Is the Traeger Ironwood 650 Pellet Grill Worth $1,200?

CR's grill guy has used a similar Traeger model for years. Here’s what you need to know if you're considering this pellet grill.

Traeger Ironwood 650 pellet grill

I got my Traeger, an earlier version of the Ironwood 650, about 6 years ago. It was the fifth grill I added to my arsenal. (To say I’m a grilling enthusiast might be an understatement.) Back then, Traeger was more or less the only game in town where pellet grills were concerned, but since then the company has inspired quite a few copycats from companies like Pit Boss and Camp Chef, some of which cost hundreds less than the Traeger.

So is the Traeger Ironwood 650 pellet grill really worth $1,200?

The answer really depends on what you grill the most. In my experience, the Traeger is without equal when it comes to slow-cooking foods like ribs and brisket.  You simply load the hopper with pellets, dial in a precise temperature on the thermostat, and the grill handles the rest—my ribs come out perfect every time. For anyone who’s ever ruined a rack of ribs, cooking on the Traeger is a total game changer.

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The Traeger Ironwood 650 itself looks like a midsize gas grill, with a large firebox and an open cart below. It’s big enough to cook about 28 burger patties. A hopper holds the pellets you use for fuel—you can get anything from pecan to alder to mesquite to suit your taste. A digital thermostat allows you to light the grill and set the temperature.

One main difference between my Traeger grill and the Ironwood 650 that we tested in CR's labs is that the newer iteration has a plug-in temperature probe, which uses WiFi and a compatible smartphone app to let you monitor food, and even make adjustments to the cooking temperature from afar.

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Traeger Ironwood 650 TFB65BLE

Price: $1,200

Indirect cooking
Evenness performance
Temperature range
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Cleanup is easy on the Ironwood 650—you empty and rinse the drip tray, hit the grill grates with a brush, and occasionally remove the grates to do a deeper cleaning of the firebox. You just have to be sure to cover the grill once it’s cool—if it rains and water gets into the hopper, the wood pellets turn to sawdust. 

Aside from slow-smoked delicacies, my Traeger really hits the sweet spot with foods like fish, chicken, and pork chops. The even heating and lack of flame flare-ups helps those foods cook evenly. (With gas and charcoal grills, you have to contend with open flames.) Foods come out perfectly cooked through, and kissed with smoke. Perfection.

What About Cooking Steaks?
This is the one area where the Traeger falls short, since it doesn’t sear. I like steak best when it’s charred on the outside and rare in the middle, and for that, you need a grill that gets up to at least 700° F (most gas grills in our ratings reach 800° F; kamado grills, like the Big Green Egg, can reach 1,000° F). The Traeger maxes out around 500° F, which just isn’t hot enough to get the job done.

So if a nice seared steak and other foods that require some char are your thing, the Traeger’s not for you.

But for basically everything else you can think of to grill, the Traeger Ironwood 650 is great.

CR members can read on for a breakdown of how the Traeger performs in our extensive grill tests, as well as a look at less expensive pellet grills from our tests that perform well (including one with a side burner for searing). For more more insights on grills of all types, read our grill buying guide

Detailed Test Results for the Traeger Pellet Grill

Indirect Cooking
The Traeger absolutely excels here, earning a rating of Excellent for its impressive ability to maintain a low, steady temperature for hours on end. Another nice feature which helps with indirect cooking is the integrated temperature probe and compatible smartphone app. Together, they let you monitor both the cooking temperature and the internal temperature of whatever you’re cooking from your phone, so you can check in on your brisket, and even make adjustments, while you’re kicking back in a hammock, waiting for dinner. 

Evenness
This test really measures whether a grill maintains an even temperature across its cooking surface. That’s crucial when you’re cooking a bigger batch of foods like burgers and hot dogs that you want to finish cooking at roughly the same time. Here, too, the Traeger holds its own, earning a rating of Excellent. 

Temperature Range
While the Traeger doesn’t heat up hot enough to sear, it still gets up to 500° F, which is hotter than many of the other pellet grills in our tests. It gets as low at 165° F, and earns a Very Good rating in this test. 

Convenience and Cleaning
The Traeger is a thoughtfully designed grill, with a rating of Very Good for convenience and for cleaning. Among other nice features, the grill collects fat drippings and cleverly siphons them off into a small metal bucket mounted to the side of the grill, where it’s easy to access and where you’ll actually see it and remember to empty it. (Most grills hide the fat drip tray in a spot that makes it too easy to forget.) The Ironwood 650 also has large casters, which make it easy to move, and ample shelf space—in addition to a side-mounted shelf, the hopper has a folding lid where you can stash small items like a bottle of barbecue sauce, or salt and pepper while you cook. The smartphone app provides step-by-step directions for cooking on the grill, along with video tutorials. Most pellet grills don’t have an app or any smart capabilities. 

You got the details on the Traeger, now see how other pellet grills in our tests stack up. The three models below offer performance that’s nearly on par with this Traeger; in some cases, for half the price. 

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