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Brisket 101: The Epitome of Low & Slow

Posted by Traeger on July 22, 2012

What is Brisket?

sliced beef brisket

As most experienced grillers and barbecuers will tell you, beef brisket is one of the most challenging cuts of meat to cook properly. In fact, we’ve heard it said that it’s a little like playing checkers: It only takes a few minutes to learn the game, but it can take a lifetime to master. Well, folks, not if you own a Traeger.

Let’s start with a little bovine physiology. Brisket is the equivalent of the pectoral muscle in humans, a well-exercised muscle (there are two per cow) that gets a work-out every time the animal lays down or pushes up. This gives brisket its fibrous texture and beefy taste. (In general, the more a muscle is used, the more flavor it will have.)

Brisket Cut of Beef A full brisket, called a “packer” can weigh up to 18 pounds and consists of two parts: the “flat” and the “deckle.” They are separated by a thick line of fat and collagen.

Whole packer briskets with the fattier “deckle” attached are better left to experienced brisket barbecuers.

The “flat” is the cut you are most likely to see at your local supermarket or butcher shop. It usually weighs between 4 and 8 pounds, and is the best cut to start with if you have never barbecued a brisket before. Look for a center-cut piece graded “Choice” or better, preferably grass-fed “Certified Angus”, with a fat cap on top of about 1/4-inch. Allow 3/4- to 1-pound of raw brisket per person. (The directions below are for a 5- to 6-pounder.) The brisket will shrink substantially as it cooks.

To say brisket is not something you barbecue on the spur of the moment is a gross understatement. It takes planning, patience, and lots and lots of time—the epitome of “low and slow” barbecue. Figure on 1.5 to 2.5 hours per pound, plus an additional hour for “resting” the meat. Always allow more time than you think you’ll need. Count backwards from the time you want to serve your brisket to determine how early your barbecuing day will start. (Of course, some people prefer to put their briskets on before they go to bed.)

Step-By-Step Brisket Preparation

Remove the brisket, again, 5- to 6-pounds, from its packaging and rinse it under cool running water. Dry it thoroughly with paper towels. If the fat cap is thicker than 1/4-inch, trim it with a sharp knife. Turn the brisket over, and carefully remove any visible silverskin (that’s the shiny tissue that sheaths muscles) by shallowly sliding your knife blade under it.

If desired, slather the brisket with a thin coating of yellow mustard to hold any dry rub and to keep the brisket moist during its long cook on the Traeger. Season the brisket generously on both sides with Traeger’s Prime Rib Rub, Beef Shake, your favorite barbecue rub, or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Let the brisket come to room temperature for about one hour while you assemble the other tools you’ll need.

Tools to gather while your brisket reaches room temperature:

  • An accurate instant-read meat thermometer, preferably a remote
  • Plenty of Traeger Pellets, preferably hickory, pecan, or oak
  • A clean spray bottle
  • Heavy duty aluminum foil
  • An insulated cooler to hold the finished brisket
  • A stack of newspapers or thick terrycloth towels (don’t use the good ones, though!)
  • A gravy separator or bulb-type baster
  • A sharp serrated knife or electric knife for slicing the brisket

Make a thin mop sauce by combining 2 cups of beef broth, cola, apple juice, or flat beer with a little Worcestershire sauce. Transfer it to the plastic spray bottle.

From the kitchen to the grill.

When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes).

If using a remote thermometer, insert the probe in the thickest part of the brisket, preferably through the side. Arrange the brisket on the Traeger grill grate, fat-side up. (Actually, some pit masters prefer to do brisket fat-side down, the theory being that the fat layer will protect the meat from the heat. This is perhaps true for conventional gas and charcoal grills, but not necessarily for a Traeger’s evenly-dispersed, induction fan-driven heat.)

Smoke the brisket for 2 to 3 hours. Increase the temperature of your Traeger to 275 degrees F. Spray the brisket with the mop sauce. Continue to cook the brisket, spraying with the mop sauce every hour or so, until the internal temperature of the brisket reaches 160 degrees F, 4 to 5 hours. (This is where a remote thermometer really comes in handy.)

Patience is key.

Now you are entering what is called the “stall” or “plateau” phase, where the internal temperature of the brisket will rise at a much slower pace. This, not coincidentally, is where some pit masters get nervous and decide to “rush” the process by cranking up the heat. Don’t be tempted to do this, or your brisket will rebel by toughening up.

Instead, tear off two sheets of foil, give the brisket one more spritz with the mop sauce, and lay the brisket in the center of the foil. Remove the remote probe, if using. Bring the sides of the foil up to completely enclose the brisket and crimp the edges tightly. Reinsert the temperature probe. Return the foiled brisket to the Traeger and continue to cook until the internal temperature of the brisket reaches 190 degrees F.

Your work is almost done!

Line the cooler with several layers of newspaper or the terrycloth towels.brisket Remove the temperature probe from the foiled brisket. Transfer the brisket to the cooler and layer more newspaper or towels on top of it to keep it warm. Let it rest for an hour while you set the table, mingle with your guests, drink a celebratory beer, or watch the game on TV.

At the end of the hour, remove the brisket from the cooler and transfer it to a cutting board. Carefully remove the brisket from the foil, pouring any juices that have accumulated into a gravy separator or heat-proof bowl. Slice the brisket across the grain into slices about 1/4-inch thick with a serrated or electric knife. Transfer to a platter or plates, moistening with the accumulated juices in the gravy separator (or use a bulb baster to reach the juices), leaving the fat behind. Serve with your favorite barbecue sauce, if desired.

If you decide to cook your brisket ahead of time, reheat it, wrapped tightly in foil, in your Traeger set to 275 or 300 degrees F.

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Selecting, Cooking, and Serving an Easter Ham

Posted by Traeger on April 3, 2012


You know spring has sprung—and Easter’s on its way—when  you can’t round a corner at the supermarket without running into a colossal display of hams. At its most basic, ham is the thigh from the hind leg of a pig. Why so many choices, then? Hams in gold foil. Hams in netting. Vacuum-sealed hams. Canned hams. Thawed hams. Frozen hams. Fresh unsmoked hams and aged country hams.

