The Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grills sit in the middle of Traeger’s price range. These two, the Ironwood 650 and Ironwood 885, are large and possess a good balance of features. For the price, these are the pellet smokers you want to consider.
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Introduced in 2019, the Traeger Ironwood Series Pellet Grills are part of Traeger’s move into a higher market space. These two models, the 650 and 885 sit midway between Traeger’s bestselling Pro Series and their ‘luxury’ Timberline models. Ironwood represents a balance between the two.
The Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill provides almost all of the upgraded features Traeger has to offer but without the heavier, more insulated body of the Timberline. In many ways, this is the perfect balance of all of Traeger’s offerings. Of course, you pay more for these grills, but you will get so much more.
The Ironwood faces serious competition from Weber’s SmokeFire, as well as the recteq RT-700, Broil King’s Regal Series, and Louisiana Grills new Founders Series. With so many excellent, full-feature pellet grills on the market, let’s look take a look at the Ironwood and see if it is right for you.
See all my recommendations for The Best Pellet Grills
The primary features that Traeger markets are its D2 Direct Drive System and the WiFIRE connected controller. The D2 system is a direct current, brushless motor that drives the pellet auger. This promises better torque and a longer lifespan of the motor. Simply put, the motor has more power, speed versatility, and should last longer. The WiFIRE controller is the WiFi-enabled system that communicates with your smart device. This software also integrates with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. You can ask your home smart device how the brisket is doing and it will give you a temperature without lifting your phone.
- Dual-layer Sidewalls
- Gasket Lined Lid
- Porcelain-coated Cooking Grates
- Operating Temperature Range: 165° to 500°
- Pellet Hopper Dump
- Single Temperature Probe Port
- Pellet Level Sensor
- 20-pound Hopper Capacity
The Traeger Ironwood is partially insulated by double-layer sidewalls. The lid and main body are constructed of single-layer steel. So while this improves heat retention and efficiency, you will need to step up to the Traeger Timberline to get a complete insulated cooking chamber. At the price though, the Ironwood is good at holding heat in and keeping the wind out.
The body of this grill is made of powder-coated steel and while it is not thick, it is a step up from the Traeger Pro Series Pellet Grills. Opposite the controller is a stainless steel work table (an optional fold-down front table is also available). The legs are solid and the grill sits on two wheels and two casters for easy movement. All in all, the build is solid.
One extra point to talk about. The main cooking grate on the Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill can be set in two positions. A lower position for searing and higher temperature grilling, and a higher position for low and slow smoking. This provides a simple path to greater versatility.
The WiFIRE Controller is a next-generation digital pellet controller. Aside from the connectivity, the controller features that stand out are the Quick Start, Super Smoke, and Keep Warm functions. These are self-explanatory and while available on other pellet grills, I like that this controller has buttons and you don’t have to resort to using the app to activate them (though you can).
There is only one temperature probe port, so you can’t monitor more than one food item at a time. The display is comparatively simple, but you can easily control the grill without WiFi.
Traeger has made some serious investments in their pellet controller app. It is more than just a method for adjusting cooking temperatures or monitoring food temps, you get a full cooking app.
The app also monitors pellet fuel levels and will send alerts for high and low temperatures, preset doneness levels, and low pellet warnings. You can change the cooking temperature and activate the super smoke or keep warm functions.
The WiFIRE App also contains a series of step-by-step instructions for preparing and smoking most popular food items. Right now, the app contains over 1,500 recipes with more added all the time.
The Traeger WiFIRE app is one of the most sophisticated and detailed in the industry. Only the Weber Connect App comes close.
Of course, most people will never scratch the surface of all those recipes or step by steps. And while it is a nice feature allowing you to monitor and control your grill frame from anywhere, it relies on being able to access your home network.
There are range limitations with wireless connectivity. It is recommended that the controller on the grill face the location of your wireless router. Heavy concrete or steel structures between the router and the grill can greatly limit connection. The suggested maximum range is 30 feet.
