Barbecue Accessories, Tools, And Toys:
A Buying Guide With Reviews And Rating
Here's a list of tools, equipment, gadgets, and toys that can help make you a better cook. Click the red links for current pricing and more info. Many are available on Amazon.com which pays us a small referral fee if you buy from them. It works on anything from grills to diapers and it has zero impact on the price you pay.
If you like what we give you for free, please use our links when you shop. Clicking our links keeps this site alive. Please also save this link above and use it every time you go to Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/amazingribs
If you have a Weber Kettle grill, you need a Smokenator and Hovergrill.
For less than $70 you can easily convert a standard Weber Kettle into a smoker capable of making restaurant quality smoked ribs, pork shoulder, brisket, turkey, or salmon. If you have a limited budget or limited deck space, there is no need to buy a standalone smoker.
Here's how it works: The Smokenator is a simple piece of bent 18 gauge stainless steel that inserts into the lower half of the kettle. You can place meat on the lower and the upper rack so it is possible you can get 8-10 slabs on at once. Then you put some hot charcoal in the Smokenator, some wood chunks on top of them, and some water in the water cup.
Put the lid on, adjust the dampers, and go drink a beer. The Smokenator will pump out aromatic smoke and just the right low and slow temp for hours. I had no trouble keeping the temp under 250°F on a 100°F day. The thick steel plate blocks your meat from direct exposure to the flames becoming a large flat radiator providing indirect heat. The water bowl puts moisture in the oven which helps develop the smoke ring. Keep in mind that this is a "hot" smoker so it can't do cold smoking for things like lox or cheese. But it can do just about anything else the fancy-schmancy smokers do. A very clever, inexpensive gadget that actually works as advertised.
One word of caution: The Smokenator manual says to use a $10 bi-metal candy thermometer in the upper vent hole. This is very bad advice unless you plan to eat the vent. The temp in the dome is much different than at the upper grate level which is different from the lower grate level, and bi-metal thermometers can be off by 50°F or more. Cheap thermometers are, well, cheap. 90% of the problems people come to me with would be solved if they just had a decent digital thermometer placed next to the meat. Don't write me if you use a bi-metal thermometer. Read my article on thermometers.
Click below for pricing and direct ordering from Amazon:
Click here for my tips on how to use a Smokenator.
Everyone who has a gas grill that does not have a sear burner or infrared burner should get GrillGrates. In 2011, four of the top five major steak cook offs were won by cooks using GrillGrates. At the 2012 World Championship Ribeye Cookoff in Magnolia, AR, 78 teams competed and 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th prize went to cooks using GrillGrates. They may be the best thing to happen to grilling since salt and pepper.
The concept is so very clever on so many levels: GrillGrates are sold in interlocking sections and sit on top of your current grill's grates or they can be used to replace them. The hard anodized aircraft grade aluminum rail tops are flat and wide and make the most beautiful dark crunchy grill marks you've ever seen where they contact the food and cook it by conduction.
Because there is much less space for heat to escape than with wire grates, heat is trapped below and builds. As a result, the base can get very hot and the aluminum alloy distributes the heat evenly across the cooking surface eliminating hot spots. The bottom plate becomes the main heat source which is now only a fraction of an inch below the food further amplifying the radiant heat cooking. This is the same concept behind the new expensive infrared cooking systems on the market. The heat also wraps around the edges creating convection when the lid is closed.
The base blocks flareups and helps prevent burning. As a result you get really crispy chicken skin without scorching. Juices drip into the valleys between the rails where they are vaporized and the vapors penetrate the meat enhancing flavor. The holes in the base allow some juices through where they burn, and smoke and combustion gases travel up through the holes to reach the food adding more flavor. The bottom plate even keeps asparagus and other small foods from falling into the fire.
I have even thrown wood chips, pellets, and sawdust into the valleys between the rails and then put food on top. The wood begins smoldering almost instantly and imparts a delicate wood smoke flavor even on fish and other quick cooking foods. In this picture you can see a couple of T-bones on GrillGrates sitting on a Weber Kettle. The grates have darkened from use. The handheld thermometer tells us that the GrillGrates are 668F. I have seen them go over 700°F with a single layer of briquets. Them's steakhouse temps. Notice the beautiful crispy grill marks. GGs are a welcome addition to charcoal grills, but they are almost a necessity for gas grills (click here to read more about the differences between gas and charcoal).
