Camping With a Pellet Smoker
In the past decade, camping has grown in popularity. According to the 2019 North American Camping Report, nearly 7 million new families have embarked on a camping adventure since 2014, and regular campers report a 72% increase in how often they go on camping trips. Whether you prefer rugged tent camping or a comfortable weekend in the RV, there’s one thing every camper loves — campout cooking.
Now, we already know everything tastes better on the grill — but how do you get that delicious, grilled flavor from the comfort of your campsite? A campfire is an excellent option for s’mores, but it doesn’t offer the same level of temperature and flavor control as a small camping grill. Stick with us to learn more about choosing the best portable grill for camping, including some mouthwatering recipes to try on your next outdoor retreat.
Camping Stoves vs. Pellet Smokers
If you’ve ever walked down the camping aisle at your local outdoor store, you’ve probably seen portable camping stoves. These stoves are small, lightweight and designed to fit easily into a hiking pack or camping bag. Although camping stoves work OK in a pinch, they are no substitute for a quality grill. If you want your meal to be as memorable as your outdoor adventures, camping with a pellet smoker is the best way to make that happen.
Compared to camping stoves, pellet smokers offer the following advantages.
- Require less time: Portable camping stoves take time to heat up and cool down — and because they aren’t typically very durable, that means it’s up to you to keep an eye on the stove until it reaches a safe temperature. Portable stoves also take a long time to cook food thoroughly. For many things, like fish or lean meats, too much time on the heat can result in dry, tasteless food. Pellet smokers, on the other hand, start quickly and require minimal effort to operate.
- Create more flavor: Cooking with a camping stove limits you to whatever seasonings and sauces you have on hand to flavor your dish. Pellet smokers, however, use wood pellet smoke to infuse all your recipes with rich, bold flavors, like mesquite and hickory wood.
- Allow you more control: With a pellet smoker, you have far superior control over different cooking factors, including the temperature inside the grill. You cannot get the same benefits with a portable camping stove. Lack of control can lead to flare-ups, which result in unevenly cooked food. By choosing to use a pellet smoker, your final product is sure to be delicious and impressive.
What to Look for in a Camping Grill
The best grill for RV camping and tent excursions is one that offers you a little bit of everything, including portability, durability and versatility. As you consider your options, ask yourself what your goals are. What type of foods do you plan to cook? Are you a burgers-and-dogs griller, or do you see yourself as the next barbecue pitmaster? You should also think about how many people you typically grill for, as well as how much time and attention you want to invest in the cooking process.
Once you have a better idea of what you need, look for a camping grill that offers the following benefits.
- Portability: For camping trips, a portable grill is essential. You need something that’s a breeze to load and unload and doesn’t take up too much cargo space. Portable grills come in two varieties: tabletop and cart style. Tabletop grills are small and usually electric, while cart-style grills transport easily in the bed of a truck or back of a car. Once unloaded, cart-style grills have wheels to make them convenient to maneuver. When considering portability, consider the size you need, not just the size that’s easiest to transport. Account for how much cook area the grill has compared to the number of people you plan to cook for, the types of meals you plan to grill and how many items you want to cook at once.
- Durability: While a lightweight design is critical for camping barbecue grills, you should never sacrifice durability. Look for a grill that consists of quality materials and can stand up to the wind without toppling. Choosing a high-quality grill now will also save you more time and money, because these investments last far longer with proper care. For a long-lasting machine, we recommend grills made with powder-coated and stainless steel.
- Versatility: If you’re investing in a grill, you probably want to use it in other situations, not just camping trips. Look for a grill that allows you to cook in multiple different ways, like grilling, smoking and searing. Consider features like temperature control, indirect cooking options or safety shutdown.
A pellet smoker is one of the best portable grills for camping because it offers all these benefits and more. With a pellet grill, you can also customize your dishes with unique, wood-smoke flavors, providing endless culinary opportunity.
