my experience and this article, I will repeat once again that my choice is Pit Boss.

Of course it doesn’t mean that Traeger is much inferior because in technical terms they both represent a similar level. However, Traeger is a valued and easily recognizable brand in the world of BBQ which means the prices are sadly also higher than with competitive manufacturers.

As with any purchase, it’s important to consider more than the grill’s appearance when shopping around for a new model. You have to keep in mind other more important aspects like the quality of construction and its expected lifespan. You’ll also want to buy from a respected brand like Pit Boss or Traeger.

Both these brands are well known for producing some of the top-quality wood pellet grills on the market. In this article, we’re going to compare the two and see how they fare against each other. We’ll also give you a detailed review of the best pellet grill model from each company. Read on for more.

Pit boss 820 vs Traeger elite 22

Overview of Pit Boss

Pit Boss wood pellet grills are perfect for beginners because they’re easy to use and mostly work with natural wood pellets. Pit Boss grills are well-made and feature heavy-duty construction with a large cooking surface. It’s one of the best digital grill manufacturers on the market as it offers guaranteed perfection every time.

However, to get the most out of Pit Boss wood pellet smoker grills, you need to use high-quality wood pellets that complement the food that you’re making.

Overview of Traeger

Over the years, Traeger has built a reputation as one of the most reliable brands and manufacturers of BBQ grills and smokers. It’s well-respected among seasoned pit masters and other users that recognize it for producing some of the finest BBQ grills on the market.

But, you may not want to take our word for it and we understand. Before you can decide on which brand best serves your needs, you need in-depth information on both so that you can make a fair comparison.

How Much Does a Traeger Grill Cost?

The cost of Traeger grills will vary greatly depending on the design, features, and other factors, although the price range is somewhere between a few hundred dollars and several thousand. Of course, if you’re going to buy a larger grill with more features, you can expect to pay more.

Some of the popular models cost around $400 to $1,400. If you really want to get the best results, you should be willing to spend at least $400 for your Traeger grill. While there are models that cost around $200 and less, you cannot really expect a lot from these grills. Plus, they usually are not that durable so you might just end up spending more to purchase a new replacement.

Cooking devices and grills should last for five years at least. This is also applicable to pots and pans, as well as other kitchen accessories. For outdoor grills, however, it’s important that they are durable since they are used in the outdoors. So always go for premium quality grills in order to get the best value for your money.

The wood pellets for Traeger grills are usually more expensive than charcoal and propane. For these pellets, you can expect to spend around $1 to $3 for every grilling session. Propane is more costly to use for a grill and charcoal is somewhere around the mid-range level. You might be tempted to purchase cheap pellets but be careful with these. They might just introduce harmful chemicals to your food.

Where Are Traegers Made?

All Traeger grills released in the market since late 2008 have been manufactured in China. Some of the bigger models are made in the United States. When the company received an overwhelming number of orders for the Traeger grills, they decided to outsource the manufacturing in order to keep up with the huge demand.

Can I Use Pit Boss Pellets in a Traeger Grill?

It’s certainly possible to use Pit Boss pellets with any grill brand, including the Traeger grill. Traeger has their own pellets, which is why they urge you to purchase their own products. But it is definitely possible to use any food grade pellets with your Traeger grill, and not necessarily the Traeger pellets.

Wood pellets are available in different types, depending on the flavor that they can provide to the meat. Nowadays, you’ll find plenty of different flavors in the market. Some of the most recommended ones are Apple, Cherry, Hickory, Mesquite, Alder, and Oak.

It is the Applewood and hickory that are considered the most popular ones because these pellets offer light to moderate smoke and won’t overpower the taste of the meat itself. However, there are also those that choose to go for Mesquite since it’s by far the most popular among grillers. But take note that mesquite has a strong smoke flavor profile and has the tendency to overpower the taste of your food. You might want to use other lighter flavor woods instead.

Who Are the Potential Users of Pit Boss?

