Home Reviews Pit Boss vs Traeger: Is It Worth The Premium?

Pit Boss vs Traeger: Is It Worth The Premium?

by Burning Brisket
Pit Boss vs Traeger

Two of the most popular brands in pellet smokers, two different price points and a whole heap of models to choose from! It’s a lot to take in and you’re totally right in wanting to make the best purchase decision for your needs. You are, after all, planning on getting A LOT of good smoking years out of this barbecue.

In this guide, we dive into the differences between Pit Boss vs Traeger pellet grills, objectively highlighting where each company shines and where they’re a bit behind.

You’ll also find reviews of the most popular pellet grills from both Pit Boss and Traeger, followed by a side by side comparison so you can clearly see how these brands stack up in real life. Let’s jump in!

Overview of the Traeger Brand

Traeger are the innovators behind the original wood pellet grill. Designed by founder Joe Traeger in 1985 and patented in 1986, Traeger’s 100% wood-smoked barbecue revolutionized the industry with it’s set and forget operation.

Patenting the design meant that Traeger had a monopoly over the market as they established themselves as a premium brand with a product that took the fuss out of home smoking and their popularity, understandably, soared.

Once their patent expired in 2006, other barbecue manufacturers raced into the market, fueling innovation and price competition. And, although there’s now have a lot of pellet grill brands to choose from, Traeger are still one of the best-selling companies, backed by their premium image as the original and best.

The company, Traeger, is no longer a family-owned business. Interestingly, Joe Traeger sold it in 2006 and now works for rival company, Dansons, the owners of Pit Boss.

Where are Traeger grills made?

Traeger were originally made in the US but have since moved their manufacturing to China like most competing companies.

Overview of the Pit Boss Brand

Pit Boss is a subsidiary of Dansons Inc. which was founded in 1999. Being one of the first companies to compete in the pellet smoker market, Pit Boss is best known for their affordable yet high-quality pellet grills, although they do manufacture a wide range of other barbecues including charcoal and gas grills.

Dansons also own Lousianna Grills, another popular manufacturer of pellet smokers.

Where are Pit Boss grills made?

Pit Boss pellet smokers are manufactured in China.

Comparing Pit Boss Vs Traeger Pellet Grills

Before we jump into looking at individual models, there’s a few major considerations you should look at when buying a pellet grill. So, here’s a run-down of how both Pit Boss and Traeger perform in each of these important areas.

Price

Pit Boss have built their reputation on being more affordable than their major competitor, Traeger.

Most of Pit Boss’s pellet smokers sit at about the $500 – $700 USD mark, with smaller, portable models being cheaper than that and their top of the line models maxing out at $700 USD +.

With Traeger, expect to spend $600 USD + for one of their more basic models, all the way up to their biggest and baddest at around the $2,000 USD mark.

The bottom line – You do get more for Traeger’s price. But, you’re also paying a bit of a premium for the brand and marketing. If you’re on a smaller budget, going Pit Boss will give you more options.

Construction

Traeger have always been the clear market leader in terms of quality. But, since moving it’s production to China, Traeger have had some bad press when it comes to quality control. Despite this, there’s no denying that when it comes to a solid build, Traeger are it and Pit Boss can come off as a little bit more flimsy.

In saying that, both Pit Boss and Traeger do offer some fully insulated models. And, when you get up to the top of the line, you’ve got upgrades such as a stainless steel body, grates and higher quality temperature controllers.

The bottom line – Both Pit Boss and Traeger do make high-quality pellet grills that should perform well for years of regular backyard use.

Temperature Control

One of the most important factors in determining the best pellet smoker is does it maintain a steady temperature After all, they’re meant to be set and forget, so you want to know that it’s reliably going to stay within an acceptable range of your target temperature throughout the entire cook.

There are two main things that are going to influence how well a pellet smoker maintains it’s temperature. The first is it’s digital controller and the second is insulation.

Traeger’s Pro line-up is single layered steel while their Ironwood and Timberline series offer double-wall side insulation for better heat retention in colder conditions. But, if it’s really cold, Traeger make branded insulation blankets to fit most models. The digital controllers are regularly updated. Most allow you to set the temperature in 15°F increments, stay within good range of the target temperature and pump out a steady, good quality smoke.

Pit Boss also have done a good job of creating stable temperature regulation and have a design that doesn’t tend to leak smoke. But, fewer of their models offer double wall insulation. They do, however, sell insulating blankets for most of their models as well that aren’t an expensive add-on if you live somewhere cold.

Just keep in mind that most of Pit Boss’s digital controllers only allow you to set the temperature in 25°F increments. It doesn’t really bother us. But, if you like more precise control, Traeger will give you a slight edge on that one.

The bottom line – Both Traeger and Pit Boss allow for well-insulated smokers with sophisticated digital controllers that can be expected to maintain a fairly steady heat in most weather conditions.

Temperature Range

The term ‘pellet grill’ is a bit misleading.  To grill at all well, you need temperatures in excess of 400°F. And, most pellet grills max out at about this.

But, thanks to Traeger’s recently updated drivetrain, both Traeger and Pit Boss pellet smokers now max out at about 500°F. Yes, that’s hot enough to reverse sear. Or, you could quickly wood-fire some burgers for a mid-week meal.

Pit Boss do have the edge over Traeger here though. With their slide open sear plate, you can actually grill over the open wood-fired flame, instead of just being able to use indirect heat. This will give better results with a crispier crust and more moisture retention.

At the other extreme, the minimum temperature of both Traeger’s and Pit Boss’s is similar too. Both could be used to effectively cold smoke more delicate foods like smoked salmon, cheese and nuts.