Tips for Camping With a Pellet Smoker
If you’ve decided to invest in a pellet smoker for your next camping trip, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Always store your bagged wood pellets in a dry, weatherproof area.
- Once you’ve placed wood pellets in your grill or smoker, they can last for up to two months as long as they don’t get wet.
- Never clean a pellet smoker with abrasive tools or agents.
- Always use a meat probe to check the internal temperature of poultry and pork.
- Various types of wood create different flavors. As a result, some kinds of wood are better for specific dishes.
Camping Recipes to Try in Your Portable Pellet Smoker
You pitch your tent or park your RV in a shady little spot overlooking the lake. You spend all day working up an appetite as you hike and fish your way through the great outdoors. When you come back to your campsite, you fire up your new pellet smoker, and you face a difficult choice: Which mouthwatering recipe are you going to try? Smoked chicken, tender beef, fresh fish, grilled vegetables — whatever your preference, you can make it on a pellet grill.
Feeling hungry yet? Here are some of our favorite recipes you should try on your new outdoor camping grill.
You can’t own a grill without having at least one fail-proof cheeseburger recipe in your back pocket.
For these juicy, classic American burgers, all you need is:
- Two pounds of ground beef
- One egg, beaten
- One cup of dried bread crumbs
- Three tablespoons of evaporated milk
- Two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
- One tablespoon of Grilla Grills All Purpose Rub
- Four slices of cheddar cheese
- Four hamburger buns
After combining the beef, egg, bread crumbs, evaporated milk, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning, divide the mixture into four sections and flatten into eight thin patties. Take two patties and place cheese between them. Then, fold the seams of the patties together, creating one large burger with the cheese secured inside. Grill your burgers for five to eight minutes per side, and serve on a warmed bun with the works.
Bacon-Ranch Chicken Skewers
There are few flavor combinations as popular and delicious as chicken, bacon and ranch.
Here’s what you need for these crowd-pleasing skewers:
- One or two packets of dry ranch seasoning
- Three tablespoons of Grilla Grills All-Purpose Rub
- Six skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into one-inch pieces
- Two red onions, cut into one-inch chunks
- Six slices of thick-cut bacon
- Six pre-soaked skewers
- One-third cup of Grilla Grills Kongo Kick Sauce
Once you’ve coated the chicken pieces in ranch seasoning, begin assembling your skewers. As you switch between a layer of onion and chicken, weave a slice of bacon between each piece. Cap each end of the skewer with an onion piece to keep your bacon and chicken securely in place. Repeat with all skewers, dust with All-Purpose Rub and grill until chicken has browned and cooked through. Turn them every 20 minutes, so each side can get the same grill flavor. Brush with a thick layer of Kongo Kick Sauce before serving.
Grilled Salmon With Honey-Sriracha-Lime Glaze
For a sweet, tangy camping dinner, try grilled salmon with a decadent honey-sriracha-lime glaze.
You will need:
- Four to six pieces of skinless salmon fillet, approximately six ounces each
- One-third cup of olive oil
- One-fourth cup of Grilla Grills All-Purpose Rub
- One-fourth cup of honey
- Two tablespoons of fresh lime juice
- Two tablespoons of sriracha
Before you grill the salmon, create the glaze by combining the sriracha, lime juice and honey. Pat salmon fillets dry with a paper towel, brush with olive oil and season with All-Purpose Rub. Grill for about five minutes on one side, then carefully flip the fish and grill until cooked through. Check that each side has grill marks. As the salmon cooks, liberally apply your glaze mixture to each side. Top your finished salmon with any remaining glaze before serving.
Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers
Bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers are the side dish that goes with everything, and we use pimento cheese to add a new twist to this grilling favorite.