The only difference between the Ironwood 650 and the Ironwood 885 is the size and the price. Those numbers specify the total cooking space of the grills. The price difference between them is around $300USD. There is a premium for size. The Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill stands 48 inches high.
|Ironwood 650||Ironwood 885|
|Primary Cooking Area||418||570|
|Secondary Cooking Area||231||315|
|Total Cooking Area||650||885|
|Weight||146 lbs||172 lbs|
There is a longstanding industry standard that measures the size of a grill by how many burger patties it can hold. This assumes everyone makes similar sized burgers. But for the sake of perspective, the Traeger Ironwood 650 can cook 16 burgers on the main cooking grate at a time. The Ironwood 885 can hold 24. Since pellet grills are also smokers, I’ve added the chart below showing how much food the Ironwood can cook.
|Ironwood 650||Ironwood 885|
|Racks of Ribs||6||7|
As mentioned above, the only difference between these two pellet grills is in their size, not their features. If the Ironwood 650 has enough capacity for you, don’t waste your money on the Ironwood 885. Of course, if there is a chance that you need more space, it is better to have a grill that is too big than one that isn’t big enough.
See all my recommendations for The Best Pellet Grills
Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill Review
Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill Review
Traeger is the inventor of the pellet grill. For 20 years they had a monopoly on making these grills. Recently, pellet grills have become the must-have piece of outdoor cooking equipment. Traeger as a company, is the driving force behind that message and have been quite successful. However, the pellet grill market is very competitive and Traeger once took the strategy of racing to the bottom. They exported manufacturing of their grills, cut quality, and tried to be cheaper than everyone else.
That was not a winning strategy and Traeger suffered for it. In 2019, Traeger introduced new grills, new technology, and improved support. The Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill was part of that reinvention. Pricewise, the Ironwood grills sit between Traeger’s high-end Timberline and their more budget-friendly Pro Series. This makes them a good balance between the two.
When talking about the Traeger Timberline vs Ironwood, the big difference is in the body of the cooking chamber. Timberline is taller and has an extra rack. This increases the smoking capacity without increasing the footprint. Timberline is also better insulated and has a stainless steel interior. Of course, it is several hundred dollars more. As for functionality, Timberline and Ironwood are very similar.
As for the Pro Series vs Ironwood, the differences are more prominent. Ironwood loses the smokestack for a more evenly distributed back venting. This evens out the heat and smoke more efficiently than the traditional smokestack vent (stacks on pellet grills are bad). It also has a higher top temperature, a larger hopper, pellet sensor, super smoke function, and a gasket-lined lid. Pro Series has none of these features. Simply put, Ironwood is a serious step up from the Pro Series Smokers.
- Improved Airflow for Faster Cooking and Better Smoke Flavor
- Good Insulation and Tight Fitting Lid for Better Heat Retention
- Wide Range of Functions Easy Functions
- Easy to Use Smart App
- Highly Developed Smart App
- Adjustable Cooking Grate for Searing or Smoking
- Comparatively Low Maximum Heat
- Primitive Control Panel
- Not as Fuel Efficient as Advertized
- Occasional Software Issues
Pellet Grills in this price range, like the Weber SmokeFire and the Broil King Regal are capable of considerably higher cooking temperatures. SmokeFire has a direct flame system making it similar to traditional grilling. While the Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill gets hot, there are other grills that get hotter.
The control panel on this grill is not particularly strong. It looks relatively primitive and the display isn’t as easy to read as comparable grills.
Myself and several other testers have found that the fuel consumption of this pellet grill is higher than Traeger advertises. It isn’t extreme unless you are cooking in very cold conditions, but it is noticeable.
As with so many computer-controlled cookers, software updates can be a nuisance. Occasionally these updates bring their own problems, and having to wait for your grill to update before using it is frustrating.
With the popularity of Traeger Grills comes the popularity of Traeger Wood Pellets. To be completely honest, Traeger wood pellets are not entirely what they say they are. Most of their wood pellets use a flavoring to give them the presentation of the wood type that is labeled on the bag. For instance, their cherry wood pellets are alder, flavored with a cherry coloring and odorant.
While Traeger pellets are widely available they are not the best pellets on the market. If you find that your food lacks the smoky flavor you expect, or you want more authentic wood flavors, I recommend paying more and buying a pellet that actually is what it says it is. My personal favorite is the wood pellets from Cookin’ Pellets. Try a bag sometime, you will be glad you did.
First Cook on your Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill
Traeger recommends heating your grill to high for 30 minutes to burn off any residual machine oil, collected dust, or other fine contaminants inside the grill. Afterward, you are invited to cook. This is standard advice for almost all pellet grill or smoker. But what should be your first cook? My recommendation is burgers. I know, you might be eager to get that brisket or pork butt going, but burgers are always the perfect first cook option.