Compared to Traeger, Pit Boss is more affordable and accessible to the average consumer. However, it delivers similar results as the more lustrous and prestigious brand. Pit Boss also offers a unique natural smoking ability that you’d be hard-pressed to find in other grills and smokers. That’s why they’re the preferred choice of anyone that likes to have an authentic smoked flavor in their food.

Thanks to their large cooking surface, Pit Boss grills are perfect for avid entertainers as well as hospitality establishments because they can handle large scale catering.

Who Are the Potential Users of Traeger?

Traeger grills are known for their solid construction, for providing great flavor and a sprawling cooking surface. They are ideal for anyone that needs to cater to large crowds and it’ll last you for more than just a few seasons.

Pit Boss vs Traeger Wood Pellet Grills

While wood pellet grills have a similar appearance to normal BBQ grills, there are a few notable differences between the two. For example, some wood pellet grills come with a firebox that allows you to smoke other foods like vegetables while you grill your meat. If you were to base your decision solely on customer reviews, you’d have a hard time picking favorites as both Pit Boss and Traeger have positive reviews.

To make your job easier, we’re going to compare the two based on a few important features.

Price

Price is probably the first feature you look at when shopping for anything but more especially when looking to make a big-ticket purchase such as this one. The cheapest grills on the market retail for $100 and are usually powered by propane gas or charcoal. However, these grills are one-dimensional and don’t offer the smoker feature. On the other hand, wood pellet grills start from $1,000 and they offer the best of both worlds.

Pit Boss is the most cost-effective option of the two because their grills are actually available for less than $1,000. In fact, the brand offers some decent models for just $500 to $700, so it’s a great option for anyone that’s shopping on a budget.

But, that’s not to say that you should forget about Traeger because they also have a few reasonably priced models on offer. For instance, their affordable grills cost $500 or less and yet they can compete with the brand’s Select Elite Grill units which cost $1,000 a pop. In a nutshell, both companies cater to all types of budgets.

Grill Construction

You’ll do well to pay attention to the grill’s construction as well because this will determine its lifespan. After all, you want a grill that’s going to last you for years or even a lifetime instead of a unit that will last for only a couple of seasons.

Traeger beats them all when it comes to quality grill construction and their wood pallet smokers are the same. Some of the notable heavy-duty materials they use include cast-iron grates that are often coated with a substance that gives them a non-sticky surface. They use the same material to make their Fireboxes.

Unfortunately, Pit Boss grills don’t really measure up in this regard, as their grills tend to look flimsy. While you may need to replace some of the components every now and then, Pit Boss grills are still worth considering as a great value-for-money buy.

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Temperature Range

Pit Boss and Traeger grills have pretty much the same temperature range with a few variances here and there. You can expect the temperature range for both companies to go from a minimum of 100 degrees Fahrenheit to a maximum of 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Cooking Space

When it comes to cooking space, there’s no competing with Traeger. If you look at some of its top models you’ll find that they all feature a cooking surface that measures 600 square inches on average, and the same goes for the interior space. Traeger’s Pro Series 34 Grill Burnz has a huge cooking surface that measures 884 square inches in total, and this is in addition to the impressive firebox.

Pit Boss grills, on the other hand, can only offer you as much as 500 square inches of cooking space at best.

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Hopper Size

The hopper is where the wood pellets are kept within the grill. The hotter the grill becomes the more smoke is produced through the burning wood pellets. Obviously, you want your grill to have a large hopper so that it can hold more pellets. That way, you won’t be required to continuously refill them.

Pit Boss hoppers usually have a capacity that can hold 10 to 12 pounds of wood pellets. Meanwhile, Traeger models can take a lot more than that. In fact, some Traeger models have the capacity to hold up to 18 pounds of wood pellets in one go, and they even come with a dedicated and built-in ash cleaner to make maintenance easier for you.

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Individual Reviews

As promised, we’re going to review one wood pellet grill from each company to provide you with a better perspective so you can make a truly informed purchasing decision.

