Best Slow Cookers for Tailgate Parties – Slow Cooker Reviews 2017

Why buy slow cookers?

In a fun few weeks of cooking and eating, we’ve reviewed the best slow cookers for tailgate parties (as well as a few slow cooker accessories too!).

Seems every tailgate party I go to these days, there are slow cookers of all kinds. They come in large to small, to portable and massive, the latter preferred for home-gating. The best slow cooker for your particular need is one of the most efficient accessories for tailgating or home-gating. Luckily for us, there are many awesome slow cookers on the market! It’s almost like the slow cooker was invented just for tailgating. Or, maybe tailgating was invented for slow cookers… If you’re interested in finding the best slow cooker, then read on.

Crockpot Slow Cookers

Crockpot Slow Cookers are awesome

Whatever you call them – the generic ‘slow cooker’ or eponymous ‘Crock Pot Slow Cooker’ is a magical appliance:  it’s definitely labor-saving. You can cook pretty darn good meals on ‘set and forget’ that make beer taste even better at any tailgate party.  While the stews, chilis, gumbo and the like really shine in winter, you can eat slow cooker food all year round.  And easy?  I would concur.  Generally, the cooking process just involves throwing in a heap of stuff.  And there are many awesome recipes that give variations on this randomness.  If you are a fan of pulled-pork and would rather spend time drinking beer at your tailgate party than cooking and cleaning, (and who does not fit that description?) honestly, do yourself a favor and get one of the range of slow cookers. The cold weather is kicking in to the Lower 48 to coincide with the football season. So I have been experimenting with these remarkable machines already.  Slow cookers do so much to make a tailgate party rock that it is crazy.

Is it the best slow cooker for the way you party?

Your ‘best’ slow cooker may not be everybody’s ‘best’ but there are some fundamental aspects to check out with tailgate partying first and foremost in mind.

The first thing to realize is that there are three main levels of slow cooker: small, medium and large.  Pick your size with your requirements in mind and then you can start looking at the levels of programmability that each features.  For starters, here is a checklist of features you need to be looking for.


Shape eg. Round or oval – note that oval slow cookers are designed to take whole poultry and cuts of meat say, for pot roast or pulled pork made from a whole pork butt. The round ones hold any diced meats, fish, stews, rice, curry, dips, you name it.

Programmable control on the body of the slow cooker itself – the ability to cook from scratch in the slow cooker pot with a variety of temperatures.

Temperature that the food can rest at.  This must be over 145°F for Food Handlers’ Health Dept.  standards.

Suitable for frying or baking – some slow cookers cook risotto like a dream and you can even make jam or chutney in them.  Even no-frills slow cookers are very versatile. And then there are really hi-tech models.

Power connection – cable/cord long enough? Too long? Retractable?

Weight of the Unit. You want something manageable for a tailgate party so that it fits in your kit. You may end up buying a small one for dips, a large one for pulled pork.

Price – whatever you want to spend depends on how important your tailgate partying is to you and your buds.

So here’s the skinny on slow cookers, from the smallest to the biggest domestic versions.

Small slow cookers

The Little Dipper


Crockpot Little Dipper

Crockpot Little Dipper

Keeping the tailgate party foremost in our planning, let’s start small: the first ones are all around $10 a unit (the Triple Dipper of course, is 3 times that).  What these Slow Cookers have in common is that they are cheap, party friendly and compact.  They are not for the large scale tailgate party unless you have a power source and a few of them.  But as host gifts for the tailgate party go, these are perfect, starting with the baby of them all, the Crock Pot Little Dipper.

Crock-Pot Model 32041-C 16-Ounce Little Dipper, Chrome.

Check out these cute 2-cup units that look are a fab idea for setting up a variety of hot dips as a centerpiece to our tailgate party table.  With the brand ‘Crock-Pot’, you know they invented a  product built to North American Electrical standards. So it’s safe and well-designed.  Despite that, it’s extremely inexpensive and not recognized as top of the range so it is accessible.  You certainly can line up a heap of hot, spicy, cheesy dippers and supply some crusty bread, pretzels and appropriate beers.

Capacity, The Little Dipper slow cookers hold 2 cups. 16 oz. That’s a lot of dip.

Shape. Round, mainly for gravies, sauces, dips, melting chocolate, cheese  etc.. You could cook a Quail, Squab or Cornish hen but nothing larger.

Materials:  The Little Dipper Slow Cooker is finished in Chrome with black food grade plastic.

Programmable control – no. It has one temperature.

Temperature – it holds the food at the temperature that the food can rest at.  Must be over 145°F for Food Handlers’ Health Dept.  standards. This holds the food at 155-170 degrees Fahrenheit.  Can tend to bubble so then you can turn it off.  Don’t let it get lukewarm if it has meat or dairy in the recipe.  Gastro alert!

Suitable for frying or baking – People use these little crock pot cuties for candle making (wax melting) potpourri diffusers and anything else you can think of that needs a constant temperature.  They are really good for the long cook required for making your morning oatmeal.  Won’t burn or boil over.

Weight of the Unit. 1 pound.

Price – cheap.

Pros – excellent for packing.  Great for hot dips. Good for taking to work as well as the tailgate party for a nutritious-delicious desk lunch. Cheap.

Cons: You can’t remove the pot from the unit for easy cleaning.  Cleaning is a bit of a challenge.  The lid is not Pyrex or even glass so you can’t check the progress of the cooking.

Hamilton Beach Party Dipper Food Warmer


Hamilton Beach Model 33101 Dipper

Hamilton Beach Food Warmer

Hamilton Beach Food Warmer

Capacity, 2 cups. 16 oz.

Shape. Round, Removable ceramic bowl for easy cleaning. 2 1/2 inches deep and has a 4 inch diameter.

Materials:  finished in Chrome and black food grade plastic. Glass lid. Ceramic interior bowl.

Programmable control – no. You need to use an exterior timer if you need a timing feature.

Temperature – this holds the food at 155-170 degrees Fahrenheit. Reaches 190 degrees. It will retain this heat for an hour or so but after that, be careful as at that point the food will move out of the safety zone.  Discard any food after two hours or put into the fridge/icebox.

Suitable for frying or baking – Good for keeping pre-cooked dips warm safely, chocolate, cheese/jalapeño, wax melting, soap making, potpourri. As well as lining up dips on the table at the tailgate party.

Weight of the Unit. 1 pound.

Pros – Hamilton Beach are very good to deal with.  Exchanges are simple. Very inexpensive and no-frills.  The Hamilton Beach slow cooker range is guaranteed lead free.  It may be alarmist of me, but I just like a declaration of being lead free.  I would recommend the use of a slow cooker liner bag (and that makes cleaning even easier).

Cons: Outside gets really hot.  Has no switch. Just plugs in to the wall. Very short lead.

Crock-Pot Little Triple Dipper, Silver and Black

Chocolate in the Little Triple Dipper Slow Cooker

Chocolate in the Little Triple Dipper Slow Cooker

Crockpot Little Triple Dipper Slow Cooker

Crockpot Little Triple Dipper Slow Cooker


The most popular tailgate party table is one with plenty of variety. The Crockpot Little Triple Dipper is a terrific way to cook and transport three separate dishes/dips at a time.  Make three really crowd-pleasing dips or even three styles of mac’n’cheese, pop pre-made dishes into the Little Triple Dipper bowls then into the carry bag and off you go.  They are held at a food-safe temperature for at least an hour. As well, the clean up is a breeze as this model has both the glass lids users love and ceramic, removable dishes.  I have even put all the bowls into the dishwasher with no ill effects.

Capacity, 3 x 16 oz. cookers. That is around 6 cups of food.  Dips, gravies etc..

Shape: each slow cooker segment is round but they fit snugly into a triangular shape.

Programmable control – no, only one temperature.

Temperature – food safe. Rather hot. It can develop a solid surface or skin so give it an occasional stir.

Suitable for frying or baking – no, just keeping pre-made food hot and safe to eat. OK for fondue.  The thing with these is that you have to pre-make the recipe and then hold it at a food safe temperature.

Weight of the Unit. 4.5 pounds.  Ships at 5.9 pounds.

Price – cheap. Includes carry bag.

Pros – 3 dips in the one space.  It is compact and value for money. Has it’s own carry bag.

Cons: You can’t really cook in it apart from fondue. Pre-make your dishes on the day before the tailgate party then hold at food safe in these dishes.  This should get you through a tailgate party appetizer round with ease.

Medium slow cookers:

What is the medium size for a Slow Cooker?  It seems to be somewhere around the 3 quart mark.

Cuisinart PSC-350 3-1/2-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker


Cuisinart Slow Cooker

Cuisinart Slow Cooker

Chefs rate this Cuisinart programmable slow cooker really highly.  It is not the latest model and the consensus is that most of the newest range cook at too high a temperature due to FDA upping the food-safe level.  Cuisinart is a good and reliable brand.  I have a few of their products and they are well designed, looking good on the counter as well as being functional.

Capacity, 3 and a half quarts.  This is enough for 2 huge full meals with leftovers.  Or a mac’n’cheese for a small crowd.

Shape: Oval – you can fit a medium chicken or a small turkey in this.  Glass lid, dishwasher safe pot and lid. Easy clean.

Materials – brushed steel, glass lid, ceramic pot – stay-cool handles. BPA free in every part of the slow cooker that comes in contact with food.  Lead free.

Programmable control – 4 cooking modes – high, low, simmer, and warm – with a touchpad control panel and 24 hour LCD countdown timer which means you can set it and forget it even the night before you go to work and then return to a yummy dinner.

Temperature – food safe. Has an automatic keep-warm program.

Suitable for frying or baking –  No.

Weight of the Unit.  9.5 pounds. Ships at 11.3. (Includes recipe book)

Price – average.  A little more than anticipated because it is equipped with time-saving features which make it your slave.

Pros – good for family use.  Will cook rice. This should get you through a tailgate party appetizer round. Fully programmable and can be set the night before and cook long and slow before you leave for the tailgate party.

Cons:  None.

Crock-Pot Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker SCVT650-PS, 6.5-Quart, Silver


Easy Clean Slow Cooker from Crock-Pot

Easy Clean Slow Cooker from Crock-Pot

Crock-pot Slow Cooker silicon handles

Crock-pot Slow Cooker silicon handles

Crock-pot touchscreen slow cooker

Crock-pot touchscreen slow cooker

Made by Crock Pot, this programmable touchscreen slow cooker ticks many boxes but sacrifices others.

Capacity, 6 and a half quarts.  Not sure whether to class this as medium or large but to my mind the large capacity is over 7 quarts.  Very commodious, plenty of leftovers or food for a big crowd.  Try it on chili and you will see what I mean. You could probably buy two of these – one for the beans and fixings and the other for the meat and it would feed a couple of dozen tailgaters.

Shape: Oval – you can fit a turkey in this slow cooker.  Glass lid, dishwasher safe pot and lid. Easy clean.

Materials – polished stainless steel, glass lid, stoneware pot which makes it a bit heavy but the solidity also means it’s not easily broken which is good for tailgate parties where a bit of rough housing tends to happen – metal handles with stay-cool wraps built in but also take some pot holders as the edges tend to get hot. BPA free in every part of the slow cooker that comes in contact with food.  Lead free.  The stainless steel finish is very easy to clean.  Just protect from dings by maybe investing in an insulated carry bag.

Programmable control – 4 cooking modes – high, low, simmer, and warm – with a touchpad control panel and 24 hour LCD countdown timer which means you can set it and forget it even the night before you go to work and then return to a yummy dinner.

Temperature – food safe. Has an automatic keep-warm program.

Suitable for frying or baking –  Yes.

Weight of the Unit.  15.6 pounds. Stated that it ships at 15.8 which seems a little low. (Includes recipe book)

Price – Inching up to the $100 mark but it is solid state and one of these can feed a dozen of your best buds.

Pros – good for family use as well as tailgate parties so if you want one for the game, this is easy to sneak in.  Will cook rice. Has a warranty.  Stainless steel – love that.  Touchscreen panel makes it easy to program.  Has a bonus cookbook.

Cons: None that I can  see.  So far, this is my fave and perfection is reached at a tailgate party with the Triple Dipper alongside it for variety of sides.

Large slow cookers:

Or you can get a grand size that will feed a heap of hungry buds.

Crock-Pot 6 quart Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker

Crock-Pot Cook and Carry slow cooker

Crock-Pot Cook and Carry slow cooker

Capacity- This Crock Pot holds 6 quarts.  This is enough for 7 meals or a 6lb roast.

Crock-Pot Cook and Carry Slow Cooker

Crock-Pot Cook and Carry Slow Cooker

Shape: Oval – you can fit a large chicken or a medium turkey in.  Glass lid, dishwasher safe ceramic pot. Easy clean in the dishwasher.

Materials – brushed steel, glass lid, ceramic pot – stay-cool handles. BPA free in every part of the slow cooker that comes in contact with food.

Programmable control – Digital display 4 cooking modes – high, low, simmer, and warm – with a touch-pad control panel and 24 hour LCD countdown timer for set and forget cooking and also with a digital countdown readout to give you the heads-up on how much time you have for preparing accompaniment dishes.

Temperature – food safe. Has an automatic keep-warm program.  If you are not around when the food reaches its cooked state, it automatically switches to a safe cook-warm mode.

Suitable for frying, roasting or baking

Weight of the Unit.  8 pounds. Ships at 13 pounds. (Includes recipe book)

Pros – For your tailgate party, this is one of the ultimate units as you can fit in a whole pork butt to make pulled pork or a ton of chicken wings and you can still fit it in your vehicle. Nice and light.

Cons – An off smell when new.  Treat as above by doing a discarded pre-cook and then it is fine.  Made in China – check this for lead content before you buy.


Elite Platinum MST-900R MaxiMatic Stainless Steel Slow Cooker, 8.5-Quart

Elite Platinum 8.5 quart slow cooker

Elite Platinum 8.5 quart slow cooker

This is the grand-daddy of domestic slow cookers and if you have crowds at your tailgate parties, then check out this 8.5 quart capacity large pot. And it even comes in red!  Oh, and it is a very cheap model with no digital capacity but maybe that’s OK.  With the bumping around tailgate party pots can put up with, you can rest assured that after a few dings you can afford to replace it.

Capacity, 8.5 quarts.  You can fit a turkey in it, 2 small chickens, a medium chunk of ham or pork butt.

Shape: Oval –   Glass lid, aluminum interior pot. Easy clean – just wipes right out and is non-stick.

Materials – brushed steel in red, white or stainless, glass lid, ceramic pot – stay-cool handles. BPA free in every part of the slow cooker that comes in contact with food.

Programmable control – Has a knob to indicate the 3 cooking modes – high, low, keep  warm.

Temperature – food safe. The keep warm setting is a little hot but it won’t poison you.  Just make sure to monitor that (through the glass lid) and if it is crusting around the edges, turn it off and restart after 15 minutes.

The Elite is suitable for stews, mac’n’cheese, wings, rice.

Weight of the Unit.  16 pounds. Ships at 18 pounds. (Includes recipe book)

Pros:  For your tailgate party, you can cater for a crowd with chili for around 10 people or as an accompaniment, 20. Very light weight which is good if you need to stash it on a high shelf or transport to your tailgate party in the parking lot  Nice color. This slow cooker has a tight gasket around the lid to prevent spills and boil-overs. Don’t fill more than 2/3.  Food doesn’t stick or burn. Easy to clean. For tailgating the large size is satisfactory to transport and the handles don’t get hot. Transport it in its own travel pack (optional – see below under accessories!)

Cons: When brand new, it smells of plastic and washing does not remove the odor.  I had read this in reviews and for the first cook I did a vanilla spray, then wiped with oil and boiled some water.  Then cooked again using just some meat for the dog.  I figured he wouldn’t mind the off-flavor.  And he didn’t.  I boiled up a chicken and he was happy to wolf that down.  No more smell after.  Keep warm setting is a little hot – in fact almost boiling.  This is tricky as all new slow cookers now must comply with FDA requirements for food safety and hence the higher temp.  Be careful of the dish inside.  Extremes of temperatures may crack it.

The aspirational slow cooker!

KitchenAid KMC4244CA Multi-Cooker with Stir Tower – Candy Apple

KitchenAid slow cooker

KitchenAid slow cooker

OK, I am including this little beauty – the Kitchen Aid Multi Cooker with its buddy, the Stir Tower -because it comes in Ferrari red and also there’s a Porsche black model so that’s got to be worth something.  There are so many teams that feature red and black that these will look like you planned the whole kitchen around your fandom.  But I digress.  It is also genius when it comes to cooking as they do all the standing and stirring for you.

KitchenAid Slow Cooker Stir Tower

KitchenAid Slow Cooker Stir Tower

It doesn’t totally fit the mold of Slow cookers as it is high tech with over 10 cooking methods, 4 step-by-step modes with a stir tower that agitates the food during the process. The temperature is perfect throughout and the food is flipped and stirred to perfection.  What does it do?  It slow cooks at the same time as the stirring process to eliminate the cold spots in your old fashioned crock pot.  You can make risotto without even being in the room.

KitchenAid multicooker slow cooker

KitchenAid multicooker slow cooker

The Kitchenaid Multi Cooker’s  settings are basically risotto, rice, sear, sauté, simmer, soup, yogurt , boil/steam, slow cook high and low, keep warm – all programmable over 24 hours but there are many variants in between.

Capacity, 4 quarts.  This is enough for 4 meals or a 4lb roast.

Shape: round.  Plus the stir tower at one end. Stir tower, roasting rack, steam basket.

Materials –Tempered glass lid. Silicone flip and stir paddle, silicone flex edge blade.

Programmable control – Digital display.

Temperature – food safe. Has an impressive multi-function digital display and is   easy to control and always within food safety range.

Suitable for frying, roasting or baking and deep frying.

Weight of the Unit.  16.5 pounds. Ships at 22.4 pounds. (Includes recipe book). Pot itself is not heavy, just the stirrer.

Pros: Great color.  Sort of Ferrari red. Even though the interior can get up to 450 degrees, the exterior is still cool to the touch.  Ideal for taking to the tailgate party with a mass of chili within its ‘cooking chamber’.  The pot is super easy to clean – just wipe with soapy water and rinse. Makes great custards and ice-cream bases as it does the stirring for you. No more split/curdled mixture. Sears and cooks pot roast in the same pan perfectly.

Cons: Stay tuned.  Let’s see if Ms. Tailgater can find any!  So far she loves it …  It’s a different method of cooking so be sure to read the manual. You can even make *shudder*  …. yoghurt. If yoghurt is here, can quinoa be far behind?  Well, not at my tailgate party. Not sure my buds would agree to that as an accompaniment to beer.  The stirring tower is a bit noisy, but that’s to be expect.  So am I when stirring risotto or mac’n’cheese and that’s just the Blake Shelton repertoire.  While it is supposed to be dishwasher safe, I probably would not.  I don’t put any Teflon type non-stick substances in the dishwasher but hand-wash for longevity and integrity of the coating. No cookbook except an E-cook-book which you only get by contacting Kitchenaid to register the machine.

