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Pit Boss vs Traeger: Which is Best? 11 Important Points Compared

By Daniel Cdebaca

January 5, 2024

So you’ve heard that pellet grills are a prime choice for outdoor BBQ… And you want one for your own backyard, stat.

Whether you’ve been browsing online or scoping out the stock at your local hardware store… You’ve probably noticed two brands dominating the pellet grill scene.

Pit Boss and Traeger.

Both of these big names have been in the pellet smoker spotlight for quite some time… And have even amassed their own loyal fandoms over the years.

And no, we’re not just saying that.

Pit Boss vs Traeger featured image

When it comes to Pit Boss vs Traeger… You can either join the Traegerhood, or become the newest member of the Pit Boss Nation.

Today, we’re diving into all the details to help you decide where you belong.

But hold on… Why trust our take on this? What do we know about pellet grills? 

Well, we have a close-knit partnership with a pellet grill manufacturer… And have written countless other articles about what makes pellet grills tick. 

So with that, we’ll take a technical approach, break down the key differences, and share some similarities to get to the bottom of the Traeger vs Pit Boss debate.

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Brand Backstories

Before we weigh the differences between Pit Boss vs Traeger… We first need to formally introduce you to today’s contenders.

Introducing Pit Boss Grills

Pit boss Logo

“Bigger. Hotter. Heavier.”

The Pit Boss mission statement is a bold one… But who are the brains behind it?

Dan Thiessen and his sons, Jeff and Jordan, founded the company Dansons in 1999 with the goal of converting sawmill waste into a reliable energy source.

It wasn’t long before Dansons Inc. became the company behind not one, but two well-known wood pellet grill brands: Louisiana Grills and Pit Boss.

Pit Boss is Dansons’ more affordable pellet grill option. It’s good for those who want to sink their teeth into the pellet smoking experience… But also don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to do so.

Today, Pit Boss is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. Manufacturing of all Pit Boss products takes place in China.

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Introducing Traeger Grills

traeger grills logo

“United by flavor” is Traeger’s M.O… But a connected customer-base is hardly this company’s only claim to fame.

Joe Traeger — the man behind Traeger Grills — actually invented the pellet grill back in 1985 after learning all about wood heating stoves.

And for nearly two decades… Traeger was the only pellet grill supplier on the block.

Of course, plenty of other pellet grill manufacturers have since hopped on the bandwagon. (Pit Boss was one of the company’s earliest competitors.)

But Traeger’s near-20 year head start has certainly made them one of the most popular “practically priced” options, even today.

Traeger is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. As with Pit Boss, all manufacturing is done in China.

Traeger Grills vs Pit Boss Products at a Glance

With a better idea of who they are and where they came from… Let’s see what each brand offers.

Pit Boss Product Lineup

In addition to wood pellet smokers… Pit Boss also sells combo and vertical pellet smokers, charcoal grills, gas grills, and griddles.

Today, we’ll be zeroing in on just their standard wood pellet grill lineup.

In and of itself, Pit Boss’s pellet grill selection is immense. Their website features over 40 different standalone and tabletop pellet grill models.

For the most part, each Pit Boss pellet grill falls into three main categories:

pit boss sportsman pellet grill
The Sportsman Series
The Navigator Series
pit boss mahogany series
The Mahogany Series

Pellet grills in these series can be found just about anywhere… From online retailers to practically any local hardware store.

Pit Boss also has a handful of “Retailer Exclusive” models, including the Pit Boss Pro Series, the Lexington or Austin pellet grills, the Platinum Laredo model, or the Mile Hybrid wood pellet grill.

These can only be found at Walmart, Lowes, or other big box stores.

Despite all the different series, though, we found most current Pit Boss pellet grill models to be practically identical.

The only major differences are in cooking area, hopper size, and (in some cases) configuration.

The point is, don’t put too much stock in all the different labels.

Now, let’s turn our attention to Traeger.

Traeger Product Lineup

Like Pit Boss, Traeger also has a sizable lineup of products available.

Also like Pit Boss… Most Traeger grills can be bought through online retailers or at your local hardware store.

While mostly consisting of freestanding or portable pellet grills… Traeger did recently release their spin on a flat top griddle.

But that’s a topic for another time. Today, we’re here to talk about wood pellet smokers.

On that note, Traeger pellet grills also filter into three main categories.

traeger ironwood 885 grill
The Ironwood Series
traeger timberline 1300 generation 1
The Timberline Series
The Traeger Pro Series

Additionally, Traeger offers two portable pellet grill models; the Ranger and Tailgater.

Unlike Pit Boss pellet grills, the different Traeger models vary quite a bit depending on the series.

The Traeger Pro 575 and 780 are the simplest offerings… Lacking the fancy bells and whistles you’ll find on the Ironwood models.

