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As soon as the warm weather breaks, Americans can’t wait to start their normal summertime traditions of camping, pool parties, and holiday get-togethers. At the heart of each and every one of these is the American cookout.
This culinary tradition is a centerpiece for American culture. Charring meat and veggies over an open fire bring family, friends, and neighbors together like little else in the country. The importance of this tradition has started pushing pitmasters all over the United States to experiment outside the normal custom of grilling hot dogs, hamburgers, or even steaks over charcoal or gas.
The method in which amateur and professional grillmasters cook on their grills has evolved significantly over the past 30 or so years. Backyard grilling has moved seamlessly from igniting charcoal and lighter fluid in a stainless steel drum to low-and-slow smoking with home smokers and pellet grills.
Smoking meat has become more popular for the outdoor chef to bring that delicious flavor everyone loves home. These slow cooking grills have the ability to be completely versatile while also providing great-tasting food that is unrivaled. None of them are more equipped than the Traeger Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill to handle the job.
Our Top Choice...
When it comes to slow cooking ribs, brisket, chicken, and pork shoulder you just won’t find anything better than the Masterbuilt and Traeger brands. These brands have, consistently, brought innovation to the forefront of the businesses to create grilling experiences that you won’t find anywhere else.
Masterbuilt’s tradition of excellence dates back to 1973 when Dawson McLemore and his sons started building fish cookers for family friends. Since the inception of a company they then called M&M Welding and Metal Works, the McLemores have developed their business model to reflect heavily on their beliefs of “faith, family, and then the rest” while adhering to their standards of excellence and innovation.
The brand firmly believes in making work fun, but recognizes that its priorities have to revolve around relationships with loved ones, community, employees, and customers.
Its dedication to excellence in customer service is unmatched because of this deep-seated belief in building long-lasting relationships. Masterbuilt sees its customers as the company’s greatest assets and strives to provide them with the most innovative products on the market.
Customers have come to depend on Masterbuilt’s ethical business practices as much as they rely on their high-quality products and services.
It’s been 30 years since Traeger originally built and marketed its first wood pellet grill. By the time its patent on the design expired in 2007, Americans knew they could trust the Traeger brand to consistently cook their food each and every time they fired up their grill. Today, Traeger continues to set industry standards by providing recipes and support for novice users and veterans alike on its WiFIRE®️ app.
Traeger designed its original grills to resemble the offset barrel smokers that most pitmasters were already familiar with. The barrel smokers and Traeger’s pellet grills deviated at the smoker box, where Traeger placed their pellet hopper. The technology of feeding wood from a hopper to a firepot by rotating auger was brand-new in the early 1980s, but it created a safer environment to cook on when compared to an open flame.
The main selling points of Traeger pellet grills continue to be its ease of use and versatility. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish in your outdoor kitchen, Traeger’s grills can pull it off. All the mess and fuss of traditional smokers are replaced by set-it-and-forget-it tech so you can spend less time manning the grill and more time enjoying your afternoon in the sun.
Here are the best Masterbuilt and Traeger products you can buy:
- Best Overall - Traeger Pro Series 34-Inch (Gen 1) Wood Pellet Grill - Bronze - TFB88PZB
- Best Runner Up - Masterbuilt MWS 340B Pellet Smoker - MB20250118
- Best Grill for the Tech Lover - Traeger Pro 780 Wi-Fi Controlled Wood Pellet Grill
- Best Propane Model - Masterbuilt Sportsman Elite ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker - MB20051316
- Best High-Intensity Heat - Masterbuilt MB20040220 Gravity Series 560 Charcoal Grill + Smoker, Pack of 1, Black
- Best Budget - Traeger Grills TFB38TCA Renegade Elite Wood Pellet Grill
For the complete product list, please continue reading...
Top Masterbuilt and Traeger Grills For 2021
1. Best Overall - Traeger Pro Series 34-Inch (Gen 1) Wood Pellet Grill - Bronze - TFB88PZB
- 450°F max temp
- 27” x 53” x 49”
- 18 lbs. hopper capacity
- Weighs 136 lbs.
- 884 total sq. in. of cooking space
The Traeger Pro Series 34 is one of Traeger’s flagship pellet grills. The best seller in 2018, Traeger heard consumer’s feedback and lowered the price point while still guaranteeing performance and stability. You’ll find that the all-terrain wheels are solid enough to handle any surface you want to roll your grill across in your yard.
