Traeger Lil Tex Elite Reviews: Should You Buy It in 2020?

If you are in a hurry and just want to find out if we still recommend the Traeger Lil Tex Elite in 2020, then the short answer is YES. For more details, jump directly to our verdict section by clicking here.

As a longtime fan of charcoal grilling, I was apprehensive about making the switch to a pellet-fueled unit. When I took a closer look at what these efficient models had to offer, however, I realized that I may have been selling them short. In an effort to organize my findings, I put together these Traeger Lil Tex Elite reviews. Read on to find out if you’re ready to make the switch.

What You Need To Know About Pellet Grills

First of all: What exactly are pellet grills? How do they work? And in what ways do they differ from more traditional grilling methods?

Instead of using charcoal or propane for fuel, pellet grills are powered by small cylinders that are made of compressed hardwood. These pellets are poured into a hopper that sits astride the grill, and fed into the main cooking chamber by a motor-driven auger component. Unlike charcoal-burning units, these function more like convection ovens, with pre-set temperatures that you can monitor through a digital control panel. The result is a grill that gives you all the flavor and authenticity of a charcoal grill, with the instant gratification provided by gas-powered units.

Now that you have some idea of how pellet grills operate, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the specifications of the product. Don’t worry—we won’t get too technical, but we’ll provide you with the information you’ll need to make the right decision.

Temperature Control

A good pellet grill should feature a temperature range of around 180 to at least 500 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’d like to be able to grill pizza and flatbreads at the proper temperatures, you should look for a unit that can heat to at least 550 degrees. The broader the range, the more versatile the pellet grill will be.

Construction

Heavy-duty stainless steel is the industry norm, usually with steel or cast-iron cooking grates. The grates will be easier to clean if they’re coated in porcelain or a similar nonstick material. If the unit has wheels, make sure they feature locking casters to help the grill remain in place during use. Travel-sized units meant for tailgating should have folding legs to make the product more transportable.

Grilling Space

How much cooking space should you look for in a pellet grill? There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, as it can vary from person to person. A unit with 350 square inches of grilling space could be sufficient for a family of four, while larger groups should limit their search to units that offer at least 600 square inches. Above all, you should consider what types of food you usually prefer to grill, and how much space they’ll take up if you plan on preparing more than one at a time.

Pellet Capacity and Consumption

The hopper capacity often corresponds to the size of the grill itself. For example, a tailgating grill might have a hopper that can hold only five pounds of pellets, while a unit with 1000 square inches of grilling space will offer a pellet capacity of 20 pounds. That said, it’s generally preferable to invest in a unit with the highest possible capacity, relative to its size. Also, look for a grill that burns one pound of pellets per hour on average.

Value

Ask yourself how much you’re willing to spend on a pellet grill. Would you be open to paying more for a higher-quality product, or would you prefer to stick to budget options that might not last as long?

Maintenance

A properly functioning auger is key to a successful pellet grilling experience. Built-in grease management and ash removal systems are useful in cutting down on maintenance as well. The grill grates should be easy to remove and clean when not in use.

Special Features

Built-in interior lights can come in handy for nighttime grilling, and Wi-Fi technology can link your pellet grill to your tablet or smartphone, enabling you to control the temperature from a distance. These features aren’t standard, however—you’ll have to read the fine print to determine whether they’re included.

Warranties and Customer Service

Check to see if the company offers a warranty on its products. One to three years is standard, although the guarantee usually only extends to cover defective parts, and not labor.

Traeger Lil Tex Elite Reviews: What You’re Buying

The following components are included when you buy the Traeger Lil Tex Elite: A cooking chamber with a barrel-style construct; a hopper with an 18-pound capacity; an ash pail; a drip pan; and an instruction manual.

Pros:

  • Convenient size—not too big or too small
  • Excellent customer service
  • Does an admirable job with baked goods

Cons:

  • Prone to temperature fluctuations in colder weather
  • Not good at searing meats
  • Too bulky and large to be portable

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

Traeger Lil Tex Elite: Features and Benefits

Temperature Control

Traeger advertises “6-in-1” capabilities for the Lil Tex Elite model. What does this mean? Essentially, the product should be versatile across six different cooking styles: smoking, barbecuing, braising, baking, roasting, and grilling. The digital temperature control is accurate within 20 degrees, and boasts a total range of 180 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

While I’ve had great success baking cookies and even pies with this model, I can’t help but feel that the 450-degree maximum is overstating things a little. I have a hard time getting the grill to reach that temperature in the first place, let alone hold its heat long enough to get a good sear on a rib-eye steak. Moreover, the temperature gets slightly finicky once the weather outside turns chilly.

Construction

This unit features a durable painted steel exterior with nonstick porcelain-coated steel grates. While the grilling grates aren’t quite as sturdy as their cast-iron counterparts, they’re solid enough to get the job done. The legs on one side are outfitted with locking wheels, so the grill can be moved easily from place to place.

Grilling Space

The Lil Tex Elite offers 418 square inches of cooking space, with measurements totaling 49 inches high by 42 inches wide, and a grilling depth of 22 inches. The unit weighs 98 pounds total, which is on the lighter side for a grill of this size, but still too hefty to make it portable for camping or tailgating trips.

