When it comes to grilling, roasting, and smoking meat and veggies, Big Green Egg and Traeger grills do it best.
Though costly, both vastly exceed expectations. But if you had to choose one brand, should you go for Big Green Egg or Traeger?
In this comparison guide, we outline the key differences and similarities between these two brands to help you with your final choice. Let’s dive right in!
Pellet grills have been around since the early 70s, but they only ever took off when Joe Traeger—founder and CEO of Traeger Grills—developed the iconic Traeger pellet grill in the late 80s.
The grill’s exterior design looked much like traditional offset smokers, with a barrel-like body and a chimney in place of the side-mounted firebox. Inside, however, was a different story.
Inspired by pellet stoves, Traeger added a three-position controller—called the LMH (Low, Medium, High) controller—to indicate the strength of the grill’s temperature. Each temperature setting provided an approximate temperature range that comes with a fixed, predetermined duty cycle.
Here’s what the Traeger does behind the scenes:
- Moves pellets from the hopper to a rotating auger, which is then transferred into a firepot
- Pellets are ignited by a hot rod
- Built-in fan strokes the fire and distributes the heat
- Temperature is controlled throughout to maintain optimal grilling temperatures
Traeger’s technology was so innovative that it was reproduced by numerous companies as soon as his patent expired in 2006.
Since it’s designed to provide continuous heat throughout the cooking process, you can just let the grill do its thing without worrying about adjusting vents or stocking coals every few hours. It’s as automated as a grill can be.
Even with the influx of “copycats,” no one could truly replicate the Traeger. The brand lives on as one of the biggest names in the grill industry, especially with the exciting new innovations the company continues to put out.
Founded by Ed Fisher in 1974, the Big Green Egg grill is an egg-shaped barbecue stove with a thick, heat-resistant ceramic shell. It was inspired by Japanese and Chinese kamados, which were massively popular in their respective countries in the 60s.
Big Green Egg grills were a never-seen-before invention in the US, which sparked the interest of many. Everyone loved how effective they were for grilling, searing, smoking, and roasting, and took off almost instantly.
Though it started off as a simple clay cooker, Fisher later refined the composition with state-of-the-art materials and turned it into the grill we know and love today. The result was a stronger, more durable cooker with insulation that easily rivaled other cookers of that period.
Unlike the Traeger Grill which later split into four different lineups, Big Green Egg stayed true to its original invention. The only real variation with Big Green Egg cookers is size. You can get them in Mini, Mini Max, Medium, Large, XL, and 2XL.
Big Green Egg grills are powered by lump charcoal. The snug-fit ceramic lid keeps the moisture and heat trapped inside for extended periods, allowing even cooking and perfect doneness. It has a much simpler, more hands-on design than Traeger grills but it’s just as effective.
Here are some of the biggest similarities and differences between these two grills:
As two of the best grill brands on the market, it’s no surprise that they boast supreme build quality. They’re designed to last years of use. In fact, a number of BBQ restaurants use both for daily grilling!
Traeger grills are made from top-quality 304 stainless steel construction with a porcelain coating. It’s rust-resistant, weather-resistant, and dent-resistant.
If we had to nitpick, we’d say that the only downside of Traeger’s construction is that some models come with a painted finish.
The finish looks great for a couple of years, but it’ll eventually peel with regular use. You can repaint the grill yourself, but it won’t be as premium as the factory finish.
Big Green Egg grills incorporate NASA-approved materials into its ceramics for increased durability and heat retention. The grill walls are incredibly thick and sturdy, so it’s unlikely to break unless banged against a hard surface.
Though both are durable in their own right, Big Green Egg grills maintain their outer appearance better with time. Traeger grills can show signs of wear and tear after a few years of use.
The design of Traeger grills and Big Green Egg grills couldn’t be any more different.
Traeger grills look similar to modern grills we know and love today: barrel-shaped firebox on a sawhorse chassis and sturdy all-terrain wheels under the right legs.
Big Green Egg grills look just like their namesake: oblong-shaped with a green exterior and a brown wooden handle. Right at the top of the dome, you’ll find a thermometer with a dial-style readout which you can use to adjust the grill’s heat.
Though Traeger looks more modern, Big Green Egg offers a cleaner, minimalistic design that fits most backyards.
But Big Green Egg seems to go a bit too far with the minimalism because all grills are sold as is, with no base or table to rest on. If you want a table, you’ll need to purchase it from the Green Egg website. That’s kind of a bummer, considering how expensive the grill already is.
Big Green Egg and Traeger grills can both reach insane levels of consistent, fiery heat.
However, Traeger grills offer automatic temperature control with Low, Medium, and High settings while Big Green Egg is more hands-on in its operation.
With the latter, you’ll need to make manual adjustments to the vents to find the right setting, which can be tricky for beginners. Traeger takes all the guesswork out of the cooking process, making it more suitable for casual or inexperienced grillers.
The max temperature remains the same across all grill types, sizes, and models, but Big Green Egg can reach higher temperatures than Traeger in shorter periods of time. It can reach a jaw-dropping 750 degrees Fahrenheit, while Traeger can reach a respectable 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Big Green Egg uses natural lump charcoal as a fuel source, while Traeger uses wood pellets. Both produce fantastic results, but their impact on flavor is different.
Traeger grills impart the slightly smoked flavor of the wood pellet to the food being cooked. As such, Traeger encourages its customers to use Traeger wood pellets and other high-quality brand pellets to achieve the best results.
