Wood pellet grills were developed in 1985 by a man named Joe Traeger, the owner of a heating company in Oregon.
At first, Traeger designed these grills so that he could continue selling wood pellets in the summertime, when his sales fell drastically because of the warm weather.
While these grills became popular because they used a fuel source that was much cheaper than the traditional propane gas, they remained popular because, as it turns out, wood pellet fueled flames are much easier to control than gas and charcoal.
Today, Traeger is known for making top-of-the-line, high-quality grills for all kinds of barbecuers. In its line of portable grills, you’ll find the Traeger Tailgater 20.
This family-sized grill, like the other Traeger models, is fueled by wood pellets that burn slowly over time to give you a great, smokey flavor in your cook.
However, unlike the rest of the Traeger line of grills, the Traeger Tailgater 20 is lightweight with EZ-fold legs that can be collapsed into the sides, meaning that you’ll be able to bring it along with you, whether you are headed to camp or tail gate at the game.
Traeger Tailgater 20 Key Features
Versatile Cooking Capability: The most exciting feature for many users will be the many ways that this grill can be used.
It has 300 square feet of cooking space, and that means that you should be able to cook up to twelve burgers or two whole chickens. Not only that, the cooking barrel can sustain both high temperatures for direct cooking like grilling and braising, and it can also be used for smoking.
Even better, the hopper automatically feeds wood pellets into the fire box as needed so that you can keep a constant temperature without needing to pay constant attention to the grill.
Digital Elite Controller and Side Hopper: By using an internal temperature reading system, the grill self-regulates the rate that it feeds the wood pellets into the fire pit.
For your peace of mind, the internal temperature is also visible on the exterior of the grill. This can be especially useful because it means you will have less of a need to open the grill and lose the heat that has built up over time.
Better yet, the opening to the hopper is well-isolated from the rest of the grill body. This means that you can easily add wood without disturbing the fire. However, we always recommend having a good thermometer on hand to check with temperature of your food.
Portable: For those looking to have a grill and smoker that can travel with them, from campsites to tailgates, the lightweight design of this Traeger grill is probably appealing.
In addition to this, the grill features EZ-fold legs so that you can minimize the amount of space that this piece of equipment will take inside your trunk.
And, as an added bonus, you shouldn’t have a reason to bring any kindling or matches, as this model also features an electronic auto-start ignition.
- Because this pellet grill features a traditional barrel shape, you will be able to do both direct cooking with a hot flame and indirect cooking with smoke from the fire pot.
- Lightweight and compact with EZ-fold legs, you should have no issue getting this grill into the trunk of your car so that you can bring it along for camp outs or tailgating events.
- There is an automatic temperature regulator that will feed pellets into the smoker as needed.
- The included instructions are not thorough. Be ready to do your own background research or to call the Traeger customer service so that you don’t damage your grill during the setup process.
- While the cooking surfaces of the grill are porcelain and easy to clean, getting the ash clean-out system is not streamlined.
- Because it is portable, the hopper on the side of the grill is small. This means that you will need to monitor your fire closely to ensure it doesn’t run out of fuel.
Check out Goemans Appliance’s review of the Traeger Tailgater 20 below:
Traeger Tailgater 20 Detailed Review
Design and Build Quality
Holding true to its design as a portable grill, the Tailgater 20 comes in at a feather-like 62 pounds. With a compact cooking space and foldable legs, you should have no problem fitting this grill in the back of your car when you’re on the go.
In addition to being portable, this Traeger model is also versatile. By being able to accommodate both direct cooking techniques like barbecuing and indirect smoke cooking, you should only need to bring this grill with you when you head out on your next camping trip.
What’s more, the grill features a hands off design in the sense that the wood pellet feeder works directly with the internal temperature thermometer to retain an optimal rate for adding wood pellets to the fire.
By maintaining the temperature without your help, you can spend more time enjoying your retreat into the wilderness or watching the game.
Despite being so lightweight, the Traeger Tailgater 20 is a durable appliance made of steel.
With the quality of the Traeger name backing it up, you should have no problems with rusting or paint chipping so long as you take the time to do proper maintenance for your grill.
In this way, many people who already know that they enjoy grilling and smoking may find that this is the perfect investment for bringing their hobby with them on trips.
Ease of Assembly
Unfortunately, one of the biggest problems with the Traeger Tailgater 20 is that the assembly process is extremely difficult.
Many will find that the instructions are unclear. Worse, they give little to no information about the necessary set-up protocol so that you properly cure the grill.
You will probably need to call customer service or do your own background research to know the best techniques for assembling this grill.
Ease of Use
On the other hand, once the grill is set-up, it is rather simple to use.
With the help of features like the easy-start ignition button as well as the temperature controller system, there is very little that you need to do to keep a steady temperature and smoke level so that you can get a good cook.
The biggest downside with this model is that the temperature can only be adjusted by every twenty degrees, and this may make it difficult to get a small and precise temperature range.
Quality of the Cook
You should have no trouble making good food with this top-of-the-line grill.
You can reach both high temperatures for direct cooking like grilling and braising, but you can also slow cook your tougher meats like brisket with the smoking system.
In general, you will probably want to use this grill for indirect cooking because it has more features geared toward this, including its automatic wood pellet feeder.
Nonetheless, you will still be able to do burgers and a nice smoked chicken without too much of an issue.
Ease of Cleanup
Cleaning up after your cookout may pose some challenges with this grill.
While cleaning the porcelain grates is meant to be easy, you may have more difficulties with the fire pit. Unlike competitors that feature a way to easily empty this part of the grill, you will need to spend the time vacuuming or scooping out the ash out of the body between cooks.
The Traeger Tailgater 20 wood pellet grill is a high-quality model that is backed by the Traeger namesake.
The simple design of the grill allows it to be versatile and portable. Nonetheless, for its above-the-average price tag, some users may find that the Tailgater 20 is expensive because it does not have features that some of its competitors have, including remote control temperature management, lack of precise temperature controls, or wifi connectivity.
Others may find that the Traeger name and the quality that this name is supposed to guarantee is enough of a reason to invest so much money into a portable grill.
How Does it Compare?
Let’s take a look at some of the Traeger Tailgater 20’s competition:
Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker
For those on a smaller budget looking for a very simple smoker, the Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker may be right for you.
Check out our review here.
Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
An alternative to the Masterbuilt 40 Digital Electric Smoker, the Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker also offers a ton of cooking space along with a remote control for simple hands-off smoking.
Check out our review here.
Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker
For those looking for a simple electric smoker on a budget, the Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker may be right for you.
Check out our review here.