Barbecue Accessories, Tools, And Toys: A Buying Guide With Reviews And Rating

"He who dies with the most toys, wins."Anonymous grillmaster

Here's a list of tools, equipment, gadgets, and toys that can help make you a better cook. Click here for a list of kitchen tools we love.

Click the red links for more info, current pricing, and to buy. Remember, we don't sell anything. Many of these products are available on Amazon which pays us a small referral fee if you buy from them. It works on anything from grills to diapers and it has zero impact on the price you pay. If you like this website, please use our links when you shop. Clicking our links keeps this site alive. Please also save this link and use it every time you go to Amazon:

Here's a video of Meathead showing some of his favorite tools and toys:

boos cutting board

The Ultimate Cutting Board With Juice Pan By John Boos Best Value Award Gold Medal

Cook a turkey or prime rib or pork loin properly and you're going to end up with a lot of juice on your cutting board. If yours has only grooves, it's going to overflow and ruin the table cloth. So I built my own by cutting a hole in a board and putting a pan underneath. Then the most famous cutting board company stole my idea (well, maybe they figured it out on their own). This one is 18" on both sides, and it is reversible. The groove is deep enough that it won't overflow. 

To order from Amazon, click here

weber chimney

The Best Charcoal Starter By Weber Best Value Award Gold Medal

Help break our addiction to oil! Reduce air pollution! Or just get your charcoal started faster, cheaper, and without that petrochemical smell.

This Weber chimney holds enough briquets to start most cookers, about 5 quarts, or about 80 briquets. Click here to read why we think this is the best way to start a charcoal fire hands down, and see other methods you might consider (but reject). 

To order from Amazon, click here


bbq apron

Funny Barbecue Aprons

I have designed have a range of aprons with pockets, T-shirts, mugs, and more with scores of humorous sayings from "BBQ God", "Got Ribs?", "Eat Me", "Chef is Prime and Well Aged", "Nice Rack" and many more. 

From, click for more

silicone basting brush

Grill Friends Silicone Brush Best Value Award Gold Medal

Silicone brushes are the best thing to happen to barbecue since the charcoal briquet. I long ago relegated my natural and nylon bristle brushes to cleaning computer keyboards. Silicone brushes load up with lots of sauce, deliver it evenly, and are easy to clean and decontaminate. They are dishwasher safe. We have three: One for barbecue, one my wife uses for egg washes and other baking, and one for whatever. There are many brands on the market. 

To order from Amazon, click here

bear paws

Wolf Claws Do More Than Pull Pork Best Value Award Gold Medal

These handy plastic paws are designed for shredding pork but they are also great for lifting large roasts, turkeys, chickens, and tossing salads. I've tried all manner of gadgets for pulled pork, and these are the best. There are a lot of cheap knockoffs, but these are the ones that are solid plastic. The others are hollow on the back side and meat gets stuck in there making them unsanitary. Some of the others are not dishwasher safe like these. They are sharp and not for children. 

To order from Amazon, click here

weber rib rack

Weber's Inexpensive Rib Rack Helps You Get More Ribs On Best Value Award Gold Medal

Here's how you can fit five slabs of ribs on a small grill like a Weber Kettle or Weber Smokey Mountain. Good rib racks hold the slabs upright with enough airspace between them to allow airflow and smoke penetration. Bad rib racks hold the meat too close together so they don't cook properly (see my article on rib racks). 

To order from Amazon, click here

mak rib rack

MAK High End Rib Rack Will Outlive You Best Value Award Gold Medal

Like the pellet smokers MAK makes, this best of class stainless steel rack for eight slabs of ribs is built to last with thick rails. The gap between the rails is a whopping 1.75", wide enough for the thickest slabs and to allow adequate airflow. I left mine outdoors for months and there was no rust. Easily the best I have ever seen. 

For pricing and ordering direct from MAK, click here

grill covers

A Premium Grill Cover Will Protect Your Investment

There are pros and cons to using a cover.

Pros. They keep rain, snow, wasps, birds, and other vermin out. If you have a shinyt stainless steel rig, it will keep it shinier. An expensive grill under cover will attract fewer thieves.

Cons. They are a bit of a pain because you have to wait til the grill cools and they gather rain when left off. But they can also trap moisture and humidity underneath and actually encourage rust and mold growth. For these reasons I cover only my grills and smokers that can collect water on the inside like my Weber Smokey Mountain, my Hasty Bake, and my pellet smoker (if the pellets ever melt and then dry out, getting your smoker up and running is an all day sucker).