The sturdy stainless steel custom designed spatula has fingers that slip between the rails and lift even the most delicate pieces of fish with ease. As an added bonus, GrillGrates can be turned upside down and be used as a griddle! Upside down, they put an incredible sear on burgers.
They are easy to move from your charcoal grill to your gas grill. The manufacturer has several pre-cut sizes, but he will custom cut to fit your grill. But don't sweat it. Get the closest size and just place them on top of your current grates (do not put them on top of the special grates on the Char-Broil Commercial, remove them first).
The surfaces of GrillGrates are unbelievably easy to clean with a wire brush when hot, but the valleys tend to build up carbon which reduces their efficiency. A long bristle wire brush from the hardware store works well, but the standard wire brushes for grills do not. I've had good luck cleaning the valleys with a narrow scraper blade (and heavy glove) when they are hot. I tried superheating them and then hitting them with a hose, and, sure enough, most of the carbon popped right off, but one of the sections warped. After it cooled, I flipped it upside down on my deck and stood on it and it flattened right out!
I cannot recommend GrillGrates more enthusiastically. I have added them to all my gassers. Click here to see the various GrillGrate sizes and their other products and for pricing and direct ordering for their various sizes from Amazon.com. - Meathead
Click here to read my article about different grate materials and designs, and their advantages and disadvantages.
This is not a grate for the food, and not the normal charcoal grate. Read on.
Half the battle in making great thick steaks is getting the surface seared as dark as possible, but not blackened. Steakhouses have gas broilers that crank out up to 1,000°F heat about 1" from the meat. My fancy Hasty Bake has a crank that lets me raise the charcoal to about 1" below the meat for the searing stage, but it's a bit pricey for a lot of folks.
It would be nice if I could raise the charcoal in my el-cheapo $89 Weber Kettle. So for years I've been telling folks to lift the bottom grate up on bricks. But secretly I've been wasting a small fortune buying grill grates that I hoped would fit just below the food grate on the Kettle. Well, I've finally found one. Old Smokey Grills has a product that uses a 22" wide grate. Well that's 1/2" narrower than the grate on the Weber Kettle, and sure enough, it fits under the Weber grate.
So here's how I use it. I slide it under the brackets that hold the top grate and angle it slightly. I start the coals in a chimney and pour them on 1 or 2 deep on the lower side. I put thick steaks above the other side where there are no coals, lid on, to slowly roast with indirect convection heat and pick up some smoke, cooking the interior slow and gently using the reverse sear method I preach. Then, when the interior of the meat hits 115 to 120°F, I slide them over the hot coals and scorch the surfaces with the lid off. Click here to read more about the concept of reverse searing. Click here to order the Old Smokey #22 Replacement Top Grill. - Meathead
Much better than the grate that came with your 22.5" Weber Kettle, this hinged grate let's you easily add charcoal for long low and slow cooks. Made from bright nickel-plated steel, you just lift the handle and drop in coals. No fumbling to lift up the whole grate only to have your meat slide off and onto the coals. Yuk. This grate even works with GrillGrates (above), which are cut to leave room for you to lift the hinged section. For discount pricing and direct ordering from Amazon.com, click here.
Cook a turkey or prime rib or pork loin properly and you're going to end up with a lot of juice on your cutting board. If yours has only grooves, it's going to overflow and ruin the table cloth. So I built my own by cutting a hole in a board and putting a pan underneath. Then the most famous cutting board company stole my idea (well, maybe they figured it out on their own). This one is 18" on both sides, and it is reversible. The groove is deep enough that it won't overflow. For discount pricing and direct ordering from Amazon.com, click here. - Meathead
Help break our addiction to oil! Reduce air pollution! Or just get your charcoal started faster, cheaper, and without that petrochemical smell. This Weber chimney holds enough briquets to start most cookers, about 5 quarts, or about 80 briquets. Click here to read why we think this is the best way to start a charcoal fire hands down, and see other methods you might consider (but reject). For discount pricing and direct ordering from Amazon.com, click here. - Meathead
Real heavy duty suede gloves with cotton lining that are 15" long and go almost to my elbow (I have short arms). I use mine to lift hot grates, push coals around, reach into the fire box to place logs, lift food from deep down inside the Weber Smokey Mountain. I have even used it to pick up hot coals.