The interior temperature of this sawhorse chassis grill is well controlled by Traeger’s digital Pro Controller technology so you’ll never have to worry about checking on your food. Thanks to the stainless steel body of this beautiful grill, heat is retained and precision grilling is guaranteed to stay within 15 degrees of the temperature you set, no matter what the weather is.
This model features an extra grilling rack and offers dual meat temperature probes so you never have to guess at your food’s interior temperature.
With the large cooking surface, you can easily handle a grilling capacity of 40 burgers at one time, or 8 full chickens, or 7 racks of ribs. The heat-retaining steel grill grates are porcelain-enameled and removable, making them easy to clean.
While this grill excels at wood-fired smoking, that’s not all it can do. With the versatility grillmasters have come to expect from Traeger’s pellet grills, this grill is capable of smoking, baking, grilling, roasting, braising, and barbequing, and it’s all fueled by natural wood pellets.
Electric ignition makes start-up a breeze
The stainless steel chassis is excellent heat retention
Attractive profile compliments any outdoor patio furniture
Porcelain-coated steel grilling surface
Cooking surface can serve over 10 people
Some assembly is required before first use
No side burners are included with this model
2. Best Runner Up - Masterbuilt MWS 340B Pellet Smoker - MB20250118
- 2” x 24.6” x 52.75”
- Weighs 111 lbs.
- Exterior is painted black
- Residential use only
- Mounted on casters
If wood-firing food is your favorite way to cook at a barbeque, then the Masterbuilt MWS 340B pellet smoker is going to be your best choice at a fairly decent price point.
There are nearly 1,000 sq. in. of space to load up foods to infuse with delectable wood-fired flavors. Four smoking racks made of chrome-plated stainless steel are included with this smoker giving you enough room to smoke 8 racks of ribs, 8 pork butts, 6 turkeys, or 16 chickens all at the same time.
The smoker can reach temperatures between 180°F and 350°F with ease. The digital control panel allows you to set the temperature for the smoker, the smoke time and offers options for preset smoke cycles.
Once the temperature is set, the auger rotates to automatically feed wood pellets into the smoker, which infuses your food with that wood-fired flavor you’re looking for. The pellets work to maintain the temperature on the interior of the smoker.
This model includes a water pan that sits at the bottom of the smoker. This water pan also helps the smoker maintain its temperature all throughout the smoking process, keeping your meats juicy and flavorful. Keeping it clean means you can use it to make gravy, too. Masterbuilt has also included a heat diffuser in this model to ensure heat is distributed evenly throughout the cooking box.
Clean up is a cinch with the easy to remove crucible. A grease tray is accessible on the side of the model.
4 cooking racks included
977 sq. in. of cooking surface area
Hot and cold smoker
Vertical smoker saves space
Wood pellets infuse great flavor into smoked foods
Smoker only, this appliance does not grill
Requires pre-seasoning before first use
3. Best Grill for the Tech Lover - Traeger Pro 780 Wi-Fi Controlled Wood Pellet Grill
- Weighs 146 lbs.
- 780 sq. in. of total cooking space
- Porcelain-coated cooking grates
- 49” x 27” x 55”
- Powder-coated steel exterior
Traeger may have invented the pellet grill back in the 1980s, but its ongoing dedication to innovation has kept the brand relevant in more recent years. In 2019, Traeger introduced its D2 Direct Drive technology to upgrade most of their grills, and the world of pellet grills hasn’t been the same since.
The D2 Direct Drive features an upgraded, 20-volt brushless motor which makes the grill stronger and more capable of higher intensity heat. The new motor requires fewer amps while extending the life of the grill. If you plan on taking a Traeger Pro with you to picnic, camp, or tailgate, you’ll only need a small generator to accomplish the same cooking you’re used to now.
Traeger’s D2 technology also features Turbo Temp which monitors the temperature of the grill cooking surface carefully. Ignition is even easier than before with this technology because the initial pre-heating is much faster than on the older models. With this reduced time, you can get your food cooking faster than before.
The D2 motor also gives this grill the ability to easily get up to and possibly surpass 450°F. This takes searing to a new level.
