Before 2022, the main Traeger lineup was their introductory Pro line, mid-priced Ironwood, and premium Timberline. At the beginning of 2022, Traeger rolled out their top-of-the-line versions of Timberline that are loaded with great features at about twice the price (mid-size: $3,299.99, large: $3,799.99). Now here comes the new Ironwood that includes some of those same new features and a few other upgrades at a more modest price increase.
The new Traeger mid-size Ironwood and large Ironwood XL are upgraded versions of their existing Ironwood 650 and Ironwood 885. Traeger currently doesn’t plan to discontinue the older models. The old Ironwood 650 and 885 are $1,299.99 and $1,499.99 respectively. The new Ironwood and Ironwood XL are $1,799.99 and $1,999.99. Traeger states the new Ironwood price points were “strategically chosen to make the premium product more attainable for general consumers.”
For this review, we tested the new mid-size Ironwood which is 47″H x 46″W x 27″ D, weighing 149 pounds. The body is coated steel. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price(“MSRP”) is $1,799.99. The larger XL is 48″H x 59″ W x 25″D, weighing 199 pounds. The MSRP is $1,999.99.
Instead of a barrel-shaped smokebox, Ironwood has stadium or race track-shaped sides with a high-profile hood. The unique design is meant to create a steady, even flow of heat and smoke throughout the smoke box by traveling upward, hitting the curved hood, then being sucked downward out a vent that spans the back from left to right.
The wide vent prevents heat from being concentrated to one exhaust point as would be the case with a chimney.
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A porcelain-coated extender cooking rack can slide into brackets at different height levels or be removed to make way for a big, holiday turkey.
The main cooking grates are split and can sit up high for smoking, or be flipped over and dropped down low for searing.
Most pellet “grills” are really smokers – great smokers mind you – but they just don’t get hot enough to properly sear. Ironwood did OK. Keep reading to learn more.
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You may have already noticed Ironwood’s unusual, funnel-shaped drip tray.
The funnel guides grease and gunk down an opening on the left. Underneath is an equally unusual diffuser that spans the entire lower firebox front to back and left to right.
It diffuses heat and smoke from the firepot beneath. You can see the foil-lined, removable grease/ash bucket on the left and the firepot where the wood pellets burn on the right.
Traeger states their design effectively blows ash into the grease/ash bucket and keeps the firepot ash free.
You should still clean out the bottom occasionally, but we were surprised by how well this design kept ash from accumulating in the firepot; a major cause of system malfunction. All of the above elements are taken from the new Timberlines.
Ironwood also inherits Timberline’s new and improved WiFIRE Control System. Fire it up and your journey begins.
When Timberline first appeared in 2017, the WiFIRE controller and app were among the more sophisticated pellet smoker systems we’d encountered. These days apps are everywhere and are becoming commonplace with backyard smokers and grills. The 2017 WiFIRE was just a starting point. Software never sleeps and neither do Traeger’s programmers. The new version has more of everything.
From the control panel on the pellet hopper, or from Traeger’s smart phone app, WiFIRE reports on the status of the entire smoker including set temp, actual temp, and fuel level. You can change settings, such as cooking temp or internal meat target temp. An alarm will notify you when your set cooking time or desired meat temperature is achieved. Everything is connected to WiFIRE, including two meat probes that come with Ironwood. Ironwood is also compatible with Traeger’s optional, wireless MEATER meat probes. Click here to read our MEATER Review.
A typical problem with wireless technology is connectivity. We learned long ago that connecting a smartphone app to a wireless device on the deck is often frustrating. One shouldn’t rush to blame the smoker. Connection problems can result from a variety of factors like an out-of-date modem or placement of the device outside a network’s range. The app gives you the same control and monitoring as the control panel, but right in the palm of your hand, from anywhere. Run an errand or head to the office while Timberline smokes low-and-slow back home. The WiFIRE App is your traveling control panel. If your brisket progresses faster than anticipated, just hit the “Keep Warm” button and WiFIRE will drop the cooking temp to 165°F to hold your goodies until you return.
You can also access Traeger’s Recipe Library from the app. Here at AmazingRibs.com we have a wealth of recipes for outdoor cooking. Click here to check them out. And many of our readers who own the New York Times Best Selling book, “Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling“, already have an abundance of delicious choices. But hey – the more the merrier. And it’s delicious fun to occasionally pull out your cell phone and explore ideas for breakfast, lunch, or dinner on the Traeger App.
