In Episode 010 Taryn has a chat with Cheri Renee about all things Traeger! Cheri is the content creator behind two websites: Cooks Well With Others and If You Give A Girl A Grill. The two women discuss a variety of different topics related to cooking on a Traeger wood pellet grill, including things to consider when buying a Traeger, grilling recipes for beginners, and fun and different Traeger recipes to try out! Cheri also talks about her cookbook, Traeger Grill Smoker Cookbook for Beginners.
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Connect with Cheri
Cooks Well With Others: Website | Instagram | Facebook
If You Give A Girl A Grill: Website | Instagram
Bio: Cheri Renee is the content creator behind the food blogs Cooks Well With Others and If You Give A Girl A Grill, where she posts both simple dishes to whip up quickly and recipes that are a little more adventurous. She recently published her first cookbook: Traeger Grill Smoker Cookbook For Beginners, and lives in Indiana with her husband, four kids, and Jack Russell terrier.
The following are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
- Traeger Grill Smoker Cookbook for Beginners
- Traeger Pro 34
- Traeger Pro 780
- Traeger Ironwood 885
- Treager Wood Pellets
- Meat Thermometer
- Blackstone Griddle
- Shop Vac
These are some of the recipes mentioned by Cheri in the episode. They are on either Cooks Well With Others or If You Give A Girl A Grill.
- Smoked Lobster Bisque
- Whole Smoked BBQ Chicken
- Smoked Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos
- BBQ Pulled Pork
- Traeger Pulled Pork Nachos
- BBQ Pulled Pork Quesadillas
- Brisket Mac N Cheese Egg Rolls
- Traeger Bourbon Candied Bacon
- Traeger Fireball Whiskey Bacon
- Cherry Coke Glazed Chicken Wings
- Tacos and Tequila Chicken Wings
- Smoked Korean Chicken Wings
- Sriracha Maple Chicken Wings
Taryn Solie: Hey grillers! I’m excited about this week’s episode because it involves one of my favorite ways to grill – on a Traeger! We’ve had ours for about 3 years and both my husband and I have loved to grill on it. There are so many different things that you can make on it, many of which we discuss in the episode.
Before we get started though, if you like listening to the guests I bring on I’m going to remind you to subscribe, rate, and review this podcast! It really helps the podcast be seen by others who are interested in food and grilling. Now, let’s get into the episode.
Taryn Solie: Hello! Today on the podcast we have Cheri Renee. Cheri is the content creator behind the food blogs Cooks Well With Others and If You Give A Girl A Grill, where she posts both simple dishes to whip up quickly and recipes that are a little more adventurous. She recently published her first cookbook, Traeger Grill Smoker Cookbook for Beginners, and lives in Indiana with her husband, four kids and Jack Russell terrier. Cheri, welcome to the podcast.
Cheri Renee: Thank you!
Taryn Solie: Thank you for being here. I’m really looking forward to our conversation today, which is going to be centered around cooking on a Traeger grill. We have a Traeger that I love cooking on. And so, so does my husband. Um, but before we get into that, can you tell me a little bit about your food background and how you got into grilling?
Cheri Renee: So I’ve always kind of been an adventurous eater and an adventurous cook. And I think that’s probably because my mom and dad always cooked when we were little and I kind of learned from them. And then I was around when Food Network started and that really, you know, got my interests going in cooking.
Uh, as far as the grilling part of it, I have to credit my husband for that. Uh, it was on our first date and he told me that his parents bought him this like barrel smoker with the, you use the charcoal and stuff like that. And I was like, well, I know what we’re doing for our next date. Uh, we’re gonna smoke some chicken. It was kind of weird, I’m surprised that he kept me. But, um, so we started with just that little, I mean, I think it was like a $25 smoker and we made everything on that and we just kind of upgraded from there. Um, we, um, started with, uh, an electric smoker. Wasn’t real thrilled with that. Um, but then once we got the Traeger I was hooked.
Taryn Solie: It’s a great grill. We love it. So how long have you had your Traeger then?
Cheri Renee: Well, it was about nine years ago. It was, uh, it was actually the day before we left for vacation, my husband was on like Facebook marketplace, where everybody sells things. And he was like, oh, somebody selling a Traeger smoker. And I was like, what is that?
And he was like, oh my gosh, you know, some buddies of him, um, that were camping had one. He was like, it was the best food I ever had. So he leaves to go by this used Traeger. It was just the little tailgater. He puts it on the patio where we had like four or five other outdoor cooking appliances. And so we went on vacation and we’re driving back and he’s like, let’s stop at the butcher shop.