And no discussion of hams would be complete without mentioning the ubiquitous “spiral cut” hams that have been making would-be carvers sigh with relief for over 50 years.

How’s a consumer supposed to negotiate all the options?

Here’s our best advice: Buy a ham that’s as natural-looking as possible, indicating it’s been minimally processed. The USDA classifies hams this way:

  • Ham – Fresh hams and country hams, both dry and salt-cured, fall into this category;
  • Ham With Natural Juices – A bit of liquid accompanies hams that have been wet-cured. Our first choice.
  • Ham Water Added – The protein content goes down as the water content goes up, meaning that per pound price may not be as good as it looks.
  • Ham and Water Product – This is the “Frankenstein” of hams typified by the canned hams of our misguided youth. They contain more water (or other liquids), and are always a mish-mash of boned and molded pork muscles from (usually) many animals. Pineapple rings pinned on with whole cloves cannot save this ham. Our last place finisher.


Cooked or Uncooked?

With the exception of fresh hams and country-style hams, such as the popular Smithfield ham from Smithfield, Virginia, nearly all hams sold in the U.S. are cooked, safe to eat as is without any reheating.

Of course, a cold ham doesn’t have the same appeal on the Easter table as a properly reheated ham, perhaps crusted in sugar or a sweet glaze, oozing juices, and promising superior flavor. The key is to slowly bring it to 140 degrees F, preferably in a moisture-protected environment like foil or a covered roasting pan.  We prefer a medium temperature—275 or 300 degrees F. The time required to reheat it will depend on the ham’s size, but feel free to contact us if you are uncertain. (Because the ham is already smoked, Traeger owners, there’s no need to smoke it a second time.)

If you do opt for a fresh ham—which will not have the pink hammy color that comes from curing in nitrates and nitrites—be sure to cook it to at least 145 degrees F. (Find a recipe for a fresh ham on our website, www.traegergrills.com.) Ditto for a country ham, which has been cured, but not cooked. You can find instructions for preparing and cooking a country ham on the internet.


Bone-in Or Boneless?

Despite our advice above to select a ham that’s been minimally processed, we do recognize why a person might opt for a boneless ham over a bone-in ham.

A boneless ham is obviously easier to slice, though you won’t have that glorious ham bone for making bean soup once the meat has been carved off the joint. No problem. Simply smoke 2 or 3 fresh ham hocks on your Traeger and proceed with the soup!

An unsliced bone-in ham is obviously trickier for the person wielding the knife. But it is not rocket science.

Here’s how: Using a carving fork, steady the ham on the cutting board or platter, shank end (where the leg gets skinnier) toward your right. Cut a few thin slices from the side facing you, then stand the ham up on what is now its flat, more stable side. Make a series of parallel cuts downward toward the bone. Free the slices by running your knife under the slices following the line of the leg bone.

Of course, the convenience of a spiral-cut ham—invented by the founder of Honey-Baked Hams but imitated by many producers—is not in dispute. The only thing you have to be careful of is this: A spiral-cut ham has no exterior fat and much more surface area than an uncut ham: It has a tendency to dry out if not foiled during cooking. You can add moisture to the foil during the reheating process to encourage a juicy result. (Apple or pineapple juice are popular “moisturizers”.)


Other Tips:

  • If a whole ham would overwhelm your family’s needs, you have the option of buying a half ham. Even here, there’s a choice: the shank end or the butt end. Some people like the shank end, arguing it has less bone and is easier to carve. Others believe the butt end, because it’s thicker, is less likely to dry out and tastes better. We vote for the butt end, because we’re still thinking ham bone soup thoughts.
  • If you buy a frozen ham, be sure to allow it enough thawing time in the refrigerator—anywhere from 24 to 36 hours, depending on its size. Do not put a frozen ham on your Traeger.
  • If buying a whole ham, buy one that has an ample mantle of fat on it—at least 1/4-inch thick. Another option is to buy an untrimmed ham: This will still have the exterior skin on it, which always brings to mind those Norman Rockwell-esque images of diamond-shaped cuts, each one studded with a whole clove. If your ham is untrimmed, the carver will have a bit more work to do at the table, but the resulting meat should be incomparably moist thanks to the protection of the fat and skin.
  • A sweetish glaze compliments a ham nicely. Apple, orange, apricot, pineapple, and cherry are fruits whose flavors marry well with ham. Introduce them in the form of preserves, juice, or a blend. Maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, agave, sweet tea, and even root beer or cola are options, too.
  • Although we don’t recommend “re-smoking” an already smoked ham, you can use almost any Traeger pellet with the possible exception of Mesquite.
  • Taste the Difference®, and have a wonderful holiday from all of us at Traeger Pellet Grills!


P.S. Should you have any questions, Traeger’s Service Department is open 365 days a year and will be working on Easter Sunday from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific Time. Call them at 1-800-872-3437.

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Posted by Traeger on February 14, 2012

QUESTION: Does “corned beef” raise the specter in your mind of pinkish chopped meat and congealed fat compressed in a Spam-like tin? Or do you associate the term with a stringy, salty slab of cured beef brisket that has given its best flavors to the water it was boiled in? If you answered “yes”, read on. It’s time to radically alter your perception of what corned beef can be.



  • Chief among them is the perception that corned beef is one of Ireland’s national dishes. It was actually popularized by Irish-American immigrants in the 19th century who, trying to duplicate a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish from the Old Country, replaced pork belly with the more affordable brisket their Jewish neighbors were using.

  • Second, ear corn is not an ingredient in corned beef. The term “corn” comes from Old English, a reference to the coarse grains of salt (once called “corns”) that were used to preserve meat.

  • Third, that it is difficult to make your own corned beef at home. In fact, with a Traeger Pellet Grill, it’s easy. There are just four simple steps. Try it once, and never more will you be tempted to buy cryovaced pouches of corned beef, swimming in brine (which you are also paying per pound prices for) and striped with fat and gristle.

Homemade corned beef, brined for several days and then smoked and slowly braised in beer on a Traeger, is a different animal entirely. Moist. Tender. Incredibly flavored with spice and smoke. Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day or a special meal for family and friends.



