The Best Tailgate Grills

Traeger Tailgater Pellet Grill And Smoker

If you’re a fan of tailgating, you’ve got to get your hands on one of the best tailgate grills on this list. After all, there’s no better way to enjoy the game than by grilling up some delicious food with your friends. Portable grills make it easy to BBQ anywhere, and tailgating is the perfect opportunity to break them out.

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Best Tailgate Grills

Have you ever been to a sports game where hanging out with friends in the parking lot is the best part?

Tailgating is so much fun and is usually a highlight for most people. It involves consuming lots of food and beverages from or around the open tailgate of a vehicle. It has its own indescribable energy that keeps you coming back for more.

There’s something about the smell of grilled food that gets people in the mood for a good time! But not all tailgating grills are the same. When it comes to tailgating, you need a grill that is portable, durable, and easy to use.

Luckily, there are lots of great options on the market. To help narrow down your search, we’ve put together a list of the best tailgating grills available. Whether you’re looking for a portable gas grill, a small charcoal grill, or a pellet smoker, we’ve got you covered.

All these amazing grills can help you prepare the best ribs, burgers, and steaks right from the back of your truck. Some options even have built-in stands for those who do not have space in the back of their vehicles.

Ready? Let’s dig in.

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Our Picks: The Best Tailgate Grills

  1. Editors Pick: Chimp Tailgater WiFi Wood Pellet Grill
  2. Best Overall: Traeger Ranger Wood Pellet Grill
  3. Best Small Budget: Cuisinart CCG190 Portable Charcoal Grill
  4. Best Luxury: Green Mountain Pellet Grill
  5. Best for Beginners: Weber Q1000 Liquid Propane Grill

Editor's Pick

Chimp Tailgater WiFi Wood Pellet Grill

Grilla Grills

The Chimp Tailgater WiFi Wood Pellet Grill is a versatile and portable pellet grill designed for tailgating, camping, backyard BBQs, and more. With its durable construction and Grilla Grills’ new Alpha Connect Control Board, the Chimp offers wireless control and monitoring. This allows you to start or stop the grill, monitor temperatures, set alarms, and even troubleshoot from anywhere you have a connection. Packed with industry-leading features and technology, the Chimp is the perfect choice for those who value both mobility and high-quality performance in a pellet grill.

The Chimp Tailgater boasts a range of unique features, including wood pellet heating technology, auto-ignition, a backlit control board, and full wireless control through a dedicated app. Its indirect cooking style, convection-style cooking, and no flare-up design ensure even and safe cooking. The stainless steel grates provide ample cooking space, with a total cooking area of 460 square inches. The grill is also designed with safety features such as high- and low-temperature shutdowns.

Compared to other portable grills in the market, the Chimp Tailgater stands out with its WiFi connectivity, double-wall insulation, and versatile smoking modes. Its durability and robust feature set make it an excellent choice for those who prioritize quality and performance while still valuing portability.

What We Liked
  • Portable and compact design, perfect for tailgating, camping, and backyard use.
  • Alpha Connect WiFi Controller allows for remote control, monitoring, and troubleshooting.
  • Dual smoking modes with the Alpha Smoke technology for versatile cooking options.
  • Stainless steel grates and firepot for durability and easy cleaning.
What We Didn’t Like
  • Hopper capacity of 15 lbs might require frequent refills for longer cooking sessions.
  • Weighing 90 lbs, the grill might be somewhat heavy for some users to transport.

Overall, the Chimp Tailgater WiFi Wood Pellet Grill offers exceptional value and performance for its price. Its portability, advanced control features, and durable construction make it an excellent investment for anyone seeking a high-quality, versatile pellet grill for various outdoor activities.

Best Overall

Traeger Ranger Wood Pellet Tailgate Grill


Bring your favorite wood-fired flavor anywhere with the Traeger Ranger Wood Pellet Grill. This durable grill has 185 square inches of cooking space. It weighs about 60 pounds and has an 8 lb capacity pellet hopper.

