Pretty sure I suck at Traeger! ;)

Squirkle913

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Hi, all!

I'm a new Traeger owner and wow, I must really be missing something because my food sure isn't turning out right. I follow the instructions to the letter and am getting the following results:
Grill: 575 Pro
Pellets Signature

Try 1: Turkey breast. Dry rub. No bark formed. Super tough, almost jerky-like exterior. Gross
Try 2: Whole chicken. Tried basting this time. A little better but still super tough exterior without it browning much. Pretty juicy but not very appetizing looking and certainly not like the YouTube videos.
Try 3: Pork butt: Tasty but non bark whatsoever. Hard dry crust.
Try 4: Tri tip: 225 until internal temp was 130. The thing looked raw like it hadn't even been cooked. Quite chewy to try to eat. Pretty frustrated at this point.

Clearly I am the problem here. Many folks are posting good dinners. I'm wondering if there is something super obvious I'm doing wrong here since the same thing keeps happening to me (jerky-like exteriors with no bark, primarily that look gross and don't taste very good). I would love any suggestions you all might have and am happy to review any prior posts, threads or videos if someone would be willing to point me in the right direction.

Thanks so much in advance.

Denise
Utah.
 

Torstenlaw

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There's so much information on this site about cooking. I would suggest using the search button or asking a specific question.

A couple of things to start with is the internal temp of meat. At 130F it's still raw. Steak at 145F ix Md rare. Chicken should go to 160F. Pork shoulder to 204F. Keep in mind that it's about how you get to those temps when slow cooking.

Pretty sure nobody here figured it out in a week. Pick a protein for your next cook and search here how to do it.
 
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Squirkle913

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There's so much information on this site about cooking. I would suggest using the search button or asking a specific question.

A couple of things to start with is the internal temp of meat. At 130F it's still raw. Steak at 145F ix Md rare. Chicken should go to 160F. Pork shoulder to 204F. Keep in mind that it's about how you get to those temps when slow cooking.

Pretty sure nobody here figured it out in a week. Pick a protein for your next cook and search here how to do it.
Thank you so much. I'll keep reading and searching the forum. All of the tri tip recipes I read said to cook to 130. Am I misunderstanding something? I am going absolutely take your suggestion and go back to trying to master whole chicken which is supposed to be where to start. Thank you for your feedback.
 

Timmy

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There is a learning curve to learn any grill, smoker, cooker, etc. The first thing I would do is verify pit temp. The pit temp maybe higher or lower then the set temp the grill is at. My 780 is as much as 20f lower then set temp on the display.
Also more smoke flavor is produced at lower temps on the Traeger, so a start low then increase temp may be necessay.

Search the site, lots of good info here.
 
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Squirkle913

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There is a learning curve to learn any grill, smoker, cooker, etc. The first thing I would do is verify pit temp. The pit temp maybe higher or lower then the set temp the grill is at. My 780 is as much as 20f lower then set temp on the display.
Also more smoke flavor is produced at lower temps on the Traeger, so a start low then increase temp may be necessay.

Search the site, lots of good info here.
Thanks! I just got an infrared thermometer for my pizza oven so I will check and verify. I will report back. Thank you! PS: Doing slightly better with pizza oven. lololol
 

Timmy

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Infrared my not do it. I would recommend a good 3rd party probe. I use a FireBoard for instance.
 

Slimpicker

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Try 1: Turkey breast. Dry rub. No bark formed. Super tough, almost jerky-like exterior. Gross
Try 2: Whole chicken. Tried basting this time. A little better but still super tough exterior without it browning much. Pretty juicy but not very appetizing looking and certainly not like the YouTube videos.
Try 3: Pork butt: Tasty but non bark whatsoever. Hard dry crust.

One other thing, besides what has been importantly stated, is the fact that a Traeger is a convection smoker. Air movement is something to get used to in this type of smoker instead of just a dead air coal/wood smoker.
Air movement means the exterior of almost everything a Traeger cooks will actually form a 'skin' but at the same time keep the interior as juicy as ever.
I cook skinless chick breasts all the time and they don't "brown" like over a weber, the outside is a little bit like a jerky like skin, but if cooked to a done internal temp fast and not slow, it is some of the tastiest ever.
Your Pork Butt should have a dark hard bark when done, but if you cook your butt till 203° IT and wrap in foil, a towel, and in a cooler for 2 hours min, that bark becomes the tastiest part of the whole cook.
If you are brand new to using a smoker, especially a pellet pooper like Traeger, then you need to pull up a chair, relax, and learn from anywhere on this site.

BTW, WELCOME
 
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Squirkle913

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Infrared my not do it. I would recommend a good 3rd party probe. I use a FireBoard for instance.
Ok. Very good. Not quite sure I'm ready to drop $200 for a probe but I'm sure I can do something that would improve accuracy. Thanks!
 