Cheapo covers last only a year or two. A good cover will last five years or more. All the plastic or vinyl ones I've tried cracked and fell apart in two to three years. The canvas covers rotted in a few years. The best were canvas laminated or impregnated with polyurethane or PVC. 

Check out the pricing and direct ordering from Amazon

grill basket

This Grill Basket Is Like A Frying Pan For Your Grill Best Value Award Gold Medal

Grill toppers are essential for grilling and smoking small objects such as slices of onion and peppers, nuts, and I prefer them for small chunks of meat rather than skewers. On skewers it is hard to keep the meat from spinning around, and getting the meats and veggies on the same skewer together is almost impossible.

With a basket, when the mushrooms are done, pull them out and leave the meat in. I also prefer the mesh type because they let in more smoke and flavor. 

To order from Amazon, click here


Frogmats Are the Best Way to Smoke Small Things Like Nuts Best Value Award Gold Medal

Have you ever had a delicate piece of expensive Chilean Sea Bass stick to the grates and disintegrate when you try to lift it off, or try to grill small things and have them fall between the openings into the fire?

Here's a great cheap solution: Frogmats, a sturdy wire mesh with a non-stick coating capable of resisting high heats, yet easy to clean. I use mine for jalapeño poppers, onion rings, potato slices, mushrooms, bacon, biscuits. They are great for smoking nuts and dehydrating tomatoes and peppers. I've even used mine to wrap a meat loaf so I could crisp it on all sides.

Frogmats come in a variety of sizes, even large enough for a whole hog, and you can cut them to fit. When you are done, just roll them up. They cannot handle extreme heat or direct flame, however. 

Click here to order Frogmats on Amazon

weber grill topper

Weber's Grill Pan Sears and Allows Smoke Through Best Value Award Gold MedalAnother favorite grill topper is the Weber Style Grill Pan, and I was pleased to see the folks at Cooks Illustrated agree. It has plenty of slots for smoke to travel through, and plenty of surface to brown things like salmon cakes. 

Click here to order the Weber Style Grill Pan on Amazon

Great cast iron griddle

Lodge Logic Pro Cast Iron Griddle Can Put a Gorgeous Sear on Salmon, Steak, or Use It For Pancakes And Eggs Best Value Award Gold Medal

You need a good cast iron griddle. Especially if you like fish, burgers, grilled sandwiches, home fries, or pancakes. Coat the flat side with oil, and you can sear fish so it is golden and crispy on the outside just like that great pan-seared fish you get in restaurants. Throw some dried herbs onto the flame, and you'll get a whisp of smoke in the meat.

You can even bring it indoors and it will straddle two burners. Use the flat side for pancakes. Flip it over and you get grill marks and conduction cooking from the ridges on steaks, burgers, or asparagus, and the fats and juices drip into the grooves where they vaporize and flavor the meat and cook by radiation.

This is a very handy tool. One word of caution. You may need two. If you use it for fish a lot, the flavor will remain on the surface, even after cleaning, so you won't be able to use it for pancakes.

I have two of them by Lodge, known for quality cast iron, and I use the ridged sides of both, one on top and one on the bottom, for making paninis. And my spatchcocked (butterflied) Cornish game hens pressed between the flat sides are unbelievably crisp and juicy in only 20 minutes. It is 20" x 10 7/16". 

To order the Lodge Griddle on Amazon, click here

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Grill Press

Lodge Cast Iron Panini Press Makes World Class Paninis And Grilled Cheese Best Value Award Gold Medal

These flat weights are great for making grilled cheese sandwiches and other paninis, and even bacon. When I make sandwiches I preheat the press on high on the side burner, and then put the sandwich on the grill grates and the hot press on top so I can cook both sides at once. You can use them for keeping bacon from curling up on the grill with these, too. The Lodge model is preseasoned. Although the handle is supposed to provide heat protection, wear a glove. 

Click here to order the Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Grill Press

stop watch

Thermoworks Timestick Is The Best Cook's Stopwatch And Alarm Best Value Award Gold Medal

I keep a cooking diary. In it I write down vital info about every cook so I can learn what works and what doesn't. OK. So I'm anal. But being anal got me this gig. The two most important variables to track in any cook are time and temp. So I used to wear a stopwatch around my neck when I cooked. Click when I fire up. Click when it is up to temp. Click when the meat goes on. Click when I add more wood or charcoal. Click when I turn. Click when I sauce. Click when I take it off. But have you seen the new digital stopwatches? They are a real pain with faaaar too many features and bells and whistles. My last one sat in my desk between cooks and beeped every hour and the only way I could make it shut up was with a hammer. True story. Now I use the very sinple user friendly Timestick.

