If you’re a proud owner of a Traeger grill, you know how important it is to keep it clean to ensure that it performs at its best. Not only does regular cleaning help to prevent flare-ups and prolong the life of your grill, but it also helps to keep your food tasting great. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps on how to clean Traeger grill so that you can keep your grill in top condition. So, let’s get started!
What Is a Traeger Grill?
A Traeger grill is a type of barbecue grill that uses wood pellets as its fuel source instead of charcoal or gas. Traeger grills are electric pellet grills, so you plug them in, add wood pellets to the hopper, set your temperature, and the grill heats up and smokes the food for you. The wood pellets are made of compacted sawdust from hardwood trees like oak, hickory, and maple. As the pellets burn, they produce smoke that infuses the food with a delicious, wood-fired flavor.
Traeger grills use an auger system to automatically feed the wood pellets into the firepot. You can set the temperature just like an oven, so they are very easy to operate. The consistent temperature also allows you to cook low and slow for perfectly smoked meats like brisket, ribs, and pulled pork. Many people love Traeger grills because they produce amazing wood-smoked food using an automatic, user-friendly system. You get the great taste of wood-fired cooking without the hassle of adjusting vents, adding more charcoal or wood chips. Simply set it and forget it.
Traeger grills have become extremely popular, especially in the USA and Canada. They were invented in the 1980s by Joe Traeger and have since developed a loyal following. If you want an easy-to-use pellet grill that infuses food with delicious hardwood flavor, a Traeger could be an excellent choice. The only downside is that pellets can be more expensive than charcoal and the grills themselves also tend to cost more than comparable charcoal grills. However, many owners feel the result is worth the investment.
When to Clean Traeger Grill
It is important to regularly clean your Traeger wood pellet grill to keep it in good working condition and prevent the buildup of grease and creosote. Creosote is a flammable residue left behind from burning wood pellets that can coat the inside of your grill and the chimney. If too much creosote builds up, it could potentially lead to a chimney fire.
There are a few signs that it’s time to clean your Traeger grill:
Excessive grease buildup – If you start to see thick, flaky grease coating the grates, heat baffle, and other internal parts, it’s time for a deep clean. Grease can trap smoke and odors, so cleaning it off will improve the flavor of your food.
Creosote flakes in the chimney – Check your chimney for the buildup of flaky black creosote. If there are more than 1/4 inch flakes, clean the chimney to remove the creosote.
Thick smoke or fire in the chimney – Excessive smoke or a small fire in the chimney can indicate creosote buildup that needs to be cleaned.
Poor temperature control – If your grill is showing significant temperature swings or is requiring more pellets to maintain temperature, creosote or pellet residue buildup could be the issue. A good cleaning can help your Traeger grill operate efficiently again.
It is recommended to do a deep clean of your Traeger wood pellet grill after every 40-50 hours of use. A deep clean involves disassembling components like the chimney, grates, and heat baffle to scrape off built-up residue and grease. Doing regular maintenance will help your Traeger grill last longer and produce better-tasting food.
How to Clean Traeger Grill – 6 Steps to Do It Right
Cleaning your Traeger grill is an essential task that should be done regularly to keep your grill working at its best. Here are 6 simple steps to help you clean your Traeger grill properly:
Step 1: Vacuum Out Your Traeger Grill
The first step to cleaning your Traeger wood pellet grill is to vacuum out the interior. Make sure the grill has cooled completely and is unplugged before starting. Vacuuming out loose debris will make the rest of the cleaning steps easier.
Start by removing the grill grates and heat baffle so you can access the lower interior of the grill. Use a vacuum brush attachment and hose or crevice tool to suction out pellet dust and fragments inside the grill chamber, especially in the corners and along edges. Vacuum around the auger, firepot, and interior walls.
Next, move on to the pellet hopper. The pellet hopper is where you load wood pellets, and residue can build up inside. Vacuum around the sloped walls, corners, and pellet chute of the hopper to remove any pellet debris or sawdust. Vacuum the top rim of the pellet hopper as well where extra pellets sometimes collect.
Finally, check the exhaust fan on the back of your Traeger grill. Use the vacuum hose or brush to suction away any excess pellet dust from the fan vents and openings. Ensure the exhaust fan spins freely after vacuuming.
Vacuuming out the interior of your Traeger wood pellet grill before a deep clean will remove loose debris that could potentially jam up small parts. Get into every corner and crevice with your vacuum attachments to fully dust out and freshen up your grill for cooking. Your first step is complete – now you can move on to degreasing and scrubbing the inside of your pellet grill.
Step 2: Wash Your Traeger Grill Grates
After vacuuming out the inside of your Traeger wood pellet grill, the next step is to clean the grill grates. The grates are the metal slats where you place the food to be cooked. Grease, grime, and leftover food particles can build up on the grates over time, so it’s important to scrub them clean.
