Best 5 New Tailgate Party Products for 2018 reviewed

I just found this stuff while browsing (full disclosure – I have an affiliate agreement with them but I am honest in my reviewing).  Most of it is new or newish but I certainly had not seen it before.

First, let’s go hi-tech for the lazy tailgate party host.

Grillbot Automatic Grill Cleaner

Meet the Grillbot Automatic Grill cleaner.  This is the equivalent of a Roomba but for your grill.

Grillbot on BBQ

Grillbot on BBQ

The Grillbot only weighs around 3 pounds but has all the scrubbing power you need to use after cooking up a storm.  We would recommend using after each batch of whatever you are grilling to keep that grill-top (grate or flat-top, even small electric grill) from building up cross-flavors and old fat and charcoal.  You can set the Grillbot and forget it.  It will beep when the cycle is finished. Of all the New Tailgate Party Products for 2018, these are my faves.

Grillbot comes in 4 colors

Grillbot comes in 4 colors

Push button with an LED light, it also has a carry case.  I will be buying a swag of these for my beer buds whose barbecue hygiene is, well, not ideal.  With this little gadget you can get the job done while you are enjoying the party.

Grillbot showing size

Grillbot showing size

It’s powered by a rechargeable battery and definitely takes the sweat out of the scrubbing, getting in between those grill grates quite nicely.  Afterwards, just wipe down with a paper towel and cook the next course or pack the grill away for the next game. HINT: If you wear the Grillbot brushes out, it is easy to replace them and they are always available.  In fact, all parts are replaceable in case you leave them at the tailgate party. Also the weatherproof case you can buy as an optional extra is worth the small money it costs.

I’d say this is one of the hottest items of 2018. This is what the Grillbot looks like underneath:

Grillbot - what it looks like under

Grillbot – what it looks like underneath


Party King Grills PKG-VJV-6412 SWING’N Smoke Varsity Grill Package, Includes Varsity Grill, Varsity Cradle and VERSArm LT Swing Arm

Party King Grill

Party King Grill – perfect for Parking Lots

And now here’s a way to deal with shrinking parking lots and small parking spaces yet not sacrificing the size of the grill.  It’s the Varsity model from Party Grill.  We’ve seen trailer hitch groills before but not at this standard which features an innovative way to attach their large 3-burner grill to the trailer hitch of your vehicle and it takes up minimal space.  Party King Grill people have invented a whole package of complementary grill tools so the whole kit and caboodle is transported on the back of your car.  You just park, swing the Party King Varsity Grill out to the side, light up, get your food from the trunk and everything is close at hand.  A brilliant idea that really does fit the ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ category.  Party King Grills Varsity 6412 Package – Medium Grill and Standard Arm. The Varsity 6412 is one of the most popular hitch mount tailgate grills on the market and that is understandable as it is solid and well-built. The medium sized Varsity grill has only been released recently and that, in my estimation, is the best model for tailgate parties. It can also be used independently as a portable tabletop grill by detaching it from the arm. It’s also fully stainless steel and the Varsity grill has predictable and accurate cooking temperatures while still achieving the searing top temperatures of larger models. The Party King Varsity Grill includes fold up side shelves and quick attach grill mounts and there are numerous attachments that you can get to grill your own way. The surface for cooking is 11.25″ x 18.5. 

It’s from a reliable company that delivers good, old-fashioned personal service and that’s great to know.  It”s a product that is recommended for any vehicle from compact upwards and frees up so much space in your trunk.

HyperGear Beast XL Rugged Portable IPX6 Waterproof Water Resistant Dustproof Outdoor Indoor Wireless Bluetooth Speakers  

HyperGear Beast XL Rugged Portable IPX6 Waterproof Water Resistant Dustproof Outdoor Indoor Wireless Bluetooth Speakers

HyperGear Beast XL Rugged Portable IPX6 Waterproof Water Resistant Dustproof Outdoor Indoor Wireless Bluetooth Speakers

The Hypergear Beast Bluetooth Speakers are resistant to splashes (yes, even from beer) and well engineered as compact, dust-proof yet high quality ways to play music (or a feed from your computer – eg. The Game) at your tailgate party.

We have been lugging our Block Rocker around for years and now it’s time to go compact.  So for 2018, we will carry more food and less music gear.  It has incredible sound for a bluetooth model and an impressive bass. Go to this link and you will get an amazing discount !

Alfrescamore Pizza Oven from Cuisinart with integrated stand

Alfrescamore Cuisinart Pizza oven and stand

Alfrescamore Cuisinart Pizza oven and stand

Here’s a pizza oven that I noticed at my bud’s place lately and I was surprised to hear that it was from Cuisinart as it is poles apart from their sweet kitchen appliances.  The Cuisinart Alfrescamore pizza oven is so ideal for tailgate parties as it has an integrated stand, runs on gas, is not heavy and you can also add wood chips to ensure that smokey taste. Any flavor you want.

The pizzas look realistically Italian and taste just fantastic.  You can cook them fresh during the tailgate party rather than risk the cardboard flavor of most boxed fast-food items.

