Take Your Cookout on the Road with This Family Handyman Approved Portable Pellet Grill
Take your passion for cooking nearly anywhere with this Family Handyman Approved portable pellet grill.
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Everything about outdoor cooking is scorching hot right now, pun intended. There are best-selling grilling and smoking cookbooks, competitions in nearly every state, and of course multiple television shows. All this generates a constant flow of new products and gadgets hitting the grilling market.
As the only one in my immediate family with a weakness for grilled and smoked meats, I’ve been keeping my eye on the smaller, portable pellet grill category. When I read up on the Z-Grills Cruiser 200A, it seemed like the one. So I made the leap and got one sent my way.
What is the Z-Grills Cruiser 200A?
The Z-Grill Cruiser 200A is a portable wood pellet grill capable of smoking, baking, roasting, searing, braising, barbecuing or char-grilling whatever fare you desire.
The smaller tabletop grill features a foolproof digital temperature controller, automatic auger system and an 8-lb. pellet hopper. The Cruiser’s three handles, lockable chamber and durable powder coated finish make it perfect for lugging around to campgrounds, sporting events or a friend’s backyard get-together.
With the Z-Grills Cruiser, you can cook like a famous pitmaster wherever your busy life takes you.
How We Tested It
I wanted to test how the Z-Grills Cruiser functioned as a grill and a smoker. So over Memorial Day Weekend, I did both.
On Friday afternoon, I grilled some brats and kebobs at a local park with a few co-workers and friends. Then Saturday night, I smoked a pork loin with the family and some guests at our cabin.
One important note: The Z-Grills Cruiser needs a 110v outlet to operate. We brought a portable power station to our grill-out at the park, and you’ll need a similar plan when heading out into the backcountry.
After following the Cruiser’s christening instructions, I filled the hopper with cherry wood pellets and cranked the temperature control to 375 F. A subtle hum of the auger could be heard as it slowly began to drag the pellets to their fiery demise. Minutes later, the grill was at temperature and the meat spitting away on the grate.
Two hundred square inches sounds like more cooking space than it is. The six-pack of brats and three kabobs filled the bulk of the cooking space, and the Z-Grills had them ready in no time. The digital temperature control and readout made cooking on the Z-Grills Cruiser even easier than on my old propane monstrosity.
After the cookout in the park, I cleaned and lugged the cruiser back to my vehicle. Though I like that the grill can be buttoned up and carried like a suitcase, it’s awkward and unbalanced. And at almost 50 pounds, it’s not something I’d recommend carrying over any distance.
Saturday saw the same positive results. I set the grill to 225 F and plopped the spice-rubbed pork loin on for a few hours to smoke. I checked the internal temperature every hour or so until it reached the desired temp and pulled it out to rest.
When opening the lid to check the meat, the grill temperature plummeted as expected. What surprised me was how long it took to reheat back to 225 F. This added some unexpected time to the smoking process, but the pork turned out juicy and delicious.
The value in a portable pellet grill like the Cruiser comes from its premium features and portability. This grill is packed with features like the digital temperature controller, automatic auger system and sturdy steel construction.
The craftsmanship and appearance of the Z-Grills Cruiser is similar to its counterpart, the Traeger Ranger. The Z-Grills Cruiser is also cheaper and 20 pounds lighter.
Ease of Use
This is where the Cruiser shines. Just fill the pellet hopper and set the digital control to your desired temperature. The Cruiser will do the rest, automatically sustaining a steady temperature while churning out flavorsome smoke.
Reliability and Durability
The hopper and body are made of thick, powder coated steel; the handles and feet are the only parts that aren’t. The sturdy steel wire grate, coated in porcelain, and 14-gauge steel drip pan are built to withstand years of hauling to campsites and backyard barbecues.
Why You Should Buy This
Whether you’re single, have a small family, live in an apartment with limited outdoor space or simply want to bring your love of grilling with you anywhere, the Z-Grills Cruiser is the one for you. It’s ease of use, sturdy construction, high-end features and best-in-class price make this portable pellet grill the one to choose.
Where to Buy
The Z-Grills Cruiser is available at zgrills.com, Amazon and The Home Depot.