Traeger Tailgater: A Pellet Grill for On-the-Go Cooking

Traeger grills offer a variety of portable pellet smokers, allowing you to enjoy delicious smoked meats no matter your location. As long as you have access to electricity, you can use a portable pellet grill. Traeger offers a variety of pellet grills to suit different budgets. While some may have the space and funds for a high-end Traeger model, not everyone has the luxury. The Tailgater is a great option for those with limited outdoor space, a tight budget, or a love for outdoor cooking on the go – whether it’s camping or tailgating. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the Tailgater and examine its features in-depth.

Traeger Tailgater Specifications

Weight 62 lbsHeight 36in
Depth18 inchesWidth37in
Grilling Area 300 square inchesPellet Hopper 8 lb
Max Temperature450° FPrice (see latest)$530
Traeger Tailgater Specifications

Check out the Tailgater on the Traeger website here.

Tailgater Size: Is It Easy To Transport? 

The Tailgater is a compact outdoor grill that can be placed on a balcony or small deck. It’s not very big, measuring 37 inches wide and 36 inches high, so it won’t take up much space. It’s also relatively lightweight at 62 pounds, and it sits 36 inches off the ground. Because of its small size and lightweight, it can be easily transported in the back of an SUV or pickup truck.

Traeger has two portable models, the Tailgater and the Ranger.

Folding Legs

The Tailgater is a portable grill that has legs that can be folded up. This means you can use it in your backyard or fold the legs and take it with you on the road. The instruction manual says it’s easy to fold the legs, but some people find it a little tricky and it takes some practice.

One of the main complaints people have about the Tailgater is that the legs can be difficult to fold up. It’s frustrating because it’s a portable grill and you would expect the legs to be easy to fold. However, this isn’t the case and some owners find the process of folding the legs to be confusing. The manufacturers, Traeger, should work on improving the leg system to make it more convenient for people who want to take their grill with them on the go.

How Much Can You Cook On A Tailgater? 

The Tailgater has 300 square inches of cooking area which is enough to cook about 12 burgers, or 3 racks of ribs, or two whole chickens. I’ve cooked about 25 chicken wings on a Tailgater, and I’ve smoked a small brisket weighing about 13 lb. You could easily cook 2  8 lbs pork butts. 

TailgaterCooking Capacity300 Square Inches
12 Burgers2 Whole Chickens3 Racks of Ribs
24 Chicken Wings1 Brisket (13lbs)2 Pork Butts (8lbs)
Traeger Tailgater Cooking Capacity

How Much is the Tailgater?

The Tailgater sells for around about $530 (check the latest price here). However, you will see them from time to time and stores on sale. For another $100, you could get a Pro Series Gen 1, which is a larger grill, will cook more meat, and will have more stable temperatures. However, you won’t be able to transport the Pro Series as you would a Tailgater. If you plan to use the Tailgater as a home grill, I’d fork out the extra money for the Pro Series. But if you want a pellet grill for camping, then the Tailgater is the best choice. 

Lack of Shelving

The Traeger Tailgater is a portable grill that does not come with any shelving. However, you have the option of purchasing an additional folding shelf for $60. This shelf can be very helpful, especially if you plan on using the grill while camping. The folding shelf is sturdy enough to hold your grilling tools, a thermometer, a tray of meat or even drinks. This way you can keep everything you need for grilling in one convenient place.

Grill Cover

Traeger also sells fitted covers for the Tailgater grill. These covers are designed to protect your Tailgater from the elements, such as rain and snow. They can be especially useful if you plan to take your Tailgater camping or tailgating, as they will protect your grill from the weather. Even if you’re using the Tailgater as your primary home grill, it’s a good idea to keep it covered during the winter months to protect it from harsh weather conditions. The covers usually cost around $60, which is a good investment for protecting your investment.

Want to know more about Traeger Grills? Check out the Complete Traeger Buyers Guide here.

Tailgater Pros and Cons 

In some ways, it isn’t fair to compare Traeger’s portable grills to other models because they are designed for different purposes. A portable grill like the Tailgater is meant to be lightweight and easy to move around, so it will not have the same level of insulation as the other Traeger models like Pro Series, Ironwood, or Timberline. As a result, the temperature inside the Tailgater grill may fluctuate more than in other models.