Pizza fresh from the Oven

Pizza fresh from the Oven

Selling for a great price at the moment.  So stock up on all the ingredients you enjoy and craft pizzas while you watch the game at the tailgate party.

Now to the games: from experience, this is one of the best giant beer pong games around:

Giant Beer Pong Edition – BucketBall

You need something that is easy to pack, compact but enormous and not going to break and this seems to be the one that everyone is using.  (Some are too big to transport).  This one is not brittle and will give you seasons of fun.

Bucketball Giant Beer Pong Combo Pack

Bucketball Giant Beer Pong Combo Pack

And no, you do NOT have to drink a bucket of beer. Stick to the red solo cups.

We will add to this list as we get around the parking lots and see just what everyone is using this year to make sure that their tailgate party is the best it can possibly be.   So do watch this space and see what we have been able to discover.

Happy Tailgating !


Review: Best Kegerators and Gear for Your Homegate Party – Big is Better in 2018

Big is Better at the Homegate Party

We all know that when it comes to Best Kegerators and Gear for Your Homegate Party – Big is Better in 2018.  The Homegate Party is catching on in many areas for a few reasons with people who preferred to tailgate party joining in and doubling up: terrible east coast and southern weather, kegerators, expense of reserving a parking space for the day, restrictions on what you can use and the limit on how much you can fit in your vehicle. These days, sports fans want kegerators.  These are fabulous ways to have your beer and drink it too, and at small cost. While there’s nothing quite like actually being there for the tailgate party scene, if you prefer to homegate party, you can set it up so well that you can make it a memorable (read *fun*) day from start to finish.  Maybe by the pool … But mostly, this post is a general wrap about stuff that is way too big to be classed as portable.  Such as kegerators. We will add to it as we check out more and more useful products.  And yes, there’s NOTHING like the atmosphere of an all-in tailgate party. But homegating is a viable and manageable alternative – or do both. As well, we would love to hear about your experiences with the Homegate Party scene!

Weber Summit 7470001 by the pool for Homegating

Weber Summit 7470001 by the pool for Homegating

Essentially, the gear is similar.  However, you can be sure that nobody is going to stop you from setting up a smoker, a whizz-bang grill and pizza oven and blast the world with the loudest speakers money can buy.  After all, you’re in your own backyard or man cave. Scale is 9/10ths of the law – you can have Really Big Stuff at a homegate party.

Let’s start with the centerpiece of all tailgate parties or homegate parties – the grill.

As, for most homegating, the grill can be either built in, gargantuan and therefore, too big to take to parking lots, not portable or just dependent on charcoal or woodfire for fuel (which is banned in many lots), we are going straight to the grills that are the stuff dreams are made of.

The Weber Summit 7470001 670 Gas Grill for your homegate party

Even Weber calls this the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ and ‘The Top of the Line’. High praise and a lot of positive reviews on many sites.  I have not had the privilege of test-running one of these, but there’s always hope.  I have to be content with fondling them when spotted at Orchard, Lowe’s or Home Depot.

Weber Summit 747 closed

Weber Summit 747 pack shot !

Here is the grill I fantasize over.  It has a whopping 769 inch cooking surface. OMG, those steaks!

Summit with masses of homegating food

Summit with masses of homegate party food

This particular Weber BBQ grill has the number 747 in it – seems to be the jet class of BBQs in every way.  Note that the one pictured is a natural gas model requiring plumbing of a gas line to where you want to use it (by the pool man-cave or outdoor kitchen) but there are many versions that run on propane.  I love the natural gas version of this Weber for home.

It features

6 Snap-jet individual ignition controls – 6 large burners.

Sear Station

Side burner

A smoker burner and smoker box

Built in thermometer

Built in cart and a space for your tank if the propane model. Accessories shelf.

Rear mounted infra-red rotisserie burner

Cast aluminum construction of all cook boxes – this features cooking grates, burner tubes, Flavorizer Bars, and the grease management system. Angled just right, the Flavorizer bars catch drippings that smoke and sizzle, adding flavor to your food. Any drippings not vaporized by the Flavorizer bars follow the slope of their unique angle and are funneled away from the burner tubes, down into the grease management system. No more carcinogenic flare-ups that give the meat a smell of kerosene.

There are many design aspects of this amazing grill that are exclusive to the Weber company.  It will last a lifetime and create homegate party memories. Mostly, you in a Chef hat!

Weber Summit with Rotisserie

Weber Summit with Rotisserie

10 foot flexible hose included

Built in lighting illuminating the cooking surface.

Weber Summit with night lights

Weber Summit with night lights

It is worth reading the feedback on selling sites as it is so positive. People say this is the best investment they have ever made for outdoor cooking.  A Kegerator is the ideal companion.Read our article on Kegerators here.

Note that Made in America (Illinois) Weber Summit does require some assembly as it is only partially built in the box.  But it is easy stuff and you and your buds can knock the chore over in no time.  You have to factor in the extreme weight of the grill and all its components.  When you have it delivered, lay it all out on the floor of your garage and check that everything is in the box.  Try to put it in assembly order.  (This is an Ikea hint!)  And speaking of hints, Ms. Rawhide says ‘Just don’t break out the beer till it’s time to raise a celebratory brewski and christen the monster. Never drink and assemble.’

