Traeger Grills TFS60LZC Select Elite Pellet Grill and Smoker Review
Traeger is the original pioneer in the world of wood pellet grills and smokers. What started as a creative culinary way to make the most out of leftover wood shavings turned into one of the most popular and versatile methods for producing nearly competition-level barbecue as well as other traditional grilled foods.
The Select Elite is near the top of the Traeger wood pellet grill line. Weighing in around 170 pounds it has a large 18-pound wood pellet hopper. Under the spacious hood, you will find 589 square inches of grill grate space in the form of three removable porcelain-coated grate sections.
The rate the wood pellets are delivered to the fire pot, and the speed of the internal fan is all controlled by Traeger’s proprietary Digital Elite Control unit and their Advanced Grill Logic System. This means the internal temperature of the primary cooking area will remain within plus or minus 20 degrees of the destinated target temperature throughout the cooking session.
The cart base is also a nice touch that gives you room to store your grilling tools and accessories. If anything, you can put a plastic tote inside to hold your extra wood pellets.
Construction & Ease of Assembly
Being a pioneer in the wood pellet grill niche isn’t the only thing that’s allowed Traeger to maintain their dominant presence. They also hang their hat on quality materials and engineering design. You see this reflected in the use of commercial-grade stainless steel and other high-quality metal fabrication. The 18-pound capacity wood pellet hopper that runs directly to the automated internal auger is also a nice touch.
As you might imagine with a grill this large and sophisticated, assembly is going to be a little bit labor-intensive. On the bright side, Traeger’s designers put in the extra effort to make sure the instructions are easy to read. Still, it’s a good idea to recruit a friend or two to help you put it together.
If you’re not particularly handy, or you simply don’t trust yourself to handle the assembly process on your own, there are some online retailers who offer this wood pellet grill with an affordable “Expert Assembly Service” as part of the purchase.
Versatility is the hallmark calling card of all well-designed wood pellet grills. This comes through in spades with the Traeger Grills Select Elite. With a maximum temperature around 450-degrees Fahrenheit, it can handle most high heat applications. This includes baking a smoky, delicious fresh dough pizza. Just give it a solid 20 minutes or so to fully preheat before placing the food in the primary cooking chamber.
You should also note that the Traeger Grills Select Elite strictly uses indirect heat. There isn’t a broiler plate or searing box to do things like mark off a Steak or sear the crust on a beef tenderloin roast. If you do want to put deep searing marks on a particular piece of meat, you can place a cast iron griddle with a perforated side in the primary cooking chamber for 20 to 30 minutes. When you’re ready to mark off the steak, simply give it a few minutes of direct contact with the hot cast iron.
Of course, high heat rated at up to 450-degrees isn’t the only thing the Traeger Grills Select Elite does well. It’s also a maestro at low heat applications as low as 180 degrees. This allows you to do things like smoke salmon fillets, shellfish, and whole chickens cut into quarters or halves. Not to mention there is more than enough room on the 589 square inch grates to accommodate a full-size brisket, multiple racks of ribs, and up to three Boston Butt pork shoulders.
The Traeger Grills Select Elite has a three-section, porcelain-coated cast-iron grill grate that measures in at 589 square inches. This is more than enough smoking real estate to cook 4 chickens, 4 racks of ribs or up to 20 hamburger patties.
The stainless steel side table gives you all the room you need for prep and serving platters. It also serves to disguise the large 18-pound hopper.
The digital controls linked to an easy to use dial also makes it easy to use.
Ease to Clean
When it comes to basic cleaning after every session, the Traeger Grills Select Elite is very easy to clean. The grease cup needs to be poured out and the non-stick coating on the cast iron grill grates makes them easy to scrape down. Even if there is a little something burned onto the grates, you can just soak them in water and the protective coating will prevent rusting.
The wood pellet hopper, however, is a little bit behind the times. You see wood pellets are made from hardwood shavings leftover from processing trees for things like lumber. They are then bound together with special water-soluble lignin. When exposed to periods of high humidity this lignin can start to breakdown. Left to its own devices it could jam in the hopper, causing several possible problems.
Many of the Traeger Select Elite’s competitors answer this problem with some type of rapid hopper release system. With this wood pellet grill, you will need to be careful to put in just the right amount of wood pellets, or you might have to scoop some out of the large 18-pound hopper.
Traeger backs their Select Elite wood pellet grill with a three-year manufacturer’s warranty.
There’s no doubt that Traeger is one of the original pioneers in the wood pellet grill industry. And you get a lot of quality for the money with this unit. The marketing slogan “Select Elite” feels a little bit misplaced. Some of its direct competitors offer special features like broiler plates and hopper clean-out systems that Traeger has yet to really embrace.
If you look past the word “Elite” this is still a great wood pellet grill for the money. It’s just a tad bit short on bells and whistles.
- 18-pound capacity wood pellet hopper
- 180 to 450-degree range
- Porcelain-coated grill grates
- Sleek look
- Not a lot of “Special Features”
- To heavy for solo assembly
- Doesn’t come with a cover