traeger ironwood 885 pellet grill

The Traeger Ironwood 885 pellet grill is a wood fired grill that’s the largest of Traeger's Ironwood series. Its spacious capacity of 885 square inches could fit up to 8 chickens, 5 racks of ribs, or 6 pork butts in one cook. We have been putting a lot of pellet grills to the test here over the last couple of years and decided it was time to see how the Traeger brand stacks up to the rest of the competition.

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Traeger Ironwood 885 Product Information:

Feature

Measurement

Cooking Space

885 square inches on two levels

Temperature Range

165° - 500°

Assembled Dimensions

W54" x H47" x L27"

Pellet Hopper Capacity

20 pounds

Weight

175 lbs.

Traeger Packaging:

There’s not usually all that much to mention about the packaging of a grill other than the fact that grill manufacturers use cardboard reinforced corners to make sure things hold together during shipping. The same is true here for the Traeger except for the fact that the box is also a whole lot more fun when you’re done with it. 

When you’re finished taking the grill out of the box, you’ll notice that the inside of the box is printed to be a playhouse for the kiddos. Simply turn the box inside out, and you have a giant playhouse for the kids to play with. It’s a brilliant marketing tactic to give the box a second use while giving you the warm fuzzy feelings as your kids enjoy their new rustic Traeger cabin.

Assembly:

Assembly of the Traeger Ironwood 885 took just about 45 minutes with two people. To put the legs on the wood pellet grill, you need to lay the unit down on its back, and at one point, you need to set it upside down on the lid, so two pair of hands is a must on this one. There’s not all that much to the assembly other than putting the legs on and getting everything out of the plastic and installed in the cooking chamber. It’s by far one of the easier assemblies that we’ve had out of the 30+ grills we built last year.

Traeger Ironwood packed inside box
Traeger Ironwood series tools and hardware
Ironwood 885 pieces packed inside cooking chamber
Traeger Ironwood 885 leg assembly

Seasoning:

Pellet grills need to be seasoned before they’re cooked on for the first time. Traeger recommends setting the grill to 350 for 20 minutes after you’ve primed the auger to make sure that there are pellets available to get the grill started. After 20 minutes, we’re told to turn the grill up to 500 for 30 minutes. Once that process is complete, the grill is ready for food and all of the manufacturing oils are burned off.

Traeger Ironwood control panel

Safety Features: 

The prime safety feature on this grill that I think is a no-brainer for grills that are wifi enabled is that there’s no remote start available. It just makes sense that I can’t start a fire with an app on my phone. Would it be convenient? Sure. Would it be safe with kids around and me not remembering if I put the cover on or left it off? Probably not.

Smoking:

First and foremost, the Ironwood 885 pellet grill is a smoker. Traeger grills feature a downdraft exhaust system that seems unique to their brand. This feature allows old smoke to escape below the food and allows only the best wood flavor into your food.

This thing was built to smoke, and we did a whole bunch of it during our testing. We started with jalapeno poppers and candy bacon chicken bites for the big NFL game at the beginning of February. Both went on the Traeger before the game, and they came out crispy and delicious after a good bathe in the smoke.

game day appetizers smoking on Traeger

We knew we wanted to try a long low and slow smoke, so we ordered a cryovac pack of beef plate ribs to see how the super smoke mode worked. We set the temp to 225 and turned on the super smoke setting on the controller. I noticed a considerable amount of additional smoke in the super smoke mode when I compared it to the grill just running at 225. I would liken it to running an additional pellet tube full of pellets in addition to the pellets in the fire cup. That’s something that I really like about this smoker, and it did well for these plate ribs.

beef ribs smoking on Traeger

Another evening, we had pot roast on the menu, and instead of putting it in the crockpot or just doing it in the oven or on the stove, we put everything together and set it on the Traeger. The pot roast came out like just about every other time we make this recipe, except that there was a subtle flavor from the pellets that came across with each item in the pot. It wasn’t incredibly smoke heavy like you’d expect from a stick-burning offset smoker cooking with the pot lid off. The taste difference was subtle, but noticeable, even with the pot lid on during the cook.

pot roast cooking on Traeger Ironwood

While filming our review of this grill, we smoked our homemade meatloaf and put on a pot of apple slices and cinnamon to make applesauce for dinner. It was pretty excellent having a delicious warm meal cooking while we were doing our work and every now and then the wind would blow just right to deliver a fragrant waft of apples in our direction.

smoked meatloaf cooking on the Traeger
apples smoking on the Traeger to make applesauce

Grilling:

While Traeger grills are known for smoking, they can be used to cook so much more than just pork butts and racks of ribs. With a top temperature of 500 degrees, there are quite a few dishes that can be grilled up on the Traeger. What you might find missing is the direct exposure to a flame that most of us are used to with our big box store propane grills.

