You've probably heard of the Pit Boss or Traeger grills before.
Together these brands are two of the most popular pellet grill manufacturers in the US, and both companies have been around for a number of years.
As such, both of them have decades of experience in making high quality grills that you can rely on for a delicious barbecue.
Each brand has its own benefits and drawbacks, so if you are still deciding where to buy your new grill, it will help to know the difference between these two industry leaders.
If you’re looking for an affordable piece of equipment for cooking outside, then a Pit Boss Grill will offer great value for money.
While their products aren't kitted out with all the bells and whistles of some of their competition, they are priced much lower than other comparable pellet grills on the market.
However, If you want something a bit more advanced, then a Traeger grill might be right up your alley.
These models offer many of the same features as the Pit Boss, but their grills also tend to be more durable and built to last.
Both brands offer great options for outdoor cooking, but they each come at a price premium over other brands.
If you don't know which one to choose, then you have come to the right place.
In this article we will be comparing 3 grills from each brand, looking at their budget, mid-priced and premium products.
Afterwards, we will provide a brief overall comparison of the two companies and the quality of their grills.
By the end, you should have a clear idea of whether you want a Pit Boss or Traeger grill to provide your next mouth watering barbecue.
The Pit Boss PB440D2 and Traeger Tailgater are both two of the smallest and most affordable grills offered by their respective companies.
Both models have a small footprint, which will make them easy to store when not in use, with the pit boss being slightly larger than the tailgater.
That said, the tailgater makes up for its larger size with the ability to fold the legs away and make the whole grill very compact.
To make them easier to transport out into your garden, both models have wheels on one side.
Neither set of wheels has tires, so they may not be suitable for any ground rougher than a mowed lawn or patio.
As far as durability goes, both grills are made from heavy-duty stainless steel to withstand the rigors of daily use.
Of the two, the Pit Boss is probably the more durable since it doesn't have folding components.
The Traeger doesn't come with a side shelf for holding your cooked food, but it does feature a larger 8lb hopper than the Pit Boss, which can only hold 5lbs of pellets.
However, the Pit Boss has a larger cooking capacity of 465 sq.in, although the larger hopper on the Tailgater will still be better for thoroughly smoking meats and fish while they cook.
While the Traeger grill excels at smoking, the 440D has a higher maximum temperature of 500 °F compared to 450 °F on the tailgater.
This allows you to use the Pit Boss for flame broiling meat, which is not something you can safely do with the Traeger model.
Both grills have digital temperature control panels which can be used to easily adjust the cooking temperature as you need.
The Pit Boss 440D allows you to adjust the heat level by 25° increments by twisting the knob, and you can easily keep track of the temperature using the dial on the lid.
In comparison, the up and down buttons on the Tailgater are easier and better for more accurately changing the temperature as you require.
Overall in this particular price range you will get better value for your money with the Pit Boss grill.
However, if you want something that you can put in your car and take with you for barbecues in the woods, or on the beach, then the Tailgater will be more than worth the slightly higher price.
The Pit Boss PB850G and the Traeger Pro Series 575E are both mid-priced grills from their respective companies.
Both models sport digital temperature controls with LCDs, and wheels on one side for easy transport across any terrain.
However, that is where many of the similarities end, as these two models differ greatly in their features and capabilities.
Of the two, the Pit Boss PB850G has the larger cooking area of 879 sq.in, as well as two fold-out shelves for holding your cooked food once it is done.
On the other hand, the Traeger has only 790 sq.in of space and no extra surfaces, which makes it less suitable for large parties where you will be preparing a lot of food.
As well as a larger grill, the Pit Boss also has a bigger 28lb hopper, which will allow you to cook for much longer before needing a refill than the 18lb hopper on the Pro Series 780.
In terms of cooking, the Traeger claims to offer much simpler operation.
All you have to do is set the dial to your preferred temperature and press the ignite button for the machine to start burning your pellets.
This is similar to how the Pit Boss model works, however, the Traeger does offer a better fan for stoking the flames and circulating smoke.
That said, the PB850G is definitely the more versatile of the two, with a removable searing plate for flame broiling and 8 different cooking options in one grill.
Both units come with ceramic coated grill trays for easy cleaning, and can reach a maximum temperature of up to 500 °F.
They come with a few extra accessories, including meat thermometers, pellet buckets and an apron for the Pit Boss.
Another thing both models have in common is their integrations with smart technology.
You can control the Pit Boss from an app on your phone, while the Pro Series 780 is compatible with Alexa, so you can alter its temperature via voice commands.
Overall, both of these grills are great pieces of kit, but there aren't enough extra features to justify the higher price of the Traeger model.
That's said, the Pro Series 780 is the more durable of the two products and can be controlled with voice commands over Alexa.
If both of those features sound appealing to you, then you may be more willing to invest slightly more to get the Traeger over the Pit Boss.
If you're looking for a premium grill, then you have a choice between the Pit Boss Austin XL and the Traeger Ironwood 885.
Both are high quality products with easy to use digital temperature controls, large cooking areas and all terrain wheels for easy transport.
The Austin XL boasts an amazing 1000 sq.in of grill space with a 39lb hopper, while the Ironwood has a smaller 885 sq.in of space with a 20lb hopper capacity.
As such, the Pit Boss grill will be able to cook more food, and last much longer between refills.
It also looks considerably more stylish with a bronzed stainless steel lid that has a temperature dial in the middle.
The Austin XL comes with all the classic Pit Boss extras, including a removable searing plate for flame broiling, and a side tray for holding your cooked food once it is done.
Don't think the Traeger Ironwood doesn't have its own special features.
