Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling
For many of us, grilling and barbecuing have long dwelled in the realm of folklore and legend. In his eponymous book, Meathead Goldwyn (you may know him as the founder of AmazingRibs.com) distills decades of research into the art and science of barbecue and grilling into a single volume that will show you not just the best ways to take food to live fire, but why the techniques work.
KitchenAid Food Grinder Attachment
The great thing about buying a meat grinder attachment is that you already know that the hardest-working part of your grinder—the motor—is going to be a workhorse that can power through even the toughest grinding projects. Stand mixer attachments are a great option if you make a lot of sausage. You can grind the meat directly into the bowl, then attach the bowl to the machine and immediately start mixing it with the paddle to develop protein. It's a real time-saver.
Lighter fluid is fun to play with, but it can impart an off flavor to your food. A chimney starter is faster, cleaner, more efficient, and better for the environment. It's a tall metal cylinder with holes punched in it and a grate at the bottom for holding the charcoal. It works with the power of convection: When a lit newspaper is placed at the bottom, igniting the lowest coals, the hot air rises up, pulling fresh oxygen in through the vent holes and through the bottom. This constant supply of fresh oxygen, coupled with the fact that the metal efficiently reflects heat back toward the coals, means you require nothing more than a single piece of newspaper and a match to turn a full six quarts of coals into a roaring inferno within 20 minutes.
Weber Spirit E330 Liquid Propane Gas Grill
The Spirit E330 was introduced last year to replace the E320. The two models are identical except that the 330 adds a 7,500-BTU sear burner between the left and middle main burners. Sear burners are one of our favorite extras for gas grills. You'll love turning this baby up to 11 when searing steaks and burgers.
Char-Griller Kamado Smoker
The Akorn is a double-walled, insulated steel egg that is much lighter and in some ways more durable than the popular Big Green Egg. It performs fairly close to traditional kamados at a fraction of the cost, so you can spend your saved bucks on getting some great meat.
Best Poultry Shears
Oxo's poultry shears include an easy to engage and disengage locking mechanism, a looped handle that won't allow greasy hands to slip when squeezing hard, and a take-apart hinge for thorough cleaning. But what really makes it our top pick is that it's one of the only pairs of shears we tested that can both snip through squirmy skin and cleave through bone. If poultry shears can't do that, you might as well not own a pair.
Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill (Wifi Enabled)
Surprisingly, many of the portable pellet smokers out there still have an antiquated LMH controller, while Davy Crockett employs Green Mountain's advanced digital touch-pad controller, with an integrated meat thermometer that lets you check internal meat temp with the flick of a switch.
OXO Good Grips Two-Piece Grilling Set
A quality spatula and tongs are essential for good grilling. Seek out ones with long handles, such as OXO's two-piece grilling set, to keep your fingers as far from the heat as possible. The nearly flat, scalloped edge on the OXO tongs is especially appealing—it's extra easy to slide the tongs under meat, vegetables, and other ingredients on the grill.
In the inexpensive-thermometer department, the ThermoPop is the new kid on the block, but it comes in an impressive package. An easy-to-read display rotates at the touch of a button, so you don't have to twist your head to see it. It takes a few seconds longer to read temperatures than its big brother, the Thermapen, but it's every bit as accurate.
REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill
REC TEC offers high-quality pellet smokers featuring excellent digital controllers and sturdy construction. With a 40-pound pellet hopper, a 680-square-inch cook surface, and nine inches of headroom, the REC TEC 680 is a large, smartly constructed pellet smoker. It also looks awesome.
Budget Leave-In Probe Thermometer
Precise enough for most cooking tasks, the Polder is intuitive to use and has a kink-resistant round cable that we found effortless to work with. The Polder’s six-inch-long probe is tied for the longest we tested, and it comes with one of the best pot clips.
Weber Charcoal Grill
I’ve been cooking on Weber charcoal grills for over 20 years now, and the only reason I’ve ever retired one has been to give it to a deserving friend or because a cross-country move forced me to. If you want a family-sized charcoal grill for less than $200 that can cook anything and will last forever, the Weber Original 22-Inch is it. Whether you get the standard, ash tray–style model or the Premium (formerly the One-Touch Gold) with its built-in ash catcher, the sheer space and searing power of a Weber Kettle will put gas grills to shame. Its large cooking area and deeply domed lid will allow you to smoke a few racks of ribs or a turkey over indirect heat, or grill over a dozen burgers at a time.
Inexpensive Wire Grill Brush
Grill brushes come in all shapes, sizes, and styles, but for a tool that sees so much use, I find it hard to justify spending a huge amount of money. This simple, heavy-duty wire-style grill brush has served me well for years, and if it ever wears out, well, it's cheap enough to replace.
Flat Metal Skewers
Single-use wooden skewers are just fine if you only rarely cook meat-on-a-stick, but if you kebab your dinner more regularly, a set of sturdy reusable skewers is a sound investment. I like to use flattened metal skewers, which prevent vegetables and meat from rotating as you maneuver them on the grill.
Leave-In Probe Thermometer for Grilling
If you’re seriously into barbecuing pork butts, briskets, and ribs, the FireBoard is the brainiest thermometer we tested, aimed at making your cooking more predictable. The app enables you to name, chart, and store your smoking sessions, and the base has a port to accept a fan accessory, which controls the temperature of a smoker or charcoal grill by adjusting airflow.
