As a rule, the grilling world prefers analogues: big fires, high temperatures, searing hot dishes. So that’s strange grill on pellets – in particular Trager, the company that introduced them, gradually gained a cult following and became one of the most beloved grills in American backyards. This is a grill that is equipped with Wi-Fi, must be connected to the network and does not show a visible flame during use. It’s one of the most unappealing barbecue experiences Americans have ever had…and yet the same customers who normally want to get their hands dirty love it.
Indeed, as grill sales surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, pellet grills surpassed charcoal grills in terms of market share, taking second place just to gas grills. (The same report calls the two main drivers of these changes “convenience” and “time efficiency.”)
And I have to say… after grilling Traeger Pro 575 over the past month, it’s easy to see why.
What is a pellet grill?
For those new to pellet grills – like me when I first got mine – the grill’s heat comes from burning sawdust pellets stored in a hopper attached to the grill. The auger feeds a steady stream of pellets into a small lighter where they burn. The heat is indirect – the flame is shielded by a diffuser – and induction fans are used to create convection heating.
In short, Traegers are meant for real slow barbecuing, not searing steaks. But that’s kind of the point; you’re giving up the sizzling and burning for an incredibly even smoky flavor. All of these features are wrapped up in a neat package that can be almost completely controlled via your smartphone if you want to.
That’s what pellet grates are…but why use them? I grew up on the battle between coal and gas; who is this third contender? Simply put, pellet grills are the easiest, least time-consuming grilling option I’ve come across, and the results are incredibly delicious.
If, for example, I want to smoke chicken thighs, the process is as follows: we put the meat on a heated grill; insert the thermometer probe; enter the target internal temperature in the Traeger app; go about your day. The timer will go off when it’s ready and I can turn off the grill from my phone.
All these things are not for show. This achieves what I consider to be the most important design result: it made me want to use this grill almost every day.
What’s good about the Traeger Pro 575
It is very convenient
Wi-Fi-enabled controls allow you to monitor and change the temperature, turn the grill off, and keep it warm without actually being near the grill. In addition, the latest Traegers range comes with the so-called TurboTemp function for rapid pre-heating and reduced heat loss when the lid is opened. In testing, I found the Pro 575 preheated to 350 degrees in less than 10 minutes.
While you can cook completely by touch, the touch probe lets the app know the temperature of the meat. So instead of setting timers and checking paces when you to feel you’ll know for sure how it’s done – and can double-check with an accurate meat thermometer. (I used a Thermopen.)
It is also easy to clean. A drip pan catches the oil and drains it into a lube bucket, while the high-efficiency granules turn into dust that can be easily vacuumed up. No need to worry about sticky grease.
Prepares very well
The taste of wood pellets is simply superior to gas and charcoal. Sorry for everyone Hank Hills there, but gas, America’s most popular form of grilling, just can’t compete with pellets for flavor. Pellet flavors range from mesquite to cherry and are easy to swap in and out of the hopper.
Extra cooking power: the grill automatically maintains the temperature. Similar to your oven, where you set the temperature rather than the BTU output, this means you can cook more predictably and don’t have to constantly adjust the knobs. During my testing, I was mostly in the house cooking other parts of the meal while the meat was grilling. (No need to stand outside by the grill—this is fantastic in the dead of summer or dead of winter.)
Another advantage: there are no flashes with the grids on the pellets. Plus, indirect, convection heat means you won’t burn or char your food without it indeed trying to spoil.
What’s not perfect about the Traeger 575
When people talk about Traeger, the price tag is one of the first things they notice. The Pro 575 model we tested costs $900, making it the most budget-friendly option in Traeger’s lineup. Productive gas and charcoal grills can be purchased for about half as much. (Though decent gas grills go up in price all the time.)
It also won’t overcook your steak. This is due to the grill’s use of indirect heat; while a grill can reach 500 degrees, this is convection air temperature, not direct radiant heat. Compare that to my stove top, which can heat my cast iron skillet to 625 degrees in less than five minutes.
While the easy storage of dry pellets makes for a very convenient fuel source, the grill itself still needs to be plugged into an outlet. Depending on where your outdoor outlets are located, consider their placement and the need for extension cords.
And while it’s not a deal breaker, keep in mind that the only flat surface on the Pro Series is the hopper cover. If you want a place to put all your proteins and veggies before you cook them, you’ll need to invest in a few extra grill shelves, which add $70 to the price.
Traeger Pro 575 Pellet Grill: Verdict
If you’re okay with grilling your steaks elsewhere, Traeger’s Pro Series is a reasonably sized grill that lets you grill and smoke at a professional level with consumer convenience. Still, those looking for a few more features or square inches of cooking space are worth exploring Trager’s Ironwood or Timberline series.