Able to grill, smoke, and bake
Wi-Fi abilities are reliable and convenient
Delivers extremely even cooking
Easy to clean and switch pellets
Takes a while to heat up
Our tester was sent a free sample of the Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Grill to review.
If you’re someone who loves grilling and smoking food all summer long (and perhaps in the off-season, too), a product like the Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Grill is right up your alley. This stately grill can replace both your regular grill and smoker thanks to its wide temperature range and superior smoking abilities, but is it really worth the high price? After all, you could easily buy both a new grill and a top-rated smoker for less than the Ironwood 885’s $1,500 price tag.
I wanted to find out if this grill lives up to the hype, so I put it to the test over the course of several weeks—here’s what I found.
Setup Process: Two people needed
The Ironwood 885 is big and heavy, and as such, it arrives via freight shipping, so someone will have to be home to sign for it. You’re also going to need a friend (or two) to help move the roughly 200-pound box to where you want it—my boyfriend and I were just barely able to wrangle it onto our deck. Thankfully, relocating the massive box is the most challenging part of setting up (in my opinion, anyway).
I was truly blown away not only by the convenience and reliability provided by the app, but its versatility, as well.
It took my boyfriend and me about an hour from start to finish to put together the Ironwood 885. The process was fairly standard for grill setup (something I’m well versed in at this point)—we mostly just had to assemble and attach the legs and handles. Once that’s done, the grill takes care of the rest. It has a special auger-priming setting that brings the first wood pellets into the firebox, and we seasoned the grill per the instructions, running it for 20 minutes on medium heat and 30 minutes at its max heat.
Design: Carefully considered
Stately and sturdy are two words that come to mind when I think about the Ironwood 885. There’s no denying it’s a large grill—54 inches wide and 47 inches tall, weighing in at 175 pounds—but it’s definitely an attractive addition to any deck or patio.
The grill has a barrel-shaped body with two porcelain-coated steel grates, boasting 885 square inches of cooking space (hence its name), and its pellet hopper, which can hold up to 20 pounds of fuel at a time, is on the right side of the grill. There’s a stainless steel table on the left side, complete with three tool hooks, and the whole thing is mounted on two large all-terrain wheels and two swiveling caster wheels that you can lock to keep it in place. Despite its heavy weight, I was able to move the grill around our deck by myself easily, as the wheels are very responsive.
I’ve tested several grills in my career, and the Traeger Ironwood 885 is by far the most solid. It’s made from heavy-duty powder-coated steel, and its joints are all-welded for stability. The side table is made from regular stainless steel, and under the hood, there’s a brushless motor and variable speed fan.
The grates on the Ironwood are made from porcelain-coated stainless steel, and they can be adjusted into different positions, depending on how you’re cooking. When I was using the grill to smoke, I kept the main grate in the raised position. When I was cooking burgers or steaks, I dropped it down so it would be closer to the heat source, which helped me put a good sear on the meat. The upper grate can be adjusted forward or back inside the body—or removed altogether if you don’t need the extra space.
Fuel Type: Wood pellets
The Traeger Ironwood series is a line of wood pellet grills, and the brand is adamant that you should solely use their wood pellets. Thankfully, Traeger wood pellets, which come in a variety of flavors, are widely available and reasonably priced, costing around $18 for a 20-pound bag.
One of the standout features of this grill is its hopper cleanout system, which makes it easy to switch out wood pellets.
Because pellet grills have several components powered by electricity, you do need to place this grill near an electrical outlet. We have one on our deck that the grill’s power cord easily reached, but you might need an extension cord if you plan to place the grill out on your patio or in your yard somewhere.
One of the standout features of this grill is its hopper cleanout system, which makes it easy to switch out wood pellets. With other pellet grills, you’re pretty much stuck using whatever flavor wood pellets you put in, but the Traeger has a convenient “trap door” on the back of the hopper to empty out pellets. This came in handy when I wanted to switch from apple pellets to hickory pellets, as I was able to open the door and dump all the apple pellets into a big bowl. From there, I put the apple pellets back in the bag and refilled the hopper with the hickory pellets.
Temperature Control: Slow to heat, but delivers even cooking
Pellet grills take longer to heat up than gas grills, which can be a bit inconvenient when you’re just cooking up a few burgers for dinner. Like other pellet grills I’ve tested, the Traeger Ironwood 885 takes a solid 10 to 15 minutes to reach the 400-degree range, so I quickly learned to plan ahead when cooking on it.
However, once it’s reached the desired temperature, which can be set anywhere between 165 and 500 degrees in 5-degree increments, the grill does an amazing job of maintaining a consistent temperature. In the many hours I spent cooking on it, the Ironwood never strayed more than 10 degrees from the set temperature, even after the lid was open. It’s able to maintain this precise level of control thanks to the brand’s D2 Direct Drive system, which senses when the lid is open and prevents extra pellets from being dumped into the firepot (a common woe with cheap pellet grills).
