Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: September 14, 2022

A lot of smokers claim to be portable, but in reality, their size and weight make them impractical to take anywhere other than across the yard. To solve this problem, we’ve tested dozens of smokers to narrow down the best portable pellet grill brands for campers, tailgaters, and everyone in between.

The 11 Best Portable Pellet Grill Products in 2022

1

1 - Traeger Tailgater Pellet Grill

traeger tailgater pellet grill

Traeger has developed a reputation as one of the leading manufacturers of wood pellet grill units and pellet smoker models.

Their Tailgater Pellet Grill is designed to give you the same quality as their large pellet grills with more portability.

The wood pellet grill has easy fold legs, and side handles to make it more portable.

You can do everything with this pellet grill from, smoking to baking to grilling. The pellet smoker has a maximum temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232.22 degrees celsius) and 300 square inches of smoking space.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 37 x 18 x 36 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 300 square inches
Hopper Capacity: 8 pounds
Fuel Type: Electric
Material: Metal

Pros
  • 8lb pellet grill hopper capacity
  • Included easy to use meat probe
  • Heavy-duty metal construction
  • Easy fold legs for portability
Cons
  • No food viewing window
  • Weighs over 70lbs (31.75 kilograms)
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2

2 - Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

weber smokey mountain cooker

Weber is one of the oldest smoker and portable pellet grill manufacturers in the United States, and their Smokey Mountain Cooker reflects this.

This is a convenient and compact unit weighing only 39lbs (17.69 kilograms), significantly less than many heavier offset smokers.

We like that this charcoal grill and smoker is designed to maximize smoke flavor infusion in meats.

It comes with two nickel-plated cooking grids that are easy to clean and provide ample room for cooking everything from burgers to briskets and racks of ribs.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 21 x 19 x 41 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: N/A
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Charcoal
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • Two nickel-plated cooking grates
  • Light-weight for easier portability
  • Rust-resistant metal legs
  • Built-in lid thermometer
Cons
  • Grill cover not included
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3

3 - Traeger Ranger

Traeger Ranger CTA

Traeger Ranger could be the answer if you want a portable pellet grill and smoker combo. This smoker burns hardwood pellets that go to the fire pot via a slow-turning, electrically powered auger.

It comes equipped with Traeger’s Digital Act processors, which monitor the internal temperature using a built-in probe. The Digital Arc makes the smoker adjust the pellet dropping speed depending on your temperature setting.

The smoker also has an LCD screen with rubberized buttons, so it’s easy to fire up the smoker, change the temperature, and start shutting down.

The only thing we wish was better is the weight. It weighs 60 lbs, which is great for keeping on the patio or balcony but not as easy to transport when camping.

Pros
  • Keep warm mode
  • Digital Arc controller for automatic temperature regulation
  • Porcelain-coated grates
  • Compact footprint
Cons
  • On the heavy side
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Quick Facts:

  • Product Dimensions : 20 x 21 x 13 inches
  • BTU Value : 16,000
  • Cooking Area : 184 square inches
  • Hopper Capacity : 8 lbs
  • Fuel Type : Wood pellets
  • Material : Stainless Steel
4

4 - 14" Pit Barrel Cooker Junior

CTA of 14 Pit Barrel Cooker Junior

The Pit Barrel Cooker Junior is an excellent size for small patios, balconies, tailgating, camping, RVing, and more. It's also suitable for cooking cuts of meat like chicken breasts, pork chops, and fish.

This smoker is designed to be portable - a size that fits into your SUV or truck bed and handles on the side for easy transport. It's also simple to set up and take down, so you can take it with you wherever you go.

We appreciate that the smoker comes with a steel grill grate so you can cook burgers and steak, but also with hanging rods and hooks that make it simple to hang brisket or ribs. This makes this a very versatile cooker that can prepare everything from a pork butt to a 17lb turkey.

The only drawback of this smoker is that it doesn't come with a temperature gauge, so you'll need to buy one separately if you want to be able to monitor the temperature inside the cooker.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 33" x 21.25" wide, including the handles.
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 339 square inches
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Charcoal
Material: Metal

Pros
  • Easy to transport and set up
  • Grate and hooks allow versatility in meat cooking
  • Comes with 10 oz of rub to get you started
  • Small size, yet can still smoke six racks of ribs, three chickens, or a full brisket
Cons
  • No included temperature gauge
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5

5 - Z Grills Pellet Grill

Z GRILLS-550A

Z Grill comes with an elegant compact design taking the barbeque experience to a higher level.

