The pizzas were delicious. There was one slathered in garlic and olive oil, topped with pears, prosciutto, chèvre, honey, arugula, and oyster mushrooms. Its spicy sibling had traditional red sauce, white truffle hot sauce, bacon, mozzarella, crushed red peppers, onion, and bell peppers. And they were cooked to absolute perfection—with melty cheese and chewy, smoky crusts that had the ideal crisp. They tasted like they were fresh out of a wood-fired oven. But these discs of carb-filled deliciousness were not roasted in a wood-fired oven. They were cooked on my grill—more precisely, the Traeger Pro 575 (normally $800, but currently on sale for $700).
Before trying Traeger for the first time this year, I had never grilled anything by myself. I’m not much of a meat eater, I don’t have a passion for playing with fire, and I was perfectly happy with the proficiency of my oven. And frankly, I find grills to be slightly intimidating.
But Traeger has made a tech-forward grill that’s accessible even to neophytes—but with enough bells and whistles to appeal to pros. The grill can connect to Wi-Fi, allowing you to control it remotely. It sets to a precise temperature, and can cook a myriad of different meals. Even the setup is intuitive, and all the tools that you need are included with the grill.
The Traeger Pro 575 is a pellet grill, meaning that it doesn’t use charcoal or wood logs. Instead, it burns pressed wood pellets that are made from hardwoods and sawdust (and are also sold by Traeger). Pellet grills are more fuel-efficient than traditional charcoal ones. Plus, Traeger’s heats more quickly and evenly thanks to an internal convection fan—and produces less smoke because of its highly efficient fueling and combustion process.
Starting the grill means simply turning the dial to your desired temp (just like your oven) and pressing the “Ignite” button. The Wi-Fi connectivity allows you to monitor and control the grill via an app on your smartphone, so you can move about your day or evening—preparing side dishes while knowing that your grill is under control and cooking at the right temperature.
It’s the grill’s versatility that I find most appealing: With the Traeger Pro 575, you can grill, smoke, bake (yes, bake), roast, braise, and BBQ. With some of our favorite restaurants being shut down for the better half of this year, my partner and I have grilled a troubling (inspiring?) number of pizzas. We’ve slow-roasted carnitas for tacos, grilled Beyond Burgers, baked enchiladas (the added smokiness was pitch perfect), and—my favorite—roasted s’mores when our dreams of being able to get out into the mountains and camp went unrealized. And when we are done using the grill, all we have to do is set the dial to “Shut Down Cycle” and close the lid. As far as cleaning goes, we vacuum the excess ash out of the grill’s Firepot and empty the grease bucket after about five uses.
And just like that, I went from avoiding grills to loving mine. Never do I worry about something not getting cooked to the right temperature—the Traeger’s handy wired temperature probe lets me know when my food has hit its target temperature. And never do I worry about accidentally leaving the oven on because I have no reason to turn it on in the first place.
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