Dimensions: 51x71x25 inches (HWD)
Cooking space: 1,320 square inches
Weight: 289 pounds
The Traeger Timberline XL is the latest version of the company’s flagship line of grills, and represents the state of the grilling art at its most advanced. It’s loaded with thoughtful touches and high-tech features ranging from Wi-Fi connectivity to induction cooking.
If you don’t need or want all of the dynamic features that come standard, you can save a lot of money and likely be almost as happy with one of the smaller and less expensive picks among the best grills. But if you have the cash, and bleeding-edge grilling means more to you than the red juices seeping out of your ribeye, this is a smart, forward-thinking purchase. And did I mention it makes astoundingly good food?
Traeger Timberline XL review: Pricing and availability
Two models of this grill, which went on sale late this spring, are available: the regular Timberline and the larger (and more expensive) Timberline XL.
- Traeger Timberline: $3,499.99
- Traeger Timberline XL: $3,799.99
We reviewed the Timberline XL, which boasts 1,320 square inches of cooking area as opposed to the Timberline’s 880 square inches. Our contact at Traeger insisted that size is the only difference between the two models and that their features and performance are otherwise identical.
Traeger Timberline XL review: Design and features
Fully assembled, the Timberline XL weighs 289 pounds and measures 51 x 71 x 25 inches (HWD), though you’ll want to leave an extra 20 inches both in front of and behind the grill to allow for sufficient exhaust space and protect the surroundings from the heat. (The non-XL Timberline measures 51 x 59 x 25 inches and weighs 238 pounds.)
You access the inside of the barrel-like cooking area by lifting the rounded lid. Three grates (two of which are adjustable) provide a total of 1,320 square inches of cooking surface (or 880 on the standard). Traeger has redesigned the internal heat delivery system with stainless steel insulation it claims will allow for better regulation of the interior temperature; a smart combustion system both helps keep that temperature constant and reduce flare-ups.
New on this Timberline is an updated control panel, which combines a full-color touch display, four buttons for accessing various features, and a round dial for adjusting the temperature and navigating menus; a single-burner induction cooktop; beneath the cooking surface, the EZ Clean Grease+Ash Keg, which collects a lot of the grease and ash produced during cooking for easy disposal later; and a wraparound accessory rail.
There’s plenty of storage in the bottom cabinet, and a bin for your fuel pellets can be permanently housed on the right (or replaced by additional shelves, if you prefer). A magnetic wooden cutting board for attaching to the pellet hopper lid, a slotted metal tray for cooking vegetables or fish, and two wired and one wireless temperature probe round out the accessories.
Traeger Timberline XL review: Setup
Our Timberline XL arrived via FedEx Freight in a shipment weighing just shy of 350 pounds and measuring 49.5 x 52.5 x 22 inches; you’ll need at least two people to move and assemble it.
If you have a wide-open area with a solid, flat floor (such as a deck or a garage), that will simplify assembly, though it’s already pretty easy thanks to Traeger’s extensive printed and online instructions; the company has also included all of the screws and hardware you need.
Attaching the wheels and the accessory rail were the trickiest parts for me, but even they weren’t too difficult.
Two people should be able to complete the assembly in two to three hours, including the onboarding process when you first turn on the grill, which connects the grill to your home Wi-Fi network (though only 2.4GHz networks are supported) and automatically seasons it.
Traeger Timberline XL review: Performance
Over the course of several days, I put the Timberline XL through a battery of cooking challenges designed to test everything it could do.
From juicy burgers to moist roast chicken, and from succulent smoked salmon to fall-apart-tender ribs, the Timberline XL did not disappoint in the meat category. Searing romaine lettuce and toasting croutons for grilled Caesar salad worked well, too, as did roasting tubers for potato salad. The slotted tray was ideal for cooking a mixed-vegetable medley we couldn’t grill in the traditional fashion.
Baking was a success with a batch of chicken enchiladas and two sheet trays’ worth of chocolate-pecan scones, though Traeger’s Grilled New York Style Pepperoni Pizza recipe was a dud, with the recommended 450-degree cook time of 15 minutes vastly insufficient for finishing the pie. (You’re better off cooking pizza in cast iron, holding off until Traeger releases its new pizza oven accessory later this year, or picking up one of our best outdoor pizza ovens.)
Perhaps most impressive was the induction cooktop, which expanded the array of dishes I could whip up, all at the same time. Sauteed vegetables, caramelized onions, charred corn, and pizza sauce proved outstanding uses to me, but anything you can cook on your kitchen stove, you can cook here.
One final note about the grill itself: Our measurements with freshly calibrated ThermoWorks thermometers showed its internal temperature to routinely be as much as 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) higher as what the display screen reported.
This didn’t cause me too many problems (though the roast chicken came close), but monitoring the temperature closely during cooking more delicate foods is probably a good idea. And don’t touch the upper-right portion of the lid: That reached over 200 degrees on multiple occasions.
Traeger Timberline XL review: Cleaning
Although the Grease+Ash Keg does speed one aspect of cleanup, you still may have to spend a fair amount of time keeping the Timberline XL in tip-top shape.
I had to spend a lot of time chipping away at the accumulated detritus on the drip tray and scraping gunk away from the grease drain tube. (It’s worth lining the drip tray with aluminum foil to save yourself some time). Sucking ash out of the firepot with a vacuum cleaner and removing creosote from the backsplash and the inside of the grill door (and, twice a year, the Downdraft Exhaust System) are other necessary maintenance tasks.
Traeger Timberline XL review: Smart functionality
The Traeger mobile app is bare-bones, but it offers you just enough options to interact with your grill in new and unexpected ways. You can punch up one of the integrated recipes so the grill can go through all the intricate heating procedures for you, manually set the grill to any temperature you like, engage the timer, or enact any of the other front-panel button functions.
If you enable notifications, you will also be informed of when the grill has finished preheating or completely shut down or be told when it’s running low on pellets. This was a mixed bag; that information is nice to have, but over longer cooking times (two hours or more), the pellet notifications became first annoying and then oppressive. I’d recommend you not bother turning these on unless you really crave this information, you cook only for short periods of time, or you’re fanatical about keeping the pellet hopper full. After a couple of days of “25% full” warnings, I was about ready to grill my phone.
Traeger Timberline XL review: Verdict
With its breadth of features and controls, all the different ways it allows you to cook, its no-fuss smoking capabilities, and its well-honed prowess at nearly every type of cooking, there is no other grill quite like the Traeger Timberline.
Whether it’s the best grill for you depends on how much you’re willing or able to pay. This new Timberline is about twice as expensive as its predecessor, and you can buy top-quality charcoal or propane grills for $550 or less. They may not have all the bells and whistles, but is that such a terrible thing?
In another year or two, many of these same features will filter down into Traeger’s less expensive Ironwood and Pro lines, so waiting is another option. But if you’re in the market now, and it won’t torpedo your personal finances, the Timberline is a great way to grill.