Originators of the pellet grill, Traeger gets the lion’s share of attention (they’re also in the midst of a huge media campaign that has introduced pellet grills to millions of people). Green Mountain, on the other hand, was one of the first to enter the market when Traeger's patent expired, making them one of them one of the most established brands in the market, as well as Traeger's biggest competitor. As such, the two invariably draw plenty of comparisons.
While Traeger is by far the biggest name in pellet grills, and the one many people first turn to, Green Mountain has significantly raised its profile by offering an attractive combination of package and price. In terms of quality, both fall into the same category—a step up from the low-priced models flooding the market, but not quite as advanced as premium high-end grills. Both also make models that are roughly the same size—the Traeger Pro Series 22 and the Green Mountain Grills Daniel Boone WiFi)—which allows for a fairly easy side-by-side comparison.
NOTE: We chose the Pro Series 22 over the Lil Tex Elite because it better represents Traeger’s current direction. We opted for the Daniel Boone WiFi (it comes in non-WiFi, as well) because it’s the more popular choice and WiFi is perhaps the most compelling reason to buying a GMG.
GMG Daniel Boone WiFi
There’s little dispute: the Daniel Boone WiFi offers a lot at a competitive price. Green Mountain is one of the few brands with a WiFi option, and the ability to control your cook remotely is its biggest selling point. Green Mountain also includes several accessories with the Daniel Boone, offering a little more bang for your buck. Here’s a breakdown of the key features:
- Price: $759
- WiFi can be set up for point-to-point connecting (directly to your grill) or through your home network. The downloadable app offers remote temperature control, recipes, and the ability to program step-by-step processes.
- 27x16” primary grate offers 432 square inches.
- One-touch digital controller allows you to set temps in 5°F increments from 150-500°F.
- Integrated meat probe gives you the ability to monitor food temps on the LCD display. A must-have.
- Stainless steel grates resist rust and corrosion.
- Peaked lid provides more vertical cooking space for large roasts or cooking chicken upright, beer can-style.
- Convenience tray.
- Sense Mate ambient air sensor - Green Mountain says this will put your pellet grill in “Turbo Mode” when it’s cold outside, helping it heat up faster. An interesting feature, but not one you see customers discussing, or even mentioning.
Construction: The painted steel body is standard for pellet grills. Green Mountain does offer a stainless steel upgrade for the lid and has recently begun making stainless steel heat shields and drip trays. Pellet grills don’t need to have heavy-duty bodies, so long as they have a good controller to hold the temperature. The legs are somewhat thin, which over time could be problematic if you move it around.
Performance: The one-touch controller can be set in 5°F increments. However, that’s just the set temperature, the grill itself maintains about +/- 25-30°F in perfect weather, with bigger swings when it’s cold or windy. The Sense Mate feature is nice, and sounds great, but it just helps you heat up faster in cold weather, not tighten temperature control.
The features that matter: Of all that’s included, you should care about the WiFi, meat probe, and stainless steel grates. While some reviews claim the WiFi is unreliable, Green Mountain is ahead of the game in offering it and has developed a nice app with good functionality. A welcome inclusion, the integrated meat probe makes it easy to cook food to the right temperature without lifting the lid. Easy to maintain and durable, the stainless steel grates are a great addition.
What’s Missing: A sturdier build. The legs are fairly thin relative to the grill body. Over time that could become a problem, particularly if you want to move it around.
The Bottom Line: The Green Mountain Daniel Boone WiFi offers a lot at a good price. That makes it a solid choice for an entry-level pellet grill. The WiFi can’t be overlooked or downplayed—it has forced every other brand to start developing WiFi capability. However, grills are still about cooking first and construction second (Read 6 Tips for Choosing the Best Pellet Grill). Bells and whistles are a distant third. So while WiFi capability and accessories are great, it begs the question of whether their inclusion comes at the expense of a more sophisticated controller and a sturdier build.
Traeger Pro Series 22
With the Pro Series 22, Traeger graduated to a better controller, sturdier construction, and included accessories. Released in 2016, the Pro Series sought to compete with the likes of Louisiana Grills, a brand known for offering high-quality construction, performance, and desirable features at a reasonable price.
- Price $799
- 22x19” primary grid offers 418 square inches
- Pro Series Controller with Traeger’s traditional knob control can be set in 25°F increments from 180-425°F.
- Advanced Grilling Logic provides tighter temperature control, modifying the pellet feed when the grill goes too far below or above the set temperature.
- 2 Meat Probes allow you to monitor cooking temps on the LCD display. One probe is a must-have. Two is a fantastic luxury.
- Sawhorse chassis gives the Pro Series thicker legs, a sturdier frame, and a more robust construction. The design also makes it easier to move the Pro Series 22 around the yard.
- Upper rack (22x7”) increases the total cooking area to 572 square inches.
- Pellet hopper Clean-Out allows you to quickly and easily empty the hopper or change pellet flavors. An underappreciated feature...until you want to change pellets.
- Blue or bronze lid. Completely cosmetic, though choice is never a bad thing.