Small yet enough to feed an entire family of 5, it’s incredibly flexible for small areas, making these portable pellet grills great for camping and tailgating.

This portable pellet grill features a smart temperature management system that automatically adds pellets to the fire while regulating the airflow and maintaining the cooking temperatures.

These portable pellet grills are also versatile enough for baking, roasting, and braising your favorite meat recipes.

When it comes to installation, the assembly only takes a few minutes and the portable pellet grill is ready to cook.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 25 x 48 x 40 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 590 square inches
Hopper Capacity: 16 pounds
Fuel Type: Electric
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • 8-in-1 features
  • Includes a "set and forget" system
  • Accurate temperature control
  • 180 to 450 °F temperature range
Cons
  • Not large enough for bigger events
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6

6 - Pit Boss 2-Series Analog Electric Vertical Smoker

CTA of Pit Boss 2-Series Analog Electric Vertical Smoker

The Pit Boss 2-Series Analog Electric Vertical Smoker packs a lot of power into a relatively small size. With 1650 watts of power, it can cook meat low and slow at 150 degrees Fahrenheit, or you can turn up the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit to cook things faster.

This smoker has four porcelain-coated smoking racks that provide a total of 2.2 cubic feet of cooking space. That's enough room to smoke whatever you need while still being easily portable with its handle and rear wheels.

We like that this smoker is electric, so you don't have to worry about charcoal or propane. It's also easy to use - simply set the temperature and timer and let it do its thing. The digital control panel makes it straightforward to keep an eye on the temperature. It also comes with a meat probe, so you'll always know when your food is ready.

The only drawback of this smoker is that it doesn't come with a cover, so you'll need to buy one separately to protect it from the elements. It also does not have an automatic shut-off feature, so you'll need to make sure to unplug it when you are done.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 22 x 40 x 21 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 514 square inches
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Corded Electric
Material: Metal

Pros
  • Comes with a meat probe
  • The wood tray allows 2 hours of smoke between refills
  • The large front window provides monitoring without allowing heat to escape
  • Elevated frame for easy meat transfer
Cons
  • Does not come with cover
  • No automatic shut-off
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7

7 - Broil King Kamado Grill

broil king kamado grill

The Broil King Kamado Grill represents one of the best smoker units on many levels.

We like the compact design that makes carrying it easy compared to a portable pellet grill or larger smoker grill combo models. The portable pellet grill is best for those who want something easy to use yet durable.

The Kamado has a double-walled steel body, which helps retain heat better than many of the best portable smokers.

It has many helpful out of the box features, including two storage shelves and cast iron dampers for easier temperature control.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 41 x 27.5 x 47 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 280 square inches
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Charcoal
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • 10-year warranty for grill body
  • Uses 2x less charcoal than other smokers
  • Easy clean removable ash pan
  • Positive smoker reviews on Amazon
Cons
  • Over 120lbs (54.43 kilograms)
  • Grill cover not included
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8

8 - Charcoal Companion Stovetop Smoker

charcoal companion stovetop smoker

This is another stovetop smoker that may be a good choice if you need something extremely compact for grilling and smoking.

The Charcoal Companion Stovetop Smokers is best for people who can’t grill outdoors and need something to smoke and grill indoors.

The smoker is compatible with most stovetops, including portable propane fuel source stoves.

It has heat-safe silicone handles on the lid and base for safe handling and a high-quality thermometer similar to a Camp Chef smoker. The smoker can reach temperatures of up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius).

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 12.5 x 9.5 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: N/A
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Propane, Charcoal
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • Cooks a wide variety of food
  • Heat-safe silicone handles
  • Easy clean-up drip pan
  • Can be used indoors
Cons
  • Needs an external fuel source
  • Limited cooking space
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9

9 - Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker

char broil bullet charcoal smoker

The Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Grill and Smoker boasts a solid 360 square inches of cooking space spread over two porcelain-coated cooking grates.

The grills best for those who want an easy to use smoker. The smoker grill combo features an airflow control system with numbered damper settings for easier temperature control.

The portable pellet grill has two lift handles to make it more portable and a lid-mounted thermometer for easy temperature reading.

This may be a good choice if you need ample space for cooking food yet still want something portable like a Camp-Chef.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 23 x 37.6 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 370 square inches
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Charcoal
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • 370 sq in of grilling space
  • Durable porcelain-coated body
  • 1-year warranty
  • Numbered damper heat control settings
Cons
  • Smoker cover not included
  • Thin smoker door handle
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10

10 - Davy Crockett Portable Pellet Grill

davy crocket pellet grill

The Davy Crockett Portable Pellet Grill is made especially for tailgating, which means that it’s been designed to be light and portable.

