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Last updated: September 13, 2021

Traeger Tailgater 20 Grill Review: Is It a Worthy Portable Grill?

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By
Reviewed by
Reviewed by
Last updated: September 13, 2021
LilGrill is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Ideal for:
  • Automated auger
  • Energy efficiency
  • Works on hardwood pellets
  • Trusted brand
Highlights:
  • Exceptional performance
  • Large cooking space
  • Portable
  • Easy to clean
Editor's Rating
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GrillScore is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.
8.9
out of 10
  • Performance 9.8
  • Ease of use 9.3
  • Ease of cleaning 8.0
  • Durability 8.5
Users’ Rating
4.6
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    4.6
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    95 Users’ Ratings
    • 5 stars
      71%
    • 4 stars
      18%
    • 3 stars
      9%
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Among Traeger’s small and portable models, one unit stands shoulders above its competitors; The Traeger Tailgater 20 grill. Featuring an incredible temperature control unit, downsized foldable legs that enhance mobility, and a versatile range of uses, the Traeger Tailgater 20 is a worthy consideration for most portable grilling needs.

Due to its versatility, the Traeger Tailgater 20 grill is suitable for a range of individuals. This comprehensive Traeger Tailgater 20 grill review outlines the various features that make it one of the most popular lightweight portable grills around.

Specifications

Manufacturer
Traeger
Model
Tailgater 20
Fuel type
Pellets
Color
Black
Material
Powder Coated Steel
Item dimensions (inches)
37"W x 18"D x 36"H
Item weight (lbs.)
60
Total cooking area (sq. inches)
300
Hopper capacity (lbs.)
8

Review

The Traeger Tailgater 20 grill is a portable wood pellet smoker. It has 300 square inches of cooking space. To facilitate ease of movement, it is equipped with collapsible, EZ folding legs. In addition, the tailgater 20 features a temperature control unit that has a range of 180 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (82 – 232 C).

The temperature control unit maintains its temperature range within 5 degrees of your desired setting and is displayed on a digital LCD.

The pellet hopper capacity is 8 pounds, and the pellets move into the fire pot as needed.

Overall Performance

Traeger Tailgater 20 Grill Review: Is It a Worthy Portable Grill?

In addition to having 300 square inches of cooking space, the cooking area can also be used in direct cooking like grilling since it can sustain the high temperatures required. In addition to this, it can be used for smoking.

The tailgater 20 grill hopper is equipped with an automatic unit that feeds wood pellets into the firebox as needed. This aids in providing a constant temperature without the need to pay constant attention to the grill’s temperature.

Design

The design and construction reflect the aim of making this grill portable and lightweight.

In line with the lightweight theme, the legs are short at 36” in height since taller legs add bulk, making it heavier to move around. This may be a pain point for Taller users who may opt to station it on something else to compensate for the lack of height.

Tailgater lacks any smokestack on top of its lid, unlike some other portable model, and instead features two vent holes. The absence of the smokestack gives the grill a streamlined aesthetic profile.

All in all, the Traeger Tailgater 20 design feels worthy enough. It is compact, streamlined, and features an acceptable build.

Ease of Use

The grill comes partially assembled, with you only having to attach the legs and the pallet box. Following the instruction manual, the process is quite straightforward. The package includes all the necessary tools needed for assembly.

Traeger Tailgater 20 Grill Review: Is It a Worthy Portable Grill?

Once the grill is set up, it is quite simple to use. The temperature control system is easy to operate and helps keep the temperature steady for an even cook. However, there is a considerable downside to the temperature control unit as it can only be adjusted by 20-degree intervals making it difficult to achieve precise temperature ranges.

Durability

The overall design material of the tailgate grill is aimed at endurance. The Traeger Tailgater 20 grill is made of steel that is powder-coated to prevent rusting. Cooking grates are coated with porcelain to ensure ease of washing.

The induction fan included in the hopper is made of high-grade polymer.

The quality of material used in the construction of Traeger grills was above average compared to other portable grills.

Dimensions

The Tailgater 20 stands at 36 inches. The width, including the hopper, is 37 inches. It weighs about 62 pounds thus relatively easily moveable using the wheels. Upon folding, this pellet grill is about 18 inches high. The cooking area measures around 300 square inches. The height is a source of frustration for most average height people who consider it too low.

Weight

The Tailgater weighs only 62lbs which is pretty light for a pellet grill. This lightweight feature can be attributed to the various considerations that went into the design. These measures include shorter legs and the use of thin steel as the primary construction material.

Cooking Area

At 300 square inches of grilling area, the Tailgater 20 has a larger cooking space than other similar models. According to the official Traeger website, the grill can easily fit 12 burgers, 3 racks of pork ribs, and 2 chicken in one cooking. This is a considerable amount of food that can comfortably feed a small party of tailgaters. One downside of this grill is the lack of an extra warming rack. This, however, is not a deal-breaker for most people who can comfortably do without this inconvenience.

Materials

The lid is made from thin steel with a shiny finish that is prominent in the main housing and the hopper. Light steel is used to minimize the weight of the grill as much as possible.

One major drawback is the lack of a latch to secure the lid. As a result, both the lid and hopper lid keep on bouncing up and down during movement, which can be a nuisance.

The handles and wheels are made from plastic. However, the usage of plastic on the handle poses the threat of it melting away from the heat though no complaint has been lodged yet.