Big Green Egg grills add an unmistakable charcoal flavor to the food, which some might not find as pleasant. However, it does add a nice smokey flavor to your dishes, which is great for traditional grilling and barbequing. Plus, it gives you a nice charred finish on your meat for that perfect crunchy texture!
That said, wood pellets are generally more expensive than charcoal. Branded wood pellets like Traeger’s can cost up to $20 to $30 per 20-pound bag. On the other hand, high-quality charcoal only costs around half the price.
Big Green Egg and Traeger grills come in a variety of sizes.
Big Green Egg’s smallest grill—the Mini Big Green Egg—has a grid diameter of around 10 inches and a cooking area of 79 square inches, which is enough to cook two chicken breasts or pork chops at a time. This makes it perfect for small family barbeques and camping trips, as it only weighs around 40 pounds.
Big Green Egg’s largest grill—the 2XL—has a grid diameter of 29 inches and a sizable cooking area of 672 square inches. It’s big enough to grill up to 40 burgers, 16 whole chickens, or 20 steaks at a time. This makes it suitable for large family gatherings and neighborhood BBQ parties.
Traeger’s smallest grill—the Ranger—is much larger than Big Green Egg’s Mini with a cooking area of 184 square inches. It can cook one rack of ribs, six burgers, or up to 10 hotdogs.
The Traeger Ironwood 1300, which is the company’s largest grill, boasts a cooking area of 1,300 square inches. It can cook 15 racks of ribs, 12 chickens, or 12 pork butts at a time.
Big Green Egg stays true to its traditional kamado origin, with simple construction and assembly. The company took “don’t fix what’s broken” quite literally here—they follow the kamado design as closely as possible to maximize the grill’s effectivity.
But that comes with one major disadvantage: it isn’t user-friendly out of the box.
It takes longer to master since it doesn’t come with automatic controls.
Unless you get the EGG Genius $300 add-on (which allows you to control the Egg with a controller), everything depends on manual operation.
That isn’t the case with Traeger. Traeger embraces innovation and isn’t afraid to put some modern aspects onto its grills.
Nearly everything is automatic, from temperature correction to pellet refilling. Newer versions can even perform basic troubleshooting if any problems occur with internal wiring.
But that’s not all. Traeger grills also come with a technology called Wi-Fire, which allows you to control various grill functions with your mobile phone or tablet.
Some models in the Traeger Ironwood series even feature the new D2 Drive Technology that precisely measures temperature and fuel for optimal grilling efficiency. So as long as you’re in close proximity, you don’t have to approach the grill to change the temperature and the like.
Technology-wise, Traeger takes the crown. It’s great for beginners and casual grillers who don’t want to put much thought into what’s going on in the grill.
Big Green Egg is more suitable for grillers who love taking on a manual approach to grilling and changing the temperature exactly to their liking.
Both Green Egg and Traeger are easy to clean, but Traeger speeds up the cleaning process with its grease management system.
The drip pail beneath the side shelf is easy to remove and clean, and the grates are porcelain-enameled for easy wipe-down.
Big Green Egg is a little fussier with its clean-up. Since it uses charcoal, you’ll need to regularly clean the ash from the firepit once it has cooled down.
On the flip-side, you’ll rarely need to clean out any grease because the Big Green Egg burns it off with residual heat. The ceramic surface is non-porous so it doesn’t absorb food and grease like Traeger’s steel surface.
The folks at Big Green Egg are so confident with their products’ construction quality that they offer a lifetime warranty on all their grills for personal use.
Unfortunately, Traeger’s warranty doesn’t hold a candle to Big Green Egg’s warranty. Traeger only offers a three-year warranty on their grills, and it doesn’t cover issues like peeling paint.
Still, you probably won’t touch that warranty because Traeger grills are one of the highest-quality grills on the market.
Note that these warranties are only valid for home use. If used for commercial purposes, both warranties are valid for only a year.
Traeger and Green Egg grills cost more than your average grill, but that’s only to be expected for such high-tier products.
Both more or less cost the same, with a starting price of around $450 and a maximum price of roughly $2,500.
Even so, Traeger gives you a lot more value for your money than Big Green Egg. The smallest Traeger model (Ranger) is almost twice as big as the smallest Green Egg model (Mini). The same is said with the biggest models.
Big Green Egg grills come with just the grill and nothing else. It doesn’t have any special technology that makes it stand out from regular Kamados.
If you want to add any other accessories, such as the EGG Genius, for example, you need to pay extra. And the accessories don’t come cheap, either.
Traeger comes with all the accessories you need at no extra cost. It’s also packed with amazing features like Downdraft Exhaust, RU Convection, Wi-Fire Technology, and custom cook settings via the Traeger app. The higher the model, the more features you’ll get.
With Big Green Egg, you’re getting the same functions regardless of size. You won’t get anything extra.
Still, some people do prefer the traditional look and style of Kamado grills and find higher satisfaction after being actively involved in the cooking process. The “Press and Cook” function of Traeger grills take some of this enjoyment away.
Traeger and Big Green Egg both come with their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s difficult to choose a winner.
If we’re talking value alone, Traeger takes the cake.
Traeger grills are considerably “cheaper” in terms of size, plus they come with a ton of cool features that make grilling a more pleasant and hassle-free experience.
In a nutshell, Traeger grills are suited for beginners and casual users thanks to their hands-free grilling tech.
Meanwhile, Big Green Egg grills are more suitable for old-school barbecue masters who appreciate the simplicity and versatility of Kamado grills.
They’re also great for those who want to cook at extremely high temperatures and don’t mind sacrificing technology for traditional cooking methods.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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