The portable pellet grills are lightweight, with a total of 219 square inches of cooking space. The tailgating package comes with a grill cover, collapsible storage rack, and magnetic grill lights to make smoking on the road even easier.

The pellet smokers hopper can hold up to 9lbs (4.08 kilograms) of wood pellets and operates through a standard 12 volt DC plugin.

This pellet smokers capable of reaching temperatures between 150 and 550 degrees Fahrenheit (65.55 and 287.77 degrees celsius).

 

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: N/A
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 219 square inches
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Wood Pellets
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • 219 square inch cooking area
  • High-quality stainless steel build
  • Good for camping trips or tailgating
  • Easy read LED temperature gauge
Cons
  • Now viewing window
  • Limited warranty information
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11

11 - Camerons Large Stovetop Smoker

camerons stovetop smoker

This large stovetop smoker provides ultra-portability with the ability to be used both indoors and outside.

Whether taking it on a camping trip or using it for a beach cook up, this can be combined with a propane stove for full smoke flavor.

The smoker is capable of smoking everything from beef and vegetables to fish, which is why it is considered as one of the best fish smokers. It can even be used as a steamer, poaching, or roasting pan.

For added convenience, everything can be packed away when not in use. The smoker is made from seamless stainless steel and is dishwasher safe making it easy to clean.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 15 x 11 x 3.5 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: N/A
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Electric
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • Easy to move portable design
  • Multi-purpose for smoking and steaming
  • Seamless stainless steel construction
  • Easy to clean dishwasher safe
Cons
  • Limited cooking space
  • Needs external heating source
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How To Pick The Right Portable Smoker

Different Portable Smoker Grills

Smoker Type

While all of the above smokers represent the best in portability, different models have different considerations and impacts on exactly how portable a model is. Fuel type, for example, can play a major role. If you want to learn more about different types of smokers you should read this blog post.

Pellet Smoker

There are a large variety of portable pellet grills out there, and some of them are more suited to taking you places than others. However, something to consider is that even the best portable pellet smoker will usually weigh more than your average charcoal smoker due to the hopper and wood pellets' weight, though some consider this the healthier option (1).

Electric Smoker

A portable electric smoker is another good option, with many being highly portable. The tradeoff here is that because you need a power outlet to operate them, you are a bit more limited where you can use them unless you have a generator or a car converter.

Charcoal Grill

Charcoal tends to be towards the top of the least when looking at how portable a smoker is. You can find charcoal grill options in all sizes, and these generally weigh less than others. The fuel is also typically lighter in weight and more portable.

Gas Grills

Gas grills are often another good option for a portable smoker. The grills best feature is that they can be lightweight. The downside is that you need to also carry a bulk propane tank to heat the grill.

Smoking Capacity

The one downside when it comes to a portable pellet smoker is that some leave a lot to be desired in terms of cooking capacity. You want to make sure that you are striking a nice balance between weight, size, and smoking capacity.

When portability isn’t a factor, we recommend around 500 sq in as optimal cooking space. We find it best for a portable smoker to get as close to that as possible without sacrificing in other areas such as weight and size. Remember, you don’t just want to stuff the grill either, you need room to maneuver your meat when cooking.

“Live-fire cooking creates different heat intensities. Know your hot spots and move your food around (now that you’ve got the room) to avoid burning.”

- Jim Shahin, Barbecue and Grilling Expert Writer at The Washington Post (2)

Portability

grill smoker outdoors

The key when selecting the best portable grill is obviously that it must be portable. So, you need to find the best balance between a few different factors, which include:

  • Size
  • Weight
  • Cooking Capacity

Each of these factors will play an important role in how portable your grill is. If the size gets too much, the weight may be too much to move around easily.

However, get something too little, and you will have to worry about not having enough smoking space for your meat. You need to strike a good balance between all three factors so that your grill can easily fit where you need it during transport, it’s not too heavy to lift, and you can cook all the meat you need.

Weight

woman grilling outside

As noted above, weight plays a critical role in how portable your grill can get. Don’t let the size of portable grills fool you into thinking that one is small and lightweight.

The materials they are made out of can easily make a small grill much heavier than a larger one made of lighter materials.

Other factors that can affect weight include the extra parts needed for construction.

For example, an electric smoker will usually weigh more than similarly sized charcoal grills due to the extra parts and circuitry.

