Traeger 10526 Bronson 20 Pellet Grill Review
Traeger is the original pioneer in the wood pellet grill niche. What started out as an economical way to make the most out of leftover hardwood shavings and sawdust has evolved into an innovative way to smoke meat.
The Bronson is one of the smaller units in their line. Yet you shouldn’t let the fact that it only offers 300 square inches lure you into thinking its too small. There’s enough room under the hood to handle 2 chickens, 3 racks of ribs or even up to 12 hamburger patties.
The Traeger Bronson uses draft induction to feed a controlled stream of air to the fire pot burner. A special electric heating rod then ignites the wood pellets which are fed from the 20-pound capacity hopper via a mechanized internal auger. The entire unit is then regulated by a digital control unit with an easy to read dial.
The indirect heat produced by the Bronson makes it versatile enough to be a six in one outdoor cooking appliance. You can set it up to grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise, and produce succulent barbecue.
Like many other Traeger wood pellet grills, the Bronson is built on a “Sawhorse Chassis.” This gives it a very firm platform and lets it sit confidently on your deck.
Construction & Ease of Assembly
Traeger has worked very hard to develop an industry reputation for quality materials, design, and construction. This carries through with the Bronson.
Assembly is a little bit of a different story. Wood pellet grills tend to be complicated to put together due to the nature of the complicated moving pieces and compact internal space. The Bronson double down on this by adding confusing instructions into the equation.
Chances are if even the most mechanically savvy person is going to have a head-scratching moment or two. Even though the Bronson isn’t all that heavy, it still would be a good idea to recruit a second pair of hands to help with the assembly process.
Wood pellet grills like the Traeger Bronson have a reputation for producing meats and even vegetables that have the perfect level of smoke. If you happen to be a barbecue purist, they even sell wood pellets that have been infused with mesquite, hickory, and other traditional smoking woods.
By their nature, the weak spot of a wood pellet grill is the inability to expose the food to direct flame grilling. If you are in love with a crusty sear on your Steak and chops, it’s hard to get it with a wood pellet grill, without first using a preheated cast iron griddle.
Yet you shouldn’t let the indirect heating method give you the impression that it doesn’t get hot. When you dial it in just right and preheat a pizza stone, you can make some really high-quality grilled pizza On the other end of the spectrum, you can even dial it down low enough to tenderly smoke a wild-caught salmon fillet.
Internal cooking space is an arguable issue with the Bronson. The 300 square inches is enough to smoke racks of ribs, though you make need to cut two racks in half or break them down into three rib portions. With deft placement, you could even get a nice brisket flat on the grates.
The problem comes in with tall foods. There simply isn’t enough room for something like a beer can chicken. A tall Boston butt pork shoulder is about as high as you should dare.
The small internal space means that the Bronson preheats quickly. Most of the time it can hit the target temperature in just a little over five minutes!
The 300 square inch grill grates provide just enough room to prepare chickens, 3 racks of portion-cut ribs or up to 12 hamburger patties.
By the nature of their somewhat complicated design, wood pellet grills are a conglomeration of special features. The sawhorse chassis is extremely stable, which is nice if you have a limited available footprint on your deck.
Ease to Clean
Wood pellet grills have a lot of nooks and crannies that can take a little bit of extra time when you need to perform a seasonal “Deep Clean.”
After each grilling session, you should leave the Bronson to run for 10 to 15 minutes. This will bake and essentially dry out any grease or stock-on debris clinging to the grill grates. You can then gently scrape them down with a grill brush.
At that point, you need to empty the drippings cup. Take a moment to look at the temperature probe and give it a quick wipe with a paper towel. Smaller smokers like the Bronson are sometimes prone to excess buildup of soot and grease on the thermometer, which can affect their accuracy.
If local weather is humid, or you don’t plan to use the Bronson again for a few days, you should scoop out the hopper. Wood pellets are held together by water-soluble lignin, which can break down when left in damp or highly humid conditions.
Traeger backs the Bronson with a three-year warranty. This is on par with what competitor wood pellet grills offer in this price range. There are also some online retailers who offer inexpensive three and four-year protection plans.
If you have a small family, or you are just looking to lure the guys over to your place to watch the game, with some delicious smoked meat, the Traeger Bronson needs to be at the top of your list. If you need to prepare enough food for a large group of people, or you are a big fan of beer can chicken, then you might find it a little too small for your needs.
Regardless, the quality is there, and the stable base will hold it firm. Just take your time interpreting the assembly instructions.
- Quality materials and construction
- Backed by a 3-year warranty
- Digital controls
- Preheats in around five minutes
- Very stable base
- Instructions are confusing at times
- Can’t handle smoking tall foods
- Thermometer probe can gum up over time