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July 29, 2021

Professional Tool Reviews for Pros


Traeger Pellet Smoker Grill Review | Ironwood 885

Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Smoker Grill

A Traeger Pellet Smoker Grill Flattens the Smoking Learning Curve (and Does a LOT More!)

My dad taught me to grill more than three decades ago and I’ve run the gamut from taking the time to enjoy the flavor of charcoal to the convenience of propane. Smoking is something I’ve wanted to get into, but I’m just too busy to babysit a smoker for half the day. With two pretty good cooks in the office, we got our hands on the Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Smoker Grill to see if we can keep our day jobs and enjoy the taste of well-cooked food.


Pros

  • 6 ways to cook: smoke, bbq, grill, bake, roast, and braise
  • WiFire keeps you connected to your grill and notified using your phone
  • True set it and forget it cooking
  • Outstanding flavor
  • Ability to choose light or heavier smoke flavor
  • Excellent build quality
  • TONS of useful info and recipes in the Traeger app
  • Reversing the box gives your kids a Traeger cabin

Cons

  • Needing a power source is different from charcoal and propane grills
  • Higher entry price compared to traditional grills and smokers (but worth it!)

Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Smoker Grill Cooking

You Need Power

One thing that’s very different with a Traeger pellet grill is the need for access to power. The controller needs power to run the auger, control screen, and WiFire (for models that have it). That’s something you need to consider if you’re coming from the world of gas and charcoal grills.

Too Busy To Babysit

You need to season the grill before you use it the first time and plan for about an hour. What’s nice is that the seasoning process also introduces you to the grill’s functions, so it’s kind of like a tutorial.

I simply don’t have the time to babysit a smoker, and the Traeger Ironwood 885 makes cooking low and slow super-easy. Fill up the hopper with pellets (it holds ~20 pounds), set your temperature, or select your preset sequence, and let it cook. You need to let the grill come up to temp for about 15 minutes, but from there, it’s pretty automatic.

Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Smoker Grill

In our test unit, the pellet sensor lets us know if we’re getting low, WiFire sends alerts to a phone, we can make adjustments from a phone, and the system uses an auger to maintain the temperature we set. We can even kick into a warming mode if we can’t get to the grill right when it finishes. When it’s all said and done, we can spend 10 hours cooking and still get a full day’s work done in the shop.

Traeger Flavor

For our first test run, we used Traeger’s Signature Blend pellets. In standard cooking mode, you get what Traeger calls “a kiss of smoke flavor.” It’s a more subtle flavor and present if you’re looking for it, but not overwhelming.


When you want a true smoky flavor profile, kick it into Super Smoke Mode. It uses pellets at a slightly higher rate, but you can get a more pronounced smoke flavor. Two things to note are that you can only use Super Smoke Mode at 225° or below and it’s not available on the Pro series.

Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Smoker Grill Super Smoke Mode

In one sense, the flavor of the food is only as good as the person seasoning and cooking it. Having good equipment certainly helps, though. We followed several Traeger recipes to the letter and ended up with flavorful pulled pork, ribs that fell off the bone, beautifully medium-rare brisket (that we started sous vide), tender sweet corn, and succulent pork tenderloin.

Smoked Pork Tenderloin

Can You Grill on a Traeger?

You can smoke on a Traeger and you can also grill. The temp gets as high as 500° and the lower grate is where you grill and sear. But that’s not the end of the story. Because Traegers have a convection oven-like way of maintaining heat, you can smoke, grill, bake, roast, braise, and bbq all with one unit.

How Long Does a Bag of Pellets Last?

There are a lot of variables that go into how fast you use a bag of pellets. First of all, stick with Traeger pellets. They’re 100% hardwood with no additional binders. Plus, they’re made in the USA and Traeger owns several mills around the country to tightly control the quality.

Traeger Pellets

From there, you have to consider how hot you’re cooking, what size grill you’re keeping hot, whether you’re using Super Smoke Mode, and others. Each grill has an estimated use on the inside of the hopper lid. For the Traeger Ironwood 885, it’s 1.6 pounds per hour.

When we smoked ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, and corn for the PTR team and their families, we spent 9 hours actively cooking between 225° and 250° with 3 hours in Super Smoke Mode and another hour in Warm mode. For our efforts, we used about 14 pounds of pellets—or 1.4 pounds per hour.

Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Smoker Grill Results

According to Traeger, the average user goes through roughly 6 bags of pellets per year. At $18 – $20 per bag, it’s around $120 per year. That’s about how much I spend on propane each year, so that’s a trade I’m willing to make.

Traeger Ironwood 885 Features

  • Downdraft Exhaust & Super Smoke Mode
  • Pellet sensor
  • Dual Position Smoke/Sear Bottom Grate
  • WiFire Technology
  • D2 Grill Controller
  • Double Side Wall Interior
  • Included Meat Probe
  • Porcelain-Coated Grill Grates
  • All-Terrain Wheels
  • Locking Caster Wheels
  • Grill Tool Hooks

Making the Switch to a Traeger Pellet Smoker Grill

Why a Traeger Pellet Smoker Grill?

Traeger made the first wood pellet grill back in 1987. Just because you’re the first doesn’t mean you’re the best once your competition gets in the game, though. When the pallet arrived with our Traeger Ironwood 885, we were keeping a close eye on the quality of the build.

First of all, the packaging was far better than I expected. We get damaged boxes frequently and Traeger’s use of the space in the box made for more structurally secure packaging. Our box arrived with no indication of abuse, but it seems like it would take a lot of force to actually damage the unit in shipping.

