Top 5 Best Portable Pellet Grills For Camping, Tailgating and RVs

There’s something about barbecue that makes it perfect for camping trips, tailgating parties and cross-country trips in your RV. If you love the flavor and consistent smoke you get from pellet grills but want a portable option to bring along to your next event then fortunately you’ve come to the right place.

This is a simple but detailed guide on the best portable pellet grills. We aren’t overlooking anything, focusing on portability, but not sacrificing any qualities of a pellet grill that make them so exceptional.

Top 5 Best Portable Pellet Grills

Best Overall

Traeger Tailgater Pellet Grill

Runner Up

Camp Chef Pursuit Portable Pellet Grill

Popular Pick

Traeger Grills Ranger Grill

1. Best Overall

Traeger Tailgater Pellet Grill

  • Traeger top-quality cast iron material built to last and evenly distribute heat
  • Comes with a trusty steel meat probe for precise internal temperature monitoring
  • Can easily be used as a traditional backyard grill, and doubles as a portable wood pellet grill.
  • Easy folding legs and reasonably light-weight for easy transport
  • Better suited for low and slow smoking rather than grilling
  • No shelf or tool rack
Specification Breakdown
  • Dimensions: H 36” x L 18” x W 36”
  • Weight: 62 lbs
  • Temperature Range: 160°F – 450°F
  • Cooking Space: 300 Square Inches
  • Temperature Control: Digital, 5° Increments
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity: 8 lbs
  • Warranty: 3 years

The Traeger Tailgater Pellet Grill was made with tailgaters in mind. With its easy folding legs and light 62lb weight you can take this small, portable grill anywhere: load it up in your RV, take it on a camping trip or place it in the trunk of your vehicle for all your last-minute grilling needs. The compact, lightweight design makes it easy to move this grill from one place to another.

This Traeger grill might be small, but it’s definitely not inefficient: this mighty grill has enough space for a large brisket. You can load up the grill with ribs, pork butt, and burnt ends, sit back and let the Traeger name prove itself time and time again. Its cast-iron cooking chamber is the same top quality as its high-end models, and it produces results like one.

Because wood pellet grills are perfected for consistent heat and smoke over longer periods of time, it’s vital to have a simple but precise control to really hone in on your desired temperature, like that 225°F sweet spot. To check the temperature of your meat, Traeger allows a click of a button to give you an instant-read of the meat probe.

You can unfold the legs to use your Traeger like a traditional grill or fold them up and place your Traeger on the back of your truck. This grill comes with easy-to-use controls that allow you to adjust the temperature and cook the meat thoroughly without lifting the lid every five minutes. Plus, you can fit up to eight pounds of wood pellets in this handy little grill.

Another Traeger success.

2. Runner Up

Camp Chef Pursuit Portable Pellet Grill

  • Lightweight and portable design makes it easy to transport
  • Amazing slide and grill technology lets you sear at higher heats directly over the flame
  • Very adjustable smoke and temperature settings on a digital control
  • Offers two separate meat probes
  • Great value for quality
  • Dual shelf to maximize cooking surface area and grilling space
  • Does not have the greatest ability to hold heat
  • Wheels could be hard to maneuver on rough terrain
  • No chimney for smoke ventilation
Specification Breakdown
  • Dimensions: H 32” (20” Legs Folded) x L 18.5” x W 40”
  • Weight: 82 lbs
  • Temperature Range: 160°F – 500°F
  • Cooking Space: 501 square inches over two levels
  • Temperature Control: Digital, 10 temperature settings
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity: 10 lbs
  • Warranty: 3 years

This high-tech grill is perfect for camping and tailgating enthusiasts in search of an affordable portable smoker. This Camp Chef Pellet Grill has a clear, easy-to-read digital screen and a set of clearly marked settings, making it easy to adjust this grill to the perfect temperature. The digital display even comes with a low-glare screen which helps when grilling in the sunlight.

One of the best and most stand-out features of the Camp Chef Pellet Grill is it’s slide and grill technology. Perfect for reverse searing or charring ribs at the end of the cook, just crank the temperature up to 500°F and grill over the open flame.

Like most portable grills, you can fold up the legs and take this grill just about anywhere. However, the way it folds up like a suitcase makes it way too easy. It’s small enough that it can fit in the trunk but spacious enough that you can throw an entire 4 racks of ribs on the grill thanks to its dual shelf design. If you are cooking a larger meat, such as a turkey or chicken, you can remove the top shelf to give you more space too.

