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Wileycat
04-10-2011, 11:43 AM
I got a Traeger BBQ055 (the small one) for Christmas. I was overjoyed to upgrade from my Brinkman bullet with electric heating element, which was my only smoker for more than ten years.

The Traeger is wonderful except for one defect: it fails at smoking.

Time after time, I use every technique I know -- including suggestions on this site -- but to no avail. I've changed pellet flavors; blocked the over-large vents in the back; smoked long and low, short and hot, combinations of the two; and put a shallow water pan in. I've cooked fish, pork, beef, and poultry, but the results are invariably unsatisfactory because there's little "smokiness" in the finished product. The Traeger always makes impressive quantities of smoke, but little of it ends up in the meat.

Yesterday I deliberately brined some pork loin chops in water and liquid smoke and rubbed well with a "smoky" rub, finally adding some more liquid smoke to each side. Incredibly, the result was a VERY mild smoke flavor--about the same as using a conventional oven.

I'm now planning to get rid of the Traeger and buy another bullet smoker, this time with a gas burner so I can control the temperature (the Traeger was wonderful on that score, with its thermostatic digital control).

I'm through with the Traeger, unless someone can tell me the secret I'm missing. Any thoughts?

smoker pete
04-10-2011, 12:24 PM
Have never used a Traeger but have extensive experience with a Bradley Smoker and learning to use my MAK 2 Star. You said ... " The Traeger always makes impressive quantities of smoke, but little of it ends up in the meat ".

It would appear that the problem is not with your Traeger but some other factor. There is a temperature range where all meats ideally allow smoke to permeate the meat and it's generally accepted that around 140 it shuts the doors. So if you're getting impressive amounts of smoke and your meats are within the temperature range then you should be able to get a smoky flavor and smoke ring. Don't quote me on the temperature range ... I'm no expert by any means :)

Maybe it's the pellets you're using? Have you tried switching to pellets that have a larger percentage of flavor wood. I'm not saying flavoring but the actual wood, like Apple for example.

Wileycat
04-10-2011, 12:41 PM
Thanks for the reply.

I use 2 calibrated digital thermometers: 1 in the smoking chamber, 1 in the meat. Also, the Traeger thermostatically-controlled temperature is quite accurate. I will typically smoke at temperatures ranging from 180-225 until meat internal temperature is 140 degrees or more. I've used hickory, apple, mesquite pellets from Traeger

BTW: These are the same settings I used with my cheapo Brinkman bullet -- it did just fine.

smoker pete
04-10-2011, 01:51 PM
I'm learning that my MAK, in the SMOKE setting, is more in the 165 to 180 range. 225 does emit smoke but not the same volume and the smoke flavor turns out to be milder. At least that's the case for me.

Like I said, I'm not familiar with Traeger but maybe you can smoke at a lower temp for a while and then bump it up later. That's what I'm doing and it works for me.

I've also been reading on some forums where Traeger uses "flavored oils" in their pellets. I can't swear to that and I'm not bad mouthing their product but you might want to get a hold of some sample pellets from a different manufacturer and give that a try. I think you can usually buy like a 3 lb bag or something. Just a thought. It sure would be a waste if you had to totally give up on your bullet smoker :(

ITFD#15
04-10-2011, 05:39 PM
I use Traeger and have been happy with what I have made so far, I normally start with the smoke setting or 180 for about 2/3s of my cook and turn it up after that.
Seems good to me, smoke flavor and ring but not over powering?

sparky
04-10-2011, 06:13 PM
i have a lil tex and it produces alot of smoke in the foods. i start in the smoke setting and going up from there. someone said meat takes smoke up to 140 or so. true statement there. after so long the meat produces a bark. bark = no smoky. i think? ;)

Big Poppa
04-10-2011, 09:15 PM
The knock on pellet smokers in competition is the gentile smoke or "not enough smoke" If you want it to taste like a well seasoned stick burner ...it wont.

Also smoker pete I know the pellets you are using and promoting they are private label from a dealer...they dont make pellets.

nepas
04-11-2011, 08:40 AM
I wouldnt classify the Jr as a stand alone smoker cuz it aint. Its more of a back yard deck 1-2 person pellet grill.

Wileycat
04-11-2011, 03:22 PM
Big Poppa and nepas: I think you're right. My Traeger dealer and I theorize that the Junior has less than half the smoking chamber volume than the next larger size Traeger, yet it has the same fan. Therefore, the smoke exits very fast and doesn't hang around long enough to do much flavoring. Bottom line: too small.

