Traeger Ironwood (2023) overview: Upgraded sensible grilling comes at a value

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In 2022, Traeger started a significant overhaul of its Wi-Fi-connected sensible grill lineup. Solely essentially the most inexpensive Professional Collection fashions have been left untouched because the redesign course of that started with the Timberline made its approach to the Ironwood this yr. The corporate has debuted a number of adjustments alongside the way in which, all aimed toward extra environment friendly cooking, simpler cleanup, customization and expanded sensible options. A whole lot of what Traeger added to the Timberline trickled all the way down to the Ironwood ($1,800), however this mannequin is now considerably dearer in consequence and the very best additions are nonetheless reserved for essentially the most premium mannequin.

A serious redesign

When Traeger revealed its overhauled Timberline grills final yr, one of many largest updates was a brand new touchscreen show. The corporate has introduced that to the brand new Ironwood grills too, changing the single-knob navigation with a bigger dial and a touchscreen. There are devoted buttons for the complete menu, timers, Preserve Heat and Tremendous Smoke to the left of the touchscreen, above the 2 wired meals probe ports. Whereas how you employ the show to manage the grill has modified, and the bigger full-color panel is less complicated to see, I’m not satisfied these grills wanted a touchscreen. It doesn’t add a ton to the general expertise and a less complicated replace of only a bigger, shade show would’ve been greater than sufficient and would possibly saved costs down.

One other merchandise Traeger borrowed from the Timberline is its so-called Pop-And-Lock (PAL) accent rail. That is one new addition that I can get behind. It lets you customise the grill primarily based in your wants or what you’re cooking. PAL add-ons embrace a folding entrance shelf, storage bin, butcher paper/paper towel roll, software hooks and a cup holder. These all snap onto a rail that goes nearly the complete manner across the grill and might be simply moved or eliminated as wanted.

Inside, Traeger changed the stable metal drip plate that directed grease to the catch can and the smaller hearth pot protect. Now there are two bigger items of steel that span the width of the grill. First, a diffuser spreads warmth over the cooking floor and directs ash to the catch keg. A second piece above it nonetheless serves as a drip tray to channel grease to the identical bin because the ash particles, however it now has holes across the exterior to information smoke and warmth across the cooking floor. A dual-wall building of the chamber itself supplies higher insulation, so temps stay constant even within the colder months. Lastly, the auger was raised above the hearth pot, so pellets drop all the way down to burn. This could assist with jams and decrease the danger of auger and hopper fires. As soon as once more, these adjustments debuted on the Timberline, however it’s good to see them carry over to the mid-range Ironwood.

The important thing variations between the Ironwood and its pricier Timberline sibling are the vertical area contained in the grill, the cart/leg design and the dearth of an induction burner on the left facet. The place the Timberline has two adjustable racks above the primary cooking floor, the Ironwood solely has one, and its most peak is decrease than that of the Timberline. Cooking grates on the Ironwood are additionally porcelain the place they’re chrome steel on the dearer mannequin.

Picture by Billy Steele/Engadget

Traeger nixed the four-legged design on the brand new Timberline in favor of a storage cart look that’s much like Weber’s gasoline grills. The enclosed area is a pleasant addition that didn’t make it to the Ironwood, however the firm did add an open shelf beneath that bolts to the legs. You’ll be able to simply put a pellet bin and unused grates right here once you’re not utilizing them.

Lastly, the Ironwood doesn’t have the induction burner that the Timberline provides. It does have a bigger facet shelf than the earlier iteration of the Ironwood, with a detachable panel and an extra outlet on the again that implies help for a burner add-on, however Traeger doesn’t at the moment promote one. I requested the corporate if it plans to take action sooner or later, however it declined to touch upon unreleased merchandise.

Upgraded sensible grilling

Following its acquisition of Meater in 2021, Traeger made the corporate’s wi-fi meat probes customary tools on the 2022 Timberline grills. These gadgets get cumbersome cables out of the way in which, whereas sending inside meals temperatures to the Traeger app for distant monitoring. The brand new Ironwood grill additionally helps the specially-designed Meater probes, however they don’t come within the field. As an alternative, you’ll should make an extra $230 buy to get a two-pack — which is greater than in the event you purchased two Meater Plus probes.

The issue is that this two-pack solely works with Traeger’s touchscreen grills and doesn’t sync with Meater’s app. This implies you don’t get ambient temperature readings or estimated completion occasions — two useful items of data. The Ironwood does include two wired probes and the information from these is viewable within the Traeger app identical to it has been on earlier WiFIRE-equipped grills.

Traeger Ironwood (2023) review
Picture by Billy Steele/Engadget

The corporate debuted a sensible pellet sensor in 2019 and, whereas it will later ship grills with it included, it was a separate bolt-on part that wanted to be put in. With the Timberline and Ironwood, that is now a fully-integrated piece of tech. Like earlier than, the sensor displays your pellet degree and the app will warn you so that you don’t should maintain watch. It’s not excellent — it may be tricked by tunneling when pellets are pulled in by the auger — however it’s ok to maintain tabs on the hopper when you’re enjoyable.

