Pellet grills can be an excellent choice if you want to enjoy smoked and grilled food without having to master a steep learning curve or invest in expensive equipment. Since the main fuel is the wood pellets, the meat you cook in a pellet grill would come out with complex flavors and aromas imparted by the wood.
Many brands create excellent pellet grills that can bring you a great bang for the buck. Rec Tec (recently rebranded recteq) and Traeger are two such names. Here, we try to take a deep dive into these brands, examine their histories and unique characteristics, and put three representative pellet grills from each brand to a head-to-head test to resolve the Traeger vs Rec Tec (recteq) debate once and for all.
recteq (Rec Tec) vs Traeger
After the expiry of Traeger’s patent of pellet grills, quite a few brands came forward and tried to capitalize on the demand for pellet grills, owing to their ease of use and delicious results. Among the few that did manage to make a strong foothold and earn loyal followers by bringing excellent products to the market is recteq. A relative newcomer to the pellet grill market compared with Traeger, recteq has already become a household name thanks to their no-compromise attitude, excellent quality, and premium features.
Recteq is known for producing quality pellet grills. The grills are made from heavy-duty metal parts and are known to stand the test of time. They are also among the manufacturers that understand the importance of infusing their products with the latest and greatest in terms of tech features. The focus is on convenience and ease-of-use but not at the cost of cooking quality and versatility.
Heat retention and temperature control remain key strong points of recteq pellet grills. The company is also known for exemplary customer service. The grills come with long warranties, serving as proof that the manufacturer has faith in their product offerings.
While recteq is among the companies that manufacture and source their parts from China, the central computer and controller is manufactured in-house in the USA. The final assembly, quality check, and powder coat of the main metal parts are also finished locally at their main factory in Augusta, Georgia. This allows them to stay on top of quality concerns and consistently put out products that are tough, durable, and high-quality. Jack Bauer would be impressed!
Recteq recently went through a complete rebranding process and changed its name to recteq from Rec Tec. With the rebrand, the company is set to expand its range of outdoor products and venture into other markets. Recteq decided to change the name and remove “grills” because they are moving the company into lifestyle products. Expect more than just grills from recteq. They also decided to use all lowercase letter and will now be “recteq.”
The whole concept of pellet grills as we know it today comes courtesy of Traeger, the company that started it all. The core idea of using manufactured wood pellets that are fed automatically into the fuel burning area proved to be genius and was a game-changer for BBQ enthusiasts. Over the years, Traeger has gone through some changes, both positive and negative. They remain, however, the largest manufacturers of pellet grills in the country with over two million pellet grills sold.
Currently, Traeger has one of the widest and most varied ranges of grills on the market, ranging from small, portable offerings to massive, professional-grade products. Their Pro series of grills is a crowd favorite, combining basic features, great functionality, and attractive prices. A step up is the Ironwood series, bringing more innovative features to the table while still being priced sensibly. The flagship Timberline series brings out all the bells and whistles in spades, being a favorite choice for pro chefs and hardcore BBQ enthusiasts.
It has been several years since Traeger moved its entire production chain to China. While this was initially a cause for concern with many users reporting quality issues, they seem to have listened to the critics and pulled things back. The sheer popularity of Traeger products and the heritage associated with the Traeger tag are proof that the brand still resonates with BBQ enthusiasts. Of late, Traeger has also understood the requirements of customers in an extremely competitive market and started offering products that embrace the latest in tech features.
Any of the pellet grills we discuss here can be a great addition to your home. However, it definitely makes sense to arrive at a decision with the most information and insight possible before you invest your hard-earned money. We will now take a look at representative pellet grills from both brands across three different price points, discuss their unique features, lay out their pros and cons, and provide you with enough information so that you can get the grill that suits your needs the best.
Introductory Line : Recteq RT – 590 vs Traeger Pro 575
The recteq RT-590 is an amazingly put together product that combines the right balance of solid construction, special features, reliable operation, and versatile cooking options. Right out of the gate, the grill provides a large cooking area that spans 590 sq. inches. You can also invest in a second upper cooking rack (an optional extra) and increase your total cooking area to 772 sq. inches.
One of the standout features of this recteq grill is the precise temperature control that is made possible by the PID enabled controller. This means that the grill can maintain a temperature within a range of 5 degrees and can easily reach 500F in no time.