Oh well -- live and learn.

Big_Jake
04-14-2011, 07:21 AM
As others have said use the "smoke" setting on your digital controller for at least 1 hour of your cooking time,if not more.
Switch pellets if you can.I use a 50/50 mix of cookinpellets perfect mix and bbq'rs delight apple.I get a nice smoke ring and nice smoke flavor.Also something to think about is you may be missing the "charcoal" flavor and not the "smoke" flavor that you got from your Brinkman.I think bbq'rs delight is coming out with some charcoal pellets as well.Maybe do a 50/50 with those and some oak.

scooter
04-14-2011, 04:56 PM
the smoke exits very fast and doesn't hang around long enough to do much flavoring. Bottom line: too small.

IMO, you have touched on the issue at hand but your conclusion that it's the chamber space that's the problem is not the main problem. The main problem is the fan pushing the smoke out without giving it a chance to sit on the meat for very long.
My Traeger Lil Tex did the same thing as your Jr, then I bought the MAK which smoked more than the Lil Tex and the situation improved a little but still didn't produce the depth of smoke flavor I wanted so I installed a Smoke Daddy and run straight hickory wood chunks through it. The SD made a big improvement because the MAK instead of smoking only when pellets were dumped into the firepot, was now smoking like a freight train all the time! However, the improvement in the depth of smoke flavor with the SD was not proportionate to the amount of smoke it kicked out. In my mind, the problem with pellet cookers is centered in the fan which supplies all important oxygen to the firepot but at the same time, is pushing all the smoke out of the vents regardless of the size of your cooking chamber. My WSM18 is very small but since there's no fan, I have to be careful not to oversmoke things which is quite easy to do with a WSM.
The one exception to the lower depth of smoke flavor in a pellet pit I've found is the FEC100. I've tasted pork off the 100 that had noticable smoke (to me who is someone who needs more smoke flavor than the average Q eater). My theory is that the smoke vent on a 100 is halfway up the side of the unit, not the top. IMO, anything that's cooked on the upper racks, where the smoke gets trapped, is getting extended exposure to the smoke which increases the depth of smoke flavor.
To simulate this upper rack theory of a FEC100 in my MAK I began cooking everything on the upper rack which made an improvement but there are still vents on the side of my lid above the level of the upper rack so I can't get any meat above the vent level. I asked MAK DADDY if I would be hurting the performance of my General if I blocked off those lid vents but he warned that all the vents are needed otherwise tar/creosote issues could ensue from a dampered down firepot from plugging the upper vents.
So, the Smoke Daddy has given me an acceptable smoke profile in the two scenarios where pellet cookers (at least the ones I've owned) are at their weakest in adding smoke, cooks under 2-3 hours or anything cooked over 300F. Even with the Smoke Daddy, which requires some work on my part to keep it going (because the fan is creating back pressure on the airpump driving the SD), the smoke flavor I get off my WSMs is much fuller than that of pellet cookers even with a smoke generator. Just my opinion. Using the smoke setting helps, I even tried cold smoking the meat before cooking it which helped on some things but not on others, but the smoke setting is still reliant on the fan which is the route of the problem with pellet cookers and depth of smoke flavor.
If I could only plug up the upper vents and create some new ones down near the bottom of my cooker I could get some trapped smoke up at the top which I feel would make a big difference.

BChil
11-22-2012, 02:31 PM
Too bad I didn't find you sooner...I have a Traeger smoker/grill that I've had for several years. What I've found is that if you want a smokier flavor it's in the type of pellets you use...hickory and mesquite seem to be two of the pellets that add more smoke than the others. I like to mix my pellets because I prefer a less smokier flavor...also the temp at which you smoke affects how much smoke flavor the meat picks up. The lower and slower the smokier the meat...I absolutely love my Traeger and wouldn't go back to any of the other types of smokers we've used.

TentHunter
11-23-2012, 09:05 AM
I've never used a Traeger Jr., but I can tell you that blocking the vents on any pellet grill is not a solution.


Also something to think about is you may be missing the "charcoal" flavor and not the "smoke" flavor that you got from your Brinkman.

I think that's a great point and much overlooked factor, especially if you were using a Minion method in your bullet smoker. The minion method imparts a lot of charcoal flavor and the smoke isn't always a good clean smoke which can also leave a really heavy flavor.

