The 7 Best Portable Pellet Grills for On-the-Go Grilling & Smoking

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Pellet grills aren’t exactly known for their mobility. The majority of versions are cumbersome contraptions that must be connected into an electrical outlet.

Because of the popularity of pellet grills, there is now a wide choice of great portable versions on the market, with manufacturers integrating some creative features to assist you in transporting your pellet smoker.

After smoking and grilling on a variety of grills for several months, we believe the Traeger Tailgater is the best portable pellet grill due to its excellent portability features, great grilling performance, and affordable price point. It is also the most versatile of all the portable pellet grills we tested.

The best portable pellet grills you can buy in 2023 reviewed

The 7 Best Portable Pellet Grills for Grilling & Smoking On the Go

These are the top portable pellet smokers available. We spent many weeks cooking various varieties of meat on each model described in this book, taking meticulous notes along the way.

We tested seven portable pellet grills in total and selected the best overall, a close runner-up, the best affordable, and the best ultra-portable.

1. Best overall – Traeger Tailgater

Read our full Traeger Tailgater review.

The Traeger Tailgater, as the name suggests, is built for mobility, having folding legs that hook into the side of the barbecue.

The Traeger Tailgater boasts a built-in 15 Amp power supply and an integrated meat probe, making it ideal for tailgate cooking.

The ability to grill is where the Tailgater really excels. It features a 429 square inch cooking surface, which is large enough to cook for your whole crew and can maintain the type of continuously high temperature required for effective grilling and searing.

The Tailgater may also be used as an excellent smoker, thus expanding its usefulness.

It does, however, have certain drawbacks. The folding legs are difficult to use, the 8lb pellet hopper is one of the smallest of the portable pellet grills available, and the controls take some getting used to.

The Traeger Tailgater, on the other hand, is the perfect pick if you want a robust, portable, tailgate-ready pellet grill that excels at burgers, ribs, and chicken.

It lacks Bluetooth and WiFi, but it makes up for it with a broad temperature range and exceptional performance while grilling and smoking at higher temperatures.

While it is preferable to move it with two people, this is still one of the most portable pellet smokers on the market.

The Traeger Tailgater does exactly what it says on the box; it’s simple to use and portable, and it has a wide variety of cooking options.

It’s also large enough to serve as a house barbecue, especially if you have a tiny yard or deck to deal with.

2. Runner Up – Camp Chef Pursuit 20

Read our full Camp Chef Pursuit 20 review.

Our second-place pick, the Camp Chef Pursuit 20, is a close second to the Traeger Tailgater.

We’d previously rated the Camp Chef Woodwind as the finest pellet grill, so we were eager to test out their portable variant.

Despite its low price and compact design, the Pursuit 20 has functionality seen on higher-priced models, such as PID control, twin meat probes, and various configurable smoke settings.

The Camp Chef Pursuit 20 is a tough, well-made pellet grill that delivers reliably across all cooking methods.

The bottom grill area is 253 square inches, while the top rack is 248 square inches, for a total cooking chamber size of 501 square inches.

Despite some small difficulties with the controller and its connection to the hopper, we found this model to be simple to use, which is not typically the case with grills in this price range.

The digital control panel takes the guesswork out of lighting your grill, which rapidly achieves cooking temperature. The Pursuit 20 also smokes beautifully and features a smoke control that allows you to choose the amount of smoke you want.

3. Best Budget – Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett

Read our full Davy Crockett Pellet Grill review.

The Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett is our best portable pellet grill budget option because it provides a great collection of features at a low price.

UPDATE: The Davy Crockett has been upgraded and rebranded by Green Mountain Grills. It is now just known as Trek and has thicker legs as well as an adjustable heat barrier to minimize hot areas. Once we’ve had an opportunity to cook on the new model, we’ll update this page.

The Davy Crockett is a stainless steel pellet grill with its own built-in 120v power supply that Green Mountain Grills bills as the go-to grill for small families, campers, tailgaters, RVers, or anybody who wants to cook two racks of ribs, 4-6 great steaks, or a lot of burgers.

The Davy Crockett may also be powered via its 12v automotive power socket, which includes with all of the necessary battery terminal clamps and cables.

A side mount rack, cover, WiFi connection, spring folding legs, and a meat probe are among the extras.

The Davy Crockett is our pick for the best budget alternative because to its good temperature range, solid build quality, and a variety of surprisingly high-tech capabilities for the amount you pay, all packaged into a relatively portable design.