Camp Chef does not disappoint.

3. Popular Pick

Traeger Grills Ranger Grill

  • The simple rectangular shape makes this grill easy to carry and transport
  • Very compact but enough space to grill two rack of ribs or one larger cut.
  • Comes with a griddle that allows you to sear your meats easily
  • Offers a timer which helps when you want to set and forget
  • Offers less cooking capacity than other portable grills
  • Can’t be converted into a stand-up grill
Specification Breakdown
  • Dimensions: H 13” x L 21” x W 20”
  • Weight: 60 lbs
  • Temperature Range: 160°F – 450°F
  • Cooking Space: 184 square inches
  • Temperature Control:  Digital, 5° Increments
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity: 8 lbs
  • Warranty: 3 years

The Traeger Grills Ranger Grill is the ultimate grill for campers, hikers and adventurers. This grill features a revolutionary box shape that you can stash in your backpack or toss in the backseat of your vehicle. No legs, no wheels, no extra parts that you don’t need: just a basic pellet grill that’s ready to smoke your meats whenever you are. The Traeger Ranger Grill also comes with a griddle that allows you to grill your meats to perfection.

This grill might be small, but if you know what you’re doing, there’s no risk of overcooking or undercooking your food. You can adjust the temperature to your precise settings and use the timer to check on your meat periodically. The Traeger offers a “Keep Warm” mode that allows you to keep your food warm without overcooking it before you eat. From the outside, this grill looks like an ordinary storage container–but when you open it up, you’ll find a world of grilling capabilities inside. Take this grill to the lake, the campground, your favourite hunting area, and everywhere else that the road takes you.

When the Traeger Ranger grill was released it was an instant success.

4. Great Value

Pit Boss 10538 Wood Pellet Grill Tailgater

  • Porcelain-coated grates for easier cleaning
  • Convenient start-up and cool-down features
  • Made from durable stainless steel
  • A very popular wood pellet smoker
  • Literally everything you want in a portable pellet grill
  • Less insulated than other models, which is less fuel efficient
  • On the smaller side of hardwood pellet hoppers
Specification Breakdown
  • Dimensions: H 38” x L 25” x W 37”
  • Weight: 80 lbs
  • Temperature Range: 180°F – 500°F
  • Cooking Space: 387 square inches
  • Temperature Control:  Digital, 10 temperature settings
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity: 8 lbs
  • Warranty: 3 years

The Pit Boss might be the best portable pellet grill in terms of actual portability. If you want a standing grill, unfold the legs and place it on a steady surface. And if you want to take your grill somewhere else, all you have to do is fold the curved legs and use the handle to wheel the grill wherever you want to go.

The Pit Boss is specifically designed to be as lightweight and portable as possible while still giving you plenty of space to smoke anything you can get your hands on. To operate this grill, all you have to do is adjust the settings on the side panel. This grill even comes with a start-up mode that gets your grill heated up and a cool-down mode that allows you to safely shut off the grill.

With the Pit Boss, you can smoke your meat in temperatures ranging from 180 to 500°F. The attached meat probe allows you to check the temperature without opening the grill. As the grates are coated with porcelain, when you’re done cooking clean-up is an absolute breeze. It’s perfect for camping trips, fishing expeditions, and late-night barbecues when you get a craving for smoked meat.

5. Quality Pick

Grilla Grills - Chimp Tailgater Wood Pellet Grill

  • Can grill, smoke, roast and bake your food
  • Excellent heat circulation
  • Made from stainless steel that’s easy to clean
  • Very durable and well-insulated
  • Comes with a grease can for easy clean-up
  • Easy snap folding legs
  • One of the larger portable grills on the market
  • Single meat probe
  • More difficult to lift and carry
Specification Breakdown
  • Dimensions: H 41” x L 20” x W 38”
  • Weight: 90 lbs
  • Temperature Range: 180°F – 500°F
  • Cooking Space: 460 square inches
  • Temperature Control:  Digital, 10 temperature settings
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity: 15 lbs
  • Warranty: 2 years

Some portable grills have limited capabilities. The Grilla Grill Chimp Tailgater is one of the few wood pellet grills that can do just about anything. You can slowly smoke your meat over low heat or sear it over an open flame. Either way, you’ll infuse your meat with the delicious smoky flavor from your favourite wood pellets.