  • Curing Salt: You probably have most of the ingredients for the brine in your pantry already with the possible exception of curing salt, which is salt containing small amounts of nitrites and nitrates.  It is used in most commercially cured meats, including sausage and jerky. This product is known by several names: pink salt; Insta-cure #1; Insta-cure #2; meat cure;  and Prague powder.  Curing salt can be purchased online or at most local supermarkets. 
    Note: Confusingly, the rosy-tinged Himalayan salt sold by gourmet shops is also called “pink salt”. But it is not a substitute for curing salt.)

  • Pickling Spice: If you’ve ever bought cryovaced corned beef, you know it usually comes with a small packet of coarse spices containing mustard seeds, coriander, peppercorns, broken bits of bay leaf and stick cinnamon, etc., that you add to the water before boiling the beef. You can usually buy it in the spice section of your grocery store, but chances are, you already own everything you need to make pickling spice from scratch. The recipe is below.

  • Beef: Brisket is the cut traditionally used for corned beef. At the meat counter, select a trimmed center-cut “flat” that weighs between 4 and 5 pounds. Order one in advance if this is not a cut your store or butcher typically carries. As a leaner alternative, substitute eye of round or beef bottom round for the brisket.



  • Container for brining: You’ll need a container large enough to hold the meat and brine. You can use a stockpot, jumbo resealable plastic bag, food-safe pail, cooler, or an old-fashioned stoneware crock.

  • Weight: If using a container other than a resealable plastic bag, you’ll need something heavy to keep the meat submerged in brine. Options include bags of ice (though you’ll need to replace them as they melt) or a dinner plate inverted over the meat and weighted with a heavy ceramic bowl, clean brick or other hefty waterproof object.

  • Spice grinder, mortar and pestle, or a hammer: If you opt to make your own pickling spice (see above), a spice grinder is a handy thing to have. We paid less than $10 for a small coffee grinder which we use exclusively for spice blends, and it works great. If you prefer low-tech tools, a mortar and pestle can be used to crush the spices, or corral the spices in a sturdy plastic bag, place it on a cutting board or unbreakable surface, and whack away. 

  • Meat slicer: If your vision of perfect corned beef involves piles of very thinly sliced meat cut to uniform thickness, then you’ll want to use a meat slicer. Maybe you have one in the basement, garage, or other place where you warehouse seldom-used kitchen equipment and appliances. Is it a necessity? Certainly not. Simply use a sharp hand-held knife. An electric one works well, too. The meat will slice easier if it’s chilled.



In the unlikely case that you have leftovers, use them to make corned beef sandwiches on rye, Reubens or Reuben dip (see Traeger’s online recipes), or corned beef hash, which you can make on your Traeger in a cast iron skillet.



Don’t be fooled by its length, this is not a complicated recipe. There are basically only four steps: 

  • making the brine
  • brining the meat
  • making a braising liquid
  • smoking and cooking the meat

If desired, you can add cabbage, carrots, and potatoes to the roasting pan the last 1-1/2 hours of cooking. If sandwiches are your goal, remove the cooked corned beef from the braising liquid and let cool. Cover tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight for easier slicing.

Difficulty: 4/5
Prep time: 4 days for curing
Cook time: 4 to 6 hours
Pellet recommendation: Apple, Cherry, or Oak
Serves: 8 to 10



  • 3 - quarts cold water
  • 3 - 12-ounce bottles beer (lager), apple juice, or more water
  • 1-1/2 - cups kosher salt
  • 1/2 - cup brown sugar
  • 1 - tablespoon curing salt per pound of meat OR 1/4 teaspoon Prague powder per pound of meat
  • 5 tablespoons commercial or Homemade Pickling Spice (see recipe below)
  • 1 onion, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 4- to 6-pound beef brisket flat, outside fat trimmed to 1/4-inch



  • 1 - 12-ounce bottle beer (lager), apple juice, or water
  • 2 - tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 - tablespoons pickling spice
  • 1 - onion, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 2 - cloves garlic, smashed
  1. In a large stockpot or food-safe pail, combine the water, beer, kosher salt, brown sugar, and curing salt. Stir with a long-handled spoon until the salt and sugar crystals have dissolved. Add the pickling spice, onion, and garlic. Transfer the brine to the refrigerator. (Because of its weight, please position it on the lowest, sturdiest shelf.) Add the meat to the brine and weight it using one of the suggestions above. You want the meat to be completely submerged.  Brine the brisket for 3 to 4 days, stirring once daily.
  2. Remove the brisket from the brine, discarding brine. (Pour the brine through a kitchen colander positioned in the sink. That way, you can dispose of the solids and liquids separately.)
  3. Rinse the brisket thoroughly under cold running water. (You can cover the meat tightly at this point and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook it, up to 2 days ahead. Bring to room temperature before smoking.)
  4. When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes).  Place the corned beef brisket directly on the grill grate and smoke for 2 hours.
  5. In the meantime make the braising liquid: In a saucepan, combine the beer, brown sugar, and pickling spices. Add the onions and garlic. Simmer until the liquid is hot, watching carefully so the beer doesn’t boil over. Pour into a roasting pan.
  6. Transfer the smoked corned beef brisket to the braising liquid, fat-side down, and cover tightly with foil. Increase the temperature of the Traeger to 250 degrees F. Put the roasting pan on the grill grate. Roast the brisket for 3 to 4 hours or until it is fork-tender, turning the meat over once halfway through the cooking time. (Be careful when lifting the foil as scalding steam will escape. Use tongs for this task.)
  7. Remove the meat from the braising liquid and let it rest, loosely covered with the foil, for 10 minutes. To serve, carve the meat across the grain into 1/4-inch slices and transfer to a platter or plates. If desired, dribble some of the braising liquid over the meat, or discard.



  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 juniper berries (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves, coarsely crumbled
  • 1 3- to 4-inch cinnamon stick, coarsely broken

Combine all the ingredients in a small spice grinder and pulse several times to break up the whole spices. (Do not grind to a powder: You want a coarse spice mix.)  Alternative, combine the ingredients in a sturdy plastic bag and crush with a hammer, meat tenderizer, or the flat of a heavy knife. Store in a lidded jar away from heat and light. Will keep for 6 months.

