There is a huge range of wood pellet grills now on the market, and the number seems to keep growing year on year. However, the issue with many of these grills/smokers is they can also be physically huge and weigh quite a bit. Therefore, until recently, if you wanted to experience the great flavour of food cooked with hardwood BBQ wood pellets out and about while camping/tailgating you had very few options. Sure, you could use a product such as the Traeger Fit Pit. However, fire pits are not able to take full advantage of wood pellet fuel like proper pellet grills can in terms of precisely controlling the cooking temperature etc. But now there is a growing number of portable pellet grills on the market that in many cases are comparable to full-sized pellet grills.
Can a portable pellet grill really compete with a full-sized BBQ wood pellet smoker? You may be pleasantly surprised: Image – Amazon
With this post, I wanted to do a round-up of the best portable pellet grills currently on the market. Now, while I know a lot about how to make pellets, I’m no BBQ expert. I’ve used my pellet smoking box on my gas/propane grill quite a few times now. However, I’m yet to take the plunge on a true pellet grill. Therefore, below I’ve included the best video reviews I could find for each portable pellet grill from actual BBQ experts. I hope you find this post useful/interesting. Please feel free to use the Table of Contents to jump to any specific portable pellet grill you’re interested in.
The Traeger Tailgater Portable Wood Pellet Grill
If you have been doing any research at all into pellet grills Traeger is a brand you will be familiar with. I’ve been into wood pellets since 2007. However, it wasn’t until quite a few years later when Traeger grills really started to take off. I’ve written a post on how Traeger wood pellets are made if you’re interested. The original line up of Traeger grills were large and relatively heavy units for pretty much exclusive use in your backyard. Sure, people would load up their Traeger grills onto a trailer and take them to professional BBQ events. However, unless you are prepared to use a trailer that was pretty much your only means to have a portable Traeger. However, Traeger now offers their Tailgater, a much smaller, lighter and compact grill for camping and tailgating meetups.
The Traeger Tailgater portable pellet grill is available in either a black or blue finish: Image – Amazon
Through the Amazon link above you will be able to see why this grill is truly portable. The additional images show how the legs of the grill can be folded up underneath to make it easy to load the grill into the back of a cars truck or the flatbed of a pickup. Now, something important to note, which is the case with all of the portable pellet grills referenced below is you will need a source of 110V power. I discuss this more in my Traeger accessories post, but when out and about you will need a 12V to 110V power inverter. You can then power the grill from your vehicles starter battery. On that page, I also discuss other accessories you can get for this portable Traeger grill. Namely, custom-fitted protective covers and insulated blankets for cooking in the colder months of the year. I also have various Traeger troubleshooting posts, such as how to change a Traeger temperature probe.
The Traeger Ranger and Scout Portable Pellet Grills
The most compact/lightweight/portable pellet grills that Traeger products are called the Ranger and the Scout. These were both ultra-portable grills, with the Scout been the more basic model and the Ranger a premium model with a more advanced digital thermostat.
This is the smaller/cheaper Traeger Scout pellet grill: Image – Traegergrills.com
These are nice compact little portable pellet grills. However, if you are interested in them I would very strongly suggest only buying the latest versions directly from the Traeger website. The issue is that Traeger became aware that there was a design issue with the first generation of these grills. The Traeger recall notes from 2018 states that ‘Grease can leak from the drip tray, posing a fire hazard.’ As you can see from the Consumer Product Safety Commission website, Traeger had to recall over 16,000 units.
This is the more advanced Traeger Ranger pellet grill: Image – Traegergrills.com
Traeger produces quality products, its unfortunate that the first designs of these two portable pellet grill had a design flaw. But as a result, I would avoid purchasing either the Traeger Scout or Ranger pellet grills from a third party seller or second-hand from eBay just in case they still have a stock of the first generation units which were recalled. Its unlikely, but just to be safe its best to purchase either of these units directly from Traeger. I have a separate post on the Traeger Scout vs Ranger pellet grills.
Country Smokers Portable Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker
Personally, of all the portable grills referenced in this post, this is the one that interests me the most and is probably going to be my choice. Hence, its why I chose the Country Smokers grill as the heading image at the top of the post. If we are talking about portable pellet grills what are we really talking about? Its a grill that’s very light and compact but still provides the convenience and control of cooking with wood pellets. Well, currently there is no other portable pellet grill that’s more compact than this Country Smokers grill.
The Country Smokers portable pellet grill is small, lightweight and very affordable: Image – Amazon
This grill weighs only 42 lbs, hence most people should easily be able to handle and pick up this pellet grill on their own. Due to its small/compact dimensions (24.40in x 17.50in x 13.60in), it means you can pack this grill into the back of your car/truck and still have lots of space for your other possessions.
