It’s no surprise that Traeger’s a more expensive pellet smoker option. Being the unrivalled industry leader for years meant that, apart from maintaining a good level of quality, they didn’t have to do much to keep the sales rolling in.
So, when they came out with their new Ironwood series, it was the first time in a long time they showed real innovation, again taking pellet smoking up another notch by adding even more features that make the art even easier.
Add WiFire, an upgraded controller, new brushless DC motor, SuperSmoke mode, and, double side wall insulation, you’ve now got yourself a pellet smoker that really stands out from the crowd and lives up to the best-of-the-best Traeger name.
But, before you hit the buy button just because of it’s features, how does the Ironwood actually perform?
Here you’ll find a comprehensive assessment of the Traeger Ironwood 885 review. Let our experience plus other real user feedback help you decide if the Ironwood’s new fancy features are worth the extra few dollars or if you’re best to stick with simple and effective.
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Table of Contents
Features of the Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Smoker
- High-quality powder-coated steel body
- Double side wall insulation
- 20 pound pellet hopper
- Moderately large capacity suits larger cuts of meat and entertaining
Ease of use:
- Upgraded D2 direct drive controller precisely maintains temperature
- Wide temperature range lets you smoke, bake, roast, braise, bbq and grill
- Low pellet sensor tells you when it’s time to fill up
- Magnetic hopper cleanout
- Easy to clean porcelain-coated cooking grates
- One meat temperature probe gives you real-time updates via the app
- SuperSmoke mode lets you bump up the flavor
- TurboTemp heats up faster
- Tru Convection fans create a smoke vortex inside the cooking chamber
In-Depth Review of the Traeger Ironwood 885
If you’re someone who appreciates quality and is looking for a pellet smoker that’s a step up in terms of innovation and function, the Traeger Ironwood is a great option.
But, before we get into the nitty gritty of how well this smoker performs, we’ve just got to point out the difference between the Ironwood 885 and the Ironwood 650. And, the ONLY difference is the size. The Ironwood 885 gives you 885 square inches of cooking space while the Ironwood 650 gives you 650 square inches. All the features, materials and results you’ll get are the same regardless of whether you’re using the 650 or the 885. So, although this is a Traeger Ironwood 885 review, everything we say applies to the 650 to, it’s just slightly smaller and slightly cheaper.
Now we’ve highlighted the difference, let’s take a good look at how this smoker performs.
As a brand, Traeger have built their reputation on quality. And, being one of the top of the line offerings from the industry leader, well-built is a definite with the Traeger Ironwood 885.
Made from high-quality powder-coated steel, the body is strong, sturdy and well put together. You’ve got that classic Traeger sawhorse design giving you more stability and less wobble while you work.
And, exciting news for us and anyone else who lives somewhere that gets cold, the Ironwood actually has side-wall insulation for better heat retention, more efficient fuel usage and less stress in general when the weather’s not ideal. We’ve noticed the whole unit doesn’t seem to have to work as hard to maintain the temperature when what’s outside is working against it. A big win!
The cooking chamber handle and side shelf are both stainless steel. And, while nice to have, it would be good if at this price range we were seeing some stainless steel structural components as well. Nevertheless, Traeger’s powder-coating does deliver great durability and we haven’t had any issues with damage to the surface.
As for the cooking grates, they’re pretty standard porcelain-coated steel. Strong, reasonably non-stick and easy to clean, there’s no issues there even though they’re not top of the line stainless steel either.
Without sugar-coating it, the performance of the Traeger Ironwood is second to none. With Traeger’s upgraded D2 controller, not only is the temperature control that much tighter, you get a whole heap of other features that really do seem to next-level your results with an even better smoked flavor.
Like we mentioned earlier, there’s Tru Convection fans which help to circulate the heat and smoke inside. Plus, Traeger’s Downdraft exhaust system that pulls the smoke through the cooking chamber just the right way to cover everything in that smoky goodness before exiting through the back.
But, that’s not all!
It’s a well-known downfall of pellet smokers that they don’t create a flavor that’s as smoky as your traditional offset smoker counterpart. But, the Ironwood’s SuperSmoke feature nips that complaint somewhat in the butt by letting you push more smoke through the cooking chamber for even better wood-fired flavor. Best used in the first few hours of smoking to really boost that flavor, SuperSmoke is now part of our regular program.
