Review of the Z Grills Cruiser 200A Portable Pellet Grill

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There’s nothing like a weekend vacation to clear your mind and perform some outdoor cooking, but it’s always a gamble as to what cooking equipment awaits you at your location.

I’ve always brought a smoker alternative while traveling, but it was only semi-portable. Always difficult to load into and out of a car.

The Z Grills Cruiser 200A Portable Grill and Smoker claims to solve these problems. It is tiny enough to be handled by one person yet has a big enough cooking surface to cook for a small party.

In this review, I’ll talk about my experience living with the Z Grills 200A portable pellet grill, what I enjoyed about it, and where I believe it may be better.

Z Grills Cruiser 200A overview and first impressions

Z Grills Cruiser 200A Portable Pellet Grill Review

Z Grills continues to stretch its muscles in the pellet grill market, and a genuinely portable choice to compete with the Traeger Ranger is a nice addition to their product portfolio.

It came in one package and was 90% built, with just a few components that needed to be put into place. It is ready to use in approximately 20 minutes after being unpacked.

Lets look at the specs:

Cooking Area 202 square inches 
Pellet Hopper Capacity 8 lbs.
Temperature Range 180°F – 450°F
Shelves and Storage Front folding rack, removable side rack with three utensil hooks
Construction Powder-coated steel
Wifi/App No
Warranty 3 years
Price Check Latest Price

It’s the ideal size for one person to carry, with two side handles and one for the lid. The Cruiser 200A is exceptionally simple to move into and out of cars, and it does not need a huge truck or SUV to transport it.

The Cruiser is a pellet barbecue that is completely portable. There are also a few tweener grills on the market, such as the Treger Tailgater and the Green Mountain Grills Trek, that appear like full-sized pellet barbecues but have portable qualities.

I was startled by how much space the hopper takes up under the hood. This reduces the cooking area but increases the cooking capacity if you’re preparing brisket or pig butt.

I was quite pleased with the Cruiser200’s smoke output. It produces a lot of smoke for such a little piece without overloading the meal with a filthy smoke taste.

What we like:

  • ready to go on the go The Cruiser 200A is first and foremost a lightweight barbecue. It’s light enough for one person to load up and small enough to fit in almost any car.
  • Thermal effectiveness The heat control system in the cooking chamber is quite constant. That might be because of how small it is or how the air circulates, but you don’t get the large temperature changes that other pellet grills do.
  • Capacity of a hopper The big 8-pound hopper stores enough pellets for 10 hours of cooking time. That’s a massive hopper for such a compact footprint. You won’t have to open the lid and lose valuable heat to refill as often.

What we don’t like:

  • Cooking surface is smaller. You do lose some cooking space with such a huge hopper. The 202 sq. in. cooking space is mainly enough, although you may need to shorten your rack of ribs and have difficulty with a complete packer brisket.

You can quickly make burgers and hotdogs for a crowd on the barbecue, which isn’t only for smoking. The grill reaches 450 degrees Fahrenheit, but you may still achieve strong grate marks if you keep the lid closed and don’t move the meat around too much.

Finally, the barbecue fits perfectly in the garage or storage shed, but if you leave it outside, make sure it’s covered.

What’s the build quality like?

The grill is made of high-quality powder-coated steel, giving it a tough, long-lasting appearance. The lid latches hold everything in place when you move it from one location to another. There is no jiggle or cheap metal contortion.

The powder coat is fairly common on the Z Grill series, but it has the extra benefit of keeping this product free of scuffs and corrosion while being simple to clean.

Z Grills stands behind its products with a 3-year warranty and a money-back guarantee.

How easy is the Z Grills Cruiser200A to use?

The Cruiser 200A, like any other pellet grill, features a set-it-and-forget-it thermostat. It’s as simple as it gets when it comes to grilling or smoking, but in a smaller container.

The temperature ranges from 180F to 450F. I like the 225F to 250F temperature range on this machine, and although its upgraded digital controller claims to maintain the temperature within 15F of the desired temperature, I only experienced swings of 5-10 degrees in each way.

It grills adequately, but I like the Cruiser for smoking. It’s ideal for slicing a rack of ribs or a single pork butt.

Clean up

Cleaning the grill is comparable to cleaning other pellet grills. The porcelain-coated steel grates are simple to clean with a brush and a wipe down.

The grease management technique is straightforward yet leaves much to be desired. It serves as a heat diverter plate above the firebox as well as a grease tray. The grill has a little metal bucket that hangs over the rear of the grease pan.

It is strongly advised that you cover the tray with aluminum foil for easier cleanup.

You should vacuum out the ash in the firebox every other cook or so. This keeps the airflow enough for clean burning and prevents the pellets from getting suffocated.

Cruiser200A vs. Traeger Ranger vs. Nomad

Z Grills enters a relatively new range of portable-oriented smokers with the Cruiser. The Traeger Ranger is one of the most popular and one of the first in its class.

The Ranger and the Cruiser200A are quite comparable in terms of specs and size, however the Cruiser200A has several benefits.

The Cruiser offers 202 square inches of cooking area, while the Ranger has 184 square inches. That little bit more is the difference between needing to cook in batches and not having to.

Both feature 8-pound hoppers, but the Cruiser is twenty pounds lighter than the Ranger, making it considerably simpler to transport.

You can’t go wrong with either grill, but knowing that Z Grills used to make Traeger Grills and that the Cruiser is less expensive, I incline toward the Cruiser.

Nomad Grills are in the same category, except their grill is charcoal-fueled. It has 212 square inches of cooking space as a smoker, but if you wish to grill directly over the embers, the grill folds up to double the cooking capacity.

It includes a suitcase-style handle that makes it simpler to transport than either the Cruiser or the Ranger, but it lacks the convenience of set-it-and-forget-it cooking seen in pellet-fueled models.

Having said that, the Nomad Grill needs no electricity and just charcoal for burning. You won’t have to worry about finding power at a campground. It also boasts a one-of-a-kind damper mechanism that adjusts heat after it’s set.

It is the most expensive of the bunch, but it is a worthy investment if you are a charcoal purist.

Final thoughts

The Z Grills200A is an excellent grill at an excellent price. Despite its little size, it operates brilliantly both at home and on the road.

In terms of its main characteristic, portability, I’d rank it towards the top of the class. It is lightweight yet strong, with excellent thermal efficiency in the cooking chamber.

If you travel often and want a portable option, the Z Grill Cruiser200A is an excellent choice.

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