Warranty

Traeger has a reputation as the standing firm behind their product and offers the Traeger Grills with a 3-year warranty from the day of purchase. This warranty provides protection against various issues regarding defective materials and worn-out parts—provided that you maintain the grill properly.

Hopper Capacity

The tailgater’s Hooper packs a capacity of around 8lb. While not being the largest, it is sufficient for most grilling session’s needs.

Accessories Included

Traeger sells various accessories that go with the Tailgater pellet grill. For adding prepping space in the front of the grill, Traeger includes a front rack as one of the accessories offered. This can be used to turn the tailgater 20 grill into a hybrid between a pellet grill and an offset smoker.

Another accessory is the insulation blanket viable for winter grilling. It serves to insulate your grill by maintaining a consistent temperature regardless of the surrounding air temperature. It also protects the extra pellets from burning in extremely cold weather.

Due to Traeger’s position as a reputable and established company, replacement parts are not hard to find.

Price Tag

You can own a Traeger Tailgater pellet for less than $450 and are likely to get it at prices as low as $410 on Amazon.

What is special about the Traeger Tailgater 20?

Traeger Tailgater 20 Grill Review: Is It a Worthy Portable Grill?

Automated Auger

The Tailgater is equipped with a quality automated auger. All one has to do is set the desired temperature using the digital controller, and the auger would determine the speed at which to spin to regulate the number of pellets carried to the firepot. Due to the temperature sensor built into the system, the auger can automatically stabilize the temperature by regulating the flow of pellets. Upon obtaining optimum heat for cooking, the auger stops the channeling of pellets.

Energy Efficient

A power-saving system that regulates the amount of electricity consumed is available in the grill. Initially, it uses the normal voltage allowance for up to 4 minutes of cooking before a gradual drop to about 50 watts for the remaining grilling period.

Use Of Hardwood Pellets

The Traeger Tailgater 20 uses hardwood pellets that ensure the food gets a Smokey fully flavored taste. Together with the automatic temperature control unit, the grill ensures proper cooking of food and a rich taste in every cook.

Trusted Brand

Backed by a 10-year brand presence, Traeger has a strong reputation for high-quality grills. Operation efficiency is not compromised even in its cheapest models, which operate at similar levels to the more expensive models. This is a strong selling point given that you are more likely to get customer support and spare part for your grill much more efficiently.

Key Features Of The Traeger Tailgater 20 Pellet Grill

Exceptional Grilling Performance

Due to the use of wooden pallets for cooking, the food acquires a rich Smokey taste that is distinct from that of gas or charcoal grills.

In addition to the rich taste in your cooking, the grill also ensures even cooking through an automatic temperature regulation mechanism. This steady temperature during cooking results in good-tasting food that will keep those friends coming around for more barbeques.

A smart system of pallets-flow regulation ensures further temperature regulation. Additionally, a fan ensures circulation of hot smoke evenly on the food.

The grill is versatile and able to handle both high temperatures direct cooking and the slow smoking cooking. However, considering the features available in the Traeger Tailgater 20 grill, it is more suitable to use it for slow cooking.

Large Cooking Space

The 300 square inches of cooking area available in the Tailgater 20 grill is enough to serve a bunch of friends at parties, camping trips, or even tailgating escapades. The grill is reported to have enough area to cook 12 hamburgers, 2 chicken and 3 rows of pork grills.

Portable

Portability is one of the key selling features of this grill. The grill is made of lightweight steel to keep the weight low. In addition to being light, the tailgater 20 grill is geared toward easy movement from one point to another. To aid in this, the legs of this grill can be folded and detached to save on space and enhance portability. The legs are also equipped with wheels on the bottom, making it easy to move around.

Ease of Cleaning

The Traeger Grills Tailgater 20 is equipped with a porcelain grill grate. Food particles are less likely to stick on this stainless steel surface while still being relatively effortless to clean the grill. A drip tray is located under the grates, which carries away the grease to an external bucket making it easier to clean up.

PROS

CONS

  • Energy efficiency due to the smart pellets feeding mechanism.
  • Decent 300 square inches of cooking area and a sizable pellet hopper capacity suitable for travel and outdoor grilling needs.
  • Compact and lightweight making it suitable for travel and a small home.
  • The EZ folding legs reduce the footprint of the grill.
  • Easy to clean up due to the porcelain-coated steel cooking grate.
  • Durable due to the use of steel.
  • Offers a very versatile range in cooking.

 

  • The height of the legs is low for most people.
  • Plastic handles that may melt in high temperatures.
  • Folding the grill’s legs requires two people.
  • Stiff price tag compared to other portable models.
  • No smart connectivity to integrate with other smart devices.

Who is the tailgater well-suited for?

The Traeger Grills Tailgater is particularly suited for people in need of a small, portable pellet grill that they can easily move around on a camping trip or to a tailgating party. Weighing at 62 lbs., it’s easy to carry around.

It could also be useful for people who are small on space since it could easily fit on an apartment balcony or a small outdoor space.

People in need of a small alternative to their gas grill would find it a good fit due to its small nature and reliance on wood pellets.

Conclusion

Based on our evaluation of the grill build and usability, the Traeger Tailgater is a worthy buy because it offers durability while providing a satisfying cooking experience. It is well fitted for portability due to its lightweight construction and detachable legs.

In addition to this, the Tailgater is fuel efficient thanks to its economical use of pellets through the automatic auger. The Traeger Tailgater 20 pellet grill is worth buying for those looking for a small, portable, and fuel-efficient pellet grill.

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