It’s also important to note that portable grills like the Tailgater are not designed to cook large amounts of meat at once. They are more suited for small gatherings or for cooking a few burgers or hotdogs. If you plan on cooking for large groups or need a grill to handle more meat, it’s better to look at other Traeger models that are better suited for that.

The Tailgater has a Lot of Plastic 

The Traeger Tailgater is designed to be a portable grill, which means it needs to be lightweight so it’s easy to move around. To achieve this, the grill has fewer metal components and some parts, such as the handles, are made of plastic. This is not the ideal material for a grill, but it helps to keep the weight down.

If you’re planning to use the Tailgater primarily as a home grill, it may be worth spending a little more money and purchasing a grill with better build quality, like the Traeger Pro Series. The Pro Series has more metal components and higher-quality materials, which make it a better option for long-term use. It may cost around $100 more, but it would be a better investment if you plan on using it frequently.

Use Your Own Thermometer

If you’re serious about using your Tailgater to smoke brisket, turkey, pork butt, etc., then a good thermometer is essential. The Tailgater, like most pellet grills, is known to fluctuate in temperature, making it difficult to maintain a consistent cooking environment. A good thermometer will help you keep the grill under control and ensure that your food is cooked to the desired temperature.

An external thermometer is generally considered to be more accurate than a factory-installed thermometer because it is not affected by the internal temperature of the grill. This is important because the internal temperature of a grill can vary greatly depending on factors such as the amount of fuel, the size of the cooking surface, and the weather. An external thermometer allows you to measure the temperature of the food directly, which is more accurate and reliable.

A dual-probe thermometer is especially important for pellet grills because it allows you to monitor both the internal temperature of the food and the grill temperature at the same time. This gives you more control over the cooking process and allows you to make adjustments as needed to ensure that your food is cooked to perfection.

The Tailgater is Perfect for Small Yards

Some people don’t have the luxury of having a big backyard or outdoor space, so they may not have room for a large grill. A Tailgater grill is a great option for these people because it is smaller in size and more portable, making it easy to store and transport.

The Tailgater isn’t just for camping or tailgating, they are also a great choice for home use. The Tailgater is perfect for people who have a small yard, balcony, or deck and want to enjoy the taste of grilled food without taking up too much space. Portable pellet grills are also great for people who like to entertain and want to have a grill on hand for backyard parties or gatherings. The Tailgater’s portability and compact size make it a great option for people who want to enjoy the taste of grilled food without having to take up too much space in their home.

A Great Entry-Level Grill

The Tailgater is a great grill to dip your toes into the world of pellet grills and smoking meat. This grill is a great option for those who are new to pellet grilling and want to learn the basics without investing in a more expensive and complex grill. Although it’s a good entry-level grill, the Tailgater does fluctuate the temperature.

Temperature fluctuations on pellet grills with thin metal and poor build quality can be a real problem when cooking. These types of grills tend to heat up and cool down quickly, making it difficult to maintain a consistent temperature. This can cause food to be undercooked or overcooked and can make it difficult to achieve the desired results.

Overall, The Tailgater is a great option for people who want to learn the basics of pellet grilling and smoking meat without investing in a more expensive and complex grill. Not only that, the Tailgater is also a great option for those who are looking for a compact and portable grill that can be easily transported for camping, tailgating and other outdoor activities. It’s also great for people who have a small yard, balcony or deck and want to enjoy the taste of grilled food without taking up too much space.

Temperature Fluctuations

One of the biggest criticisms of the Tailgater is its tendency to experience massive temperature fluctuations. This is due to the lack of insulation, which is a problem because a poorly insulated pellet grill will have a hard time retaining heat and keeping out the cold.

When you’re cooking on a grill that has poor insulation, the temperature inside the grill can change quickly and dramatically depending on the weather conditions, the amount of fuel, and other factors. This can make it difficult to cook food evenly and to achieve the desired results. The grill can go from too hot to too cold in a matter of minutes, and it can be hard to keep the temperature under control.