But even the Traeger Ironwood grills can’t hold a candle to their newest Timberline series.

For more specifics, you can check out our in-depth guide on Traeger grills.

But now that you’ve gotten a feel for what each brand offers… It’s time to see which of the two is better suited to you.

Without further ado, let’s dive into our Pit Boss vs Traeger Grills comparison.

Pit Boss vs Traeger Pellet Grill Review: A Smoke-Filled Showdown

As you’ve just seen… Both Traeger and Pit Boss offer a lot of different pellet grill models.

So, you can probably imagine just how tough it would be to parse out every single tiny difference between every single grill.

But, we still wanted to do our Traeger Grill vs Pit Boss comparison justice.

So rather than get snagged on all the small nuances… We took a step back, looked through a broader lens, and identified some overarching similarities and differences between the two brands.

With that in mind, let’s start our Traeger vs Pit Boss showdown.

What’s Similar: Pit Boss and Traeger Grills Are Both Easy To Use

woman using a traeger timberline

Pellet grills and ease of use go hand in hand, no matter the brand.

You should be able to set temperatures with the touch of a button or turn of a knob… Pellets should automatically dispense through an auger to ignite in the firebox… And the smoker should take it from there.

At its core, pellet grilling is a “set-it-and-forget-it” cooking style… And both Pit Boss and Traeger meet this standard.

Each and every Pit Boss pellet grill comes equipped with a dial-in digital control board.

Each Traeger grill also has an easy-to-use control panel with a digital display.

What’s more, both brands will include at least one meat probe in the box… Which only adds to their astounding ease of use. This’ll allow you to keep tabs on internal temperatures of individual meats, with minimal effort.

In some cases, you’ll even be able to set and monitor temperatures from your mobile device… Which brings us to our next point.

What’s Similar: Some Models are WiFi Compatible... Others Are Not

When it comes to Traeger vs Pit Boss pellet grills… You’ll either get WiFi capabilities, or you won’t. It all comes down to the model you choose.

For Pit Boss, look for grills with the “Legacy” WiFi Controller.

For WiFi Compatible Traeger grills, keep your eyes peeled for their “WiFire” system.

If the grill model you choose has WiFi compatibility… It’ll enable a fully remote grilling experience.

The WiFi connectivity hooks up to a Pit Boss or Traeger app… So you can monitor your cooks and toggle temperatures from literally anywhere.

In either case, it’ll only enhance an already easy cooking experience… So both Traeger and Pit Boss get another point from us.

What’s Similar: Temperature Range is a Tight Fit

traeger timberline digital screen
pit boss temperature screen

Taking a look at the Traeger smoker vs Pit Boss temp range… There’s really not much of a tiff.

Every Pit Boss grill has a temperature range between 180-500 degrees.

Traeger’s falls between 165-500 degrees. (With two exceptions being their Tailgater and Ranger, which cap at 450.)

What’s more… Both pellet grill brands have features that allow you to direct flame sear at a much higher temperature. For Pit Boss, it’s their Flame Broiler Lever. For Traeger, it’s the Modifire bottom rack.

Sure, Traeger dips slightly lower than Pit Boss… But it’s not really enough to ruffle our feathers.

And because the two brands have similar temperature outputs… Both Pit Boss and Traeger are quite alike when it comes to versatility.

Regardless of the brand you choose… You can do anything from smoking briskets or baking bread over indirect heat, to BBQing burgers or searing steaks over an open flame.

What’s Similar: Build Quality

traeger pellet smoker front shelf
pitboss pro series build quality

Moving right along to construction quality… This is yet another point where Traeger and Pit Boss share some common ground.

And we have to say — it’s not looking great for either brand.

All Pit Boss grills are constructed with a high temperature powder coated steel exterior.

The same goes for Traeger. Each model has powder coated steel construction.

To our dismay, neither brand reveals the grade of steel used beneath the powder coat… Which isn’t the best sign. If it’s not high quality, rust and corrosion will quickly make themselves known. (That’s why we prefer to see 304 stainless steel, which’ll stave off rust and corrosion.)

Looking inside… The cooking grates for Traeger and Pit Boss are also of a similar caliber, for the most part.

Traeger uses porcelain coated steel for all but one of their grills (the Timberline has 304 stainless steel grates).

Likewise, Pit Boss grills come with either porcelain coated steel or porcelain coated cast iron grates.

In either case, porcelain coated grates are notorious for chipping… Leaving the metal beneath prone to rust and corrosion (especially if cast iron).

The takeaway? If you’re looking for a long-term pellet grill solution… Neither Traeger nor Pit Boss will really cut it. (But stay tuned for a grill that will.)