Pit Boss Grills PB820FB
Pit Boss Grills PB820FB

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A little-known fact about the Pit Boss brand is that it’s owned by the same company that owns the famous Louisiana Grills. That means they know what they’re doing and they know what’s needed in a good quality grill. Ever since its entry into the market, Pit Boss has been giving Traeger a good run for their money.

A good example of this is Pit Boss 820 model which can stand toe-to-toe with almost any of Traeger’s premium models. It’s constructed from cast iron that has been coated with porcelain for ease of maintenance and added strength. Both the lower shelves and the detachable secondary racks are made from coated steel rod and wire, while the frame is made from 16-gauge powder-coated steel.

It has a generously sized cooking surface that measures 820 square inches with a comparable hopper that features a convenient screen. That’s why the hopper works really great when it comes to making sure that pellets don’t get flattened out and that no items can get into the auger.

With 40,000 BTUs and a digital control board with an LED display added in for good measure, you know you’re getting a good quality product. That’s not all, however, as this grill has other features like a dial-in thermostat control, and a flame broiler for direct-heat cooking that’s easy to operate.

Pros

Cons

Best Features

Some of the main features worth mentioning include:

Natural Wood Fuel

This is one of a few grills that offer a natural and authentic smoky flavor and that’s because it’s fueled by 100% natural hardwood pellets. It’s also considered to be one of the safest and most eco-friendly options available. That’s because the natural wood pellets it uses are food-grade and don’t contain any harmful substances like additives that could affect the final product.

Natural wood pellets are incredibly efficient as they produce less than 8,200 BTUs per cooking session. They’re also carbon neutral with less ash production when compared to other types of grill fuels.

Thermostat Control

The thermostat control feature is great because it allows you to switch the temperature as you like. This particular grill can go from temperatures as low as 180F to 500F maximum. While that’s a decent temperature range, it pales in comparison to outdoor grills of the same size which offer higher temperatures.

So where does the thermostat come in? Well, it will help to ensure that that the food is cooked at the preferred temperature at all times without the need for you to stand over it all the time.

Auto Start

The auto start function means that you only press one button on this grill and the grill does the rest. No need to manually transfer the pellets to the firepot or even ignite them for that matter. Even the convection heating process happens on its own and in the right order once you put on the main switch.

Auto Cool Down

Once your meal is done cooking and is ready to serve, you’ll turn on the automatic cool down. From there, the grill with start the shut-off process by burning out excess pellets, leaving you to enjoy your food with your guests.

This feature is also responsible for ensuring the grill is set at the right temperature before complete shutdown so that you don’t have to deal with temperature errors or grease fires when you need to use it again.

Porcelain-Coated Grid

Not only does the porcelain coating on the grid add to its durability, but it makes it remarkably easy to clean as well. Porcelain is non-stick and it repels smear marks, contributing to that smoky flavor you like by ensuring effective heat retention.

Convection Cooking

Convection cooking, in conjunction with the dial-in thermostat, is responsible for ensuring even heating so that the food is properly cooked. This eliminates the need to constantly check the meat because you’ll find that all sides are cooked through without any interference from you.

Flame Broiler

The 71820FB pellet grill gives you the option to cook over direct and indirect heat. To cook over an open flame, it uses the specially designed broilers and plates. All you have to do is bring the longer broiler closer to the heat by hooking it onto a holder that’s located next to the hopper. To cook over indirect heat, you need to slip the smaller broiler above the opening of the larger broiler.

This feature is highly beneficial because it allows for versatility. You can use direct heat cooking to make things like seared steaks and grilled burgers in less than 20 minutes.

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Traeger Grills Pro Series 22

Overall best pellet smoker: Traeger Grills Pro Series 22

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Part of the Elite series from Traeger, the TFB42LZBC model features sturdy construction from powder-coated 20-gauge steel. It has the capacity to withstand many years of frequent use, and it can go through harsh weather conditions and high heat without sustaining damage.