It can count down or up and when a count down alarm sounds, the count up timer starts so you can see how much time has elapsed since your alarm. It's range is 99 hours 99 minutes and 99 seconds, there is a keypad lock so you don't accidentally screw things up, there's a lanyard so you can wear it around your neck, it comes in nine colors, it's splash proof, and it has a magnet on back so I can stick it to my grill, fridge, or oven. Operates between 32 and 104°F. Best of all, you won't need to read the manual. Love it. 

Click here to order the Timestick from Thermoworks

extra big and loud bbq timer

Extra Big & Loud Timer For Your Fridge Best Value Award Gold Medal

If you prefer a bigger timer that can stand on the counter as well as stick to the fridge, with a keyhole mount on the back so you can mount it on a wall, and an alarm that you can hear in a noisy commercial kitchen or when you are downstairs doing laundry at home, this is the 110 decibel choice. Thank goodness you can adjust the volume. Other than that, it has pretty much the same features as the timestick. 

Click here to order the Extra Big & Loud Timer from Thermoworks

Cuisinart Grilluminate Universal LED Grill Light

Cuisinart Grilluminate LED Grill Light Turns Dark Into Day Best Value Award Gold Medal

The Grilluminate easily attaches to hood handles on most gas grills. Six very bright LEDs affixed to the end of a metal tube extend downward far enough to clear the bottom of the hood and deliver more light than one might expect from a compact, battery powered device.

Made of metal, not plastic, the body is weather and heat resistant. With three AA batteries, Grilluminate can be angled back and forth to adjust the target, but on our test grill with over 450 square inches of cook surface, that was unnecessary. It has an adaptable clamp that can open and close down to accommodate different shaped handles. Or you can slide it out of the clamp and it stands on its magnetic base. Because it clamps on it does stick out from the grill, so if you walk too close you can bump into it, but that never bothered me. 

Click here to order it on Amazon


Mitaki LED Headlamp Is The Late Night Cook's Best Friend Best Value Award Gold Medal

Well, you can pay an electrician to mount spotlights on the exterior of your house only to discover that your shadow makes it hard to see the food. Or you can buy a light to mount on the grill like the ones above. But the best way to see what is on the cutting board, on the grill, on the smoker, and where that wing you dropped went, is to mount a really bright light just above your eyes. 

Click here to order the Mitaki 8 LED Headlamp on Amazon

wooden plates

Elegant Eco-Friendly Wooden Compostible Plates, Bowls, Platters, And Flatware Make A Simple Picnic Into An Event Best Value Award Gold Medal

These plates and other party and picnicware are sooooo much nicer and more elegant that paper plates, and they are fully biodegradable and compostable because they are made from leaves! Best of all, they don't leak or get floppy when wet! Approved by FDA for food contact, they are made from fallen palm leaves, pesticide free, no chemicals, colors, sealants, or binders, and fully sterilized. They are a big hit with my guests, and we throw them in the compost bin rather than the trash. 

To order from Amazon, click here

knob where you need it

Knob Where You Need It Makes Grilling Safer And Easier Best Value Award Gold Medal

You're supposed to turn off the propane tank between cooks to prevent expensive leaks and more expensive explosions. But many grills don't have easy access to the tanks, and it sure is easy to forget. Knob Where You Need It makes it easy to turn off the gas and easy ti remember. There are no instructions in the box so you need to go to their website. I suggest printing them. Installation is easy for most people (I made a dumb mistake). Please note: You need to drill a 1/2" hole in your grill. Watch the video below to see the installation process. – Greg Rempe

To order from Amazon, click here

Lafuma Futura Zero Gravity Chair, Black Steel Frame, Cedre Best Value Award Gold Medal

The famous French recliner by Lafuma. I own two of them, and, man, are they comfortable. Park it next to the cooler, pour a cold one into your stein, set your remote temperature monitor on top of the cooler, and relaxxxxxx. There are cheaper knockoffs, but I haven't tried them yet. 

To order from Lafuma from Amazon, click here

steak markers

Bamboo steak markers Best Value Award Gold Medal

I love these bamboo steak markers. They come in a pack of 500 and include five temperatures: rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, and well. They are 3.5" long and you insert their sharp points in the side of the steak so the meat can be flipped easily. If they don't char, you can wash them and reuse them. 