Green Mountain Grills tech support fixed the problem by sending a new circuit board, but there were other difficulties with it as well, which you can read about in the complete review.

Despite occasional temperature swings, we found the Davy Crockett to be well-made, to offer a variety of excellent features, and to be portable enough for tailgating, RVing, or campsite usage, despite its weight.

4. Best Ultra Portable Option – Z Grills Cruiser 200A Portable Pellet Grill

Read our full Z Grills Cruiser review.

So far, none of the grills we’ve looked at stand out from their bigger relatives. Sure, they’ve been trimmed down and given folding legs, but the Traeger Tailgater could serve as a permanent barbecue on your patio and not appear out of place.

The Cruiser 200A from Z Grills is a completely unique pellet grill. This barbecue is particularly built for camping, with mobility at its heart.

This barbecue is a tabletop grill, which means it does not come with a cart or legs, allowing you to set it on any flat surface.

You give up some space in comparison to other barbecues (the Z barbecues has 202 square inches, which is less than half the size of the Traeger Tailgater).

The trade-off is a grill that is easier to manage and weighs 22 pounds less.

The grill worked well in our testing, maintaining consistent temperatures. Depending on the weather, the 8lb hopper may provide up to 10 hours of continuous low and slow cooking.

With a maximum temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, you may still cook burgers and hot dogs, however the grill marks will not be as nice as on a charcoal barbecue.

The build quality is equivalent to the Traeger Ranger, but the Z Grills is far less expensive.

The Z Grills Cruiser 200A is an outstanding alternative for a really portable wood pellet barbecue.

5. Pit Boss Sportsman

Read our entire review of the Pit Boss Sportsman Portable Wood Pellet Grill.

The Pit Boss Sportsman is a tiny pellet smoker that can grill or smoke meals fast and effectively while remaining portable.

What really distinguishes the Sportsman from other portable pellet grills is its durability, which is something that many grills of this size lack.

This grill has a simple digital control panel that makes it straightforward to operate even if you’ve never used a pellet smoker before.

It also features a heat rod lever that can raise the temperature of this comparably tiny grill to nearly 450F, which is ideal for searing.

It also has enough room for a family’s worth of meals on its porcelain-coated cast-iron cooking grates, and with a 10 pound pellet hopper, you won’t have to continuously replenish it.

6. Country Smokers The Traveler

Check out our whole Country Smokers The Traveler Portable Wood Pellet Grill review.

The Traveler is a superb portable pellet grill and smoker that is efficient, simple to operate, and simple to maintain. Another candidate for the title of finest desktop pellet grill.

The grill may be powered by a 12-volt DC socket in your car when used in combination with a 100-watt inverter. Despite being a portable grill, The Traveler was able to keep a very consistent temperature.

This is one of the lightest portable pellet grills on the market at 52.9 pounds, owing to its tiny 5 pound hopper and lack of legs.

The Traveler has several cool features, including a searing zone and a detachable grill grate for increased headroom, but it also has a few small flaws, like no backstop to prevent food from falling straight off into the floor.

Overall, The Traveler is a portable wood pellet barbecue that is very portable, simple to run, and simple to clean.

6. Traeger Ranger

The Traeger Ranger is a tabletop pellet grill, as are the Z Grills Cruiser and Country Smokers The Traveller. At 280 square inches altogether, it boasts more than enough cooking surface for most people, as well as massive cast-iron grates with no gaps between them for simple cleaning.

It has excellent temperature control thanks to their computerized Elite Controller, which lets you to handle up to 12 different temperatures simultaneously (allowing you to utilize both direct and indirect heat).

It also features just about every other feature you might want in a contemporary BBQ gadget, including Wi-Fi capabilities, so you can monitor your cook remotely on your phone or tablet.

The Traeger Ranger has a few downsides, such as a restricted temperature range and a higher learning curve than other models, but it still comes towards the top of our list for being an all-around superb portable pellet grill.

How we tested

The 7 Best Portable Pellet Grills for Grilling & Smoking On the Go

We spent many weeks cooking on each model listed in this book, taking careful notes as we went, to gain a good picture of how the grills we studied worked.

We cooked a range of meats at various temperatures over multiple days to ensure that each grill was properly tested from every perspective. We also cooked additional foods on these grills to provide a full picture of how they performed under different settings.