But that’s not a hard yard.

Slow Cooker Accessories

Crock-Pot Travel Bag for 7-Quart Slow Cookers, Black


Crock-Pot slow cooker carry bag

Crock-Pot slow cooker carry bag

Keep your slow cooker looking schmick by transporting it to the tailgate party in this specially designed travel  bag.  The pictured one is designed for the 7 quart, but you will find quite a few different sizes.

The zipper closure keeps the cold air out and it’s made of tough nylon so should give you a few years of service.

Crock Pot leads the way in all these slow cooker accessories and this bag is highly recommended!


Make the Slow Cooker experience easy! Use a liner.

Crock Pot Slow Cooker Liners

Crock-Pot liners for slow cookers

Crock-Pot liners for slow cookers

I only recently discovered these great Crock-Pot liners that fit any sized slow cooker from 3 to 7 quarts.  Wow, they save a lot of cleaning!  Note that they are BPA free and will hold anything from soups to roasts and there is no taste imparted to your food during the cooking process.  They don’t melt and will fit either oval or round slow cookers.

Anything that makes the tailgate party experience easier for the host is fine by me.

Pulled Pork Shredder Claws

STRONGEST BBQ MEAT FORKS – Shredding Handling & Carving Food – Claw Handler Set for Pulling Brisket from Grill Smoker or Slow Cooker – BPA Free Barbecue Paws

Pulling that pork with the bear claws

Pulling that pork with the bear claws

These are a really good buy at the moment.  Must be tailgate season!  Or pork season?  Anyway, these make shredding that melt-in-your-mouth pork a breeze instead of the messy chore that you know it can be.  Normal forks don’t do justice to the pork, making the pieces too small.  Tailgate parties don’t do much. These are just right.

Bear claws for pulled pork and more

Bear claws for pulled pork and more

They are bear claw shaped so that you can scrape the pork into soft, melt-in-your-mouth chunks then pick up the shredded meat and serve without dropping it in the parking lot.  BPA free, naturally.

Food safety with your slow cookers

For food safety, consider buying one of these to add to your tailgate party kit.

Temperature probe for slow cooker

Temperature probe for slow cooker

Particularly with the small slow cookers, it’s worth checking the temperature throughout the day.  If the temperature drops below 135 degrees, discard the contents.

And finally, a couple of essential…

Slow cooker recipe ideas

Slow cooker recipe book

Slow cooker recipe book

Make the Slow Cooker experience DELICIOUS.  You can buy many recipe books and here are a couple of classics involving wings and pork.

Buffalo Wings, Slow cooker style.


2 lb wings.

1 cup buffalo wing sauce

1 pkt Ranch seasoning and a pinch of salt, pepper and some chives for garnishing.  Ranch dressing also for serving/dipping.


Throw chicken wings in a large slow-cooker then mix together buffalo sauce and ranch seasoning, salt and pepper in a bowl and pour that mixture over chicken wings stirring to coat.

Put the lid on and cook on high until cooked through, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

After wings are cooked, transport to your tailgate party on baking sheets lined with foil or parchment. Heat the grill. Grill until crispy, 5 minutes. Garnish with chives and serve with ranch dressing as a dip.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas – someone gave me this recipe so apologies to whoever wrote it as there was no source quoted..

Yield: Serves 6-8 as a meal but at a Tailgate Party – up to 20


pounds boneless pork butt roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into large chunks

1 onion, peeled and quartered

3 (2-inch) strips orange zest and lime zest. Do with a veggie peeler and make them large enough to find and remove at the end.

1/2 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

5 garlic cloves, finely minced not crushed.

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves

2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

2 bay leaves


Place the pork in the bottom of a 4- or 5-quart slow cooker. Add everything else and toss the pork pieces so the spices are evenly distributed.

Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours (or high for 5 to 7 hours).

Remove the pork from the slow cooker to a 9X13-inch or similar-sized oven-safe dish. Use two forks to shred the pork.

Pour everything (solids and liquid) from the slow cooker into a strainer set over a bowl to catch the liquid. Discard the solids and reserve the liquid.

To crisp the edges of the pork (this is optional but delicious), preheat the broiler to high and position an oven rack about 6-8 inches away from the heating element. Pour about 1 cup of the reserved liquid over the pork in the pan. Broil the pork (watching closely!) for a couple minutes until it is brown and crispy in spots. Give the pork a good stir/turn and broil again until some of the edges crisp up a bit. You still want the pork to be nice and tender so don’t overcook it here – and keep an eye on it as a broiler can take food from beautifully browned to burned in seconds.

Season the pork with salt and pepper to taste and transfer to a serving plate or platter, if desired. Use additional liquid from the slow cooker to moisten the pork as needed. Serve with lime wedges, tortillas, fresh cilantro and other toppings of your choice. At this point it can be covered with foil and transported to the tailgate party in a hot bag. Heat tortillas on your grill flat top and fill with the pork or alternatively, use baguettes cut to size for individuals.

Happy tailgating!





Review: Best Hot Dog Cookers For Tailgate Parties Update 2017.

Lovers of beer and brats (*and who isn’t one?) will be thrilled to know that many of the best hot dog cookers are available now in all kinds of shapes and sizes, even that small version of the pro-hot dog roller cooker style ‘as seen on television’ or this commercial model from Safeplus.

Safeplus Electric Commercial Hot Dog cooker

Safeplus Electric Commercial Hot Dog cooker


The hazards of cooking hotdogs, especially those shiny brats, include that they constantly fall off the grill onto the flames if you’re grilling, or they fall in the dirt, or that they just burn on one side.  You need a specialist gadget to prevent that especially if you are cooking for a lot of people. They run between low cost and professional to über professional super high end, but all are worth a look and I know you will find one that is perfect for your tailgate party requirements. They are not expensive, either. To make things easy, we’ve put together this list of the best hot dog cookers for your tailgate party.

But if you are a real fan of brats, beer and sport and want to combine those heavenly elements at tailgate parties, then you need to take the game up a notch.

We love to host tailgate parties and what we have found is that apart from dropping into Chipotle en route, the best and least stressful event involves getting in a supply of snags, bread rolls and toppings and letting everyone build their own mound of deliciousness.   Easy as pie.  No. Easier by far than pie. Which generally gets soggy before the game commences.

We’ve been sampling hot dogs from a range of hot dog cookers and outlining their pros and cons so check out these reviews of the best hot dog cookers for tailgate parties.

Here’s a great big one:

Hot Dog Cooker Review: Great Northern Commercial Quality 18 Hot Dog and 7 Roller Grilling Machine

Hot Dog Cooker commercial quality

Hot Dog Cooker commercial quality

A commercial machine, this is perfect for hosting a large party.  Not that expensive either.  It has 7 rollers and you can comfortably fit 18 standard hot dogs (I would say 12 fat brats) on it.  At 1400 watts, it is in need of power so a generator is advised (minimum 2000 watts. Which can run a small TV as well.  See our reviews of the best portable generators here.) This is one of the best hot dog cookers for smaller tailgate parties.

It has an optional sneeze guard.

Sneezeguard for hot dog cooker

Sneezeguard for hot dog cooker

Many have these built in.  I rather like that idea better.

Oh, and it’s so darn solid state that you could run a little stand and it would pay for itself on the first day.  Get a health permit, of course!  (great for helping the kids out at a school fairs and hot dog days too.)

The power for the 18 sausage hot dog cooker is very even and your brats not only do not burn, they also stay relatively moist.

The Great Northern Popcorn Company (the maker) calls it ‘a masterpiece’ and it is the original machine designed by the corporation.  Note that they also actually DO make popcorn machines so they are really into this foyer food.  But I think it is a valid addition to the tailgate party.  There’s an awesomeness about hot dogs that is hard to compete with. You get a 1 year limited warranty. The material is a solid state Stainless steel, easy to clean. The rollers are premium grade non-stick stainless steel. It has a heavy duty motor and safety temperature control and actually, there’s a nifty dual temperature control which allows you to roast or cook on the front rollers while at the back, you just keep the first batch warm to the correct ‘warmer’ temperature over 145 degrees F. The rollers rotate a full 360 degrees.  Some of the cheap units do not do that.

It has a built-in fuse for safety purposes but to protect it while running it off a generator, get a surge guard.
I like the one with an extension cable to keep the generator away from the party.

SurgeGuard with extension lead

SurgeGuard with extension lead

There are built in rubber feet for tabletop use so the hot dog roller sits with some stability and won’t jiggle off the table.

Removable and easy to clean stainless steel drip tray and cleaning is really simple.

Tecchy Specifications: -110V/50Hz. -Power: 1400-watt.

Maximum capacity: 18 hot dogs per batch (6 rows of 3).

The tray dimensions are: 11-inch W by 17.75-inch D.  but the overall dimensions are 23-inch H with cover, by 13-inch W by 15-inch D. So allow some space.

Hard to beat that one for a tailgate party or for home-gating!

Unless you get its big brother, described below, which is somewhat the same only more expensive and will grill 30 brats at a time.

Hot Dog Cooker Review: Commercial 30 hot dog 11 roller Grilling Machine

(glass sneeze guard is built in and included).

Commercial hot dog cooker - 11 rollers

Commercial hot dog cooker – 11 rollers

Basically, I reiterate everything I said about the 18 hot dog model except for the power pull which increases in direct proportion to your capacity to grill. It has the same features and benefits, but is bigger, is all.  I do like it, but then the power suck-up will be greater so this may be better for home-gating unless you have a powered site. One of the best hot dog cookers for those who need to cook large numbers of dogs at a time.  Oh, and I suppose when you are catering for a crowd, say 14 guests plus you, this cuts down the time spent slaving over a hot grill. Just put out the buns and fixins’ and let everyone assemble hot dogs to their own taste.

Hot Dog Cooker Review: Roller Dog Commercial 12 Hot Dog Roller Grill Cooker Machine

Roller Dog 12 Hot Dog Cooker

Roller Dog 12 Hot Dog Cooker

This guy has all the features of the 18 hot dog machine above but is smaller, for 12 hot dogs, includes the cover (which you need to assemble with no instructions) and is slightly heavier and bulkier but here’s the thing: it only draws 750 watts which means you could take a large battery pack to run it instead of a generator.  But apart from that, it is under $100 at the moment which is around a 60% discount, to purchase and probably enough for most tailgate parties.  It also has the 360 degree rotation and dual temperature zone so these really can’t be faulted.  Easy to clean, easy to re-equip with the sneeze guard should you break that.  It has the same guarantee.

Just on price alone, I probably would go for this as earning a spot on the best hot dog cookers list because it offers a neat solution for the hot dog cooking dilemma. One of the best hot dog cookers for convenience and size.

Hot Dog Cooker Review: Hot Dog Express Countertop Hot Dog Electric Cooker

Hot Dog Express Countertop Hot Dog Cooker

Hot Dog Express Countertop Hot Dog Cooker

They say this one cooks up to 8 sausages or hamburgers and is versatile and reliable.  There’s a bun warmer in the lid, most can be put in the dishwasher and it’s about the same size as a panini maker. They advertise it as ‘now you can enjoy the great taste of stadium-style hot dogs at home’ but I’m thinking that is the worst way to advertise.  I know that most of you would prefer a really fine bratwurst or spicy Tex-Mex sausage not just the mystery meat offerings.  The main feature is that it allows you to cook slowly without burning or drying out your sausage and it keeps your dogs and buns warm and toasty until you are ready to eat. The removable tray drains away fat, and the special lid warms buns and you can shove most of it in the dishwasher.

Very inexpensive. One of the best hot dog cookers for its versatility, price and ease of use – plus it’s portable!

The power drain from a generator would be minimal (60 watts) if you are on unpowered sites and it weighs just over 7 pounds.  You could even run it off a battery pack and it would last till cooked.

Takes quite a while to cook (up to 30 minutes) and when they say it holds 8 hot dogs, these would be of the Ikea-size small sausages, not the big, fat brats I am used to.

Anyway, so I am marking this as the base rate.  It’s OK but there are better out there (and there are worse).

Now for something that is just for fun.  But it works.  To some extent.

Hot Dog Cooker Review: Nostalgia Electrics pop up hot dog cooker


Nostalgia pop-Up Hot Dog Cooker

Nostalgia pop-Up Hot Dog Cooker – One of the best hot dog cookers in the small range.

This one is a bit of fun.  I wouldn’t recommend for the tailgate party as it only holds enough hot dogs for one person.  And you can’t fit the nice, fat juicy brats in.  OK for kids though. And would make a great gift for a teenager and he/she could keep it in the rumpus room.

Of course, you want something smallish that ensures a juicy bratwirsty hot dog result every time.  Not a dinky toy.  Something that says ‘I’m a chef’. Yeah, well, hot dogs need some kitchen lovin’ too! Especially at a tailgate party because IMHO (again, forget the H) people are very judgemental and there’s a level of crushing cool entering the realm of tailgating.

Here’s the cheapest:

Cuisinart Hot Dog Roller


Cuisinart Hot Dog Roller

Cuisinart Hot Dog Roller

It’s also the low techest.  If that’s a word. Pretty much just a non-stick grid onto which you can balance up the hot dogs and cook on the stove or BBQ top.  To rotate the snags, you need to give the plate a bit of a forward and backward jiggle from time to time and the sausages will turn around.  An inexact science.  But it’s really an OK BBQ accessory.  Not great for cooking a heap of dogs at the same time.  If you just want to cook a small quantity  at a time, this Cuisinart Hot Dog Roller is good enough.  At the budget end of life, this is extremely cheap.  It holds up to 5 dogs (smallish ones) and stops the sausages from rolling off during cooking while making it easy to keep them on the move to cook evenly.  The unit is easy to pack and operates off your grill so on a gas grill this would be a nice combo. Cuisinart is a reliable brand, too. I really like the wooden handle which is angled away from the heat and many other roller ‘pans’ don’t have that so you need to pack some long Oven mitts so you don’t get burned, with fingers and definitely not any of those slippery silicone versions.

Charcoal Companion Oven Mitts

Charcoal Companion Oven Mitts

Hot Dog Cooker Review: Nostalgia Electrics Coca-Cola Series Hot Dog Roller

Nostalgia Electrics Coca Cola Hot Dog Cooker

Nostalgia Electrics Coca Cola Hot Dog Cooker

What can I say?  It’s kind of dinky and only fits 8 Ikea sized hot dogs, or 4 footlongs, and the brats will fit in the grooves but only just.  But it is fun.  Again, you need power, so if this is your thing, then go for it.  A nice feature is the bun warmer (that’s a box just under the awning) and it rescues this from being a total novelty.

It has an adjustable heat knob, plus is built to American standards so it won’t blow up like some cheap appliances.  It’s cute.  Now if only there were a beer one rather than a Coke one. Time to break out those Martha Stewart skills and repaint this sucker with some team logos!

It is very inexpensive so maybe inflict it on a friend as a host gift when you turn up at his tailgate party. Definitely wins points for novelty value – I’d say it’s the best hot dog cooker for a gift for those who like Coke™.

Then there’s this:

Hot Dog Cooker Review: Benchmark Mini Cart Hotdog Steamer

Benchmark Mini Cart Hot dog cooker

Benchmark Mini Cart Hot dog cooker

Don’t be fooled by the little picture.  This is a full sized food cart. Now before you rush out and buy one, remember that if you are tailgate partying in an unpowered site, this one is limited by what ever sized generator you own.
Having said that, it is clean, hygienic and you can start a business (note: health permit needed for that) churning out the brats and beer (liquor license required). Possible one of the best hot dog cookers for novelty value!

Ahhh do I hear dreams of not working for the man ever again?  Hot dog cart here I come.

It’s more about steaming the hotdogs and holding them at a safe temperature.  I think it has its place but steamed brats are not as nice as grilled.

The weight is around 24 pounds too so it will add to your kit quite a lot.

For my money, this one is a no, because I like something a lot less cumbersome, and prefer grilled doggies, but if you love steamed or boiled dogs, it certainly has its uses, has the possibility of being a business and may just be what you are looking for. Every state has its own Health Department so check them out before you start selling and register your business. They are very helpful and who knows? You may be able to pay for your tailgate party hobby by selling dogs up and down the parking lot rows!

Garnishes and Fixin’s

Almost anything goes with a brat no matter what the flavor profile.  It’s en vogue to have Korean Mexican profile fixin’s so think about that. Ms. Rawhide always has a great bowl of finely manicured salads and pickles so that they fit perfectly on the plate/fork/fist/bun.  That’s a start.

For your fillings, some mustards of your liking in squirty bottles, ditto the relish, maybe some kimchee, tomato ketchup, sriracha, finely sliced up rings of red onion (or white) which you can soak overnight in some rice vinegar for that Asian flavor profile, dill pickles and you’re experiencing gourmet heaven! Line them up on a board so that guest can help themselves.  Provide lots of paper napkins for the messy eaters(or recyclable cloth ones if you are thinking ‘green’).

Naturally, it is your obligation to provide lots of beer to wash the food down with and a kegerator will have your back on this aspect.

You can present the fixin’s in chiller trays something like this one that has a layer of ice at the base to keep everything snapping fresh:

Condiment server with sneeze guard

Condiment server with sneeze guard

Or in the traditional squeeze bottles – You can buy 6 chef styled squirt bottles here. They are among the handiest things you can have in your tailgate party kit.

6 Kitchen squeeze bottles

6 Kitchen squeeze bottles

Or in a Sectional dish.  This one also has ice at the base.

Jumbl appetizer lidded serving tray

Jumbl appetizer lidded serving tray

It’s up to you. There are plenty of travel-easy options.

So there you have a simple guide to what I think are the best (or oddest) hot dog options out there.  I will add to this list as I stumble upon new machines so do call back occasionally for a look.

You want recipes?  Let me know and I will include some. Ms. Rawhide has some awesome hot-doggery up her sleeve.

Or go here:

Happy tailgating!







Best Portable Generators For Tailgate Parties Reviewed Update 2017.

Which portable generators make sense?

I’ve had a truckload of experience with some of the best portable generators at the user end. One of the sites belonging to the place I worked had no power at one stage and I bought a nifty little red Honda 2000W generator to run a heap of electrical appliances and lights which worked really well. Oh, until some idiot put diesel in it and it smoked like crazy. But we cleaned it out and it was as good as new. And we made a tidy sum renting it out to others. The Honda is a great and reliable unit.

At the moment, everyone I know is buying a generator for emergency backup in weather events and one of those always seems to be heading for the east with Texas in the cross hairs. Good luck, folks!

Briggs and Stratton Q6500 is great for the whole house

Briggs and Stratton Q6500 is great for the whole house

The whole house models are massive, but most portable generators are good value for their output and it’s really comforting that you can keep vital appliances going.  The one above is big but still portable. You can run a lot of gear on this Briggs and Stratton Q6500 generator and it is comparatively clean and quiet.  It would make perfect sense to buy this as a house backup and take it tailgate partying as needed!