You can place this tabletop grill on your truck bed or picnic table and cook up to six burgers or ten hot dogs at a time. In our opinion, this is the best grill because of its “Digital Arc Controller”. This controller helps you set and control the temperature with ease.

Plus, the “Keep Warm Mode” gives you even more control over your evening. It makes sure your meal is ready when you are. It comes with a meat probe thermometer, a cast iron griddle, and porcelain-coated grill grates. You can’t go wrong with this unit.

Plus, a heavy-duty lid handle and two locks will have you feeling confident bringing this along with the rest of your tailgating supplies.

What we liked
  • Meat probe
  • Heavy duty grill body
  • Griddle included
  • Digital Arc Controller
What we didn’t like
  • Heavy unit

Best Small Budget

Cuisinart Portable Charcoal Grill

Cuisinart 1

If you want to impress your friends with a sleek, portable charcoal grill without spending a fortune, the Cuisinart CCG190 is for you.

This Cuisinart charcoal grill lets you bring charcoal grilling almost anywhere. You can have that amazing smoky BBQ flavor whenever you want.

This affordable grill uses hot coals to produce heat. This is what gives your food unbeatable flavor. Though the cooking area is only 150 square inches, you can still make enough grilled foods for a small crowd.

Weighing only 2 lbs. and equipped with 3 lid locks, you can feel confident bringing this along on all your adventures. It features a dual-venting system for temperature control. And, an enamel-coated firebox and catcher for easy clean-up. It is safe to say that this is a wonderful charcoal grill with an affordable price tag.

Z Grills Save Today
What we liked
  • Lightweight grill
  • Firebox and venting system
  • Inexpensive
What we didn’t like
  • Small cooking area
  • Not very durable

Best Luxury

Green Mountain Grill-Davy Crockett WiFi Pellet Grill

Green Mountain

Next is our Best Luxury grill, and what better unit than the Green Mountain Davy Crockett Pellet Grill is a powerhouse in the world of tailgating grills.

Wood pellets are a favorite fuel source for grillers because they burn cleanly and give amazing flavor. The Green Mountain Pellet Grill makes the process of grilling also quite simple.

This advanced grill comes with an electric feeder system. This system feeds the pellets and supports the continuous performance of the unit. Plus, it’s paired with a thermal sensor is always monitoring the grill temperature.

If you weren’t already sold, this smoker grill features built-in Wifi. The WiFi connection lets you track the grill temperature from your smartphone! Plus, the grill’s meat probe also sends data to your phone. You can check the internal temperature of your meat from anywhere. You’ll never have to worry about overcooking meat at an exciting party again.

Of course, you can’t enjoy all these features without electricity. To use this grill you must hook it up to 110V or 12V with adaptors for 3 Power Options.

What we liked
  • Automatic feeder
  • Built-in thermometer
  • Wi-Fi enabled
  • Large surface area
What we didn’t like
  • Large and heavy
  • No wheels
  • Require electricity for some features
  • Expensive grill

Best For Beginners

Weber Q1000 Liquid Propane Grill


Another masterpiece from Weber, the Q1000 liquid propane grill. This is a perfect example of the saying, “good things come in small packages.”

This small gas grill is the best portable gas grill for beginners. It has a cooking space of 189 square inches and one stainless steel burner that can produce 8500 BTU every hour.

The burner valve makes it easy to set the temperature according to your requirements. Plus, the cast aluminum lid is durable and retains heat very well. We also love how this gas grill comes already assembled. You’ll be well on your way to grilling with a push-button ignition!