Now, with being so compact is does mean the cooking area is also one of the smallest of all the grills referenced in this post. Therefore, it means you are going to have to be more organised and good preparation is essential. However, as the review below from The Barbeque Lab shows, it is still a very capable grill that can cook for a small family. You will obviously need a source of 110V power just like all the other portable grills. Hence, when out and about a 12V to 110V inverter will be necessary.
Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett
This grill is particularly interesting for a number of reasons. It has some notable features that the other portable grills in this post don’t have. But also, the low price of this grill (around $300) for its size and capabilities/features is really impressive. In terms of the size of the grill and cooking area the Davy Crocket is comparable to the Traeger Tailgater. However, its significantly cheaper than the Traeger and has features which the Traeger does not have.
The Davy Crocket portable pellet grill from Green Mountain Grills is definitely worth your consideration: Image – Amazon
The first thing to note is how the legs work on this grill. Unlike the Traeger Tailgater where they fold up underneath the grill, with the Davy Crocket they fold up and around the grill and become the handle that you carry the grill by. I like clever/practical design ideas, and think this is one of those ideas. Another thing worth noting is the power options. Like any pellet grill, you still need a source of electric power to run the ignitor, pellet feed auger and thermostat control panel. However, with the Davy Crocket, it has a built-in inverter. Hence you can run the grill directly from 12V, the cigarette lighter in your car being an example. That right there is saving you the $40 or you would need to spend on a 12V to 110V inverter with other grills.
Other notable features are WiFi and an integrated meat probe. Therefore through the Green Mountain app, you can monitor the cooking process without having to open the grill. Not only does that save you effort and time it means you are not letting the wood smoke escape just to check on the food. The best review I’ve found on the Green Mountain Davy Crocket is by the YouTube Channel RV Texas Y’all.
Camp Chef Pursuit Portable Pellet Grill
Another option worth considering is the Camp Chef Pursuit. This grill again follows a different design for portability compared to the Traeger Tailgater and the Davy Crocket. With the Camp Chef Pursuit, you transport it just like your luggage at the airport by rolling it along the ground. The grill is heavier than many of the others at 100lbs. However, being able to wheel it along the ground means you are not having to carry that weight. So one person can quite easily move this grill around.
The Camp Chef Pursuit has one of if not the largest cooking areas of any small/portable pellet grill on the market today: Image – Amazon
The notable features on the Pursuit are the large (and lockable) 10lb pellet hopper. Not all smokers/grills have a lockable hopper. The problem is if there are still pellets in the hopper during transport you may find those pellets all over the back of your vehicle instead of in the hopper where they should be. The Camp Chef does also have a novel and quick ash cleanout feature. However, the main benefit of the Camp Chef Pursuit is it has one of the largest cooking areas. As seen in the video below, at the same time you can be cooking four racks of ribs or sixteen large burgers. There are not many portable pellet grills which can compete with that. The Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi 20 is another very small, compact, portable grill worth considering. So are other small grills in the SmokePro pellet grill range.
The Pit Boss Tailgater
In terms of build quality from what I’ve read on the various BBQ forums etc Pit Boss appear to be right up there. In terms of Pit Boss’s approach to a portable grill, they have followed a similar design to the Traeger Tailgater. However, there are some noticeable differences.
The Pit Boss Tailgator is a well built/heavy-duty portable pellet grill: Image – Amazon
For instance, while all Pit Boss grills are controlled by a digital thermostat you also get an analogue temperature dial on the grill lid. Personally, I like the idea of being able to compare what the analogue temp dial shows compared to the digital thermostat. The reason being, sooner or later temperature probes fail and so do analogue temperature gauges. However, having both on the grill means as long as they both agree on the temp (without a couple of degrees) you know that the cooking temp is accurate.
I do also think the legs on the Pit Boss are made to a heavier duty standard that many other grills. However, its the control panel which I think really stands out. With the Pit Boss Pursuit, you get not one but two meat probe ports to accurately monitor their internal cooking temperature. Finally, there is a pellet dump port so you can easily change out pellet flavours. This is a feature I think all pellet grills should have where possible, but many don’t.
Conclusions On The Best Portable Pellet Grills
I believe each of the grills above has its own merits along with various positives and negatives. To determine which is going to be the best grill for you will depend on how many people you will be cooking for and what you want to cook. For instance, if you are looking for ultra-portability to cook for one/two people I think the Country Smokers grill should be a strong consideration.
However, if you want to be cooking for a large number of friends and family you’re going to need a grill with a larger cooking area. Therefore, the Camp Chef, Pit Boss or Traeger would probably be more suitable. I think the Davy Crocket sits in the middle. It doesn’t have the largest cooking area. However, it can easily cook for a family of 4 or 5 and its excellent value for money.
Thanks for reading, I hope you found this post informative/useful. You may also want to read my post on the best tips on how to clean a pellet grill. Now, if you like pizza I have a separate post on portable wood pellet pizza ovens. Also, you may want to check out my wood pellet grill/smoker guide. Cheers 🙂