Here’s my pick for looks, suitability and power from today’s vast range, including some that can be linked together to double the power output.

Best portable generators: Enerplex Generatr 1200 E Portable Lithium-Ion Battery Generator

Tailgate party generator can run your TV

Tailgate party generator can run your TV

Pick the generator!  Small, isn’t it? That’s because it is the compact EnerPlex 1200 which provides a fair bit of power environmentally and is so quiet it won’t interrupt your party with any more than a very quiet hum.

It stands out from most generators due to its modern, industrial style and colors.

It is rechargable, BATTERY POWERED which means it runs almost silent and great news, it can be connected to a couple of 100x solar panels to run your gear so that is a plus for the environment.

Solar panels for your tailgate party generator

Solar panels can run your tailgate party generator

Here is a picture of this smart high tech generator:

EnerPlex generator for tailgate parties

EnerPlex generator for tailgate parties

I have to say that this light little unit (42 pounds only) is a tremendous addition to your tailgate party kit.  Many sites are banning noisy generators and what they class as noise is quite a low hum.  The EnerPlex has none of that.  No fumes, totally a green machine.  The power output is plenty to run your TV and even a kegerator plus phone charging.  If you want to hook it up to solar panels for complete green credits, go to the Commander site and read all the technical specifications.  But even without that, the generator alone is a great buy and its light weight reduces your tailgate party kit considerably.  Here’s a tip: some parking lots across USA offer free car charging to customers.  Pop your genny in the trunk and give it a burst if you are running low.  Oh, make sure you have the correct connector and also don’t leave it unattended.

Keep your portable tailgate party generator clean

I learned a lot over the years, such as cleanliness is vital. So treat your generator like a kegerator and keep those lines clean and clear. And, in my list of best portable generators, you’ll find a way of getting a 4000W generator without the massive expense of buying a biggie. Rather than do a scatter-gun long list of contenders, I’ve whittled down the choices to make it more manageable and included my top choices. So, to find a current list of best portable generators, read on ….

What Makes the Best Portable Generators for Tailgate Parties?

Factor #1 is that most sites are not powered. They are parking lots full of improvised tailgate party sites.  We all know that there are many times at a tailgate party when you need power, but there’s just nothing to plug into. If you want to cook on site such as in a small pizza oven, keep food and booze refrigerated, be there for the long haul, play music, watch television, run a satellite link, hey, you are going to need a generator. Preferably, minimum 2000 watts. Though some are OK under that limit.

Noise should be minimised.

Read on, as here’s some stuff you may not know. I have looked at many models as contenders for Best Portable Generators and the ones below are my final recommendations for tailgate party use. You don’t have to wade through heaps of portable generator reviews.  I have done that for you. Oh, and all these portable generators will come in handy for the zombie apocalypse too. Oh, but if it is just a light or something small you need to rev up, there are some awesome battery packs we have reviewed earlier. Keep it charged up and it is great for a little power. But they just don’t do it for powering a kegerator though.

Best portable generators: Duracell Power Pack Pro


Duracell Power Pak charges phones, runs lights for tailgate parties

Nice little tailgate party accessory


Here is a range of generators that will be suitable for tailgate partying and made it to my list of Best Portable Generators. These have the added bonus that in this global warming situation where doomsday prepping is at an all time high, you WILL be prepared. That is, if you remembered to buy some fuel.  It qualifies as one of my Best Portable Generators as it is simple to use, compact and cheap.

Best portable generators: Hyundai HY2000siCa Portable Inverter Generator, 2200-watt

Hyundai Inverter generator

Hyundai Inverter generator

The Hyundai HY2000siCa generator has an average running time (on full tank) = 4-6 hours. The makers claim 5.5 Hours at 50 percent load. You won’t need to run it at 100% very often though. Most uses are intermittent peaks of power.

Starter is Electric. But the Hyundai HY2000siCa generator does have a manual recoil as well. The electric starter requires batteries. It starts easily whether hot or cold.

Quiet?:   Yes. 65 dB which is louder than the Honda generator but not unbearable.

Note that there is a non-CARB and a CARB compliant model, the latter costing a few more bucks. But hey, you want the CARB model, EPA and CSA Certified. Otherwise, your tailgate party will be noisy and gassy. You don’t want emissions of any kind as it can overtake your beer taste. So do select the CARB Hyundai HY2000siCa generator and the world (and your nose and ears) will thank you.  A Non-Carb really should not be on the list of Best Portable Generators but it’s OK in some situations.

Tank Capacity = 1.2 gallons.

Price: Around 40% cheaper than the average popular equivalent.

Uses: You can run multiple small electrical items all at once or an air-conditioner using the Hyundai HY2000siCa generator. Great for a tailgate party and it will run the kegerator. Maybe not the TV at the same time unless yours is a small one. In other words, you can cook or you can watch TV. But you could cook and plug in an iPod and some nifty speakers. On the non-party days, you could also run any single large power tool (table saw, small 1 to 1.5 hp pancake compressor) with the Hyundai HY2000siCa generator and hey, it’s suddenly a business expense and you can take it tailgating at weekends.

Outlets:  The Hyundai HY2000siCa generator has two 120V 16.6A AC and one 12V 8.3A DC outlet. That’s average and all you need. Plug in more and you will drain it fast. Its dependable circuit breaker system with overload protection is good to have as these gadgets can surge a bit due to dirty fuel or just problems . Low Oil Indicator for additional protection but note that by the time it activates, the oil may have all gone. Suggestion is that you top up the oil on a regular basis and keep the unit clean. 12V DC power for “On The Move” battery charges. Vehicle battery charge cables included

Fuel: Unleaded Gasoline. Use a smaller can (say, 1 gal.) for filling rather than the 5 gal. as then you can easily spill the fuel.

Weight: The Hyundai HY2000siCa is a lightweight generator and easy for one person to wrangle. Manufactured from 3mm Polypropylene to keep that weight down. I really like these poly generators more than I thought I would. They are resistant to dings whereas the steel ones scratch and dent quite fast.

Service: Make sure you clean the unit and check the spark plugs as these can wiggle loose with use. Tighten them up from time to time. Just as you would a lawnmower.

Running Time is stated as 5.5 Hours. With a spare can of fuel this will be enough for most tailgate parties. This unit is an actual ‘2000 watt – 16.7 amp output’ – whereas both the Honda and Yamaha 2000 inverter generators are actually only rated at 1600 watts – 13.3 amp. This makes the Hyundai HY2000siCa generator a better deal.

Maker’s guarantee: 2-Year Limited Warranty. It’s backed by a 2-year warranty for commercial or non-commercial use. Has a manufacturer’s help line and they are very attentive. Will replace the unit if they can’t make suggestions for fixing any problems. Made in China.

Comparable with the Yamaha and Honda 2000 W. but cheaper.

Users have advised taking a flashlight to light up the control panel as it is not lit at all. Also, it has no fuel gauge. You just need to keep it topped up each time you use it. However, as the cheapest at this level, it may be worth it to sacrifice the convenience for something that runs just as well.  Of course, Ms. Rawhide loves it just for the color blue.

What’s included:

Instruction book, tools for removal of access panels and draining of oil for storage. It has standard oil but you may get a better result using a good 5/30w Synthetic Oil instead.

Now let’s pause for an educational moment …. You’ll see CARB referred to a heck of a lot in relation to all sorts of products that may affect the environment. So ….

What is CARB?

The California Air Resources Board, also known as CARB or ARB, is the “clean air agency” in the State of California. Emissions rules in California are very stringent and CARB comes under the jurisdiction of the Californian EPA. They have made great inroads into Los Angeles’ clean up of air and noise and now you can see the Hollywood sign from almost the coast. unheard of in the bad ol’ smoggy days. Could be something to do with the invention of the Prius.

Bottom line is that CARB has some good insight into noise and air pollution, so whether you live in California or not, it would be wise to go with their call on what generator is good. In that spirit, I would not recommend the non-CARB model at all. A few extra bucks for the CARB approved model is way worth not getting COPD or tinnitus in your middle years.


Best portable generators: All Power America 2,000 Watt 4-Stroke Gas Powered Portable Generator

All Power American 200W Generator

All Power American 2000W Generator

NON CARB compliant. Ie. NOT for sale or able to be freighted to California. Made in China: Jiangsu Jiangdong Group.  You may ask, why does it get on a list of Best Portable Generators ?

Well, the All Power America APG3014 is dirt cheap. The only way I could buy this one, though, is if I had a farm or plot of land surrounded by nothingness.

However, it is a good buy for a generator this size. 2,000 Watts Surge/1,400 Watts Continuous, 3 HP 4-Stroke Engine. The All Power America APG3014 is noisier than the equivalent Hyundai with 68 dB of grunt and that could be the main reason why it is not for sale in California. It would not be a perfect tailgate party purchase for the reason of noise pollution alone. You would need a long lead to keep the noise away from your tailgate party or you could baffle it with acoustic panels.  However, it does come into the class of ‘better than nothing’ and everyone needs a bargain sometimes.

The All Power America APG3014 generator is lightweight, framed for easy portability durability as that metal frame protects it from dings.

Average running time (on full tank): It is claimed that it will run for 9.5 hours on a 50% load but I am skeptical in general about these predictions as there are so many variables. However, users do rate this highly and that is a good indicator.

Starter:  Electric. Plus Manual recoil.

Quiet?: The All Power America APG3014 is not super quiet but more like the roar of a lawnmower – 68 dB but seems louder. Needs a better muffler. But then it has a powerful 3 HP OHV engine so there’s a trade-off. You COULD house it in a sound attenuating box and these can easily be made with some panels of specific acoustic material. Be sure to allow ventilation though.

Size of fuel tank: All Power America APG3014 ‘s Tank Capacity is 1.3 gallons.

Price: Around 60% cheaper than the average popular equivalent which gives it a place on the Best Portable Generators list.

Uses: The All Power America APG3014 would be OK on a building site or a power backup for storms but not really my pick for a social occasion like tailgating due to its noise and emissions. But it is really at the low end of costs.

Outlets: Two AC 120V outlets, one DC 12 V output Voltage as measured (not as claimed) is actually 122.5 Volts

Fuel: Unleaded Gasoline. Again, use a smaller can (say, 1 gal.) for filling rather than the 5 gal. as then you can easily spill the fuel though this fuel tank is more accessible that the Hyundai.

Weight: 54 pounds which is a bit of a hefty load.

Service: As with all vibrating motors, make sure you clean the unit and check the spark plugs as these can wriggle loose with use. Tighten them up from time to time. Just as you would a mower.

Running Time is supposedly 9.5 hours at half load allowing for peaks. I don’t think it would really last that long consistently.

Maker’s guarantee: All America has a manufacturer’s help line and they do respond to problems rapidly.

Not comparable with the Hyundai, Yamaha and Honda 2000 W but a lot cheaper and there is some discrepancy between their claims of 2000W and the reality of the power output.  However, as a super cheap buy for emergency use or as a backup for your tailgate party, I can’t really object to it. High up on the Best Portable Generators list?  Well, only just.  But be sure to clean it, use quality gas and oil (avoid ethanol) and it should perform well.

What’s included: Instruction book, oil. Details on link to website for helpline. The actual size of the unit is larger than advertised: height 14 3/4 in., width 13 3/4 in., and length 18 1/16 in.


You can use this handy calculator to help estimate how many watts you require to run your appliances. Are you asking my why I don’t recommend Briggs & Stratton and why they are not on the Best Portable Generators list? Well, they are more expensive and also, are not the B & S of old days. My ol’ Pa had a self propelling slasher, for instance, from the old Made in America days and it is still going strong even though it’s almost the same age as I am! But now …

If you are running a kegerator, and I hope you will be, then substitute that for the refrigerator category.

Once you’ve done the math, you would realize that 2000 W – the most popular generator – is really not an optimum choice for a full service tailgate party power source.  They are no longer the world’s Best Portable Generators but do have some good insight into what generators can do.

I ran through that list and calculated on my appliances – kegerator, electric pizza cooker, TV, a light for the gloomy days, tablet charger – at minimum I figured on ramping up the Watts to 3000.

So here’s my pick of the 3000 watts generators. Anything BIGGER than that is going to need a bigger truck to haul it and also going too large means it is harder for one guy to wrangle unaided, and I am thinking of the post-party pack-up here.

Best portable generators: Champion Power Equipment No.75531i Inverter Generator, 3100-watt

Champion Inverter Power Generator 3100 watts

Champion Inverter Power Generator 3100 watts

Bear in mind that this little beauty is over 80 pounds so it will be a bit of a power lift every time you take it to your tailgate party. The wheels are rubber and smooth so that’s a help so it’s made it to the list of Best Portable Generators on the basis of its user-friendly design.

Having said that, the Champion Power Equipment No.75531i generator is quieter than the Honda or the Hyundai 2000 W and that is quite amazing. I’m not exactly sure what difference a few dBs will make because usually, our tailgate parties are raucous enough to drown out any generator. Shame on us for not being CARB compliant and don’t get me started on our tailgate party emissions.

My pal Seth, a faithful tailgate party pioneer, swears by the Champion Power Equipment No.75531i generator as it easily can run the kegerator small to medium sized, and a small TV plus has the capacity to plug in and charge everyone’s i-whatevers. Phone, pad, pod etc. etc.. The inverter (that bumps the price up) is actually worth it as it ensures clean power to sensitive appliances (eg. a smart tv, ipad, computer). Quiet, lightweight and portable by virtue of the aforementioned large rubber wheels and stowaway handle, the Champion 3100W Inverter Generator is really versatile and can be the centerpiece (off-stage!) of your tailgate party. Note that the description says it is 2800 Watts Rated, 3100 Watts Maximum output which is powerful enough to run a 15,000btu air conditioner so with that in mind, the gadgets of the tailgate party are a snap.

Inverter Technology provides clean power which means it won’t have the sort of surges most cheap generators have so will be safe for sensitive electronics such as your small smart TV (eg. A 32”).

The engine of the Champion Power Equipment No.75531i automatically idles lower when electrical load is reduced, which gives you a saving of fuel and engine wear. I like that feature a lot and it is a reason I added it to my Best Portable Generators list. Does not power 220 volts. That’s a whole different ball game.

Mysteriously, it says it will run for 8 hours on a full tank of gas at 25% load. I’m thinking that its performance is way better than that.

Note that the Champion Power Equipment No.75531i is EPA/CARB approved for sale in 50 states including, of course, California.

Quiet – only 58 Dba. Powered by a Champion 171cc OHV engine designed specifically for the 3100 Watt inverter generator will run 8 hours on a full tank of gas at 25% load.

Average running time (on full tank) it will go all day powering a 25% load but really, the power pull can be higher than 25% just not flat out all the time. Overload Protection, Low Oil Sensor and Economy Mode Switch.

Starter:  Recoil. This generator has a choke, but remember not to run it on full choke. Flooding will occur and the auto cut-off will kick in. Auto choke saves your poor handling into being a major problem.

Quiet?: At 58 dB the sound of the Champion Power Equipment No.75531i can be drowned out by anyone’s Jimmy Buffett downloads.

Tank Capacity: 1.6 gallons which is a little bigger than most.

Price: Under $1000 which makes it a lot cheaper than the 2000W Honda! Bargainacious!

Uses: Strong enough to run a kegerator, TV and even a small air con for a few hours. Can be noisy when it is outputting a lot of power but very much an all rounder.

Maker’s guarantee: All product technical, service and warranty inquiries must go through Champion. There’s a 24/7 tech line. Note that Champion products cannot be returned to a retail store or e-tailer, but you can email the company for the procedure for any replacement. All Champion products are cover by a Lifetime Free Technical Support and 2 Year Limited Warranty. Made in China.

Outlets: 1 – 120V Duplex outlet (5-20R), 1-12V DC Outlet w/cables included, and 1 – TT30 Receptacle – RV Ready.

Fuel: Unleaded Gasoline.

Weight: 80 pounds.

Size: 19.7 inches x 24.2 inches x 18.5 inches – seems manageable.

What’s included: Instruction book, oil, handy funnel.  You will need a screwdriver.

Bottom line: This generator gives you that extra oomph and seems to me to be the right size for tailgating. You would look after your beer, your food and your games, plus the visual entertainment (TV) and music system and they would all run off this for the duration of the party. It won’t fit in the trunk of a sedan but would be OK in your SUV or truck.

Is this THE Best Gas Powered Portable Generator for tailgate parties? Yup!

Powerhouse PH2100PRi 2100 Watt 125cc 4-Stroke Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator With Remote Start (CARB Compliant)


Powerhouse gas powered generator for tailgate parties

Powerhouse gas powered generator for tailgate parties

Here’s my top pick for Best Portable Generator of the gas powered kind. One of the great selling points of this CARB compliant unit is the remote start – a perfect system for tailgate parties when you are stuck at the grill or playing a game. You don’t want to leave that beer unattended. After all, that is what you are there for. The remote start works up to 75 feet away. It’s a unique design which also features an electric start. Prime and switch on and you’re up and running.

The second great feature is that you can buy two of these for less than most other generators to give you 4000W. That’s enough to run a heap of gear you would need for a tailgate party. See the note below on the parallel option which gives you versatile and compact power and the great thing about that is that you and your buddy can buy compatible systems and link up only when you need that extra grunt.  And I’m looking at you, Matt! Rather than categorize Best Portable Generators as ‘the most expensive’, I have figured out ways to get more power to your site for less money.  This is definitely a great way to do it.  More money for beer.

Average running time (on full tank) of the Powerhouse PH2100PRi is versatile. Continuous run time (hr) Full load; 3.0 hrs; 1/4 load; 7.5 hrs. This is a conservative estimate. Other users have reported better results due to the variable speed which conserves fuel as your use ebbs and flows.

Starter:  Electric. You need to charge the battery when you unpack the box. The Powerhouse PH2100PRi generator has electric start, recoil and remote, an Auto choke that switches off to prevent smoking. There’s an easy primer. Some users have reported that the unit is difficult to start especially in extremely cold areas. We didn’t find that but if you have problems, call the service number immediately. It also has an engine-reset button that will automatically restart the engine if the unit shuts down due to engine overload, and an internal circuit breaker. The other thing I did notice was that users have some nifty ways of getting around this. #1 read the instructions. #2 check out some of the really long posts about the unit on which explain about cleaning and little cheats to prevent flooding. Most are applicable to all generators and are handy to know. The more you can get to know your unit the better!

Quiet?: Users say the Powerhouse PH2100PRi is quite acceptable, not silent but not intrusive. A longer lead will keep it away for the tailgate party fun. Keep it under the 75 feet so that you can use the handy remote.

Tank Capacity: 1.3 gallons.

Price: You could buy two Powerhouse PH2100PRi generators plus the optional connector kit for a lower RRP of one 3500W Honda from some sellers who cost these at way over $2000. That feature alone makes it a natural to be on the list of Best Generators and the invertor will stop your appliances from frying.

