Traeger has taken high quality, hardwood pellets (a by-product of the wood industry that can be used to heat for cooking) and used them to make great barbecue (20 models, to be exact). The Lil' Tex Elite is Traeger's smallest unit, but at 418 square inches of cooking space, you will have plenty of room for any family cookout. And although it is sold as a grill, it works equally as well as a smoker and is versatile enough to also braise, bake, and roast. The sturdy construction along with the digital temperature controller allows for precise heating and consistency when cooking your wood-fired creations.
How Wood Pellets Work
These small wood pellets, which are similar to animal feed and burn cleanly and efficiently, create the heat and the smoke, making for a cooking method that is as close to smoking with hardwood as you can get without splitting logs. Wood pellets, held in a small hopper, are moved into the cooking chamber by a mechanical auger. In the center of the cooking chamber is a small firepot with an electric heating element which ignites the pellets to create the heat and the smoke. During the ignition period, which is only four minutes, the unit uses 300 watts; after that, the unit uses just 50 watts. This means that electric usage is low and won't drive up your power bills.
Description and Specs
Although this may be the company's smallest model, the Traeger Lil' Tex Elite is large enough to hold four whole chickens, five racks or ribs, 24 hot dogs, or 16 hamburgers. This unit is perfect for the backyard cook who wants more than a gas grill but doesn't want any extra work.
The Lil' Tex Elite is fitted with several features to make the griller's life easier. A controlled feeding mechanism takes care of moving the pellets into the auger so you don't have to keep too close an eye on the fuel level. The Digital Elite Controller, a temperature control panel that maintains the temperature within 20 degrees, allows the cook to keep it low for smoking, or hot for searing (at 450 degrees max). This Traeger unit also uses an autostart ignition for turning on and off with the push of a button.
Here are the specs at a glance:
- 418 square inches of total cooking area
- Solid state cooking system
- Auger feed pellet burner
- Autostart ignition
- 20,000 BTU burner output
- Operates on a standard 100-volt outlet
- Made in China
Pros and Cons
Years of design improvements and practical testing have improved the Traeger grills and smokers to the point of being some of the best outdoor cooking equipment on the market. This pellet grill provides clean, efficient fuel consumption, excellent grease management, and easy cleanup. Traeger's design offers a "set it and forget it" style of cooking with consistent results. If you are looking for a way to prepare your food that is a step above the standard gas grill, the Lil' Tex Elite will serve up flavorful food in a variety of ways.
With that being said, unfortunately, Traeger shipped its manufacturing out of their Oregon factory to a foreign factory—and quality has suffered for it. While still a pretty good product, the Traeger grills of today are not what they used to be, and Traeger grill reviews reflect this.
You also need to keep in mind that using a pellet grill does require specialized fuel; the wood pellets that this unit runs on are a particular type and you will need a decent amount to run your smoker. You can purchase them online—there are several companies that supply these pellets, including Traeger.