Grill Review: The Traeger Tailgater 20 [September 2023]

Looking for a super easy portable grill? The Traeger Tailgater is could be what you are looking for!

The Traeger Tailgater 20 is an efficient, compact, and ultra-portable smoker grill. It is specifically designed to please tailgating fans and home cooks alike.

From one pitmaster to another, I think that Traeger sets the standard for pellet grills. They go a great job designed for tailgating or backyard use.I couldn’t believe it that back in 2008, Traeger was one of only two companies selling pellet-style smokers!

The Traeger Tailgater 20 uses hardwood pellets and helped us produce smokey flavors in every cook (without having to tend to the smoker all day.)

This comprehensive Traeger Tailgater 20 review will help you see if this one you have been searching for

Traeger Tailgater 20 Review – Overview

Traeger Tailgater 20

If you want a portable smoker look no further than the Traeger Tailgater 20.

This is a true tailgaters’ dream. I found it lightweight, spacious and has lots of features to make tailgating, camping or fishing much easier.

We were able to fit 2 chickens, 3 rib racks, 12 burgers, and 18 hotdogs in the Tailgater 20 (at different times of course!). That’s thanks to its 300 square-inch grilling area. Giving you more than enough for a decent backyard or carpark party.

Let’s check out the key features of the Traeger Tailgater 20 review below.

Specifications of the Tailgater 20

  • Dimensions (lid closed): 35 x 37 x 18 inches

  • Total Cooking Area: 300 square inches

  • Weight: 62 lbs

  • Hopper Capacity: 8lb

  • Wheels: yes with EZ fold legs

  • Warranty: Traeger limited 3 year warranty

  • Ignition: Automatic

My Favorite Features of the Tailgater 20

A Diagram Explaining the Hopper
  • Ultra Portable: The Tailgater weighs only 62 lbs and measures in at just 36 x 37 x 18 inches. Not only that the Tailgater has fold-able legs which allow you to set it up anywhere, we found that this was perfect for tailgating however it did need two people to grab it out of the car.

  • Spacious Grilling Area: The Tailgater 20 Series 300 square-inch grilling area. We found this plenty of space to cook for friends and family, we have even used it for a big graduation party. The Tailgater has a similar sized grilling area to the Pit Boss 820. I have also done a comparison of the Pit Boss Vs Traeger for you guys!

  • Set and Forget Cooking: One of our favorite features of the Traeger Tailgater is the set and forget option. There is nothing better than getting it to up to temperature throwing in the meat, and letting it cook! I can hang out with friends, play with the kids or maybe do some chores! When it is as simple as using this LCD display, both novices and advanced users get this smoker going effortlessly.

  • Automated Auger: We found that the Tailgater had a top quality automated auger. All we had to do was set our temp using the digital controller, and the auger would know how fast it needs to spin to carry pellets to the fire pot. When more heat is required more pellets are more pellets are channeled, thanks to the temperature sensor. When the heat is optimum the auger automatically shuts down channeling pellets.
A Diagram Explaining the Hopper
  • Trusted Brand: Being the only the second pellet smoker brand 10 years, Traeger has a strong reputation for high quality grills. Even its cheapest grill operates as efficiently as the higher-priced models. All Traeger grill’s induction fan works silently inside the griller to circulate rich hardwood smoke throughout the cooking chamber. This means you don’t have to do anything special to give your meat evenly-distributed flavor – this smoker does the job for you.

  • Hopper Capacity: The hopper is not the biggest, however, 8 lbs is plenty of room if you are tailgating. The last thing YOU ant to do is add on 20 lbs of weight with a full hopper.

  • Energy Efficient: The Tailgater Grill has a unique power saving system. Initially, it powers up via a standard household 120-voltage outlet using 300 watts for the first four minutes, after those four minutes to gradually drops down to only 50 watts for the rest of the cooking process.

Ease of Use

At most, it shouldn’t take any more than an hour and a half to put together the Traeger Tailgater 20.

The instruction manual that comes with it is detailed and easy to follow. It includes full setup instructions, cooking guides, and all the additional information you need.

Construction and Design Quality

Overall, we found the Traeger Tailgater possesses a top-notch construction and design quality.

Made out of heavy-duty steel, this Tailgater is intended to withstand not only the heat from within but the elements from outside. You don’t have to worry about leaving this grill outside in the rain for a few day.

The two lockable wheels can strong and sturdy. We liked these elements as it is a portable grill you don’t want the wheels to cause any trouble.

