Traeger TFB65LZBC Lil Tex Elite 34 Pellet Grill Review
Modern technology keeps finding new ways to innovate our lives and provide us with all manner of conveniences. Of course, the opportunity to sit down to a nice meal of properly grilled and smoky foods tops a lot of people’s lists. Yet wrestling with bags of charcoal and cleaning up mounds of ash, or running out for a new propane tank, can take the convenience out of the grilling experience.
This inspired Traeger to create their innovative line of wood pellet grills, which combines the smoky flavor of traditional grilling with the convenience to set it and forget it. It needs little more than a household standard 110 electrical outlet and some wood pellets, to create a wide range of delicious foods.
It works through an integrated system that is easy to control. You simply fill the hopper with prepared wood pellets, which are also sold by Traeger. You set the desired temperature on the for the cooking chamber on its Digital Elite Controller and a small internal auger moves a precise amount of the wood pellets into a firepot. An electric ignitor them starts the fire which is fed oxygen by a small internal fan. This produces a hot smoke which fills the primary cooking chamber to cook the meat and perfume it with smoky flavors.
The wood pellets are all natural. They are actually a byproduct of the lumber processing industry, using leftover wood fibers and binding them together with natural lignin. Traeger sells standard wood pellets as well as pellets that have been infused with fibers from other woods like mesquite and hickory for barbecue enthusiasts. Just keep in mind that the lignin binder is naturally water soluble. So, they should always be stored in a dry location, and you shouldn’t leave wood pellets in the hopper after you are done grilling.
Construction & Ease of Assembly
Traeger has a long-standing reputation for producing high-quality wood pellet grills, and they follow that through with the TFB65LZBC Lil Tex Elite. All the metal is thick gauge and fasteners are robust.
Assembly is certainly more complicated than say a simple charcoal kettle grill. Still, you don’t have to worry about having to assemble the more sophisticated components. You won’t be calibrating an auger or wiring the digital controls. Most of it can be completed completely by hand or with simple hand tools. One thing to watch out for when you are unpacking it is to always cut tape and wrappings carefully. Some of the power coated and enamel glazed parts can be scuffed by the edge of your box cutter if you just go at unpacking it with reckless abandon.
Depending on your point of view the word “Grill” might be a little bit of a misnomer with this type of cooking appliance. Like most wood pellet grills the Traeger TFB65LZBC Lil Tex Elite works by producing indirect heat. While it is certainly capable of high temperatures above 400 degrees, there is no direct relationship between the meat being cooked and an open flame.
Instead, the flame is buffered by a heat deflector to create indirect heat. Now, this has a lot of its own benefits, and in the world of outdoor cooking, maintaining consistent indirect heat is far more challenging than simply flopping a hunk of protein over a blazing flame.
Where indirect heat is traditionally used is for the near cliché “Low and Slow” method you find in classic barbecue. While the Traeger can certainly produce competition level barbecue ribs, brisket, pork shoulder, and others, it is also more versatile than your run of the mill offset smoker which huffs and puffs around 200 to 250-degrees.
The Traeger TFB65LZBC Lil Tex Elite can also reach much higher temperatures, which allows you to do things like bake cornbread, roast pit beef, smoke a king salmon fillet, and even bake a classic Margarita pizza! If you were to add a small pot or a shallow pan it can even do things like braised pork carnitas, simmer a crock of baked beans or perfectly steam corn on the cob while still in the husk.
If you do want to sear a Steak or mark the skin on a chicken breast, you should not be dismayed. The high heat capacity of the Traeger TFB65LZBC Lil Tex Elite can still be used to create a flavorful crust on cuts of meat that are often thought of more for direct heat applications. The way to work around it is to place a cast iron griddle in the primary cooking chamber. Then set it to the highest temperature on the digital thermostat. After it starts heating, give it another 20 to 30 minutes for the cast iron to absorb the heat energy. When it’s ready you can lay it down on the perforated side of the griddle with the same kind of telltale sizzle you get from a direct heat grill.
The porcelain covered grill grate provides you with 646 square inches of grilling space. This is enough to accommodate a large gathering of diners, and even boasts the ability to handle up to nine racks of spare ribs!
Beyond the sophisticated ease of the pellet hopper, precision delivery auger, firepot, and fan, the Traeger TFB65LZBC Lil Tex Elite’s also has an Integrated Digital Elite Controller. This allows you to set it and forget it, while the digital thermostat regulates the rate that the wood pellets are delivered to the firepot. Even in inclement conditions, it will consistently hold the Traeger TFB65LZBC Lil Tex Elite within +/- 20-degrees of the designated temperature.
Ease to Clean
The Traeger TFB65LZBC Lil Tex Elite’s efficiency and thoughtful engineering means it requires very little cleanup. The drippings cup will need to be emptied and most likely washed in warm soapy water. Any caramelized marinade or stuck-on material on the grate can be lightly brushed away with a nylon grill brush. If something is stubbornly stock onto the grate, it is easily removed and can be soaked and washed in warm soapy water.
The firepot generally burns so efficiently that there is very little ash left behind after a short grilling session. However, to get the most out of the TFB65LZBC Lil Tex Elite, you’ll want to remove any ash after each session. Not only will this help prevent corrosion issues in the firepot, but it will also ensure a clean efficient burn the next time. This is often as simple as lifting the grill grate and using a shop vac to quickly suck up the ash. Depending on your shop vac attachment, you might need to also lift the heat baffle.
Traeger stands behind the quality of their products offers a 3-year warranty on all parts and components for the TFB65LZBC Lil Tex Elite, assuming proper assembly and normal use. Some online retailers also offer a very affordable protection plan for the Traeger TFB65LZBC Lil Tex Elite.
If you are looking for an innovative grill and smoker that’s versatile and efficient, it’s hard to ignore the quality of the Traeger TFB65LZBC Lil Tex Elite. It is capable of competition level barbecue, baking, braising, and much more. With an accessory cast iron griddle and a little bit of patience, you can even get the kind of sear you are used to with a direct fire charcoal grill.
- Highly versatile indirect heating
- Can create competition level barbecue
- Able to braise, bake, roast, and smoke
- Very efficient
- Accent smoke woods are available
- Doesn’t truly sear like a direct fire grill
- Firepot might be a little hard to clean
- Cost of buying pellets is higher than charcoal