If you’re anything like me, you’re probably not accustomed to perfectly smoking nearly 50 pounds of pork shoulder using a smartphone while lying in your bed. But there I was with the new Traeger Timberline, hitting the “super smoke” button and checking my temps at 6 am before my morning coffee, making enough meat to feed 100 people at my town’s annual backyard kegger.
I haven’t just been cooking massive amounts of pork on Traeger’s freshly redesigned premium smoker. In fact, this summer, it’s become rare for me to cook anything that isn’t in some way smoked. Chicken salad? Smoke that chicken first. Steak? Smoke it before you sear it on the built-in induction burner. A fresh juicy melon? Throw it on the Traeger for 30 mins for a perfectly caramelized desert.
This smart smoker and induction burner provides the perfect all-in-one outdoor kitchen. Minus a middling Wi-Fi connection (you’ll want to make sure your yard has solid coverage), the new Timberline delivers everything I’d want from a modern smoker and more: You can bake, sauté, and smoke in a single unit that’s power- and fuel-efficient. After about two months, I’ve barely used a bag and a half of wood pellets. The fly in the smoke-ringed ointment? It costs $3,500. That’s a lot of cash for any kitchen appliance.
A New Rig
The Timberline comes in a large orange box with clear instructions for setup, but you may want a partner to help you move some of the heavier bits. The heart of the system is a sizable insulated smoke box with room for six pork shoulders, or about the equivalent racks of ribs or chickens (the company also sells an XL version with roughly a third more space for an additional $300). Inside the smoke box, there are three tiers you can put everything on, with a vent for the smoke cut midway along the backside of the smoker so that it circulates fully to the top before venting.
There’s a drip tray and ash/grease catch in an easy-to-detach compartment in the cabinet below the smoker, which also serves as a great place to store extra pellets and metal liners for the drip tray. You’ll get a lot of use out of those metal drip liners before you need to replace one; the six pork shoulders only filled one up about halfway.
Besides the smoke box, on the right of the unit you’ll find a box where you can fill your wood pellets of choice (Traeger sent me an assortment of their own in-house pellets, but you can use other brands). There’s even a plastic bin and special trap door so you can drop one type of pellet out of the auger for storage and put another type in if you want to smoke something with, say, hickory before switching back to applewood.
The main control area for the Timberline is on the right side of the unit via a very comfortable push-button knob and a color LCD display. The best way to use it though is to connect your phone to the grill via the Traeger app. Once you have it connected to your Wi-Fi, you can control every aspect of the machine (including setting timers and temperature alerts) from your smartphone. It’s pretty damn nifty. You just want to make sure your router has enough range because I experienced a spotty connection on the Traeger now and then.
The left side of the Timberline houses an induction burner, which pairs perfectly with cast iron pans for searing items you’ve just cooked to perfection on the smoker, or for cooking companion dishes while you wait for something to finish smoking.
Accessory rails surround the front and sides of the smoker and give you a place to put things like a paper towel holder, a pop-up holding tray, and hooks for grill tools. Traeger sent me those accessories, which are nice and all, but not necessary, especially since they cost a lot. You’ll pay $120 for a front shelf, $60 for a bin to store utensils, and $120 for a stainless steel grill tray. Yikes. The one accessory you need—a grill cover—costs an astonishing $180. No, it’s not made of silk.