Uh, you know, I want to use that thing. And so we did steaks and then I’d put the cast iron skillet in there. We did like some mushrooms and onions and I took one bite and I was like, yeah, this is really good. And it’s so easy to use too. The charcoal one, he would always start that, but I can manage the Traeger on my own.
Taryn Solie: Yeah, for sure. That, that is the one nice thing I think about a Traeger versus a charcoal is that it’s a little more, I think, intuitive and just like, there’s a less of a steep learning curve for a Traeger for sure. So what are some of your favorite things to cook on a Traeger then?
Cheri Renee: So when I first started, I pretty much thought it was just for like, if you want. to do like, pulled pork, steaks, stuff like that. But then I kind of realized you can use it just like your oven. So I make lasagna. Just the regular way I’d make lasagna in the house, but then I cook it on the Traeger and it just gives it so much more flavor from the wood pellets.
Taryn Solie: Yeah.
Cheri Renee: I’ve done shrimp scampi, I’ve even done soup on the Traeger. I did- okay. So my daughter’s favorite soup is lobster bisque. And when she was sick last year, I put the cast iron skillet in the Traeger. The broth and the lobster tails and smoke that, smoked all the vegetables, and then came inside and made the soup. And she’s like, mom, what did you do to this? And I was like, it wasn’t me. It was the Traeger.
Taryn Solie: Oh my gosh. I hadn’t even thought of that.
Cheri Renee: Yeah. So. I started simple, but then I slowly started becoming more adventurous with it.
Taryn Solie: Oh, that’s so interesting. Ooh, soup on a Traeger. I’m going to have to try some of this now. This sounds so cool. So you have a cookbook and it’s what, well, first, what prompted you to write this cookbook?
Cheri Renee: Okay. So this is actually kind of a funny story. Um, I used to teach second grade. And, uh, that was before, you know, I made my living from my two websites and now the cookbook and I got a phone call one day and I was, um, teaching. So I didn’t answer. I called them back and, you know, they were like, they were publishers that were prompted by Traeger to reach out to me.
And I was in the teacher’s lounge, completely caught off guard and I’m on the phone. They were like, well, you know, we’d really like for you to do a cookbook for us. And I was like, Hmm, you’re kidding, right? And so they said, well, you know, we’ll email you, um, all of, you know, the information about it and you can let us know what you want to do.
And they even asked me, they were like, have you always dreamed to write a cookbook? And I was like, No, like you’re completely catching me off guard. Um, so I went through, uh, kind of like the outline of what they wanted. Uh, they were pretty specific as far as the number of like, appetizers and there’s a whole chicken and poultry chapter. There’s a whole beef and venison chapter. And I was like, I could totally do this.
Taryn Solie: Yeah.
Cheri Renee: So I started writing it. I, at that point, I, we had upgraded to the Pro 34 and the first chapter, they wanted me to write all about the different models. And I called my husband at work and I said, Oh, we need to go by the Ironwood 885, which is a bigger model. And he was like, okay, say less. Like I was like, I need to go buy it today. Cause I was like, I need to recipe test on both Traegers, you know, for quality purposes. And, uh, so yeah, so we ended up with two Traegers.
Taryn Solie: I mean, that’s not a bad thing.
Cheri Renee: It’s definitely not a bad thing.
Taryn Solie: So the cookbook is geared toward beginners and I’m assuming that was on purpose because it’s- it can be, grilling in general can be intimidating.
Cheri Renee: It’s overwhelming when you first put it together. And you’re like, oh my gosh, there’s all these parts. And I know so many people that they get it and they’re like, um, I’m, I’m scared. It’s very easy. And then that’s why it’s kind of geared towards beginners because it takes you through step-by-step how to clean it, any, um, troubleshoot. Uh, the recipes themselves are not necessarily for beginners because I’ve had friends tell me like these recipes are not for beginners. There are some really creative recipes in there. There’s some simple ones too, but the way that it’s written, it’s like, I’m going to hold your hand. I’m going to take you step by step. Like we’ve got this.
Taryn Solie: Awesome, which is, which is what you need when you’re first starting out with something. For sure. So, you mentioned the recipes, so what would be some good recipes for people who are kind of just starting out with the Traeger and, well, first actually let’s get into the, kind of the components of the Traeger in terms of like, what is it exactly? Can you explain it a little bit?