Also new to Traeger thanks to the D2 controller is the TurboTemp feature. This brings the grill up to temperature faster and helps to get it back to target quicker when you open the lid. Not an essential, but definitely a nice to have. There’s also a keep warm setting for those times the meat cooked a bit faster than you were expecting.
With a new maximum temperature of 500°F, you can technically grill on the Traeger Ironwood. But, we don’t really rate it. It’s still indirect heat and it’s a bit like trying to grill a steak by putting it in a really hot oven rather than hearing it sizzle over an open flame. So, yes, it will do at a pinch. But, it’s best to think of the Ironwood as a smoker and it does a really great job of exactly what it was made to do.
Traeger’s mid-high range Ironwood is available in two size choices. The smaller of the two is the Ironwood 650 which offers 650 square inches of cooking space, enough for 8 chickens or 5 racks of ribs. Or, there’s the larger Ironwood 885 with 885 square inches on it’s grates. That’s enough to do 10 chickens, 7 rib racks or 9 pork butts. Either way, it’s enough for even larger families, LOTS of leftovers or people who really like to entertain.
Something that’s a bit different about the Ironwood though is it’s double rack design. If you’ve seen one of these before, the smoker doesn’t look as big as it really is. And, that’s because the cooking space is split over two racks, the top one being about half the size of the bottom one.
Yes, we know a lot of people prefer one rack to keep everything as close as possible to the firepot. But, because of the Ironwood’s Downdraft Exhaust System and Tru Convection fans, the heat and smoke distribution inside this thing is impressively even. Uneven cooks aren’t something we ever worry about on our Traeger.
Along with the Ironwood’s upgrades, they’ve also upped the pellet hopper to a whole 20 pounds. That means you can empty a whole 20 pound bag into it and you should get at least 20 hours of unassisted cook time at a moderate smoking heat. There’s even a low pellet sensor that can alert you when it’s time to fill up.
Yes, the Traeger Ironwood 885 has WiFi! They call it WiFIRE and you can use it with the smartphone app to check or change the temperature, turn SuperSmoke on or off, check the internal temperature of your meat and set timers, among other things.
But, what really sets Traeger apart from it’s competitors here is that the WiFIRE works with Alexa and Google Assistant. So, you can literally talk to your smoker and it’ll hear your commands. Can it actually get any easier than that?!?
The Traeger Ironwood 885 pretty much includes everything you actually need for amazing smoking anyway. But, they do also throw in one meat probe that plugs straight into the temperature controller, giving you real-time updates on how done your meat without having to open the lid.
The probe works well. It’s accurate and because it plugs into the D2 controller means you can read the temperature through the WiFIRE app.
But, if you’re cooking more than one piece or type of meat, you’re probably going to want to get more probes to cover all your cooking. And that means they’ll have a separate remote unit or wireless app which can be a bit of a pain. Not the end of the world but it would be nice if they all just plugged into the main unit. Check out our review of the best wireless meat thermometers for smoking before you buy one.
As the competition has expanded, so have the warranties and Traeger don’t offer the best of their kind anymore. But, with the Ironwood 885 you do get a solid 3 year warranty. The grill should well outlive this but it’s nice to know that any problems should be looked after in the early days.
Please be aware that there have been some reports of customers having trouble with Traeger not honoring the warranty when purchased through Amazon (we’re ASSUMING it needs to be purchased through the official Traeger Amazon store). But, if it’s going to worry you (and we’re with you), just buy your new grill through Traeger Grills direct. Here’s a link, we do earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a cent more!
Traeger do have a good line-up of optional extras available for the Ironwood 885. There’s, of course, a grill cover to protect your investment from the elements, a front shelf, disposable drip tray liners and bucket liners.
Follow this link for an in-depth look at our favorite Traeger accessories to add to your Ironwood.
Cleaning the Traeger Ironwood 885
First up, the Ironwood 885 has a magnetic hopper clean out door. So, it’s easy to empty any unused pellets or change flavors when you want.