Ideal tailgate party generator

Link two for double the power output

Uses: The parallel-ready PH2100PRi inverter generator can be connected through an optional kit to provide over 4000w of power. All you do is connect two compatible Powerhouse generators. For example, you could connect two PH2100PRi models for 4000 watts, or pair the PH2100PRi with a PH2700PRi generator for 4600 watts of total power. Follow the links to the parallel kit here.

Outlets: A full range. As pictured.


Ideal generator to run tailgate party gear

Power outlets on Powerhouse generator

Fuel: Unleaded Gasoline.

Weight: 75 pounds – heavyish. And if you had two …    invest in a cart you can stand it on,

Generator cart for easy tailgate party handling

Generator cart for easy tailgate party handling


but use bike locks to secure that cart well against thieves who may just decide to wheel it away.

Combination illuminated bike lock

Combination illuminated bike lock


Service: As with all vibrating motors, make sure you clean the unit and check the spark plugs as these can wriggle loose with use. Tighten them up from time to time. Just as you would a mower.

Run time: Continuous run time when powering a full load is 3.0 hrs; 1/4 load; 7.5 hrs but that’s conservative. Has variable and constant speeds and conserves fuel when the load is lower.

Maker’s guarantee: 2-year consumer warranty (1-year for commercial use); EPA, CARB, and CSA compliant.

It is important to keep the fuel and the generator clean. Any grit in fuel lines will make starting very difficult so keep it clean and covered when not in use and make sure you service it regularly. Don’t over-prime when you start it. One push is enough.

What’s included: Powerhouse PH2100PRi portable inverter generator; oil jug; two keys; two remotes; oil drain pipe; spare fuse; spark plug wrench; screwdriver; spare spark plug; internal charging cable; battery charge kit; operating instruction book.

Best portable generators: Briggs and Stratton PowerSmart range of linkable portable generators

Portable Generators - Briggs and Stratton

Portable Generators – Briggs and Stratton

Here is another great portable generator that can be ‘chained’ to increase your power output.  You can buy the handy wheelie cart and the kit to link this generator to your bud’s and run a heap of appliances from it for the best tailgate party ever. Briggs and Stratton are names very familiar in farming communities and they make solid state gear.

Anyway, one of these portable generator copes with 3000 watts on its own, the other does 2200 and has 8 outlets for 120 v. when combined. That’s why I recommend this bundle of 3 items which links 2 inverter generators to pack a powerful punch. For starters, this gives you a great backup system for your house in case of disasters such as hurricanes and the like.  In that case, we sure always to keep it topped up with fuel and in a safe place so that these events won’t render it useless.  You may like to invest in a sheltered box adjacent to your home for ready use.  Or a hurricane shelter! It keeps your options open too as you can run one, two depending on your needs. All the technical specs are here so I won’t reproduce them in full but I recommend reading them well.


This is by no means a listing of every generator available just those I believe are the Best Portable Generators suited to tailgate parties, and in general, not the high end machines. Better to spend your dollars on beer.

A few hints on owning a generator

It may be a good investment to buy a cover.

This one is really great.

Gentent wet weather generator canopy for tailgate parties

Gentent wet weather generator canopy for tailgate parties


The GenTent is the best in its class and will fit many types of generator even up to 10,000 watts.  It’s a Universal size. It’s designed so that yu still get 100% air-flow and your generator will not burn out.

Wet weather will not spoil your tailgate party when your generator is dressed in a GenTent!

Don’t ever run a generator inside. They are designed for outdoor use only, be sure they are well ventilated. You can die of the fumes so keep plenty of air around them.

Be sure to read the instructions. EVERY generator has its own little quirks. Another good way to gather information is to read reviews on as many of the users have some unique ways of dealing with issues such as hard-to-start or flooded systems.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the exact fuel recommended for your model.

Buy a good container for gas storage with a funnel top to avoid spillage. Keep it safely away from your house in a garage or shed. I always recommend a small bottle as it is too easy to spill fuel from the large ones.

Justrite AccuFlow 7210220 Type II Galvanized Steel Safety Can with 5/8″ Flexible Spout, 5 Gallon Capacity, Yellow is great and they have larger sizes for longer term storage.  No, you can’t use this as a beer bong.  Hmmm, maybe I am wrong.

Justrite Accuflow safety can for oil

Justrite Accuflow safety can for oil

Upscale the oil that you use. Get the best 100% synthetic oil you can buy.

Excellent synthetic oil

Excellent synthetic oil

Make sure that wherever you site your generator, you place it on a level surface. Wobbly generators, even slightly, will be way noisier. Plus it does affect the spark plugs’ performance by loosening them.

Buy a long lead and also I would recommend some kind of heavy duty bike lock with something you can secure the genny to a tree, a pole or other non-removable post. They do get stolen! We recommend double chaining it with two tough locks. At least it will slow down any attempts to hijack it.

Keep it very clean. Wipe it down after every use and store it in a box once it has cooled down.

Flame retardant foam panels are good at being silencers for the generator. Doesn’t have to be a total white-trash fix-up – you can make them quite professional looking without a little thought.

F’rinstance, you can clamp these together to make a simple blimp:

Link these flame resistant panels

Link these flame resistant panels

General advice on portable generators for tailgate parties

Buy a generator a size up from what you think you will need if you can afford it, but DON’T scale up beyond what you actually need to run your tailgate party. Factor in a place to store it, the time to clean and service it. But of course, you will almost always find other uses and people will want to plug in to charge phones, iPads etc. and mooch off your power. If you want to run a TV of a decent size, then 4000 (which can also be sold as a 3500W) is most likely what you need. Having said that, remember the more appliances you plug in, the shorter your run time and you will go through gas much faster which will cost mucho dinero. So there you have it: the current crop of generators that will make your party zing.

But the use of a generator in a powerless tailgate situation can lift your party into a complete stratosphere of awesomeness. IMHO. No, remove that ‘H’.

Happy tailgating!




Best Portable Pizza Ovens Reviewed – 2017 revised list.

Looking for the best portable pizza oven? I had one once.  But actually, it wasn’t portable. The last house I owned had a fabulous outdoor pizza oven. Wood-fired. All the neighbors would smell it cooking and come on over, especially if I set up the big-screen TV during peak sports days. Then we sold the house. Fortunately sold to an Italian family who didn’t even think of demolishing this mosque-like construction. But how I miss it! But that wasn’t a portable pizza oven. It was built-in. So, there was no way this was going to the tailgate party! Which got me thinking: isn’t it better to have a pizza oven you can take anywhere? So I’ve done the research and put together this list of the best available portable pizza ovens reviewed.

So here’s my pick for best portable pizza oven of the bunch!

Mobile / Portable Wood Fired Pizza Oven “Maximus”

Maximus Portable woodfired Pizza Oven

Woodfired Maximus Portable Pizza Oven

Yummm pizza rolls Mobile wood fired pizza oven 'Maximus'

Here’s the grand-daddy of them all and you may want to check this one out if your tailgate parties attract large groups of people. The Maximus is probably better than the best of the best portable pizza ovens. But it’s not for everyone.

It is a pro model, imported from Portugal, wood-fired, which is something many parking lots do not allow, and would be the basis of a nice little tailgate party pizza service – a little business on the side, provided you have all the necessary county paperwork. Or you could just GIVE the pizzas away to your friends. A few of you could club together to buy this one, the price of which is a tad over three times more than the 30 inch Artisan oven but it cooks more pizzas simultaneously.

Can cook a pizza in 2 minutes or quicker.

Can reach temps of 900 degrees F.

Made of industrial grade stainless steel and aluminum with a ceramic blanket of insulation in between and terra cotta tiles as the heat bricks, it is 120 pounds of grunt waiting for you to slide your home-made, custom-topped pizzas into its hungry, fiery belly. As it is, you will need to supply 8 pounds of wood per hour to keep it alight.

It takes 2 people to move this, plus just 30 minutes of burning to reach the optimum, steady cooking temperature (depending on the chilly weather to some extent). Just remember that a brick/masonry oven takes almost 2 hours of burning to reach 700°F. And a lot more firewood. There’s a stainless steel chimney, oh and it comes in red or black. Very smart. The front of the oven (decor bricks) is made from LaFarge refractory cement which not only looks great but is practical. The door is 15.55″ at the bottom and 9″ high.

The cook surface area is around 27.5 inches square. On the diagonal, you could cook four small pizzas at a time but you are probably better off cooking one large one and feeding the troops as fast as possible. This oven can produce 30+ 12″ pizzas in 1 hour, according to the manufacturers.

This deal is a good one as it includes the pizza peel and terracotta cooking pan.

OK, so there’s no stand (buy as an optional extra) or cover (recommended to keep it pristine and smart looking) and my pal who owns a very popular LA mobile pizza service has his mounted onto a trailer with a hitch and leaves room for his logs and fire equipment. Looks pretty smart. He is available to do parties of all kinds, even tailgating.

Unlike a brick oven, this will cool down to a manageable level for transporting in a couple of hours once you turn it off.

You will receive in the shipping crate the oven, a pizza peel, a metal divider to keep charcoal away from the food, a wire for easy fire starting!

As far as a base is concerned, a few concrete blocks arranged in a brick weave would be fine unless you can cough up the funds for a small cargo carrier and a trailer hitch and cook directly on a layer of concrete blocks laid out on that. Which is what my friend does. The trailer below can carry up to 500 pounds weight so he puts his firewood on there and some other accessory boxes and his tailgate parties are awesome (and take place in areas where fire is allowed).

How to get the pizza oven to the parking lot

Transporting pizza oven to parking lot

Transporting pizza oven to parking lot

ransporting pizza oven to parking lot

Why pizza?

Pizza is a real staple at parking lot tailgate parties but those soggy- pick-up-on-the-way- boxed offerings bear no resemblance to the freshly cooked ones tailored to your own taste.

Who knew that there were so many ways of cooking a crusty, delicious pizza outdoors, beer in one hand, game in progress …. Ahhhh, what a perfect combo, especially in cold weather. Or hot! With leftovers for next day’s breakfast.

I’ve been doing the research for a while now and I was skeptical at first. Heck just a call to Domino’s and they’ll deliver to the tailgate party. A couple of friends swear by the DIY model and honestly, their pizzas are awesome. Mozza standard.  Mario Batali, eat your heart out!  The main questions are, do these small, portable gadgets reach a high enough temperature? What is their power source? Are they independent or do they just sit on a way more powerful grill? I have many answers below. FYI there is also a list of what I now know to be essential accessories for cooking a crispy-crust pizza. And more. It’s worth wading through as I have collated a heap of my findings below.

Note that they are all surprisingly affordable, running between $150 and $300 plus some great accessories. You can make this back in savings just at one tailgate party.

The list is in no particular order as I love most of these pizza ovens. But the Pizzacraft does come in at Number One as it is from a company really dedicated to Pizza and their accessories are terrific and oh, the price is right. Plus it fits on a trailer with the portable kegerator and a couple of coolers so, honestly, what more could a tailgate party fan want? There are a lot of people who would consider the Little Caesar’s pizza pizza to be the best portable pizza oven.

Smaller portable pizza ovens

Camp Chef Italia Artisan Pizza Oven

Camp Chef Italia Artisan Pizza Oven

Camp Chef Italia Artisan Pizza Oven

Camp Chef Pizza Oven

Camp Chef Pizza Oven with gas bottle (extra)

There is a small version of the Italia Artisan Pizza Oven that will just sit on another grill unit but I am assuming that you want a pizza that is sized to accompany a couple of rounds of beer pong. That means I will cut to the chase here and review the 30 inch (exterior measurement) model which is almost 3 times the price of the small version. Worth it though as the larger models is one of the best portable pizza ovens.

This is the model most people talk about that is as close to a brick oven as you can get. That of course, comes with a bit of a learning curve on the part of the user and some variations. You get better at it as you go along, trust me. The double layered ceiling and walls have been designed to keep that heap circulating the way it should.

Fifteen minutes pre-heat is required to reach the magic 700°F. Some pizzas are OK to cook at 600°F so again, test this before the tailgate party. You can reduce the guess-work in the cooking process by getting used to the built-in valve ignition/micro-adjust valve which controls the flame from super low to high. The temperature gauge helps you monitor the internal air temperatures. This is also regulated through the ventilated door and that has a nifty handle. Specially designed burners and micro-adjust valves give you heat control and responsiveness to cook perfect artisan pizza with crispy crust and moist toppings. But practice makes perfect, so invite the neighbors in and experiment till you can sling those pizzas like a pro. Capacity is 2 small pizzas at one cook. You can buy the dough at Trader Joe’s. Or Wholefoods. Or any supermarket that has a bakery.

It is also remarkably easy to clean.

Technically, it is rated as 17,000 BTU and you can run it on a one pound propane canister. A 5 foot hose and regulator are INCLUDED so that you can buy a 30 pound tank if you prefer. (I would!).

It weighs 47 pounds which is really manageable at a tailgate party. The on-off knob has a built in ignition but you have to twist it to exactly the right place to light it. It can take a few tweaks after you change gas tanks.

Don’t forget a generator if you are in a non-powered situation.   Most tailgate parties are held in parking lots and it is rare to have power. So a genny is a good investment. Oh, and so many people will want to rent it from you that you will get your money back in no time. Oh, stand by for the results of my research on that in the next weeks.

Woodfired pizza ovens are NOT permitted in most places and this is a really good substitute. Bear in mind that you can also use it to heat up that mac’n’cheese, to crisp up some chicken wings, make bread or scones or do anything a normal oven will do, but do watch that temperature!

It gets super ouchy hot so allow plenty of time for it to cool down before packing in your truck. That heat takes quite a while to dissipate so you can use it to keep stuff warm or shove a bread stick in there pre-slathered with garlic butter and wrapped in foil. Nibbles all afternoon.

Camp Chef Italia Artisan Pizza Oven Accessory, 16-Inch

Camp Chef Italia Pizza Oven Accessory

Camp Chef Italia Pizza Oven Accessory

Here then, for those who will be toting that grill anyway for the ribs, is the 16 inch accessory version of the same oven described above. Not one of the best portable pizza ovens but a handy size and very portable for tailgate parties. This one sits on top of the grill and is a cordierite ceramic pizza stone with a stainless steel cover. The design and air flow are the same as the 30 inch free-standing model but the heat source is your grill and therefore, not as controllable. You DO need to rotate the pizza several times for even cooking as the bit near the door burns cooler than the rear.

Cooking Surface Diameter is15″ x 20″ (300 sq. in) which is not a massive area, but for one at a time 14 inch pizza service in addition to running your grill, that’s a good food service for any tailgate party.

Pretty much everything applies in the same way as the free standing 30 inch model except for the heat source. It has a built in temperature gauge and is as well-equipped as its big brother and can reach 700°F if properly pre-heated and door is closed. It will fit on any Camp Chef grill (they are marked with compatibility) or a three burner grill of any kind really.

You will find that the predictability of this oven is great for cooking and Ms. Rawhide has made it her thing to bake a batch of bacon, tomato, chives and egg muffins to get us started when we arrive at breakfast time. Again, turn the pan once or twice for even cooking.

Thin crust pizzas will cook in a bout 5-7 minutes with the oven set on high to medium high.

Some very simple assembly is required – just screw in the stone.

It is very cheap, simple, easy to store when you are not in pizza mood (oh, really? Such a time exists?)

Camp Chef Home Somerset 3-Burner Cart Stove

Camp Chef Italia Somerset 111 Stove

Camp Chef Italia Somerset 111 Stove

When Camp Chef designed the accessory Pizza Oven it was for the 3-Burner cart stove.

This has a chef’s style grid on top and is quite solid-state which it needs to be for the pizza oven to sit on. So take that into consideration. But of course, it will fit on any 3-burner grill with a perfectly flat top and the power to heat it.

Check out your existing grill, for instance. Is it equal to three x 30,000 BTU per hour burners; range 90,000 total BTU? That’s the kind of power you will need to get the accessory pizza oven up to the temperature of 700°F.

In my book, there’s a case for packing one of the smaller grills and buying the larger stand-alone portable pizza ovens instead. Just remember that they are versatile cookers and you can even smoke ribs in them (be careful of the spatter though).

Blackstone 1575 Outdoor Oven

Blackstone Outdoor Portable Pizza Oven

Blackstone Outdoor Portable Pizza Oven

Pizza from the Blackstone Outdoor Pizza Oven The Blackstone Outdoor Pizza Oven roasts too

Small is good for tailgating and, because of that, this very small unit gets a big thumbs up from me. It fits on a patio but even so, offers a 60,000 BTU burner for quick and even heat, an easy push button igniter and durable steel handles PLUS a battery-powered rotisserie motor to rotate the pizza stone for accurate and reliable brick oven results. It will, once pre-heated, cook a 16 inch pizza crispy on the base and bubbling cheesy on the top in around four minutes flat. In a lot of ways you could consider this to be the best portable pizza oven if you are thinking homegating, tailgating, camping or trips to the beach.

The company is quick to respond to any issues and will replace or repair your unit as required. It also does way more than pizza. This sort of oven is really versatile and wow, in my Utopia, parking lots around stadiums would have one of these at the end of every row. Report any problems fast – eg. The pizza stone has occasionally cracked in shipping and if parts do not look like perfect seals, call the company for a replacement. Send them some photos of any damage and they will tell you exactly how to fix/replace the part if necessary.

Don’t forget that you need a hex screwdriver for assembly and also remember to buy AA batteries for the ignition and the motor requires two D batteries so that the tray rotates for even cooking. Advice from many users is to insert the batteries before doing the final assembly of it to the oven and remember which way they go in so that next time you need to insert them, you will not be confused. Hey, time away from beer pong and dizzy bat is totally wasted at a tailgate party!

Some good hacks include investing a few bucks in a thrust bearing to smooth out the rotation of the tray, protect the motor from a rough rotation and another is to add a small tray of wood chips in the back corner to add that smoky flavor (don’t overdo this though).

Buy a cover if you are storing this outdoors. Just remember that most covers are not fireproof and don’t put it on while the oven is still hot. Go off, have a few beers, watch the game and by then it will be cool.

In terms of carrying this with your tailgate party gear, it is a no-brainer. It is compact and smart-looking and the stand comes with it.

Bakerstone Bx/Pizza Oven

Bakerstone Portable Pizza Oven

Bakerstone Portable Pizza Oven

Bakerstone Pizza accessory

A low end, economical accessory to a BBQ it needs to be used with a 3-, 4- or 5-burner grill with a stable, flat top to reach optimum temperature but is cheap and very handy. You sit it on the top, crank up the heat and wait. It takes over 30 minutes to reach its highest temperature and when it does, go bam! Put the pizza in to cook and four minutes later it is cooked.   It does take an age to get hot enough and will cool down fast. Any spatters are difficult to clean, but then maybe that’s not a great problem. Most pizza ovens are stained in time. Not one of the best portable pizza ovens but a quick and easy substitute if you don’t want too many appliances and already have a BBQ.