They beat oven mits because they have fingers making it much easier to manipulate tongs and handle grates. I have two pairs, one for lifting food, and one for all else. When they get dirty I just put them on and wash my hands with a bar of soap. Ranked #1 by Cook's Illustrated.For discount pricing and direct ordering from Amazon.com, click here. - Meathead
I had high hopes for this one but I was disappointed.
I'm always looking for a nice heat resistant glove that is flexible and allows me dexterity and is easy to clean. This one is really easy to clean, but it is not as heat resistant as the leather gloves above, it is stiff, making it hard to fully flex my fingers, and slippery when wet. They are also really small ands will not fit large hands. On the plus side, it is really easy to clean. For discount pricing and direct ordering from Amazon.com, click here. - Meathead
I have designed have a range of aprons with pockets, T-shirts, mugs, and more with scores of humorous sayings from "BBQ God", "Got Ribs?", "Eat Me", "Chef is Prime and Well Aged", "Nice Rack" and many more. Sold through CafePress.com, click here to see the whole line. - Meathead
Silicone brushes are the best thing to happen to barbecue since the charcoal briquet. I long ago relegated my natural and nylon bristle brushes to cleaning computer keyboards. They load up with lots of sauce, deliver it evenly, and are so easy to clean and decontaminate. They are dishwasher safe. We have three: One for barbecue, one my wife uses for egg washes and other baking, and one for whatever. For discount pricing and direct ordering from Amazon.com, click here. - Meathead
Corded mops are popular for applying sauces and mops, but they are impossible to keep sanitary. I think they're a tummy ache or worse waiting to happen. - Meathead
These handy plastic paws are helpful for lifting large roasts and birds, but they really shine when you need to pull hot pork. They are sharp and not for children to handle. For discount pricing and direct ordering from Amazon.com, click here. - Meathead
Are you a pellethead? I am. Pellets are made of compressed sawdust (here's an article that discusses them). That's all. No glue.
My favorite supplier is BBQr's Delight brand. There is a wide range to experiment with: Jack Daniel's, sugar maple, cherry, pecan, black walnut, oak, orange, sassafras, mulberry, alder, and savory herb. Another advantage is that you can add pellets precisely from a measuring cup, so you can get the right amount for your smoker and no more. There is nothing worse than oversmoked meat. They also have "Smoke Stix" which are logs of compressed sawdust about 8" long for large cookers. To order, click here. - Meathead
This is by far the best design for a rotisserie on the market. First, let's see what's wrong with the standard rotisserie. Most have a long steel poker that goes through the center of the meat. It holds them in place with sharp forks. The problem is that the center rod gets hot, and can cook the inside of a beef roast to well done easily. This is not a problem with chicken. The forks are dangerously sharp and I have gouged myself on them wile mounting a chicken. I is near impossible to get the weight centered and as a result the whole thing wobbles, often tearing the meat and burning out the motor. Some come with counterweights, but they are tricky to set.
The Weber basket, on the other hand, holds the meat in a basket. It's easy to get the meat in there and clamp it in place. It comes with a good strong motor. Alas, this basket is designed to fit Weber Genesis Silver, Gold, and Platinum grills with a 21.5" long spear. That should fit most gas grills, but it may be too short for some. If you are handy you can adapt it to fit longer grills by welding on a longer spear. Also the brackets are designed for the Weber, but again, the handy can make them work. I had to remove the plastic handle to make it fit my Char-Broil Quantum, but it works just fine. For discount pricing and direct ordering from Amazon.com, click here. - Meathead
These are designed for banking coals into two piles on a Weber grill, but I use mine for something else entirely. I have a second bottom grate that I put on top of the rails, and the coals go on top of this elevated grate. That puts them at the perfect height for searing steaks, just below the cooking grates. Yes, if you're cooking red meats, the secret is a very hot fire, and raising the coals just a few inches makes a huge diff. For discount pricing and direct ordering from Amazon.com, click here. - Meathead
Here's how you can fit four slabs of ribs on a small grill like a Weber Kettle or Weber Smokey Mountain. Good rib racks hold the slabs upright with enough airspace between them to allow airflow and smoke penetration. Bad rib racks hold the meat too close together so they don't cook properly (see my article on rib racks). For discount pricing and direct ordering from Amazon.com, click here. - Meathead
Keep rain, snow, wasps, birds, and other vermin out. Cheapo covers last only a year or two. A good cover costs about $60. Check out the pricing and direct ordering from Amazon.com, click here. - Meathead
The Cold Weather Jacket is silicone coated jacket is designed to insulate your 22.5" Weber Smokey Mountain while cooking and it can easily be adapted for a Weber Kettle. Great for use in cool, rainy, and windy conditions or as as a weather cover while not using your cooker. - Meathead
Have you ever had a delicate piece of expensive Chilean Sea Bass stick to the grates and disintegrate when you try to lift it off, or try to grill small things and have them fall between the openings into the fire? Here's a great cheap solution: Frogmats, a sturdy wire mesh with a non-stick coating capable of resisting high heats, yet easy to clean. I use mine for jalapeno poppers, onion rings, potato slices, mushrooms, bacon, biscuits, and I've even used mine to wrap a meat loaf so I could crisp it on all sides. Frogmats come in a variety of sizes, even large enough for a whole hog. They cannot handle extreme heat or direct flame, however. Click here to order Frogmats. - Meathead
You need a good cast iron griddle. Especially if you like fish, burgers, grilled sandwiches, home fries, or pancakes. Coat the flat side with oil, and you can sear fish so it is golden and crispy on the outside just like that great pan-seared fish you get in restaurants. Throw some dried herbs onto the flame, and you'll get a whisp of smoke in the meat.