Features like Bluetooth connectivity and Wi-Fi capability are available with Traeger’s Pro 780, making it possible to get your grill connected to the internet and giving you the ability to easily monitor the hopper capacity so there’s never a question about how many pellets are left. The keep-warm mode on this grill is an added bonus so you can eat when you want, not when the grill tells you.
If you need to add pellets or change them while the grill is still operating, that’s no problem with Traeger’s new clean-out door.
WiFIRE®️ technology makes cooking a cinch
D2 Drive technology makes cooking faster than ever
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-capable
More expensive than other models
4. Best Propane Model - Masterbuilt Sportsman Elite ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker - MB20051316
- Weighs 89 lbs.
- 74” x 22.44” x 52.95”
- Uses 15,750 BTUs
- Residential use only
- Painted steel exterior
Smoking meats just hit a new level with the Masterbuilt Sportsman Elite ThermoTemp Smoker. Masterbuilt’s approach to this smoker gives you a completely hands-off experience so all you have to do is set your desired temperature and let the patent-pending ThermoTemp do everything else.
With this new technology, the smoker automatically monitors the interior temperature of the cookbox and adjusts it as needed to maintain the temperature you set.
The 4 smoking racks that are included with the smoker are made of chrome-plated stainless steel. They provide 965 sq. in. of space to smoke 8 pork butts, 8 racks of ribs, 6 turkeys, or 16 chickens all at once.
The stainless steel burner maxes temperatures out at 350°F to slowly smoke all of your favorite foods to perfection. A safety valve is included in this model so if the burner goes out, the gas flow to the burner is automatically stopped, preventing any accidents.
There’s a full viewing window located at the top of the smoker so you can check on your food without opening the door, allowing heat and smoke to escape. At the bottom, you’ll find another door for a wood chip tray that allows you to add more chips again without having to lose heat by opening the main door of the smoker.
The smoker can easily be moved or transported and runs off of a standard 20-pound propane tank. While the tank itself is purchased separately, this model does offer a fuel level gauge so you can always see how much fuel you have left in your tank.
Propane is cheaper than other fuel types
Has caster mounted legs
Includes a propane tank fuel gauge
965 sq. in. of total cooking surface area
Viewing window lets you peek without losing heat
Cooking ability is limited to smoking only
Analog thermometer might not be everyone’s favorite
5. Best High-Intensity Heat - Masterbuilt MB20040220 Gravity Series 560 Charcoal Grill + Smoker, Pack of 1, Black
- 1-year warranty provided
- 134” x 51.969” x 24.646”
- Weighs 147 lbs.
- Black painted exterior
When it comes to versatility, Masterbuilt has you covered with its Gravity Series™ 560 Digital Charcoal Grill + Smoker. With this grill and smoker combo, you can roast, bake, sear, grill, and smoke all on one appliance. The digital control panel lets you set the temperature of the grill and then forget about it until your food is ready.
More tech-savvy types may enjoy connecting the grill to the internet with its Wi-Fi capability and controlling it with their smart device via Bluetooth. The DigitalFan™ ensures cooking temperature stays at the desired level and while the GravityFed™ hopper holds up to 10 pounds of lump charcoal or 16 pounds of briquettes. It feeds charcoal to fuel the grill for over 12 to 15 hours of use. If the grill ever starts cooling down, gravity makes sure that your fire is fueled during the entire cooking process.
The grill reaches 225°F in as little as 7 minutes and up to 700°F in about 13 minutes, which means your grilling experience is a lot faster with these preheating times. As soon as the grill is to temperature, you’ll find the cast iron grates serve as the perfect cooking surface. They are reversible for low and slow smoking or high-intensity heat searing. They’re joined by two porcelain-coated warming and smoking racks to create 560 total sq. in.of cooking space.
This particular model includes meat probe thermometers and a built-in temperature gauge to ensure that your food is cooked perfectly every time you use the grill.
Can reach high temperatures with ease
6-in-1 cooker is very versatile
Runs on wood and charcoal
Fast preheating means you start cooking sooner
Features a smoke vent to prevent meat from getting bitter
This model does not cold smoke
Cannot be used in all weather due to electrical requirements
6. Best Budget - Traeger Grills TFB38TCA Renegade Elite Wood Pellet Grill
- 19,500 BTUs
- Weighs 120 lbs.