Its pros are the cool look, the even cooking, the light weight (a distinct advantage to people transporting gear to tailgate parties) and the economy yet effectiveness of walls in its heat handling. It’s almost as big on the inside as on the outside. It’s easy to assemble too. The pizzas it makes have the moisture locked into the crust so that it is crispy on the outside but still nice and doughy inside, not just crispy cardboard.

Get a cover! An iron sizzle plate is good for some dishes too.

So basically, if you are already taking the grill to the tailgate party, then this accessory is the most compact on the market and maybe you could give it a go.

Remember, do a rehearsal at home before taking on the tailgate party.

Pizzaz pizza Counter Top Oven Cooker

Presto Pizzazz Pizza Maker

Presto Pizzazz Pizza Maker

OK, don’t laugh but I include this electric portable pizza maker in this review because it is small and for some people, it’s all they want or need from a pizza. Here’s the thing – It costs less than $100.

Plus you can buy in a heap of Costco frozen or premade pizzas and heat them up using only a small battery pack that can run electrical appliances for an hour or more.

Duracell 1300 battery pack

Duracell 1300 battery pack will run the pizza oven

You can cook frozen or fresh pizza, battered fish, tacos and all kinds of things on it. It does have a tendency to blow a fuse if you continually cook on it but users swear by them. Then go and enjoy the chilly contents of your kegerator!

Just for good measure, here is an alternative one of these electric thingies.

Hamilton Beach 31700 Pizza Maker

Hamilton Beach cheap portable pizza maker

Hamilton Beach cheap portable pizza maker

This one is even cheaper than the one above and you can almost look at it as a disposable product as it is so low end. Hand to have and again, use it with the battery pack. Ok – not even close to being the best portable pizza oven but, if you’re thinking quick and easy, portability and price… this may be the one for you!

There you have it. The BIG review of the best portable pizza ovens. There should be something here for everyone and they are all a good choice depending on your needs. And, as a bonus, I’m giving you a list of all the essential accessories you’ll need for pizza making once you’ve found the best portable pizza oven for you.

Essential accessories for your portable pizza oven

Ok, so you are all set with the items below, and I really think that all are required (plus a pizza chef’s hat and apron and a red checked t0wel) …

Pizzacraft Pizza Folding Peel & Stone Brush

Pizza Peel in portable pizza oven

Pizza Peel in portable pizza oven

Pizza Peel and Steel brush

Pizza peel and stainless steel brush


The ‘peel’ is kind of a long spatula. It has a long handle to keep the user away from the heat and so that you can transfer pizzas, delicate breads, pastries and food into an oven where placing them directly by hand could break them. Without the peel, the pizza will be a gluggy lump. The brush is for keeping your pizza stone clean. Clean it after use but don’t use detergents which will add a cross flavor.

Pizzacraft Wood Rolling Pin with Silicone Dough Rings

Pizzacraft rolling pin with silicone rings

Pizzacraft rolling pin with silicone rings

The other side of that skill is to roll the pizza to a consistent level. This nifty rolling pin has sized bands on each end to make that process easy. Pastry chefs also use this technique. Yeah, Ms. Rawhide watches all those crazy cooking shows on TV so she told me how this works.

Ateco Dough Docker

Ateco Dough Docker

Ateco Dough Docker

The dough docker stops the bread dough from rising up big and unevenly which can ruin your pizza’s cooking rate and final appearance. This can be done at the tailgate party. Impress your friends by your professional skills out there (but in that case, don’t be using one of those electric pizza ovens above). You’ll ruin the illusion completely.

Culina Pizza Cutter 14″ Wooden Handle (Walnut)

Culina Walnut pizza cutter

Culina Walnut pizza cutter

Ok, so this is just a pizza cutter. Up to you, but I prefer these over the rollers. Though the rollers are great for larger sized pizzas. Somehow these look more pro. The Culina has a walnut handle and you can use it to mince herbs, meat or anything. It is way more versatile than the roller cutter, and I’m all for using implements with more than one use as transporting a whole kitchen to the tailgate party is a bad trip.

Finally some Tailgate Party Pizza recipes and hints.

Look, the sky’s the limit for a pizza recipes list.

It takes a simple bread dough:


3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling and a little cornmeal to sprinkle around to avoid it sticking. The rule is bread flour for crispy crust, all-purpose for chewy crust.

  • 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
  • 1 envelope instant dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water, 110 degrees F – the temperature is crucial
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a splash to rub on the dough in the process.

Combine the bread flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine using a dough hook. While the mixer is running, add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil and beat until the dough forms into a ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour, a bit at a time, till the dough comes together in a solid ball. If the dough is too dry, add additional water, a splash at a time. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface (onto parchment or a silicone mat to avoid mess) and gently knead into a smooth, firm ball.

Grease a large bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, add the dough, cover the bowl with a cleam tea-towel and put it in a warm area to let it double in size, at least 1 hour. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface punch it down and divide it into 2 equal pieces. (Cut it in half with a sharp knife , don’t drag it apart.) Cover each with a clean tea- towel or plastic wrap and let the balls rest for 10 minutes.
Take these balls (in your cooler) to the tailgate party,

Once you are there, sprinkle the tray with cornmeal, roll the dough out into desired circles and run the dough docker over the circle lightly to punch some indentations in. Then set aside till the oven is at 700°F. Slide the cornmeal sprinkled pizza peel under the dough. And while it is on the peel, put on your toppings.

Brush on Olive oil first.

Then spoon on a yummy Tomato sauce.

Toppings (salami, artichokes, peppers, goat cheese, figs, etc. etc.



Be creative – pick whatever your tastebuds desire – oysters, calamari etc. etc.

You just need a combo of garlicky olive oil, tomato sauce, cheese and garnishes in that order (olives, meats including bacon of course, green stuff, goat cheese for The Ladies, and I always throw a couple of random cans of things like artichokes into the box.

Then slide the made pizza onto the tray and cook till half done. Rotate and cook the other side (unless you have a motorized one in which case skip that step).


Note that Trader Joe’s has great ready-made dough but also most supermarkets with a bread bakery department will sell you a ball of dough really cheaply. I have even pulled that one off in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (see Mega stores or even Wal-Mart).

Don’t over-stack toppings until you have experimented with them so that you know how long each combo takes to cook.

Use cornmeal to stop your dough sticking to your hands, the tray or anything. Keeps it neat. Clean it off the stone or tray at the end of the day.

Get a high quality pizza peel. It is, of course, intended to slide under your doughy food and lift it off without it breaking or collapsing. It needs to have a long handle so that you can keep your hands away from the fire.

Cold fermenting your dough (ie. Making the dough up to three days before the tailgate party, forming it into the balls and allowing a slow rise in the refrigerator) works really well. Pop it in Ziploc bags a pizza sized ball per bag, then shape and roll out on site.

Try a Baking Steel instead of a Pizza Stone:

It’s less likely to be dropped and broken and the Pizzacraft is made for its oven.  You could even buy some slate tiles from Lowe’s/Home Depot or your local stonemason.  Buy a few though as they tend to crack.  Great for cooking steak as well.

Use this Pizza Steel instead of pizza stone

Use this Pizza Steel instead of pizza stone

OK, so have you got all that?  Finally, what beer goes best with pizza??

Aw heck, you know the answer to that one.  EVERY brew under the sun. Yes, even weak old Pacifico is OK on a hot day.

Happy Tailgating!

Best Kegerator 2017 For Your Tailgate Parties.

What was your New Year’s Resolution? Have you broken it already? ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that’? Here’s one I tailor-made for my tailgate parties and love of kegerators and it has nothing to do with ‘don’t’. Each year I keep it rigidly, never straying off the path of being true to my aim and my friends now have leaped on the bandwagon. Actually, I have two. The first is to find the best kegerator for 2017. Because, without the best kegerator, my second resolution is impossible to stick to:

Drink more beer, drink better beer!

But how do you achieve that without being stony broke? Buy an investment kegerator for your tailgate party, of course. One that is of commercial quality but for home use. We’ve updated our list of the best kegerators : a lot of these are priced really well on Amazon especially in the lead-up to NFL game season and as well, there are discounts at the end of the season as companies clear out last year’s stockpile.

Whether home-brew or off the shelf kegs in different brews, there is no better way to save beer-loving money by indulging your thirst for perfectly chilled malt and hops.

Here’s a tip: I saw on TV the other day that the start AND the end of the NFL year are both great times to buy a higher end commercial quality kegerator. The discounts around are amazing – some are $1000 off original price. There’s massive demand and inventory fills their warehouses. The situation drags on for a few months right through the Holiday season, Rose Bowl and then immediately after, there is a great clearance sale.  In February, for instance, you can start getting ready for the next season and can pick up bargains.

So, with that in mind, and the requirements of tailgate party site in the parking lot as your main criteria for beeriness (and the BBQ area/outdoor kitchen in your yard being second with the man cave as the third), here’s my list of the best of the best kegerators for 2017.

Best Kegerator updated list for 2017

Outdoor Kegerator 2017: Freestanding.

This is the kind of outdoor kegerator that has casters or wheels on it to make transporting easier. That can be home to parking lot or room to room.  Really, all you need to manage is to preserve the integrity of the temperature – keep it low, transport gently to the parking lot where you are having the tailgate party. Wrap it if necessary in a space blanket as well as soft material (flexible insulating foam such as hardwood floor underlay) so that you avoid dings. You can even do a white-trash fix-up and make a fitted cover using duct tape.  Hmmm, maybe in team colors …. Note that supply is limited.

Twin Summit Outdoor Kegerator

Summit freestanding kegerator

Summit freestanding kegerator can be used outside in shade

This versatile, commercial quality stainless steel-constructed and well finished kegerator is by far the best for the parking lot tailgate party. It features a cabinet made of non-corroding 304 grade stainless steel as well as a stainless steel door.

Roll it up onto your truck, pad it up with insulating covers and let the party begin. Note that it already has in its design three levels of weatherproofing but the extra cover would be advised. You can dispense from the back of your truck or roll it down to ground level.

It is suited to half, quarter or pony (mini) kegs and the size is 26 x 23 x 34.5 inches.

The twin draft tower also fits in standard cabinetry with auto-defrost and includes a fan to cool the compressor for built-in applications.

You can convert it to a refrigerator as there are shelves included. But really, who wants to do that? Keep it for dispensing that all-important Amber Food Group.

Be patient with learning the settings and before you dash out to a game with it in tow, run a few kegs through and note the optimum temperature for avoiding too much foam. ALL kegerators have an element of skill included. Read the instructions which come with it and remember that constant temperature is crucial.

There is a stainless steel tray to catch the drips and it is nicely made and finished and a really great accessory to your tailgate party hospitality.

You can easily run this as freestanding OR built-in, but the mobility is what attracted me to this model. They work well out in the field. (Remember to pack the generator – here is one of the gennies of my dreams!)

Honda Quiet Generator

Honda Quiet Generator

What’s In The Package?

Ships complete with all components needed to tap a single keg: CO2 tank, regulator, coupler, beer line, air line, tap, tower, cleaning kit, faucet, and faucet handle (keg not included). You will need extra gear if you are putting in more than one keg and a double or triple tap. (eg. A different draft tower).

Marvel 24 Inch Deluxe Outdoor Draft Beer Dispenser with Easy-Roll Casters & Built-In Drain

Marvel 24" indoor outdoor kegerator

Marvel Kegerator

Well, hey, this had me at ‘Marvel’ and I imagine that this is the superheroes’ choice of kegerator. Superhero or not, I can tell you this is definitely one of the best kegerators you’ll find this year!

Made for mobility, the non-corroding stainless steel Marvel 60HK-SSX-B-LR 24 inch model includes easy-roll casters, stainless steel mug railing and an efficient built-in drain system connected to drip tray for overflow beer. It has a year’s warranty of parts and labor and features a 5 year sealed system which makes it pretty solid state.

It stores half, quarter, or a sixth barrel kegs but when there’s no beer, the unique removable shelf-design converts to a full refrigerator. Yeah, as if that will happen! But in that case, the auto-defrost is really useful.

It is so versatile that it is classed as a portable, freestanding, or built in model suited to a 24″ wide counter top. In that case, you can use the simple height adjustment which levels the legs up to 1 inch to avoid that wobble.

It is designed for the 5lb. CO2 tank and features adjustable temperatures from frosty cold to 52F for dark lagers and ales. Marvel has also created a unique hinge system on its door that ensures that the seal is always reformed to keep beer cold and your energy costs down. No more slamming that door.

Note that if you use two 1/6th barrels, you will require the addition/installation of a double tower.

All the necessary tapping equipment is included: single draft tower, hoses, 5 lb.CO2 tank with its own regulator, and interior floor shield to protect the inside liner.

Height: 33.75″; Width: 23.87″; Depth: 24.5″

It weighs 140 pounds so factor that in to your tailgate party transportation list. Remember that some of the weight of the disposable containers for any beer you carry will offset the cost and size of this unit (except that you are taking it home with you).

Best Outdoor Kegerator 2017: Built-in.

EdgeStar Full Size Triple Tap Built-In Outdoor Kegerator

EdgeStar Full Size Triple Tap Kegerator

EdgeStar Full Size Triple Tap Kegerator

The EdgeStar Triple Tap kegerator is rated for outdoor due to the stainless steel heavy duty construction (cabinet and door which are above standard to resist corrosion). So you can build this kegerator into the outdoor kitchen and not be lying awake imagining it crumbling around your favorite brew. The door is reversible for convenience so that you can build it into an existing kitchen and reverse the swing.

All its parts are solid. The floor is reinforced stainless steel to provide a solid base for full kegs. It also has front ventilation which is another good feature. These built-ins are not good if they only vent from the back as they are often set into a stone/brick/concrete cavity and this causes temperature fluctuations. Cold at night, very hot in the daylight hours. This model has an adjustable thermostat with a temperature range between 32° – 60ºF and cool interior LED lighting. Due to a powerful forced air refrigeration system, cold air is evenly distributed all the way through and around the kegerator to preserve a consistent chilly temperature. This eliminates possible hot spots and guarantees a perfect pour with every pull of its tap. It has an electronic control panel with push buttons and digital temperature display. In addition, the beer tower is air-cooled so that it will not ramp up that foam during the pouring process.

Designed with a professional handle and safety lock, it is controlled by you, Oh Master of the Amber Fluid.

This is a commercial unit but well suited to the home and what I would call an ‘investment kegerator’. Ie. The more beer you drink, the more money you save, PLUS if you take care of it, it will maintain its resale value.

Four (4) casters are included if you want to convert it to a mobile unit.

The usual stainless steel drip tray, glass/mug guard rail and stainless steel top cover are included. Stainless steel cabinet and door; Draft components are included. You can switch out those tap pulls to ones of your choice, team logos, for instance. They just screw on. This one is awesome if you are a Florida Gators fan… But the Kegco Coupler Tap Lever is probably more practical ….

This is what you can fit inside:

  • 1 full size keg, or
  • 1 oversized beveled edge keg, or
  • 1 quarter keg, or
  • 1 slim quarter keg, or
  • up to 3 sixth barrel kegs, or
  • up to 3 Cornelius kegs, or
  • 1 slim quarter w/ 1 sixth barrel keg, or
  • 1 slim quarter w/ 1 Cornelius keg

Dimensions are 34 3/8″ H x 23 13/16″ W x 25 3/8″ D

It’s definitely perfect for an outdoor bar, man-cave say in a converted garage, home-gating,  anywhere you want to build it under a counter but it is also finished off in a way that to use it free-standing is great too.

Included are premium draft components to preserve the clarity of your beer.

1 x 5 lb. Luxfer CO2 tank, 1 x dual-gauge regulator, 3 x D Sankey couplers, 3 x NSF PVC beer lines, 3 x red CO2 lines, 1 x stainless steel triple tap beer tower, 3 x 304 stainless steel faucets, 3 x) black tap handles.

Best Indoor Kegerator 2017

Summit Triple Tap Built-In Kegerator

Summit Kegerator

Summit Kegerator

So you have a man-cave and you want to slot this one in next to your bar fridge. That’s fine. Or you want to roll it into the kitchen. Yep that will work. Whether you want it to be built in on all sides or free-standing, the design of the Summit Triple Tap Indoor Kegerator will accommodate your needs. I note that the feedback is not great, but the company does get back to you for any complaints and have modified their packing and shipping in response to these low ratings. Nevertheless, the Summit is fully finished so can be completely free-standing without looking raw.  It also will hold three Cornelius kegs or two 1/6 kegs. And this kegerator will dispense the contents through its triple tap system which is fully equipped. The chrome tower features three separate faucets which you can configure so that each tap line has a different connection — including various sankey & homebrew couplers.

The Summit kegerator converts to a normal refrigerator and has built in shelves should you want to do this. Flexibility is its strong suit, for sure.

Being able to dispense three different types of beers simultaneously is pure gold. The only caution here, and this is picky, that for the darker ales, the temperature should be warmer, so don’t mix the dark and light kegs if you are a purist.

It does have the option of portability with heavy duty casters. A 5lb. CO2 tank with regulator is part of the kit. There’s an adjustable dial control thermostat which is a bit old-school but reliable and easy to adjust. When it is empty, select the auto defrost and pack away for the non-beer-drinking season. Which doesn’t exist on my calendar.

Slightly larger than most kegerators at 24.9 x 23.6 x 34.5 inches.

It looks like a highly polished and finished black cabinet so makes more of a man-cave statement IMHO than the stainless steel but that’s up to you!


  • 1 x 5 lb CO2 tank and single gauge regulator;
  • 1 x3-faucet chrome beer tower;
  • 3 x draft beer line assemblies
  • 3 x American Sankey “D” style couplers
  • 1 x cleaning kit.

A great indoor kegerator for the home bar!

Here are some handy tips I’ve put together for those who have found their best kegerator for 2017 but don’t know how to use it yet!

When empty, it is recommended that you keep the temperature between 35-38ºF.

When you brew your own beer you are paying less than $0.50/bottle – an affordable 6-pack would cost more than twice as much.

A kegerator saves you around 50% of a normal bottle or can of beer.
Good for the environment. Count up how many individual containers you are replacing!

When you are ‘learning’ the temperature adjustment technique, dispense a jug/pitcher of beer. It may be drinkable. If it isn’t, give it to the Missus for hair shampoo.   Or use it as snail traps in the garden.

No matter what kegerator you buy, I would recommend buying a spare set of beer and CO2 lines.

Bonus Round: Best Wine Dispenser (aka Winerator)

I have noticed at some tailgate parties that the imbibing of wine, particularly among the hipsters, has begun to sneak in. So why  not provide these people with a kegerator of their own? I did some research and… wow, there really is one!

Summit Wine Keg Dispenser – Wine on Tap System

Summit Winerator


Well, who knew that winos would get onto the kegerator bandwagon? This takes those bladder-filled wine casks to another level entirely.

Can’t really vouch for the quality of wine that is kept in this kegerator/winerator/wine keg, but if you are constantly catering for a crowd of wine-drinkers, then this is a great buy, reducing your spend to around $3 a glass. A few cents if you are serving them Two-Buck Chuck. You can buy big containers of wine that fit in this little beauty from wine warehouses and even on line. A deal with a wine company to buy their vintages in carboys and dispense into a keg would be amazing. Consider it a different colored home brew!  They are so hot in this hipster town right now that event producers are buying them and dispensing the wine to their clients with massive markups.