The hopper capacity is a whopping 30 pounds, much larger than most other grills in the same price range. This can become a great advantage if you are a fan of low and slow cooking and smoking. In such cases, you can complete your cooking without having to run to restock the pellets.
The recteq features solid built quality, using 304-grade stainless steel for its construction. The benefits of using stainless steel as the material of choice are many. It is one of the best material options for durability. Cleaning the grill can be accomplished with more ease and effectiveness as stainless steel surfaces are easier to clean thoroughly than painted metal surfaces. This construction and material choice can also come in handy if you are planning to store your grill in an outdoor area.
The octagon-shaped cooking chamber made from stainless steel is one of the most unique characteristics of recteq grills. This model also comes with support for Wi-Fi monitoring—a remarkable convenience feature that can let you monitor temperatures using a companion phone app provided by recteq. The product also comes with two meat probes, both of which can be monitored through Wi-Fi. The sturdy legs and four all-weather wheels make moving around quite easy. There is a six-year warranty associated with the grill.
- Sturdy construction
- Reliable and precise temperature control
- Large cooking area with room for expansion
- Stainless steel material
- The Wi-Fi companion app is relatively basic
- Expensive when compared to the competition
The Traeger Pro 575 has several great features that can make life easier for you. The Traeger brand has remained focused on usability and convenience and that really shows in the product design and feature set. The Pro 575 offers a total of 575 sq. inches of cooking area, spread between 418 sq. inches on the main grate with an additional 157 sq. inches on the upper rack. Unlike the Rec Teq offering, however, you do not have to purchase anything extra to take advantage of the space.
While the Pro line is the basic line of products from Traeger, there is not much compromise in terms of features and performance if you consider the price. The D2 Direct Drive system takes advantage of a brushless DC motor in the auger. This can give the auger more speed and torque and virtually negates the possibility of auger blockage.
The grill features a powerful variable-speed fan that is used to circulate the hot smoke inside the cooking area. Depending on your setting, this fan can control its speed to achieve the best results. This facilitates better heat transfer and heat retention while also making the product more efficient.
The PID enabled central controller can be paired up with one meat probe which can be monitored through the gauge on the unit and also remotely using the proprietary WiFire system that Traeger is known for. The hopper capacity is 18 pounds, giving it just enough mileage for those long and slow overnight cooks. A side table and utensil hooks are excellent convenience features.
You can also extend the functionality of the grill by purchasing additional accessories that include a foldable front shelf for extra storage and work area and a pellet sensor that alerts you when you are running low. The four-year warranty is only applicable if you use pellets that are designed for Traeger grills.
- Class-leading D2 Direct Drive system
- PID enabled controller
- Stovepipe chimney
- Powder-coated construction inspires confidence
- Shorter warranty
- Lacks additional insulation
- Smaller cooking area
Considering all the pros and cons, we give this round to the Traeger, thanks to its ease of use and feature-rich mobile app experience.
Mid-range : Recteq RT-700 vs Traeger Ironwood 650
The Recteq RT-700 is a workhorse that features a large cooking area of 700 sq. inches right on the main cooking rack made of stainless steel. In fact, the entire grill sports sturdy stainless steel construction that can last you a long time. You also have the option of making your cooking area more massive by adding the 350 sq. inch secondary cooking rack, available as an optional extra.
The stainless steel construction also implements convenience features that can really make your workflow easier. These include tool hooks, a towel ring, a spill-proof bucket hook, and a pull bar handle. The grill uses the same Smart Grill feature that lets you dial in a specific temperature and maintains it precisely with a tolerance of only 5 degrees either way. This is made possible via a modern PID enabled controller.
Two useful features included in the product are a dual-probe meat thermometer that integrates directly into the controller and can also be monitored using Wi-Fi and an automatic grill lighting feature that automatically illuminates the grilling area, making usage a breeze.
You can also enjoy using the included grill cover, two grill mats, and a whopping 200 pounds of wood pellets free of cost. The amount can also seem quite appropriate, given the absolutely huge 40 pounds of pellets the grill hopper can hold at one time. You would spend less time feeding the grill with new pellets and much more time cooking contentedly.