If you know that you will be hauling around your grill by yourself, take into consideration how much weight you can easily carry without difficulty.

Materials

The materials your grill is made from will play a huge role in things like weight and ease of maintenance. Pellet grills best for portability should ideally be constructed from lightweight, rust-resistant, anti-corrosive, and insulative materials to keep heat in. We find stainless steel to fit all of these properties.

“It [stainless steel] enjoys widespread applications in food, beverage, and chemical plants because of its non-staining properties due mainly to the ability to form a self-healing thin oxide film when abraded.”

- Patricia Popoola, Tshwane University of Technology Department of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering (3)

Other materials can be used, such as aluminum, but food-grade stainless steel pellet grills tend to be best. Some materials, such as porcelain or cast iron, meet all of the above requirements but may add too much weight to grills so that they are impractical to try and move.

Ease of Use and Maintenance

smalll box smoker

The best portable smokers are those that are simple and easy to use and maintain.

All of the world's extra features are largely irrelevant if your grill is too complicated to set up and smoke with or if you have trouble doing basic things like adding wood chips.

In terms of ease of use, we find that an electric smoker with digital controls is generally the best as these are often easier to smoke meat with for beginner users.

However, charcoal is also quite easy to smoke if you learn how to control the dampers. Moreover it is quite simple to maintain.

The best charcoal smokers also meet the above guidelines for size and weight and are generally more affordable to buy and maintain and smoke with. For this reason, we usually opt for charcoal when looking for a smoker.

Extra Features

With such a wide variety of grills to choose from, ranging from gas grills to portable electric smokers, the sky’s the limit when it comes to how many features you can find. Everything from top-notch pellet tube smokers for maximum smoky flavor, collapsible shelving space to remote Bluetooth control and monitoring can be found in our modern world.

While extra features are always nice, the main thing to remember is that they will add to your smoker's overall size and weight.

In our own experience, when opting for the best smoke setup, we generally like to keep things simple as the best grills are those that get the job done without weighing too much or being too big.

Direct Heat vs Indirect Heat Smokers

Direct and indirect heat refers to how the heat from the fuel source is distributed around the meat. For indirect heat, the fuel is further away from the meat, whereas direct heat means the meat is right on top.

This is usually used concerning charcoal grilling. You ideally want enough space in your grill that you can have an area of indirect heat that allows you better temperature control. Take this into consideration when looking at smoker size as the best smoker will have plenty of room for both a direct and an indirect heat zone.

FAQs

What Types of Wood Pellets Can Be Used in Portable Smokers?

There are a wide variety of wood pellet types that can be used in portable smokers. Some of the best for cooking various kinds of meat include:

  • Best for Cooking Pork - Use pecan, cherry, apple, mesquite, or hickory
  • Best for Cooking Brisket - Use mesquite or hickory
  • Best for Cooking Chicken - Use pecan, apple, or cherry

Do Portable Smokers Have Small Cooking Areas?

Portable smokers will usually have smaller cooking areas, but not always. There are numerous smokers with a large enough capacity to smoke large quantities of meat for large parties and cookouts. Some of the best smokers can cook large batches of chicken, steaks, burgers, and sausage.

Can I Cook Brisket on a Portable Smoker?

It is possible to cook brisket on a portable smoker so long as you take the time to build up the temperature and regularly monitor the cooking process. The main thing to remember is that smoking is a long process, so you will need to be patient to make sure everything cooks through.

How Long Will a Portable Smoker Last?

The typical portable smoker should last around five years if taken care of moderately. If you are the kind of person who takes very good care of things, you will likely be able to extend the life of your smoker up to 10 years.

What’s Our Verdict

After extensive testing of numerous grills, we’ve found the Traeger Tailgater Pellet Grill to be the best portable smoker. It has plenty of cooking area for a portable unit. You can use it in all kinds of weather conditions, thanks to the rust-resistant materials.

Traeger Tailgater has top-notch temperature control thanks to the Digital Arc controller. Plus, the Keep Warm Mode ensures your food will be fresh and warm until you’re ready to eat.

We found this smoker to be extremely versatile — you can smoke, grill, or bake. Most importantly, you won’t struggle moving the grill thanks to the foldable legs and side handles. Check it out and get your portable Traeger smoker today.

Traeger Tailgater Pellet Grill

Our #1 Recommendation

  • 8lb pellet grill hopper capacity
  • Included easy to use meat probe
  • Heavy-duty metal construction
  • Easy fold legs for portability
  • Get the BEST PRICE until the end of November
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