Here are the advantages:

It protects the wine from light and heat.

Keeps a consistent temperature with great ease. White wine storing temperature = 45°F; Red wine storing temperature = 55°F

Saves twenty-six bottles per keg which is around 130 glasses.

The dispensing components have been carefully designed to be wine-friendly (eg. They don’t stain, corrode or impart flavors.

It is equally happy in the dispensing of champagne as it is with red or white wine.

Eliminates wine oxidation so it stays fresh (as in a bladder).

Stainless steel of high quality just as in wineries (Wine Certified 304 stainless steel dispensing hardware components).

It has been designed with barrier tubing and limits vibration which can kill a


Internal dimensions: 28.5″ H x 16.5″ W x 15.5″ D

External dimensions (including the draft tower): 48.5″ H x 20.1″ W x 24.81″ D

Smart, black cabinet.

By eliminating bottles, corks, spunky labels and boxes and by using reusable casks, the use of the Winerator cuts down the amount of waste produced by you and the wine industry big-time.

Easily Convertible to a Kegerator too: Converting this Wine Keg Dispenser to a beer keg dispenser is simple. All you do is either replace the current tank valve or switch the tank itself to a CO2 tank and you are ready to dispense beer.

Buy the kegs for your wine from Key Keg. Buy the wine in bulk in a carboy from your local winery or already in a keg from these suppliers and more are being added as time goes by.

The latest trend is a Kimchee Kegerator.  But I think I will leave that alone. So far, Kimchee has not featured at my tailgate parties.

Samsung Kimchee refrigerator

Samsung Kimchee refrigerator

JUST FOR FUN here’s a link to 100 beer hacks to get you through college.


Best Electric Smokers: Electric Smoker Reviews 2017

Looking for the best electric smokers? Read on, my tailgate partying friends and argue among yourselves!

I have a few mates who are smokers.  Some hide and do it hidden away in a shed in their yards but most are quite open about it.  Yeah.  They’re the ones with the home cured bacon and pork bellies hanging in their cool-rooms, with racks of baby back ribs and poultry as juicy as the good lord meant it to be.  Ohhh yeahhhh!

Best smokers for tailgate parties - bacon kit

Bacon curing kit – bacon at a tailgate party_ Yes please

Their tailgate parties make awesome the understatement of the century. This got me thinking: it’s about time I started smoking meats for my tailgate parties too! For tailgate parties, gas or electric are the best ways to go. So I’ve done the research, tested and tried the best electric smokers so I can now put together this article for you: the best electric smokers reviewed – 2016.

Meat, fish, nuts, pineapple, eggs – almost anything – can be sublime when smoked. Some might say the anchor of a tailgate party menu.  For a while now, I’ve been toying with the idea of buying my own full sized smoker.  I want one for tailgate parties before the end of this season.  My friend Craig wants me to buy one too, so that I can return his.

To do the research, first I consulted my buddy André, a professional pit-master and smoker, a BBQ genius.  His own rig is enormous, so I was surprised that his ultimate advice was that it is far easier, in a tailgate party situation, to go electric.  You can run with a generator or a battery large enough for your smoker.  Electricity makes it very stable and there are ways to compensate for the scaled down taste.  But we will get to that.  Remember that many parking lots, André pointed out, do not allow charcoal or wood burning fires, so gas or electric are the only choices in those situations.  At home, on the man-cave patio, wood or charcoal are the go but I’m going for lack of effort here.  And André’s ideas for making the smoked food taste great are essential too so check those out. It can be as simple as a different kind of injected flavor or added wood chips and these can be purchased.  You can have a whole repertoire of tastes (I’ve been watching too many pitmaster shows) on hand.  Don’t bother with rubs as the moisture in the air make them just melt off and drip away.

So here’s the big list of the best electric smokers for tailgating.  I hope that you will make some great smoked dishes and learn some new techniques to try for your winter tailgate parties.  Then you can put those smokers to good use to stockpile bacon and other goodies for the rest of the year.

Masterbuilt Black Electric Digital Smoker


The Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse - on best tailgate party smoker list 2016

The Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse – on best tailgate party smoker list 2017

Masterbuilt’s cooking products are not just a manageable size but high quality with a long reputation in manufacturing. We are looking at the 30” top controlled but there is a 40” model and the only difference is size and price.  If you are cooking for a tribe, then go for the larger one but for most tailgate party cooking, a 30” is adequate.

Having said that, you can start a nice little smoked garlic business on the side with the 40” … hmm, there’s an idea that my pal Randall has already put into action.

Powder-coated steel exterior makes it smart to look at and easy to clean.  That surface is durable. It can chip, but take care (don’t clean with abrasives) and it will last for eons.  The Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse has four smoking racks that are scaled for turkey, sausage, chicken, ham, pork, fish, jerky, vegetables, fruit, desserts and wow, anything that can benefit from that smoky flavor. People even smoke beer now.  Oh, please don’t.

It is 100° to 275°F thermostatically controlled for a perfect temperature every time.  I would also recommend the purchase of a temperature probe to check the inside of meats as you cook them.  Do monitor that aspect as it is important.  The CDN is a good one, being easy to read.  Most measure around 8” which is OK, but wear gloves when you put your hand in the smoker.

But back to that smoking beast.  It features a push-button precision digital control panel and an 0-24 hour digital timer with auto shut-off. A wood tray (for flavor chips) opens from the side which adds to convenience and you can set that up easily at the tailgate party.   Its neat side door allows you to leave the front shut and retain all the juicy smokiness.

Best smoker for tailgate parties - Masterbuilt smokehouse

Best smoker for tailgate parties – Masterbuilt smokehouse

You can run these smokers off a generator or a well-charged battery pack so they are, in effect, portable to some degree.

Insulation is always crucial and this one has 100% insulation on all sides.

730 sq. inches of cooking space are arranged as 4 dishwasher-OK chrome-coated racks and an 800 watt heating element with a range of 100 to 275 degrees F.

A removable drip tray and a top air damper gives the user additional control.

Cleaning is simple but don’t use detergents as these can damage the powder coating and also can impart off flavors to your dishes.  A 2 to one vinegar and water solution is recommended for wiping down anything that is not able to go in the dishwasher but the racks and all chrome parts are fine.

It reviews really well but as with all gadgetry, read the instructions before assembling and using.  There is assembly required so allow enough time for that.  Don’t just pick up the box from your delivery, load it onto your truck and expect to cook onsite immediately.  I recommend a couple of trial runs to get the feel for it and to experiment with the intensity of flavors.

A hint from my mate the pit-master: as soon as you get to the site, shove some garlic in your smoker.  Eh, you might not want to eat it, but it will drive your neighbors crazy with envy when they smell it smoking.

Also, cover with the custom Masterbuilt Electric Smoke cover it to ensure it has a long life. The cover is available for 30” or 40” so make sure you buy the right one for your preferred model.

And you might like to get a rib rack. Rib racks are inexpensive and nice as gifts though not essential.  But if you’re like most people and ribs are going to be cooked a lot, then these help you turn out the juiciest.

Smoke Hollow Electric Smoker

Electric Smoker Review: Smoke Hollow Electric Smoker

Smoke Hollow Electric Smoker

The Smoke Hollow electric smoker is a step down from the Masterbuit both in price and quality as it is not powder coated but just painted steel.  That to me is a disadvantage if your plan is to transport this model as they can scratch easily.  But if you are just installing in the man cave, that may be OK.  The major disadvantage is that you have to open the front door to add your flavor chips.  The temperature lowers fast each time you open the door.  It is, of course, for outdoor use only.

It is a 30 inch smoker. Assembly required and actual size is 22W x 19D x 37.5H” making it wider than the Masterbuilt.  Factor that into your cooking.

There are two cooking racks and 2 temperature settings.  The door closes magnetically and that takes a little getting used to but it is a firm seal which is a good thing.

Fundamentally, it is the similar size as the Masterbuilt but on little splayed legs that use some of the smoking area.  It is more transportable with two side handles making this a breeze though it weighs the same.

All instructions are included.  The actual measurements are 16 x 14 x 30 inches so factor this in when planning thanksgiving turkey smoking.  You can remove shelves. The exterior handle is one of those coiled designs which is quite good for protecting users from burns.

I’m not rapt in the temperature gauge on this model as it is not really explicit with degrees marked but opts for the fuzzy logic of ‘low-med-high’ and you can’t set it on a specific temperature.  Recommendations are that you can do a bit of refitting to improve the interior, firstly replacing the smoke box with a larger stainless steel box and drip pan.  I would also place a couple of high walled cookie sheets under as a drip pan.  This thing leaks grease which is particularly noticeable when cooking duck.  Catch that duck fat and can it for frying chips.  Here’s a hack from one kind user: Apply Permatex #81158 automotive black silicone (good to 450 degrees F) to both the outside bottom seam and also the 4 inside bottom sides to avoid this leakage.  Cure the silicone well before cooking and it is then food safe.  Read and follow the instructions on the tube!

With all these faults, it is cheaper than the Masterbuilt but you really can’t fault the cits constant power.  The low setting is around 240-250 degrees.  You may want to check its settings out with an oven thermometer before using it and get to know which part of the knob you require. If you have any problems with power, contact the manufacturer and they are quick to respond, no questions asked.

Char-Broil Electric Vertical Smoker

Char-Broil Vertical Electric smoker

Char-Broil Vertical Electric smoker


This vertical smoker (30”) is almost the same as the Smoke Hollow in all respects but is a little narrower.  There is some super simple assembly required (eg. Screwing on the legs and thermometer)

Here are the dimensions and description:

It has a 504 square inch total of cooking surfaces made up of 3 chrome plates racks which can be put in the dishwasher. 16 by 14 by 30 inches. The heating element is 1,500 watt which means it can be run easily off the Honda 2000 watt generator.

The element is a variable temperature heater which heats your wood chips and water (to make your smoke) and there is a handy front mounted temperature gauge.

The chip pan and ash pan are both porcelain and there is a grease cup which could be better but you can easily add some aluminum foil to the mix.  No oven seems to be perfectly sealed against fat drips and splashes but see above for hacks on prevention.  Of course, some airflow is required for the process so don’t be tempted to caulk it up too much. But do avoid the fat dripping into the chip box.

The handle is a long, chrome-plated design, a little close to the heat for my preference but it looks smart.  The temperature gauge is also nicely designed with a bezel and easy to read.

The adjustable shelves will allow you to cook a turkey and other side dishes.  Yes, you CAN smoke mac’n’cheese.

Unfortunately the cover is not included but is sold separately (like most of the electric smokers reviewed here). But you’ll need one as they are kind of important to have if you want to extend the life of your electric smoker.

Brinkmann Gourmet Electric Smoker and Grill

Brinkmann Electric Gourmet Smoker

Brinkmann Electric Gourmet Smoker

Generally, electric smokers run to about 40% more expensive than the charcoal models.  But then you don’t have any ongoing expense of charcoal and electricity use is minimal. Like the others in the range, this has a 1500-watt element that fits in the base with lavarocks.  There’s a smart domed lid which is kind of a Brinkmann look. They say it holds up to 50 pounds of food.  Heck, that’s a whole party right there! There are only two shelves (steel-chrome-plated) but I think that is OK.

The electric model does not include the cover so you need to order one.  If you write to the sellers when you’re negotiating your order, maybe they will cut you a deal on that and occasionally they are an add-on special on!

The water pan is porcelain-coated steel and the door has front-hinges for accessing the pan easily.  Always access it fast to avoid heat loss while the door is open. Ie. Don’t leave the door wide open while you are filling the chip pan etc. etc.  Pure logic, really.

Dimensions: 17 x 17 x 35 inches making it taller than others in the ballpark but the others weigh around 52 pounds shipped and this is only around 30 pounds shipped.  The handles on this one are also a selling point as they are cool to the touch, simple designed with wood.

The Gourmet Electric is Brinkmann’s top-of-the-line double grill electric smoker & grill. Here’s why: it converts easily to a waist high grill. It also has a separate base pan design for easy set up and clean up. It comes in shiny easily cleaned colors of red, black and green.  UL Listed.  (FYI ‘UL listed’ means that Underwriters Laboratories have tested and approved either it or its components in one of its national recognized testing labs in the USA and relates to its safety in the electric appliances market.)

The heating element is not adjustable but is set to 220-240 range which is ideal for smoking.  Some leakage through the lid and thin sides may be an issue affecting cooking times.  Use your probe thermometer to be sure that your meat is cooked.  You can add a non OE thermometer gauge to the smoker after and I think that would be worth the few bucks expense. Remember that the stability of the temperature is related to the water bath.  Keep that pan full of water as directed as this creates a barrier between the element (heat source) and the meat.  Thus it is stable and sloooooow smoking which makes for juicy, melt in your mouth meat.  It can be tricky to fill though so consider using a silicon funnel and a bit of silicon tubing and always fill with HOT water.

It is very easy to clean as it comes apart in all the cleanable places.  Some users have mentioned peeling paint.  In that event, write to the manufacturer or seller.  That’s kind of why I like to buy a lot through big re-sellers as they will replace, no questions asked and that service is worth it.
It is great value for money and I guess could be seen as the entry level smoker.

Keep reading to get the skinny on a smaller but great looking appliance by Brinkmann and this one is hard to find. 

The Brinkmann Smoke’n’Grill Model 810-5290-c

Brinkmann Electric Smoker

Brinkmann Electric Smoker

This is a smallish dual level water smoker but surprisingly portable and roomy all at the same time.  I’m thinking, ‘start with the small one and upgrade when you are an expert’. The Brinkmann range of electric smokers are some of the best electric smokers around.

Note with all smokers, a bit of breeze in there is required for proper smoking.  Don’t seal up things like a wobbly lid as it may be intentional.

Then there is this. It turns your grill into a smoker and comes highly reviewed and praised.

Smoke Chief Cold Smoke Generator

Smoke Chief cold smoker from Smokehouse

Smoke Chief cold smoker from Smokehouse

For starters, it’s electric and you just add it to your existing grill. And you get around three hours of smoking from just a cup of pellets. It is a small unit – only weighs 7 pounds at most – and can operate on 110VAC or 12V and has the appropriate leads for either. So in a sense, it is portable – ore so than many others.  The aroma and flavor imparted are terrific and of course, you get to choose from a wide range of pellets and Smokehouse (the parent company) makes these to suit this particular smoker.   Everything you need is included, even a cleaning tool.  It just fits on the side of your grill and is 12 x 4 x 9 inches.  I think it is a winner.  Only use this smoker outside.  It’s not for table use. There’s a considerable discount here at the moment.  I am keeping my eye out for these seasonal price drops as why pay a heap when you can get something this great for cheaper?

Gourmia Multifunction Electric Smoker – SmoCooker Turb0

Gourmia Electric Smoker, Pressure Cooker, Steamer. Slow & Rice Cooker

Gourmia Electric Smoker, Pressure Cooker, Steamer. Slow & Rice Cooker

I am including this as it is the only indoor pressure smoker on the market.  It is a small-batch cooker and only deals with up to 4 pounds at one cook.  It is a cold and hot smoker and was originally sold for cheese smoking and it pressure cooks, steams and cooks rice as well.  As it smokes under pressure, the cooking time is reduced by half – 1 hour is enough.

The Gourmia is  distributed in the USA and really hasn’t caught on yet but would be awesome for doing smoked dishes on site.  Make sure you retain all guarantees and the address and contacts of the distributor and manufacturer in case of any need for replacement.

This is a very unusual cooking tool and is around the same size as a rice cooker.  It is designed for table-top cooking which is an interesting idea.  As well, the small size and portability means you could easily use this model at a tailgate party, especially given the shorter cooking times.

The smoke is made by a few small wood chips (flavor of your choice)  inserted into a small container mounted on the heating electrode. The chips burn and fill the pot with smoke which is pressure cooked into the food. When you remove the lid, the previously sealed in smoke all gushes out.  Not great in a condo with sensitive alarms.  OK on the balcony and quite fine in a parking lot and the smokiness is really delicious smelling.

There are three metal racks where your food should be placed for the process.

Unlike the larger units, you need very few smoking chips, in fact only one may suffice.  Cooking time for poultry for instance is way down to around a half an hour.  And that’s why I think it is a tailgate party option.   You can smoke garlic, eggs, cheese, small briskets and so on.  Very handy.

It is a bit tricky to clean though so any covering of racks  with foil for instance would be advised.

It is amazingly inexpensive for such a versatile appliance.

Bradley Smokers Original Smoker

Electric Smoker Review: Bradley Smokers Original Electric Smoker

Bradley Smokers Original Electric Smoker

Slightly bigger than the Masterbuilt, the Bradley is one of the biggest and best electric smokers in the range. It’s super slick featuring an easily cleaned highly polished stainless steel interior with four racks (dishwasher OK) and a simple, stable temperature control (around 250 degrees maximum).  It doubles as a slow roaster as well as a smoker, but be aware that once you have smoked, the rest of your food will also have that smoky taste.  It is hard to budge.

The internal racks have a stopper which prevents them falling when you slide them out. The Bradley electric smoker has large front feet for extra stability and there’s a removable side panel to assist with cleaning and maintenance. At 500 watts, the smoking element is not as strong as other electric smokers.

The Bradley Smoker uses a unique system of bisquettes (manufactured wood impregnated with many flavors which gives the chef an amazing smoke flavor repertoire).  Note that you have to order those separately according to your taste or requirement in the recipe and happily, this unit comes with a recipe book.

It is well designed and seems more ‘solid-state’ than other smokers, yes, even the pretty Brinkmann.  It is easy to set up (once you figure out how the auto biscuit thingie works which in itself is an easy matter) and you can get smoking right away.  There is an aluminum biscuit sold and these just fill the space as the final two bisquettes in the cook don’t get spat out at the end onto the burner. These act as decoys in a way!

There’s a fair bit of reading to do before use.

Bradleys are a great company to deal with and you can get on the phone and bend their ear and they will give you great hints, advice and make sure you are getting the most out of the smoker.  My mate makes his own jerky and bacon and that is always the highlight of his tailgate parties.

The bisquette system is an automated one whereby the bit with the flavor on it   feeds through a magazine.  Every 20 minutes the burnt bisquette drops into a small pan of water before the wood’s ashes can start emitting rancid/toxic chemicals.   That may also be less carcinogenic.  You never get to that yucky taste that some amateur smokers delight in.  Or bad grillers!

Parts are always available through Bradley.

Finally, a few reviewers have written about cheap parts being used in this smoker.   For the most part, they are around the same standard as other smokers on the market.  The difference is that the Bradley company will always pick up your call.

Bradley Technologies offer a great range of Electric Smoker Bisquettes so you can pick the flavor (or flavors you love). They’re great!


