Best Portable Pellet Grill: Our 2023 Smoker Guide

Best Portable Pellet Grill: Our 2023 Smoker Guide

Portable pellet grills have become increasingly popular among outdoor cooking enthusiasts, thanks to their convenience and excellent performance. Our expert team has tested and reviewed the top models on the market to help you find the perfect one. Read on for our top picks and buying guide.

The appeal of portable pellet grills lies in their ability to produce deliciously smoked and barbecued food for all your outdoor adventures. Whether you’re tailgating, camping, or hosting a backyard gathering, these grills offer a hassle-free cooking experience. They allow you to focus on enjoying great food with friends and family. 

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You can use specially formulated wood pellets as fuel to add an authentic, smoky flavor and exceptional taste to your favorite dishes.

plate of grilled sausages and onions with barbecue fork

When shopping for the best portable pellet grill, it’s crucial to pay attention to factors such as size, weight, cooking surface area, temperature range, and overall build quality. 

It’s essential to find a grill that is not only easy to transport but also provides enough cooking space and versatility to suit your outdoor culinary needs. Additionally, a high-quality portable pellet grill should deliver consistent, even heat distribution for a more predictable and enjoyable cooking experience.

Our team has dedicated countless hours to researching and testing a range of portable pellet grills to help you find the perfect option that makes outdoor cooking convenient and enjoyable. 

So, join us as we explore the leading models on the market today and identify the best portable pellet grills to make your outdoor cooking adventures a resounding success.

What is a Portable Pellet Grill?

Large pellet grill on a stand with food cooking on it

A portable pellet grill is a compact and transportable version of a traditional pellet grill, designed for those who love grilling on the go. It offers the convenience of pellet grilling while being easy to carry and set up wherever we want.

Pellet grills work by using an electric-powered auger to feed hardwood pellets into a fire pot, where they are ignited and used as fuel for cooking. What sets portable pellet grills apart from other types of grills is their ability to precisely control temperature, which leads to consistent results and delicious, smoky flavors.

There are several benefits to using a portable pellet grill. One of the main advantages is its size and portability. Portable pellet grills are designed to be easy to transport and set up, making them perfect for tailgating parties, camping trips, or even just grilling in your backyard when space is limited.

Another benefit of portable models is their versatility. They are capable of both grilling and smoking, allowing you to achieve a variety of different textures and flavors with your food. 

Additionally, the ability to control temperature precisely ensures that your meals are cooked evenly and consistently.

In summary, a portable pellet grill is a compact and convenient way to enjoy the benefits of pellet grilling. It offers temperature control, versatility, and portability, making it an attractive option for many outdoor cooking enthusiasts.

Factors To Consider When Choosing The Best Pellet Grill

Round portable grill with lid

When searching for the best portable grill, there are several factors you should consider to ensure you choose the right product. In this buying guide, we’ll discuss important features, such as size and weight, cooking capacity, temperature range, build quality, and price.

Size and Weight

One of the key aspects of a portable pellet grill is its size and weight. You should look for a grill that’s easy to transport and doesn’t take up too much space when stored. Consider grills with foldable legs, collapsible shelves, and lightweight materials to ensure they can be carried easily.

Cooking Capacity

The cooking capacity is another important factor to consider. You want a grill that can handle sufficient food at once, especially when grilling for family gatherings or parties. Take into account the cooking surface area, as well as any additional cooking racks that might be included, to ensure the grill can accommodate your needs.

Temperature Range

A wide temperature range is essential for versatile cooking. You should look for a portable pellet grill that offers a temperature range of at least 180°F to 500°F. This will allow you to smoke, grill, bake, and roast a variety of foods with ease. 

Some grills come with a built-in temperature probe to help maintain accurate cooking temperatures. This can enhance the overall grilling experience.

Build Quality

The build quality of a portable pellet grill plays a significant role in its durability and performance. You should opt for a grill made from high-quality materials, such as stainless steel or heavy-duty cast iron. 

These materials can withstand high temperatures and frequent use, ensuring the grill lasts for many grilling seasons. Additionally, you should look for features such as sturdy legs, secure latches, and well-insulated lids to ensure heat retention and stability during cooking.

Price

Last but not least, you need to consider the price of the portable pellet grill. Prices can vary greatly depending on the brand, features, and build quality. 

It’s important to find a grill that fits your budget while still offering the essential features and performance you’re looking for. It’s worthwhile to invest in a quality grill that will deliver consistent results, but without breaking the bank.

How We Chose The Top Portable Pellet Grills

portable pellet grill with meat cooking on it

In our quest to find the best portable pellet grills, we considered several important factors that ensure the chosen products perform well and offer great value to users.