What’s Similar: We’re Not Wowed by Either’s Warranty

When buying any outdoor appliance… You should always get acquainted with the warranty.

If anything were to go wrong, the warranty is like the ace up your sleeve. It’s that layer of protection if and when you need it.

But as neither Traeger nor Pit Boss use the highest quality materials for their pellet smokers… It’s no surprise that their warranties aren’t the most robust.

Every Pit Boss grill gets a blanket five year warranty.

Traeger Ironwood and Timberline grills get a longer ten year warranty… The Tailgater and Ranger get seven years… And the Traeger Pros have three years of coverage.

Now, we do have to give Traeger some credit for that ten year warranty. In the world of pellet grills, this is actually a decent deal.

But if you’re after a grill that’ll last longer… A lifetime warranty is really where it’s at.

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What’s Different: Available Cooking Surface Sizes

traeger timberline xl with food grilling on it
Traeger Timberline
grilling on the pit boss pellet grill
Pit Boss Navigator

Alright. We’ve seen what Pit Boss and Traeger have in common… Now, it’s time to tackle what sets them apart.

We’ll start with grill sizes.

If you’re not too concerned with the dimensions… Either brand may be for you. Both Pit Boss and Traeger offer a hefty handful of mid-sized grills.

But if you’re a solo-griller after a small smoker, or need a gargantuan grill to host the whole neighborhood… This is where things get a bit in the weeds.

Pit Boss grills range from 256 square inches of cooking space all the way up to a whopping 1,610 square inches.

Traeger’s smallest model starts at 176 square inches, and their largest caps at a 1,320 square inch cooking surface.

If you’re after an ultra-compact model… Traeger takes the cake on this front.

But if your aim is to feed an army, Pit Boss is the obvious pick.

What’s Different: Pit Boss Grill vs Traeger Pellet Hoppers

traeger pellet hopper
Traeger Pellet Hopper
Pit Boss Pellet Hopper

Pit Boss and Traeger take a different approach to their pellet hoppers, in more ways than one.

For starters, the hoppers on Pit Boss grills tend to skew larger… With hopper capacity going up to 32 pounds.

Traeger, on the other hand, maxes out with a 22 pound pellet capacity.

Depending on the size of your grill and what you’re cooking, Traeger pellet grills will have to be refueled more often, which is a slight inconvenience.

All that said, though… Traeger’s hopper design is undeniably more user-friendly.

With Pit Boss, the most you’ll get is a pellet view window.

But with Traeger… Nearly every grill model features a convenient hopper cleanout feature, a view window, and a pellet sensor to alert you when supply is low.

What’s Different: Temperature Control & Precision

While the Pit Boss vs Traeger smoker temperature range is on par… The temperature precision and control actually prove to be quite different.

Pit Boss models can only be adjusted in increments of 25 degrees.

On the other hand, the Traeger Ironwood, Pro, Ranger, and Tailgater can be set in five degree increments… And the Timberline can be set within a degree.

If you’re trying to play it by the books and achieve those precise temps… Traeger will be the obvious choice.

For those more particular pitmasters… Precision is important. And unfortunately, Pit Boss grills just don’t provide it.

What’s Different: The Bells and Whistles

pit boss spice rack

We’ll cut straight to the chase… Traeger grills have a HUGE leg up on Pit Boss when it comes to the add-ons.

Generally, Pit Boss grills come standard with (at most) a built-in spice rack, a bottle opener, removable side and front shelves, a bottom shelf, tool hooks, and a dome thermometer.

While this is a decent array… It doesn’t even come close to Traeger’s extras.

With the Ironwood and Timberline Traeger grills, you’ll enjoy convenient multipurpose accessory rails that provide shelving space, tool hooks, storage bins, roll racks, and more.

You’ll also get a bottom shelf, a side shelf, and a grilling light.

Plus, nearly every Traeger model comes standard with both SuperSmoke and KeepWarm modes… Both of which do exactly as the name suggests.

So if you’re looking for a pellet grill that packs a bit more pizazz… Traeger deserves your attention.

But if you prefer simple smoking… Pit Boss will provide everything you need.

What’s Different: The Cleanup Process

a traeger grill being cleaned out and prepared for winter

Dealing with ash and grease is a pain… But it’s all a part of the course once you become a pellet grill owner.

So, let’s talk through the Pit Boss smoker vs Traeger cleanup processes.

With all Pit Boss grills… You’ll get either a simple steel drip tray or a steel bucket with foil liners.

You’ll have to empty grease from the tray or bucket… Clean the internal components of the grill… And use a hand vac to remove any ash buildup from the cooking chamber.

This is pretty standard practice for grease and ash management… So we really can’t complain.

The portable Traeger grills and Traeger Pro models also use this traditional grease-bucket system.

