When the weekend arrives, you probably transition to relaxation mode. Friends and family come to commiserate the scars from the week with you over one of your classic backyard barbecues. At these times you appreciate the precious little time you have, and weigh your options to spend more of that time with the people you love, instead of standing and sweating over the grill.
The Traeger Junior Elite pellet grill brings the best of both worlds to you and your weekend activities. Delicious backyard barbecue shared with the people who mean the most to you, letting you spend time with them, and not tethered to the equipment.
After working with a variety of smoking devices, professionally, personally and competitively, the Traeger pellet system has features that draw you in, to inspect what it could offer over other smokers such as electric with wood chips, offset and logs or the kamado ceramic styles.
After an extended use of the Traeger Junior Elite model, I decided to review and write down everything I liked and disliked about this particular product.
In a Rush? Our Editor's Conclusion:
Table of Contents
- 1 Why You Should Buy a Pellet Grill?
- 2 Traeger Grills Customer Reviews - Is it Trustworthy?
- 3 Quick Overview on Traeger Junior Elite
- 4 Key Features of Junior Elite Pellet Grill
- 5 What We Like
- 6 Customer Support
- 7 What We Don't Like
- 8 Traeger Junior Elite Video Review
- 9 Our Editor's Conclusion:
- 10 FAQs
- 11 Other Traeger Product Reviews:
Why You Should Buy a Pellet Grill?
Before I jump into a more detailed review on Traeger Junior Elite, let me tell you a couple of things that I think you should know about pellet grills.
There are different types of grills in the market today, like gas grills, electric, charcoal and even hybrid combo grills and all of them have their advantages and disadvantages.
Even though pellet grills have become very popular in the recent years, their huge popularity growth is directly connected to their useful features and advantages over other types of grills.
Precise Temperature Control
Due being build and developed during the 1990s, Pellet grills have taken advantage of the technology developments of these years.
Most of pellet grills come with several technology features, which make grilling experience very easy and enjoyable.
Precise temperature control is one of them. The temperature on these type of grills is controlled with just a press of a button. The pellets are automated and released into the fire pot based on the set temperature, allowing the grill to maintain a precise temperature and also provide you with an even cooking experience.
Ease of Use
Pellet grills are packed with features which will make your cooking experience much easier when compared to other types of grills.
Automatic pellet controlling, Start-up without any fluid, Push-of-a-button ignition, Quick Pre-Heating and several other features which will save you a lot of time and skip annoying tasks.
Versatility & Wood/Pellet Flavor
Versatility is one big advantage of pellet grills, especially Traeger models.
Traeger models come all as 6-in-1 versatility. With just one grill, you will be able to cook your food on 6 different methods; grill, smoke, barbecue, bake, braise & roast.
Traeger Grills Customer Reviews - Is it Trustworthy?
Their started producing their first product in the 1988 and have never stopped since then.
They are generally know for high-quality and premium grills, mainly pellet ones. Traeger grills is actually the original holder of the patent grilling technology which gave them a huge boost in the market and quickly become an authority.
They have continuously produced high quality cooking products, adding new features and improving the existing ones, to make sure the customer receives the best pellet cooking experience.
If you take a look at their communities, they have a very loyal fan base due to good reputation and most of their customers report long-lasting products and very good cooking experience.
Also, their customer support is very good. They will answer your emails and any question you have as soon as possible. It is worth mentioning that their products come with a 3 year warranty, which is a huge advantage over other competitor manufacturers.
Quick Overview on Traeger Junior Elite
Traeger Junior Elite Technical Details
After an overview on advantages of a pellet grill, let's jump in the review of Traeger Junior Elite pellet smoker.
For me, the simplicity that Traeger offers allows it to rise above the rest. Once you get started you spend a minimal amount of time and effort in operating on the front end cooking surface, and the backend fuel loading area.
Traeger is synonymous with pellet fueled grills and smokers. Known for paving the road with pellet systems and refining the techniques since the mid-1980’s. The Junior Elite model brings the user versatility while offering a wood fired flavor to your meats and side dishes.
Accommodations include ease of use by being lightweight enough to use at home, or to take on the road to the beach, campsite, or tailgating party. While still being tough enough to take all you throw at it.
The Junior Elite isn’t your typical smoker. It works as a grill that infuses your favorite dishes with complimenting hardwood flavors on an amply sized cook top. The 300 square inch surface supports two pork butts, two whole chickens, a turkey, three racks of ribs, a dozen hamburgers or 18 hot dogs. We have even slow cooked a dozen grilled cheese sandwiches at one time with fruit wood pellets.
Key Features of Junior Elite Pellet Grill
What We Like
Ease of Use
The Junior Elite is a one person job. Simply fill the hopper with your desired flavor of hardwood pellets and set the digital elite controller. The electronic auto-start ignition removes the pain of preparing the charcoal chimney, waiting for the coals to turn the right color, and hoping the temperature maintains its heat throughout the cooking process.
Put away any thought of loading and reloading wood chips or picking the right amount of seasoned wood to operate electric or offset smokers. You will also store a years’ worth of pellets in a Tupperware container versus maintaining a cord of wood on the side of the house.
The convection blower circulates the heat evenly so you don’t to guess where the cold or hot spots are. The playing field is leveled for a consistent outcome every time.
Durability and Construction
Durability is a foremost in the construction of the Traeger Junior Elite. Built with powerful steel, powder coated to stand the test of time. It is accompanied with two hearty wheels to allow you the freedom of mobility, which is ideal if you’re cooking when inclement weather encroaches.