Bradley Bisquettes comein many flavors

Bradley Bisquettes come in many flavors


Jim Beam Bradley Smoker 4-Rack Digital Outdoor Electric Smoker

Jim Beam Bradley 4 rack digital Smoker

Jim Beam Bradley 4 rack digital Smoker

This Jim Beam smoker is just the Bradley with a logo, but it’s a cool idea for the tailgate party set up.  Very appropriate.  Everything I have said about the Bradley applies to this great-looking unit so read the above!  It runs on bisquettes the same, has the same customer service but it made me think that you could quite easily apply your own team logo to your smoker.  Ahhhh, branding and licensing – there is a mine-field!

Landmann USA  Smoky Mountain Vertical Gas Smoker

The Landman Smoky Mountain Gas smoker

The Landmann Smoky Mountain Gas smoker

If my list of the best electric smokers hasn’t convinced you that these are the best option for the tailgate party, then you might be more interested in a gas smoker.  While the electric is by far the better deal, perhaps your parking lot does not offer the chance to plug in?  Or maybe you don’t have a generator?  Gas is your answer.

The Landmann Smoky Mountain 3495GLA 34-inch powerful Vertical Gas Smoker has a great feature – it has two heat saving, easy access drawers to get to the wood chip box and water pan without opening the main chamber door.  This keeps the temperature even. And capability is 13,500 BTU.  Dimensions are: 18 x 21 x 43.2 inches including the legs.

The door has been well designed with the same thing in mind and is a combo of sturdy hinges and magnetic closures with a large nylon plastic door handle for coolness, 4 adjustable chrome plated cooking grates and a meat hanger. It also features square, splayed legs for stability, porcelain coated steel water pan and heavy duty steel wood chip box with lid. Rotary igniter. The burner is made of cast brass for long life and the unit will not rust. This part has a 10-year warranty. Kudos to them for that but it doesn’t mean that the whole smoker has the same guarantee.  The meat hanger is suited to smoking large cuts of bacon and ribs as the unit is quite tall at 34 inches. Users say that a large tank of propane will last for months, even for heavy smokers.

The nice aspect of this being a propane run smoker is also that you are completely stand-alone.  In any emergency, such as a hurricane, flood, other natural disaster or losing team riots in the parking lot, you can still smoke some ribs. And that’s important.

The Smoking Gun Handheld Food Smoker

The Smoking Gun electric smoker

The Smoking Gun electric smoker

Smoking Gun Electric Smoker

Check out this cute little tool that will impart a smokiness to anything quickly and easily.  Yeah, they have these on cooking shows and even on Junior Master Chef the kids wield them with ease. You can even smoke a Jell-o shot!  Simply fill the Smoking Gun chamber with your choice of combustible, turn it on, light with a match or lighter and apply cool smoke where you’d like it, whether that’s on a freshly made casserole, a mess of beans, some mac’n’cheese or an ice cream.  You get: The Smoking Gun, acrylic stand, 18-inch nozzle extender hose, four AA batteries and two.5-ounce wood chip samples and it can infuse anything with that flavor or the taste of teas, herbs, spices and even hay and dried flowers. It is super portable, you can even put food into a Tupperware basin and give it a blast.

Excellent gift for that tailgate party nut who has everything.

Finally, a hint from my pro smoker mate: ‘Less is more’.  Don’t overdo the chips or bisquettes.  You just need a hint of smokiness to bring that flavor.  After all, you still need your taste-buds to be completely operational for beer.

BONUS: Electric Smoker Recipe

Here is a recipe for ABTs – the professional smokers’ secret food porn!

What?  You haven’t tried the famous (or infamous)  ‘Atomic Buffalo Turds’? Check out their recipe here.

Happy tailgating!





The Best Food Coolers & Warmers Reviewed

Call it what you like – ‘Ice chest’, ‘Ice box’, ‘Car Fridge’, ‘Esky’, ‘Chiller’, ‘Cooler’, you name it, the box you carry your food in needs to work its butt off.  The best tailgate party tip is to find a box that can transport the goods at the correct safe temperature, be easy to lift, wheel and withstand a bit of rough-and-ready treatment. The best food coolers and warmers are reviewed below but as the range expands and contracts, don’t forget to come back and read about all the new items and the ones that are discounted just in time for tailgate party season.

Best Coolers and Food Heaters for tailgate parties

Best Coolers and Food Heaters for tailgate parties

Without the box, your beer is warm, and who likes warm beer outside the British Isles???? Nobody of course.  Ideally, a cooler needs to fit in the back of your vehicle and a bonus is if it is strong enough to double as seating or flexible and compact enough to fold up to store in your house.  Oh, those last two are mutually exclusive. Don’t sit on a flexible cooler especially when it is full of deviled eggs.  Power is optional, in fact it is an affordable option these days.  Yet, most coolers just do their job with the addition of ice in the right quantities and will get you through anything from one to five days as long as you don’t keep opening the lid.  Buy a cooler that is made of food grade plastic rather than a cheap knockoff that may pollute your food. The powered models can keep you on the road, tailgating from city to city.  Don’t laugh.  I know people who do just that!  The ice filled ones can be managed to do the same though so below are some really good buys and some hints on how to manage your portable food carrier.

Just remember when you are packing the car to allow for the weight of the cooler.  Most large ones weigh around 20 pounds on their own, before you add those 16 dozen cans of beer … before you buy, take a tape measure to the trunk of the car and figure out how many of these you can comfortably fit in. So, that’s enough of an intro! Now read on for the reviews of the best food coolers and best food warmers!

The Best Food Coolers & Warmers Reviewed

Let’s start with the coolest of coolers, the Cruzin’ Cooler.

Cooler Review: Crazy Coolers Motorized Cooler


Best Coolers and Food heaters - Crazy Cooler with motor

Best Coolers and Food heaters – Crazy Cooler with motor

OMG, so you didn’t get the parking space you wanted in the lot!  You’re not next to your mates.  In fact, you are way over the other side.  Heck, that has to be a long walk.  Oh no, and you have a large cooler packed full of sublime amber fluid and hey, it was your turn to bring the ribs.  Sit on this little beauty. Start it up and cruise your way to Tailgate Party Heaven. Crazy Coolers created these innovative motorized coolers that kind of sound like a lawn mower or mo-ped when they are running. They feature unique all-terrain tires, a 2HP 4-stroke engine, 48L Cooler and that combo can be a full bar on wheels.   Just don’t speed while driving it.   The cooler is fine too, but really, aren’t you just buying this one for the fun?

Cooler Review: Bundle-47 Electric Cruzin’ Cooler

Cruzin Cooler Electric Scooter

Cruzin Cooler Electric Scooter

Here’s the Greenie, Tree-Hugger Tesla style version …. OK, so it’s not a Tesla.  It’s from Cruzin’ Coolers and they are the guys who started this mobile cooler ride-on craze.

NOTE TO SELF: Add to Wishlist for Christmas, Birthday, hey any day with ‘day’ in it.

There are 300 watt and 500 watt versions and the whole kit and caboodle weighs around 64lbs..-Nicely finished with aluminum and chrome on exposed metals, it also features a built in cup-holder and an overall quality design and manufacture.

The Top speed is 13 mph.- This model holds 24 x 12oz cans with ice.

Rider Capacity is limited to 250 lbs.-It has easy brake and throttle control and is great personal transportation.

Compatible with: Cruzin Cooler Powered Coolers, Cruzin Cooler Coolagons.

It also has accessories such as this neat cover tailor-made for the Cruzin’ Cooler. which comes in a couple of nice colors.

Too lazy even to drive the Cruzin’ Cooler?  Then sit in a chair and tell the drinks to come to you:

Cooler Review: Interactive Toy Concepts Radio-controlled Cooler

Remote Controlled Cooler

Remote Controlled Cooler

This is a Canadian invention.  Why am I not surprised?  This elegant radio – controlled, battery powered Cooler, lets you just sit back and take the controls on your next beer delivery. Its insulated sides keep your drinks cold for the big game, 12 bottles at a time, allowing the RC Cooler to cater your friends’ drinking needs without you doing more than jiggle the controls.   Ice-cold precision: 30′ RC range; 4 sturdy and stable sure-grip wheels; Bottle-cap shaped controller.

Send it back to the kitchen for refills if you need to.

It’s collapsible down to only 6 1/2″ h. for easy storage but I am thinking you’ll be getting this one out every weekend and using it a lot.

NOTE: Uses 6 C batteries in cooler and 2 AA batteries in remote (batteries not included).  You may want to get a stash of rechargeable batteries to avoid the cost and pollution of replacements.

Dimensions:  12″ diam., 14″ h. Weighs 3 lbs., 10 ozs.;

OK, now to the serious stuff.

Cooler Review: Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler

Coleman 54 Quart Steel-Belted Cooler

Coleman 54 Quart Steel-Belted Cooler

This tough-as-nails Coleman was designed for camping but it is great for tailgate parties – strong enough to sit on.  Kind of retro in appearance, it holds 85 cans so you and your three best friends will be set for a day of tailgating. This could very well be the best food cooler of them all!

Its stainless steel handles are covered in grippy rubber making it is a breeze to pick up, at least when empty. The retro look isn’t just for decoration: the steel (which is painted) makes it super tough and easy to clean.  It is rust-proof, leak resistant and the drain hole is designed for ‘no-tilt’ emptying.  Hinges and screws are also steel and tough.  Locally made, from USA and foreign made components, it is guaranteed and anything that breaks under normal wear can be replaced.  The latch and gaskets make it seal securely which means cold stays in much longer.

Measurements:           26” x 18” x 17”

Cooler Review: Coleman 62 qt. Xtreme Cooler

Coleman 62 qt. Xtreme Cooler

Coleman 62 qt. Xtreme Cooler

The Coleman 62 qt. Xtreme Cooler features Xtreme 5 technology and the capacity to hold up to 85 cans. It features two-way handles for easy lifting and carrying, a tow handle and its rustproof, leak-resistant channel drain allows for no-tilt draining. The lid is hinged and high-quality plastic construction from Xtreme 5 technology with Thermozone insulation makes it durable. The corners are curved to prevent the gathering of bacteria as it is simple to wipe out after use.

Wheels are ‘all terrain’ making it a perfect choice for tailgating.

Dimensions: 31.5 x 17 x 15.5 inches (W x H x D)

Sturdy for sitting on, but maybe not Bubba and his sister, Ten Ton Tessie…

Cooler Review: Coleman 100 qt. Xtreme Wheeled Cooler with Tow Handle

Coleman 100 qt Xtreme Wheeled cooler

Coleman 100 qt Xtreme Wheeled cooler

Next size up holds up to 160 cans.  Wow, this tailgate party is getting better by the minute!  Very durable, again the ice won’t melt for 5 or even 6 days.  A couple of these will see you through – one for drinks, one for food.  The insulated walls are 2 inches thick and the snug insulated hinged lid has a gasket seal.  It has two tough all-terrain wheels and the tow handle will make dragging it around the parking lot a breeze.  Though sand may be a struggle for the wheels particular when the cooler is packed high with brewskis.

HINT: Look after that seal on the lid.  Just as you clean the gasket seals of a refrigerator, do the same with these and they will last for many years.  Don’t let your guests leave the lid ajar.  You need to be quite tough closing it to preserve the cold temperature.

Dimensions: 36.5L x 16.75W x 18.25H inches.

Drain plug works well.  Very efficient cooler nicely designed for tailgate party use. Buying from this local company is an advantage as their after sales service is great (for instance, if the handles break, they can be replaced easily and fast).

Good value for the price at the moment.

Cooler Review: Coleman 120-Quart Xtreme 5 Cooler


Here’s a massive cooler that, according to description, will keep ice for 5 days.  Looks the same as all the others in the range but enormous.  Good seating. The way to do this is to pre-chill everything you put in there and also make the ice you put in there quite dense.  For instance, you can freeze a deep aluminum pan full of water and put it, pan and all in a large Ziploc plastic bag which you seal well.  This stays cold for days.  Or you can buy various sheets of refreezable gel packs. In a parking lot at a tailgate party, despite up to 90 degree heat, 190 cans of beer or the equivalent food will stay chilled.  Or buy two and pack those 190 beers and use the other cooler for food.  Be sure to measure the space in your vehicle allowing for the hinges of the trunk.  This cooler is tall enough for wine bottles to be packed, standing.

Another nice feature of this outstanding cooler is the hinged lid with its can holders.  It’s rustproof and has the Coleman designed drain so it is practical for dealing with cleaning and letting out melted ice.  The 2 large all-terrain wheels make it simple to transport and tugging its tow handle is a breeze. It’s tough and OK for your guests to sit on.  A handy feature is that you can tether additional stuff to the top and the lid has been designed to fit cords to fasten items (dry goods, other small boxes).  You can buy these cords separately.  The interior has no toxic CFCs, HFCs, or HCFCs.  Made in the USA.  Full warranty.

Dimensions: 39.75 by 13.75 by 19 inches (L x W x H) (Exterior), 32 by 12.5 by 15 inches (L x W x H) (Interior).

Cooler Review: Igloo Polar Cooler (120-Quart, White)

Igloo Polar Cooler

Igloo Polar Cooler

This cooler only fits 188 cans – aw gee!  It’s another version of the 5-day ice-keeper and I see a lot of these in use though I have never owned one.  I know that they keep fish and meat frozen for days, so beer should be a cinch.  It doesn’t have wheels but it is probably the toughest one around.  It has snap-fit latches to keep the warm air out.  Very tough walls and well insulated.

I have seen these stacked 2 high made into an amazing table with contributions from all the party guests who coincidentally, happen to have bought the same cooler.  It’s 36 inches high (a stack of two) and you can bank them up and throw a team logo cloth over them.  Good for playing tailgate party games if you have enough of them! Just get the food out BEFORE you set the table.  Just over half price at the moment so snap one up before they sell out.

Dimensions: 38.3 x 18 x 18.5 inches

Cooler Review: Koolatron 18 qt. Compact Cooler

Koolatron 12V compact cooler

Koolatron 12V compact cooler

If you have any foods that are particularly vulnerable to heat spoilage then maybe you need a plug-in cooler.  The Koolatron Kooler is very useful to keep food and drinks cool while traveling or at the tailgate party parking lot and you can plug it in to your accessories socket. (The unit cannot be left plugged in to the cigarette lighter in the car for more than 4 hours or it will run the car battery flat. There is an optional battery saver adapter that will shut off the unit if it overtaxes the car battery).

It’s narrow enough to slip behind the driver’s seat on the floor but has a good capacity at the same time.  As it has powered cold, the addition of any ice is not necessary but I just like to put a couple of flexible thin gel packs (frozen) at the top or on the side that may heat up during the drive.

Items to be placed in it should be cool before filling the cooler. The empty unit will cool about 10 degrees an hour to about 40 degrees lower than the ambient temperature around it. It will maintain any pre-cooled contents at that temperature while plugged in. Check the manual for cooling times.

The optional AC power adapter (Koolatron Muti-Purpose Adapter 110VAC to 12VDC ) is useful – plug it into the wall and cool down the box for 12 hours or more. A slab of ice or gel pack is also a good idea.  Anything you put it in should be fridge cold or frozen.   Note that it will keep things cold not freeze items or cool things down (except by using ambient temperature)  A refrigerator thermometer would be a good little accessory for this unit.  An extension lead from your cigarette lighter helps too.

The Koolatron is also a food heat source, keeping hot foods hot.  Again, set the temperature before you put the food in.  I also throw in a few of those small hand warmers having first heated them in the microwave.  Pizza, mac’n’cheese and other delicacies will stay hot for hours.

18 quarts is not a huge capacity but between this and your drinks cooler(s), you should cover all bases.

Tailgate Hotbag Side Loading

Tailgate HotBag - Side Loading food warmer

Tailgate HotBag – Side Loading food warmer

We all have our large coolers and they double as seats and tables in many cases.  But this is a range of soft-sided insulated boxes that will keep food hot.  They plug into your 12V outlet (and have a long lead).  That outlet was once known as a cigarette lighter).  Without flattening your battery it will keep your home-cooked food piping hot at 165 – 170 degrees F for several hours. The bag is made from 1000 denier rugged nylon with thickly insulated walls and base and is lightweight and very easy to keep clean.  Just wipe it over after use.  Designed to be easy to carry and the food slides in through the side so you can access it sort of the way pizza delivery guys get the pies out.  Full instructions are included and these come in a range of sizes.  If you are tailgating at Metlife, for instance, and cooking on site is not an easy option, then take your pre-cooked corn dogs, hot wings, mac’n’cheese and so on and keep them safely hot in this excellent box.  There are no negatives!

Dimensions: 18 x 18 x 5.5 inches ; 3.3 pounds

Then there’s this Large Side Loading Electric Tailgate Hotbag which is perfect for lots of light weight foods that can be stacked such as sandwiches, pizzas or rolls. Bring enough hot food for the whole gang and keep it hot all the way to the tailgate party, even if it’s hours away. The dry heat does not let the food get soggy.

Tailgatea HotBag - LARGE side loading

Tailgatea HotBag – LARGE side loading

More food warmers great for transporting your hot food.

Food Warmer Review: Tailgate Hotbag Side Pocket

Medium sized Tailgate HotBag Side Pocket

Medium sized Tailgate HotBag Side Pocket

It’s lightweight, has a handy shoulder strap for easy carrying and large pockets on each end.  Heats to 165 degrees to keep your food oven hot from kitchen to tailgate party. Nice for a casserole or pot of mac’n’cheese and you can put bread or condiments in the pockets.

Dimensions: 16 x 12 x 9 inches ; 5 pounds

Review: Black & Decker TC212B Travel Cooler & Warmer

Black & Decker Cooler and Warmer

Black & Decker Cooler and Warmer

Black & Decker 12 Volt Travel Cooler & Warmer with 12 can/2.3 gallon capacity. Powers from vehicle accessory outlet. Thermo-electric systerm keeps food cold or warm. Low voltage auto cut-off prevents coolers from draining vehicle battery.

Thermo-Electric System cools down to 40°F below ambient temperature and heats up to approximately 120°F

Plugs directly into vehicle’s or boat’s 12 volt DC outlet or any other 12 volt power supply

Rests on vehicle seat, tailgate, hatch or floor for easy access during travel

Zippered side storage and accessory pouch

Dual can/cup holder

Dimensions: 18 x 10 x 14 inches.

Heavily discounted at the moment.

Cooler Review: Koolatron 12V 48-Can Voyager Cooler

Koolatron 29 qt Voyager Cooler

Koolatron 29 qt Voyager Cooler

This is a nice, streamlined cooler/warmer which holds 48 cans and the only difference between this and the other Koolatrons is the size, shape and color.  You can stand a wine bottle up in this one.

Heats as well as cools.

NOTE: DO NOT cover up the fan/exhaust outlet.  It needs to be able to breathe in and out.

NOTE: Don’t use melting ice in these machines – the gel pack sealed sheets are the best.  It will operate best when you avoid opening the lid too many times and also pack it to avoid air gaps.  Put chilled items in to retain the cold and hot items in to retain the heat.  Again, I noticed that these are heavily discounted at the moment.

