Help us help you

If we have helped you become a better cook, please become a Pitmaster Club member and help us become a better website. Benefits for members include:

(1) Seminars with famous Pitmaster Professors
(2) Access to The Pit forum
(3) An all new expanded Temperature Guide Magnet
(4) Gold Medal Giveaways of free grills and smokers
(5) Support for Operation BBQ Relief
(6) Support for AmazingRibs.com!

Learn more about the Pitmaster Club

Not ready to subscribe yet? Return to AmazingRibs.com

grill, smoker, thermometer, accessories ratings
AmazingRibs.com BBQ Logo

message from meathead

Meathead the Barbecue & Grilling Lover Cartoon

Get Smoke Signals,
our FREE e-letter.
No spam. Guaranteed. Enter your email:

bbq ad


If you like AmazingRibs.com, please save this link and use it every time you go to Amazon. Amazon and many other websites pay us a small referral fee when you click our links and purchase from them. It works on everything from grills to diapers, Amazon never tells us what you bought, it has zero impact on the price you pay, but has a major impact on our ability to improve this site!

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

The Science of Slawsome Slaw

By Meathead

IMHO cole slaw is the world's best salad. Period.

Crunchy, juicy, refreshing with bright sweet/sour/salty/savory flavors, it kicks the butt of any wimpy limpy lettuce salad. But more important, slaw is the perfect accompaniment for barbecue.

The two classic American styles are Creamy Cole Slaw with Mayonnaise and Sweet-Sour Slaw, and some folks choose their restaurant based on which is served. There are scores of great slaw recipes with a wide variety of ingredients, and each can be prepared with a wide variety of techniques. For example, here are two more, my recipe for Deli Slaw with Sour Cream and my Waldorf Slaw.

They are easy to make, but like anything else, there are secrets that separate everyday from holiday slaw. Here are some tips on technique to make your salad slawsome.

Dress early. Cabbage and carrots drink and leak. So make the slaw in the morning and let it chill for a few hours. The juices from the veggies will add flavor to the dressing, and the dressing will seep into the veggies. Most slaws taste better if chilled overnight. The excellent magazine, Cook's Illustrated, recommends cutting the veggies, salting them and letting the salt pull out the moisture before adding the dressing to keep the moisture from bleeding out on its own and diluting the dressing. Nice idea, but I disagree. I just make the dressing a little strong and allow for the natural juices that come out when you chill the slaw to dilute it to proper strength. One word of caution: Onion flavors get amplified as the slaw ages.

Creamy or sweet-sour. Pick one. No fighting. The choice is like creamy vs. chunky peanut butter. Or dry or wet ribs. Blood has been spilled over this issue.

Be creative. Slaws are like barbecue sauces. Learn the basics, and then you can riff away. Want a milder flavor? Try Savoy cabbage. Don't like it tart? Kill the vinegar. Like it sweet? Add more sugar. Raw onions make you belch? Leave them out. No mustard powder? The heck with it. Feeling fruity? Add raisins. Need crunch? Add nuts. Love Asian flavors? Use bok choi, rice vinegar, wasabi, or a touch of sesame oil. Name ends in "i" or "o"? Grate in fennel bulb. Need a vacation in Hawaii? Add pineapple. Can't get enough bacon? Start crumbling.

Miracle Whip vs. Mayonnaise. The world can be divided in two parts: Miracle Whip or mayo, and never the twain shall meet. Some of my recipes call for mayo but you can use MW if you wish. Just beware, if you substitute MW for mayo, know that MW is sweeter and you should cut back on the sugar. If you need it you can add it later, but if you make it too sweet, there's no way to get rid of the sugar.

Beware of red stuff. Red cabbage, red radishes, and red onions have pigments that bleed into the slaw and turn it pink after several hours. Red cabbage can also stain plastic bowls. Red cabbage slaws also look bleached out after several hours. As a result, leftovers of slaws with these ingredients can look funny. But they still taste fine. Red peppers do not discolor.

Weigh the head first. My slaws are based on the weight of the cabbage rather than a volume measurement, so weigh the head before cutting it up. A typical medium head is 2-3 pounds.

Serving. Because the dressing sinks to the bottom rapidly, when you serve slaw, use a big spoon and make sure you dig deep in the bowl to include lots of juice. For this reason, I like to eat it with a spoon, too.

Chop, grate, shred, or hash?

Most slaws have cabbage as their base. How you cut it up is almost as controversial as the designated hitter. The way you cut the cabbage is crucial because cabbages are full of water, and the amount of surface area controls how much water the leaves will add to the dressing.

The bottom of the stem is usually gray and woody. Cut it off close to the head. Wash vigorously with cold water (no soap!) and shake off the water and pat dry. Discard two or three outer leaves if they are discolored. Cut off any other browned spots. Stand the head on its top so the stem end is facing up and slice the cabbage in half through the stem with a large sharp knife. Cut it in quarters by cutting through the core. Cut out the core with one angled cut. Some folks trash it. Arrrrggghh! I love it! It's crunchy, sweet, has carrot-like texture and juiciness. Cook's bonus.

Now you have to decide between three cuts:

Chopped a.k.a. country-style. This is hand cutting, my favorite method (shown above, and here). It produces an uneven slice that is larger and crunchier than the other methods and really lets the cabbage flavor come through. It also releases less water because there are fewer cut surfaces. Just lay the cabbage quarter face down on a cutting board and cut 1/8" slices, working from one end to the other. Then cut across the slices once or twice. Use the large holes of a box grater for the carrots. Besides. I hate cleaning the food processor after I make hash.

Grated a.k.a. shredded. This method produces confetti-like bits that are more uniform in size and texture. But a lot of moisture is given up when it sits, so the dressing will be runny. Use the large holes on a box grater. Watch yer knuckles.

slaw hashedHashed. Hashing is mincing the slaw really fine into 1/8" shards with the shredding blade of a food processor. This method is very popular in the southeast, especially in places where the slaw is served on top of pulled pork sandwiches and hot dogs. I'm not a huge fan of hashing because the leaves lose a lot of liquid and the results can be really runny. Besides, I prefer to chew my food, not have it pre-chewed.

This page was revised 2/1/2009

Please read this before posting a comment or question

grouchy?1) Please use the table of contents or the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help, then please post your question on the appropriate page.

2) Please tell us everything we need to know to answer your question such as the type of cooker and thermometer you are using. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can't help you. Please read this article about thermometers.

3) If you post a photo, wait a minute for a thumbnail to appear. It will happen even if you don't see it happen.

4) Click here to learn more about our comment system and our privacy promise. Remember, your login info for comments is probably different from your Pitmaster Club login info if you are a member.


LeaderDog.org Ad on BBQ site

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.

This site is brought to you by readers like you who support us with their membership in our Pitmaster Club. Click here to learn more about benefits to membership.

Advertising on this site. AmazingRibs.com is by far the most popular barbecue website in the world and one of the 50 most popular food websites in the US according to comScore, Quantcast, Compete, and Alexa. Visitors and pageviews increase rapidly every year. Click here for analytics and advertising info.

© Copyright 2014 by AmazingRibs, Inc. AmazingRibs.com is published by AmazingRibs, Inc., a Florida Corporation. Unless otherwise noted, all text, recipes, photos, and computer code are owned by AmazingRibs, Inc. and fully protected by US copyright law. This means that unless you have written permission to publish or distribute anything on this website you have committed a Federal crime. But we're easy. To get reprint rights, just click here. You do not need permission to link to this website. Note. Some photos of commercial products such as grills were provided by the manufacturers and are under their copyright.