Portability

Being the primary factor, we looked for grills that are easy to transport and lightweight, without compromising on cooking space. Grills with features like carry handles and foldable legs were prioritized, making it easy to take them on camping trips or RV adventures.

Cooking Performance

A good pellet grill should be able to provide consistent, even heat and maintain optimal temperature for various cooking styles. We selected models that had a range of temperature settings, allowing users to grill, smoke, and even bake.

Quality & Durability

It’s essential for a portable pellet grill to be built to last, especially when frequently used outdoors. We considered the materials used, such as stainless steel or heavy-duty cast iron, which provide strength and longevity despite exposure to the elements.

Ease of Use

We chose grills that are user-friendly and offer features like automatic temperature control, digital controllers, and easy-to-maintain parts like removable drip trays.

Value for Money

Lastly, we considered the price of the grills, ensuring our selection offers a balance between quality, performance, and cost. Our goal was to compile a list of portable pellet grills that cater to a range of budgets while still delivering an enjoyable grilling experience.

With these factors in mind, we could confidently choose the top portable pellet grills on the market.

The Top 5 Best Portable Pellet Grills

We’ve compiled a list of the 5 best portable pellet grills for your outdoor cooking needs. With these top-performing options, you can enjoy delicious wood-fired flavor wherever you go.

#1 – Cuisinart CPG-256 Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

Cuisinart CPG-256

The Cuisinart CPG-256 Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker is a reliable and versatile choice for those who want deliciously grilled and smoked meals on the go.

Pros

  • 8-in-1 cooking capabilities provide a wide range of cooking options
  • Lightweight and portable design with a locking lid for easy transport
  • Advanced wood fire technology with a digital temperature control

Cons

  • Might have some temperature control quirks
  • Runs hotter than desired, making it hard to hold a low smoking temperature
  • Velcro security straps on the cover could be longer

The team started using the Cuisinart CPG-256 for a few weekend outings, and it quickly became one of their favorite portable pellet grills. With 256 square inches of cooking space and an integrated Sear Zone, they could easily smoke, BBQ, grill, roast, sear, braise, bake, and char-grill various dishes. From bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers to tender, smoky ribs, this grill delivered delicious results every time.

The unit’s portable design, weighing only 45 pounds and measuring 24 x 18 x 15 inches, made it a breeze to carry along on trips. The locking lid and handle added extra security while transporting it. 

The team also appreciated the advanced wood fire technology that regulated the temperature between 180°F to 500°F, automatically adding pellets as needed. The digital controller with electronic auto-start ignition and real-time LED temperature display made it easy to keep track of the grilling process.

However, there were a few quirks the team encountered while using the Cuisinart CPG-256. The temperature control didn’t hold a steady heat at times, and sometimes the grill reached higher temperatures than desired for smoking. Additionally, the provided cover had Velcro security straps that felt a bit short for their preference.

Overall, the team genuinely enjoyed using the Cuisinart CPG-256 Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker for its versatility, portability, and delicious outcomes. Although the temperature quirks may not make it perfect for everyone, they found it to be a reliable choice for most of their outdoor cooking adventures.

Here’s a video that shows you the functions of the pellet grill:

#2 – PIT BOSS 10697 Table Top Wood Grill

PIT BOSS Table Top Grill

A top pick for those seeking a versatile, easy-to-use pellet grill with outstanding temperature control.

Pros

  • Excellent temperature range
  • Direct or indirect flame grilling options
  • Portable size and design

Cons

  • Limited cooking area
  • Small hopper capacity
  • May not be suitable for larger grilling needs

The team recently tried the PIT BOSS 10697 Table Top Wood Grill and was impressed by its performance. The porcelain-coated steel cooking grates provide 256 square inches of cooking area. This is slightly limited but sufficient for small gatherings or on-the-go grilling.

Its 5-pound hopper capacity may seem small, but adequate enough for fueling the grilling sessions. The dial-in digital control board with LED readout allowed for precise control of the pellet cooking temperature ranging from 180° to 500°F. 

The team particularly enjoyed the option to switch between direct and indirect flame grilling with the slide-plate feature. This allowed for achieving the perfect sear on steaks and reaching temperatures up to 1,000° F.

Overall, the PIT BOSS 10697 Table Top Wood Grill is portable, offers excellent temperature control, and is perfect for those who love to grill but have limited space or are often on the move. However, it may not be the best option if you regularly host large gatherings or need more grilling area.

