The pros, the cons, and the facts about the Traeger Grills Tailgater 20 Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker.
Tailgaters, take notice. The game’s never going to be the same now that you’ve been formally introduced to the Traeger Tailgater pellet grill. If you’re a BBQ connoisseur, then you’re probably already familiar with Traeger Grills. If not, prepare yourself. Make sure your taste buds and your stomach are fully prepared.
Some folks are out there with full-sized grills, carried to the venue in the back of a pickup. Others use the portable grills that are available to them, but all too often, that means a dinky, tiny charcoal or propane grill with hardly any surface area. Granted, the food tastes more or less okay either way, but do you really want to chow down on mediocrity?
The bottom line of the Traeger Tailgater review you’re about to read is that this smoker was built for convenience and portability. It’s a grill made for fun—and it proves that you don’t need a huge grill or a large space to enjoy the effortlessly delicious process of grilling, smoking, baking, and braising on something that’s wood-fueled and eco-friendly.
Product Quick Facts
Product Name: Traeger Grills Tailgater 20 Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
Made By: Traeger Grills
Top 3 Features:
- Excellent temperature control
- Constructed with durable powder-coated, cold-rolled steel
Benefits Of The Traeger Tailgater Pellet Grill
The true beauty of the Traeger Tailgater is that it is able to offer the convenience and smokey flavor of a real wood fire pellet grill but in a smaller size.
Other benefits include…
All The Great features You’ve Come To Expect From A Traeger
One of the primary benefits of the Traeger Tailgater pellet grill is that it has all the features you expect from a Traeger, even in spite of its smaller size. Granted, the cooking surface is smaller to complement the portability of the Tailgater, but 300 square inches provide plenty of space
How much food does that actually equal? Fortunately, we grill gurus have done the legwork. Three hundred square inches is enough to cook 18 hot dogs at once. You can BBQ as many as 12 hamburger patties, you can throw on three whole racks of ribs, or it can handle two entire chickens. Given that, you shouldn’t have a problem with proteins such as pork loins, rump roasts, or smaller Thanksgiving turkeys.
Lightweight And Compact Size For Max Portability
That takes care of the size of your grilling space. Now, let’s talk about the size of the grill itself. You want a portable grill to be, well, portable. It’s possible to tailgate with a bulky, heavy, full-sized smoker, but who wants to do it? It’s not always fun to be the guy with the huge BBQ strapped down in your truck bed.
The Tailgater only weighs 62 pounds. You don’t have to be a weightlifter or develop superhuman strength to cart it around with you. In total, the grill is 36 inches by 37 inches by 18 inches. Between the size and the weight, transportation is made a lot simpler.
A Smaller Footprint Perfect For Smaller Spaces
The size has other benefits, as well. The name makes it obvious that the Tailgater is perfect for tailgating. However, its compact measurements, lightweight, and portability set it apart as the go-to pick for grill masters who live on small properties or who want to grill on an apartment balcony, as well. Forget about landlord complaints or taking up valuable space in your postage-stamp yard. You don’t have to find space for a massive unit. Take it camping and you will be the talk of the campground, I guarantee you.
Using The Traeger Grills Tailgater
This wouldn’t be a worthwhile Traeger Tailgater grill review if I didn’t talk about the grill’s ease of use. That is a Traeger trademark. Thanks to an electronic automatic starter, using it is an exercise in simplicity. Fill up the hopper, which holds 8 pounds of pellets—an impressive amount for such a small BBQ—then turn on the grill and set the temperature.
At that point, the auger rotates to fill the firepot with pellets, and the draft induction fan engages. An igniter rod activates and heats up until it glows red, which starts the pellets to smoldering, and you are cooking. I told you it was easy.
Traeger Portable Pellet Grill Description And Features
Traeger Grills’ Tailgater packs a lot of punch into a small package. Don’t let its size or its weight convince you that it can’t bring the power. I’ve explained why it’s convenient. Now it’s time to figure out why users give the Tailgater such high marks across the board.