Here are two things you could try before giving up.

1) Like Big_Jake mentioned, BBQ'rs Delight Charcoal pellets may be worth a try.

2) I didn't see you mention any kind of additional smoke generator. Grab an A-MAZE-N tube pellet smoker and use it to provide extra smoke both before and while you're cooking. Best of all those tubes are an inexpensive add-on that you can use with any grill/smoker.

I have one and I'm getting just as deep of smoke flavor for things such as smoked sausage, bacon, etc. with both of my pellet grills as I ever got with my horizontal offset!

Hope this helps! :)

Nite Ryder
11-23-2012, 06:04 PM
I have a #75 Treager and have used it for about five years. I keep track of all temperature settings, the pellets I use, the rub and mists I use and which settings the smoker is set on through out the cooking process. I don't use it for cooking smaller cuts of meat like steaks or chicken parts. I use if for cooking/smoking whole turkeys, chickens, roasts, etc. I have never been disappointed with the results I've had. For my money there is no better smoker on the market for the price. The last 15 pound turkey I smoked was put in at 8 AM and finished at 4:15 PM, most of that time the smoker was set on smoke, which is the lowest setting and the temp outside was 32 degrees, it was in the late fall when I cooked this bird and the finished product was very good with a visible smoke ring. It does a better job on a whole turkey than my Nat'l Gas Weber BBQ, it requires more attention, but that is part of the fun in using it.

Big Poppa
11-23-2012, 06:23 PM
all of you realize this thread is a year old and was brought back by an unrelated poster

Midnighter
11-24-2012, 11:03 PM
Holy thread resurrection Batman!

clayton
04-03-2014, 07:26 PM
Forget purchasing a Traeger. I bought the LIL' Tex Elite and everything went fine for a month until I got a auger jam. This requires taking the whole thing a part to get to the auger. Hence, our dinner was ruined and our guests whom I had convinced that Traeger was the way to go, will not touch one. I am returning mine. Customer service was useless and was unable to tell me exactly how handle the fix. All she said was, "it a process." I ended up watching a You Tube video and told myself I do not want to through this.
I am taking mine back to Costco with the pellets and cover. Maybe someday they will redesign this unit to handle the auger jamming.
Other than that, I love the unit.

bigfoote
04-16-2014, 06:34 AM
Have you ever tried a cold smoke first with a Smoke Tube for a couple of hours before starting the grill?

Nite Ryder
06-04-2014, 06:49 PM
Forget purchasing a Traeger. I bought the LIL' Tex Elite and everything went fine for a month until I got a auger jam. This requires taking the whole thing a part to get to the auger. Hence, our dinner was ruined and our guests whom I had convinced that Traeger was the way to go, will not touch one. I am returning mine. Customer service was useless and was unable to tell me exactly how handle the fix. All she said was, "it a process." I ended up watching a You Tube video and told myself I do not want to through this.
I am taking mine back to Costco with the pellets and cover. Maybe someday they will redesign this unit to handle the auger jamming.
Other than that, I love the unit.


It would be interesting to find out what caused the auger jam, I've feed a steady diet of pellets through my Traeger since buying it in 2003 and have never had any problems. I've used more than one brand of pellets, but I've been careful not to get any chunks of wood in the hopper, and no kids hang out on my back deck, so there is no danger of getting something in it that will bind up the mechanism. It will be interesting also to find out what Costco will do about taking it back, I for one would like to know how good the guarantee is.

upinsmoke
07-30-2014, 12:39 PM
I'm new here but uniquely qualified to answer the question about the Costco return policy. I had a Traeger Junior that was 2 1/2 to 3 years old and had some problems. I was not happy with the size of the junior and rather than purchase parts I purchased the Lil Tex at Costco (only 499.00). As I was walking out the store I decided to ask about the junior just for the Hell of it and they said if you are not happy, return it. I said, but it is more than two years old and I don't have the receipt. She asked for my card, looked up my receipt, printed a copy and said bring back the item and the receipt. I did and got every cent of my money back - You can't beat that.

I always use a smoke tube in my Traeger and get plenty of smoke flavor.

