But, is it anywhere near as good as the tried and true favorite?
In this comparison of the Traeger Ranger vs Z Grills Cruiser 200A, we pour over what’s different and what’s the same between these two popular tabletop pellet grills to help you decide which one’s right for you.
If you do decide to go Z Grills, use our exclusive code – 5%off – at the checkout for 5% off anything Z Grills, including already on sale smokers!
(Valid on the Z Grills website only)
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Table of Contents
A Quick Comparison of the Traeger Ranger vs Z Grills Cruiser
184 square inches of cooking space
202 square inches of cooking space
8 pound hopper
8 pound hopper
21"W x 13"H x 20"D
25"W x 15"H x 20"D
Digital Arc Controller
180-450°F (in 5°F increments)
180-450°F (in 25°F increments)
An In-Depth Look at the Traeger Ranger vs Z Grills Cruiser
And, the quality of the Z Grills Cruiser is very similar.
You’ve got a powder-coated exterior, great a porcelain-coated cooking grate and two latches to keep the lid shut during transportation.
The whole unit feels impressivly strong and sturdy, especially when you consider it’s low price. It’s maybe a little below the Ranger in terms of build quality. But, really, they’re pretty on par.
Cooking and Hopper Capacity
Both brands actually advertise they can hold the same amount of food; 6 burgers, 4-6 steaks or 1 rack of ribs (cut in half). But, with the almost 20 square inches of extra space, you will get larger burgers, steaks or ribs on the Z Grills.
You can do larger cuts like a whole chicken or pork butt as well.
Throw some veggies around it and you can cook a complete meal for 1-2 people easily.
Both have an 8 pound hopper capacity. That’ll let you smoke low and slow for 7-8 hours before you need to refill.
Grilling at a higher temperature will burn through the pellets faster. But, cooking won’t take as long either so no issues there.
Just keep in mind that if you’re doing really long cooks on either of these smokers, you do need to open the main lid to refill the pellets. The hopper sits inside the cooking chamber. I like to time a refill with wrapping or unwrapping meat to avoid an extra temperature dip.
Size and Weight
It’s 4 inches wider but just as deep. Part of that extra width is because of the side handles. Z Grills have added these to make the whole unit easier to move.
The biggest difference between temperature control on the Ranger vs Cruiser is that Traeger’s digital panel lets you set the temperature in 5°F increments while the Z Grills is in 25°F lots with an analog knob.
But, both do a good job of keeping a steady temperature. And, both have the same range of 180-450°F.
Keep it low for smoking, crank it way up for high-heat grilling, or, set it somewhere in the middle to use as a portable oven. Both of these units are so versatile that you really can use them as an all-in-one cooking solution on the go.
One thing to note about the Traeger Ranger is that it’s got a keep warm button too if that’s something you like to use.
We talk more about the best solutions for powering portable pellet smokers here.
It’s not very Z Grills, but the Cruiser doesn’t come with any extras! No cover and there’s not even a meat probe included although there is a port for one.
If you use something wireless like the MEATER, you won’t need a probe. But, if not, you’ll need to pick up a standard, 3.5mm plug-in meat probe so you can see the internal meat temperature and make smoking a whole heap easier. Any will work but we like this Pit Boss one.
With the Ranger, you do get a meat probe, tick! But, it also comes with a sweet cast iron griddle that helps take your grilling to the next level.
If you’ve ever grilled in a pellet smoker before, the indirect heat makes it a little like doing burgers in a really hot oven. But, the cast iron griddle holds more heat and catches the juices to make your steak that much juicier.
It’s definitely a nice extra. And, makes that higher Ranger price a bit more justifiable.
The Traeger Ranger is more expensive than the Z Grills Cruiser. You do get those included extras with the Ranger. But, if it’s value for money you’re after, you can’t beat the Cruiser when it comes to a portable tabletop pellet smoker.
To check the latest prices, click on the links below.
Remember you can use our exclusive discount code 5%off for any Z Grills purchase on their website, INCLUDING already on sale items!
Specs for the Traeger Ranger and Z Grills Cruiser
Our Verdict On The Traeger Ranger vs Z Grills Cruiser
Well-built, strong, durable, versatile and practical, they’re not only ideal for camping, tailgating or RV life, they’re also suitable for home use by anyone who wants an efficient solution to smoking just one pork shoulder at a time.
We recommend going the Traeger Ranger if you:
- Want that extra good quality;
- Like the ability to set the temperature in smaller increments; or
- Think you’ll use the included cast iron grate to improve your grilling
The Z Grills Cruiser is perfect if you’re:
- After incredible value;
- Need that slightly larger cooking capacity; or
- Will appreciate the side handles and lighter weight for moving it around
Not Quite What You Were Looking For? Other Options...
- Slightly larger cooking capacity
- Open flame grilling
- Mid-priced option
- Add liquid of choice for more moisture and unique flavor