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Digital Thermometers:
Stop Guessing!

thermopop bbq thermometer

Gold BBQ AwardA good digital thermometer keeps me from serving dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. You can get a professional grade, fast and precise splashproof thermometer like the Thermopop (above) for about $24. The Thermapen (below), the Ferrari of instant reads, is about $96. It's the one you see all the TV chefs and all the top competition pitmasters using. Click here to read more about types of thermometer and our ratings and reviews.

bbq thermapen

GrillGrates Take You To
The Infrared Zone


Gold BBQ AwardGrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, produce great grill marks, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, smolder wood right below the meat, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips or pellets or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke to whatever is above. Every gas grill and pellet smoker needs them.

Click here to read more about what makes these grates so special and how they compare to other cooking surfaces.

The Smokenator:
A Necessity For All Weber Kettles

smokenator bbq system

Gold BBQ Award If you have a Weber Kettle, you need the amazing Smokenator and Hovergrill. The Smokenator turns your grill into a first class smoker, and the Hovergrill can add capacity or be used to create steakhouse steaks.

Click here to read more.

The Pit Barrel Cooker

pit barrel c ooker bbqAbsolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world.

This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers in the hardware stores because temperature control is so much easier (and that's because smoke and heat go up, not sideways).

Gold BBQ AwardBest of all, it is only $299 delivered to your door!

Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them.

scissor tongs

Best. Tongs. Ever.

Gold BBQ AwardMade of rugged 1/8" thick aluminum, 20" long, with four serious rivets, mine show zero signs of weakness after years of abuse. I use them on meats, hot charcoal, burning logs, and with the mechanical advantage that the scissor design creates, I can easily pick up a whole packer brisket. Click here to read more.

Amp Up The Smoke

mo's smoking pouch

Gold BBQ AwardMo's Smoking Pouch is essential for gas grills. It is an envelope of mesh 304 stainless steel that holds wood chips or pellets. The airspaces in the mesh are small enough that they limit the amount of oxygen that gets in so the wood smokes and never bursts into flame. Put it on top of the cooking grate, on the burners, on the coals, or stand it on edge at the back of your grill. It holds enough wood for about 15 minutes for short cooks, so you need to refill it or buy a second pouch for long cooks like pork shoulder and brisket. Mine has survived more than 50 cooks. Click for more info.

steak knives for bbq

The Best Steakhouse Knives

Gold BBQ AwardThe same knives used at Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky, and Morton's. Machine washable, high-carbon stainless steel, hardwood handle. And now they have the AmazingRibs.com imprimatur. Click for more info.

tailgater magazine

Guide To Wood Burning Pizza Ovens And Fornos

Harv went to hardware depot and asked for 3,000,000 bricks. "What on earth are you building?" asked the clerk. "A pizza oven" he replied. "3,000,000 bricks for a pizza oven? Are you sure?" asked the clerk. "Yes, I live on the tenth floor."

By Brigit Binns

brigit binns

Since taking out a second mortgage for playthings is so last-decade, this indulgence may be a stretch. But if you are at all handy (or know someone who is not only handy, but also really likes to eat), you can take an active role in providing yourself with one of these aspirational goodies.

Wood ovens do many things well, not the least of which is the creation of outstanding pizza. Hearth breads, roasted meats with a smoky perfume, roasted veggies, melted cheese wrapped in vine leaves—you name it. Almost anything you can cook in a conventional oven can be made better in a wood-burning oven, even baked desserts like crumbles, crisps, and betties. Unctuous, low-and-slow overnight beans are among our favorite things!

Pre-made refractory kit inserts start just a hair below $3,000 and go up from there (some of them to astronomical levels). But be aware that's just the start. You'll need a sturdy base for this very heavy, dome-shaped assembly, which can be constructed from concrete block and clad in stucco, brick, or—if you are really feeling flush—stone. (Or—not as pretty—buy a purpose-made heavy-duty metal stand.)

The rounded top of the oven needs a layer of insulation (usually supplied) and a finish coat, which can match the base. Or not. Don't skimp on insulation: if the installation instructions suggest using a shielding material used in the space shuttle (mine did), do it!

You can also build a square housing for the beehive, in which case only you will know at first glance that there's a dome inside. Most companies that sell the refractory concrete dome kits are falling over themselves to instruct you in how to assemble your oven—even to always-available human help hotlines—but be sure you read the fine print five or six times before you rent a mobile mortar mixer. Height and depth of the lip in front of the oven door are crucial ergonomic decisions that require deep thinking. You'll be kicking yourself for years if you set the door height near your waist. Imagine having to bend forward from the waist in order to shove pizzas around, turn poultry, retrieve heavy braising pans, etc. For most people, midway between shoulder and elbow is the right height.

Forno Bravo is a great place to browse images of DIY oven installations and forums on the art and skill of oven-cooking, and they also sell a nice range of ovens and the many tools you will suddenly consider must-haves. But there are other very fine and often less (and much more) expensive choices. My favorite is Wildwood Ovens.

Be aware that building the fire to optimum temperature to make pizza—give or take 800°F—will take two to three hours (longer, if you use the oven only infrequently), and you will burn through a fair amount of wood. It would be a waste of resources to fire up the oven just for pizza, however, so plan on fully utilizing it from first heat (the aforementioned melty cheese, amazingly wonderful wood-roasted olives) through incendiary heat (pizzas and flatbreads; big ole steaks), and on to the waning heat phase (desserts, beans, fibrous cuts of meat like brisket and pork shoulder).

If you feel like channeling your inner peasant, let your neighbors know the oven will be firing, and invite them to bring over loaves of ready-to-bake bread, a big heavy pot of short-ribs, or a fruity dessert. Let them contribute some nice, seasoned firewood, and you have the beginnings of a nice local barter economy.

Rob Baas, a regular fan of this site, sent this slide show of the construction of his oven. "It definitely cost more than we planned" he says.

Kamados work great

A much less expensive option is a kamado like the Big Green Egg. These are both supereb ovens for pizza and baking bread, but also fine smokers. Click here to read more about them.

Pizza attachments for your grill

There are several accessories that can be attached to charcoal and gas grills. I am testing them. So far I am unimpressed.

Oven and kit suppliers

Alfa Pizza (in Italy, but they are sold in some places in the US).

Blackstone Patio Oven.

Beech Ovens (in Australia).

Earthstone Ovens.

Fontana Outdoor Ovens.

Forno Bravo.

Los Angeles Oven Works.



Stonehouse Pottery. Spectacular clay and steel stoves and ovens for indoors or out.

Tuscany Fire.

Traditional Oven.

Wildwood Ovens.

Wood Stone.

Do it yourself from scratch

Plans for a wood fired pizza oven. Made from scratch with cinder block and clay, with space for wood storage.

A slideshow of a well engineered pizza oven

Another detailed slideshow of a large pizza oven. Man, this guy must really really love pizza.


This page was revised 10/4/2013


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About this website. AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes, tips on technique, and unbiased equipment reviews. 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, spice rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best buying guide to barbecue smokers, grills, accessories, and thermometers, edited by Meathead.

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