Imagine having the amazing cooking ability of a high end pellet grill but in a highly portable and easy to use version that fits on a tabletop or a tailgate?
Well now you can - we have put together our Best Portable Pellet Grills article which runs though the different types and which ones are best.
Before we dive into the meat of the article (see what we did there), let us show you our top portable pellet grill pick - The Traeger Tailgater 20 Portable and our top tabletop pellet grill pick - The Traeger 15" PTG+.
Our top portable pick
Traeger Grills Tailgater 20 Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard of the Traeger brand. They are synonymous with great quality grills and smokers. In fact the Traeger Texas Elite made it into our Best Pellet Smoker and Grills of 2018 guide.
The Traeger Tailgater allows you to enjoy amazing BBQ food literally anywhere. The portable design means you can cook the family a delicious meal in the backyard before folding it up and taking it to the game, camping or even to a friends house - how impressive!
Even though it is smaller, it has all the same capabilities of a full-size pellet grill - you can smoke, grill, roast and bake!
It has a decent 300 square inches of cooking space which is pretty amazing considering its portability. That's enough space to handle 2 whole chickens, 3 full racks of ribs or multiple port butts.
Our top tabletop pick
Traeger 15" PTG+ Portable Electric Grill
Okay so we know what you are thinking - is this a grill or a suitcase? Sure with its compact case, flip latch and easy carry case it's as easy mistake, but this grill is unbelievably powerful.
Thanks to its portable design and powder-coated steel case, the PTG can be taken camping, boating or just about anywhere you can imagine. Don't let it's small size deceive you though, it can still do everything the big boys can - grill, smoke, roast and bake.
It has a great little multi-position digital controller which means you can set the temperature quickly and be sure that it stays constent throughout the whole cook.
The cooking area is 173 square inches - big enough for 8 burgers, 16 hot dogs or even a small chicken. We know that this isn't massive, but you sacrifice cooking space for portability.
Other Portable Pellet Grills To Consider
Expensive but great features
Camp Chef PG24DLX Deluxe Pellet Grill
What we like:
- Advanced digital control. The smart digital temperature control coupled with an automatic pellet feeder maintains the optimum temperature and produced the right amount of smoke.
- Endless versatility. The single grill allows you to grill, smoke, roast, bake, braise and BBQ with ease. The temperature range is very good - 160 to 500f and can be adjusted with the touch of a button.
- Patented ash cleaning system. This feature is exclusive to this model and makes cleaning as easy as pulling a lever. That means less time cleaning and more time cooking.
- Easy assembly and start up. There is a great walk-though video on the CampChef site which takes you through getting setup. From start to finish, it shouldn't take you more than 10 minutes.
What we don't like:
- We haven't tried it ourselves, but there are reports that the taste of meat isn't as 'nice' as other smokers. I guess that all comes down to your personal taste, but this smoker doesn't infuse an awful lot of smoke.
- There are reports of durability issues. Some people say that after a few years of use the machine breaks. However there are hundreds of others who are still happy after a years of use.
Amazing build quality
Pit Boss Grills 440 Deluxe Wood Pellet Grill
What we like:
- The build quality is great. It has a deluxe two-tone black and copper finish. A sturdy side shelf and serving tray. A really solid bottom shelf and even a bottle opener.
- High end dial-in digital temperature control with LED display. This makes it easy to program the desired temperature and time and allows you the freedom of not babysitting the grill.
- Automatic start and cool down feature - this makes getting the grill up to temperature as easy as pressing a button. The cool down feature ensures your grill will last and makes cleaning easier.
What we don't like:
- There isn't much not to like about this grill. The only downside we can find is that replacement parts are hard to find - probably a testimony to the sturdy build quality.
Features smart grill technology
REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill - Featuring Smart Grill Technology™
What we like:
- The Smart Grill Technology is unique to this REC TEC. It maintains a precise temperature from 180 - 500f in 5 degree increments - now that is pretty impressive!
- A high quality finish - powder coated and enamel porcelain. We think it looks pretty damn nice.
- Large hopper capacity - you can load up 40 pounds of pellets meaning you don't have to keep checking if it is running low.
- Ceramic igniter means trouble free cooking for years.
- Read our full review of this grill here.
What we don't like:
Buyers Guide For The Best Portable Pellet Grill
Pellet smokers have been getting more and more popular in recent years and it is easy to see why. They are known for their amazing cooking versatility and thanks to the way pellets burn, they have awesome precision temperature control.
With the touch of a button you can quickly and easily cook everything from roast chicken (see our Applewood Smoked Chicken recipe here), to Truffle Cheese-stuffed Burgers (see our recipe here). Now imagine being able to cook that same delicious food but on the go - maybe at the game, while camping or while RV'ing.
Now you can with the a portable pellet grill!
The first thing you should consider when purchasing a portable pellet grill is the price. Obviously you will something that is high quality yet affordable, however there is a fine line. You can find a few models coming in under $100, however the build quality is pretty poor.
The second thing you should consider is the material and build quality. Even though they are portable, you can still leave them outside - so make sure it is make of strong steel so that it won't rust. Some people say they have rust issues with some of the REC TEC models (even though we have never experienced this personally).
The third thing you should consider is cooking space. Sure, you want something that is portable and easy to move, however you will have to give up a little cooking space. If you have a large family then you may want to consider both a full-size and a portable if your budget allows. If not then it would be better to go with one of the larger portable grills like the Traeger Tailergater above.
The final thing to consider is the temperature controller. The sub $100 units will usually have a dial and it is hard to set the temperature accurately and you will need a thermometer to check the internal temperature. However most of the higher priced models will have a digital control, complete with LED display. These are great because you literally set the temperature and time and be safe in the knowledge that your food will be cooked to perfection.
Overall we think Portable Pellet Grills are typically best for people who value a smokey flavour, mobility and convenience. Using wood pellets mean you don't have to babysit the grill and if you choose one with a digital temperature control you can sit back and leave the cooking to the pro.