Cheri Renee: So it is a smoker and a grill. Um, you can smoke things at a low temperature, 225 degrees, but it also is- unlike a regular smoker, you can crank it up to 450, 500 degrees. So you can get a sear mark on steak, but you can also cook a pork shoulder low and slow to get that tender flavor in there.
Taryn Solie: Yes. And one thing I love about-
Cheri Renee: Um, okay, so like normal smokers would use, uh, wood chips. This uses wood pellets. You just fill the hopper with the wood pellets. You literally turn it on with just, you know, a few little buttons or flips of a switch and it’s ready to go.
Taryn Solie: Yes. And you do have to plug it in. Like it has, it does need electricity, which is a difference for a charcoal grill. One of the things I love about it is that it doesn’t, you don’t have to deal with any flare ups.
Cheri Renee: Yes.
Taryn Solie: It has that kind of protecting. I don’t even, I don’t know what it’s called, but this is kind of like metal slide where the grease kind of like drips down, but it protects it from the fire. So you don’t have to deal with flare ups, which is really nice.
Cheri Renee: Yes.
Taryn Solie: Okay, so going back to recipes now, you mentioned the recipes in the cookbook, some are more adventurous, you know, some, maybe aren’t. What would be kind of your suggestion for recipes for people who are just starting out, and then also, what are some more of those like adventurous type recipes?
Cheri Renee: Um, so we had the basic, like, you know, like your whole brisket, your whole chicken, your whole pulled pork. I would think definitely something that someone would want to start out with is like a whole chicken or even just chicken thighs. Um, I have, um, I think it’s an apricots glazed chicken thigh in the book.
Taryn Solie: Oh that sounds good.
Cheri Renee: Yeah. And then just your basic, like barbecue chicken. Like, you cannot mess that up. You really can’t mess up anything on it, but at least a few ingredients, very simple, straightforward cook times on those. But then I also have, um, like I said, you can use it like your oven. I have calzones. That use pizza crust, you know, just store bought pizza crust. You can stuff those with anything, put them on the Traeger, but then they just, they taste phenomenal just because of the whole fired flavor in there.
Taryn Solie: Yeah. Now when you’re cooking, like, what is, is there any difference between, or that you found between the oven and the Traeger? Like are there cook times about the same? Is it a little more varied because you’re outside with a Traeger? How does, what have you found there?
Cheri Renee: I feel like the cook time in the oven would be about the same on the Traeger. Um, When you’re talking meat, I feel like it’s more about the temperature, the internal temperature versus the cook time.
Taryn Solie: Yes.
Cheri Renee: And that’s what I always put like a variation, but then I tell in the cookbook and on the recipes on my website, you know, start checking it after this amount of time, because it’s more about that internal temperature.
Taryn Solie: For sure.
Cheri Renee: I mean, I do a lot of, uh, dips on the Traeger. Um, you know, bacon wrapped jalapenos and stuff like that. And those, you just kind of use your eyes just to kind of look and see like, okay, is this melted enough? Is this bacon cooked enough?
Taryn Solie: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. The temperature- are you using the, um, temperature probe that the Traeger comes with and as well as like an additional meat thermometer typically?
Cheri Renee: Yeah. And I found them to be compatible. Um, the Pro 34 did not have that option, but the Ironwood 885 does have the temperature option. And that’s really nice. You just plug that in and then you can monitor even from your phone for that one. Yeah.
Taryn Solie: That is nice. We, we have, let’s see, I want to say it’s the, it’s a Pro 75 or 175 or something, and it does have the temperature probe and we love that. It’s so, I mean, we also have an additional meat thermometer that we love. Because, you, you know, you, can’t just- you have to like check, especially if there’s something like a pork butt, you have to check all over to make sure, like, there’s not one spot that’s just like done and maybe another spot that’s not. So.
Cheri Renee: And since you mentioned the, the pork too, in the cookbook and on my website, so, okay. So you’re cooking like a whole pork. I also have recipes in there. For the leftover pork.
Taryn Solie: Oh, good. I was going to ask about that because I feel like you, you, like, if you’re cooking a brisket or a pork butt, you do typically have, unless you’re feeding a huge crowd, you have leftovers.
Cheri Renee: Yeah. I have brisket mac and cheese egg rolls.
Taryn Solie: Oh my goodness.
Cheri Renee: You know, a pig and fig uh, flatbread on the Traeger, where you use the leftover pork with some fig jam.
Taryn Solie: Oh, my gosh.
Cheri Renee: I know.
