3 Best Portable Pellet Smokers

Hey smokers and welcome to my post where we will check out my three best portable pellet smokers to hit the road with this year. Now, if you are a lover of both BBQ and the great outdoors, then there may be a time when you wish to mix the two.

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So, whether it be camping, picnicking, or simply the need to take it to your friend’s house, here are some options for those of you in the market for a good portable smoker.

My Three Recommended Portable Pellet Smokers

I will review these in more detail below however if you want to get some portable cooking happening without all the carry-on, my recommended products are listed here for your convenience: 

07/22/2024 05:52 pm GMT

Check out my post: Best Budget Pellet Grills under $500

What are Portable Pellet Smokers

Ok, so just so we are clear (and for fear of stating the obvious) portable pellet smokers are compact, mobile versions of traditional pellet grills that are designed for ease of transport and use in various outdoor settings such as camping, tailgating, or picnicking.

The trick here however, is that as we chose the best options, we are looking for something that is not only portable, but also capable of producing outputs on par with the larger models used at home. Hence, to be honest, the features are looking for tend to be the same.

What Should You Be Looking For?

As we have touched on above, just because our smoker is smaller and can be moved around easily, we do want something that will still provide us with that ‘set and forget’ smokey BBQ taste that we all know and love.

Influences such as temperature settings, reliable fire boxes and cooking capacity are still vital to ensuring a successful cook and additional considerations might include whether you prefer a in-bult probes or the ability to cook via other methods (traditional grill for example) as well.

Here is a breakdown:

Key Features to Consider

  • Temperature Range: Portable models tend to have a more limited temperature range, or lack the ability to set specific settings.
  • Hopper Size: Opt for larger hoppers if you prefer longer, uninterrupted cooking sessions – the smaller the hopper, the more you will need to top it up.
  • Build Quality: Look for durable materials that withstand weather and heat over time.
  • Ease of movement: I mean what is the point of a portable smoker if it is not easy to move around.

Heat Distribution & Control

When it comes to smokers of any type, a consistent temperature is crucial for even cooking. And as you may be looking for efficiency here, you may want to look for a grill that can reach high temperatures for searing and low enough for smoking. Check for:

  • Precision control settings – Budget models usually come with a dial however digital controls (usually found on higher end models) are a bonus for precision
  • Meat probes – Some models come with inbuilt probes to monitor internal temperatures. My advice here is test them for accuracy via an external thermometer as well.

Build Quality

After temperature control, it should be quite obvious that the better the quality of the build, the longer your smoker will last – especially as they are exposed to the rigors of constant movement and packing into vehicles etc. Hence, look for models made with:

  • Good quality metals
  • Seals in relevant locations
  • Solid legs/stands

At the end of the day, poor quality materials will lead to not only loss of heat and poorer cooking standards, but also quite simply, the cooker will not last as long. Solid legs make them easier to use in areas that may not be as stable as well.

Hopper Size

Pellet smokers really hate running out of pellets. So, as above, if you are planning to undertake longer cooks on meats such as brisket or pork butt, then the larger the pellet hopper, the better.

Ease of Cleaning

A grill with easy-to-clean features saves time and also can assist in the prevention of safety issues such as flares ups and fires. And again, although these are not always as prevalent in portable models, look for options with with:

  • Ash cleanout systems
  • Non-stick grill grates
  • Removable drip pans

Additional Features

Additional features that you may be lucky enough to find in portable models include

  • 12V capabilities: Great for camping if used with a solar panel or battery etc.
  • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth Connectivity: For remote monitoring and control over your cook.
  • Other cooking capabilities: Traditional grill or even air fryer capabilities means you can do everything on the one appliance.

My Three Recommendations Broken Down

So, based on the information above and my own experience, I recommend the following options:

1. Pit Boss 440 SERIES PB440D2 Wood Pellet Grill

My first portable option is a solid performer with solid construction, a heavy-duty steel body. Additionally, the grill is porcelain coated for ease of cleaning and designed to withstand frequent use. The 5-pound hopper is also large enough to manage medium sized cooks as well.

Pros:

  1. Affordable price: At under $300, this fits nicely into the budget category for sure. f
  2. Decent cooking space: The 256 square inch cooking area can accommodate meals for a small to medium-sized family.
  3. Versatility: Like many portable pellet smokers, this option offers the ability to grill at temps up to 1000°F
  4. Digital control panel: It features a digital control panel that allows for easy temperature adjustments at a range of 180° To 500°F
  5. Portable design: The smoker consists of a compact and portable design with a weight of ‎42.5 Pounds.

