Costco is selling the Traeger Fremont pellet grill and it is one of the best values that I have seen from Traeger. In fact, this is the only model Traeger offers that I would consider buying.
Keep reading and we will cover:
- Key Features of the Fremont Pellet Grill
- Cost of the Fremont at Costco
- Is the Fremont a Grill or a Smoker
- Traeger Fremont vs Silverton 620
Key Features of the Traeger Fremont
Like all Traeger grills, the Fremont is designed to burn wood pellets to produce both heat and smoke while grilling. This is a “set it and forget it” type grill where you program in the temperature you want and let the grill do all of the work.
A Traeger pellet grill is easier to use than a gas grill and gives you some (but not all) of the great flavors that you get from a charcoal grill.
Pellet grills are actually pretty simple devices and the three most important issues are:
- Control System
- Cooking Capacity
- Pellet Hopper
Let’s look at each of these in more detail!
Digital Arc Control System
All pellet grills need a control system to maintain the temperature inside the grill. The control system measures the temperature inside the grill and adjusts how fast wood pellets are fed to the burn pot along with how hard the fan is blowing that is providing combustion air.
The Fremont uses Traeger’s Digital Arc Control system that was developed for the Traeger Ranger and Tailgater grills. You can use the controller to set the temperature of the grill between 180F and 450F in five degree increments.
The controller has an input port for the included meat probe which allows you to monitor the internal temperature of whatever you are cooking and also has a Timer and Keep Warm mode.
The meat probe, Timer and Keep Warm Mode are not integrated like they are on higher end Tragers like the Timberline. The “Keep Warm” mode is activated by pressing the button on the left side of the control panel and drops the temperature of the grill to 165F to keep your food warm until you are ready to serve.
The Fremont has a two tiered grate system that provides 520 square inches of cooking area. According to Traeger the Fremont has the capacity to cook:
- 3 whole chicken, or..
- 4 slabs of ribs, or..
- 3 pork butts
It looks like you might be able to fit a whole packer brisket onto the bottom grate if you put it in on the diagonal.
Always make sure that whatever you are cooking is located over the grease tray as you do not want dripping grease to get into the bottom of the grill near the fire pot.
The Fremont has an pellet hopper that can hold 18 pounds of wood pellets. I never really understood the 18 pound design as most companies sell wood pellets in 20 pound bags.
There is an “easy dump” hopper clean out system at the base of the hopper that lets you empty the hopper and fill it up with different types of pellets. That is a handy feature if you want to smoke chicken with apple pellets today and smoke a brisket with hickory pellets tomorrow.
The hopper does not come with a pellet sensor that sends an alert when the hopper is low like on higher end models of Traeger grills.
The Fremont is a Costco Value
The Fremont currently costs $549 at Costco making it the best value in the Traeger product line.
If you go to Home Depot to buy a Traeger then the cheapest one you will find in the Generation 1 Pro 22 that costs $649. The more expensive Pro 22 has the outdated dial type controller and does not come with the meat probe, folding front shelf or grill cover.
The least expensive Traeger at Home Depot that comes with a digital controller is the Pro 575 which will cost you $800.
Is the Fremont a Grill or a Smoker?
Traeger markets their pellet grills as an “all in one” solution that lets you, grill, smoke, bake, roast, etc. The reality is that this grill is a great smoker and an average grill.
Using a Traeger as a Smoker
You can put a couple of seasoned pork butts onto the Fremont, set the temperature to 250F and let them smoke for 12-14 hours to make some of the best smoked pulled pork you have ever eaten.
Many competition barbecue teams use Traeger grills and routinely take home the top prizes.
The ability of these grills to hold a relatively precise temperature for long periods of time makes them ideal for barbecue as you can leave them unattended for many of the long hours required to cook “Low and Slow”.
The only real downside of using a Traeger as a smoker is that the wood pellets burn cleanly and sometimes do not produce as much smoke flavor as desired. However, with a little practice and research you will find that there are several tricks to getting as much smoke as you want.
Using a Traeger as a Grill
The Fremont has a top temperature limit of 450F which makes it fully functional as an average grill.
The grill is great for chicken wings, burgers, fish, brats, etc.
Where the Fremont falls short as a grill is that it does not get hot enough to properly sear a steak. This is a limitation of most brands of pellet grills. While there are a couple of hacks people use to try to get these grills hotter I find they are not worth the effort.
My solution to the problem of grilling steaks on a pellet grill is to cook them in the smoke of the pellet grill until they reach an internal temperature of 125F and then sear them on a scorching hot Weber portable gas grill until done.
Traeger Fremont vs Traeger Silverton 620
If you want to but a Traeger grill then your only real question is whether you should buy the Fremont of the Silverton 620. Both the Fremont and Silverton are Costco exclusive grills with the Silverton costing a couple hundred dollars more than the Fremont.
The two biggest differences between the grills are the control system and ventilation design.
Control System Differences
While the Fremont has the Digital Arc Controller the Silverton utilizes the WiFire system. The WiFire system on the Silverton can be paired with the Traeger app on your phone for remote monitoring and control of your grill.
You can use the WiFire system to program your grill in such a way that when the meat probe reaches a set temperature the grill will automatically lower the temperature to prevent the meat from over cooking.
The WiFire feature is very functional and neat but is not something that I value. When I am smoking some ribs I want to be chilling and relaxing, not checking my phone.
In my opinion this is the most important difference between the Fremont and Silverton.
One of the biggest complaints about all brands of pellet grills is the lack of a deep smoky flavor.
Traeger addressed this complaint by changing the exhaust configuration on some of their grills.
The Fremont has a traditional ventilation design where the smoke goes up and out a smokestack which is mounted on the top right side of the grill.
The exhaust for the Silverton is in the back of the grill closer to the cooking grate. This means that instead of the smoke going “up and out” it has to come “down and through” exposing the meats to more smoke flavor.
In concept, meats cooked on the Silverton should have more smoke flavor than those cooked on the Fremont. Whether or not that is worth an extra couple hundred dollars is up to you to decide.