What we liked
  • High heat retention
  • Comes fully assembled
  • Easy to operate
  • Easy to store
  • Cast iron grates
What we didn’t like
  • Long preheat time

Our Results for the Best Tailgate Grills

  1. Editors Pick: Chimp Tailgater WiFi Wood Pellet Grill
    “start or stop the grill, monitor temperatures, set alarms, and even troubleshoot from anywhere you have a connection”
  2. Best Overall: Traeger Ranger Wood Pellet Grill
    ” place this tabletop grill directly on your truck bed or picnic table. it can cook up to six burgers or ten hot dogs at a time”
  3. Best Small Budget: Cuisinart CCG190 Portable Charcoal Grill
    “affordable grill uses hot coals to produce heat. this gives your food unbeatable flavor”
  4. Best Luxury: Green Mountain Pellet Grill
    “built-in Wifi that allows you to control and monitor the grill temperature from your smartphone”
  5. Best for Beginners: Weber Q1000 Liquid Propane Grill
    “gas grill comes entirely assembled and the push-button ignition makes it super easy to operate”

Things to consider when buying a tailgating grill

Okay, we’ve given you a lot to think about. Now we need to figure out which of these incredible tailgate grills is the best fit for your needs. Here are some important factors to consider before you buy a portable grill.

Fuel Type

There are many different types of tailgating grills available in the market:

  • Charcoal: Charcoal takes a little longer to cook with and it needs a touch more practice and maintenance. But, it is still the preferred fuel type for meat lovers and grilling experts. By lighting charcoal lumps or briquettes under the grill grates, you create an even heat distribution and a smokey flavor. This flavor is second to none when grilling to impress.
  • Propane: Unlike charcoal, propane burns cleanly. This means it does not impart any extra flavor onto your food. Propane grills are easy to light, easy to clean, and need very little maintenance.
  • Wood Pellets: Wood pellets are made of compressed sawdust and are available in different flavors. A pellet grill will usually come with a pellet hopper. This is a place to put your wood pellets and have them dispense as needed. Pellet grills offer a wonderful smokey flavor, especially for slow-cooked meals.

Choose a grill depending on your fuel type preference. You want one that will support your cooking skills and desires.

Temperature Control

One of the factors that can make or break your grilling experience is temperature control. Considering the importance of temperature while grilling, it is wise to invest in a tailgate grill with good control.

Most gas grills have temperature dials so you can keep an eye on the internal temperature of your grill. Then adjust it as necessary.

On the other hand, charcoal grills don’t operate on dials. You must rely on the amount of charcoal burning and pay attention to the air vents. Having many vents allows you to maintain a steady temperature with an even burn rate.


Burners are an important feature to keep in mind when buying a portable gas grill. If you plan to grill different types of meat at the same time, look for a portable grill with multiple adjustable burners. You’ll be able to set the temperature and grilling power of each burner on its own to grill each item perfectly.

But, having one stainless steel burner isn’t a bad idea either, especially if it’s in a large U-shape. A U-shaped burner allows for an even heat distribution across a large surface area. This gets rid of hot and cold zones.

Warming Rack

Now, a warming rack isn’t a deal breaker. Some grillers don’t even like them. But, if you’ve never used a portable grill with a warming rack, at least give it a try.

If you’re buying a portable grill, it’s most likely because you want to BBQ on the go. Or cook in small quarters. A warming rack gives you extra space to store your cooked food while keeping it warm in the process. It also increases your overall grilling area, giving you more space to make more food!

Gas Models BTUs

BTU is an abbreviation for British Thermal Units. These units measure any gas grill’s firepower or thermal output.

According to grilling experts, a gas grill should produce 75 to 100 BTU for every square inch of the cooking surface. So, if your grill has a cooking area of 100 square inches, it should have a BTU of at least 7500.

Yet, a lower heat output doesn’t always mean poor performance. Some units have excellent heat retention that makes up for low BTU.

Pellet Hopper Capacity

A Pellet Hopper is like a container designed to store all the wood pellets required for the cook. The wood pellets move to the fire pot through an auger from the hopper. So, your hopper’s size will decide the duration of your cooks.

If the size of the hopper is smaller than you need, you will be unable to cook for the required time. To extend the size of a hopper, you can also buy hopper extenders. But, make sure that these are from a reliable brand and are compatible with your pellet smoker.

Extra Features

There are many more features that can help change your grilling experience. For instance, some grills come with a stand or table which would be handy if you don’t have a truck to place your grill on.

Some grills also come with handles to make transport and set up a breeze. Or a carrying bag to protect your portable grill in storage or transport.