Burgers are greasy and that oil will help season your grill. They are also fast to cook. If that assembly takes longer than anticipated, or there is a software update, you will still have time to get those burgers done. I suggest giving my Best Pellet Grill Burger Recipe a try. It combines everything good about pellet grilling through a family friendly staple. And, it is an easy recipe too.
Must Have Accessories
While the Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill comes with everything to start grilling or smoking, there are a few additional items that you will need.
Protect your investment with a grill cover. This is a particular must-have for pellet grills. Moisture is the enemy of wood pellets. It causes them to disintegrate and turn into an auger-clogging sludge. Traeger offers good quality covers that fit these grills perfectly. These will keep the rain and snow out of the grill. While they don’t prevent humidity from getting in, this will help to keep your grill clean and reasonably dry.
Front Mounted Worktable
If you have ever tried to take a hot full brisket off of a pellet grill without a front-mounted worktable, you know it isn’t as easy as it looks. Personally, I think this accessory should be standard. It is, however, a great upgrade. These tables fold down so they don’t get in the way, and simply pop into place when you need them. I strongly encourage you to add these to your order with the Traeger Ironwood Grills.
Traeger Bucket Liners
There is one thing that I have always disliked about pellet grills. It’s the grease bucket hanging off the side of the grill. Honestly, can’t they think of a better solution? And yes, I know that several companies have. The best way to deal with this messy reality is with liners for the grease bucket. Fortunately, Traeger has you covered (no surprise there). Get a set of these exact fit liners and you will be able to dump the grease without getting your hands dirty.
Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill Comparables
Maybe the Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill isn’t right for you. Perhaps you want something with more power. Take a look at these pellet grills. They are comparable in price and are worthy of your consideration.
Broil King Regal 400 Pellet Grill
Broil King is one of the biggest companies in outdoor cooking. Their pellet grills are new to the market and offer some impressive features. The Regal 400 isn’t huge (630 square inches of cooking space on two levels), but they are solidly built. Similar in capacity to the Ironwood 650, the Regal 400 weighs 53 pounds more and it can hit 600 degrees during a Canadian winter. The Regal comes with a full rotisserie system and is fully WiFi-enabled with Broil-King’s app. It also has a firepot cleaning system so maintenance is easier.
Weber SmokeFire EX6 Gen 2
You may have heard that Weber’s much anticipated pellet grill isn’t as good as it should have been. Yes, there were issues. This is why Weber introduced the Gen 2 version. It fixes the mechanical problems with the grill. In the meantime, they made improvements to the grill’s software and its associated App. Now the Weber SmokeFire is the grill it was meant to be. The EX6 is huge, with over 1,000 square inches of potential cooking area. SmokeFire uses direct flame cooking so you get more of a grilling experience from it. Capable of hitting 600° F, you can sear a steak on this grill.
recteq RT-700 Pellet Grill
First of all, that isn’t a typo. REC-TEC (all caps) changed its name and branding to recteq (all lowercase). I think it was just to confuse those of us who write about barbecue. Either way, this is a serious, solidly built pellet grill. It has 702 square inches of primary cooking space (additional racks are optional). This unit, like the Ironwood, is a traditional pellet grill. The maximum cooking temperature is 500° F. But you get internal lights, WiFi capability, and everything you would expect from a $1,20USD pellet grill.
If you are set on joining the Traegerhood, take a serious look at the Ironwood Pellet Grill. Of all their grills it is the right balance of price and performance. You get a fast startup, higher heat than the Pro Series, and a much better price than the Timberline. Of course, there is a lot of competition in this space. If you are looking for a traditional pellet grill, without direct flame, or high temperature cooking, then you should look here. This is a good pellet grill. The question you need to answer is, does the Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill meet all your needs?
I have been writing about Barbecue & Grilling for 25 years. I have cooked on almost every grill or smoker ever built. In those years I have always endeavored to match people with the grill or smoker that is right for them. I believe that the right product is the one that you find easy to use, capable of doing everything you want, and is reliable. If you have a good first experience, you will be back for more. In this way, we grow barbecue for the next generation. I want you to make the memories that your children will cherish.
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