For one, there is a special detector in the roof of the hopper which will tell you how many pellets you have left before needing a refill.
Also, since this unit has a smaller footprint than the Pit Boss, it is far more portable and better for taking with you on trips.
Both grills have integrated app support, for keeping track of how your food is doing.
The Traeger model can even be linked up to your Alexa, so you can adjust the temperature or turn the unit on and off with simple voice commands.
One thing that the Pit Boss doesn't have is insulated side walls for using the grill in winter without it losing too much heat.
Overall these are two very similar products and which one you pick will largely come down to what you want out of a grill.
The Traeger unit is easier to store and transport, as well as being better for cooking during winter.
However, the Austin XL will definitely be better for large gatherings and parties due to its higher capacity and helpful side shelves for holding your cooked food.
Now that we have looked at some individual products each company provides, this section will attempt to give you a broader overview of the differences between these two brands.
We'll start with the history of both companies, and then go on to discuss the pricing of their products and the different features they offer.
The Traeger brand was founded by Joe Traeger who started making barbecue smokers in 1985.
At first, they were practically the only company to make these products, since they owned the patent for them until 2006.
Today, Traeger is still one of the biggest manufacturers of wood pellet grills in the United States.
Originally all of their products were made in America, but they have since moved their manufacturing base to China like many other companies.
Pit Boss was founded by Dan Theissen in 1999 and was one of Traeger's first serious competitors in the wood pellet smoker industry.
The company is a subsidiary of Dansons inc. which also owns Louisiana Grills.
Their aim was to provide similar grills to Traeger at a significantly lower price.
After this patent expired, Joe Traeger sold his company and ironically left to work for Dansons, the owners of his biggest rival Pit Boss.
Both companies offer high quality grills that are durable and meant to last.
That said, Traeger does hold a significant advantage in this area with solid units that are built for a life-time of succulent barbecues.
Since Traeger relocated their manufacturing to China, the two companies have become more even in this field, although the Pit Boss units are still less durable overall.
Traeger's main advantage over Pit Boss lies in the insulated side walls found on many of their units.
This helps to prevent heat escaping the grill, even during cold weather, and lowers the amount of pellets needed to cook your food.
Both brands are built for outdoor use, but if you want something that can withstand a bit of punishment, it may be worth investing in a Traeger model.
Over the years, both Pit Boss and Traeger have gravitated towards digital controls for maintaining a steady temperature inside the grill.
Fluctuations in temperature will cause your meat to take longer to cook, and may cause some areas to overcook while others remain raw.
Traeger's grills have more precise controls that can be adjusted to any setting you want, while most Pit Boss models will only allow you to adjust heat in 25° increments.
If you live in a cold climate, or want to use your grill during winter then Traeger is the better brand for you.
This is because of the insulated side walls we mentioned earlier, which are better at preventing heat loss to the outside atmosphere.
Many people buy a wood pellet grill because they want to smoke and grill meat at the same time, but there are plenty of other uses for these devices as well.
They can be used for roasting vegetables, baking breads, smoking fish and much, much more.
When it comes to available cooking space, both companies offer models in a wide range of sizes.
The largest Pit Boss grill is the PRO SERIES 1600 which offers up to 1,598 sq.ft of grilling space across three shelves.
Meanwhile, the largest Traeger model is the Timberline 1300, which has a slightly smaller cooking space of 1,300 sq.in.
Both are formidable grilling machines that are perfect for large gatherings or commercial purposes.
However, if you're looking for a versatile grill, then the Pit Boss is the clear winner in this field.
This is because you can slide out the sear plate for flame broiling, which isn't an option on any Traeger grill.
Flame broiling refers to the practice of cooking meat directly over an open flame, rather than exposing it to indirect heat.
The fire touches the bottom of your food, giving it a crispy outer layer, while the top is cooked indirectly from the heat of the flames.
As such if you like your steaks and burgers extra crispy, then Pit Boss grill may be the best choice for you.
Another essential thing to consider before buying a wood pellet grill is the size of the pellet hopper.
A unit with a large hopper will be able to cook and smoke food for much longer before needing a refill.
Most Traeger grills have reasonably sized 18lb or 29lb hoppers, while some Pit Boss models can get up to 40lbs or 55lbs.
That means that even after a full cook, you could still have a fair number of pellets left over for your next barbecue if you buy the right Pit Boss grill.
As you saw from our product comparison earlier, Traeger is generally more expensive than Pit Boss.
This comes as no surprise, since Pit Boss was originally founded with the aim of offering wood pellet grills at a more affordable price than their main competitor.
While Traeger does offer more for your money, for many people the handful of extra features won't be enough to compensate for the large difference in price.
Traeger grills come with a 3-year warranty, while Pit Boss grills offer a more generous warranty of up to 5 years.
However, neither company's warranties cover the cost of shipping, so make sure you factor in how far away you live from either retailer's warehouse when making your decision.
Both companies have introduced app support that will allow you to control the temperature of your grill from your smartphone or tablet.
Traeger has recently added a new feature as well that allows you to adjust the temperature on your grill with voice commands via your Amazon Alexa.
Other special features that Traeger offer include a sensor for telling you when you are running low on pellets, a mode for producing extra smoke and an easy to clean grease tray.
So there you have it, at the end of the day, both Pit Boss and Traeger produce high quality products that are built to last and enhance your grilling experience.
As for which one should you choose? Well, that depends entirely on what kind of BBQ enthusiast you are.
If you want something that looks good, cooks great and has a lot of extra features, then a Traeger grill is definitely worth considering.
However, if you can't justify the higher price and just want a basic, reliable, all round cooker, then a Pit Boss model might be better suited to your needs.
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