Check out this video to see this portable grill in action:

#3 – Z GRILLS Cruiser Portable Pellet Smoker

Z GRILLS Portable Pellet Smoker

The Z GRILLS Portable Pellet Smoker is a must-have for those seeking versatility, easy use, and authentic wood-smoked flavors in their outdoor cooking.

Pros

  • Portable design for easy transportation and setup
  • Smart temperature control for even heat distribution
  • 8-in-1 versatile cooking options

Cons

  • Probe not included in the basic model
  • Cleaning the pellet hopper can be challenging
  • Cover durability could be improved

Having recently tried the Z GRILLS Portable Pellet Smoker, the team were impressed by its compact size, measuring just 25” x 20” x 13”. This made it a breeze to transport, set up, and take down for various occasions.

The smart temperature control was another excellent feature. It uses upgraded PID controller technology to evenly distribute heat across the entire cooking surface. This maintained temperature consistency within +/- 20° F, ensuring optimal results every time.

One aspect of the grill that stayed true to its promise was the 8-in-1 versatility, which allows you to grill, smoke, bake, roast, sear, braise, barbecue, and char-grill your food – all with a rich, hardwood flavor that’s difficult to match with gas or charcoal grills.

However, the team did notice a few drawbacks during their hands-on experience. For starters, the basic model doesn’t come with a meat probe, which would have been helpful for monitoring food temperature. The Pro version does include a probe, but it would have been great to have this feature in the standard package.

Additionally, accessing and cleaning the pellet hopper was somewhat challenging due to the grate design. Another minor issue was the cover, which seemed to wear down quickly – this might be an area for improvement in terms of durability.

Overall, the Z GRILLS Portable Pellet Smoker offers an excellent combination of portability, versatility, and authentic wood-smoked flavor. While there are a few areas for improvement, this grill still makes for a solid investment for anyone seeking a reliable and enjoyable outdoor cooking experience in an affordable price range.

Here’s a useful video that shows you exactly how to assemble this portable pellet grill:

#4 – Hello.Dr Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

Hello.Dr Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

This portable pellet grill is the perfect choice for those seeking wood-fired flavor with modern convenience.

Pros

  • Efficient and easy-to-use woodfire technology
  • Intelligent temperature control and digital LCD screen
  • Versatile cooking space with 8 cooking functions

Cons

  • Heavier than some portable grills at 57.8 pounds
  • Some customers report issues with the auger on first use
  • May struggle to accommodate larger cuts of meat

During testing, the team used the Hello.Dr Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker for a weekend cookout and found it to deliver on its promise of wood-fired flavor with modern convenience. 

Powered by electricity and flavored with real burning wood pellets, this grill achieved a rich and smoky taste in the food with ease.

The intelligent temperature control and digital LCD screen made regulating heat a breeze. The team appreciated the advanced pellet feed technology for efficient heating as they smoked and grilled various types of meat. 

With a temperature control knob ranging from 180°F to 500°F, it was possible to experiment with different cooking techniques, including smoking, baking, and grilling.

One of the best features was the ample cooking space. The 256 square inches of total cooking area made preparing burgers, hot dogs, and steaks easy. Also impressive was the grill’s versatility, offering eight different cooking functions to cater to all our needs, from BBQ to chargrilling.

However, the team did notice some drawbacks. Weighing in at 57.8 pounds, it was heavier than some other portable grills on the market, which may be a concern for those who prioritize easy transport. 

Additionally, although medium-sized cuts of meat fit comfortably, it might struggle to accommodate larger cuts like whole briskets. Lastly, although the team did not experience any issues, some customer reviews reported problems with the auger upon first use.

Overall, the Hello.Dr Portable Wood Pellet Grill offers a versatile and convenient cooking experience with authentic wood-fired flavor. Despite some minor drawbacks, the team believes it is well worth considering for outdoor cooking enthusiasts who value modern convenience and a wide range of cooking options.

#5 – Giantex Portable Pellet Grill Smoker

Giantex Portable Pellet Grill Smoker

The Giantex Portable Pellet Grill Smoker is a great choice for those seeking versatility and convenience in a compact design for family gatherings and outdoor adventures.

Pros

  • Ample cooking area for family-sized meals
  • Easy-to-operate temperature control and LED screen
  • Solid steel frame construction and stable legs

Cons

  • Some parts may be missing upon delivery
  • Hopper capacity discrepancy
  • Potential noise increase after usage

The Giantex Portable Pellet Grill Smoker offers 256 square inches of cooking area, which is sufficient for preparing food for a family of 3-5 people. This 6-in-1 pellet grill enables you to BBQ, bake, roast, grill, smoke, and chargrill various ingredients. 

