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.
Note: You can also order the formulas for my rubs and sauce and make these yourself at home. Grab those HERE and download immediately.