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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.

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barbecue class

Barbecue, Grilling, And Judging Classes

"Let not your learning exceed your deeds, lest you be like a tree with many branches and few roots." Talmud

By Meathead Goldwyn

You may be one heckuva cook in the kitchen, but even top chefs blow it when they step outside and go eyeball to eyeball with a hunk of metal that has a live fire, a worthless thermometer, and no thermostat or timer. There are specialized tools, techniques, and concepts to master before you can become a pitmaster and earn the kudos of family, friends, and get properly cooked food to the table on time.

And even if you think you're pretty good, and ready to enter a competition, be prepared to kiss your entry fee goodbye. The top teams competing for five figure prize money don't cook like you and me. Before you get your butt kicked you better take a competition class and learn how to get your pork butt cooked. An if you're not ready to run with the big hogs, but want a taste of what the ultimate can be like, you can take a barbecue judge certification class and sit on a panel with experts chowing down on something very special.

There are many around the continent worth attending. Some are very basic, some advanced, some backyard oriented, some competition oriented, some are for a few hours, some last two or more days, some are hands on, some are demos and lectures. Some even include free beer and parties. A few are held at magnificent resorts and the package includes room. Some of these instructors will travel to your location if you want to pull together a group, and some will even teach private lessons. Many are taught by competition pitmasters, others by chefs, others by authors. I have attended classes by Todd Johns and Amy Mills, and they were jam packed with info. Truly worthwhile.

Here's a list of the classes about which I have heard good things through the grapevine to which I am well connected. In addition, many cooking schools and barbecue supply stores offer classes. A quick look at Google shows many others.

The schedules, fees, dates and other particulars change frequently, so you will need to go to their sites for the details. Check them out and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Cooking classes

CA: Diamond Bar and other locations around the nation and in the UK. Slap Yo' Daddy BBQ Classes with Harry Soo, numerous classes in Diamond Bar, CA, cover both backyard and competition cooking. Harry is one of the best cooks I know. class@slapyodaddybbq.com

CO: Colorado Springs. BBQ University (a.k.a. "BBQ U") is taught by the world's most famous barbecue expert, author of the Barbecue Bible and numerous superb books, PBS TV star, Steven Raichlen. Held at the spectacular 5-Diamond/5-Star Broadmoor Resort, this intensive course sells out long in advance. 855-634-7711. Here's a great photo story of a recent BBQ U from our reader Rob Bass.

FL: Winter Haven, Venice, and other locations around the nation. Swamp Boys with Rob "Rub" Bagby does several competition cooking classes a year. 863-206-9363 rub@swampboys.com

FL: Miami and other locations around the nation. Women's Grilling Clinics with Robyn Medlin Lindars, a.k.a. GrillGrrrl, is an accomplished cook, pitmaster, veteran of Chopped on the Food Network, blogger, and teacher, specializing in teaching women how to use the grill and smoker. She's a blast to hang with. robyn.medlin@gmail.com

GA: Unadilla. Jack's Old South Cooking School with Myron Mixon, restaurateur, one of the most highly decorated cooks on the circuit, and star of BBQ Pitmasters on TV. 229-886-5225 jacksoldsouth@yahoo.com

IL: Chicago Area and other locations. Cancersuckschicago.com Competition Cooking Class with Scott Johnson and other top pitmasters. Johnson has won numerous trophies, including the Grand Championship at the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational. I think so much of Scott and his charitable cancer fighting foundation that I sponsor his team. Scottie@CancerSucksChicago.com

IL: Elmhurst and Lisle. Fireplace and Chimney Authority Classes with several instructors and themes ranging from steaks to seafood to brisket. 630-279-8500 info@fireplaceandchimneyauthority.com

IL: Chicago. The Chopping Block teaches a wide range of cooking classes including grilling. 773-472-6700 info@thechoppingblock.net

IL: Murphysboro (near Carbondale and St. Louis) and Cape Girardeau, MO. Amy Mills, co-author with her pitmaster/champion/restaurateur/father Mike Mills of the superb book Peace, Love, & Barbecue: Recipes, Secrets, Tall Tales, and Outright Lies from the Legends of Barbecue, runs a consulting business to restaurateurs and caterers named OnCue. She conducts amazing classes on whole hog and brisket cooking and the business of barbecue aimed at restaurateurs and caterers. People from as far as New Zealand and the Canary Islands attend. I took the whole hog class, pictures from which are shown in my article on how to cook whole hog. It was simply amazing.