Additionally, poor insulation also makes the grill less efficient, as it can take more fuel to maintain a consistent temperature, which can be costly over time. The lack of insulation in the Tailgater also makes it less durable and less able to withstand long-term use. All in all, poor insulation on pellet grills like the Tailgater can lead to many problems, making it difficult for the home cook to achieve consistent and delicious results.

The Problem With Poorly Insulated Smokers

Unfortunately, the Tailgater is not known for being well insulated. So, it’s important to keep that in mind when considering purchasing it. Poor insulation can lead to many problems, making it difficult when cooking brisket pork butts, etc. If you’re serious about smoking meat, you should consider investing in a well-insulated grill that will be able to retain heat and maintain a consistent temperature.

A well-insulated grill will have better heat retention, which means that the temperature inside the grill will be more consistent and easier to control. The thicker the metal of the grill, the better the heat retention will be.

On the other hand, a poorly insulated grill will not be able to retain the heat and will also allow cool air to be drawn in. This can cause the grill to work harder and require more fuel to maintain a consistent temperature. This can be costly over time as you burn through more wood. Also, this can cause temperature fluctuations, which makes it harder to cook your food evenly and achieve the desired results.

However, Traeger sell a number of well-insulated grills. For more information, check out our Traeger Buyer’s Guide.

What Can You Cook on a Tailgater?

The Tailgater grill is most effective for shorter cooking sessions, rather than for long, slow cooking methods like smoking a brisket or pork butt. This doesn’t mean that you can’t cook a small brisket on a Tailgater, but it will be more difficult.

Smoking a brisket typically takes around 10-15 hours, and during that time the grill’s temperature can fluctuate. Additionally, the Tailgater’s small hopper (the container that holds the charcoal or wood) will need to be refilled frequently. Overall, it’s not the best option for a long, slow cook like a brisket.

Hopper Capacity

The pellet hopper is the container that holds the wood pellets that fuel the grill. It’s important because it determines how long you can cook without needing to refill it. The Tailgater has a small pellet hopper capacity, only 8 lbs, compared to the 18 lbs on the Traeger Pro Series.

This means that if you were to smoke a brisket, which typically takes 10-15 hours, you would likely need to refill the pellet hopper a few times. This makes it difficult to set the grill and forget it, as you would need to constantly manage the hopper and make sure it doesn’t run out of pellets.

Tailgater vs Other Portable Pellet Grills

Portable GrillsPriceGrilling
Tailgater$530300 sq. in.36Hx37Wx18D62 lbs.8 lbs.450°F
Ranger$450184 sq. in.13Hx21Wx20D60 lbs.8 lbs.450°F
GMG Trek$375219 sq in.24Hx32Wx16D63lbs9 lbs.550°F
PitBoss$300340 sq in. 41Hx22Wx40D93lbs. 5lbs.
Portable Pellet Grill Comparison

Tailgater vs Ranger

The Ranger is Traeger’s most portable pellet grill, and weighs only 60lbs, is 21 inches wide and 13 inches high. The cooking capacity of 176 square inches. The Ranger can fit 6 burgers, 10 hot dogs, and 1 rack of ribs.  

The hopper size on the Ranger is 8lbs, so you can’t do long cooks. However, as long as you have extra wood and a happy to keep topping up the hopper, you can cook larger roasts. The Ranger has a keep warm setting which is a nice feature and will hold your food at 165° F until you’re ready to eat. The Ranger doesn’t have a smokestack, but as events at the back of the sides chill out smoke to escape.  For a detailed comparison, check out this article: “Tailgater vs Ranger: A Detailed Comparison”

 Traeger TailgaterTraeger Ranger
Price$529.99 (updated price from the official Traeger Grill website)$449.99 (updated price from the official Traeger website)
Cooking Space300 sq. in.184 sq. in. 
Pellet Hopper Capacity8 lbs.8 lbs.
Minimum Grill Temperature180 °F (82 °C)165 °F (74°C)
Maximum Grill Temperature450 °F  (232 °C)450 °F (232°C)
Product WarrantyOverall warranty: 7 years (warranty for other parts vary – refer to list below)Overall warranty: 3 years

Size Differences Between the Tailgater and Ranger

 Traeger TailgaterTraeger Ranger
Cooking Capacity2 chickens, 3 rib racks, or 12 burgers1 rib racks, 6 burgers, or 10 hotdogs
Total Cooking or Grilling Space300 sq. in.184 sq. in. 
Weight62 lbs.60 lbs.
Height36 in13 in.
Depth18 in.20 in.
Width37 in.21 in.