I was also thoroughly impressed with the even cooking of the grill. In addition to double-sidewall insulation that helps maintain steady heat levels, the Ironwood has a TRU Convection® System that creates a “vortex” of heat and smoke to cook food quickly and evenly and a downdraft exhaust system that fills the grill with fresh smoke for improved flavor. I could hear the fan running during operation, and the grill delivered consistently even cooking, no matter where meat was placed on the grates.
App: Reliable and convenient
I’ve tested app-connected grills in the past, and they often have trouble maintaining a connection, forcing you to frequently re-sync the unit with your phone. Not the Traeger, though. After I downloaded the Traeger app, I scanned the QR code inside the grill’s hopper—that was all it took to get the smart functionality going. I was truly blown away not only by the convenience and reliability provided by the app, but its versatility, as well. You’re able to access Traeger’s recipe database straight from the app, and it can actually program the grill for you, following along with the recipe. Consider my mind blown.
From the main screen of the app, I was able to monitor the grill’s temperature, the meat probe’s temperature, the level of pellets left in the hopper, and the timer. I’d get push notifications when the grill was preheated, the timer was up, or the probe reached its goal temperature, and the grill itself also beeps when any of these things happen, just in case you’re nearby.
No matter how far I strayed from the grill, I was still able to monitor and control it through the app—I was even able to turn down the temperature while I was at my neighbor’s house, as I noticed my meat was cooking faster than I wanted. The app never came unpaired from the grill, and I love that I can browse and save recipes right from the app.
Performance: Truly a joy to use
I’ll just go ahead and say it: I love this grill. No matter what I cooked, smoked, or baked on it, the Ironwood 885 rose to the challenge, performing flawlessly and making my life easy. The first few times I used it, I simply cooked dinner for my boyfriend and me, making steaks, hamburgers, and roasted vegetables. Everything came out flavorful and evenly cooked, and I was able to put good sear marks on the meat by cranking up the temperature to its max of 500 degrees. I found that arranging food along the front edge of the grate delivered the best sear marks, as that’s where the heat from the firebox comes up.
Despite the fact that I was cooking for eight people, I was able to fit all the meat on the main grate of the grill—with room to spare.
I was also able to test the grill’s smoking prowess, cooking 6 pounds of pork tenderloin for a Father’s Day cookout. Despite the fact that I was cooking for eight people, I was able to fit all the meat on the main grate of the grill—with room to spare. I used the grill’s Super Smoke setting to really infuse the pork with that delicious smoky flavor, and I was extremely excited to find that it had a beautiful smoke ring! I reverse seared the tenderloin for a crispy exterior, and everyone raved about how perfectly cooked and flavorful it was.
Traeger claims its Ironwood grills can even be used for baking, so I had to try it out. I followed their chocolate chip cookie recipe, which makes amazing monster-sized cookies—they’d be the perfect cookie for homemade ice cream sandwiches. After doling the dough onto a sheet pan, I put the whole pan onto the grill and cooked them for around 30 minutes at 350 degrees. They were cooked perfectly with a golden brown finish, but I will admit they didn’t taste any different from cookies baked in the oven. Still, it’s a handy option for those hot summer days when you can’t bear to turn on the stove!
Cleaning: Liners make it easy
To make cleaning up easier, the Traeger has drip tray liners (view at Amazon) and grease bucket liners (view at Amazon). All I had to do was remove and throw away the liners when they got dirty, and it saved me a lot of time cleaning those two pieces of the grill. You also need to clean ash from inside and around the firepot after every 20 hours of use, as well as clean residue out of the grease drain, which is easy to do with a paper towel.
If you’re planning to keep your Traeger grill outside (which is the obvious choice given its hefty weight), you’ll likely want to buy the matching all-weather grill cover, which is sold separately. If water gets into the hopper, the wood pellets will expand and make a mess, so it’s best to keep the grill covered when not in use.
With a retail price of $1,500, there’s no denying that the Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Grill is an expensive grill. However, given its top-tier performance grilling, smoking, and baking, as well as its superior construction, I think it’s a worthwhile splurge for serious pitmasters.
Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Grill vs. Z Grills ZPG-450A Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly pellet grill, the Z Grills ZPG-450A Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker (view at Amazon) is a worthwhile option that costs just $400. It’s around half the size of the Traeger with just 452 square inches of cooking space, and it has a more modest temperature range of 180 to 450 degrees. In testing, I found that the Z Grills Smoker is better for low-and-slow cooking than high-heat searing, but it still delivers delicious results.
A worthwhile splurge for grilling enthusiasts.
For those who absolutely love grilling and smoking, the Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Grill is a worthwhile splurge, as it performs reliably and makes outdoor cooking both convenient and enjoyable.
- Product Name Ironwood 885 Pellet Grill
- Product Brand Traeger
- Price $1,499.99
- Weight 175 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 47 x 54 x 27 in.
- Cooking Area 885 sq. in.
- Hopper Capacity 20 pounds
- Material Powder coated steel
- Warranty 3 years