Click here to order these Bamboo steak markers on Amazon

Chimney Cap

Chimney Cap Best Value Award Gold Medal

Most kamado smokers have an airflow control/chimney at the top that is very good at controlling the oven temp. They have one innate flaw: When it rains, water gets into the cooking chamber! If you have a Big Green Egg, Primo, or Kamado Joe, or any other leaky kamado, here's the solution. Made from aluminum, it is simple and effective. 

Click here to order the Chimney Cap from Amazon

smoking pouch

Mo's Smoking Pouch Best Value Award Gold Medal

In recent years there have been perhaps a dozen new products brought on the market to hold wood and add smoke to the cooker. I have played with a number of them, and the one that impresses me the most is this clever design, especially for use with gas grills.

It is a pouch of fine mesh 304 stainless steel that holds wood chips or pellets. The airspaces in the mesh are small enough that they limit the amount of air that gets in so the wood smokes and never bursts into flame. It puts out plenty of white smoke, usually within a few minutes. Best of all, it smokes just by putting it on top of the cooking grate or you can stand it on edge and slip it between the grates and the back of your grill. You don't have to squeeze it in down by the burners although you can if you need to space on top of the grates. And it works. It holds enough wood for about 15 minutes for short cooks, but you need to refill it, or buy a second pouch, for long cooks like pork shoulder and brisket. Refilling can be tricky since the steel gets hot and stays hot for a while. If you have good gloves, no problem. 

Click here to order Mo's Smoking Pouch on Amazon

Rapala filet knife

My most versatile all-purpose knife: Rapala filet knife Best Value Award Gold Medal

I have a drawer full of really expensive German and Japanese cutlery, so don't tell my professional chef friends, but the knife I reach for most often is my Rapala Soft Grip. This cheapo has a thin flexible blade, with a dangerously sharp blade, a wicked sharp tip, and it's under $20. It's great for slicing tomatoes, removing silverskin on meat, boning, cutting ribs on hot peppers, and, of course, filleting. It is not strong enough for cutting through bone, but there is nothing better for cutting things off bones. When it is dirty, it goes in the dishwasher. When it's dull I sharpen it. When I can't get as sharp as new, I get a new one. 

Click here to order Rapala knives on Amazon

FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer

FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer Best Value Award Gold Medal

The best way to store food more than a week is in the freezer. Foods lose few nutirents and little quality when frozen. But if they are kept for longer than a few weeks, meats can oxidize, fats can get rancid, and the surface can harden from freezer burn. Especially pork and seafood. Oxygen is the enemy. So I pack food for storage is with a vacuum sealer like the FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer. You put the food in a plastic bag, insert it into the machine and it sucks out the air and seals the bag. Make sure you mark the date on the bag. It is a great way to store cooked foods too. Put your pulled pork in the bag, add a little sauce and seal. When it is time to serve, place the bag into a pot of simmering water. It reheats rapidly and tastes almost as good as when it came out of the smoker. 

Click here to see all the different FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer models

burger mold

Stufz Gourmet Stuffed Burger Maker Best Value Award Gold Medal

Normally I am not interested in gimmicks, and I normally advocate against burger presses because they compress the meat too much. Loosly packed meat has more pockets for the juices to hang out.

So when this piece of plastic arrived, I was pretty skeptical. I am no longer skeptical. It helps make a pretty good stuffed burger, and stuffed burgers can be very juicy and tasty, with the cheese on the inside, not on top. Or bacon, or peppers, or onions, or mushrooms, or or or.

Here's how it works, You take a ball of ground meat and drop it in the Stufz. You set the handle to one position, and it presses the meat into a disk. Then you adjust the handle and it presses a pocket in the center. Add your cheese or whatever, plop another ball of meat on top, adjust the handle again, and press again. You get beautifully formed thick burgers with a stuffing. Occasionally you need to do a little manual touchup to the top and bottom joins to prevent leaks, and for that matter, you could do the whole process by hand easily enough, but the gadget does make it a bit easier, and you get nice uniform pucks, helpful when you are timing a bunch-o-burgers. Having the cheese in the center helps prevent overcooking the patty while you get the exterior nice and dark. Bottom line, they taste great.

One word of caution: The center is molten and hot, so you need to warn everybody to be careful. But molten cheese is better than limp cheese lounging on top.

Working with it was a bit awkward at first, especially when my hands got meat on them, and if you're making a lot, it would be nice to have some help, say one person to make the meat balls, and another to run the press. I'm not sure how long the plastic will hold up, but if you're a cheeseburger burger fan, splurge on this. 