When I think of grilling, I remember my dad’s old Charbroil grill that we kept on the back patio as a kid. There were lots of flames and hot spots that we fought to tame each cook, and often things would get away from us no matter how hard we tried. 

On the Ironwood 885 pellet grill, grilling (like smoking) is an indirect method of cooking. There is no direct access to flame on this grill, and that’s okay. The lower grate can sit in two different positions. To grill or sear, place the porcelain grill grates in the lowest position directly above the drip tray so that your meat can have maximum exposure to the heat source. When smoking, the grates can be placed in a higher position where they will receive more radiant or convection heat.

Traeger grilled chicken breasts
Traeger grilled chicken breasts

We grilled chicken breasts on a couple of occasions, with one recipe cooked at 500 degrees and the other at 350. The cook at 500 degrees was with a dry rub and the cook at 350 was with a wet marinade. We achieved some grill marks on the dry-rubbed chicken, but with the wet marinade that didn’t have any sugar in it, that chicken cooked like we’d expect it to on any grill set to a lower temperature. One thing to note about this grill is that the lower rack can be placed in two different positions, with one set for smoking and the other for direct grilling. The lower position of the two allows for closer proximity to the heat deflector, which provides radiant heat while grilling. The higher position allows for complete convection cooking where smoke and heat can roll all the way around the food. It’s not something that you’d notice if you didn’t read the owners manual like a nerd. #nerdyandproud

Storage:

There’s an optional cover for the Traeger Ironwood 885 pellet grill, and it’s made of thick canvas and fits the smoker like a glove. It’s easiest to put on with two people, and we haven’t had it blow off yet because the fit is just perfect. 

Traeger Ironwood with cover

We’ve stored this unit outside since the day we got it, and most of that time has been in freezing weather with more than 8 inches of snow on the ground. The grill has stood up to the weather without a problem, and the cover keeps things ready to grill or smoke whenever the feeling hits.

Warranty:  

You’ll find a 3-year limited warranty in the U.S. and more details can be found over at the Traeger website.

What We Loved About the Traeger Ironwood 885:

Optional Front Shelf

While the Ironwood 885 pellet grill does not come out of the box with a front shelf, there is an optional shelf available to purchase. We found the addition of this to our grill to be simple, and we greatly appreciated the extra space to rest trays and cutting boards during a cook. We highly recommend that additional upgrade.

Pellet Sensor

Wouldn't it be great if your grill would tell you when you're running low on wood pellets? This one does, and it's one of the coolest features I've seen on any of the pellet grills I've reviewed. With a pellet hopper capacity of 20 pounds, you're not likely to run out very quickly, but the pellet sensor will always be communicating with you through the Traeger app and gives you pellet levels of what percent remains in the pellet hopper.

Traeger app showing percent of pellets remaining

WiFire Technology

The Traeger Ironwood 885 connects to the Traeger app on your smartphone. While this is still a somewhat new technology in the grilling world, we've tested our fair share of pellet grills that also have a similar ability. However, none of them connected as easily as this Traeger. I just scanned a QR code inside the lid of my pellet hopper and followed the simple prompts on my phone and I was fully connected in under 5 minutes.

Traeger App

You can control your grill from anywhere using the Traeger App. We've previously mentioned the pellet hopper capacity reading in the app. That's only the tip of the iceberg in what the WiFire app has to offer. In addition to providing a substantial library of recipes with custom cook cycles, the WiFire app allows you to monitor the internal temperature of your food using the included Traeger meat probe as well as adjust grill temperature settings. For those new to the wood pellet grill world, there's an entire section of the app with how-to videos and pro tips. And if all that wasn't enough, the Traeger app will send you push-notifications when different features of your grill require cleaning or maintenance. 

Super Sturdy

The Traeger Ironwood 885 is a solid grill. There's no wobbling going on here; it's just sturdy and that really makes you feel like you've invested in a quality wood pellet grill. Likewise, the porcelain grill grates don't move when you clean them. Typically I'm accustomed to grill grates wiggling back and forth when I try to clean them, but the Traeger grates remain solid in place every time. Everything about this pellet grill is solidly built and sturdy.

Traeger Ironwood grill grates

Probe Port

I'm a big fan of any grill that includes a probe port. Anytime you're grilling or smoking meat, you're likely going to be using a meat probe so it only makes sense to include a port through which to lead the temperature probe. 

outside Traeger Ironwood probe port
Inside Traeger Ironwood probe port

D2 Direct Drive Controller

Among certain other Traeger grill lines, the Ironwood 885 pellet grill features the D2 drivetrain which enables better temperature consistency every time you cook. The Direct Drive fan and variable speed auger will produce optimal smoke for your cooks. Temperature control on a wood pellet grill has never been so easy.