Dimensions: 17.5 x 16 x 15.4 inches

12 pounds

Review: Coleman 40-Quart PowerChill Hot/Cold Thermoelectric Cooler

Coleman PowerChill Hot/Cold Thermoelectric Cooler

Coleman PowerChill Hot/Cold Thermoelectric Cooler

Keep your food warm OR cool, and strictly speaking, you don’t need ice or a freezer pack.  The Coleman 40-Quart PowerChill Hot/Cold Cooler uses electricity to keep your food at the right temperature. Set to Cool mode it cools down to forty degrees below the surrounding temperature; on Warm, it heats to 110-140 degrees above the surrounding temperature. Just plug it into your car’s 12-volt outlet – it has a long lead and even longer ones can be purchased. Also purchase the 110-volt AC adapter (sold separately) for use in the home which is, as mentioned earlier, essential for pre-cooling the unit overnight or in between uses. The PowerChill 40 Quart can hold 44 cans, plus snacks. The interior tray helps keep everything organized, and you can use the PowerChill upright, cabinet-style like a hobbit-sized fridge, or horizontally, chest-style. The door can be converted to open from the left or the right, so it’ll work well in your available space. 1-year limited warranty.  These plug in miniature fridges used to be really expensive but there is a great range these days at affordable prices and this is one of my favorites. If you are tailgate partying in, say, Phoenix, a few sheets of gel icepaks will help keep the sun’s effects off your tailgate.  But in general, it is fine without any assistance.  Also is discounted right now just in time for the 2016-17 NFL season so move quickly if you want one at a good price.

Dimensions 15.7 x 17.8 x 24 inches

Koolatron Multi-Purpose Adapter 110AC to 12 Volts DC ( Model AC-16)

Koolatron Multi-Purpose Adapter 110AC to 12 Volts DC ( Model AC-16)

Koolatron Multi-Purpose Adapter 110AC to 12 Volts DC ( Model AC-16)

You definitely need one of these so that you can pre-chill the container overnight prior to the tailgate party Big Day.  See notes on this process!  Also if you are homegating in the back yard, it’s a really useful item to save you trips to the kitchen and back and can be plugged into the wall wherever your tailgate party is located.

Cooler Review: Koolatron 26-Quart Soft-Sided Electric Travel Cooler

Koolatron 26 qt Soft Side Bag Cooler

Koolatron 26 qt Soft Side Bag Cooler

The Koolatron D25 Soft Bag Cooler can be taken anywhere, like the car, to picnic sites, hotels, offices, and more. For even more convenience the D25 plugs into all 12V cigarette lighters. The Koolatron D25 Soft Bag Cooler comes with an easy-to-carry adjustable shoulder strap, and holds up 32 x 12 oz cans. An optional 110V adapter is available for home use. The Koolatron D25 Soft Bag Cooler also has a convenient cord storage compartment when not in use. Cools to 16.5 degrees C or 30° F below the ambient temperature.

What I love about this is its ability to organize me with pockets and compartments for everything.  Tailgating is the ULTIMATE picnic and that is what this great little, lightweight cooler guarantees.  Bottles of pop, no, make that growlers, can stand up and you can tuck the food in all around it.  The long lead means you can keep it plugged in for at least a couple of hours if you have a good battery in your vehicle.  Stuffed eggs, for instance, require a really cool temperature or they can be a sure way to spending the day in the porcelain palace in the throes of a Technicolor yodel.  Avoid tummy trouble and keep the food really cold!

Dimensions: 9 x 17.5 x 15 inches

Now a few pretty items for the ladies to put their cupcakes in!

Wheeled Picnic Cooler for 4, Houndstooth

Wheeled Picnic Cooler for 4 - many patterns available

Wheeled Picnic Cooler for 4 – many patterns available

This fully-equipped picnic cooler combines a removable wheeled cart, as well as a unique, divided cooler with separate sections for wine and food. Leaning towards the chic rather than tailgate party ruggedness, it has a leak-proof cooler which includes an easy drink access panel in the lid, a hand grip, an adjustable shoulder strap, and an extra front pocket. The wheeled cart has strong retractable handle like a suitcase and is easy to remove when not needed. Designed and assembled in the USA it has a  Lifetime warranty. The cooler comes with a combination corkscrew, cheese knife, wineglasses, plates, napkins, flatware, wheeled cart and has a stylish pattern on the outside. Dishwasher-safe plates, flatware and glasses (glasses top rack) are included; hand-wash and dry wood accessories though and only spot-clean bag and cooler; machine-wash and dry napkins.  Nice gift for the tailgate party gals!  High enough to stash a wine bottle or two.

Dimensions: 17.25″ x 14.5″ x 13.5″

Thermal Food Carrier, Trellis Blue

Ascot style picnic carrier - for the gentlewomen at your tailgate party

Ascot style picnic carrier – for the gentlewomen at your tailgate party

Despite its feminine appearance it features sturdy construction just like my cousin Meryl. Thermal Shield insulation make this colorful food carrier essential for transporting food such as casseroles, cakes, rolls, and more hot or cold. It also zips fully open for easy packing. Lifetime warranty.  Discounted at the moment for tailgate party season!

Dimensions: 4″ x 18″ x 11″

Trunk Organizer and Cooler Set, Chevron

Trunk organizer and cooler - style and substance

Trunk organizer and cooler – style and substance

Dimension: 12″ x 23″ x 14″; folded, 12″ x 14″ x 3″

You might find this trunk organizer useful.

It’s a durable three section trunk organizer with removable Thermal Shield insulated cooler and despite its glamorous looks it is great for keeping sports gear, cleaning supplies, and groceries organized. Two large outer sleeve pockets. Foldable when not in use to maintain trunk space. Designed in the USA. Lifetime warranty. Tailgate party season discount!

Happy tailgating!




Kegerator Review: Summit Professional Outdoor Kegerator

summit professional outdoor kegerator review

Summit Professional Outdoor Kegerator


Kegerator Review: Summit Commercial Kegerator–Perfect for Outdoor Use and Made by a USA Family Company!

There are not too many USA made kegerators on the market and I went hunting for one that was well-reviewed. The lower end kegerators don’t really fill that bill. The upper level ones, more of an investment kegerator that some of those that really, you don’t expect to last more than one NFL season, have mixed results. But after a long search and a lot of questioning of friends and family, I think I have one you will like. And I’m proud to do a kegerator review of a 100% All-American company.

Summit is a manufacturer of outdoor refrigerators and semi-professional outdoor gear and they have around 600 refrigerator models in their range. They are as American as apple pie, so, with the outdoor kegerator specifically in mind, I took a look at this one they make. Felix Storch, Inc. was founded in 1969 and has been a leading supplier of compact, specialty, commercial, and medical refrigerators and freezers ever since. In its first year, they trademarked the Summit brand name to guarantee quality at the highest level. Distribution started in Long Island City, New York, before moving to the Bronx in 1983, where the company headquarters is now located with warehousing in Edison, Noo Jois-ey.

Summit is a private, family-owned business with no outside investors and that’s kind of great, isn’t it? I reckon that one of the grandsons has invented this smooth appliance. This is your perfect July 4th Kegerator!! Also perfect for Thanksgiving. Oh and Rose Bowl parties, Superbowl Sunday, Friday Night Lights and all that stuff. Mmmm, and watching soccer matches on the outdoor TV screen.

It’s been designed and made for the commercial outdoor market – outdoor bars, cafés that serve beer, resorts, beer gardens and … home BBQ areas where beer is king!

Remember the golden rule – most of the kegerators for indoor use need to stay there. Temperature fluctuations caused by the conditions in your yard will make beer heat up and foam too much and so there is wastage. Nooooooooo! You need a specific outdoor kegerator for the Great Outdoors. So, is it fair of me to include this in a site specifically about tailgate parties? Well, yes, as homegating has become the new tailgating. So many of my friends are tricking out their yards with BBQs,, upmarket grills, rotisseries, smokers, fire pits and of course, a great big TV. I think it is worth looking at the possibilities of adding value to your house and turning it into your own little touch of paradise – beer on tap whenever you want it!

Allow me to present the Summit SBC490OS kegerator and draft beer dispenser which has been constructed to meet commercial quality standards outdoors. It is set in a stainless steel, non-corroding 304 grade stainless steel with a matching door. With finished sides and top with a professional steel rail around the edge and generous drip tray, the Summit SBC490OS is equally suited for built-in or freestanding applications. I have seen these slotted into masonry work and others integrated into custom cabinets. This is a genuine full-sized kegerator which can readily accommodate standard 1/2, 1/4 or pony (mini) beer kegs. This gives you a cooler with a draft tower made for your beer whether purchased or home-brew. There’s a special fan to cool the compressor if it has been built in plus extra shelves are provided to convert the unit into an automatically defrosting refrigerator. Yeah, right, ladies, as if I will be allowing that to happen. You won’t be keeping your designer salads and tiramisu in my kegerator.

You can actually customize this kegerator to some degree. For instance, you can request a diamond-plate door to give it a cool industrial design. This is the great thing about buying a locally made product. The Summit company has a good name and they stand behind every kegerator they make. (I don’t mind them standing behind my kegerator as long as they just keep quiet don’t demand too much beer …).

The list of inclusions covers all draft beer drinking eventualities. You get the CO2 tank, a regulator, a coupler, beer and air lines, a tap, a basic cleaning kit, a tower, faucet and faucet handle (which you can convert and customize).   You supply the keg of your choice from the sizes mentioned – half, quarter and mini keg only. Don’t try to force a larger one into the interior as if you don’t keep the door shut snugly, you will never be able to keep the beer chilled. The result – one foamy mess. The appliance is quiet while operating and has been designed to run economically. I would highly recommend shelling out for a really great cleaning kit and build the cleaning regimen into your keg-maintenance routine.

Here’s a really great cleaning kit that easily looks after lines, taps etc. and remember not to scour or scratch the stainless steel finish.

Deluxe Beer Line Cleaning Kit

Deluxe Beer Line Cleaning Kit

This deluxe cleaning kit has all the brushes you need to get into nooks and crannies and also has a pound of Brew Clean, the best chemical (read, ‘safest’ and non flavor ruining!) you can buy for your kegerator. There’s no point in buying a kegerator and leaving it to build up gunk and sludge as the beer will be ruined, you’ll have a smelly mess in your BBQ area and probably get sick. Sicker than you would if you are drinking pure, icy beer!

Manuals on setting up and operating are provided and it is important to follow these instructions carefully. The manuals can also be downloaded online so when you spill beer on the paper versions, you have a backup.

The Summit comes with a one-year warranty on parts and labor and 5 years on the compressor. It is also environmentally friendly being 100% CFC free.

Technical Specifications

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this Kegerator review of the Summit professional outdoor kegerator. And, before I finish, don’t forget to double check these Technical Specifications and never forget California’s Prop 65 warning!

The power you need to run it? 115 volts, 60 cycle, 3 prong plug. Treat it right and it is energy efficient. Don’t continually open the door and don’t install in direct sunshine. It is one of the few outdoor kegerators on the market that gets high praise from all buyers.

It weighs 150 pounds and the dimensions are: . 34 1/2″h x 23 3/4″w x 26″d

For Californian residents: PROPOSITION 65 WARNING:
This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and/or birth defects or other reproductive harm.

No kegerator is a slam-dunk when you first put it in. It will take you a little effort to get used to correct settings in your environment. But if you persist. all the while ensuring that you follow the instructions, keeping the unit cool, all parts spotlessly clean and always using correct keg sizes, you will pay for it in beer savings over the first few years of owning the appliance, depending on how much you drink. In these economic times, doesn’t it give you a warm, fuzzy feeling to realize how much you can save by drinking more beer?

Avanti Kegerator Review: Avanti 2 Mini Keg Portable Party Pub Model:CB350S-IS

Avanti 2 Mini Keg Portable Kegerator

Avanti 2 Mini Keg Portable Kegerator

The Universal Problem of transporting draft beers to the tailgate party may have a working solution. The Avanti 2 Mini Keg Portable Party Pub is a real contender. For starters, Avanti is Florida based. When last I looked, Florida was the party state. I am assuming they know a lot about beer… so read on for a very detailed review of the Avanti kegerator “Portable Party Pub”. And, don’t forget: this is more than just an Avanti Kegerator Review–we have included valuable information on cleaning, transporting, accessories and how to make the most out of your new kegerator!

Avanti Kegerator Review

Strictly speaking, this is not an outdoor kegerator and it only holds 2 mini-kegs at a time. Around 30 beers. However, it has been designed to be extremely portable. So, with that in mind, this is a great choice for the best kegerator to take to the tailgate party. It measures 21” high, 18.25” wide and 20.25” deep, so it is possible to carry this to your parking lot site and set it up on a solid surface (table that won’t collapse under the weight of the unit, 2 kegs) – never mind so much about the 2 kegs as they will be drained pretty fast, problem solved.

Like a fridge, there’s a cool LED light inside with an on/off switch. Avanti has equipped this kegerator with a glass-storage shelf where you can stand a couple of not-too-large glasses to chill. It’s not really solid state inside but Avanti has good warranties so if you run in to trouble when the carousing gets out of hand, send it back and replace it.  The exterior is platinum finish and the surface just wipes clean.  You don’t need to use abrasives.

A mini-keg holds 5 liters. You get 3 x 12 oz drinks to a liter, the keg holds 2 x 5 liters so you get around 30 drinks in this kegerator.   Sooooooo, that’s my share. What are you drinking? Bring your own along please ….

Still 30 drinks of draft ale perfectly chilled is a nice foundation for a tailgate party, no?

Avanti’s Party Pub is a good description as you can store and keep chilled two kegs of different brands.  On the outside of the door there is a digital temperature control for easy temperature regulation. It is really important to keep the door closed so there is a neat safety latch to make sure the door stays closed while you’re dispensing your brew of choice.  It is equipped with one tap so you can’t switch between kegs with great ease, but you will have the luxury of draft beer on site. The tap is just a generic, black pull-down one but I could see it would not be too much of a strain to swap this for something more team-ish. Don’t lift the unit by the tap – you can pick it up by the stand. The tap is fine for what it does, but it is not heavy duty enough to serve as a handle.

The see-through window showcases and identifies your kegs and that window is reasonably hardy.

This Avanti Kegerator weighs around 35 pounds without the beer. Allow for this and its packing (see below) when you are configuring your portable gear for the best tailgate party ev-ahhhhh …..

Avanti Kegerator Accessories

The Avanti Portable Party Pub has only one challenge as a portable unit: you need to keep it really cool and temperature-stable. Don’t site it in the sun and keep it out of rain, water spray or drips.  Wind can affect it too. It needs to stay plugged in to a power source for starters. A surge protector is recommended for a wall socket – some cities have terrible power surges which will cause your unit to burn out. Yes, I’m looking at you, Detroit!

Refrigerator and Appliance Voltage Protector 115v 10 AMP with 3 MIN Delay

Surge Protector

A portable battery pack is essential if you have a long way to travel or your tailgate party site does not have a power source (most don’t). I have a Duracell battery pack and it works OK with this. The specs say 115 V and the battery will last a few hours with the kegerator plugged into it.

Duracell DRPP300 Powerpack 300-Watt Jump Starter and Emergency Power Source

Portable Battery Pack

When the beer has all been drunk, you can use the power pack to run a light so that you can re-pack the truck for your trip home.

Now, this is more than just an Avanti Kegerator review. Here are some tips to get the most out of your system. Keeping the unit cool is a bit of a challenge but not one that a large space blanket or foil faced bubble wrap can’t handle. Foil-faced bubble wrap is a radiant barrier. It’s not insulation. However, you can line a carton with it and slip your Avanti Portable Party Pub in the box so that you can avoid the radiant heat.  In brief, here’s your little craft exercise for the week.  It’s so darn easy you can get your bratty nephew to do it instead of practicing graffiti on your garage walls.

Buy 2 rolls of Reflectix Bubble Pack Insulation.   Cut it in squares to your box size.

Stick it together with this Reflective Insulation Tape.

My advice is to cut it to 6 inches larger than the size of the kegerator (allowing for proper air circulation) which will allow you to make yourself a nice loose box liner (again, for air circulation). Line said box. The box needs a sturdy base, flat as a table top. Seal it with the tape around all raw edges for a pro-look and to prevent tearing and place the kegerator in this airy, yet insulated cave. Don’t place the kegerator next to the BBQ or any other heat source. You need to keep it cool and certainly not in direct sunlight, rain or wind as said earlier.  Warm beer goes foamy, doesn’t tap right, overflows and wastes.

As long as you allow space around it, the unit will not overheat. If the temperature in the parking lot is going to be gruesome, then consider double walling your Reflectix bubble pack and inserting some flat cooler sheets in each wall to maintain the cold. Flexi Freeze Refreezable Ice Sheets are good as they can be refrozen many times and are flat enough to slip between the layers.

This may seem a bit Gyro Gearloose/White Trash fix-up, but it does work! You can even cut this to size to make window covers for the SUV or RV and it works out way cheaper than the custom made ones on the market.

The digital readout is flush with the surface and the light glows with a pleasant blue. It is easy to clean. Read up on the instructions on how to keep it clean. You will want to make sure to wipe it over after every use. Keep a couple of team bar towels handy! Hand wash only. Well, no idiot even is going to think of putting this in the dishwasher but I’m just sayin’ ….

NFL Chicago Bears Kitchen And Tailgate Towel Set

NFL Chicago Bears Kitchen And Tailgate Towel Set

A kegerator cleaning kit is a must: get one with a pressurized line-cleaning system. It will pay dividends as gunk in the kegerator will ruin your beer. Clean it on every keg change.

Kegco Deluxe Hand Pump Pressurized Keg Beer Cleaning Kit w/ 32 oz. Cleaner

Kegerator Cleaning Kit

How Long Will The Beer Last In The Kegerator?

The life of the beer in the kegerator? Indefinite. It will last as long as you don’t drink it, provided the temperature is stable. That is a benefit in itself as you can pull beers in tiny glasses for the Ladies. Normally, they just sip off the top of a can and throw the rest away. This way, you can’t help but save money.

Just remember that, despite what it says in the instructions, your actual keg needs to be pre-chilled and the kegerator needs 24 hours at least of running time prior to putting the beer in it. Do not be tempted to flash-cool the beer in your freezer.  It could freeze or even burst.  Then you’ll be REALLY sorry.

The Avanti is a compact design and will be easily fitted into your trunk with a small BBQ and your Poleish Game, red cups, food and coolers.

There is an instruction book and a One Year Limited Warranty. Only use the CO2 gas cylinders recommended for the unit.

The instruction book is really great. Pictures, diagrams and clear descriptions plus a neat trouble shooting section.  Congrats Avanti!  This is one of the best instruction books I have seen.  It’s in Spanish and English, too.

They are only shipped within the USA at present.

A great solution to the tailgate party draft beer dilemma to be sure!


This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and/or birth defects or other reproductive harm.