US Forge 403 18-Inch Welding Gloves
After countless failed grilling mitts, we got ourselves a pair of welding gloves to use when grilling or smoking and never looked back. With great heat protection, dexterity, and construction, these are a necessity for every backyard cook.
Flexible Slotted Metal Spatula
This spatula's strong head allows you to flip a big one-pound steak or a delicate piece of salmon with equal ease. It's one of the tools I use most, both in the kitchen and at the grill.
Good Meat: The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat
This 400-page guide to meat may be focused on sustainability and local eating, but that doesn't make it any less comprehensive. Krasner goes deep on all the basics of meat, including beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and more, offering anatomy charts, buying tips, basics on animal husbandry, and, of course, plenty of recipes.
Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
The Char-Broil's WiFi-enabled digital electric smoker is very easy to use and has WiFi connectivity, so you can monitor and control the smoking session from a paired smartphone. Electric cookers lack serious heat and combustion gases, because of the electric element, making them they’re better suited for imparting a light smoke flavor, especially on bigger cuts of meat.
Roccbox Outdoor Pizza Oven
This is an incredible little oven with simple, reliable operation, whether you're using gas, wood, or charcoal to fire it. It consistently hits wood-fired-oven temperatures and maintains them for as long as you are cooking, with no fussing or babysitting, which means you can spend more time enjoying pizza with your friends and family and less time coddling a temperamental flame. It's attractive, solidly built, weatherproof, and portable.
What's the point of perfectly grilling meats if you don't have a pretty surface to carve them on? I love this teak cutting board because it's large enough for major projects, but lighter than thicker boards, making it easy to move from the kitchen to the dining room. It's made from scraps of larger teak products, making this cutting board a good environmental choice as well.
The Original Bear Paws Shredder Claws
In addition to making you look like Wolverine, shredder claws make quick work of pork butts (hello, pulled pork!), smoked chicken, smoked chuck roasts, and other meats, allowing you to tear the meat into shreds in no time. Sure, you could try doing it with forks, but you'd better have a lot of time on your hands.
Culina Stainless Steel Grilling Basket
A good grill basket should be durable, with a tight enough weave to allow very small foods to be cooked without risk of getting lost. Finally, it's worth hunting down one that's sizable enough to cook large batches of food in one go. One of our favorites is the simple Culina stainless steel basket. The metal mesh keeps even the smallest food items up on the grill grate where they belong. You can even toast or smoke nuts in it.
Long tweezers have the strength of tongs coupled with the same precision and tight grip of a tool you might find in an ER. They allow you to turn over a thick ribeye with ease and even garnish it with some fragile herbs immediately after, if you're in the mood. If you don't mind getting a little close to the heat, long tweezers are the perfect utensil for carefully flipping vegetables or hot dogs on a grill without letting any slip through the grate. Their simple design means that there aren't any grooves or pockets for food and gunk to get trapped, so cleanup is a cinch.
The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science
A New York Times best seller! The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, by J. Kenji López-Alt, is his column on this very website, blown up to 900+ pages (and 7+ pounds) of concentrated culinary science. Gorgeous color photos, detailed how-tos, and elaborate explainers cover ingredients, technique, gear, and the secrets of the universe underneath it all. May include puns.
Wüsthof Classic Carving Knife
This knife features an extremely sharp edge; a well-balanced, comfortable handle; and plenty of flexibility. It carves through roast turkey like butter, leaving very little meat stuck to the bones. It has a composite handle and a full tang to offer balance and support, with a bolster that is lightly angled and slim enough to make gripping the blade easy.
Rimmed Baking Sheet
One of the most frustrating parts of grilling for me is the parade of bowls, plates, and tools you have to carry from the kitchen to the grilling station outdoors. A stack of inexpensive rimmed aluminum baking sheets makes this easy. Just load them up with food or utensils, and you're ready to go. Of course, in the off season, they're the best pans for roasting meat, baking cookies, and charring vegetables.
Gas Grill: Broil King Baron 440
With solid stainless steel construction on all of its parts, the Broil King Baron is a big leap up in quality from the discount grills at your local home center, and is made to last you for many seasons to come. It has four dual-tube burners, designed to even out gas pressure from front to back and provide a consistent temperature across the cook surface, plus a decent side burner for sauce or sides. I fire this guy up several times a week during the summer, especially on weekdays, when I don’t have the time or energy to wait for my coal grill to heat up.
If you've ever used a gas grill and grown frustrated with unfixable hot and cool spots and overall weak performance, this tool is for you. Made from hard anodized aluminum, the GrillGrate system sits directly on your existing grate, amplifying and evening out the heat, which allows for more even cooking, flare-up resistance, and exceptional sear marks.
High-Tech Propane Grill
If you're looking for proof that the future of grilling involves technology, look no further than Weber's Genesis II line of gas grills, which come preconfigured with a dedicated spot for the installation of their latest iGrill3 Bluetooth-enabled digital thermometer. This speaks volumes to us, because a mass-market brand as big as Weber has never before built this kind of tech right into the grill itself. The signal is clear: Weber believes better temperature-monitoring technology is the future of grilling.
The Cadillac of kitchen thermometers is indispensable when roasting meat, cooking steaks, making candy, deep-frying, or at any other time precise temperature control is needed. With a big display and a blazing-fast measuring time of under two seconds, you won't find a better, easier-to-use thermometer out there.