Smoky Lonesome
08-03-2014, 04:47 AM
I have a Sawtooth Pellet smoker. Had it just over a year and the paint inside is peeling and the outside is rusting even though I keep it covered??

chaz345
08-04-2014, 03:49 PM
I had a Lil'Tex and was having the same problem of nearly zero smoke flavor. And the Lil Tex is quite a bit bigger than the Junior. I got a full Texas(075) and it's a world of difference. Still not as smokey as I like but I like it pretty darn smokey. But it's been more than good enough for small batches for my wife's catering business.

chaz345
08-04-2014, 03:52 PM
i have a lil tex and it produces alot of smoke in the foods. i start in the smoke setting and going up from there. someone said meat takes smoke up to 140 or so. true statement there. after so long the meat produces a bark. bark = no smoky. i think? ;)


I hear that the meat stops taking smoke flavor after 140 all the time and I can say that in my experience it's not true. You will keep adding smoke flavor as long as there's smoke. After the bark gets set up real firm, the smoke will just deposit on the outside and you can end up with a tar tasting mess if you aren't careful. What does stop at 140 though is the formation of the visible smoke ring. Has to do with the chemical reactions that are forming it in the first place.

Nite Ryder
08-16-2014, 01:34 PM
I had a Lil'Tex and was having the same problem of nearly zero smoke flavor. And the Lil Tex is quite a bit bigger than the Junior. I got a full Texas(075) and it's a world of difference. Still not as smokey as I like but I like it pretty darn smokey. But it's been more than good enough for small batches for my wife's catering business.



Chaz,

If you are interested, Amazon sells a temperature control for the Traeger smokers that seems to make it much easier to control the temperatures, especially the lower temps. My son just got one and has had really good results with it. My #75 still has the three position thermostat/heat control, but one of these days I'm going to buy one of those from Amazon because you can set an actual temp and the smoker will stay close to that setting. I think those thermostats sell for about $79.

TentHunter
08-16-2014, 04:59 PM
I hear that the meat stops taking smoke flavor after 140 all the time and I can say that in my experience it's not true. You will keep adding smoke flavor as long as there's smoke. After the bark gets set up real firm, the smoke will just deposit on the outside and you can end up with a tar tasting mess if you aren't careful. What does stop at 140 though is the formation of the visible smoke ring. Has to do with the chemical reactions that are forming it in the first place.

You are absolutely right that smoke will continue to adhere to the surface, especially if it's sticky from spritzing with apple juice, or glazing with sauce. But, smoke adherence and smoke absorption are very different.

What stops at 140 (as well as the smoke ring formation) is smoke absorption. Moisture is what carries water soluble smoke particulates into the meat through the cell walls. Once the outside meat temp has reached 140, the myoglobin denatures (which stops the smoke ring) and the cell structure walls up tightly so that water soluble smoke particulates can no longer pass through the cell walls.

Percentage of surface area also plays a huge role in the taste from smoke adherence. Ribs, for example, have a much larger ratio of surface area than a pork shoulder. Therefore the surface smoke taste will have a bigger impact than pork shoulder. When you bite into a rib, you get surface smoke, as well as absorbed smoke, in every bite.


And you hit the nail on the head that if you're not careful (especially with a stick/charcoal burner), and have a dirty burning fire, you can end up with nasty tar or creosote on the outside of your meat that just tastes plain nasty.

That's part of the beauty of pellet burners; unless there's a problem with your unit, they always burn cleanly.

Big Poppa
08-17-2014, 08:08 AM
that tent is a genius! Airflow and smoke quality decides a lot of it also If you are trapping the air and not getting good comustion that affects the smoke and tarishness

Nite Ryder
09-16-2014, 07:38 PM
Well, I found a digital thermostat for my Traeger at our local Kroger Food Store. It was on closeout for $56 and at the check out it rang up for $44. I installed the new control and tried it on a rack of pork loin ribs last weekend. The results were good. Plenty of smoke ring and I was able to set my Traeger on smoke and not worry about it. What I noticed was more smoke at a lower temp, and with the new temp probe inside the smoker, the smoker stayed close to the exact temp I set the control at. I was surprised, and pleased with the operation, I noticed the smoker now seemed to use fewer pellets. The new digital thermostat makes the smoker much easier to use and makes more smoke at a lower temp, just what I wanted...

GrizzW
11-23-2014, 02:40 PM
Sad to hear of your Traeger experience, but I've had a JR for over 3 years and had nothing but success, the only upgrade I've done was install the digital thermostat, I do find on windy days I have to use a wind block, but that's no big deal