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Super Bowl Recipe Guide

Posted by Traeger on February 1, 2012


Now, we have to admit there were some long faces around Traeger’s Oregon birthplace when it became clear there would be no West Coast contender in this year’s contest. But we sucked it up and decided that whatever happens, we are going to enjoy the party! We’ve not only pulled together all our Super Bowl-worthy recipes from our website into one convenient place, but we’ve developed slammin’ new dishes for your get-together! (And don’t forget…“Traeger’s Everyday Cookbook” is a treasure-trove of recipes and ideas that will have your guests raving about the food. As usual, right? They’ll learn firsthand what Taste the Difference® means. And they'll be shocked that unlike gas and charcoal grill owners, you'll actually be able to enjoy the broadcast instead of babysitting the grill.)

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The Traeger Thanksgiving Menu Guide

Posted by Traeger on November 15, 2011

Traeger Thanksgiving FeastGive your guests a Thanksgiving they will never forget with three days of specially prepared Traeger Feasts!


This casual menu has several things going for it. Not only can you do much of the preparation (and even smoking) ahead of time, but it is an accommodating menu, too – especially important if you are expecting out-of-town guests who might be arriving at different times. You can easily keep the pulled pork and the beans warm if you keep your Traeger on a low setting. Cold beer is a given.

The Plan

  • Up to three days before: If desired, prepare the Smoke-Roasted Almonds and the Traeger Pulled Pork. Refrigerate the pork. (Be sure to pull it first before refrigerating.)
  • Up to a day ahead: Assemble the Jalapeno Poppers, cover, and refrigerate until ready to cook. Combine the ingredients for the Maple Baked Beans, cover, and refrigerate. Bake the Chocolate Chipotle Brownies and store at room temperature covered tightly with foil.
  • Before your guests arrive: Bake the Maple Baked Beans and Jalapeno Poppers. Gently reheat the Pulled Pork at 225 degrees F on your Traeger. (You can also keep it warm in a slow cooker, if desired.)


We love the combination of food, family, and football that defines a traditional American Thanksgiving. Thanks to Traeger, the cook can enjoy any or all. No need to become a kitchen slave, especially with a little advance planning. The appetizers can be prepared several days ahead, as can the cranberry sauce. Feel free to tailor the menu to your guests’ preferences. For example, if cornbread stuffing would make the adults nervous and the children cry, substitute a traditional bread stuffing (see www.traeger.com for a recipe).

The Plan

  • Up to two days before: Make the Roasted Olives, Smoked Pumpkin Soup, Do-Ahead Mashed Potatoes, the Smoke-Roasted Cranberry Sauce, the herbed butter for the turkey, and the Maple-Cinnamon Butter. Cover and refrigerate. Bake the cornbread for the dressing. Let cool, then cover and store at room temperature.
  • The day before the dinner: Traeger the bacon for the Brussels sprouts and dice. Transfer to a small resealable plastic bag and refrigerate. Assemble and bake the Pumpkin Pie. Let cool, then refrigerate.
  • Thanksgiving Day: Cube the cornbread and finish assembling the stuffing. Prepare the turkey for roasting, stuff if desired, and put it on the Traeger. (Calculate in advance how much cooking time the bird will need and add 30 minutes of resting time. Count backward to determine when you should preheat your grill.) Use your Traeger to cook or reheat the remaining hot dishes. If space is at a premium (bet you wish you’d bought a bigger Traeger…), use that neglected appliance in your kitchen – your oven. Check it for cobwebs first!


There are two kinds of people: Those who think it’s an adventure to leave the house just hours after the big Thanksgiving dinner in pursuit of bargains…and those who would rather hunker down under the covers to sleep off the day’s excesses. Hopefully, you or someone in your household who’s Traeger savvy belongs to the latter group and is perfectly content to stay home and prepare brunch for the intrepid shoppers. They will likely be starving after their quest. Put on the coffee before you expect them home, and if desired, set up a Bloody Mary bar with various condiments, including Traegered jerky: Dried meat makes a great cocktail stirrer. Also offer assorted juices.

The Plan

  • Up to four days ahead: Smoke the salmon on your Traeger. Cover and refrigerate. Bake the pumpkin bread. Let cool completely, then wrap tightly and freeze.
  • The morning of the brunch: Thaw the pumpkin bread. Cut up fruit for the salad and refrigerate. Assemble the Smoked Salmon platter and refrigerate, covered, until serving time. Make the biscuits and bake on your Traeger. Meanwhile, prepare the bacon and the quiche, but do not cook yet. Have one of the shoppers call you a half hour before they expect to return to the house. Bake the quiche. Do not worry if the guests have not returned yet; the quiche can be served at room temperature, if necessary. Once the crowd is together again, put the pan of bacon and the sausages on the Traeger. They will both take about 15 to 20 minutes to cook.

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Traeger Talks Turkey

Posted by Traeger on November 3, 2011

What is it about roasting a turkey that brings out so many insecurities in cooks? We can’t speak for everyone, but we suspect all the options make people nervous. To brine or not to brine? Fresh or frozen? Heritage breed or a supermarket bird? Stuff the bird or serve dressing on the side? It’s enough to make you reach for the Wild Turkey – and we ain’t talkin’ about the homely, wily bird that gives hunters a run for their money each Fall. We’re talking about that bourbon whisky that gives Kentuckians goosebumps.

Well, Traeger owner, relax. We’re here to help you sort the wheat from the chaff. We want you and your family and friends to have the best Traeger Thanksgiving ever, one that will be talked about for weeks and repeated year after year.

Incidentally, for wonderful Thanksgiving-appropriate recipes, from appetizers to desserts, check out our thanksgiving feast recipes.

Before you read any further, check your pellet supply. You don’t want to run out of pellets on Thanksgiving Day! Visit your local Traeger dealer, or order wood pellets online directly from Traeger . Shipping is free on all online orders regardless of how many bags you order. Apple, Hickory, or Pecan are especially nice with turkey and all the fixin’s.