You can even bring it indoors and it will straddle two burners. Use the flat side for pancakes. Flip it over and you get grill marks and conduction cooking from the ridges on steaks, burgers, or asparagus, and the fats and juices drip into the grooves where they vaporize and flavor the meat and cook by radiation.
This is a very handy tool. One word of caution. You may need two. If you use it for fish a lot, the flavor will remain on the surface, even after cleaning, so you won't be able to use it for pancakes.
I have two of them by Lodge, known for quality cast iron, and I use the ridged sides of both, one on top and one on the bottom, for making paninis. And my spatchcocked (butterflied) Cornish game hens pressed between the flat sides are unbelievably crisp and juicy in only 20 minutes. It is 20" x 10 7/16". For discount pricing and direct ordering from Amazon.com, click here. - Meathead
Gril-Lit is a new, best in class light that easily attaches to hood handles on most gas grills. Five very bright LEDs affixed to the end of an aluminum tube extend downward far enough to clear the bottom of the hood and deliver more light than one might expect from a compact, battery powered device.
Grill handle lights are a good BBQ accessory and much easier to use than the corded, goose neck utility lights masquerading as "BBQ lights". Many have weak clamping mechanisms and most have weak light. Gril-Lit sent us a unit to test and we compared it, side by side, on the same grill with one of the best: Weber's Grill Out Handle Light. Gril-Lit won hands down.
Both have a manual on and off switch and automatic tilt sensor switch that activates the LEDs when the hood is opened. The difference in illumination is dramatic: Weber's light is soft and fell off toward the sides and back of the grill. Gril-Lit is much more powerful and illuminated the entire cook surface. It can be angled back and forth to adjust the lights focal target, but on our test grill with over 450 square inches of cook surface, that was unnecessary. Weber's handle light comes in different models meant to fit specific Weber grills with round, oval or flat handles. Gril-Lit has an adaptable clamp that can open and close down to accommodate different shaped handles. Both are weather and heat resistant and both are in the same price range.
Gril-Lit was created by a team of BBQ loving, award-winning product designers and engineers called BOLTgroup. By day Gril-Lit has an elegant, aesthetically pleasing design. By night it provides a surprising amount of light and you don't have to plug it in or store it away from the elements when not in use. Gril-Lit is a new product and only available at their website or HSN. - Max Good
Order The AmazingRibs.com
About this website
AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes and tips on technique. Learn how to set up your grills and smokers properly, the thermodynamics of what happens when heat hits meat, as well as hundreds of excellent tested recipes including all the classics: Baby back ribs, spareribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, burgers, chicken, smoked turkey, lamb, steaks, barbecue sauces, rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best buying guide to barbecue smokers, grills, and accessories, all edited by Meathead.
Advertising on this site
AmazingRibs.com is far the most popular barbecue website in the world and one of the 50 most popular food websites in the US according to comScore and Quantcast. Visitors and pageviews increase rapidly every year. Click here for analytics and advertising info.
| Weights, Measures, Conversions | Tips & Techniques | Recipes | Equipment Reviews | BBQ Culture & History |
| My Ingredients | BBQ Joints | About Us | Blog | Links | Newsletter | BBQ Tunes |
| Privacy Promise, Code of Ethics, Other Legal Terms | Advertising & Sponsorship Opportunities |