Last update on 2017-06-25 PST - Details
Do you plan to buy a grill often? I don’t think so. But when you do, I’m sure you’d want to pick the best one and get the best value for your money. The question is, what kind of grill would you pick? What kind of features should you be looking for? How much would it cost and where would you start searching for it?
These questions are daunting and I can fully relate if you’re getting those Excedrin headaches just answering them. To make things easier for you, I have reviewed what I consider an amazing grill system, the Traeger Renegade Elite and I will share my findings with you in this article.
In this review, I will provide answers to the questions I’ve raised above and I will also provide what I consider as a weakness to this grill system. You might find this counter-intuitive, but I don’t believe in a perfect system and giving you an idea regarding its deficiencies will help you decide whether you should buy it or not.
Right off the bat, I would say that the Traeger Renegade Elite is a good grill system. There is nothing that I can think of to dissuade you from getting your own. I believe I got the value that I’m looking for in a grill system. That being said, I also believe that I have a few lemons to share.
Traeger Renegade Elite Features
The Traeger Renegade Elite has features that make grilling easy and give you the perfectly grilled meat. This might seem trivial, but those who love grilled meat and have done the grilling themselves, know that there is more to this claim.
It’s not easy to cook a healthy non-greezy grilled meat. You need to be able to drain the fats as the meat cooks and maintain the temperature so that you don’t have uncooked or overcooked areas of the meat. Here are the features that make that possible:
- Digital elite controller : A LED powered digital controller that makes viewing of the internal grill temperature easy. You can be sure to cook the perfectly grilled meat when you know what temperature the grill is operating on. The Renegade Elite feeds itself with pellets as it needs to maintain a steady temperature. Give me a consistent temperature like that and I will cook anything in a heartbeat.
- Hopper clean out door: You can change the flavor of the pellets that you’re using on the fly by simply opening the back door of the hopper. After the pellets empty out, you can then change it with a new flavor. This kind of flexibility is really important because you can easily get used to one flavor and start craving for something else.
- Tool caddy rack : Do you know how frustrating it is to look for a skewer and not find it? Well, the tool caddy rack will prevent that from happening. It will house all your tools and sauces so that you can easily find them and it has some magnetic hooks to keep all utensils at ready and in one place.
- Wire front prep rack: I just hate the balancing act when loading and unloading the grill. It’s like working at a circus. But with the wire front prep rack, there’s no need for that because it will hold your plates and tools while you grill. You can focus on your cooking rather than your tools.
- EZ-drain grease system : The EZ-drain grease system is the killer feature for me because I want to reduce as many fats from my grill without sacrificing its taste. With a constant temperature, you can be sure that the grease will constantly drip from the meat while it's collected into a bucket. This makes it easy to discard the grease and maintain the cleanliness of your cooking area. No need to clean the patio after a cooking spree.
- All-terrain wheels : This feature ensures that you can easily transport your grill down the neighbor’s place when there is a cookout. It also has a locking steel castor that keeps the grill steady while you load it with meat. Besides, the legs are not flimsy it doesn’t vibrate while you cook.
What Do I like About the Traeger Renegade Elite and Pellet Grills in General?
There are a few things that I love about pellet grills: it is so versatile it can grills, roasts, smokes and bakes. In the case of the Traeger Renegade Elite, it can cook perfect roast beef, bourbon apple pudding and home barbecue with just a touch of a button. That’s right, it automates everything and no matter what you cook, it will come out with that wood flavor depending on the kind of pellet that you use. Here are some of the advantages of pellet grills:
When you use hardwood pellets, you have before you a plethora of flavors to choose from. You can have hickory, mesquite, pecan, apple, cherry, maple and more. If you want to be more adventurous, you can mix these pellets and come up with a flavor that is unique to your taste. Also, compared to the traditional smokers, there is a more subtle smoky flavor when you use pellet grills. It’s hard to over-smoke your food with a pellet grill.
Easy to use
Pellet grills in general and the Traeger Renegade Elite, in particular, makes grilling a little more than child’s play. With a temperature that stays consistent and easy to monitor, you can focus your time with fellowshipping with family and friends. Do you know another thing that’s this easy to use? I can’t think of anything other than the convection oven.