It is specially designed for pellets, featuring an energy-saving pellet feeding system and a 13-pound capacity hopper, ensuring an efficient and even cooking process. Additionally, the cool-touch handle allows you to safely open or close the lid during the smoking process.

The control panel of the pellet smoker helps you set the temperature from 150°F to 450°F, while the LED screen and meat probe let you know the current grill temperature, setting temperature, and meat probe temperature at any time. 

It’s important to keep in mind that the grill temperature may be affected by external factors such as outside temperature, precipitation, wind, and altitude.

Furthermore, the grill’s solid steel frame, stable legs, and premium stainless steel handle make it durable and sturdy. The pull-out grease collector allows for easy waste oil collection, while the painted surface is easy to clean. 

Although some users have reported missing footpieces and a discrepancy in the hopper capacity, the overall functionality and convenience of this grill make it a great choice for outdoor cooking and camping.

In conclusion, the team recommends the Giantex Portable Pellet Grill Smoker for those seeking a versatile and convenient outdoor cooking solution. With its ample cooking area, easy-to-use temperature control, and durable construction, this grill is ideal for family gatherings and outdoor adventures.

How To Use A Portable Pellet Grill

Using a portable pellet grill is easy and convenient, especially for those who love grilling on the go. Let’s walk through the process step by step and give you tips for achieving the best results while avoiding common mistakes.

Step 1: Prepare your grill

Before starting, make sure your grill is clean and set up properly. Ensure all parts are securely fastened and there are no missing components. Place your grill in an open area with proper ventilation and away from flammable materials.

Step 2: Load the hopper

Fill the hopper with the desired wood pellets, making sure not to overfill. Different wood pellets will create different flavors, so choose accordingly based on your preferences. As a general rule, it’s recommended to use pellets that are specifically designed for your grill.

Step 3: Preheat the grill

Turn the grill on and adjust the temperature to your desired setting. Allow the grill to preheat for 10-15 minutes. This will ensure the grill reaches the correct temperature for even cooking.

Step 4: Place your food on the grill

Once the grill has reached the desired temperature, place your food on the grill grates. Make sure to leave enough space between food items to allow proper heat circulation. It’s essential to use heat-resistant gloves or utensils to avoid burns.

Step 5: Monitor and adjust the temperature

Keep an eye on the temperature during the cooking process. If you notice fluctuations, adjust the temperature to remain consistent with your desired setting. Some portable pellet grills have a built-in digital temperature controller, making it easier to monitor and maintain consistent heat.

Step 6: Cook to perfection

Cook your food as per your recipe or desired level of “doneness.” Portable pellet grills are excellent for achieving that smoky flavor and delivering evenly cooked food. Use a meat thermometer to ensure food is cooked to a safe temperature.

Step 7: Remove food and clean the grill

Once your food is cooked, carefully remove it from the grill using heat-resistant gloves or utensils. Turn off the grill and allow it to cool completely before cleaning. Empty the remaining pellets, clean the grill grates, and wipe down the exterior to keep your grill in good condition for your next cookout.

Don’t forget to periodically check the hopper’s pellet levels during cooking and add more if needed. And most importantly, enjoy the delicious flavors and versatility that a portable pellet grill brings to your cooking experience!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do tabletop pellet grills compare in performance?

Tabletop pellet grills generally perform well in comparison to their larger counterparts. They still offer excellent temperature control and smoke production, but understandably have a smaller cooking area. 

Is it safe to leave a pellet grill unattended?

A good portable pellet grill can comfortably be left unattended while the cover is down and it is far enough away from other structures. However, you want to ensure that there are enough pellets to keep the grill at the correct temperature to ensure that your food is cooked correctly.

Verdict

In our search for the best portable pellet grills, we found that the Pit Boss 10697 Table Top Wood Grill and Z Grills Portable Pellet Smoker stand out as the superior choices. We selected these grills because they fulfil essential factors such as portability, cooking surface, temperature control, and durability.

As we discussed earlier, it’s crucial for buyers to consider some key aspects when choosing a portable pellet grill. The most important factors to consider include the overall size and weight of the grill, ensuring it’s easy to transport and set up. Additionally, the grill’s cooking surface should provide adequate space for your grilling needs without compromise.

Temperature control and fuel efficiency are other essential considerations, as these aspects ensure consistent cooking results. A quality portable pellet grill should have precise temperature control options and efficiently utilize its fuel source.

Remembering these essential tips and our top recommendations, we are confident that you will make an informed decision when selecting the best portable pellet grill for your outdoor cooking adventures.

If you’re looking for other types of camping accessories have a look at our review articles on:

Best Portable Grills for your RV

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