Traeger has made the preliminary seasoning course of nearly solely automated. On earlier grills, you needed to manually set the temperature and a timer to burn off any residue from the manufacturing course of, however now the WiFIRE controller handles all of that for you. You merely press a button and the grill retains you posted on how a lot time is left. Whenever you shut it down after cooking, both on the show or by way of the app, you get one other countdown so you recognize the standing of this 15-to-25-minute course of that burns off extra pellets within the hearth pot (time varies relying in your cooking temperature).

Cooking with the Ironwood

Modifications apart, cooking with the Ironwood is as easy and easy as ever. As soon as you choose your cooking temperature with the dial or ship a recipe to the grill from the Traeger app, all it’s important to do is press the touchscreen to ignite it. The Ironwood reaches temperature in about 12 minutes, whether or not you are smoking at 225 levels Fahrenheit or searing at 500. You’ll get a notification when the grill is preheated so you recognize it’s time to start out cooking.

The Traeger app continues to be a wealth of data for cooks of all ability ranges. The software program homes over 1,000 recipes with adjustable ingredient lists primarily based on how many individuals you propose to cook dinner for. Step-by-step steerage is there, together with the flexibility to observe grill and meals temperatures remotely, and activate Tremendous Smoke or Preserve Heat modes as wanted. The app nonetheless lets you alter grill temp, though there have been just a few occasions throughout my take a look at I needed to make that request twice. 99 p.c of the time it really works on the primary try, however each every so often the app wants a second prodding earlier than sending the information to the Ironwood.

Over the course of some months with the Ironwood, I cooked a variety of meals at a wide range of temperatures. These embrace low-and-slow barbecue pork shoulders and turkey breasts, with hotter baking, roasting and searing thrown in too. I additionally cooked just a few recipes the place the temperature needed to be adjusted throughout the cook dinner, just like the Over The Prime Chili technique that’s well-liked on-line today. The Ironwood persistently produced nice outcomes, with Traeger’s trademark wood-fired flavors.

Traeger touts simpler cleanup on the Ironwood due to the mixture grease and ash keg beneath the grill. A part of that can be the warmth diffuser that the corporate says directs ash to that bin. Whereas it’s an enchancment that a lot of the waste goes into one container, it’s important to assist a few of the ash get there, and a major quantity of it makes its manner on prime of the diffuser. Some even ventures up onto the drip tray. You continue to want a store vac to do an intensive cleansing each few cooking cycles and also you’ll want an all-natural grill cleaner to get the grime off the drip pan, grates, sides and lid.

The competitors

The pellet grill business is more and more crowded. Most {hardware} shops now carry a wide range of them, most of which a minimum of cowl the fundamentals and can be found at a variety of costs. Recteq’s Patio Legend 410 is underneath $600, for instance. Whereas it’s geared up with Wi-Fi connectivity, it’s extra compact with solely 410 sq. inches of grilling area. Pit Boss’ most premium fashions, the Navigator Collection, can be found for $999. The smaller Navigator 850 comes with wi-fi options however the bigger Navigator 1150 requires an $150 improve for Wi-Fi. I’ve by no means examined a Pit Boss grill, so I can’t vouch for them, however they’re extraordinarily well-liked and available at a number of huge field shops within the US.

For extra direct alternate options to the brand new Timberline, I’d contemplate the Recteq Yard Beast 1000 or the Weber SmokeFire grills. The Yard Beast ($1,099) is the biggest “conventional” pellet grill in Recteq’s redesigned 2023 lineup launched in late October. It provides barely extra cooking area at 1,014 sq. inches and contains new legs, improved wheels and a revamped controller. Weber’s SmokeFire sensible grill debuted in 2020, and whereas the corporate has made some tweaks since, the identical fundamental design stays. The primary profit is Weber Join, the corporate’s grilling app that gives step-by-step steerage, together with movies, and estimated completion occasions. The bigger EX6 mannequin has simply over 1,000 sq. inches of grilling capability and it’s at the moment out there for $999.

When looking for a pellet grill, do not forget that all of them provide the identical fundamental performance. You’ll pay extra for Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to observe issues out of your cellphone, however each mannequin is able to each low-and-slow smoking, high-heat searing and every part in between. There’s some variation within the max temperature, however the low finish of that vary is usually 500 levels Farenheit. That’s loads of warmth for ending off a steak. The place firms differ most is design and the way widespread options are introduced, so that you’ll wish to take note of issues like how the steel elements on the within are organized, how the grates match within the cooking chamber and the grill controller.

Wrap-up

The 2023 Ironwood begins at $1,800 and the XL mannequin that I examined is $2,000. That’s $500 greater than the earlier variations, the Ironwood 650 and Ironwood 885. Actually, it’s additionally dearer than each of the first-generation Timberline grills, which had been top-of-the-line choices on the time. I respect a whole lot of the adjustments that Traeger made, and lots of of them are enhancements, however they’re now considerably dearer than essentially the most high-end fashions from the competitors. The 2019 Ironwood is a workhorse that also works properly and I’d argue it’s a greater grill for most individuals. Ironwood was once a stable mid-range possibility within the firm’s lineup, however now it’s simply one other expensive different.

This text initially appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/traeger-ironwood-2023-review-upgraded-smart-grilling-comes-at-a-cost-140100642.html?src=rss

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