The Smoker

OK, so you CAN just use the Weber Summit for your smoking as well, but I believe it is sheer luxury to maintain a separate machine for each purpose.

The Bradley Smoker 33.5″ model

For starters, this is an electric smoker.  That’s different! But this is a large model.

Bradley Smoker 33.5

Bradley Electric Smoker 33.5″ gives you more time for drinking


You could also look at a wood-fired smoker but hear me out first … an electric smoker takes the chore out of feeding the moster with logs or charcoal.  That can easily consume the day and really, it’s all about the sport, the beer, the games, the beer, your friends, the beer and the food …and the beer.  Not the slaving over a hot smoker. The Bradley Original Smoker makes home smoking a doddle (as they say in the UK). With an automatic wood feeder system and consistent, accurate temperature control, you achieve the perfect smoke without the argument with the machine. The automatic wood bisquette feeder system enables clean, continuous smoke for up to eight hours without re-fueling.  That’s enough time to drain the kegerator, no?

The interior is easily-cleaned stainless steel

Interior of the Bradley Smoker

Interior of the Bradley Smoker

The controls are at the side which makes them very accessible.  The Bradley site has lots of valuable hints and specifications.

We reviewed a full range of smokers and a few other accessories here.

There’s a lot of info and we do keep it updated as much as possible.  Let us know about any broken links or products that have had problems and we will follow it up straight away. Some suppliers remove products or have issues with supply and don’t let us know.

Games for The Homegate Party

Giant Yard Pong – a Massive version of Beer Pong

Giant Yard Pong for Homegating

Giant Yard Pong

Why settle for a normal sized Red Solo cup for a game of beer pong when you can have a set of these buckets? They are fun for the backyard game and wow, check out the expressions on the faces of your friends when you fill one with beer!  So you can get an idea of scale, here’s a photo of a whole set and how easy it is to transport it.

Yard Pong in carry bag

Yard Pong in carry bag

This is the classic game of beer pong only with a massive set up.  The buckets are sturdy and the balls float so it’s OK to take this to the beach or play around the pool.  Whether you drink that bucket of beer is up to you …

Giant Stacking Tower Drinking Game for Your Homegate Party

Giant Stacking Game with Drinking Instructions

Giant Stacking Game with Drinking Instructions

Here is that block stacking game with a twist.  Each of the 60 pieces of this stacking tower/tumbling game has a drinking instruction on it. It has a nifty carry bag so in theory, you CAN take this with you, but it is so large (up to 4 feet depending on whether you start it on an additional crate or not) that it really plays better at home.  Note that this is not Jenga nor affiliated in any way with that original game. But it is made of nice lumber and no splinters.

10 x 10 AB Canopy with Wheeled Carry Bag

Large Canopy

Large Canopy

Even for Homegating you may need some additional shelter or shade.  This range of canopies has umpteen colors to match your team and is easy to put up and take away.  In other words, you can transform your yard into a parking lot-style haven using this very practical splash of color to decorate and show your team spirit.  It also has its own leg weights so that the wind will not be a problem.   Start with this, a grill and a kegerator and work your way out with all the accessories you need to throw the best tailgate party ever but at home!

Ion Audio Job Rocker Bluetooth Speaker

Ion Audio Job Rocker Bluetooth Speaker

Ion Audio Job Rocker Bluetooth Speaker

Get a great audio speaker! This Ion Audio Job Rocker Bluetooth Speaker  ticks  all boxes for a tailgate party at home.  Great sound, it streams all your great sporty music via bluetooth including your streaming services.  It also has radio in FM & AM. Lots of outputs, and a 12V input jack so that you can charge this from your car.  It also has 2 power outlets for powering lights or gadgets, charging your phone.  Plus the battery will see you through for plenty of hours.  The orange color means it won’t get lost amongst your party gear and hey, you can also use it on site at work so it’s a tax deduction. Sort of.

Football Serving Tray – disposable.

Football Serving Tray

Football Serving Tray

I love these disposable tailgate party trays.  Ms. Rawhide bought some of these last year and filled them with snacks and goodies.  They are a perfect centerpiece. They are made of food-safe 400 gsm cardboard which is strong enough to hold any dry foods. Don’t fill them with dips – put a foil or plastic packet inside it or do as Ms. Rawhide does and use a Ziploc bag.

What do you like to do at your Homegate Party?  Let us know via the comments section and we will add them.  We will continue to update this article as we find specific products to recommend.

Happy Tailgate (Homegate) Partying!











A Tailgate Party Table is essential to Give You Room to Grill

As parking lots reduce the areas where you can grill and set out your tailgate party, the need for cooking space grows.  A space-saving tailgate party table should fit easily in your parking lot space and give you more square footage than the footprint of the table (in other words, design is important). And it must be light enough to transport.  But no need to panic as there are many clever gadgets on the market that can help you.  The good news is that they are not expensive.  They also fold into almost nothing as many double as camping accessories.