Now, let’s start by demystifying all those confusing turkey terms:

  • Free-range: This term on the label means that the turkey had the freedom to go outside and play. It wasn’t caged, and could supplement its food with any insects, grasses, or grain it could find. Freedom often comes at a price, of course, and you will generally pay more for free-range birds. Some upscale supermarkets carry them, but your best bet is to find a local turkey farmer or shop at a farmers’ market.
  • Kosher: The main thing you need to know about kosher birds is they have been salted prior to sale, which like brining, makes the meat tender and juicy. (Do not brine a kosher bird or it will be unbearably salty.) In addition, kosher turkeys were raised on vegetarian diets and are hormone- and antibiotic-free. Before roasting, look them over for stray quills and pull any you find out with kitchen tweezers.
  • Organic: Turkeys with an “organic” label are free-range birds whose foraging has been supplemented by pesticide-free organic food (vegetarian). Like the free-range turkeys above, they are generally more expensive. Find them at larger health-food markets.
  • Heritage: This term refers to a turkey that has been raised like it was the “olden days” using techniques that were popular before Butterball muscled into the turkey market with its extraordinarily big-breasted birds. Currently, “heritage breeds” include such names as Bourbon Red, Black Squash, Standard Bronze, Jersey Bluff, and others. They take longer to mature (about 10 weeks longer than common Broad-Breasted Whites): turkey connoisseurs say the meat is richer-tasting. Heritage breeds are the most expensive turkey option, often costing $100 or more (plus shipping). A few upscale markets carry them. They can also be purchased online from www.heritagefoodsusa.com. Usually, they must be reserved in advance.
  • Natural: This is basically a weasel word often found on supermarket birds that sounds good to the unsuspecting shopper, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. Read the label closely to see if the turkey was raised free-range, is antibiotic-free, and ate a vegetarian diet. “Hormone free” is another meaningless term as hormones are not currently approved by the USDA in poultry production.
  • Self-Basting: Many commercial producers inject dressed turkeys with saline solution (and sometimes, preservatives) before flash-freezing them. Naturally, you are paying for the liquid in the per pound price. Pre-injected turkeys should not be brined. These are the turkeys sold by most supermarkets during the holidays.

Size Matters

Let’s say the whole family is coming to your house for Turkey Day, and you don’t know how big of a bird to buy. Well, the folks at Butterball have been in the biz for a long time, and their website features a nifty calculator that can help you determine how much turkey you’ll need taking into consideration how many adults and children you’ll be feeding, what kind of appetites they have, and whether leftovers are important to you. Find it here: www.butterball.com/tips-how-tos/tips/calculators-and-conversions

If you’re feeding a crowd, we recommend you roast two birds rather than one huge one. There are two reasons for this: 1) An extraordinarily large bird – over 20 pounds – can take many hours to cook, meaning it’s in the “danger zone” (40 to 140 degrees F) too long. Food poisoning is not a holiday visitor you want to have. 2) Two birds better satisfy the wing and leg lovers in your party and don’t take as long to cook. Of course, feel free to buy additional legs wings, or breasts and roast them alongside the whole bird(s).

One more word of advice: Pre-holiday, make sure your Traeger has enough room to accommodate your turkey(s). Check grill grate space as well as vertical clearance between the grill grate and the lid.


We’ve all heard the story of the host who forgot to thaw the turkey before the big day...

There are two safe ways to thaw a turkey, and leaving it on a countertop at room temperature is not one of them.

The preferred and easiest way to thaw a bird is to put a roasting pan under it and thaw it in the refrigerator. Allow about 1 day for every 4 pounds. In other words, a 20-pounder will take 5 days.

The second way to safely defrost a turkey is to make sure there are no tears in the wrapping, then submerge it in a sink, food-safe pail, or large basin filled with cold water (40 degrees F or less). It’s a good idea to put the turkey in a large resealable plastic bag so water and turkey juices don’t mingle. Allow about 45 minutes per pound, and drain and change the water every 30 minutes.

To Brine Or Not To Brine

We are not impartial: We think a brined turkey is a juicier, more flavorful turkey. (Again, don’t brine if you’ve bought a bird that is labeled “kosher” or features anything other than turkey in the ingredient list on the label.)

A basic brine, which is really just salt water, is easy to make. Put your turkey in a large stockpot and add water so that the turkey is submerged. Remove the turkey and measure the water. For each quart, add 1/3 cup of Morton’s Kosher Salt. (If you use table salt, use only 1/4 cup per quart.) If desired, add sugar and any other spices, flavorings, or aromatics you’d like, such as bay leaf, onion, garlic, orange, maple syrup, bourbon, peppercorns, etc. Bring to a boil. Let the brine cool completely, then chill in the refrigerator until it is under 40 degrees F. If you live in a cold climate you can take advantage of your commodious natural refrigerator.

Remove any plastic wrapping and/or giblets from the bird. Immerse in the cold brine for several hours, or even overnight. If you do not have a stockpot large enough to hold the turkey, you can use a clean cooler. Keep the turkey submerged and cold by weighting it with resealable plastic bags filled with ice. Exchange the bags of ice as needed with fresh ones.

Rinse the turkey, inside and out, under cold running water, and dry with paper towels before roasting.

Other Ways To Add Flavor And Moisture

  • Inject your turkey with chicken or turkey broth and melted butter using a kitchen syringe;
  • Stir chopped fresh herbs into softened butter and put on or under the skin before roasting;
  • Apply butter or oil to the outside of the bird, then season with your favorite Traeger Rub or Shake (butter seems to brown better);
  • Stuff the cavity with quartered oranges, onions, and fresh herbs, or tuck in carrots, onions, and celery (also with fresh herbs);
  • Truss the bird, or tuck the wings behind the back and tie the legs together with butcher’s twine to minimize moisture evaporation and improve the turkey’s appearance;
  • Position the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan and pour chicken or turkey broth in the bottom (the broth keeps the bird moist and collects drippings for gravy making);


Whether your family calls it stuffing or dressing, that traditional combination of bread or cornbread, broth, savory herbs, etc., is a “must have” on most American tables on Thanksgiving Day.

Most of us grew up expecting the holiday bird to be brought to the table plump with steaming stuffing. But that practice – roasting a stuffed bird – has fallen out of favor. Here’s why: The temperature of the stuffing must reach 165 degrees F for food safety purposes. By then, the turkey (especially the white meat) tends to overcook. So today, many people cook the turkey and stuffing separately. We recommend the latter method for Traeger owners, too. Your bird will absorb more smoke flavor and cook more efficiently if it is unstuffed. Another plus is that you can make as much stuffing as you and your guests want, unrestrained by the size of the turkey’s main cavity. You could even make more than one kind of stuffing for your guests. (See the recipe section of our website for recipes.)

