Traeger Lil’ Tex Elite 22-Inch
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I have had the Traeger Lil’ Tex Elite Pellet Grill for over a year now and I could feed an entire town on the amount of great food I have cooked on this pellet grill. This is the 22 inch version which is more than ample for normal backyard cooking but they do have a larger 34 inch model if you want just a little more cooking space.
Here’s a few of the specs from the website:
- 418 sq. In. Grilling area
- Digital Elite controller with LED display Maintains precise temperature, just like your oven
- Fueled by 100% pure hardwood pellets. Real wood, real flavor
- Electronic auto-start ignition
- Easy to clean porcelain grill grates
In case you’re antsy and don’t want to wait, you can purchase this smoker now knowing that you are getting a smoker that is loved by thousands and thousands of fans, including myself.
Traeger pretty much invented the wheel where pellet smoking is concerned and I have a lot of respect and admiration for what they started and have improved and maintained over all of these years.
Before I received the Traeger pellet grill I knew they had a very loyal following but I also knew that a lot of folks complained about lack of smoke flavor when using this smoker.
After using it, I can tell you that it’s all about the technique. I get a ton of smoke flavor from this smoker and I have turned out some amazing food from it with as much great smoke flavor as I get on any smoker that I use.
I first received this smoker in December 2015 and I just right into getting it ready to use.
This required about 30 minutes of assembly, which included attaching the legs, wheels, lid handle and chimney cap.
A typical 18 lb hopper..
A grease tube juts out from the bottom of the barrel to help dispel any grease that drips down onto the grease pan. Traeger provides a handy bucket and even a small catch at the top of the tube to make sure the bucket stays put.
Per the recommendations in the instructions, I covered the drip pan with foil to ensure fast and easy cleanup.
And of course, there’s an easy-to-use control panel. You can’t get much easier than plugging it in, turning it on and turning the dial to your desired temperature.
When you turn it on for the first time, assuming you’ve already filled the hopper with your favorite flavor of real wood pellets, you will hear the auger* start turning, the fan will come on and pretty quickly you will hear pellet dropping into the firepot.
*The “auger” looks like an oversized drill bit and as it slowly turns, it moves pellets from the hopper to the firepot where they are able to burn and produce heat and smoke.
In the firepot is a small rod that is just an inch long or so and it heats up, turns red and gets blazing hot. As the firepot fills with pellets they begin to smolder and then smoke and then after about 7-8 minutes the pellets burst into flames.
This is the coolest thing you will ever hear.. that roaring fire that is taking place in that small firepot is burning REAL wood and THAT is what is going to cook your food and flavor it with delicious smoke!
It’s a beautiful thing!
Here it is about 2 minutes in..
And then once the pellets burst into flames, the smoke settles into that perfect thin blue smoke that makes your food taste so good.
At 8 minutes.. see the thin blue smoke?
At this point, the smoker is ready to use. Close the lid and go get the food.
Note: if this is your first time using the Traeger, it is recommended that you “season” the smoker which is just to say you run it through a normal cooking cycle for an hour or two at normal cooking temperatures to burn off any manufacturing oils, to cure the paint and to get some smoke particles embedded in the metal walls of the smoke chamber.
I recommend at least 1 to 1.5 hours at around 250°F before adding any food for your first run.
Cooking is as simple as placing food directly on the grate, or you can place the food in a shallow pan and set that on the grate if you want to keep the smoker a little cleaner.
I like to place a few crumpled paper towels down in the grease bucket to soak up the grease that drips in.
This pellet grill does a great job of cooking food and it can do it at temperatures anywhere between about 180 and 450°F with zero problems even in the dead of winter. The temperature fluctuations, like many other smokers and even home ovens, were +/- about 15°F but mostly stayed right where I wanted it. The average temperature matched what I had it set on very closely.
When you are finished cooking, turn the dial to “Shut Down Cycle” and wait for it to turn off before attempting to clean it.
You will need a vacuum for this smoker so you can vacuum it out every time you use it. This is the easiest way to clean the ashes out of ANY smoker for that matter. This will ensure that the firepot is working at it’s most efficient level and allow the air to flow freely.
Here is the vacuum that I use:
I will add more to this writeup as I have time and until then, you can rest assured that you can not go wrong with this smoker. It’s a great smoker from a great company that’s been around for a very long time.
I would also love to hear your comments, tips, experience, etc. with the Traeger Lil’ Tex Elite 22-inch in the comments area below.
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I am looking for the small upper grill rack for our Lil Tex Elite 22 treager grill can you tell me where I can buy one? Please
“a lot of folks complained about lack of smoke flavor. After using it, I can tell you that it’s all about the technique. I get a ton of smoke flavor from this smoker and I have turned out some amazing food from it with as much great smoke flavor as I get on any smoker that I use.”
I am not new to smoking, I really have been smoking all my adult life, and really perfected things about 10 years ago.
This year I purchased a larger Traeger with all the bells and whistles, and I am about ready to ditch it. I have cooked on it 6 times now, chicken, pork, never a brisket. I have used both hickory and mesquite pellets.
I just have not been able to “smoke” items on the wood fire grill.
I tried the smoke setting for as much as 4 hours on pork, and it just did not get as smokey as a bradley, bullet, or chief would in 1 hour of smoke.
Please elaborate on how to impart more smokey flavor with a pellet grill.
What is the smallest or cheapest model you think I can get away with where I can smoke a 15 lbs turkey?
I am looking to purchase a pellet smoker. I see you have tried several and I would love to get your personal opinion (not your business opinion). Campchef, traeger, rec-tec or any of the many brands. I’m looking for quality and longevity.
I really enjoy you web site.
Thanks for your help
Gerry, my personal and business opinion are one and the same.
I am in the process of putting together a comparison chart for the pellet grills that I own but until then, here’s the short version:
If you like exact temperatures, high quality, lots of stainless steel, a 40 lb hopper and a grill that looks as awesome as it’s name, then REC TEC is the only choice.. at a higher price tag than the others of course.
If you require a ton of cooking space, and don’t mind some fluctuations in temperature that still average out to your set temperature, a super-large 60 lb pellet hopper and a small footprint, then the Pit Boss Copperhead 7 Series is the one to have. With a vertical layout, 6 large racks and a full glass see-thru door, It’s a great piece of equipment.
The Traeger Lil’ Tex’ Elite 22 and the Camp Chef Woodwind are on equal playing fields with cooking space, hopper size, temperature fluctuations and build quality but the Woodwind has several extra features that put it ahead of the Traeger such as hopper cleanout, optional searbox, easy ash cleanout and extra top grate.
The fact that you are mainly looking for quality and longevity, I would highly recommend the REC TEC Bull (RT-700). It is well worth the extra cost and if you take care of it, it should last for a great many years. Furthermore, with a 6 year warranty, you are in good hands if it ever does need a part replacement.