The Coleman Pack-Away Kitchen Tailgate Party Table

Coleman Pack-Away Kitchen for Tailgate Parties

Coleman Pack-Away Kitchen for Tailgate Parties

Weighing in at 11.6 pounds including its 32″ carry-bag, the Coleman Pack-Away Kitchen gives you 32″ x 24″ of cooking space and yet takes up little space or weight.  It’s designed as a space-saving tailgate party table or camping table. Perfect for outdoors. That’s pretty important for Tailgate Parties.  It also has a lower (not as sturdy) shelf where you can stash things like foil, pot-grabbers and utensils while you are cooking, or your plates etc..  It’s  aluminum frame is tough but folds easily and the surfaces snap on.  This is a very inexpensive version of the camping style kitchen counter tops you crave when cooking in the outdoors.  Ms. Rawhide is addicted to those grill cook-offs on TV and I always warn her that they have an entire art department to set up their rig.  Tailgate partiers have to pack and go and the Coleman Pack-Away Kitchen is exactly that.  Ticks all boxes.  Plus it has that stellar Coleman name and won’t collapse on you mid-grill.  These are made to fit most Coleman cookers which are modular in design. Oh and it has a great hook for hanging a lantern for those gloomy afternoons.  Or you could hang a team pennant on it.

Coleman Pack-Away Kitchen in use

Coleman Pack-Away Kitchen in use

Quick Read Features for the Coleman Pack Away Kitchen

Holds  up to 100 pounds in weight.


Comes with a bag

Flexible mesh shelf to hold gadgets

Large cooking surface


Quick to set up and demount.

1 year warranty (limited by conditions – you can ask Coleman Customer service for a copy prior to buying but it is the usual stuff)

Nifty lantern hook

From reputable company known for good outdoor design

Fixed leg length but the rest is adjustable for your stove

Stove holder is separate from the table and can be clipped on.

Low price

GCI Outdoor Slim Fold Cook Station for your big Tailgate Party

GCI Outdoor Slim Fold Cook Station

GCI Outdoor Slim Fold Cook Station

GCI Outdoor Slim Fold Cook Station

GCI Outdoor Slim Fold Cook Station in use

Going up in the size and price range is the GCI Outdoor Slim Fold Cook Station.

A bit heavier than the Coleman, the GCI has a tough powder coated steel frame and the cook prep area is aluminum and quite static.  It folds flat but weighs 20.8 pounds but you may decide that it is worth this extra poundage.  It has 6 actual surfaces to stash your food gear – 4 fold-out side tables, a strong wire rack and the aluminum top.  You can safely place glasses, bottles, carve that leg of lamb or rack of pork ribs, and it will take a real beating in the outdoors.   This is a great unit also for people who are renting an apartment and have only a small open air space and still like to grill outdoors – the GCI gives you so many cooking options and has a space for trash as well as all your gear.

Note that it is quite important for health and safety to store any food at least 6″ off the ground and this is perfectly designed for that.

Quick Read Features for GCI Outdoor Slim Fold Cook Station

Heavy – over 20 pounds

All the cooking, serving, cleaning space you need for a tailgate party

Long lasting, space-saving tailgate party table- engineered in steel and aluminum

Slim folding for transporting

Holds  203 pounds of tailgate party food and drinks

Medium price.

Built-in beverage holders

World Outdoor Products Professional Portable Folding Bartenders’ Table with Umbrella

World Outdoor Products Professional Portable Folding Bartenders' Table

World Outdoor Products Professional Portable Folding Bartenders’ Table

Again, going up in price (but greatly discounted at the moment here), the World Outdoor Products Professional Portable Folding Bartenders’ Table comes with a wrap around granite styled (MDF) counter top on three sides. Masses of space for serving food and drinks.

This space-saving tailgate party table frame is manufactured from black anodized strong aluminum and comes folded into a suitcase shape which easily pop out to reveal a 48″ counter in the center and 2 13″ x 32″ side tables.  This is really designed for the tailgate party animal who makes ita weekly event and invites his buds over to his site for a grill and brewski event prior to games of all conferences. The additional space is very appreciated by the chef and bartender!

There’s a wrap-around skirt to clip on which hides all your bits of gear neatly.

I think this top of the range version is very worthwhile and again, you can use it for pre-gaming in your man-cave or yard tailgate party.  It has heaps of applications and won’t let you down.  Nice that it has the UV resistant umbrella built-in plus a lot of drink holders, six bottle holders and other accessories designed as part of the the system.

You can put your cooler or grill on the center tray which reverses according to your preference.

This is a sturdy, well-designed article that will enhance your tailgate party experience.

Quick Read Features for World Outdoor Products Professional Portable Folding Bartenders’ Table

More than 3 times larger than normal serving spaces

Fully portable and folds very compactly and fast

Anodized aluminum frame so weight is low proportional to functionality at 33 pounds for 32″ x 72″ space

Built in UV resistant umbrella

Sellers guarantee one-day delivery or money back.

Bottle holders and many shelves for coolers, grill, eating and cooking utensils.

Comes with skirt and storage bag

Attractive looking MDF granite-laminated surfaces

Multitude of uses outside tailgate parties !  But perfect space-saving tailgate party table for you parties indoor and out.

Table is 32″ tall which is lower than bar height but is good for table height and cooking.  You may want to buy some table risers such as these but check it out before purchasing extra gear.