At A Glance
- Cold rolled powder coated steel construction for durability
- Digital Elite controller
- Electronic auto-start ignition
- Temp Range: 180º - 450º + Fahrenheit
- 8 lb hopper capacity
- 300 square inches of total cooking space
- Porcelain coated grilling surface
- EZ-fold legs for portability
Impressive Temperature Range
Smoke your meat at 180 degrees Fahrenheit to enjoy a low, steady cook. Roast it around 200 or 250 degrees for a succulent delicacy. Alternately, crack this powerful little wonder all the way up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit for a sear that crunches between your teeth. With 19,500 BTUs working for you, I’m confident in saying that you won’t sacrifice cook quality just because the Tailgater isn’t as big as its brothers.
On-Point Temperature Control
Like other models in the line, the Traeger Tailgater pellet grill uses the brand’s Digital Elite temperature controller. It works in conjunction with the resistance temperature detector probe. It’s the responsibility of the probe to ensure that, whatever temperature you set, the grill remains within plus or minus 20 degrees which is pretty standard for pellet grills in this price range.
What makes the Tailgater so portable? Its EZ-Fold legs, of course. With just a few pushes and pulls, the grill practically becomes half its size. At that point, you can store it in your shed, the back of your truck or SUV, or even the trunk of your car. You don’t have to fight with it to fold up the legs—but it might take some practice. I was able to do it in no time.
I don’t have much use anymore for a BBQ that’s only good for grilling. A griller and smoker combo are a bit better, but I still want something more. On the Tailgater, you can bake a pizza, braise ribs, or roast a turkey as well as grill and smoke. You’re not limited to one cooking style and believe me, you’ll want to try them all.
Just like the majority of Traeger models, the Tailgater uses a regular 120-voltage outlet that you find standard in your home. It uses 300 watts for the first 4 minutes while powering up, then reduces to only 50 watts for the remainder of the cook. That’s a smart and efficient grill.
Who Was The Traeger Tailgater Grill Made For?
Tailgaters, travelers, and people who live in small spaces finally have a wood smoker that’s reliable, durable, and powerful. Given the price, it’s also the perfect pick for pit masters who want to save a few bucks. You never have to use it in a stadium lot to enjoy it—but it definitely boosts the fun-factor at any tailgate.
Why You Should Think Twice
The grilling space is the only real reason you might want to skip the Traeger portable pellet grill. If you know for a fact that room for 18 hot dogs or 12 burgers just isn’t enough, then there’s no real reason to spend money on the Tailgater. Of course, you should also avoid it if you despise good food and tailgating.
One other downside to this grill is that Traeger requires you to use only their brand of pellets or you will void the 3-year warranty. This has been a turn off for a lot of grillers. On the bright side, Traeger does offer a big selection of quality all natural hardwood pellets in a variety of flavors.
Pros And Cons
- Easy to assemble
- Excellent temperature control
- LED displays
- Automatic start
- Small footprint
- Energy efficient
- Good value for your money
- Convection sometimes bakes food before it’s fully smoked
- Limited cooking area
- Small hopper
Prices And Warranties
From most outlets, the Traeger Tailgater pellet is less than $450. Catch it on Amazon at the right time and it’s likely to go for around $410. With that, you get the Traeger Grills 3-year warranty. It offers protection against issues with workmanship, defective materials, and worn-out parts—provided that you maintain the grill properly.
You also get Traegers highly spoken of and responsive customer support when you purchase one of their grills. They really stand behind their products because they are confident in them.
The Bottom Line
The final verdict of this Traeger Tailgater 20 review is that it’s a champ for what it does. Don’t be dissuaded by the name. That’s just a moniker.
The Traeger Tailgater pellet grill is ideal for tailgates, obviously, but apartment dwellers, tiny homeowners, and frequent travelers can finally enjoy smoky flavors and juicy, tender meats. It’s affordable, practical, portable, and it comes with the Traeger Grills guarantee. What’s not to love?
Have you used this grill? Do you have something to add? Leave your review in the comments! We always welcome your input and I would love to hear about your experiences with it.
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A backyard warrior, certified carnivore, lover of good whiskey, self-proclaimed grill master and I’m Living The Grilling Life!
I have a passion for cooking with live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I’m a real person just like you, who loves outdoor cooking and BBQ. Food, fun, and time spent with family and friends are what it’s all about! It is my mission to take my passion and knowledge for outdoor cooking and all things BBQ and share this expertise in techniques and grilling equipment with you. In other words, Living The Grilling Life!