2018 Buyer’s Guide – The Best Tailgate Pellet Grills

This article seeks to serve as an informative introduction to, explanation of, and buyers guide for pellet grills.

In particular, we have taken the liberty to specifically tailor our exploration into these versatile grills by narrowing our focus to one of the most important aspects of American sports culture; tailgating.

The following article will dive into what pellet grills are, why they've become a hot commodity for many tailgaters, and finally a comprehensive guide of what to look for on the market, followed by a few reviews of popular models.

We hope that this guide will aid you in your search for a pellet grill, or at minimum, broaden your cooking horizons, and expose you to the newest trend in barbecue. 

Best Tailgate Pellet Grills Comparison Chart

Why Are Pellet Grills Ideal For Tailgating?  

As one of the most important aspects of American sports culture, tailgating is a venerated American tradition.

The tailgate party transforms one meager sporting event into a full day spectacle filled with charismatic fandom, limitless drinks, and some of the best food you'll find in the States. 

With this in mind, one can see quite clearly why some of the best tailgate cooks have made the switch to a pellet model; but why?

Pellets (source)

Extremely User-friendly

The pellet grill is a high quality, user friendly alternative to other grills.

Its fuel source, and namesake, the pellet, is a 100% pure wood product that has been hyper condensed and rid of any excess air so as to increase burning efficiency, facilitate simple cleanup, and produce a strong smoke flavor.

These pellets are moved into the burning box for use via electric auger, so starting the grill is as simple as flipping a switch.

Versatile and Perfect for Every Occasion

However, while its design may be usable and efficient, its true value comes through a different feature.

Contrary to its competitors, namely charcoal, gas, and wood grills, pellet grills offer one of the most valuable features on the grilling market: versatility.

Not only can these grills provide a solid barbecue/grilling product, but they can also smoke, roast, and even bake.

This level of versatility is unparalleled by other cooking products, and is the clear reason why these grills have become a popular product both for home grill-masters, and those who wish to take their cooking on the road.

Mobile Without Sacrificing Quality

Pellet grills come in a wide array of sizes, without sacrificing even an ounce of quality; their condensed tailgate-friendly versions are of the same high quality of the larger models.

Combine versatility, mobility, and the famous smokey flavor that pellet grills have become known for, and one can see why these new products have taken the tailgating world by storm.  

Pellet Grills are Compact and Mobile (source)

Considerations When Buying a Pellet Grill for Tailgating

When on the market for a pellet grill, there are a variety of models that offer varying features and amenities.

While this is great for the informed customer, for the untrained eye, pellet grill models can seem strikingly similar in all but appearance and price.

With that being said, let us delve into a few aspects of pellet grill models to consider before making a purchase.

Feasibility

First and foremost, one should look at feasibility of ownership before making a pellet grill purchase.

This may seem like an obvious thing to consider, but in reality, one should know that they have ample room to store the grill at home and in a vehicle for tailgating, and one should be aware of the availability of, and accessibility to, wood pellets at local stores. 

Pellets are always available online, but having the assurance that emergency backup is only a 5 minute drive away is a definite plus.

Efficiency

With further regard to the fuel source, a potential customer should always consider the efficiency of a potential grill model.

It is always advantageous to have a grill that works efficiently, so knowing the rate at which a specific model burns through pellets is crucial.

Rate of burn can also affect the quality of smoke notes in the meat, which further reinforces the notion that burn rate and efficiency should play a large role in your choice of grill.

How Pellet Grills Work (source)

Temperature Control

Similarly, temperature control is another aspect of pellet grills to pay attention to when on the market.

To make sure the grill doesn't burn too hot, or not hot enough, almost all pellet grill models have an electronic thermal sensor which will keep the grill within a certain temperature window.

Making sure that the temperature sensor is of the utmost quality is essential in choosing a high quality safe product; most problems with pellet grills begin with a malfunctioning temperature control gauge.

Price

Finally, one must consider the price for quality exchange when deciding between two or more models. While one may be more expensive, it may cost less in the long run with maintenance than its cheaper counterpart.

Be sure to weigh all of these factors, as well as your own personal preferences and desires, to be sure you've chosen a good pellet grill for your specific needs.

Willy's Top Picks - Best Tailgate Pellet Grills

Review of the Best Tailgate Pellet Grills

Now that we've covered why pellet grills make for a great pick when it comes to tailgating and some of the main considerations to keep in mind while shopping, let's take a look at some of our top picks.

We're excited to discuss our favorite models and explain why they stand apart from competing models. 

1. Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill | Cover and Tote Included

The Davy Crockett Pellet Grill by Green Mountain is one of the best options on the market for tailgate grilling.

Its small profile and moderate weight of 57 lbs, combined with folding legs that double as handles, make this grill one of the most mobile models available.

Even without considering the added Cover and Tote that comes with the Davy Crockett package, this grill stands out as an optimal candidate for your tailgate cooking needs.

This particular model's design also boasts a peaked lid for rib racks, which only furthers the pellet grill's already versatile nature. The feature that really sets this grill apart from the others, however, is its temperature control.

This product's internal thermal sensor can not only be controlled via remote, but also through your phone. This Green Mountain grill has the ability to connect to a WiFi network and be controlled at range via an application on your cellular device.

This is a perk truly built for tailgating, as cooks can now briefly leave their workstation and enjoy the tailgate without worrying about their grill.

The Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill Package is a fantastic offer for anyone who wishes to improve their tailgate grilling experience.

The versatility of any pellet grill is well represented by this Green Mountain model, and customers can rest assured that this grill will take care of any/all meat cooking projects.

Pros

  • Smoke: Great smoke flavor notes
  • Portable: Foldable legs, small size, lightweight
  • Warranty: Two year warranty by Manufacture
  • Temperature Control: WiFi capable, digital controller
  • Bonus Features: Cover, Tote, meat temperature probe
  • Design: Pellet grill versatility, as well as ribrack capability

Cons

  • Inaccurate: Meat probe has been reported to be unreliable
  • Quality: Paint chipping, extra maintenance needed for some customers
  • WiFi: Only works in moderate proximity to grill; turns off when phone is locked

Bottom Line

Its mobility, design, warranty, and numerous added features render this model as one of the best on the market. Relatively cheaper than other models, some have reported paint chipping and extra maintenance.

However, despite these few complaints, this grill is a high quality product that will serve any grill master well when tailgating. Amazon customer ratings speaks for itself; this is one of the better pellet grills on the market.

2. Traeger Grills Tailgater 20 Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

As the pioneer of the industry, Traeger Grills is the standard for high-quality pellet grills. This model by Traeger lives up to its trademark brand in offering a fantastic quality product.

With a small, convenient figure and foldable legs, this grill is a great option for tailgating; a situation where movability is crucial. While the small size is advantageous, its conservative design does not discount cooking surface.

Despite its small profile, the grill still boasts 300 sq in of grilling space, which is enough for 12 burgers, or even three racks of ribs.

As any good pellet grill should be, the Tailgater 20 is incredibly versatile in terms of how it can be used, as it's capable of grilling, baking, roasting, braising, barbequing, and smoking.

Once it has been decided what function the grill will serve, grill masters have the option to further customize their cooking by choosing both the speed of burn, as well as the grill temperature.

This allows for the utmost freedom of cooking personalization and creativity. The temperature setting chosen is kept within a 20° by a built in temperature gauge, which is controlled by a digital controller.

The automated temperature gauge renders this model rather user friendly, as cooks need not monitor temperature, nor fuel efficiency, themselves.

Pros

  • Size: Small profile and foldable legs
  • Warranty: Three year Traeger policy
  • Design: Ample space to cook despite size
  • Usable: simple to use; easy to clean porcelain grates
  • Temperature Control: Digitally controlled; kept within 20° range
  • Quality: Traeger brand produces some of the best grills on the market

Cons

  • Price: Name brand means higher price
  • Size: One of the heavier options at 76 lbs
  • Temperature Control: wild temperature fluctuations are the most occurring customer complaint

Bottom Line

The Traeger Grills Tailgater 20 Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker is a great grill for any tailgate chef who wishes to expand their cooking horizons.

While the Traeger name may come with a slightly higher price tag, this models economic design, incredible versatility, and user-friendly features make this grill one of the best. 

This grill is a great purchase for any tailgate grill master; just keep an eye on the temperature gauge.

3. Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Wood Pellet Outdoor BBQ Grill and Smoker

If top tier quality and performance is what you're after, look no further than the SmokePro DLX by Camp Chef.

This 127 lb monster grill boasts 570 sq in of rack space, a temperature selection system to maintain heat, an LED temperature display that reads both the temp of the grill itself and the food, an automatic auger system that adds pellets as required, and a simple, unique ash clean out system.

These features are above and beyond what other pellet grills on the market can offer.

This grill is one of the best options available for anyone looking for a patio grill/smoker, as well as anyone who has the capacity to haul a larger, heavier pellet grill to a tailgate.

Rest assured, if you can manage to get this grill to the tailgate, you're almost guaranteed to have one of the best grills in the lot.

This model, due to its size and substantial feature list, is listed at a significantly higher price than competitor grills.

However, for those who are comfortable with a slightly larger investment, the quality of this product will pay dividends.

Pros

  • Warranty: 3-year coverage
  • Size: Offers significant amount of grill space
  • Temperature Control: LED display and automatic temp maintenance
  • Usability: One touch power button, convenient ash cleanup system, smart auger that supplies pellets as needed

Cons

  • Movability: Difficult to move, but perfect for trucks
  • Size: Considerably larger than competing tailgate pellet grills
  • Price: Size and innovative features mean this model is significantly more expensive than the others

Bottom Line

The Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Wood Pellet Outdoor BBQ Grill and Smoker is one of the best pellet grills on the market; tailgating or otherwise.

This is a large enough grill to be used all year round on the patio, but just small enough to be tailgate-friendly. The SmokePro DLX offers industry leading features and delivers a fantastic product, but its excellence comes at a price.

Conclusion

Investing in a pellet grill is one of the best decisions any grill master can make. Their versatility, usability, and innovative design make them a fantastic addition to any cook's arsenal.

For those who wish to take their grilling on the road, pellet grills offer unparalleled productivity and cooking diversity; a big reason why they've become the hot new way to tailgate.

When on the market for one of these all-in-one grills, it's important to consider design, price point, temperature control, and other added features, when deciding which model to choose.

Remember that certain grills make work better for certain individuals, and that not every grilling need or situation is the same.

Take your time thoroughly vetting your options, and choose a product that's right for your specific needs. 

Regardless of what model you've chosen, you can rest easy knowing that you'll blow the tailgate away with your incredibly versatile pellet grill.

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