- Very large cooking area
- Very large capacity pellet hopper
- Quality steel construction
- Automatic cooking area lighting
- The mobile app lacks important functionality
- Can be difficult to move around
The Traeger Ironwood 650 is a tried and tested classic that a lot of people love to use. While the main cooking area is still the same 418 sq. inches, the secondary cooking area is larger here to give you a total cooking area of 650 sq. inches.
The D2 Direct Drive auger works seamlessly with the 20-pound capacity pellet hopper that already comes preinstalled with a pellet sensor, thereby precluding the need to buy it separately. The D2 control panel in the Ironwood series of grills is also upgraded to feature new modes like “Keep Warm” and “Super Smoke”, excellent options if you need them.
Arguably the best feature on the Ironwood 650 is something that is straight out of their more premium Timberline series of grills—a downdraft exhaust. This does a much better job of circulating heat and smoke inside the cooking chamber than a standard chimney-style exhaust. This can facilitate even better control of consistent temperature and more smoke absorption. One meat probe is included.
The Ironwood also comes with insulated sides which will allow for better temperature control and less heat loss in cold/windy weather.
- Upgraded D2 controller with convenient new modes
- Downdraft exhaust for better heat and smoke distribution
- Pellet sensor for low pellet alerts
- Less cooking area for the price
- Material does not retain heat well
Considering the downdraft exhaust and the upgraded controller, this round goes to Traeger.
High-end : Recteq RT-2500 BFG vs Traeger Timberline 1300
This is where the manufacturers pull out all stops and create truly incredible products that would look at home in professional kitchens. Built in stunning stainless steel, this behemoth features a 53 pound hopper, piano hinged hopper lid, dual stainless steel handles, hydraulic operation for lid opening and closing, four locking casters, shelf storage, and utensil hooks.
The grill gives you a staggering 2,535 sq. inches of cooking area in total, with both middle and top racks, each 761 sq. inches, being removable for convenient operation. It features a ceramic ignition system rated for prolonged operation, dual interior lights that operate automatically, and automatic shutdown system.
This grill can do it all with ease, from low and slow cooking to a burning sear. The low setting can allow for great buildup of smoke over time while the full setting can allow you to reach temperatures in excess of 500F. The PID enabled controller provides granular temperature control and the Wi-Fi enabled dual meat probes can ensure even cooking.
- Huge cooking area
- Removable cooking racks
- Ceramic ignition system
- Can reach temperatures higher than 500F
The Traeger Timberline 1300 is a flagship product with specs and features to match. This is the range where Traeger also features an all stainless steel construction with a total of 1300 sq. inches of cooking area. The 24 pound pellet hopper is fitted with a pellet sensor that can be monitored over Wi-Fi.
The cooking space is divided in three levels of adjustable cooking grates made of stainless steel. The D2 controller featured in the Timberline models has an intuitive control mechanism, making use of a navigation dial and dedicated buttons for specific functions. The grill comes with a range of ready scenarios that you can access directly, including settings for “Keep Warm” and “Super Smoke”.
The convenience features are also worth talking about. These include a side shelf with tool hooks, a full-length front shelf, and a magnetic bamboo chopping board. The included meat probe connects directly to the control panel and the stainless steel construction, along with the all-weather wheels and locking casters, give this a rock-solid presence that even Rambo would be proud of.
- Stainless steel construction
- Intuitive controls
- Great convenience features
- Has less cooking area than competing products
- Limited maximum temperature
While the Traeger Timberline is a great pellet grill, the truly flagship experience in this category comes from the recteq offering.
Across the board, recteq uses stainless steel construction, which is only found in the Timberline range of Traeger products. Recteq also provides a longer warranty for all its grills across all price points.
In terms of the Wi-Fi experience, however, Traeger is miles ahead. While the recteq mobile app does the basics well, the Traeger WiFire app is a repository of settings and recipes; while also being compatible with modern smart home platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
Weighing the Factors
Well there you have it. When doing a Rec Tec Grills vs Traeger comparison, no matter what your budget is, you can surely have a pleasurable BBQ experience. Both recteq and Traeger bring exceptional value to the table and their products can get you started with pellet grills. Depending on the budget you have at hand, you can choose from these comparisons to find the perfect pellet grill for your needs. Stay tuned for future Rec tec vs Traeger reviews.