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Squirkle913

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One other thing, besides what has been importantly stated, is the fact that a Traeger is a convection smoker. Air movement is something to get used to in this type of smoker instead of just a dead air coal/wood smoker.
Air movement means the exterior of almost everything a Traeger cooks will actually form a 'skin' but at the same time keep the interior as juicy as ever.
I cook skinless chick breasts all the time and they don't "brown" like over a weber, the outside is a little bit like a jerky like skin, but if cooked to a done internal temp fast and not slow, it is some of the tastiest ever.
Your Pork Butt should have a dark hard bark when done, but if you cook your butt till 203° IT and wrap in foil, a towel, and in a cooler for 2 hours min, that bark becomes the tastiest part of the whole cook.
If you are brand new to using a smoker, especially a pellet pooper like Traeger, then you need to pull up a chair, relax, and learn from anywhere on this site.

BTW, WELCOME
Thanks so much! I am absolutely brand new and looking forward to learning from this forum. I know it takes some time to get good at anything, but it is getting just a tad frustrating to spend so much money on nice meat and have it not turn out. I appreciate the support, knowledge in the forum, and look forward to updating you all as I improve. Also, nice to see you have the same grill as I do and have seen significant success. That means I just need to keep learning from you all!!! Thank you for the welcome.
 

Timmy

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Ok. Very good. Not quite sure I'm ready to drop $200 for a probe but I'm sure I can do something that would improve accuracy. Thanks!
Doesn’t have to be a FireBoard, but do make sure whatever you use is verifed accurate.
 

Murphy's Law

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Ok. Very good. Not quite sure I'm ready to drop $200 for a probe but I'm sure I can do something that would improve accuracy. Thanks!
Ink Bird is another brand several here use and they are a lot less expensive. They look to be on sale now for $52 for 4 probes and $42 for two probes.

I find my Pro 780 is pretty close if I am cooking <225 but as I raise temperature the accuracy really falls off; for example, if I set the Traeger to 350 the actual pit temp is usually about 25 or 30 degrees less. This is important when I cook chicken since I like to start at 225 and then raise to 350 or 375 to get crispy skin. If I didn't know this about my grill I would really be cooking at 330 and wondering why the skin is rubbery.

 
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Squirkle913

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Ink Bird is another brand several here use and they are a lot less expensive. They look to be on sale now for $52 for 4 probes and $42 for two probes.

I find my Pro 780 is pretty close if I am cooking <225 but as I raise temperature the accuracy really falls off; for example, if I set the Traeger to 350 the actual pit temp is usually about 25 or 30 degrees less. This is important when I cook chicken since I like to start at 225 and then raise to 350 or 375 to get crispy skin. If I didn't know this about my grill I would really be cooking at 330 and wondering why the skin is rubbery.

Excellent! Thanks! I have used Ink Bird products for my aquarium so I am a little familiar with the brand. Do any of you have feedback on the ThermoPro items as well? I've heard good things.

PS: Thawing a whole chicken and going to work on getting back to basics! Also ordered some GrillGrates to start doing burgers/brats and keeping it a little more simple as I learn. The reviews on this site helped push me over the edge. Had been looking at them for quite some time.
 

Murphy's Law

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Excellent! Thanks! I have used Ink Bird products for my aquarium so I am a little familiar with the brand. Do any of you have feedback on the ThermoPro items as well? I've heard good things.

PS: Thawing a whole chicken and going to work on getting back to basics! Also ordered some GrillGrates to start doing burgers/brats and keeping it a little more simple as I learn. The reviews on this site helped push me over the edge. Had been looking at them for quite some time.
FWIW: I have the best success with chicken doing either spatchcock or "beer can chicken". Make sure the skin is good and dry, and add seasoning rub under the skin of the breast, as well. I will cook for about an hour at 225 and then raise the temp to 350 until done. Once I raise the temp I will also start basting about ever 30 mins or so. I've had pretty good luck with this.

You also mentioned tri-tip in your original post, you can use the new GrillGrates to reverse sear! I cook on low temp to around 125 internal temp, raise the temp to 450 or 500 (well, I actually move to another grill for high heat), and then sear a few mins on each side until you reach your desired temperature.
 

Sloppysalmon219

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There's so much information on this site about cooking. I would suggest using the search button or asking a specific question.

A couple of things to start with is the internal temp of meat. At 130F it's still raw. Steak at 145F ix Md rare. Chicken should go to 160F. Pork shoulder to 204F. Keep in mind that it's about how you get to those temps when slow cooking.

Pretty sure nobody here figured it out in a week. Pick a protein for your next cook and search here how to do it.
 
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