Taryn Solie: That sounds so- my mouth is literally watering thinking about that. That sounds so good. I love that. So then, okay. On to recipes here, or we are on recipes, what are some more, you mentioned some of the simple ones, we talked about some of the leftovers. What are some of those more like adventurous recipes that maybe would be fun for a more experienced griller to try.
Cheri Renee: Um, well, okay. This is both simple and extravagant, but I do a bourbon candied bacon on the Traeger. So that’s might not be something that someone would want to try, like right away.
Taryn Solie: Sure.
Cheri Renee: But, um, and then I also have, in addition to my Traeger, I have a Blackstone griddle.
Taryn Solie: That’s like a griddle, right. It’s kind of like a flat top.
Cheri Renee: Yeah, and we’ll do like a big, like T-bone like porterhouse steak. We will reverse sear that. And again, it’s not extravagant, it’s simple, but it’s, it’s extra special. We’ll say.
Taryn Solie: Yeah.
Cheri Renee: Um, well, so we’ll start that on the Traeger low and slow, and then we’ll crank that griddle up and then sear it and it just makes for the most delicious steak. And then in the cookbook too. I have sauces that is, um, we serve the steak with a whisky cream sauce.
Taryn Solie: Oh, I bet that is- I love a reverse seared steak from the Traeger. It’s so good. I bet, I bet that tastes really amazing with the cream sauce.
Cheri Renee: It can be intimidating but it’s not once you try it.
Taryn Solie: For sure. So for somebody who is maybe interested in getting a Traeger, but hasn’t made the jump yet, what are some things that you would recommend they think about or consider before buying one?
Cheri Renee: Um, you needed to definitely make sure that you have a covered area. Covered patio or something like that. My husband’s actually building me an outdoor kitchen this year. I’m super excited.
Taryn Solie: Oh, I’m jealous!
Cheri Renee: So, so a covered area or a lot of people will keep them in their garage and then just kind of wheel it outside when they’re wanting to cook on the Traeger. You’re going to want to get a Shop Vac like a little handheld vacuum because every three to four cooks, you’re going to want to clean it. It’s not hard to do. I get some rubber, rubber gloves so that I don’t get my hands dirty. You just take the grate down, uh, scrape the grease tray. You just get like a little putty knife and then vacuum out all of the ashes, um, from the wood pellets.
Uh, there is a complete section in there on keeping your grill clean. And like I said, it takes less than five minutes. But um, definitely having those things in mind when they’re considering to buy one.
Taryn Solie: Yeah. What about, um, when they’re looking at the grill specifically, what sort of things would somebody need to think about? Like, oh, I’m cooking typically for two, or maybe I am going to be hosting a lot of barbecues. Like what, how would you guide somebody to which Traeger grill to get?
Cheri Renee: I say, go big or go home. You can literally cook an entire meal on there. Um, the Ironwood 885 is what I have. There’s one, that’s uh, bigger, it’s the Timberline, um, 1300. Like I said, we’ve had multiple different models. I love my Pro 34. Um, if you want the digital features of it, such as like being able to connect to wifi to your phone, you’re going to want, you know, the bigger models. Um, but the 885 was perfect for us. The Timberline 1300, like I said, that was like a, a purchase that we made.
Like, literally not even thinking about it because of the cookbook. But yeah, you can cook, I mean, you can, if you get your kids stirring skillets, or even though those like foil pans at the store, you can cook bake beans, you can cook chicken, you can cook. Like for Thanksgiving, I made my green bean casserole on the Traeger at the same time as the turkey and everything.
Taryn Solie: Oh nice.
Cheri Renee: So I would definitely say don’t underestimate how much you’re going to use it or how much space you’re going to need.
Taryn Solie: For sure. And I saw they also, they just came out with a latest model that has a burner on the side, which is- have you seen that one?
Cheri Renee: Yes, I did see that one.
Taryn Solie: And it’s, I mean, to be fair, it is quite expensive, but it’s, I mean, you’re talking about like cooking a whole meal. I mean that really you can cook anything with that burner and then the grill. I mean, just like it’s, it’s really quite amazing.
Cheri Renee: Yeah.
So. Okay. Kind of, we’ve talked a little bit about, you know, the recipes and the cookbook a little bit, but what are you grilling now on your trigger? What are some of your favorite recipes, either in the cookbook or not in the cookbook, to grill on your Traeger?
Taryn Solie: Um, I would say I’m definitely obsessed, I would say like with the bacon, the candied bacon. I even did a fireball version of the bacon. I and my husband are both chicken wing junkies.
Oh you are?