To try this recipe for yourself, here’s what you need:
- Jalapeños, halved with seeds removed
- Pimento cheese
- Grilla Grills All-Purpose Rub
- Disposable gloves
Because jalapeño juice and seeds can hurt your eyes and irritate your skin, we recommend wearing a pair of disposable gloves while preparing this dish. Once you have carefully halved your jalapeños and removed the seeds, fill each halved pepper with a layer of pimento cheese and a dash of All-Purpose Rub. Wrap each half in a slice of bacon, securing with a toothpick. Grill the peppers, without flipping them, for 45 minutes. Allow them to cool before serving.
Grilled Corn Cob Husks
This grilled corn cob husk recipe is similar to Mexican street corn and bursting with flavor.
To make them, gather the following ingredients:
- Four corn cobs, still in the husk
- One-half cup of mayonnaise
- One-fourth cup of Grilla Grills All-Purpose Rub
- One lime
- One cup of Cotija cheese
With the corn still in the husks, place each cob on a preheated grill, turning every five to six minutes. After about 20 minutes, the corn should have cooked through. Remove the cobs from the grill and allow them to cool for several minutes, then carefully use a knife to cut away the husks. Once the husks are gone, brush mayonnaise on top of each corn cob before adding a sprinkle of All-Purpose Rub and a thick layer of Cotija cheese. Garnish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Grilled Apple Crisp
If you’re tired of campfire marshmallows, you’re in luck. This grilled apple crisp recipe is delicious and straightforward — no roasting stick required.
Here’s what you need:
- Three whole apples
- Fresh lemon juice
- One-half cup of granola cereal
- One tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice
- One tablespoon of maple syrup
- One and one-half heaping tablespoons of brown sugar
- One-half stick of butter
- Two tablespoons of pecan chips
- A handful of craisins
We recommend preparing this dessert in a cast-iron skillet, but any grill-safe dish will do. First, halve and core the apples and cut them so they lay flat inside a dish. Scoop out enough of the apple’s center to create a small, bowl-like hole for your filling. In a separate dish, combine the syrup, brown sugar, granola cereal, pumpkin pie spice, pecans, craisins and butter. Fill each apple with a heaping amount of this mixture, then grill until apples have cooked through — about 30 minutes.
The Chimp Is the Perfect Portable Camping Grill
Going camping shouldn’t mean leaving behind your favorite grill. At Grilla Grills, we know you want the best. That’s why we’ve created a lineup of rock-solid grills that are durable, versatile and — in this case — easily portable. The Chimp is our very own wood pellet tailgater grill, intended for use in your backyard or on the go.
Here’s what makes this Grilla Grill so special.
- Sophisticated heating technology: The Chimp features unique wood pellet heating technology that gives you total control over your grilling experience, including auto-ignition and an auto-lighting system, a “set-and-forget” digital control system, a blower fan to help prevent flare-ups and digital electric temperature control with a built-in meat probe for easy monitoring.
- Temperature safety shutdown: Have peace of mind with temperature safety shutdown features. If your grill exceeds 615 degrees or falls below 105 degrees, automatic shutdown initiates, and your grill will display an error message letting you know.
- Durable exterior and spacious interior: We built the Chimp to last, with a high-temperature powder-coated steel exterior. Heavy-duty construction also includes convenient snap-lock folding legs and a thermal metal jacket, so you can use your grill all year long. Whether you’re cooking yourself a feast or feeding the whole family, you’ll have plenty of room on the Chimp’s 460-square-inch cook area. You can also choose your cooking style with a removable top grate, insulated cooking chamber and indirect cooking capabilities.
- New Alpha Smoke capabilities: The Chimp features our new Alpha Smoke technology, which combines our original pro smoke controller with an innovative PID controller to offer you maximum smoke flavor and precise control over the temperature of your meat.
Despite all the power, this pellet grill takes up minimal space in your vehicle and at your campsite. When folded, the Chimp is 24 inches high, 37 inches wide and only weighs 90 pounds, making it the ideal portable grill. We must caution you, though — you’re probably going to make any neighboring campers a little jealous.