Because pellet grills may be used to both grill and smoke food, we investigated their performance during both grilling and smoking.

We also considered how user-friendly each model was, as well as its features and material quality.

The simplicity of use, as well as the price versus value for money.Each grill was evaluated based on a set of criteria that included heating power, temperature range, cooking area, mobility (both in terms of storage and transportability), and assembly time.

We also meticulously documented the temperature measured by our thermometers vs the temperature shown on the grill in order to study temperature stability.

Why buy a portable pellet grill?

When it comes to purchasing a portable pellet grill, one of the most often asked questions is, “Why not just get a portable gas or charcoal grill?”

Pellet grills must be big, heavy devices that demand power, right?

To be honest, it is correct. A portable pellet grill will never be as light and easy to move as a basic charcoal barbecue like the Weber Go-Anywhere or a gas alternative like the Weber Q1000.

However, the advantages of portable pellet grills outweigh the fact that they are not as portable as the competitors.

  • Wood pellets as a fuel offer many advantages, including being all-natural and devoid of chemicals and liquids. As a consequence, it does not impart any tastes to your food, making it ideal if you want the greatest barbecue flavor without the flue-cured overtones often associated with gas or charcoal barbecues.
  • Pellet grills are also quite simple to operate, even for beginners. The better models will have digital controls that enable you to set and forget your temperature for a full cook session, with no need for babysitting!
  • Powering a portable pellet grill is as simple as utilizing its integrated power source, as with the Davy Crockett, or connecting it to a battery, generator, or automobile, providing you a variety of options.
  • When compared to charcoal or gas barbecues, pellet grills may easily reach high temperatures. With the stroke of a button, you can get a flawless sear on any meat or veggies you’re preparing.
  • Pellet grills are also multi-purpose, enabling you to grill as well as smoke your meat, which adds a degree of functionality not seen in other kinds of barbecues.

What to look for in a portable pellet grill

When purchasing your own portable pellet barbecue, there are many variables to consider, including:

Size and portability

The portability of the grill you purchase will be determined by how you want to move it. You must ensure that the dimensions of the grill correspond to the boot of your vehicle or the rear of your truck.

You should also consider portability considerations such as how simple it is to fold the legs away, the weight of the grill, and if set-up and take-down need more than one person.

More wood pellets can be loaded into a larger pellet hopper, but bigger isn’t necessarily better. A bigger grill consumes more pellets, therefore check the overall cook time, which most manufacturers will provide on their website.

Power options

As previously said, you can power your portable pellet barbecue in a variety of methods.

In addition to normal electricity, you’ll have the option of powering your grill through a 12-volt DC connection in your car.

The majority of versions may be powered by an automobile connection, a generator, or a battery.

Cooking area and workspace

Because portable implies tiny, you’ll have less kitchen space to work with.

If you want to cook for a big group of people or undertake a variety of tasks at once, be sure to verify the cooking chamber size before making a purchase.

The last thing you want is for folks to go hungry because you can’t prepare enough food in one sitting.

Build quality

When it comes to outdoor cooking equipment, build quality is always the most important consideration.

You’ll want something solid and long-lasting so it doesn’t shatter or fall apart while in use.

Examine the materials used in construction to determine how much abuse your new portable pellet grill can withstand before giving up.

In general, you want to see more stainless steel components than plastic, but bear in mind that there are varying grades of stainless steel.

It’s important to realize that portable equipment gets banged about a lot more than stationary equipment.


All of the grills we tested featured a variety of features. Some, like as PID controllers and meat probes, are rather common. Others, such as WiFi access, were not.

When it comes to selecting a grill, you should examine what characteristics are essential to you and compare them to what the models you are considering provide.

Optional accessories

If you like the design of a portable pellet grill but it lacks a critical function, it’s always worth checking into what extra accessories are available for it.

Traeger Tailgater owners, for example, may buy an extra front folding shelf (among other options) to make meal preparation and storage simpler. Other versions come with a more costly option that includes WiFi.

Before dismissing a certain model due to a lack of features, consider what extras you can add to it.

Wrapping it up

Portable pellet grills are a fantastic way to take the convenience and usefulness of a pellet barbecue with you wherever you go.

The Traeger Tailgater, our top selection for the best portable pellet grill, is a terrific bargain for anyone seeking for all the advantages of a pellet barbecue in a portable design.

If you’re ready to start cooking on a pellet grill, read our how to use a pellet grill guide.

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