If you do decide to stuff the turkey – and stuffing that has soaked up all those poultry juices is wonderful – be smart about it. Keep your hands, counters, and utensils scrupulously clean to avoid cross-contamination. Never stuff the bird in advance. Don’t overstuff as the stuffing will expand as it cooks. And make sure the temperature of the stuffing is 165 degrees F or over before serving.


Okay. It’s Thanksgiving. A day devoted to family, food, and football. You’ll actually get to watch the games this year and spend more time with family as your Traeger can cook your Thanksgiving dinner with minimal tending.

Hopefully, you’ve determined in advance approximately how much time your turkey will need to roast on your Traeger, especially if your guests are expecting dinner at a specific time. A small bird (8 to 12 pounds) requires 2-1/2 to 3 hours at 325 degrees F; a medium (12 – 18 pounds) will need 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours; and a large bird (over 18 pounds) could take up to 6 hours. Add 30 minutes to the estimated cooking time to allow the turkey to rest before you carve it.

Wrestle the bird to the kitchen sink. Check the outside for any errant quills, which are more common in kosher birds, and pull them out with kitchen tweezers. Remove the giblets from the main cavity and set them aside if they figure into your gravy plans. Check the neck cavity, too, as some commercial producers include a plastic pouch of gravy base.

Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water, then dry with paper towels.

Stuff the bird, if desired (see above), including the neck cavity. Place the turkey on a rack in a sturdy roasting pan if you want to collect the drippings. (If using disposable aluminum pans, double or triple them for stability. There’s nothing worse than having your pan buckle when you remove the turkey from the grill.) Otherwise, you can put the turkey directly on the grill grate.

Rub the outside of the bird with oil or melted butter and sprinkle with Traeger Pork and Poultry Shake.

When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes).

Oops. Decision time again. Do you want your bird to have a pronounced smoke flavor? If so, cook your turkey on the Smoke setting for 1 to 3 hours, then finish cooking on higher heat (325 degrees F or higher) to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F and crisp the skin. We do not recommend cooking a turkey – especially a large one – entirely on the Smoke setting as it adds hours to the cooking time. The skin also tends to be rubbery as the heat on the Smoke setting isn’t high enough to render the fat.

Another option is to simply preheat your Traeger to 325 degrees F and roast your turkey from start to finish.

Basting after the first 1-1/2 hours is optional: As you know, food cooked on a Traeger is incredibly moist anyway. Another consideration: You will lose up to 20 per cent of the heat each time you open the grill lid, which will add to your cooking time. You know what they say…..“If you’re lookin’, you ain’t cookin’.”

While your turkey cooks, be sure to keep your pellet hopper filled at least two-thirds of the way so you don’t accidently lose your fire.

When the internal temperature of the thickest part of a thigh reaches 165 degrees F, transfer the turkey to a platter or cutting board. Let it rest before carving. (Do not tent with foil if you like crisp skin.) This will give the juices in the turkey time to redistribute themselves, and frees the cook to make gravy, mash potatoes, and handle other last-minute jobs.


Here’s another anxiety-producing moment – putting a knife to your beautiful bird.

There are many excellent videos and illustrations online to guide you through this process if you are new to turkey carving. (The Butterball website mentioned above is a good resource.) Of course, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the process in advance, maybe even practicing before T-Day on a roast chicken.

Our carving method differs in one respect from the traditional one in that we remove the breasts whole from the carcass and slice them crosswise. (Most carvers slice the breast horizontally.) This gives every diner a piece of white meat and skin, and seems to extend how many people the breast will serve.


While it will be tempting to succumb to a food-induced coma immediately after pushing away from the table, be sure to promptly refrigerate any leftover turkey and other perishable foods. Stock up before the holiday on disposable lidded containers, plastic wrap, and foil. (Restaurant supply houses or “big box” stores are good sources for these supplies.)


If you have a question that wasn’t answered above, feel free to contact us on our Facebook page or through our website. Direct technical questions to our Service Department at 1-800-872-3437. And yes, they will be available on Thanksgiving Day from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific Time.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Traeger Pellet Grills. Taste the Difference®!

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Thanksgiving Tips From Traeger

Posted by Traeger on November 1, 2011

#1) Check your pellet supply and restock if needed. Buy from your local Traeger dealer, or order now from our online store. Hickory, Pecan, and Apple are especially good with turkey and all the fixin's.


#2) Start shopping now for deals on Thanksgiving staples like canned pumpkin, sugar or flour, cranberry sauce or fresh cranberries (they freeze beautifully), stuffing mix, even wine and beer. You'll save money, spread the expense over several weeks, and avoid disappointment when stores run out of popular items.


#3) Before your herb garden goes kaput for the season, mix chopped fresh herbs, minced garlic, fresh lemon juice, and salt and pepper into softened butter. Use wax paper or parchment paper to roll into logs, twist the ends, then freeze. Fantastic when tucked under turkey skin before roasting. (Great for dinner rolls and potatoes, too.)


#4) We've been using what we call "a poor man's gravy separator" for years: While the cooked turkey rests, allow the drippings to cool slightly. Put a sturdy, large resealable plastic bag into a bowl and turn the top down around the rim of the bowl. Pour the drippings into the bag, and seal; the fat will rise to the top. Leave the bag in the bowl until needed, then carefully snip a small corner on the bottom of the bag and allow the drippings to pour into your gravy-making pan. Lift the snipped corner of the bag before the fat escapes, and discard the bag.


#5) Dish pile-ups on kitchen countertops are virtually unavoidable on Thanksgiving Day. We like to borrow a page from the "out of sight, out of mind" playbook: Put a few inches of soapy water in the bottom of a Rubbermaid-type plastic bin, stack dirty dishes and pots and pans in it as they accumulate, and discreetly put it in a back hallway or the garage until later. Great for dishes that need soaking, and a big help for people with limited counter space. Almost like having a butler's pantry!