Other great features would include an aluminum ash catcher for charcoal grills. Or a spill-resistant drip tray and a removable drip pan for a propane grill. These features make maintenance and clean-up simple and straightforward. This way, you can spend more time doing what you love.

BBQ Hero Tip: Bring a metal bucket to place hot coals into after you’re finished cooking at your tailgate party. This will save you time otherwise spent waiting for the coals to cool off before packing up.

Features to consider when choosing a tailgate grill

Here are a few more key features to think about when choosing the best tailgate grill.

Construction Materials

Keep an eye out for solid structures built from long-lasting materials. Just because a grill is portable does not mean it should have a weak or disposable structure.

Another feature that holds lots of importance is the sturdiness of the handle and legs. These two characteristics can impact the way you can use a grill for a purpose. Weak, flimsy legs and handles can ruin your cooking experience. They may also lead to accidents that can result in injury.


We can’t help but emphasize that compact and portable grills are the best for tailgating. These are two major factors to keep in mind.

Your grill should be lightweight to carry and easy to use so you’re ready to go even on last-minute party plans. A compact grill is also useful if you have a small vehicle. You’ll be able to save space while packing and bring it along to any outdoor adventures you find yourself on.

Though having a compact grill is of the most importance, you must also keep in mind the number of guests you’ll be cooking for. Ensure you have enough cooking space for all your guests while keeping size in mind.


Some tailgating grills can be placed right on the tailgate of your truck. But, not everyone has a truck!

If you’re going to a tailgating party in a small car, choose a tailgating grill that comes with a stable base. Also, if your base has wheels, ensure they’re equipped with a proper locking system. This will prevent any movement while you’re busy cooking and grilling.


When you make a big purchase like this one, it’s important to consider what kind of warranty you’re protected by.

Sometimes things go wrong and you have no control over the outcome. There may be faulty parts, or you might not be happy with your decision.

This is where a warranty comes in handy. Also, when a company offers a free lifetime warranty you know it’s a good product. The company trusts will do its job.

Safety Tips for Tailgate Grills

Grills of any kind must be handled with care and caution. Especially small grills that you’ll be bringing to sporting events with lots of people around. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when handling your new tailgating grill.

Allow Time To Cool

When you’re finished cooking, let your entire grill cool before packing up. A hot lid or grilling area can cause damage to your vehicle or storage area if not cooled completely.

Washing Grill Grates

Maintaining your grill is an important task that should not be skipped. You should wash your grill grates after every use.

Some are even dishwasher-safe. Be sure to check the owner’s manual before putting them in your dishwasher though.

Keep a Fire Extinguisher on Hand

Tailgating parties can get rowdy. Having a portable grill around can make things dangerous. Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby when grilling around people and vehicles to prevent disaster.

BBQ Hero Tip: Start preheating your grill as soon as you set it up at your tailgate party. Especially if you have a charcoal grill. Charcoal grills take some time to preheat and reach a stable temperature. To avoid holding up the party, ignite it as early as possible so it’s ready when you are.

Tailgating Grills FAQs

What Do You Do With Small Propane Cylinders When They’re Empty?

You can’t throw propane cylinders into regular waste or recycling containers. These cylinders are considered hazardous waste. Some parks will have designated collection bins for propane cylinders. Otherwise, most gas stations and retailers will take back empty canisters when you return to buy new ones.

Is Charcoal Or Gas Grilling Better?

It all comes down to personal preference. Charcoal grills allow you to cook your food over hot coals on a rack above them. Gas grills are more complex in that they have many different parts like burners, hoses, tanks, and valves involved in the cooking process. Many enjoy the smoky flavor you get by cooking over charcoal briquettes that you wouldn’t get on a traditional gas grill. Furthermore, lots of moving parts on gas grills mean more could go wrong.

How Many Square Inches Of Cooking Space Do I Need To Grill Up To Eight Burgers?

You will need at least 200 square inches of cooking space to cook eight burgers at once. Remember, each item on your grill should be spaced out at least half an inch to reduce crowding effects.

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