When it comes to pellet grills Traeger used to set the standard. It’s hard to believe now, but just back in 2008 Traeger was one of only two companies selling pellet style smokers.
Nine years later and we’re a bit spoiled for choice. With so many decent options out there, it’s worth seeing how the original performs.
As the kid brother of the Traeger Lil’Tex Elite, the Traeger Junior Elite is a wood pellet grill that’s not only affordable when compared to other wood pellet grills, but exponentially more portable as well.
Tough, easy to ignite, and possessing a lightweight construction, it thrives as both a home and tailgating grill that can be easily taken from place to place.
Traeger Junior Elite Overview
The Traeger Junior Elite falls right into the bargain end of our $400-$1200 suggested price range. While you can pick up a pellet grill for cheaper, but we really wouldn’t recommend it for this type of grill.
This grill stands out above other pellet grills because of its increased portability. This is not only a great grill for producing smoky and flavorful foods, but for tailgating as well.
Whereas many other pellet grills weigh in at around 100 pounds, the Junior Elite weighs in at around only 60 pounds. This light weight combined with its 37 inches x 18 inches x 36 inches dimensions make it very easy to store and transport from place to place.
Of course, because it’s smaller, it does sacrifice some grilling space. However, its 300 sq in cooking surface (20-inch x 15-inch) leaves you with more than enough room to cook quite a bit of meat. There is no reason that it shouldn’t be able to accommodate, at the very least, a medium sized barbecue.
Possessing a built-in, digital thermostat, this grill is able to gauge cooking temperatures in real time, offering you complete control over your cooking experience at all times. However, it should be noted that it’s prone to temperature fluctuations, especially in cold weather.
What We Like
- Thermostatically controlled – These types of pellet smokers are usually more accurate so you can safely leave it cooking all night. Equipped with a built-in, digital thermostat, this grill produces easy-to-see and accurate temperature readings in real time.
- Extremely Portable Design – Weighing in at just 60 pounds, and measuring in at 36 inches x 18 inches x 37 inches, this grill is exceedingly easy to store and transport from place to place.
- Comes with a 3-year Warranty – Traeger shows that they stand behind their product by including with it a 3-year warranty. This warranty covers all aspects of the grill as well as its various parts. This is a great deal compared to the one year warranty offered by the more expensive Camp Chef Deluxe.
What We Don’t Like
- Sits a Little Low – Unfortunately, the cooking area of this grill sits only about 3 feet off the ground, forcing tall users to have to bend over in order to grill adequately.
- Can be prone to temperature fluctuations – This is mainly a word of caution for those of you who will be cooking in extreme conditions. The three position controller doesn’t actually monitor the internal temperature, so pellets run the same whether it’s a freezing cold or boiling hot summers day.
Construction and Design Quality
Overall, the Traeger Junior Elite possesses fairly good construction and design quality. It’s not perfect, but considering that it’s not a ridiculously high-priced, top-end grill, this is to be expected.
Made out of heavy-duty steel, this grill is designed to withstand not only the heat from within, but the harmful elements from outside. This is not the type of grill that will be ruined by being left out in the rain for a couple of days.
With a 20-inch x 15-inch porcelain cooking grate, you get a decent amount of cooking area. That’s large enough to cook up to around 12 hamburger patties at once.
The ignition process of this grill is spurred on by an auger that exists at the bottom of the grill’s internal bowl. This auger leads to a hot rod which instantly sets blaze each wood pellet that comes into contact with it. All you have to do it plugs it in and let it burn.