Cooking Space and Performance
Surface size is always important when trying to feed your army of followers. The Junior Elite offers 300 square inches of cooking surface to keep all your attendees content with ample sustenance.
As for pellet capacity, the Traeger eliminates the multitude of charcoal and firewood you would otherwise keep on hand. The Junior Elite hopper manages 8 pounds of pellets at a time.
Averaging about ½ pound of pellets per hour, gives you up to 16 hours of smoking ability. This frees up the space you might store a cord of wood for a summer full of smoking, and precious shed space holding 26 pound charcoal bags. An 110V outlet is all you need, easy to find in your backyard, campsite or in tailgate areas.
Also, one benefit that pellet grills have over other types of cooking product is the taste they give to your food. All electric smokers, grill and wood smokers can leave off flavors on your food, depending on their source. This doesn’t hold true with 100% hardwood Traeger's pellets, processed for the same results every time.
Versatility for the user surrounds the grill. The operator can choose to run it hot and fast for dinner after work, or go low and slow on the weekend to infuse the hardwood smoke over time. Plan your cooks accordingly to take advantage of the pellet setup, or smoke your meat with one flavor, then empty the hopper quick and easy and switch to a second flavor for veggies and side dishes.
6-in-1, the Junior Elite offers you the options of smoking your meal, grilling or baking it. It serves as a roaster, a braising device or for a traditional BBQ.
Digital Elite Temp Controller
The Junior Elite comes with the Traeger's Advanced Digital Elite Temp Controller.
With consistency being the key, the integrated digital elite controller maintains your temperature within 20° +/-. This allows you to repeat your successes easily, and tweak the ones that aren’t quite yet perfect.
This controlling unit also plays an important role in the ability to make you use this product in six different cooking methods and cooking special meals, such as chuck roast, turkey or other huge chunk of meats, for several hours in an even cooking temperature.
Portability & Ergonomic Design
The Traeger weighs in at just under 70 pounds, making it a cinch for you to move in the bed of your truck. The wheels allow you to set camp wherever you want, and the ability to move it to the shade when the sun is too much, or to cover when the rain arrives.
Ergonomic consideration is designed in so you can comfortably open, close and move the unit. The ignition switch is placed appropriately next to the digital controller. This gives you the comfort to operate with ease. The convection blower works with the pellet auger to get up to temperature and stay there.
Easy to Clean
The porcelain grill grates are simple to clean, even different meats rotate through. If your ribs leave extra sauce, a simple towel in the tongs wipe creates a clean surface for your fajita meat. This feature gives you the ease of rotating from one entrée to the next. When the cookout is over, and the device is cooled, we simply vacuum any leftover pellet residue out of the hopper and the burn box. Additionally there is no charcoal dust left on your hands or ground from charcoal briquettes.
Support from Traeger is superb. We began receiving emails each week with recipe ideas and updates after we signed up. The recipes span from brick oven style pizza, cobblers and pies, as well as jerky and hot sandwiches.
What We Don't Like
Speaking with friends and other Traeger owners, questions arose about ‘mini-explosions.’ I have never experienced this first hand but heard stories about a small combustion when hitting the ignition. It turns out that an accumulation of pellet dust from previous cooks can create a small head turning event. Big enough to scare you, but not to do any damage. Because I clean the box thoroughly after each use there is no residual powder or dust to serve as a fuel cloud. Your Shop-Vac is a trusty tool here. Keeping your grill clean should work against this.
Talk of the unit going cold is another problem others have mentioned. Some saying it has happened multiple times. This hasn’t happened to our unit, because I do check up on it. The Traeger Junior Elite is designed to make your life easier, it is not to be ignored. If left unattended for hours without any attention the pellet hopper can create a vortex where pellets stop dropping, and the unit can turn off to prevent accidents. You need to check the hopper and stir the pellets from time to time. If you’re looking for a set it and forget it function, the oven in the kitchen is you best move.
Traeger Junior Elite Video Review
Our Editor's Conclusion:
We love the pellet smoker system. Years of wood chips in the electric unit, wood in the offset smoker and dirty hands dealing with charcoal left us looking for a better approach for the family.
The Junior Elite fit that so well for us, that when our daughter moved into her first house we made the Junior Elite her house warming gift. It is priced to fit a simple budget, and offers plenty of add-ons from the company in the form of support, so we can grow with the system. The Traeger Junior Elite is a great recommendation from our family for your household.
Here are a few frequently asked questions about Junior Elite pellet grill:
How many items can you cook at the same time?
Junior Elite has a 300 square inches cooking area, about 20" x 15" and can hold up to 12 burgers, 4 chickens, 18 hot dogs or 3 racks of ribs.
Is Traeger Junior Elite a good grill for beginners?
Based on our opinion, we think that this model is a suitable model for a beginner. It has a compact design, several useful features, comes with a recipe book and there are tons of helpful videos on the Traeger Community Forums and Youtube, so you won't have any problem finding information.
How even is the cooking temperature?
The Junior Elite pellet smoker comes with Digital Elite Temp Controller which makes the grill provide you a very precise temperature, +/- 20° of the set temperature.
Does it work in low temperatures?
The Digital Elite Temperature controller makes it possible to use the unit in several temperature levels, starting from very low temperatures to high grilling heat.
Can I mix different pellet flavors?
Yes, you are free to mix several different pellets. Just fill up the hopper with the pellet flavors that you want to give an unique and delicious smokey taste to your food.
Other Traeger Product Reviews:
We have published several Traeger product review articles, showcasing everything you need to know for several of their models: