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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.

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Support the website that supports you and get some nifty benefits:

A Comprehensive Food Temperature Guide Magnet that sells for $9.95 on Amazon.com.
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Click here for details.

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GrillGrates Take You To
The Infrared Zone

BBQ_grill_grates

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 $289 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.


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*Based on 4" raw burger with 1/2" space on all sides

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These articles give you important info about different cookers, things to look for, things to avoid, and checklists.

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Best BBQ accessories

MAK Grill 1 Star General Pellet Grill

By Meathead Goldwyn

Manufacturer: MAK Grills

MAK Grills makes two very impressive residential pellet smokers and one large commercial smoker. They are Meatheads favorite pellet smokers and earned our AmazingRibs.com Best Value Gold Award. MAK took the pellet world by storm and quickly developed a reputation as a best in class producer largely due to their sophisticated "Pellet Boss" controller. The Pellet Boss is easy to learn, intuitive and highly accurate. It also has some useful added features like three independent meat probe inputs and wireless capability. Furthermore construction is solid, durable and effectively holds even, set temps.

MAK Grills is a family owned business that grew from MAK Metals, an Oregon company engaged in precision metal fabrication since around 1990. They have about 70 distributers, mostly in the northwest.

MAK Grill 1 Star General Pellet Grill

Top Ten Charcoal Grill 2014MAK Grills have the distinction of being Meathead's favorite pellet smokers. He recently tested their 1 Star General and 2 Star General Residential Pellet Smokers. MAK also makes a large, commercial size 4 Star General smoker. Here is his review on the 1 Star General.

Introduced in fall 2010, the 1 Star is a real star, and it sells for about $1,600, $1000 less than the 2 Star. In 2013 MAK made a few changes. It now has a silver vein powder coat instead of plain black, attachable legs so it can be used free standing or as a built-in, a removable baffle in front of the rear exhaust vents for easy cleaning of the vents and an ash clean-out door at the bottom of the cook box. 

The 1 Star is shorter (44"), narrower (20" deep and 37" long) than the 2 Star, with a smaller cooking surface (20" wide x 18" deep and 12" high), but there is still plenty of room for a whole lot of chicken parts or pork chops and tall enough for a turkey. It uses the same Pellet Boss digital controller as its big brother, so it has the same set-it-forget-it convenience. I used it in below freezing December weather and it held temp steady within 5°F with my best testing equipment. The entire unit is aluminized steel, an excellent material for heat retention, and the paint is high-temp powder coat, also top drawer.

The hood is a roll top meaning it does not need a lot of rear clearance like some competitors. As with the 2 Star, it is built to last: Heavy gauge and solid! Best of all, there was no assembly other than screwing in the casters. Assembling the 2 Star took some time. The hopper is capacious, holding more than one 20 pound bag of pellets. You can order several options, a bottom storage shelf, a right side shelf, a tool hook, and an upper grill grate. Most importantly, the meat it produces has plenty of moisture, tenderness, and the delicate smoke flavor typical of pellet burners. MAK recently got rid of their external grease bucket and replaced it with an internal grease drawer that accommodates a disposable foil pan to easily remove ash and gunk. As with the 2 Star, I would like to see a reel for the cord or some way to store it out of the elements. Also, you should make sure to buy a cover for it. Water got into the Pellet Boss on mine and it ceased functioning. I took it out of the unit, air dried it, and it worked just fine. To be safe I ran a bead of silicone caulk around it to prevent encroachments again.

Price: 

$1,500 Manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), actual price may vary.

Where To Buy (Buying from these suppliers supports this website): 

Big Poppa Smokers

Primary Function: 

Smoker

Fuel: 

Wood Pellets

Primary Capacity: 

380 square inches ( about 18 burgers )

Main Burners: 

1

Manufacturer claims that all or practically all of this device is made in the USA

Yes

Review Method: 

Cooked On It

We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.


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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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