Traeger TFB29LZA Junior Elite Grill
Traeger is an innovator when it comes to pellet smokers. The company manufactured one of the earlies pellet grills in the market, even before these types of smokers became as popular as they are today. Traeger dominates the pellet grill niche with 8 out of 10 smokers being used in U.S. backyards.
Even if Traeger experienced a shakeup in ownership in 2014, the quality of pellet grills offered seemed to be maintained by the new owners as evident on newer grills like the TFB29LZA Junior Elite Grill.
The Junior Elite Grill
The Junior Elite Grill (TFB29LZA) is a smaller version of Traeger’s popular, full-sized Lil’ Tex pellet grill, and an upgraded version of Junior Pellet Smoker. For a tag price that’s only $50 higher than the Junior Pellet Smoker, this newer model comes with a multi-position digital controller – a huge improvement to its brother’s traditional 3-position controller. Because of this very nifty feature, grillers won’t have to worry about temperature fluctuations during extreme weather conditions.
Design and Features
Like other Traeger grills, the Junior Elite Grill is designed with black, powder-coated, 20-gauge steel exterior and porcelain enamel steel grates. It is a mid-sized pellet grill, weighing 70 pounds and measuring 36 x 37 x 18 inches. Ideal for households and traveling, the Junior Elite Grill boasts of a 300 square-inch grilling area that can easily holds up to 18 hotdogs, four chickens, 12 burgers and 3 rib racks.
Junior Elite Grill uses pellets (instead of charcoal) and an auger system (that feeds pellets automatically to the fire box), which means you don’t have to do this step manually.
There are several highlights of the Junior Elite. These include:
- Digital Temperature Control – Because the Junior Elite Grill is equipped with a digitally-controlled thermostat, users can smoke meat overnight without having to check up on the grill every hour. All you have to do is set up the temperature; then the grill does the job for you. It slow-cooks your meat to perfection, controlling pellets, automatically adjusting airflow, and keeping the grills temperature at a consistent level.
- Convection Blower with Shutdown Cycle – The Junior Elite Grill features an induction fan, which is designed to circulate smoke through the cooking chamber. This particular feature helps in grilling meats with even flavor distribution. You can also set the auto-shutdown feature, and when it’s up, the induction fan runs for another 10 minutes to gradually lift ash from the fire pot before it eventually shuts off automatically.
- Auger Automatically Feeds Pellets to the Fire Box – Junior Elite Grill’s auger fuels the fire, automatically releasing pellets from the hopper to the fire pot when temperature needs adjustment. The auger controls how fast (for quick cooking) or how slow (for slow cooking) pellets are released.
- Cook, bake, grill, and more – Like many pellet grills in the market, the Junior Elite Grill accommodates a wide range of cooking techniques, from baking to roasting, grilling to smoking, and a whole lot more.
- Energy-efficient – Powered by a standard 110-voltage household outlet, Junior Elite uses 300 only for the first four minutes of operation, then shifts to 50 watts for the rest of your cooking. And because it has auto shutdown feature, you won’t be consuming electricity beyond what is needed.
The Junior Elite Grill is definitely a good example of the lazy man’s smoker. Its features and functions allow users to set-and-forget your meat while cooking, but you are ensured that the grill’s accurate temperature and induction fan results to even cooking every time. Unfortunately, there are those who love adjusting dials from start to finish and would probably be bored with Junior Elite’s hands-off cooking.
- Very easy to assemble
- Durable steel construction
- Easy drain cleanup
- Portable – It has two heavy-duty wheels that allow users to move it around easily
- Comes with 3-year warranty
- Advanced digital temperature control with Auto Shut-Down Cycle
- Bright orange LED Display (perfect for nighttime grilling)
- Exceptional built-in thermometer
- A large community of Traeger users (with tons of grilling recipes available online and YouTube videos for technical or cooking tutorials)
- Can be used to bake, smoke, grill, or roast
This particular model is manufactured in China, which brings a lot of negative reviews simply because of the fact. Some customers claim that the quality standard has been compromised once Traeger outsourced the manufacturing of the Junior Elite Grill, but this isn’t exactly true. Plus, this is one of the reasons how Traeger can offer its high-quality, professional grillers at such a low price.
Another popular complaint is the need to use Traeger pellets if you wish to be under the warranty coverage for a good 3 years. While the company does provide a recipe book (and uses Traeger pellets with all of them), being forced into buying Traeger pellets exclusively can come off as sketchy. Advanced homecooks who are trying to mix-and-match pellets to create a unique smokey flavor may not be as forgiving when it comes to this warranty validity requirement.
Traeger TFB29LZA Junior Elite Grill Reviews
Most reviewers who were cooking for couples or lived in condos with balconies or had restrictions on using an open flame in their area loved this pellet grill. Users found it really versatile cooking everything from sausages to pizza to baking apple pie or cooking as smoke infused 14.8 LB Turkey.
Here is a video review of the Junior Elite to get more of a feel for it
Traeger’s Junior Elite Grill is designed for home cooks and beginners who would love to dip into the world of fire food. It is a durable, well-designed and portable smoker that’s exceptionally easy to use. It’s not for the hands-on cook who wants to adjust temperature settings regularly, or see if the meat is already cooked. Because Junior Elite Grill is equipped with an advanced digitally-controlled thermostat, you can leave it cooking overnight after setup.
The fact that Traeger outsourced the manufacturing of Junior Elite Grill doesn’t really surprise us – it’s part of an economical strategy on the part of Traeger. What bothers more is that the 3-year-warranty would be void if you use other hardwood pellets instead of the official Traeger pellets.
If this restriction is alright with you, the Junior Elite Grill can do wonders for your cooking portfolio. It is one of the lowest priced Traeger pellet grills on its catalog, but it doesn’t affect how well this smoker produces well-balanced smokey-flavored dishes consistently.