IL: Wilmette. The Backyard Barbecue Store offers a number of classes on a range of topics from Weber Kettle Grilling, Big Green Egg Classes, Steaks, Competition Cooking, as well as beer and wine tastings. 847-251-2272 info@backyardbbqstore.com

KS: Kansas City and other locations around the nation. Smoke on Wheels BBQ 101 with Andy & Kim Groneman, competition cooking. andyg@smokeonwheels.com

KS: Kansas City and other locations around the nation. Kansas City Baron of BBQ School Of Pit Masters with Paul Kirk, The Kansas City Baron of BBQ. Kirk is a legend. A champion pitmaster, one of the first to teach competition BBQ in the nation, and author of numerous books. He is a certified chef and his food knowledge is boundless. 913-262-6029 pitmastersclasskc@gmail.com

KS: Overland Park and other locations around the nation. Pellet Envy Competition Cooking School with Rod and Sheri Grey, one of the top teams on the circuit and extremely knowledgeable about pellet cookers, but what they teach is applicable to all competition cookers. 816-225-1155 rod@pelletenvy.com

KS: Overland Park. The Midwest Barbeque Institute is a part of The Culinary Center of Kansas. They offer a huge range of classes from BBQ'n with Booze to tapas. 913-341-4455 cook@kcculinary.com

KS: Wichita. All Things Barbecue is a barbecue and grill store that has a nice lineup of classes from ribs to baking and pizza.

NC, several locations. North Carolina Barbecue Society Boot Camps with James Early and NC pitmasters focuses NC cooking styles and on the two unique sauce styles. 336-765-6227 info@ncbbqsociety.com

NC. Barbecue: Culture as Reflected in Culinary Tradition with Cyndi Allison, cyndiallison@gmail.com

NY, Hyde Park , St Helena, CA, and San Antonio TX. The august Culinary Institute of America offers a wide range of summer cooking boot camps, including a Grilling & BBQ Boot camp. Students get CIA jackets!

PA, Lansdale. Bob Trudnak, winner of many many competitions and the guru of BBQ Guru, occasionally teaches classes.

SC. Carolina Pitmasters with Jack Waiboer, a champion cook and video blogger teaches the unique barbecue styles of South Carolina and competition in SC. carolinapitmasters@gmail.com

TN, Memphis. Barbecue Live with Mark Lambert of Sweet Swine O' Mine (Memphis in May Grand Champion in 2009 and 2013), Malcom Reed, and Waylon Reed (Killer Hogs). If you're going to take a barbecue class, can there be a better place than Mamphis where deciding whether to eat your own cooking or going out could be a serious quandary? This class covers KCBS and cooking techniques and tips on finding sponsors and bringing your rubs and sauces to market.

TX: Frisco, Plano, and other locations around the nation. Premier Grilling with Chris Marks, another champion pitmaster with a fine reputation as an instructor. He teaches Barbecue 101; Barbecue 201; Fish & Wild Game Barbecue; Competition BBQ Secrets; Grilling 101; Ladies Grilling & Smoking Classes; Surf & Turf Grilling; and How to Make Sausage. 469-342-3461 contact.us@premiergrilling.com

TX, CA, WA and elsewhere. The BBQ Institute with Conrad "Teddy Bear" Haskins of the BBQ Hogs competition team. Competition, backyard grilling, and even Dutch oven classes some of which also include sections on sides, breads, desserts, and cigars. 512-692-6855 Konrad@BBQClass.com

TX: College Station. Foodways Texas hosts seminars and their unmatched Barbecue Summer Camp and Camp Brisket at the Meat Science and Technology Center, Texas A&M University. Instructors include meat scientists, butchers, pitmasters from top barbecue restaurants around the state, and authors. This is special. 512-232-8560 info@foodwaystexas.com

Toronto, Canada, Rochester, NY and elsewhere. Diva Q Competition BBQ Classes with the always entertaining pitmaster Danielle "Diva Q" Dimovski, 705-734-3067 divaq@rogers.com

WA: Kent. BBQ Cooking Classes with Lynnae Oxley and Brad Rand, both competition and backyard classes. Lynnae is one of the top cooks on the circuit and a winner on the BBQ Pitmasters television show. brad@thebbqclass.com

WA: Seattle. Seattle BBQ and Grilling School specializes in backyard grilling and smoking and even offers private classes. 206-551-6265 seattlebbqandgrillingschool@yahoo.com

WV, White Sulphur Springs. BBQ Mastery is an extraordinary experience taught by Ray "Dr. BBQ" Lampe at the sumptuous Greenbriar Resort, established in 1778 and now a National Landmark. Emphasis is on backyard cooking. Lampe is the author of numerous books, a champion pitmaster, and a great storyteller. 800-453-4858

Many locations across the US. Todd Johns of Plowboys Barbeque (that's him at the top of the page) has won numerous Grand Championships across the nation, and his rubs and sauces are used by scores of other teams. He teaches such a great competition cooking class that he was invited to do one at the annual meeting of the National Barbecue Association, which is where I took it. He went through the whole procedure of preparing meats, cooking, and presenting them for KCBS events from start to finish, and I got the impression that he held back nothing.

These retailers have their class schedules posted: http://www.backyardbbqstore.com/Grilling-Class.htm http://www.thechoppingblock.net/classes.html http://www.fireplaceandchimneyauthority.com/ewriter_blog1.php http://smokenfire.com/blog/?cat=1 http://www.learn2grill.com/

Judging classes

Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) teaches Certified Barbeque Judge classes for half a day at many locations around the country. These are not cooking classes. They teach you how to judge barbecue so you can join a panel at one of the many KCBS competitions across the nation.

Memphis Barbecue Network (MBN) is another major competition circuit and they teach the MBN method of judging in a handful of locations throughout the summer.

This page was revised 5/29/2013


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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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