Traeger claims that the unit can hold up to 16 hamburger patties at once, but I have my doubts about that as well. Perhaps I make my patties on the larger side, or maybe I just prefer a bit more space between ingredients while grilling. Either way, if you want to err on the side of caution, don’t plan on cooking more than 12 patties at a time.

Pellet Capacity and Consumption

The hopper on the Lil Tex Elite can hold up to 18 pounds of pellets, a generous number for a moderately-sized grill. Since it routinely burns through about one pound of pellets an hour (slightly less at low temperatures, and up to twice as many if you’re using the grill for baking or roasting applications), you can easily get through five or six uses before it becomes necessary to reload.

Value

Traeger’s grills are usually priced on the higher end of the spectrum, and this offering doesn’t stray from the norm. You can expect to pay several hundred dollars more for the Lil Tex Elite than you would for a model of similar size. Bear in mind, though, that Traeger’s grills are built to last, so investing in one of their products could actually save you money in the long run.

Maintenance

The automatic start function gets the Lil Tex Elite up and running in a matter of minutes, with next to no effort. The porcelain-coated grill grates are easily removed, and can be cleaned quickly and efficiently with soap and water. An “E-Z Drain” grease management system collects drips in a convenient bucket, which only needs to be emptied periodically.

Special Features

This unit comes up surprisingly short in this category, considering the high price tag. There’s no Wi-Fi capability or other technological wizardry to set it apart from the competition. It does, however, offer a smoke release system that keeps you from becoming enveloped in lung-bursting clouds of gray whenever you fire up the grill.

Warranties and Customer Service

Traeger backs up its products with a three-year warranty on parts, and the customer service department is one of the most warm and responsive I’ve encountered. There’s also a 45-day return window, should you change your mind about investing in the Lil Tex Elite. Note that the unit has to be unused if you’re to take advantage of the return window.

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

Putting It To The Test: On the Road With the Traeger Lil Tex Elite

How well does my own experience match up with that of other Lil Tex Elite buyers? To find out, I scoured the internet and found some reviews that were even more positive than mine.

One happy customer didn’t share my issues with cooking in cold weather, claiming that it turned out stellar results even in 15-degree temperatures. On the other side of the aisle, however, a user reported having problems with temperature swings even in temperate conditions. To put the maintenance issue into perspective, a third consumer claimed that with regular use, the firebox only needed to be cleaned out every four months or so.

Close Competitors

Are you still on the fence about the Traeger Lil Tex Elite? Not to worry; there are plenty of other pellet grills out there. Here are a few of the most direct competitors.

#1 Camp Chef Woodwind

This luxury model is set at a much higher price point than the Lil Tex Elite, but it also offers nearly twice as much grilling space at 811 square inches. The temperature readouts, however, are reportedly even more finicky than Traeger’s. They both offer a three-year warranty, but Traeger beats Camp Chef hands-down in the customer service department.

Traeger vs. Camp Chef

  • Temperature Control—Traeger
  • Construction—Camp Chef
  • Grilling Space—Camp Chef
  • Pellet Capacity and Consumption—Traeger
  • Value—Traeger
  • Maintenance—Traeger
  • Special Features—Camp Chef
  • Warranties and Customer Service—Traeger

Give the Camp Chef Woodwind a try if you’re in the market for a larger grill with more sophisticated components.

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#2 Pit Boss PB440TG

This offering from Pit Boss features 440 square inches of cooking space at half the price of the Traeger Lil Tex Elite. The temperature range extends to 550 degrees, too, making it a good fit for grilling pizzas. Be aware, however, that the pellet capacity of the PB440TG is just five pounds, making it more of a hassle on the maintenance end.

Traeger vs. Pit Boss

  • Temperature Control—Pit Boss
  • Construction—Traeger
  • Grilling Space—Pit Boss
  • Pellet Capacity and Consumption—Traeger
  • Value—Pit Boss
  • Maintenance—Traeger
  • Special Features—Tie
  • Warranties and Customer Service—Traeger

If you’re looking for a portable grill with a relatively generous grilling surface, take a closer look at the Pit Boss PB440TG.

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

#3 Rec Tec RT-700

You won’t save any money on the Rec Tec, but you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck. The RT-700 comes equipped with 700 square inches of cooking space, 200 pounds of customized pellets, a grill cover, non-slip mats, a lower shelf for storage, and a six-year warranty.

Traeger vs. Rec Tec

  • Temperature Control—Rec Tec
  • Construction—Rec Tec
  • Grilling Space—Rec Tec
  • Pellet Capacity and Consumption—Traeger
  • Value—Traeger
  • Maintenance—Traeger
  • Special Features—Rec Tec
  • Warranties and Customer Service—Rec Tec

Try the Rec Tec RT-700 if you have deep pockets and a tendency to cook for larger groups of foodies.

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

Putting It Together

Despite a few quirks when it comes to temperature control, the Lil Tex Elite is a worthy addition to the Traeger pellet grill lineup. It’s big enough to accommodate a family of four, it requires very little maintenance, and its footprint is modest enough to complement rather than dominate your outdoor cooking space. Click here to make the Traeger Lil Tex Elite the next step in your grilling journey.

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