#6) If people ask if they can bring something when you invite them for Thanksgiving dinner, say "Yes!". But make up a list beforehand of items to suggest: an appetizer, a vegetable, dinner rolls or breads, crudites, wine or beer, a pie, or anything they are uniquely known for that will mesh with your menu.


#7) If you find, on Thanksgiving Day, that you have miscalculated and bought a turkey that is too big to fit under your Traeger's lid, you can butterfly the bird by removing the backbone and the cartilagenous breastbone. It will then lay flat on the grill grate. (Google "spatchcocking" if you want to see an illustration.) Not only will the day be saved, but you will shorten your cooking time.


#8) Most tutorials on turkey carving would have you holding the knife parallel to the breast as you slice the white meat. We have a better way: Following the contours of the breast bone and rib cage, cut the breast halves off the bird. Then slice each breast crosswise. This method not only yields more servings, but each diner gets a nearly equal piece of white meat and skin. (This method works great with chicken, too.)


#9) If you like to serve wine with Thanksgiving dinner, here are several that generally pair well with a traditional menu: Champagne; a dry-ish Alsatian Riesling; a Rose (also dry-ish); and a Gerwurtztraminer.


#10) The USDA estimates whole-bird turkey prices could be up 8 to 10 percent this year due to higher feed costs. Start watching the circulars for good deals. Some stores will (wisely) use turkeys as "loss leaders", meaning they'll be willing to sell the turkeys below their cost to get you into their stores.


#11) Make a batch of homemade turkey stock now so you'll have it on hand for moistening stuffing or making gravy. It makes a great base for leftover turkey soup, too.


#12) Check out our just-posted "Thanksgiving Feast" tab in the recipe section of our website. All new recipes (plus a few "tried and trues") to make this the best Traeger Thanksgiving yet! http://www.traegergrills.com/recipes/thanksgiving


#13) For a turkey worthy of a magazine cover, prepare a platter before your bird comes off the Traeger. Lay down a bed of sturdy greens (kale works great, and won't wilt from the heat). Put the turkey on top. Tuck in sprigs of fresh thyme, sage, and/or parsley. Add a few whole cranberries, lady apples, kumquats, wedges of orange or whole clementines or mandarin oranges, or Seckel pears. Take a photo!


#14) Start collecting creative ideas for turkey leftovers. Here's one to add to your pile: A riff on a "Cubano", a sandwich popular in the Florida Keys and Miami. Spread mustard on the cut sides of a 6- to 8-inch sandwich roll (such as a hoagie bun). Layer sliced turkey, ham, Swiss cheese, and thin slices of dill pickle on it. Preheat your Traeger. Carefully place a cast iron skillet or a foil-covered brick on top of the sandwich to compress it. Cook until the sandwich ingredients are warm and the cheese melts.


#15) The safest and easiest way to defrost a turkey is to allow it to thaw in the refrigerator. But it takes time - about 1 day for every 4 pounds of turkey. So a 20-pounder will take 5 days. Add a day if you intend to brine. (This means you should start thawing your bird THIS Saturday.)


#16) For the cook, there's not a lot of breathing room between the time the turkey comes off the Traeger and its 30-minute rest before presenting or carving. Make our "Do-Ahead Mashed Potatoes" (see Recipes, and the Thanksgiving tab) and cross one thing off your "To Do" list as much as a day in advance. And speaking of mashed potatoes, a ricer will change your mashed potato life forever. Just sayin'.


#17) After you push away from the table and before you take your traditional (and well-deserved) T-Day nap, take the time to pull the meat off the turkey carcass and refrigerate. Resealable plastic bags work well for storage. You can even separate the white and dark meat for people who are particular about their sandwiches!


#18) Put a slow cooker on the countertop while you're dispensing with T-Day leftovers. Put the turkey carcass into it, along with a quartered onion, 2 or 3 carrots, a couple of stalks of celery, a bay leaf, 2 quarts of chicken broth, and a few whole black peppercorns. Let it simmer all night, then strain out the solids and use the flavorful stock for turkey soup!


#19) It's best to thaw a frozen turkey in a roasting pan in the refrigerator, a process that takes about 1 day per every 4 pounds. If you don't have that kind of time, you can thaw the bird in its packaging in a sink full of cold water (40 degrees or less). This will take most of a day, so don't leave defrosting to the last minute!


#20) Today would be a good day to take inventory of serving platters and bowls, china, and glassware, washing any pieces that haven't been out of the cupboard since LAST Thanksgiving... Stick Post-It notes to the serving pieces to remind yourself (and anyone who's helping you on T-Day) what food you want them to hold. AND BUY THAT TURKEY IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY!


#21) This year, take lots of photos and record your menus and recipes. Print them out and start an album. Not only will you have easy access to the recipes that have worked for you, but your album will become a family heirloom. (Buy a good-quality album - not one with cheap glue that will yellow or degrade your photos and contributions. Voice of experience here.)


#22) Moving a hot, hefty turkey from the grill or roasting pan to a cutting board or platter can be a scary undertaking! One method is to insert sturdy carving forks into the turkey - one in the main cavity and the other in the neck cavity - and then carefully lift it to the board or platter which you've stationed VERY nearby. Do you have a method that works for you?




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Like us on Facebook!

Posted by Traeger on November 1, 2011

Dear Traeger Owner,

As a valued Team Traeger member, you receive new recipes each week, are among the first to learn about special offers, get priority notification when we announce special contests, and can join the conversation in Traeger’s exclusive online chat room.

But there’s a tremendous resource thousands of Traeger owners are taking advantage of that you might be missing out on: Traeger’s official Facebook page! 

It’s a virtual meeting place for Traeger owners everywhere, some who have been barbecuing on Traegers for more than 20 years, and others who are eagerly preparing for their inaugural cook. Just days ago, Allen F. posted this question on our Facebook page: “So what is this site about?” Dustin A. replied, “A gathering of those smart enough to buy a Traeger, and nice enough to give away their secrets of great food.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Our Facebook community is exceedingly generous with its Traeger knowledge. You will learn something new and useful every day. Here are just a few examples of recent discussion topics:

  •  Why beef shoulder tenders, a relatively new cut, are becoming popular with grillers (Hint: they’re delicious, and sell for as little as $4.99 a pound);
  • An ingenious way to cook eggs on your Traeger;
  • Why brining improves turkeys, and how to do it;
  • How to harness solar power to run your Traeger;
  • A recipe for chili-roasted pumpkin seeds;
  • Ideas for Traegered weeknight suppers, such as Hash-Stuffed Potato Skins featuring leftover brisket;
  • Tips on cold-weather cooking.