Another Timberline carryover is Traeger’s new PAL (Pop-And-Lock) Accessory Rail which wraps around the front and sides of Ironwood.
And allows you to position various, optional accessories, like tool hooks and condiment trays, wherever you like.
Other notable features
The hood is double walled with a heavy insulation strip around the lip.
A pellet sensor monitors fuel level in the 20 pound pellet hopper which has a sliding, pellet clean-out chute at the bottom.
We started out with flank steaks that were thin enough to just throw on a hot grill and sear without going through a two-step process like Reverse Sear, which is needed for thick steaks. With Reverse Sear we cook thick steaks low and slow at 250°F to gently bring the internal meat temp up to about 115°F, then crank the heat and quickly sear the exterior, leaving the interior pink and juicy. Click here for Reverse Sear instructions.
So we cranked Ironwood up to its max temp of 500°F and waited for Ironwood to get as hot as it could and, hopefully, sizzle our flank steaks. Instead, we got this high heat temp error.
&$!#!@!!! Uh, wait a minute. In our haste to get cookin’, we bypassed connecting Ironwood to the internet. Even if you don’t plan on using Ironwood’s App, you still need to connect it to update the system. These new Wi-Fi grills and smokers often sit in warehouses for several months and are already outdated by the time you get your hands on them. And just like your computer, they need periodic updating over the air. After getting WiFire up to date, we had one more error, but ever since it’s been smooth smokin’.
We switched gears and went for a simple smoked salmon. As expected, the results were good. We had a small complaint about Ironwood’s built-in grill lights. This photo shows the lights located on the right side at grate level. The lights come on automatically when the lid is raised.
They’re useful after dark, but only illuminate a smallish area of the cook surface. Overhead lights would be more effective.
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Once again, Ironwood performed as expected producing good results.
Back to steak. This time we did one and a half inch thick strip steaks which called for Reverse Sear. We slowly brought our steak’s internal meat temp up, monitoring it with Ironwoods included meat thermometers. When they hit 115°F we brought them indoors and cranked Ironwood to the max temp of 500°F. The app alerted us when we reached our set point and back on they went. The results were meh. As previously mentioned, most pellet “grills” don’t do a good job searing. They do OK with burgers, but searing steak is usually a challenge.
Packaging and assembly
Traeger has some of the heaviest and most extensive, custom-fit, cardboard packaging we’ve seen. We were occasionally confused by the pictograph assembly guide, but nothing overly difficult.
Price tags on Traeger’s top-of-the-line Timberline pellet smokers are pretty high. Ironwood has many of Timberline’s cool features at a more modest price. But a more modest price than something expensive can still turn away many shoppers. Ironwood ain’t cheap either. Be that as it may, Ironwood’s price brings it within reach of a larger demographic. We wish it had better high temp performance, but that’s not unusual in the world of pellet burners.
There’s a lot to love here, especially the WiFire App which remains one of the best we’ve seen. WiFire is a technophile’s wireless pellet smoker dream come true. Traeger has succeeded in holding onto top dog status in the pellet smoker arena and Traeger loyalists who don’t have the budget for Timberline now have an aspirational alternative. We give the new Ironwood our AmazingRibs Best Value Gold Medal.
The new Ironwoods are covered under Traeger’s 10-Year Limited Warranty.
We thank Traeger for providing an Ironwood for this review.
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Cooked On It
We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.
420 square inches
Mid-Size(about 20 burgers)
230 square inches
Traeger Pellet Grills, LLC.
Traeger pioneered and popularized the pellet smoker and remains the best known brand since it is in wide distribution. And they aim to keep it that way even though competition is growing. New owners took over in 2014 and invested heavily in product development and marketing. In 2021 Traeger went public.
They offer a full line of branded extras from Traeger Pellets and rubs to Traeger insulation blankets and cold smoker add-ons. Recently they introduced a gas burning griddle called Flatrock.
Max Good, Full time grill tester - Max Good, AmazingRibs.com's Vice President of Product Reviews & Keeper of the Flame, is the man in charge of finding the best products for the AmazingRibs.com Equipment Reviews section. Max bottles his own barbecue sauce recipes and now sells them around the country.