SUNVP Ultralight and Portable Folding Camping Table with Carrying Bag for Tailgate Party Cooking

Ultralight Aluminum Frame Table

Ultralight Aluminum Frame Table

OK so here’s one for the very budget conscious.  You can’t get much cheaper than this and at the price, you can always just buy an additional table as need dictates. It’s not every high tech but the simplicity and lack of weight here is probably the biggest selling point apart from the low, low price.

There’s a massive discount of MSRP  here. But I wouldn’t have paid the high price anyway as there’s not much to it.

The makeers say it only weighs as much as a bottle of water – hmmm, which size bottle would that be? Ahhhh, I see where you are going with that.  2.4 pounds in weight but it can hold up to 33 pounds. So don’t go putting your cooler or grill on it.  The ultralight aluminum frame and cloth top just may cave in.  However, it is HANDY to have one or more of these to use as side tables and the waterproof Oxford cloth top flexes enough to place drinks on.

Quick Read Features for SUNVP Ultralight and Portable Folding Camping Table

Comes with its own carry bag

Light – 2.4 pounds.

29.5 x 21.6 x 20.8 inches

Anti-slip feet.

Ultra portable and versatile

Aluminum tube (like birds’ bones!) construction for lack of weight

Rods stay rigid so the table does not collapse

22″ high

A few different color options

In summary

I have deliberately restricted this post to 4 of the most logical buys in tables.  This is not to ignore all those great portable bars

But the abovementioned are for the cook – a wide price range and size option.

Keep reading – I will add anything that rivals these four in value and function.

Happy tailgating!











Is This the Greatest Tailgate Party Cooler Ever?

I couldn’t wait to tell you all about this incredible piece of equipment for your tailgate party.  It’s a cooler.  No.  It’s a PA system.  No. It’s a bluetooth speaker system.  Oh heck.  It’s ALL of those things!

It’s the Tunes2Go CA-E065A Koolmax Bluetooth 350 watt portable speaker.

KoolMax Bluetooth Cooler Speaker Combo

KoolMax Bluetooth Cooler Speaker Combo

This amazing piece of equipment comes in 4 colors so you can match your team logos and uniforms.  It cuts down the bulk of gear you have to lug to the parking lot.

Holds 48 cans or 28 bottles of beer and is a 40 quart cooler.

When fully charged, you’ll get 16 hours of battery life and it has all the bells and whistles needed for a great central sound system for your tailgate party.  XLR Mic input, bluetooth connection, USB port and so much more.  You can check the specs here.

This link will take you to the best deal at the moment.

Great holiday gift for someone you really love (yourself, maybe?).

Then tailgate party on ! (and everyone will be jealous).


Perfect Portable Electric Refrigerator-Freezer Coolers For Tailgate Parties

The Perfect Portable Electric Refrigerator-Freezer Cooler for tailgate parties

A few of my readers asked me why I haven’t covered the small but amazing range of perfect portable electric refrigerator-freezer coolers currently on the market.  They make their own ice on site, keep everything very cold and are ideal for keeping salads, perishables, pre-cooked meats and frozen margaritas at the perfect temperature.  Well, I guess I just wasn’t sure there was a market for them.  But I was wrong.  There’s a whole community out there that travels from state to state following games all over the country.  They are not all gray nomads either but diehard fans .and they need somewhere to stash their cream for the morning coffee.  At the tailgate party, these portable electric refrigerator/freezer coolers plug straight into the RV, Silverado  or whatever your ride is.

Anyway, thanks to my buds allowing me access to theirs and sharing their experience, I whittled down the range to the top three options.

Turned out, this was the most popular and while we are looking at the largest size, there are smaller models which we have listed for you.

Dometic CFX – 95DZUS Dual Zone Portable Electric Refrigerator-Freezer – 94.5 liters.

Dometic portable electric refigrerator/freezer cooler.

Dometic portable electric refrigerator-freezer cooler.

This is a 94.5 liter model and has two compartments, each with its own thermostat (-8F to +50F) covering fridge and freezer independently.  The power source is 120 VAC (wall plug) or 12VDC (cigarette lighter) or 24 VDC current.  It is the model that my pal Seth brings on the back of his Silverado along with his kegerator. It’s especially good when you need to drive to interstate games as you can avoid eating in restaurants and therefore, save your greenbacks for betting on fantasy football or even better, your cornhole games at the tailgate party.

But I digress.

The selling points of the Dometic Electric Portable Refrigerator-Freezer are as follows:

It’s big.  Like a small home fridge but packs a powerful punch being colder than, say, a bar fridge.  It makes real ice.  Speaking of which, a hint to keep it really cold when you are parked and to avoid drawing battery power, keep some bottles of iced water in the ice compartment.  These will keep the unit cold for a day or more. Otherwise, a 12 volt battery will keep the unit running longer.

Be sure to cool food or drink before putting into the freezer/fridge and you will preserve the low temperatures.

It’s absolutely terrific when you are in a remote area away from stores and ice machines as you can make heaps of it in this great freezer.  Fishermen, it’s for you to put your massive catch in as well.

Runs very quietly.

Very solid state.  I would recommend the insulated cover for it just to give it that extra care from dings.  You can then heave it in the back of your truck with a clear conscience.