But for Traeger’s Ironwood and Timberline models… Things are a lot easier.

Here, Traeger has taken a thoughtful approach to the cleanup process with a one-of-a-kind EZ clean grease and ash keg.

This funnels all drippings and ash into one easily accessible keg, which simply needs to be removed, dumped, and replaced. Doesn’t get much simpler than that.

What’s Different: Price Points Vary

Last but not least, let’s address pricing for Pit Boss vs Traeger smokers.

Across the board, it’s clear that Pit Boss grills are the more budget-friendly offering… With costs set anywhere from $299 up to $1,099.

For Traeger, you’ll find that pricing skews a bit higher. Their smallest model starts at $499.99, and their largest caps at $3,299.99.

To clarify; A 1,600 square inch grill from Pit Boss will cost just over $1,000…. While Traeger’s 1,300 square inch Timberline will set you back over $3,000.

If grill size is all you care about… Pit Boss may be the clear choice. You’ll certainly save a dime, and still walk away with a hefty cooking area.

All that said, it’s not hard to see why Traeger grills cost a pretty penny more than Pit Boss.

You’ll get more features, easier cleanup (with some models), and more precise temperature control… To name a few perks.

So before you buy from either brand, really think about what’s important to you.

But with that, our Traeger vs Pit Boss pellet smoker standoff comes to a close.

What’s our final ruling?

Pit Boss Pellet Grill vs Traeger: Who Comes Out On Top?

Though we hate to leave you hanging… We can’t tell you that.

Your pellet smoking preferences and personal budget are truly the main criteria… And only you know what those are.

Understanding the similarities and differences between the two brands will certainly help set you straight… But at the end of the day, neither Pit Boss nor Traeger is better than the other.

If you’re looking for a larger, budget-friendly pellet grill that’ll get the job done… Pit Boss is a fine choice.

But if you don’t mind spending a little extra for flashier features… Traeger is probably the pick for you.

If you’re still on the fence… Do more research. Mull over all the options, comb through real-life customer reviews, and re-asses from there.

But before we let you go… There’s just one more point we must make.

Why Neither Brand May Be Right For You

As a reminder, neither Traeger nor Pit Boss pellet grills are intended to last for the long haul.

And because of this… It’s possible that neither Traeger nor Pit Boss are the right choice for you.

Especially if you’re looking for a long-term pellet smoking solution… You may find this to be true.

Not only will you have to replace a Traeger or Pit Boss pellet grill every few years…

But should you ever want to upgrade to a permanent pellet grill outdoor kitchen…. Neither brand is a suitable choice for a lasting setup.

And if longevity is on your list of must-haves… There’s really only one solution left.

Opting for a different pellet grill brand altogether.

How the Coyote Pellet Grill Compares 

couple using their built in coyote pellet grill

If you’re on the quest for a quality pellet grill… Unfortunately, neither Pit Boss nor Traeger really have what it takes.

The good news? There are plenty of other brands that do… And of these brands, Coyote Outdoor Living is our number one pick.

Allow us to tell you why. 

Coyote’s 28”-36” pellet grill is available in a freestanding or built-in configuration.

It features complete 304 stainless steel construction… And boasts a lifetime warranty, to boot.

Other specs are also a significant upgrade compared to Pit Boss vs Traeger smokers.

You’ll get a wider temp range, capping at 700 degrees. (Plus, a smoke and sear grate expands versatility.)

Temperature control is ultra-precise, down to the degree.

A double walled hood ensures impeccable heat retention.

And multiple cooking racks maximize space under the hood.

The only thing you’re missing is WiFi control. But aside from this, it’s clear that Coyote outperforms both Pit Boss and Traeger, by a landslide.

Currently, you’ll spend between $2,999 and $4,399 to get your hands on the Coyote pellet grill.

And while this may seem steep compared to certain Pit Boss and Traeger grills… Coyote’s pellet smoker is supposed to be a one time investment. You should never have to shell out more cash down the road!

Oh, and let’s not forget the best part. Should you ever decide to upgrade to a summer kitchen… The Coyote pellet grill is easy to incorporate into your island.

We at RTA have partnered with Coyote to make this possible… And if you want to learn more about your options, our Learning Hub is the best place to start.

We hope to speak soon.

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FAQ

While Pit Boss and Traeger grills share many similarities… They also have just as many differences.

For one, Pit Boss and Traeger grills come in different sizes. Pit Boss offers much larger pellet grill models, while Traeger is the better choice for compact smokers.

Pit Boss and Traeger also take a different approach to pellet hopper design, the cleanup process, temperature precision control, and added functionality… With Traeger taking the lead on just about every front.

Finally, price is an important distinction. Pit Boss grills cost less than Traeger models.

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