Cons:

  1. Temperature fluctuations: Some users have reported issues with maintaining consistent temperatures, which can affect cooking results. This is a common challenge with potable pellet smokers.
  2. Limited advanced features: Whilst it has basic digital controls, it lacks some of the advanced features found in non-portable models, such as Wi-Fi connectivity or integrated meat probes.
  3. Smaller hopper capacity: The pellet hopper may have a smaller capacity, requiring more frequent refills during long smoking sessions – although this is standard on portable models.

And finally here, both a pro and con is that it can be used on a 12V connection, however an inverter is required.

Why have I chosen it?

At the end of the day, the Pit Boss Table Top Wood Pellet Grill is a worthwhile choice for both novices and seasoned grillers alike. The ease of assembly adds to its appeal as does the digital temperature control system.

This grill is designed to withstand frequent use and the high-temperature powder coat finish which suggests the grill can brave the elements when used in an outdoor space.

All in all, I would choose this one if you are looking for a great budget model or cooking for a larger group.

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07/22/2024 05:52 pm GMT

2. Traeger Grills Ranger Portable Electric Tabletop Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

This second option is a good portable all-in-one grill and smoker with a straightforward temperature control and a spacious cooking area that should cater to small outdoor gatherings comfortably. And as with the others listed here, it offers sufficient space to smoke, bake, roast or braise.

Pros

  • 8-in-1 Cooking versatility: As above, it offers a range of cooking options, from smoking and grilling to searing and char-grilling, all with one appliance.
  • Great hopper size: With an 8lb hopper, it can handle longer cooks without the need to reload.
  • Strong and easy to clean: Easy-to-clean porcelain-coated grill grates & separate cast iron griddle Included.
  • Keep warm mode: Great for outdoor cooking where people are coming and going.

Cons

  • Small cooking space: At only 176 sq inches of cooking space, this is a bit smaller than others on the market
  • Ergonomics: This one is also a little heavier at 54 pounds.

And as with the option above, both a pro and con is that it can be used on a 12V connection, however an inverter is required.

Why have I chosen it?

To be honest, whenever the question of what portable pellet smoker to purchase pops up in my FaceBook group, this one always rates highly making it an excellent choice for both novice and experienced grillers alike. One of the standout features here is its 8-in-1 functionality, allowing you to grill, smoke, bake, roast, sear, braise, barbecue and char-grill with just one device.

The grill’s ease of use is another significant advantage with Advanced Grilling Logic for precise temperature performance and a larger hopper so you can really set and forget. The only downside here is the lack of decent cooking real estate.

I would be choosing this one if I had a small family to feed but wanted something with great temperature control and that is easy to clean and maintain.

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07/22/2024 05:52 pm GMT

3. Ninja OG951 Woodfire Pro Connect Premium XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker

Ok, so this last option is for those who really want an all in one cooking solution as not only is it a smoker and grill, but also contains the ability to Air Fry, Roast, Bake, Broil, and Dehydrate as well. Additionally, it also includes 80-sq-in nonstick grill grate, 2 built-in thermometers, crisper basket, pellet scoop, Ninja Woodfire Robust & All-Purpose Blend pellet starter packs, grease tray and disposable grease tray liner.

Pros:

  1. Dual Temperature Control: Includes 2 built-in thermometers so you can cook 2 different protein types to 2 different doneness setting.
  2. Versatile Cooking Options: Again, as above, this option provides the ability to perform a wide range of cooking methods – including as an air fryer.
  3. Smart phone app: This is an addition usually reserved for the higher range options with the ability to pair your grill to your phone to monitor and control cook time, receive real-time notifications, and even access cooking charts.
  4. Water resistant: A great option for outdoor cooking.
  5. Portable: At only ‎38.9 Pounds, it is quite light

Cons:

  1. Limited cooking space: Compared to the first options above, the cooking space of 180-sq-in is relatively small
  2. Limited hopper capacity: It seems that the addition of other functions has come at the expense of the pellet box as it holds around half cup only.

Why have I chosen it?

All in all, the Ninja OG951 Woodfire Pro Connect Premium XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker is a solid choice for those looking for the maximum amount of cooking options all in the one appliance. It contains higher technical capabilities than the other listed here however maybe at the expense of a hopper size.

Feedback highlights a great smoke taste and outlines the ability to fit quite a large amount of food onto the easy to clean plates – albeit only 180-sq-in size.

I would be choosing this one if I was after an all in one option that would serve as a smoker as well as other cooking requirements that may arise outdoors. The air fryer option is a plus here as well.

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07/22/2024 06:32 pm GMT

Conclusion

There you have it, my three three best portable pellet smokers for some hassle free outdoor cooking this year. Let me know how this article helped you, and as usual, also let me know of your experiences here.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, or corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time.

Have fun

Paul

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