Construction: The Pro Series 22 is also made of painted steel. The grill grates are enameled steel, but can be upgraded to cast iron. You can also upgrade the fire pot, drip pan, and diffuser to stainless steel. The grill body doesn’t have a heavy build, but the better controller helps counter heat loss. The sawhorse chassis is a big improvement, beefing up the base for more durability and better mobility thanks to all-terrain wheels and a side-mounted handle.
Performance: The Pro Series with Advanced Grilling Logic (AGL) maintains +/-15°F. It’s not PID control, but the AGL can modify the pellet feed when it over- or undershoots the set temperature. However, it’s still not a grill that will perform well in cold weather without the aid of an insulation blanket. As for only being able to set the temperature in 25°F vs 5°F increments, it has no bearing on whether the grill can actually maintain the desired temperature.
The Features that Matter: Most of what Traeger added has real value, particularly the Advanced Grilling Logic, which sharpened temperature control. Having dual meat probes is also a great luxury when you’re cooking multiple pieces of meat. Don’t overlook the new sawhorse chassis, which adds some welcome stability and durability.
What’s Missing: WiFi. Traeger has released its own WiFi grill, the Traeger Timberline, but it's a more expensive model and a step above both the Pro Series 22 and the Daniel Boone. It's likely that WiFi will eventually find its way to other Traeger models, but until then that capability remains the Daniel Boone's greatest advantage.
The Bottom Line: With the Pro Series, Traeger took a step forward in quality and performance while also adding desirable accessories like the dual meat probes and upper cooking rack. The upgrades and improvements allowed the Pro Series 22 to create clear separation between Traeger and the entry-level pellet grills people encounter at big box stores.
Green Mountain or Traeger?
It probably depends on you. It's hard to argue against everything that Green Mountain includes with their grills, particularly when you consider the WiFi factor. For that reason, Green Mountain will appeal to shoppers who want to get a lot for their money. The Traeger Pro Series 22, on the other hand, offers a strong build, more mobility and improved temperature control, while still including desirable features. Because pellet grills are typically measured by the quality of their construction and their controller, the Pro Series may get the nod from shoppers concerned with durability and performance.
Other Pellet Grills Worth Considering
Traeger and Green Mountain may be the biggest names in pellet grills, but they’re far from the only ones. There are some brands that, though they lack the Traeger or GMG name, offer great quality and performance at a similar price. If you’re looking at the Daniel Boone or Pro Series 22, two other options worth considering are the Louisiana Grills LG700 and FireCraft Pellet-Q450.
Louisiana Grills LG700: Exceptional Quality and Value
Louisiana Grills has been making pellet grills as long as anyone except Traeger. Like all Louisiana Grills, the LG700 has a PID controller, which maintains the grill’s temperature within a few degrees even in cold weather. It also features a robust construction—each lid is rolled from the same steel as the body to ensure a snug fit—and includes some great features not found on most pellet grills.
- Primary grill grate is 26x19” for 497 square inches.
- Constructed from 14 gauge steel
- One-touch PID Controller gives you the ability to set temperatures in 5°F increments from 180-600°F
- Programmable Meat probe allows you to monitor food temperatures and program the grill to lower the heat when it’s done cooking.
- Adjustable Flame Broiler allows you to cook over an open flame for high-heat grilling and true searing.
- Included upper rack (210 sq in) increases total cooking area to 707 square inches.
In terms of packages that combine performance, features, and price, the LG700. is hard to beat. No, it doesn’t have WiFi, but you’re better off with the more advanced controller and added capability. The ability to maintain precise temperature, no matter the weather, and grill over an open flame allows it to truly be a year-round do-everything grill. If you want a bigger version of the same grill, the LG900 has all the same capabilities and features but offers 913 square inches of total cooking area for just $100 more.
The Pellet-Q450: A Stainless Steel Pellet Grill at the Right Price
No matter what pellet grill you buy, it represents a significant investment that should be expected to last. That makes a stainless steel pellet grill incredibly desirable. There aren’t many stainless steel pellet grills available, and even fewer under $1500. However, the FireCraft Pellet-Q450 retails for $999. Constructed with stainless steel from top-to-bottom, inside and out (except the cooking grate), the Q450 is durable, rust-resistant, and has a sleek and attractive design. It also features a PID controller for precision temperature control and an open-flame grilling option.
- One-touch PID Controller gives you the ability to set temperatures in 5°F increments from 180-500°F
- Programmable Meat Probe allows you to monitor food temperatures on the LCD display and program the grill to lower the heat when food is finished.
- Direct grilling option gives you the ability to cook over an open flame for high-heat grilling and true searing (requires optional Sear Station)
- Primary grill grate of 24x19” for 450 square inches
- Pellet Exchange allows you to quickly and easily empty pellets or change flavors on the fly.
Although the list of included accessories is shorter, you’re getting what matters most—quality construction and exceptional performance. This Q450 is an example of it sometimes being wiser to invest in durability and performance than added accessories.