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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 is 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

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. 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 $269 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.

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.

When To Put A Lid On It

"I grill, therefore I am." Alton Brown

By Meathead Goldwyn

weber lid off partiallyMost grills come with lids. And a good thing, too. A lid is essential for most outdoor cooking. You can cook on a lidless grill, but you will be severely handicapped. It would be like doing all your cooking on a stovetop.

With a lid, most of the heat comes from below, but much of it goes right past the food and is reflected from above so your grill becomes an oven and you can cook foods with heat from all sides. This significantly reduces the risk of burning dinner.

A lid also traps smoke and flavor molecules. In short, it gives you much more versatility. And let's not forget, it keeps flies off the food.

As a rule of thumb, if the food is 3/4" or less, no lid. Leave the lid off when you are cooking thin foods like or skirt steak. Without a lid, all the heat comes only from underneath. One side cooks, the other does not. For something like skirt steak we want a dark exterior loaded with the compounds formed when proteins, amino acids, and sugars undergo the Maillard reaction (read my article on why brown is beautiful). But you don't want the interior overcooked. If you close the lid, heat attacks from above and below, and the bottom gets nut brown, but the top just gets to tan, and the center overcooks. So, for thin foods, crank up the heat, leave the lid off and flip the meat every minute or so to prevent heat buildup on either side. This way you'll be able to develop the dark exteriors without overcooking the interior. For an extreme example, see my article on extreme steak and check out the "afterburner method".

There are other times when you want to cook without a lid, usually when you are cooking foods like shrimp where the color is your guide to doneness, or sweet foods like pineapple where the surface can burn quickly.

But if the food is 1" or thicker, put a lid on it. If you leave the lid off, there's a chance you'll have an undercooked interior. Of course all this depends on your grill and how much heat you are generating. Yet another reason to have a high quality digital thermometer.

There is a middle ground. Sometimes you might want to wedge the lid open an inch or two to allow hot air escape if you are having trouble getting the heat down to a target such as 225°F.

Unless otherwise noted, almost all the recipes on this website require you to cook with the lid down.

This page was revised 2/13/2013


Please read this before posting a comment or question

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. 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! If you are not using a good digital thermometer we can't help you. Please read this article about thermometers, then buy a good digital, and then, if the problem persists, hit us with your questions.

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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, rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best buying guide to barbecue smokers, grills, and accessories, edited by Meathead.

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