Tested on ice-cream, popsicles and frozen peas and they stayed frozen for days.  There was no defrosting/re-freezing at all.  Performs well in the desert with high exterior temperatures. So it will work if say, you have to travel to Phoenix or Vegas for a game.  There’s little or no heat given off by the compressor so you can actually pack it quite tightly without the usual refrigerator air gaps required but do leave a space around the fan for the heat to escape.

Weighs 70 pounds.

Dimensions: 38.8 x 21.9 x 19.7 inches.

In conclusion, the owners of any of the range of Dometic portable refrigerator/freezer coolers love them whether for camping or tailgating and for the homegaters, this is a great second fridge as the power drag on your home electricity is very low.

The Dometic portable refrigerator/freezer coolers come in a variety of size options.

26 liters, 35 liters, 38 liters, 46 liters, 61 liters, as well as this one of 94.5 liters so there is one for all uses. Seems to make sense to buy the biggest when you shop at Costco for a heap of pre-made food for those occasions when you are not bothering with the whole BBQ thing.

Dometic CFX-CVR95DZ Insulated Protective Cover (for CFX-95DZUS)

Dometic Insulated Protective cover for portable freezer

Dometic Insulated Protective cover for portable freezer

The cover is sturdy and well manufactured and I really recommend buying one to give your portable electric refrigerator/freezer a longer life. It keeps the dust, dirt and sand out while you are traveling even if you just have it on the back of your pickup truck.  And on that note, it has eyelets so that you can anchor it to your truck for transporting. For tradesmen and engineers, or anyone who has to travel to the wilderness for work, this is a must. Then use it for the tailgate party when there’s a game …

Another popular portable electric refrigerator-freezer cooler

The ARB 10800782 82 quart fridge freezer

This portable electric refrigerator/freezer cooler is solid state – a combo of metal and plastic designed to keep the weight down.  It weighs in at 50 pounds empty.  You should be able to fit 90 beer cans or the equivalent in it.

The ARB features an automatic battery protection system that prevents car battery rundown when your vehicle is stationary.  Set it to when you want it to turn off and it does that automatically.

It runs quietly and again, better if you leave an air gap for the fan to breathe through.

Temperature wise, it is steady and cold and will retain that temperature for hours even when unplugged due to its insulated design.  Excellent for tailgating as its large interior will accommodate a very large array of food and drink.

You can run it on freezer or fridge mode depending on what you want to keep cool.

Advice from users includes getting a lead with 2 pronged 12 V plug rather than the cigarette lighter style plug but this is if you are taking an RV to the tailgate party and using the ARB there.  Otherwise, the cigarette lighter is fine with #8 wire.

It is a little smaller than the  Dometic but for its price it is good value and an efficient and reliable portable refrigerator/freezer cooler.  The other difference is that with the Dometic, you have the two thermostats and can use two temperatures – freeze or cool.

There are several different sizes available – 37 quart, 50 quart, 63 quart, 78 quart and this one, the 82 which is my preference though it really depends on which size portable refrigerator-freezer fits your tailgate party kit and transport.

The ARB 10900015 transit bag for ARB 82 quart portable refrigerator-freezer


ARB Portable Refrigerator:Freezer transit bag

ARB Portable Refrigerator-Freezer transit bag

As with the Dometic, there is a transit bag you can use for the protection of your valuable portable electric refrigerator-freezer.  It protects the appliance from the sun’s rays as well so that the battery doesn’t constantly kick in and cool the unit down.  This is designed to be used with ARB tiedowns.

ARB refrigerator tie down system

ARB refrigerator tie down system

These can be used to anchor the fridge onto the back of a pickup or other vehicle to stop it sliding around while being transported.  The canvas version is far nicer than the neoprene version though some users have reported that cleaning it will remove the colors.  My advice is never to scrub canvas and don’t ever use chemicals on it (eg. bleach).
There is also a fridge slider which can be bolted to your pickup but most users for tailgate parties don’t feel that these are necessary.  For 4WD trips, yes! But generally, the tie-downs are more than enough to get you to the parking lot.

Engel MT 80-U1 Dual Voltage 84 quart Portable Electric Refrigerator-Freezer 12V/24V/110V

Engel Dual Voltage Portable Refrigerator/Freezer

Engel Dual Voltage Portable Refrigerator-Freezer

This is the largest in the Engel portable electric refrigerator-freezer range and is solar compatible as well as being able to run on your auto or an independent battery.  It is top of the range, and a quality product.  Engel is well known to RV and trailer fans and tailgate partiers have been happy to discover this great unit.

Made from well insulated galvanised steel with heavy duty melamine coating, it is tough and marine hardy. Salt water? No problem. Drunken tailgate party dudes? No problem.

100% CFC free as expected, so you can care for the environment at the same time as keeping your booze and tailgate party food cold.

In the prepping movement as well as the tailgate community, this nice large portable electric refrigerator-freezer is highly rated mainly because it is so well constructed and also because of its low power draw.  Come the zombie apocalypse, your tailgate kit should be a lifeline.  Particularly a fridge full of cold beer.