Remove the grill grates from your Traeger grill and lay them on a flat surface like a table or workbench. For stuck-on messes, spray the grates with a degreaser or grill cleaner and let them soak in for at least 30 minutes. Use a scrub brush to loosen the caked-on residue. For lighter cleaning, you can skip the degreaser and just use hot, soapy water.
Scrub both sides of the grill grates thoroughly with your scrub brush, paying attention to the edges and corners where grime often collects. For stubborn stuck-on food, use an abrasive scrubber or steel wool pad along with the degreaser. Rinse the grates with water to remove all soap and debris when scrubbing.
After scrubbing the grates, you have two options:
Rinse, dry, and re-season the grates: Rinse the grates with clean water, dry them completely, then coat lightly with oil and heat in your Traeger grill at 350 F for about 30 minutes. Let cool and re-install.
Run through the dishwasher (for porcelain grates only): Place porcelain grill grates in the dishwasher and run on a heavy cycle. Re-season after by oiling and heating as above.
Clean grill grates are essential for cooking delicious food on your Traeger wood pellet grill. Scrub your grates after every 3-4 cookouts to keep your grill in tip-top shape. Your grates are now clean and ready to re-install in your grill!
Step 3: Remove the Drip Tray and Dispose of Used Aluminum Foil
The drip tray sits under the grill grates in your Traeger wood pellet grill to catch grease, drippings, and crumbs as you cook. Cleaning the drip tray is an important part of grill maintenance and only takes a few minutes.
First, slides out the drip tray from your Traeger grill. Chances are there will be used aluminum foil lining the tray from your last cookout to catch drippings. Peel off the used foil and dispose of it. Check the actual drip tray for any debris or buildup and wipe it down if needed using hot, soapy water and a scrub brush or degreaser.
For stuck-on messes in the drip tray, fill it about 1/4 inch deep with a degreaser and let it soak in for 15-30 minutes. Scrub with an abrasive scrubber or scrubber pad and then rinse well with water. Make sure all degreaser is washed off before re-installing the tray. Allow all parts to air dry completely before putting your Traeger grill back together.
Next, place new sheets of aluminum foil over the drip tray, making sure the foil is shaped to the tray and covered evenly. Secure the foil in place by folding it over and crimping the edges of the foil. The foil should be tight enough not to sag, but still easy to remove for cleaning next time.
Slide the drip tray back into your Traeger grill underneath the grates. The drip tray will catch any new drippings as you cook to make cleaning up after your next grilling session quick and easy. Disposing of used foil and wiping down or degreasing the drip tray as needed will help prevent grease fires in your pellet grill and keep it cooking as efficiently as possible.
Your drip tray is now clean and re-lined, ready for your next cookout on the Traeger! Keep up the good work cleaning your pellet grill.
Step 4: Take Out The Heat Baffle
The heat baffle in your Traeger wood pellet grill sits above the firepot and below the grill grates. Its purpose is to deflect heat and prevent grease fires. Like other parts of your pellet grill, the heat baffle requires periodic cleaning to prevent buildup. Here’s how to access and clean your Traeger grill’s heat baffle:
First, remove the grill grates from your Traeger grill so you can reach the heat baffle below. The heat baffle may simply lift straight out, or it may be secured in place with cotter pins or bolts that require unfastening. Remove any clips or hardware holding the heat baffle in place and lift it out.
Look for any debris like pellet ash or grease drippings on the top side of the heat baffle from cooking. Wipe away any buildup with hot, soapy water and a degreaser if needed. Use a scrub brush to loosen stuck-on messes before rinsing clean with water. Scrub the underside of the heat baffle as well if there are any caked-on drippings. Rinse all parts with water to remove the degreaser when scrubbing.
For stubborn residue, you can fill a container like a bucket with a degreaser and let the heat baffle soak for 30 minutes before scrubbing. Use an abrasive pad for stuck grease and grime. Ensure all parts are rinsed and dried completely to avoid fire hazards before re-installing.
Place the heat baffle back onto the grease tray rails or clips in your Traeger grill, making sure it’s secure and level for proper heat distribution. Put the grill grates back onto your pellet grill over the heat baffle.
Cleaning the heat baffle in your Traeger wood pellet grill helps prevent grease fires by removing built-up drippings and debris. Check and clean your heat baffle at least once a month or if you notice excess smoking from your grill during cooking. Your heat baffle is now clean and re-installed – keep up the great work cleaning your Traeger grill!
Step 5: Use Grease Bucket Liners
In addition to a drip tray, most Traeger wood pellet grills come with a grease bucket to collect oil and drippings as you cook. The grease bucket sits outside your grill chamber to contain excess grease without risk of fire. For easy cleanup, use grease bucket liners.
Grease bucket liners are disposable liners, typically made of foil or parchment paper, that line your grease bucket to catch drippings. Once cooking is done, simply remove and replace the liner. This eliminates the need to scrub out your grease bucket after every use.