Got kids? Flip the box around when you get done assembling your Traeger, tape the side back up, and they have a cardboard cabin to add to your part of the Traegerhood!

Traeger Cabin

I read the manuals, and even with reading time, it only took Josh and me about 30 minutes to assemble the grill.

With the Ironwood 885 standing on its own, we were impressed with the steel gauge and solidity of the build. Areas, such as the side table, that cause some grills to flex stood firm. So far, so good.

Which Traeger Pellet Smoker Grill Is Best for Me?

Traeger has three levels of pellet smoker grills to choose from and multiple sizes within each. If you’re looking for the best pellet smoker for beginners, take a look at the Pro series. Starting at $799.99, it’s your least expensive entry into the world of pellet grills and has Traeger’s uncompromising quality along with optional WiFire. Gen 1 Pro series grills are still available starting at $599.99.

Stepping up a level, you get to the Ironwood series. The model we’re reviewing is the Ironwood 885 WiFire. Starting at $1199.99, the feature list grows along with the flavor:

  • WiFire
  • Super Smoke Mode
  • TRU Convection System
  • Pellet Sensor
  • Downdraft Exhaust System
  • Stainless Steel Side Shelf with Hooks

Taking it a step further, Traeger’s top-of-the-line series is the Timberline. It adds even more to what you can get with the Pro and Ironwood lines:

  • WiFire
  • Super Smoke Mode
  • TRU Convection System
  • Pellet Sensor
  • Downdraft Exhaust System
  • Stainless Steel Side Shelf with Hooks
  • Full Stainless Steel Interior
  • Concealed Grease Pan
  • Stainless Steel Front Shelf
  • Magnetic Bamboo Cutting Board

Features that Matter

I’m a value kind of guy and I don’t want to pay for features that don’t give me a serious leg up. If you’re like me, here are the features and add-ons I highly recommend:

WiFire

When I first started looking at pellet smoker grills, I initially thought I could do without WiFire. And on a Saturday, that’s probably true. But if you’re a busy kind of person, WiFire is awesome! Here are the most common things I use my phone to do:

  • Adjust and view the temperature
  • Turn Super Smoke Mode on or off (if equipped)
  • View the temperature probe and set a target
  • View pellet levels (if equipped)
  • Set a timer
  • Shift to “Keep Warm” mode
  • Shut the grill down
Cooking with WiFire and the Traeger App

While the Traeger is very much set-it-and-forget-it on its own, WiFire lets me get on with the other work I have to do during the day. As long as I have a cell signal, I have access to my grill and it’s totally worth it!

Front Shelf

Multi-stage grilling and smoking require you to do more than just put food on the grill and walk away. When I pull meat off to wrap it in foil or prep the next item to go on, I can do that without needing to have another table right next to me. If you’re working with the Pro or Ironwood series, adding the front folding table is a big plus.

Pellet Bins

Hardwood pellets can pull in moisture from humid air and won’t burn as well when they do. If you don’t have the space to store your extra pellets inside, grab a few Traeger pellet bins. Each one stores a full bag and has an airtight lid to make sure your pellets are ready when you are.

Cover

No matter which level of Traeger you’re getting, it’s not a cheap grill. To get the most life out of it, get a cover. Traeger’s is a nicer canvas design than most of the plastic ones out there. Plus it shows you care as much about keeping your cooker in good shape as you do preparing quality food for your friends and family.

The Maintenance Tip You Weren’t Expecting

Even 30 miles inland in Florida, there’s enough salt in the air to start rusting our grills in a year or two. It’s helpful that Traeger uses stainless steel for some parts and powder coats the rest. Get even more life out of your Traeger by waxing—yes waxing—the exterior with a high-quality car wax every 90 days. It doesn’t take long and can add years to your grill’s life.

Traeger Pellet Smoker Grill Recipes

The Traeger app is my new favorite video game. It’s not about playing with the grill, it’s about the 1600+ recipes there are to look through and plan for! There are videos, step-by-step instructions, and even community notes to help you out. Even if you don’t own a Traeger brand pellet smoker grill, you can download the app and access those recipes. They’re also available on Traeger’s website.

Need some inspiration to get you started? Try the 3-2-1 BBQ Babyback Ribs or Smoked Traeger Pulled Pork!

There’s More in the App

While the recipes are fantastic, there’s more to the Traegerhood in the app than just them. You can find setup and maintenance tips, food prep tips, shop for Traeger grills, pellets, accessories, rubs, sauces, and more, call or chat with Support, and watch a ton of professionally shot video content to go along with it.

Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Smoker Grill Price

The Traeger Ironwood 885 we’re reviewing runs $1499.99. Adding the front folding shelf is another $69.99 and we also recommend adding the cover for $79.99.

The Bottom Line

I was looking for a pellet smoker grill that would give me great results despite a busy schedule and elevate my smoking game without years of experimenting to get there. The Traeger Ironwood 885 delivered far more than I hoped for, making me look like a pitmaster with quality results and the tastier flavor of hardwood smoke. The work gets done, the food gets cooked, and I get to enjoy a great meal with my family at the end of the day. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Traeger Ironwood Grill Specifications

  • Model: Traeger TFB89BLF
  • Total Cooking Space: 885 sq. in.
  • Total Weight: 175 lbs.
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity: 20 lbs.
  • Max Temperature: 500º F
  • Dimensions (HxDxW): 47 x 27 x 54 in.
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Price: $1499.99

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Chris Myers

You should do a review of the. Camp Chef Woodwind and compare the two.

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