Engel was the first name I ever heard in portable refrigerator/freezer ranges as Paul, our avid camper friend (you know him, the one who owns his own winery and wine labels) bought a second hand one, already 25 years old and he has run it in his trailer for around 8 years since then.  It has never failed.  So the brand alone is excellent and the execution lives up to the promise.

Basically, it holds just a little less than the Dometic reviewed above.  The comparables are around the same – a nice low power draw.  The solar connectivity is a good feature.

All these have a place you can plug in your smartphone for charging and that’s a real comfort. At the rate Wave sucks out power … well, that’s another story.

Anyway, the Engel also comes already equipped with AC and DC power cords and is so strong you can sit on it.

The side handles make it easy to carry but also are for anchoring in your truck so that it doesn’t slide around while in transit.

It does weigh 100 pounds when empty so you need to factor that in to the overall bulk of your tailgate party kit.

Note that at the point of sale, there are many short videos to help you decide what size Engel is best for you.

Finally, there are many lower end electric portable refrigerator-freezers on the market.  In general, these have a disappointing track record.  There are stories of the Engel being run continuously for over 20 years and I am not so sure than the cheaper models are capable of that.  Due to their low power draw, they are not expensive to run, so I am thinking that you will get years of great service from any of these three models outlined above.

Happy tailgating ! (And take them camping, traveling and prepping as well!)
















Grillmaster Tricks For Your Tailgate Party.

Every tailgate party host I ever met thinks he/she is a Grillmaster.  Realistically, Steve Raichlen is probably the legendary griller of our time.  Yes, he’s awesome, but my Dad developed his Grillmaster tricks by tailgate party grilling.  Here are some of his essential Grillmaster tricks developed in parking lots of many stadiums.

Grillmaster Tricks – Stop Press !!

Naturally, a really exciting grill and accessories are worth mentioning.  And so, here’s my headline!

The Broil King Keg 5000 BBQ was designed for a revolutionary cooking method by which the air circulates all around the food, cooking it evenly no matter whether you are grilling or smoking.

Broil King Keg grill 5000

Broil King Keg grill 5000

Whether home-gating or tailgating, it is equally stress-free because it can be set up in the back yard or transported with the greatest of ease and simplicity.

Homegating with the Broil King

Homegating with the Broil King

This picture gives you an idea of its size and human scale.

And here is how easy it is to transport.

You just take off the side shelves and clip it to the trailer hitch.  All the parts can be bought along with the actual Broil King BBQ keg.

Broil King Keg transported

Broil King Keg transported

Broil King Hitch Adapter kit

Broil King Hitch Adapter kit

It’s constantly 5-star reviewed and that is because the designers have created a whole system for grilling and smoking with tailgating and camping uppermost in mind.  This is quite the best all round system in its price range – I have tasted the final product which is superb, meat as juicy as you could ever imagine and even vegetables seem to love being cooked this way.

The advantage over the Kamado style ceramic lined Big Green Egg is that the Broil King can be transported without breaking.  It heats fast, holds its heat for a long time and it a magnificent beast.

Note that it is a wood-burning/charcoal heated grill and you need to make sure that the site where you are setting up your tailgate party allows it. Some have stricter fire marshall rules than others.

But I LOVE this grill enough to get a T-shirt with that emblazoned on it.  So much so, that even though I have smaller and lighter ones, I had to have one.

Grillmaster Tricks – # 1

Bring steaks, pork chops and lamb to room temperature before grilling. Leave fish, kebabs with mixed food, turkey, chicken or other poultry refrigerated at the coldest temperature your cooler allows.  Be sure to invest in an efficient cooler that’s up to the task such as this Coleman model:

Coleman 50 Quart Xtreme: The Best Cooler

Grillmaster tricks: Use 'Xtreme 5' Coleman Cooler

Grillmaster tricks: Use ‘Xtreme 5’ Coleman Cooler

Grillmaster Tricks – # 2

Season foods generously on both sides with salt and pepper and if you are into herbs add these after cooking or they burn.  A tip I learned from a Farmers’ Market smoker stall was to oil the hotplate well at the start of the day and then throw on some peeled (or unpeeled – it really doesn’t matter) garlic which you leave on the oiled flat-top and remove just before it burns.  This sets up your seasoning.  You can use the cooked garlic as a dip if you want or just dispose of it.  Mainly, the smell of your grill will make everyone hungry and no matter what you cook it will taste awesome. I have a few of these and keep salt, pepper and various dried herbs for instant grinding.  No batteries required.

Best Pepper and Salt Grinder

Grillmaster Tricks: Use Your Best spice grinder

Grillmaster Tricks: Use Your Best spice grinder

Grillmaster Tricks – # 3

Be sure to preheat the grill to medium-high before you begin. (check whether any forms of grilling are restricted in the parking lot.  Some only allow propane and this one is charcoal but there is a propane version.)

Awesome ultra portable grill:

Grillmasters Tricks - Choose an appropriate grill

Cuisinart grill for Tailgate Grillmasters

Or this monster grill for being grillmaster while homegating:

Grillmaster tricks: invest in the Weber Genesis grill

Grillmaster tricks: invest in the Weber Genesis grill

Grillmaster Tricks – #4

When searing foods, always keep the lid open. Otherwise you will steam or stew the meat and it will be chewy.