To use grease bucket liners:
Purchase grease bucket liners made specifically for your Traeger grill model. Traeger and other retailers sell grease bucket liners that are pre-cut to properly fit your grease bucket.
Remove the grease bucket from your Traeger grill. Clean the grease bucket thoroughly the first time you use liners to remove any built-up residue. Scrub with a degreaser and hot, soapy water and rinse well.
Place a new grease bucket liner inside the bucket, covering the bottom and sides evenly. The liner should be loose enough to lift out when done cooking but tight enough not to sag. Secure excess liner material around the rim of the bucket.
Slide the grease bucket back into place under your Traeger grill’s grease spout. As you cook, drippings will collect on the liner instead of the grease bucket walls.
Once finished cooking, carefully lift out the grease bucket liner containing drippings. Tie off and dispose of the used liner. Replace with a new liner next time you cook.
For the grease bucket itself, do a deep clean once a month or if there is any built-up residue around the rim or in seams where the liner did not cover. Degrease and scrub, rinse, and dry completely to avoid fire hazards.
Using grease bucket liners in your Traeger wood pellet grill helps streamline cleanup and prevent grease buildup in the bucket. Be sure to do periodic deep cleaning of the grease bucket itself as well for best results. Keep up the good work – your grease bucket and liners are ready for your next cookout!
Step 6: Put It All Back Together
After cleaning the individual components of your Traeger wood pellet grill – the grates, drip tray, heat baffle, grease bucket, etc. – it’s time to reassemble all parts and test your grill before cooking again. Following proper reassembly techniques will ensure all parts are securely installed for safety and efficiency.
First, check that all grease and debris have been wiped away from the inner chamber, hopper, auger, and exhaust system of your Traeger grill. Use a vacuum and scrub brush to remove any remaining pellet dust before reinstallation.
Next, slide the drip tray back into the bottom of your Traeger grill’s chamber. Ensure the drip tray is seated level for proper grease runoff into your grease bucket or grease bucket liner.
Place the heat baffle onto the grease tray rails in your grill, making sure not to block the grease spout hole where drippings fall into the grease bucket. The heat baffle should sit level and secure for even heat distribution.
Put your grill grates back onto your Traeger grill, positioning them over the heat baffle. The grates should sit firmly and not rock or shift around.
Check that your grease bucket and liner are securely installed under the grease spout, ready to catch drippings. Empty and replace the liner if needed.
Ensure all loosening clips, screws, or bolts on your Traeger grill including the chimney cap, pellet hopper seal, and front/rear grease tray shields have been tightened. Tighten or replace any damaged hardware.
Plug in your Traeger wood pellet grill and turn it on to test that all parts have been properly reinstalled. Look for consistent, even smoke coming from the chimney at your selected temperature. There should be no excessive grease fires or smoking at any connection points.
Once testing is complete, your Traeger wood pellet grill is fully reassembled and ready to use for your next backyard barbecue! Be sure to do regular maintenance and check individual components often to keep your pellet grill in top working condition. Keep up the good work and happy grilling!
How To Remove Rust From Cast Iron Traeger Grill Grates
Cast iron grill grates on Traeger wood pellet grills can develop rust over time with improper care or humidity exposure. Rusty grill grates affect cooking performance and appearance, but removing rust is often an easy process. Here are some steps to remove rust from your cast iron Traeger grill grates:
Scrub rust off grates with steel wool or an abrasive scrubber. The first step is to manually scrub off any loose rust from your cast iron grates using fine-grade steel wool, scrubbing pads, or abrasive sponges. Scrub until the majority of the rust is removed.
Make a paste from water and cream of tartar or baking soda. For stuck-on rust, make a paste from either cream of tartar or baking soda and water. Apply the paste to rusted areas of your grates and let sit for several hours or overnight. The acid in cream of tartar or alkaline in baking soda will help lift the rust from the metal.
Scrub off the paste with a scrub brush and rinse. Use a scrub brush to scrub off the cream of tartar or baking soda paste from your grates. Rinse your grates with water to remove all residue. Pat dry completely.
Coat grates in oil and season in the oven. After scrubbing and rinsing, coat your cast iron grill grates all over in vegetable or canola oil. Place a foil-lined sheet pan under the grates to catch drips. Season the grates in a 300 F oven for about an hour. Let cool.
Protect grates from future rust. To prevent rust from returning quickly, coat your seasoned grates in oil after each use and avoid letting grates sit in standing water or uncovered in humid conditions. Keep grates oiled and seasoned, and covered when not in use.
For persistent rust, scrub, and re-season. For tough rust that does not come off with scrubbing and pastes, you may need to strip and re-season your cast iron grill grates. Scrub as much as possible, then follow instructions to strip and re-season the metal using oil and high heat.
With regular care and upkeep, removing rust from your Traeger grill’s cast iron grates and preventing future rust is easy. Keep your grates seasoned and covered to promote long life.