Downdraft Exhaust System

Traeger's Tru Convection® system creates a vortex of heat and smoke in the cooking chamber to maximize smoke exposure to your food. Once the smoke has completed its journey through the vortex it escapes through the downdraft exhaust system in the back of the wood pellet grill. All of this works together in a truly unique way that really provides a nice wood-fired flavor that is not typically achieved in other pellet grills.

Super Smoke Mode

Pellet grills sometimes have a bad reputation for not infusing enough smoke into your bbq. Many assume you can't get as good of a smoke ring on a wood pellet grill that you might on a different variety of wood-burning smoker. And then Traeger introduces "super smoke mode" and everything changes. This feature, which can be engaged in the 165-225° range, will add an additional layer of thin blue smoke to the cook, infusing your food with that delicious wood-fired flavor we all love.

Keep Warm Hold

The Traeger Ironwood series also has the ability to keep your food warm at 165°. We've all had those cooks that surprised us and were ready a little sooner than expected. Need some extra time to finish preparing the rest of the meal? Just set it to keep warm and your food will be ready whenever you are.

Pellet Hopper Clean Out

Sometimes you have a hopper full of a certain variety of pellets that don't quite pair well with your next cook. Traeger makes changing out your pellet supply simple. On the back of the hopper, they've placed a door. Just get a bucket ready, unscrew the door, and let gravity take it from there.

pellet cleanout

Side Shelf and Tool Hooks

The Traeger Ironwood 885 has a shelf on the left side of the grill that includes hooks to hang your tools. We've found this shelf to be a great size and also love the magnetic bamboo cutting board that fits it perfectly!

Traeger Ironwood side shelf

Super Efficient Insulation

We've been testing the Traeger Ironwood 885 during the peak of winter here in the midwest. And we've found that it's given us better temperature consistency than most other pellet grills we've tested. Traeger knows how to build a unit that can grill in any weather. Many times we have to add a high temp gasket of some kind aftermarket to keep the heat and smoke where it's supposed to be, but Traeger already secured the cooking chamber door with one. The double side-wall insulation improves temperature consistency no matter the weather.

gasket seal on Traeger Ironwood

Opportunities for Improvement

Bottom Shelf

The Traeger Ironwood 885 pellet grill does not have a bottom shelf. However, that's not unique to the Ironwood series. We've found the bottom shelf to be missing from pretty much all Traeger grills. I'm sure Traeger has their reasons for excluding this feature from their grills, but I for one think it would be nice to add a shelf so that empty space could be used for some type of storage.

traeger ironwood 885 pellet grill

Direct Flame Access

While the Ironwood series pellet grills can be used to grill, I do miss having some type of access to a direct flame when I'm trying to get a nice sear on a piece of meat. 

Unclear Shut Down

The first time I used our Traeger Ironwood 885 I had to actually pull out the manual to figure out how to initiate shut down mode. Perhaps someone smarter than me could have figured it out on their own, but I've used a lot of different pellet grills over the years and this one turns off like none other I've seen. To save you the trouble, I'll just let you know now that when you're finished cooking, simply hold the standby button for 3 seconds to initiate shutdown mode. I feel like there could have been some kind of marking on the control panel to indicate this and save some trouble.

Undersized Casters

This is being pretty nit-picky here, but I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel to think of things that Traeger could improve on this already well-built quality grill. The only other thing that I can even think of that I would like to see different is to increase the size of the casters. For anyone who might be transporting this grill over bumps or uneven terrain at all, a slightly larger caster would be helpful. However, I do really like the fact that these casters can lock in place, securing your grill from rolling away.

locking casters on Traeger Ironwood

What's the Difference Between the Ironwood 885 and the Ironwood 650?

The only difference between these two grills is in the cooking capacity. The Ironwood 885 boasts a whopping 885 square inches of cooking space while the Ironwood 650 provides a total cooking space of.... you guessed it! 650 square inches. All the other features are consistent between these two models from the Traeger Ironwood series.

Is the Traeger Ironwood Worth it?

The Traeger Ironwood 885 is an incredibly easy-to-use and well-thought-out pellet grill and smoker. I wish all grills were this easy to use and had these features. It’s a very cool smoker that takes the challenge out of making mouth-watering meals for family, friends, and even the neighborhood. It’s a grill that spoils you and makes you want to tackle recipes that you haven’t tried before, especially with the app and built-in recipes pre-programmed. The Ironwood 885 has the potential to change the way you cook, and I believe if you put one of these in the backyard that you’ll find yourself out there much more often.