The shared food and family photos alone are reason enough to visit the site.

Two recent favorites pictured a tot with the built-to-scale “mini” Traeger his dad constructed for him, and another showed three generations of Traeger owners.

With the holidays coming, there has never been a better time to check out our Facebook page. We’ll be discussing Thanksgiving menus (and sharing the recipes, of course), grilling perfect prime rib roasts, and giving pointers for baking side dishes and desserts on your Traeger. You don’t want to miss out on the fun.

The page is moderated seven days a week by a trained chef and recipe developer who has specialized in barbecue for years, and who wrote our “Traeger Everyday Cookbook”. In addition, our terrific Service Department keeps an eye on Facebook postings, and responds promptly to technical questions.

If you are already a Facebook member, simply go to our Facebook page (you’ll recognize the red Traeger logo) and click the “LIKE” button at the top of the page, next to our name.

If you do not yet belong to Facebook, go to www.facebook.com to join. (It’s easy, and it’s free.)

Don’t wait! Become a better griller and start interacting with thousands of knowledgeable Traeger owners today. Their passion is contagious.

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Posted by Traeger on May 19, 2011

We have a hunch a significant number of Traeger owners purchased their grills after tasting a recipe for baby back ribs or spare ribs cooked on a Traeger. Those meaty, succulent bones, treated to the perfect amount of spice, smoke and sauce, are darn near irresistible to anyone who appreciates great barbecue.

Why are ribs in general so appealing? One, they are just plain fun to eat, the ultimate finger food. You can’t gnaw on a bone and not feel a connection to our cave-dwelling ancestors. Two, they taste good. Meat cooked on the bone is always more flavorful. Three, they’re relatively inexpensive. Four, pork ribs are one of those iconic barbecue foods that makes you think “Mom and apple” pie thoughts. It seems patriotic to eat them. Five, ribs go exceedingly well with cold beer.

It’s easy to produce competition-quality ribs on a Traeger — ribs that would make any pit master proud.

It’s easy to produce competition-quality ribs on a Traeger—ribs that would make any pit master proud. (You can use your own rib recipe, of course, but please check out the rib recipes we’ve posted on our website, including the popular 3-2-1 method. With that in mind, there are a few things the pros know about barbecuing pork ribs that you’ll want to know, too:

  • Baby backs, also called top loin ribs, are a good example of what it means to eat “high on the hog” (eat well, in other words). They are tender, and respond well to either “low and slow” or higher, faster-cooking temperatures.
  • Spare ribs come from lower on the beast’s ribcage, and are bigger, meatier and more porky-tasting. They respond better to “low and slow” cooking methods at temperatures between 225 and 250 degrees F—easy to maintain on a Traeger.
  • If buying ribs in vacuum-sealed packages, make sure they haven’t been packaged with added liquids or solutions. (If they are, it will be in small print on the package. But beware any ribs that look too “wet”.)
  • Whether using baby backs or spare ribs, always remove the first membrane (called the pleura) on the back of the bones. Starting on one of the middle bones, use a screwdriver or other thin, blunt implement to pry the membrane up. Then use paper toweling to get a firm grip before pulling it off. Sometimes, this has already been done for you. Do not remove the membrane that connects the bones or your rack will fall apart.
  • Using Traeger’s Pork and Poultry Shake (or your favorite rub), season the ribs on all surfaces right before cooking. Many recipes recommend leaving a rub on for 24 hours, but any salt in the rub will act as a cure on the meat, drawing out moisture and changing the ribs’ texture.
  • Marinades or wet rubs (also called slathers or pastes) are usually not as salty as dry rubs and can be left on the ribs for several hours prior to grilling. Even common yellow mustard, spread thinly on the meat, works well.
  • Very thin liquids such as broth, beer, apple juice, or cola—can be “mopped” or sprayed on baby backs or spares to keep them moist during long cooks.
  • Never boil pork ribs before bbq’ing or their flavor will be lost to the water. Similarly, never microwave them. (You’re making ribs, not soup.)
  • Use a rib rack to increase the number of racks you can cook at one time. If you don’t have one, you can form each rack into a space-saving circular “crown”, bone-side facing in; secure it with skewers.
  • If fall-off-the-bone tender ribs are your goal, smoke the ribs for 2 hours, then wrap them tightly in foil along with some apple juice. Cook for 2 to 3 additional hours at 225 to 250 degrees F. Then carefully remove the ribs from the foil and brush with barbecue sauce. Return the ribs directly to the grill grate for the last 30 minutes to 1 hour to “tighten” the sauce. This is the popular 3-2-1 rib recipe referenced above.
  • There are several ways to gauge doneness: Insert a toothpick between the middle bones—it should penetrate easily; the ribs should begin to flex and tear in the middle when lifted on one end with tongs; an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the meat between bones should read 190 degrees F; the meat will have shrunk away from the ends of the bones by 1/4- to 1/2-inch. (Please note: ribs cooked on a Traeger will not shrink as much as ribs cooked on conventional grills, so the other doneness tests are preferable.)
  • A thin pink ring just under the meat’s outer surface is called a “smoke ring,” and it is a griller’s badge of honor.
Our new cookbook, “Traeger's Everyday Cookbook”, features two terrific rib recipes (3-2-1 Baby Backs and Memphis-Style Baby Backs).

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Only Two Days Left!

Posted by Traeger on April 8, 2011

On Wednesday our Facebook fans voted Texas Spicy BBQ and Apricot BBQ as their favorite Traeger sauces. We are now offering those sauces at a discount until the end of this week. Hurry and purchase the Texas Spicy BBQ and Apricot BBQ sauce with the 20% discount while the offer is still good. Discount ends Sunday evening at midnight. Don't miss out on this great deal.

Use promo code FBFAV20 at checkout. 

Click here to order your sauces now. 

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