Comparing the Traeger Century 22 (the Costco Traeger)

By Bob McCarthy

Thanks to prime placement in Costco stores across the country, the Traeger Century 22 has been seen, touched, and experienced by millions of people, drumming up lots of interest in the grill, as well as the Traeger brand. Yet for all the interest in the Century, not many people know where it fits in the Traeger family or how it stacks up against Traeger’s other grills. (Read our Pellet Grill FAQ and learn more about pellet grills and choosing the best one for your needs)

What is the Traeger Grill at Costco?

With any grill brand, it can be difficult to differentiate one model from another, which often makes it tough to know if you’re buying the right one for your needs. In the case of Traeger, there’s enough similarities between their grills that the casual shopper might be hardpressed to say how the Century (or “Costco Traeger”) differs from the Lil' Tex Elite or Pro Series 22. Since it costs more than the Lil’ Tex Elite, does that mean it’s better? Because it’s priced the same as the Pro Series 22, currently Traeger’s best model, do you get the same updated features?

Unfortunately, grill comparisons aren’t always so cut and dry, especially when marketing is a factor. While the Traeger Century is very much like other Traeger pellet grills, it has a couple of unique features that help Costco market it as an exclusive to its members. Whether or not you value those features more than those found on the Lil' Tex Elite and Pro Series 22 will determine whether the Century is the best buy for you.

The Traeger Century is a Modified Lil' Tex Elite

Having their grills in Costco benefits Traeger. Because pellet grills are still relatively unknown, there’s a little bit of education involved in converting people into customers. That education is helped when people can touch, feel and see the product. In addition to a large customer base and high foot traffic, Costco regularly performs product demos, which time and again have proven to be the most effective way to turn people onto pellet grills.

However, Costco members pay an annual fee to receive exclusive deals and offers. In exchange for featuring a Traeger grill, giving it premium floor space, and running demos, Costco wants the grill to be different than the Trager models for sale online and in other stores. Traeger has accommodated Costco by creating a slightly different version of their popular Lil Tex Elite 22, called the Traeger Century 22, and making it available exclusively at Costco.

The obvious question, then, is how does the Century compare to the Lil’ Tex? And, furthermore, how does it stack up to the Pro Series 22, which is last year’s upgrade of the Lil Tex? When it comes to comparing pellet grills, the main considerations are price, control board, size, construction, and features. Taken together, these factors give an idea of overall value.

Traeger Lil' Tex Elite 22 vs Traeger Century 22

In many ways, the Traeger Century 22 is the Traeger Lil’ Tex Elite. Part of Traeger’s 22 Series, they both have a 22” x 19” primary grate and are made from powder-coated steel. Both also feature Traeger’s Digital Elite Controller, which can maintain the grill’s temperature within 20-25°F in ideal conditions.

However, there are also some differences between the two. The Century includes an upper rack for additional cooking space as well as a warming drawer. The Traeger Century 22 ($799) also costs $100 more than the Traeger Lil’ Tex Elite ($699).

Which Traeger is the better buy? That’s probably a question best answered by you. If you love the idea of a warming drawer, the Century is the only Traeger with one. However, if cost is more of a factor than toasty buns, you can save some money with the Lil Tex Elite. While the Century’s inclusion of the upper rack is great, you can add a rack to the Lil' Tex for $34.99. You can use the remaining $65.01 for an all-weather grill cover, a folding front shelf for more work area, extra wood pellets, or just put that cash back in your pocket.

Traeger Century 22 Features

  • $799
  • 418 square inch (22” x 19”) primary grilling area
  • Digital Elite Controller with LED display
  • Warming drawer
  • Hopper clean-out
  • Extra grill rack increases total cooking area to 572 sq inches
  • Bottom shelf storage
  • Electronic auto-start ignition
  • Versatility to grill, smoke, bake, roast, and braise

Traeger Lil’ Tex Elite Features

  • $699
  • 418 sq. inches (22" x 19") primary grilling area
  • Digital Elite Controller with LED display
  • Hopper clean-out
  • Optional upper rack to expand cooking area to 572 sq inches
  • Electronic auto-start ignition
  • Versatility to grill, smoke, bake, roast, and braise

Traeger Pro Series 22 vs Traeger Century 22

For all intents and purposes, the Traeger Pro Series 22 is an update of the Lil’ Tex Elite, which, again, is incredibly similar to the Century 22. Therefore, it only makes sense to compare the Pro Series 22 and Century 22. In terms of similarities, both grills have the same 22” x 19” primary grill grate and include a secondary rack that expands the total cooking area to 572 square inches. Both are also made from powdered-coated steel and retail for $799. However, that’s where the similarities end.

Despite the identical price, there are notable differences between the Traeger Century 22 and Pro Series 22. For starters, while the Century has a Digital Elite Controller, the Pro Series has Traeger’s new Pro Controller, which features Advanced Grilling Logic for tighter temperature control and can maintain +/- 15°F. The Pro Series also includes 2 integrated meat probes, allowing you to monitor the internal temperature of your food on the controller's LCD display. In terms of construction, the Pro Series features a new sawhorse chassis for more stability and better mobility, and you can choose between a blue or bronze lid. It does not have a warming drawer.

Which Traeger is the better buy? It comes down to whether you really want a warming drawer. Otherwise, the Pro Series is by far the better buy and the superior grill. For the same money, you get the same cooking area, but a better controller, sturdier construction, and 2 integrated meat probes for monitoring food while it cooks. You even have a choice of lid colors.

Traeger Century 22 Features

  • $799
  • 418 sq inch (22” x 19”) primary grilling area
  • Upper rack increases total cooking area to 572 sq inches
  • Digital Elite Controller with LED display
  • Maintains +/- 20-25°F
  • Warming drawer
  • Hopper clean-out
  • Bottom shelf storage
  • Electronic auto-start ignition
  • Versatility to grill, smoke, bake, roast, and braise

Traeger Pro Series 22 Features

  • $799
  • 418 sq inch (22” x 19”) primary grilling area
  • Extra grill rack increases total cooking area to 572 sq inches
  • Pro Series Controller with Advanced Grilling Logic and LED display
  • Maintains +/- 20-25°F
  • 2 meat probes that plug into the controller
  • Rugged sawhorse chassis
  • Hopper clean-out
  • Choice between blue and bronze
  • Electronic auto-start ignition
  • Versatility to grill, smoke, bake, roast, and braise

Compare Features and Specs

As Traeger works to introduce the public to pellet grills, it continues to come up with creative ways to market their grills and put them before as a wide an audience as possible. Creating the Traeger Century 22 exclusively for Costco is one such strategy. It's not the first Traeger exclusive and, considering the same strategy has been used with the Traeger Eastwood (Home Depot), the Traeger Lone Star Elite (QVC), and the Traeger Renegade Elite (featured in a half-hour infomercial), it's unlikely to be the last.

Although they look different, all of these grills are little more than slight variations on Traeger's most popular grills. Those minor differences (and the different names) can cause confusion about exactly what you're getting. When considering any pellet grill, carefully look over your options, comparing every feature and how it adds to the final price.