While small in appearance, this grill has a rather generous cooking surface of 418 square inches which is enough to fit three rib packs and 12 burgers at once, enough to feed a party.

It’s a powerful piece of machinery with 19,500 BTUs on offer and convection cooking for even heat distribution. One thing’s for sure, you won’t get any surprise rare steaks with this one. The porcelain coated grates feature a non-stick and smear-safe surface that’s easy to clean.

The great thing about this grill is that it allows for versatile cooking as well, because you can use it for grilling, smoking, roasting, baking and even braising. It has a temperature range of between 180F to 450F, with a multi-position digital thermostat for maximum control.

Pros

Cons

Best Features

Some of the most notable features on this grill include:

Wood Fire

This grill offers an authentic wood-fired flavor that you simply can’t beat. It’s not only healthy but has a nostalgic flavor to it and it doesn’t come with any harmful chemicals like the other types of fuel do.

Multi-Position Digital Thermostat Control

The Elite series features cutting-edge thermostat control features that keep the temperature at the preferred range without much intervention from you. All you need to do is set the temperature before you start to cook and watch the grill do its magic.

The grill’s thermostat works through the microprocessor circuitry to activate the auger and adjust it as necessary throughout the cooking process to maintain the correct temperature range.

Electric Start Ignition

The Elite grid has a manual and automatic start option, but most people just go straight for the automatic option. All you need to do is plug in the grill and turn it on. From there, it will automatically ignite itself and the auger will transfer wood pellets to the Firepot simultaneously.

Within four minutes the grill should be ready for you to start cooking, which is rather impressive.

Auto Shut Down Cycle

The auto shut down feature cools down the grill and shuts it off automatically. But, it does need some help from you because you need to set the temperature right so that the draft induction fan can burn off the leftover pellets before switching off.

Otherwise, the grill doesn’t require that you press any other button in order to switch it off. It will switch off automatically once the fan comes to a stop and it will be nice and cool and ready for you to clean afterward.

Non-Stick Porcelain-Coated Grates

The non-stick grates are perfect for making sear marked meat and the porcelain makes for remarkable heat distribution and retention. It also ensures even cooking and heating, while the end product usually offers out of this world flavor.

Convection Cooking

The benefit of convection cooking is that it reduces the amount of time that you need to spend monitoring your food on the grill. You don’t have to worry about constantly lifting the lid to check on the meat’s progress which can significantly increase cooking time through the heat that it lets out. Instead your food comes out evenly cooked with no raw spots and with little involvement from you.

Safety Alarms

The grill features two safety alarm systems. The first one comes on when the temperature gets below 125F for 10 minutes or longer. You’ll notice the change by a LEr sign that will come up on the LED display which will stay on until you switch off the main power. Once this happens, the grill will automatically disconnect its internal parts from the power source.

The second alarm system only comes on when the grill’s internal temperature reads 550F and up. When this happens the LED screen will show a HEr sign which will stay on until the main power is switched off. It will also work to disconnect the internal parts from the power source automatically.

E-Z Drain Grease System

As the name implies, the grease drain system works to collect all the grease drippings into a dedicated drain pain and later a grease drain. From the grease drain, the grease travels through a tube to the grease bucket where it’s much easier for you to chuck it out and clean the grill.

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Conclusion

Now that you know what to look for in a wood pellet grill, you should be in a better position to make the right choice for your needs. You’re armed with a thorough comparison of the industry’s top two brands. By now you know that these two companies have a lot more in common than they have differences, but each has its own strengths and weaknesses which we explored above.

For all intents and purposes, this battle traeger vs pit boss we’ve identified the Traeger Pro series 22 as the superior contender in this review because it has a convenient size, it makes it easier to manage the temperature and it offers a generous warranty. The Pit Boss is cheaper in comparison but it doesn’t offer value for money. So we’re going with Traeger on this one.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.