In terms of regular cleaning, as with all barbecues, you need to scrape down the grates and it’s easier to do it while they’re still warm. Then, remove the grates, drip tray and baffle and vacuum out any lose ash from the bottom of the cooking chamber. Next, wipe down the inside of the grill using a cloth that’s okay to get really dirty. Using a degreaser like Traeger’s will make this step easier. Then, you’re good to put everything back in, using fresh liners if you’re doing so.
The video below shows this process step by step.
Pros of the Traeger Ironwood 885
- Upgraded D2 Direct Drive holds more power and improved smoke distribution
- Heats up faster thanks to TurboTemp
- WiFIRE controller lets you control the smoker and monitor your progress through the app or Alexa
- Tru Convection fans help to create a smoke vortex, enhancing the flavor
- SuperSmoke mode boosts smoke production
- Downdraft exhaust system pushes smoke through the entire cooking chamber, making sure it touches all of your food
- Includes 1 meat probe for easy monitoring of the internal meat temperature
- Side wall insulation improves heat retention and minimizes fuel usage in colder climates
- High build quality
- Excellent 3 year warranty
Cons of the Traeger Ironwood 885
- At a max of 500°F, you can grill. But, the indirect heat is not hot enough to be ideal. It’s more like cooking in a really hot oven
- Still missing high-end features like stainless steel grates and the grease management system that’s seen in the more expensive Timberline series
- Only available in 2 size choices, the Ironwood 650 sq. inches and Ironwood 885 sq. inches
Specs for the Traeger Ironwood 885
Barbecue material: Powder-coated stainless steel
Grate material: Porcelain
Cooking capacity: 885 square inches
Pellet hopper capacity: 20 lbs
Temperature range: 160°F – 500°F
Fuel type: Wood pellets
Price guide: $$$$
Dimensions: 54″ W x 47″ H x 27″ D
Weight: 175 lbs
Warranty: 3 years
FAQs About the Traeger Ironwood 885
Q. Does the Traeger Ironwood 885 have WiFi?
Yes. The upgraded D2 drivetrain comes with WiFIRE so you can connect to it remotely using the smartphone app.
Q. How do you empty the pellet hopper?
There’s a magnetic pellet hopper clean out door. Simply open it up and any unused pellets will pour out.
Q. What’s the difference between the Ironwood 650 and the Ironwood 885?
Q. How hot does the Traeger Ironwood 885 get? Can I grill on it?
The Ironwood maxes out at 500°F. Grilling is doable. But, because it’s indirect heat, it’s more like using a really hot oven.
Q. Where are Traeger Grills made?
These days all Traeger’s are produced in China. Keep in mind that most other brands of smokers are produced in China as well and Traeger still uphold a high standard of quality even though they’re not produced in the USA.
Q. How does the Traeger Ironwood perform in colder weather?
The side-wall insulation definitely reduces the struggle that some pellet smokers have in maintaining a smoking temperature in cooler weather. So, performance-wise, the Ironwood is good. It’s not quite as good as the Traeger Timberline which is fully insulated.
Q. Do I have to use Traeger pellets in the Ironwood?
Any wood pellets that are specifically made for cooking can be used in the Traeger Ironwood. You aren’t restricted to using Traeger’s own brand. But, keep in mind that the quality between different pellet brands does vary and it will impact your results and the wear and tear on your smoker. Check out our review of the best pellets for smoking to see your options.
Our Verdict on the Traeger Ironwood 885 Review
There’s no denying that Traeger make high-quality pellet smokers. And, the Ironwood 885 has added the innovation we’ve been looking for to Traeger’s reputation of reliability and results. With a whole host of new and useful features that actually boost performance, the Ironwood 885 is a great mid to high-end pellet smoker that’s durable, consistent and a bit of extra fun.
Ideal for technology enthusiasts or anyone who wants a pellet smoker that does a little more than just go, the Ironwood 885 is a solid investment that’ll be the pride of your yard for years to come.
Kate Brown, the founder and voice behind Burning Brisket, is not your typical pitmaster or restaurateur. Her expertise in barbecue grew from a humble desire to cook exceptional meals for her family. From overcoming burnt brisket mishaps to establishing her boutique cattle ranch, Kate shares her passion to help 'ordinary' individuals cook extraordinary barbecue, believing that simplicity often yields the best flavors. Kate is commited to making great barbecue accessible to all with the right resources and some tasty practice.