The Tailgater on the Back of a Pickup

Cleaning and Maintaining the Tailgater 20

Keeping this grill clean is vital if want to get the most of it. Old debris such as food and ash can affect the effectiveness of the unit.

Cleaning couldn’t be much easier as all the grease drippings are directed away from the cooking chamber into the drip tray.

Removing the ash does not need to be done after every cooking since the ash collector is sizeable enough to hold ash for several cooking sessions.

Once you have done this all the grill requires is a wipe on the exterior surfaces with a damp cloth.

How Does The Traeger Tailgater 20 Work?

It functions by being plugged into an electrical outlet. The outlet provides it with the power to heat up its hot rod. You simply turn the built-in thermostat on the grill to your desired temperature.

There are also pre-sets including “Smoke”, “High” and various points between 180 and 375°F.

After you’ve set the thermostat, you ignite the fire by placing wood pellets into the grill’s hopper.

The hopper will drop the pellets down to the hot rod, which will set them ablaze so that smoke and fire is produced.

Traeger Tailgater 20 Warranty Details

Traeger offers a warranty period of 3 years on the Traeger Tailgater 20, ensuring the unit is free from defects in workmanship and materials. The warranty period starts from the purchase date.

Read more information on Traeger Tailgater 20 warranty.

What Are The Advantage of Using Wood Pellets For Smoking?

Wood pellets have many advantages to them. First and foremost they are one of the greenest fuels to burn. They also leave a very small amount of ash.

Not only are they environmentally friendly they are also kind to your wallet. Much cheaper than using propane or wood. See what else we like about them below.

  • Cheap and reliable fuel source.

  • Produces a lovely smoky flavor – which can be altered depending on what hardwood pellets you use. One can use maple to apple and other hardwood pellets.

  • Low emissions.

  • Cooks meat evenly.

  • Easy to use.

  • Produces an even, consistent temperature in your grill.

  • Leaves a minimal amount of ash.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does this come in the box, what assembly is required?
A: It comes in the box partially assembled. You will attach the legs then the pellet box. Instructions are very clear and simple. You even receive the appropriate wrenches to assemble the handful of hardware. Takes less than 30 minutes to assemble.

Q: Is it big enough for a full-size brisket?
A: Yes, maybe even 2 briskets.

Q: Can it run off an inverter? How much power does it draw?
A: Yes, you can Make sure you have alligator clips to a 12 volt battery or car battery. Initially, it draws around 400 per Traeger then will back off to under 100 once ignited.

Q: Is this safe to use in a covered patio?
A: Yes. As long as it is well ventilated for the purpose of letting smoke flow out it will be fine. The risk of fire is almost nonexistent with the fire being so well contained.

Pros and Cons of the Traeger Tailgater

Tailgater 20 Pros

  • Energy efficient.
  • Made with durable, powder-coated, 20-gauge steel exterior and porcelain enamel steel grates.
  • Highly portable (perfect for tailgating, backyard parties, camping, and more).
  • Long term trust brand in the market with fantastic customer service
  • Spacious grill area.
  • Digitally controlled temperature (we were able to cook low and slow, or fast and hot without compromising any of that smoky flavor).

Tailgater 20 Cons

  • It may seem like a high power usage but it quickly decrease by increments over the course of the cook.
  • It does have quite a small hopper.

Wrapping it Up

We think that if you’re looking for something that is easily loaded into a truck for an outdoor party or camping trip, this is the ultimate choice.

I mean isn’t she a thing of beauty!

Apart from portability, it also gives you the option to grill, bake, smoke, barbecue and braise without any problems.

The Traeger Tailgater has full-size functionalities in a portable package.I think this has to be one of the best portable grills on the market.

The Traeger Tailgater falls right into the bargain end of our $400-$1200 suggested price range.

Overall Rating: 4.3 / 5

Hungry For More?

4 thoughts on “Grill Review: The Traeger Tailgater 20 [September 2023]”

    1. Hey Chris, my top recommendation at the moment for thermometers would be the Weber iGrill 3 thermometer. It’s a Bluetooth thermometer that can be controlled via your smartphone. It has two probes so you can keep track of the ambient temperature and also the internal temperature of your meat. You can get them from Amazon or directly from Weber

  1. What are the dimensions of the pit when it has the legs folded up. I need to see if I can store it in by 5th wheel basement.

    1. Happy Saturday Larry!! Sorry for the delay I have measured it up and it 21 1/2 inches tall when legs folded. Let me know if you have anymore questions!

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