Tailgaters vs The Pro Series 22

If you’re trying to decide between a Tailgater and a Pro 22, unless you’re planning camping, then I would recommend upgrading to the Pro Series. The larger model will fit more meat, and will only cost about $100 extra. The Pro Series is also better insulated, so you’ll have a more stable temperatures. But if you want to go tailgating or camping, then the Tailgater is definitely the way to go. 

The Pro 22 has a nice long barrel, which will allow you to fit a couple of briskets. The cooking capacity of the Pro 22 has 572 square inches of grilling. This enables you to cook 6 chickens, 24 burgers, and 4 pork butts. So for an extra $100, you get to cook 12 more burgers, 2 more pork butts, and 4 more chickens. The other advantage of the Pro 22 is the hopper size. The smaller Tailgater only has an 8 lb hopper, whereas the Pro 22 has an 18 lb hopper which is enough cook for over 15  hours. 

However, if you buy the Pro 22, it’s going to sit in your yard. You can’t transport the Pro 22 as you would the Tailgater. For a side-by-side comparison, check out this article: “Traeger Tailgater vs The Pro 22 – What’s The Best Small Traeger?”

SpecsTraeger TailgaterTraeger Pro 22
ManufacturerTraeger Pellet GrillsTraeger Pellet Grills
Price (US)$529.95 grill only$589.90 grill + cover$609.85 grill + cover + pellets$544.94 grill + drip tray liner$549.90 grill + pellets, hickory
$599.95 grill only$669.00 grill + cover, black$514.90 grill + tray$569.90 grill + folding shelf$519.90 grill + pellets.
Weight62 pounds103 pounds
Dimension (DxHxW)37” x 18” 36”49” x 41” x 27”
Grill Capacity3 racks of ribs, or 2 whole chickens or 12 burgers5 racks of ribs, or 4 whole chickens, or 24 burgers
Grilling area300 sq. in572 sq. in.
Hopper Capacity8 lb18 lb
Hopper CleanoutYesYes
Control StyleDigital Arc ControllerDigital Pro Controller
Special Features* Easy Foldable Legs *  With precise temperature control *  Beginner friendly *  Guarantee precise grilling *  Easy to Use* Water Resistant * It has an extra rack (154 sq. in.) *  Made from all-weather and heavy duty material * No Assemble Required *  Easy to Use
Power sourceElectric power source and wood burning100% All-natural Wood pellet
Fuel TypeWood PelletCharcoal, Wood Pellet
Colour VariationsBlackCharcoal and Black
Outer MaterialSteelSteel
Inner MaterialStainless SteelStainless Steel
WheelsRugged all-terrain wheelsRugged all-terrain wheels

Every Traeger Grill

Traeger ModelDescription
RangerPortable, basic features, affordable
TailgaterPortable, basic features, affordable
Pro 22Small grill, entry-level with basic functions, affordable
Pro 34Medium grill, entry-level with basic functions, affordable
Pro 575Small grill, high-tech, some extra features, affordable
Pro 780Medium grill, high-tech, some extra features, affordable
Ironwood 650Medium to Large grill, high-tech, extra features, expensive
Ironwood 885Large grill, high-tech, extra features, expensive
Timberline 850Large grill, high-tech, loads of extra features, very expensive
Timberline 1300XL grill, top-of-the-line model, very expensive
Timberline ( 2nd Gen ) Large grill, top-of-the-line model, very expensive
Timberline XL The largest Traeger grill, and the most expensive


Author and founder at Meat Smoking HQ

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