Cheri Renee: We do so many chicken wings. And we just flavor them in so many different ways. Like we did a cherry Coke glazed chicken wing. My son loved that one. He actually helped flip the, he looked so cute, flipping it on the, on the Traeger. Um, but I also do like um, I have a tacos and tequila chicken wing that I do. I’m obsessed with a gochujang Korean chili paste. So we do a lot of chicken wings with that. So it’s almost like what flavors can we come up with next on all of these chicken wings?
Taryn Solie: Oh, I love it. So when you, so I do not eat a lot of chicken wings. I don’t, we like chicken. I don’t know, but for whatever reason, we just don’t eat a lot of chicken wings. So when you were making your chicken wings, are you doing like a rub and then a glaze or are you, like, marinating or how are you doing it?
Cheri Renee: Sometimes both. Um, and then with the smoked chicken wings, if you do them low and slow, you’re not going to get that crispy-
Taryn Solie: Right.
Cheri Renee: -chicken skin, um. That I don’t necessarily need the crispy chicken skin, but if you do want it, um, if you, with your dry rub, include baking powder and then cook it at a higher temperature. You’re going to get that crispy skin. So actually in the cookbook and on my website, I have chicken wings both ways, depending on what your preference is.
Taryn Solie: Gotchya.
Cheri Renee: Yeah, sometimes we do a dry rub. Uh, sometimes we do a sauce. I’m really into like sweet and spicy combinations. So you’re going to find a lot of that, both on the website and in the cookbook. Maple srirarcha chicken wings were so good. My husband and I would just be sitting there at night watching TV. He’ll just be like, oh, what about like Cajun Buffalo wings or whatever? And I’m like, Yes!
Taryn Solie: That sounds amazing. I love it. Well, this has been so fun, Cheri. I do want to give you a chance to a) tell people where they can get the cookbook, and also where they can connect with you online.
Cheri Renee: Okay. So, um, I have the two websites. I have cookswellwithothers.com and then what I am calling cookswellwithothers.com’s little sister is ifyougiveagirlagrill.com. And if you go to the about me page in either one of those websites, you’re going to find the link, uh, to the Traeger cookbook.
Uh, it’s also available at Walmart, Target, basically any major, you know, retail stores. We’re on Instagram @cookswellwithothers.com and also on facebook @cookswellwithothers.com. We will slowly get social media going for the little sister website, that’s very new.
Taryn Solie: And then what are, can you quickly tell what the differences are between the recipes on Cooks Well With Others and If You Give A Girl A Grill?
Cheri Renee: So when I started Cooks Well With Others a few years ago, I started it because my kids were getting a little bit older and I was needing a hobby. My husband is very much a garage guy, motorcycles, cars, trucks. And so he has his hobby. And I was like, well, the kids are getting older.
Like, what am I going to do? And he was like, oh, why don’t you start a website, you know, for your recipes? Cause I’ve always loved to cook. And I was like, okay. So when I started that, I wasn’t so much into the outdoor cooking, but then I slowly kind of wanted, um, everything to be done on the Traeger or the Blackstone or the grill.
So I was like, okay, we’re going to mix it up a little bit. Cookswellwithothers.com is going to be more family friendly recipes, got a lot of appetizers, easy side dishes. Because if I’m cooking a meal, I want the side dish to be easy.
Taryn Solie: Yep.
Cheri Renee: A few desserts. Uh, but then ifyougiveagirlagrill.com is dedicated to all things outdoor cooking- Blackstone griddle, smoker, Traeger, and then just your regular propane grill.
Taryn Solie: Okay. Awesome. Great. Well, thank you so much. This has been such a fun conversation, and I really enjoyed talking to you.
Cheri Renee: I enjoyed talking to you. Thank you so much for having me.
Taryn Solie: Is your mouth watering as much as mine having heard all of those delicious Traeger recipes Cheri was talking about? She had so many fun flavor combos for wings and I love that she also mentioned recipes for using leftovers because leftovers are a big part of my meal planning. My family and I love leftovers. I posted links to many of the recipes Cheri mentioned on the show notes page, and I also posted links to some of the items we discussed too, like wood pellets and a shop vac if you’re curious about those. Oh, and I double-checked and the Traeger that we own is the Pro 780 – I had to look that one up.
To get to the show notes page, you can either visit my recipe website at Hot Pan Kitchen (dot) com and click on podcast in the main menu or just click the link that’s provided on whatever platform you’re listening to this podcast on. Thank you for tuning in today and until next time, keep grilling like a mother.
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