Grillmaster Tricks – #5

Don’t let the flames lick the meat or you will end up with a bitter, turpentine flavor on the sear.

Grillmaster Tricks – #6

Don’t flip food often or fiddle with it (unless you are doing so to avoid flare-ups) as it will tend to stew rather than sear.  If you are grilling fish, leave it till there is no transparency before flipping, then flip for 30 seconds.

Grillmaster Tricks – #7

Use an instant read meat thermometer to check whether the meat is cooked. Meat needs to reach 135 (chicken 145) to be food safe.  Buy 2 so that you do not cross contaminate food or wash well between uses – they are inexpensive and will last a lifetime.

Tempermark Digital Wireless Meat Thermometer with Timer and Remote – Best for Kitchen, Cooking, BBQ, Smoker, Grill, and Oven with 300+ Foot Range is a great option.  Set and forget.  You will need one probe and therefore, one unit for each meat being cooked but they are really inexpensive.

Grillmasters tricks: invest in a high tech thermometer

Grillmasters tricks: invest in a high tech Tempermark thermometer

Grillmaster Tricks – #8

Let steaks, chops, and chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving. A wooden board is best for this. Don’t ask me why.  It just seems better. This is the Fox Run Cow Acacia Wood 10.5 x 7.5 Inch Steak Board with Engraved Beef Cuts and it’s cool for beef.

Grillmasters rest meat on the Fox Run Steak Board

Grillmasters rest meat on the Fox Run Steak Board

Grillmaster Tricks –  #9

Pack marinated food in individual bags.  This saves work and prevents cross-contamination of say, chicken with, well, ANYTHING.

Generally speaking, marinades don’t preserve your food, so, temperature-wise, treat the meats just as you would if not marinated.  I use Ziploc bags (which I buy in bulk) for this and, where practical, it works best to pack each serving in its own bag.

Ziploc 94600 Resealable Sandwich Bags, 1.2mil, 6 1/2 x 6, Clear (Box of 500)

Grillmaster tricks: Marinade in individual Ziploc bags

Grillmaster tricks: Marinade in individual Ziploc bags

You can make these up ages ahead and freeze them carefully so that the bags don’t stick together.  I freeze them upright in a box and pull them apart if necessary before they deep freeze. Make sure they are not still frozen at the tailgate party so take them out of the deep freeze the night before. Don’t refreeze.  I always have a couple of dozen or so in the freezer just in case, I label them well and do salmon as well as chicken thighs, rib-eye and pork chops.

Grillmaster Tricks – #10

Be prepared. Bring backup gas and all the stuff we have listed on our tailgate party checklist.

Grillmaster Tricks – #11

Treat your leftovers sensibly.

Only take cooked grilled food home if they have not been exposed to the open air for shorter than 4 hours. Discard any raw meats that have been sitting around or you may need more than a hangover cure !

A bonus recipe from a master grillmaster ie. Ms. Rawhide, whose grillmaster tricks are the backbone of our tailgate parties:

Ms. Rawhide’s Maple Bacon Candy

Prep Time: 5 minutes to mix, a few hours to marinate

Cook Time: 30 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees F.

Smoking Pellets: 50% Apple, 50% Hickory

(You can buy a Supersmoker selection here)

Supersmoker Pack of Grilling Pellets

Supersmoker Pack of Grilling Pellets

1 pound thick sliced bacon

1/3 cup soft brown sugar

½ cup dark maple syrup

Tablespoon of black pepper


Follow the smoking instructions for your grill.

Grill on racks above the normal grill top with a pan underneath to catch the sugar to avoid burning.  275°F for one hour.

OVEN METHOD:  Cut bacon in into 4” slices.

Mix the brown sugar, syrup and pepper in a large bowl, and then mix in the bacon.

Make sure that it is totally coated and then leave to marinate. After an hour, the sugar will melt so then stir occasionally. Gradually mix the bacon well.

Place on wire racks over foil covered pan and bake for 15 minutes at 400°F then flip and bake 15 more minutes. Allow for the thickness of your bacon so you may need longer or shorter time.

Remove from oven or grill, cool in a safe place away from voracious tailgate party guests and hosts.  Once it is cool it sets hard like candy. You can, if desired, dip one end into melted 80% chocolate for an extra zing.

Happy tailgating!




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!





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 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!





Tailgate Party Recipe: Beer Punch & Spicy Hot Dogs!

Check out this video from Nicole and Ari of Drink and Dish with two great recipes for your Tailgate Party. If you love hot dogs and you love beer then you’ll want to see this (so, basically that’s everyone!). It’s a nice twist on two traditional tailgate party staples and looks like a lot of fun to prepare. Plus it only takes them about 5 minutes while chatting…

Oh, and I looked into what beverage dispenser they are using because I wanted to know where you can get one like that with the cool little spout build-in. Looks like it’s the Anchor Hocking Beverage Dispenser.  I’ve already ordered mine!

If you have any tailgate party recipes that you want to share leave a comment below with your favorite food, recipe or go-to site for tailgate party recipe ideas.