To keep your grill from reaching undesirable temperatures, the Grilla automatically shuts down if it gets too hot or too cold. You can check the temperature on the digital panel and adjust the temperature to the perfect level of heat. This grill even comes with automatic lighting.

This isn’t the most compact grill on the market, but it’s portable enough to accompany you on trips and game days. The grate is made from stainless steel that’s easy to clean when you’re done cooking. Load up your cooler with meat and get ready to enjoy home-cooked barbecue at the next big game.

Special Mentions: Other Portable Wood Pellet Smokers To Check Out

Green Mountain Grill Davy Crockett

Green Mountain has a huge following for those that love quality at a decent price that doesn’t break the bank. Green Mountain has foldable legs, a medium hopper capacity, easy temperature controls, and great smoking potential. It does however only have a 219 square inch cooking area, which makes it on the lower end of the scale, but it’s still a machine at smoking smaller meats.

Recteq RT-340 Portable Pellet Grill

The Recteq Rt-340 is a lightweight powerhouse, with the foldable legs and locking hopper lid transporting this grill is a simple and easy process. It’s a quality build, has meat probes, WiFi control, and a good heat range up to 500°F for searing potential. Honestly a solid pick.

What Features We Consider In A Portable Pellet Smoker

Cooking Space

Portable doesn’t always have to mean small. We’ve purposely only included models of reasonable cooking space, both in surface area and overall capacity. If you’re taking the whole family camping and want to get pork butt or brisket going you’ll want at least 250 square inches of cook space. If you are smoking smaller meats, like when smoking bratwurst or smoking chicken wings, then you can get away with around 200 square inches but as a rule of thumb, bigger never hurts.

Min & Max Cooking Temperature

Not a lot of smokers will have a problem with smoking temperatures between 175-400°F, but for those that want to smoke extra low and slow or sear at higher 500°F+ temperatures it’s important to look for a pellet smoker model that will cover your needs.

Meat Probe

Most portable pellet grills come with a meat probe for reading the internal temperatures of your feast. Most of the time these are high quality and give accurate readings. If your model does not come with a meat probe then ensure you invest in a high quality instant-read thermometer for hitting those vital temperatures before wrapping.

How Portable Is The Smoker

Doesn’t matter how good the pellet grill is, if it’s not portable then it’s just not as suitable for camping, tailgating, RV’s or any portable need. We took a note of all the weights and dimensions when weighing up the best portable pellet grill in the market, so that anyone with a vehicle with a large boot should have no problem transporting the beast. 

Temperature Control

When we measure how good the temperature control is for portable pellet grills we consider both how consistent the pellet grill holds the temperature, and how easy it is to adjust the temperature levels, by use of a digital temperature control for example.

Pellet Hopper Capacity

Although you can always refill your hopper during the cook, when it comes to portability and convenience it’s always nice if you don’t need to constantly worry about how many wood pellets are left. Particularly if you’ve had a couple of beers already.

Recalling that cooking at lower temperatures burns roughly 1 and a ½ pound of wood pellets per hour, and at higher temperatures can burn up to 3 pounds per hour, either pick a big enough hopper to bring the wood pellets inside it, or make sure to pack enough pellets to fit your cook accordingly.

Portable Pellet Grill vs. Gas, Electric or Charcoal Smokers

So why opt for a wood pellet grill over a more common charcoal or gas smoker?

For me it comes down to the flavor you love, and there really is nothing like the high-quality smoke of a wood pellet. Gas and charcoal smokers require you to lug around a gas bottle or a bag of charcoal, if you fill the pellet hopper before your trip, depending on its size you could get up to 10 hours of smoking time before refilling.

Check out my breakdown of the best wood pellets for smoking.

How To Clean A Portable Pellet Grill

When you get back home, don’t forget to give your pellet smoker a thorough clean. Unlike an everyday backyard smoker, you may not be using your portable pellet grill every week or fortnight so leaving it in a clean condition will make it that much more pleasant for next time, plus it will help keep it durable and free of stains & wear. 

As long as you keep your grill stored properly in a very dry environment away from any moisture you should be able to leave the remaining wood pellets in there safely. If you are putting it away for an extended period of time it’s always recommended to empty it first as if they absorb moisture it can cause issues the next time you fire it up.

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