At Carnivore style, our goal is to test every wood pellet grill. Someone from my gym recently mentioned that they started cooking with the Traeger Tailgater 20. I knew this smoker should come next on our list for testing. My team and I set out to provide you with a review of the Traeger Tailgater to see if it should be your next grill.

What Is Traeger Tailgater Pellet Grill?

The Traeger Tailgater is a portable wood pellet smoker. It has 300 square inches of cooking space. It comes with EZ fold legs so you can easily fold them up and move the grill onto your truck. The digital elite temperature controller maintains the temperature range between 5 degrees of your desired setting.

This model has a range of 180 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (82 - 232 C). It features a digital arc controller that displays the temperature on an outer LCD screen. The hopper capacity is 8 lbs, and the pellets move into the fire pot as needed.

Pros
  • Grease drip tray included
  • 300 sq in
  • Porcelain-coated cooking surface
  • Keep Warm mode
Cons
  • Requires an initial burn-in
  • May not fit every budget

Let’s Take a Closer Look at The Specifications

Grilling Area 300 sq. in.
Dimension 36 x 37 x 18 in.
Hoppe Capacity 8 lbs.
Controls Digital Arc controller
Max Temperature 450°F

Traeger Tailgater Temperature Control

A digital control panel controls the temperature of the Traeger Tailgater. It should heat to the desired temperature within 15 minutes with the lid closed. This grill stayed within the desired temperature range after an initial break-in period. We didn’t notice any fluctuations greater than 5 degrees. It doesn’t come with a dome gauge, however.

Quality & Construction

grilling meats and veggies

The Tailgater 20-inch grill is made of powder-coated steel to prevent rusting and chipping. The cooking grates are made of porcelain-coated steel, which makes them easy to clean. The hopper includes an induction fan that is made of high-grade polymer. We thought the quality was above average compared to other brands.

Grilling Space

This smoker comes with 300 square inches of grilling space. This is one of the smaller portable grills in their range, so it might be good for people who want a compact option. The cooking area is enough to cook food for about 4 people.

Mr Steak and Allen Brothers Steak offer quality steak selections that they recommend to be grilled, so you might want to check it out as you test the grilling features of your Traeger Tailgater.

Safety & Efficiency

The safety features include a safety igniter button that operates with one push. The igniter will light the first round of hardwood pellets to heat up the grill. The pellets will move through the auger to reach the set temperature.

The hopper capacity is 8 lbs, which burns at about 1 lb per hour, depending on the settings. You should get about 8 hours of smoking with this model.

Portability & Convenience

This model is Traeger’s version of a portable wood pellet grill. One of the main features and benefits of this smoker is the EZ fold legs that offer max portability. It has a small footprint that makes it convenient to put in a truck bed. It also has the convenience of a set it and forget it LCD control box.

Cooking Options

The Tailgater pellet grill allows for different cooking options such as grilling and smoking. The smoking function allows you to cook a brisket low and slow for 6 hours. You can also crank up the heat to sear a steak. You can cook everything from hot dogs to rib racks.

Highlights

  • Bake
  • Grill
  • Sear
  • Smoke

Special Features

Traeger Tailgater portability

This Traeger Grills Tailgater unit doesn’t come with a ton of extra features since it is a travel model. It doesn’t have Wi Fi capabilities like some of the bigger units. It does come with folding legs, an LCD readout screen, and a temperature sensor. It also comes with a Keep Warm mode that will keep food hot in the cooking chamber while you set the table.

Design & Style

The design of the Traeger Grills Tailgater is comparable to a professional pit boss competition smoker except smaller and portable. The exterior is made of heavy-gauge steel with a powder coating that can withstand the heat and elements. We liked that the LCD readout came with push buttons as opposed to a dial. The buttons tend to last longer.

Dimensions & Actual Size

The Traeger Tailgater 20 stands at 36 inches or almost a meter tall. The width, including the hopper, is 37 inches (0.9 meters). It should fit into most standard size trucks or SUVs. It weighs about 62 pounds (28 kg) so it is relatively easy to move around using the wheels. When folded, this pellet grill is about 18 inches (45.7 cm) high.