- Uses 110 volts
- 25” x 23.5” x 9.75”
The Traeger Renegade impresses outdoor chefs with its 6-in-1 versatility. This grill allows even the newest of cooks to braise, roast, grill, bake, barbeque, and smoke all on one grill and with the simple act of pushing buttons to turn it on and set the desired temperature.
Infusing delicious wood-fired taste into your food is easy with this wood pellet grill. Simply fill the hopper and let the grill do the rest of the work. The only thing you’ll need to worry about is picking between cherry wood or hickory pellets. After trying this, you’ll never want to go back to a gas or charcoal grill again simply because they can’t replicate this flavor.
With 380 sq. in. of cooking space, this grill can easily accommodate up to 5 servings at one time. Once the on/off switch is pressed, the temperature control and range are easily visible with the use of the LED display panel, giving you the set-it-and-forget-it standard that everyone loves with their Traeger grill.
You can depend on your Traeger Renegade Elite to grill your steaks, burgers, and chicken perfectly each time with its integrated digital controller. The grill monitors its interior cooking temperature continuously with this feature so you never have to worry about the temperature deviating from your set preference. No matter if you open the lid to catch a glimpse of dinner while it’s still cooking or if the weather outside turns cooler, your grill always stays within 20 degrees of accuracy, on its own.
This model also comes with a handy grilling tool caddy so you can have all of your essential utensils handy while you create your culinary masterpiece.
Easy temperature control
6-in-1 cooking abilities
Makes year-round grilling easy
May struggle to create sear marks
When it comes to grilling, the options can be overwhelming and it can be hard to find a brand you trust. Fortunately, Masterbuilt and Traeger are both industry leaders in the world of grilling, and for good reason.
Considering each brand’s dedication to its craft, it’s clear from the high quality of their products that each takes itself very seriously. People who are new to grilling and old pros alike can constantly find good feedback about these brands when asking for recommendations from friends and family.
When stepping back and looking at all the great features that both brands have to offer, it becomes clear that versatility and function are important to both. The Traeger Pro Series 34 is a grilling master with its large cooking surface, WiFIRE®️ and D2 tech, awesome price point, and temperature range.
When it comes to shopping for a new appliance like an outdoor grill or smoker, most buyers start looking at how to get the best bang for their buck. In other words, consumers want as many features that can be packed into the lowest price point.
With a bit of effort and a few internet searches, it’s possible to make the decision of which grill is worth investing your money in before you even get to the store. However, you’ll always want to ensure that the grill you’re purchasing has certain capabilities and provide an ample warranty.
Heat retention and control is key for any griller that wants to cook low-and-slow. You’ll always want to find a product that offers good insulation and is manufactured well using stainless steel. Controlling temperature with just a dial is good enough to manage, but some models may have digital panels to serve this purpose now.
Both brands have manufactured their products using stainless steel for the bodies and chassis. As an added layer of insulation, Traeger opts to use 2 layers of steel to retain heat in its grills. This makes both brands more than well-suited for temperature control.
Smoking is all about that low-and-slow setting. While the higher temperature ranges are nice to have to quickly sear steaks and burgers, they’re not necessary if you’re trying to infuse food with the great flavor of charcoal or wood-fired smoke.
Most meats smoke slowly on the low end of the temperature scale at about 180°F to 200°F. At a minimum, your grill or smoker should be able to achieve those temperatures without having to worry about your fires going out.
To sear your meats, the Masterbuilt MB20040220 Gravity Series is the only grill on this list that reaches a max temp of 700°F.
Warranties are a way for brands to show consumers that they’re putting the best product on the market by offering to replace it within a set timeframe. Almost anyone will tell you when you’re purchasing an appliance that the warranty on it is one of the most important aspects to consider.
Traeger grills come with a standard 3-year warranty. Masterbuilt provides a 90-day warranty that covers all defects but is exclusive of any paint that may have been chipped or otherwise damaged.
User preference really dictates the ideal cooking surface. Most grills and smokers come in various shapes and sizes, with options for grate material such as porcelain-coated, cast-iron, or stainless steel.
The size of your grill’s cooking surface immediately impacts how many people you cook for regularly, so consider how large your family is when making your choice. A good rule to consider is 76 sq. in. of cooking space per person.
If you plan on having small, intimate barbeques with 4 people or less, then a grill with a total cooking surface of about 350 sq. in. is just fine. If you’re planning on inviting the entire neighborhood over, you may want to opt for a grill that has a larger cooking surface.