The bottom line – Pit Boss and Traeger have similar temperature ranges that give the versatility to smoke, roast, bake, braise and grill too. But, Pit Boss takes the cake with the open flame grilling capability.

Cooking Space

Being specialists in pellet smokers, both Pit Boss and Traeger have a lot of choice when it comes to size. From smaller, portable models to super-sized beasts, you’re sure to find the right fit for your needs.

But, if space is an issue, Pit Boss does have a solid range of vertical pellet smokers as well. This compact design will help you max out cooking space in smaller backyards while still looking like it’s serious business.

The bottom line – Pit Boss do give more flexibility with their vertical max. cooking, min. footprint ratio. Otherwise, both are equally good choices.

Pellet Hopper Size

Your hopper capacity is going to influence how long you can smoke for without having to touch a thing. Most Traeger’s have an 18 pound hopper which is generous enough to handle most cooks without refueling, or longer cooks with 1 refill.

Pit Boss’s range has a bit more variety in hopper sizes. But, most are at least as big as Traeger’s size, with some of their larger and newer models featuring mammoth 55 pound hoppers to give 24 hours of unaided cook time.

The bottom line – Pit Boss generally have larger pellet hoppers to give a longer cook duration without having to refill.

Warranty

Traeger pellet grills come with a 3 year warranty while Pit Boss now do an impressive 5 year warranty on all of their grills.

The bottom line – Pit Boss must be pretty confident in their quality and longevity to offer a generous 5 year warranty.

Extra Features

Until recently, both Pit Boss and Traeger didn’t offer too much in the way of extra features. Both brands boast sturdy carts with locking castors, effective pellet purge doors (to prevent pellets from going stale), and a variety of features to make cleaning up easier.

And, while you really don’t need a lot of bells and whistles on a pellet smoker, Traeger have stepped up in this arena by adding WiFIRE technology to all their smokers. This allows you to connect your smartphone to the barbecue for completely remote handling via their pretty sweet app.

But, as you work your way up the Traeger line, you will get some other little additions as well. Super Smoke mode, Turbo Temp, a low pellet alert, Downdraft exhaust system and integrated grease management are just some of the extras that Traeger has developed to stand out from the crowd.

The bottom line – Traeger definitely tops Pit Boss when it comes to cool extra features that make pellet smoking even easier.

Our Overall Pit Boss vs Traeger Winner

Both Pit Boss and Traeger are solid pellet smoker choices that you can’t really go wrong with. High quality, accurate temperature control, the ability to smoke and grill, plus, decent warranties, make these two brands up there with the market leaders.

If budget is a concern, Pit Boss does stand out because it’s just great value for money.

But, if you can afford it, the sturdiness, extra temperature control and added WiFIRE connectivity protect the Traeger from quickly becoming outdated.

Pit Boss vs Traeger Grill Comparisons

To help you see how Pit Boss and Traeger stack up against each other in real life, here’s some of the most popular pellet grills from each brand compared at different price points.

Pit Boss vs Traeger - Budget Options

Image

Price range

$$

$$$

Construction

Powder-coated steel with porcelain-coated steel grates

Powder-coated steel with porcelain-coated steel grates

Temperature Range

180 - 500°F

150 - 500°F

Cooking space

700 square inches

575 square inches

Pellet hopper capacity

21 pounds

18 pounds

Warranty

5 years

3 years

Extra Features

  • Slide out sear plate for open flame grilling

  • 1 meat probe

  • WiFIRE connectivity

  • Alexa enabled

  • 1 built-in meat probe

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Pit Boss vs Traeger - Mid-Range Options

Image

Price range

$$$

$$$$

Construction

Powder-coated steel with porcelain-coated steel grates

Double side walled, insulated, powder-coated steel with porcelain-coated steel grates

Temperature Range

150 - 500°F

150 - 500°F

Cooking space

930 square inches

885 square inches

Pellet hopper capacity

31 pounds

20 pounds

Warranty

5 years

3 years

Extra Features

  • Slide out sear plate for open flame grilling

  • 1 meat probe

  • Auto-start and stop

  • Stainless side shelf with removable serving tray

  • Pellet purge system

  • WiFIRE connectivity

  • Alexa enabled

  • 1 built-in meat probe

  • Low pellet sensor alert

  • Super smoke mode

  • Turbo Temp

  • Downdraft exhaust system

  • Pellet purge system

Shop

Pit Boss vs Traeger - Top of the Line Options

Image

Price range

$$$

$$$$

Construction

Powder-coated steel with porcelain-coated steel grates

Double side walled, insulated, powder-coated steel with stainless steel grates

Temperature Range

180 - 500°F

150 - 500°F

Cooking space

1158 square inches

885 square inches

Pellet hopper capacity

32 pounds

24 pounds

Warranty

5 years

3 years

Extra Features

  • Slide out sear plate for open flame grilling

  • 2 stainless meat probes

  • Reinforced legs

  • Pellet purge system

  • Folding front shelf

  • Grill cover

  • WiFIRE connectivity

  • Alexa enabled

  • 1 meat probe

  • Low pellet sensor alert

  • Super smoke mode

  • Turbo Temp

  • Downdraft exhaust system

  • Pellet purge system

  • Magnetic bamboo cutting board

  • Integrated Grease Management System

Shop

So, there you have it! Two reputable companies with an impressive range of pellet smokers to choose from. And, like we said, both Pit Boss and Traeger are great brands and their smokers should well outlast their generous warranties.

If Traeger works with your budget, the extra cost does get you slightly better quality, with some nice to have features.

But, there’s no denying that Pit Boss is better value for money offering a solid line-up of quality smokers that are also truly set and forget.

Have fun shopping!

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