Digital Elite Controller

pellet grill

The Tailgater grill comes with an elite temperature controller that maintains the heat throughout the upper chamber. It can be adjusted using the side control panel. This controller reduces temperature fluctuation by using a probe to add the necessary amount of pellets from the auger.

EZ Fold Legs

The folding legs of the Traeger Grills Tailgater 20 reduce the height by half. In our Traeger grill review, we found the legs to be easy to fold up. You can fold them by yourself, but we found it beneficial to have another person hold the upper chamber steady while unscrewing the knobs.

Cooking Capacity

The cooking capacity is rather small, but since it’s a travel-size unit that could be a fair trade off. They advertise that you can cook up to 12 burgers at one time. During the cooking process, we found that while this is possible, it tends to overcrowd the cooking space. We found that you could fit 8 to 10 burgers comfortably.

Highlights 

  • Maximum of 12 burgers
  • 2 chickens
  • 3 racks of ribs

Pricing & Warranty

The Traeger Tailgater 20 comes in at a reasonable price point overall, but it is more expensive than other portable smokers. If you can afford the price tag, then we think it is worth it. Traeger pellet grills come with a 3-year warranty that covers manufacturer’s defects. These units should last a minimum of 3 to 5 years before you need to replace any parts.

Recommended Article: 10 Best Vertical Pellet Smokers

Setting Up The Tailgater 20

During our Traeger Grills review, we found that the setup process was slightly more complicated than other models. We followed the instructions below and had it completed in about 2 hours.

video

Step 1: Mount the legs onto the upper chamber. Then, place the axle rod through the legs to attach the wheels.

Step 2: Slide the hopper into the upper chamber and tighten the hex bolts into place. Remember to plug the hopper into the grill with the mating cable.

Step 3: Install the handle to the lid.

Step 4: Install the heat baffle over the burner box by centering it over the firepot.

Step 5: Insert the grease drain pan into the bottom of the grilling area.

Step 6: Position the porcelain grates into the smoker grill.

Who Is The Tailgater Best Suited For?

downside of Traeger Tailgater

The Traeger Grills Tailgater is best suited for people who want a small, portable pellet grill that they can transport on a camping trip or to a tailgate party.

It could also work well for people who want a small alternative to their gas grill since it could fit on an apartment balcony. Someone who is looking to get into pellet grilling might want to check out this model.

Some reviews on Traeger Grill, however, noted that one downside is that this model has more fluctuation at lower temperatures than it does at high ones.

Temperature control functions work well when the grill is heated to about 220 F (104.4 C), which is ideal for smoking. If you want to go lower, then you could have trouble keeping it there. But based on our experience with this pellet grill review we did not have any problems.

Reviews & Ratings Online

After careful testing, we found that the Tailgater 20 was above average in terms of quality and construction due to its high-grade steel and aluminum components. We thought the price range was a bit steep compared to competitors such as Green Mountain.

According to many Traeger Grill reviews online, this model has an “excellent” rating of around 4 out of 5 stars.

FAQs

Does this Traeger grill have WiFi?

This Traeger model does not come with WiFi capabilities.

How hot does the Traeger Tailgater pellet grill get?

This model gets to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232.2 Celsius).

How do you clean this Traeger smoker?

We recommend putting aluminum foil over the drip tray so that it’s easier to clean. You can remove the tray and throw away the foil. The ash collector can be emptied whenever it is full. To clean the cooking grates, you can heat the pellet grills up to the max temperature and scrape the surface area with aluminum foil, steel wool, or a grill brush after it has cooled down.

Can you use the Traeger Tailgater in cold weather?

Yes, you can use this smoker in cold weather. You should expect an additional 15 minutes for heat-up times.

Is A Traeger Tailgater Pellet Grill Worth Buying?

Based on our review, the Traeger Tailgater is worth buying because it offers heavy-duty construction that is more durable than other models. We recommend it because it provides a portable solution to smoking and grilling your favorite meats. It could be a great fit for summer trips.

It also uses an economical fuel source since the wood pellets only burn at a rate of 1 lb per hour. If you think that this smoker is a good option, then click below to check it out.

Traeger Tailgater

Our #1 Recommendation

Traeger Tailgater Pellet Grill

  • Maximum portability
  • LCD display
  • Set it and forget it design
  • 8 lb hopper capacity
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