As I have already mentioned, pellet grills produce consistent temperature. In the case of the Traeger Renegade Elite, all you need to do is set the temperature and it stays that way. It will feed itself with pellets when it needs to. You can be sure to replicate your results time and time again with this kind of consistency.
I have already mentioned about the versatility of pellet grills but I believe it’s worth mentioning that aside from what I’ve mentioned above, you can easily come up with ways to use it that has never been tried before. This kind of grill is just the most versatile in the market today.
Wide Range of Temperature
Do you know what’s my biggest gripe about gas grills? It flares up. It’s just difficult to be consistent with it. Not so with pellet grill. It offers a wide range of temperature that you can just decide whether you want to cook fast and hot or low and slow. There are models that even add a cold smoker attachment which is also great for fish, sausages, and cheeses.
What Don't I Like About the Traeger Renegade Elite?
This is honestly a difficult thing to talk about because there is really nothing much to dislike about the Traeger Renegade Elite. But since I promised a balanced review, I will do my best to list down a few caveats that I find in this amazing grill. There is indeed no perfect system and even the good ones have a few things to dislike about.
- The price : You can buy the Traeger Renegade Elite from their website at $749.97, but since I have a deep pocket, this price is already prohibitive. If you’re really a grilling aficionado, the website also offers financing options. You will spend a lot less if you buy the Traeger TFB29LZA Junior Elite Grill from Amazon. This is the smaller and less expensive version which works equally well.
- A little Snafu with the Temperature controller: I have mentioned that the temperature controller is one of the killer features of the Traeger Renegade Elite. Will it quit on me! The problem was a little bit compounded by the fact that Traeger won’t provide warranty for the part because it was purchased from Amazon. The good thing is, the Amazon customer service took care of the problem and sent a new temperature controller. I installed the new part and everything is working great again. Kudos to the Amazon customer service!
- The Traeger company can be a bit obnoxious: While this gripe is not specific to the grill itself, I don’t like that fact that I see things like “use our pellets or warranty is void” all over the grill. To me, this is a bit bullish because as a buyer, I should have the free hand to choose whatever pellets I want and if your pellets are good, I will buy it anyway, so what’s the point of the threat? On top of that, the pellets are ridiculously expensive at $19 per 20lb bag and a bag of pellet is hardly the equivalent of a tank of propane. My educated guess is that a tank of propane is roughly the equivalent of 3 bags of pellets, but that would also mean buying a gas grill which I really don’t like.
It would have been better if the company placed a bottom shelf on the grill. I see it as a perfect place to store things and one missed opportunity to utilize. What they give you instead is an expensive accessory that you can add at the front of the grill which is a waste of space and I would rather have it under it to minimize the space footprint.
As far as maintenance goes, I suggest that you put a rinsed tin can as a lining for the grease bucket. Arrange it in such a way that the grease falls into the can instead of just the grease bucket. This way, you can save more time because all you need to do is discard the can when it's filled with grease instead of having a nightmare cleaning the bucket.
To Traeger or not to Traeger?
At the end of the day, the decision to buy the Traeger Renegade Elite is on you. I bought mine and aside from the gripes that I’ve listed above, I have no major regrets with my purchase. The hiccups that I experienced are minor and are easy to remedy. In fact, after I did all that I’ve suggested above, I really haven’t met anything gripe-worthy anymore. My grill hums like a well-oiled machine and it hasn’t disappointed me on cookouts and other occasions.
Over the past couple of years, I have observed that the Traeger company have stepped up its game, upgrading and redesigning its grills while continually making a buzz with their current offerings. I’m sure that we will be hearing more offerings from this company in the coming days. This is a good thing for me because when the time comes for me to part with my grill, I would want the next one to be another Traeger still.
The fact that you have a versatile system is already something to consider. Buying just one grill system that can cook a lot of different but related cuisines is a great plus in my books. I’m one of those minimalist types who want to reduce the number of tools I use in my kitchen and that’s why I love multi-purpose tools.
How about you? What’s your experience with the Traeger Renegade Elite? You might also have experience with other grills, feel free to share your feedback in the comments below.