Click here to order the Stufz Gourmet Stuffed Burger Maker from Amazon

Grill Grabber

Grill Grabber Best Value Award Gold Medal

Use a Grill Grabber to lift your hot and dirty grill grates, even if there's the food still on them. I use mine when I need to add coals, wood, water to water pans, or to rescue food that has dropped through the grates. This may seem like a frivolity, but it is a thoroughly useful tool. 

Click here to order the Grill Grabber on Amazon


12" Galvanized Can To Hold Charcoal Or Ashes

12" Galvanized Can To Hold Charcoal Or Ashes Best Value Award Gold Medal

So what do you do with the ash from your grill? Wood ash is high pH (highly alkaline), and, in small quantities, can be used as a substitute for lime to correct acidic soil. But the fine particle size can clog pores in soil causing drainage problems.

There is a debate over use of charcoal ash, however. Charcoal has additives that some say may be harmful to the garden, lawn, or compost, but it is not clear to me how much, if any remain after combustion. I have heard that if sent to the landfill it actually helps decomposition of trash. I have also heard that putting it around the edges of gardens and patios will keep grass from encroaching. When my fire cools, I dump my ash in a galvanized ash can. This summer I'll try some along the edge of the patio. 

Click here to order a galvanized ash can from Amazon

Propane Gauge So You Never Run Out

Propane Gauge So You Never Run Out Best Value Award Gold Medal

The best way to tell how much gas you have left is to weight it. Not much more than a glorified fish scale, this grill gauge works just fine. Hoist your tank and the gauge gives you a pretty good guesstimate of how much is left. I take mine when I exchange empty tanks for full ones. You'd be surprised how many are underfilled. Of course you do have a backup tank, don't you? And you do backup you computer don't you (one copy on premises and one copy off premises)? 

Click here to order the Grill Gauge from Amazon


Coleman Butane Burner Best Value Award Gold Medal

If your grill didn't come with a side burner, here's how to make up for the deficiency. Butane burners like this get very hot very fast, and are great for keeping sauces warm or even for frying side dishes. My only complaint is that it does not come with a carrying case. Note that the butane tanks do not come in the box and they are hard to find in hardware stores, but they are easy to find in Asian groceries where these burners are popular. Make sure you have a source for fuel before you buy one of these. 

Click here to order the Coleman burner on Amazon

20" BBQ tongs

20" BBQ Tongs Best Value Award Gold Medal

These are my favorite tongs. By far. I've had a set for four years and after I try the latest coolest newfangled gimicky tongs, I keep going back to these.

Made of rugged 1/8" thick aluminum, with four serious rivets, there are no springs to pop, and they show zero signs of wear or weakness while lighter tongs all end up in the recycling bin. Well, actually, I have dropped them so many times, run them through the dishwasher so many times, and tossed them in the gadget drawer so many times that the red paint is chipping. But that's all. 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 order the 20" BBQ Tongs on Amazon

OXO Good Grips Tongs

OXO Good Grips Tongs

Best in BBQ Silver Medal

Dishwasher safe stainless steel with OXO's popular nonslip rubber handles, they are the winner of the Tylenol/Arthritis Foundation Design Award. They are spring loaded and the ends are scalloped for better gripping. There is a loop for hanging and a mechanism that locks them in closed position for storing (which has failed after several years on all three pairs that I have). Regardless, they are still my faves. I just store them with a cardboard toilet paper core over the ends.

The 18" tongs don't have the locking mechanism, but they are necessary if you have a deep pit. But be warned, the longer the tongs, the less leverage you have and the harder it is to get a grip. I also recommend their nylon tipped tongs for use on non-stick cookware. 

Click here to order the 9" tongs from Amazon

Click here to order the 12" tongs from Amazon

Click here to order the 18" tongs from Amazon

fish tongs

LamsonSharp Fish Tongs Best Value Award Gold Medal

A jumbo hybrid of tongs and spatulas, this is the proper tool for flipping fish, burgers, and other crumbly foods. Rosewood handle protects you against the heat, and there is a leather loop for hanging. They come with a lifetime warranty. I find them to be indispensable. 

Click here to order the LamsonSharp Fish Tongs on Amazon


Stiff Metal Spatula Best Value Award Gold Medal

Spatulae come in slotted and solid, and I recommend the solid with a good insulated sturdy handle. The solid is best for pressing things down on a griddle, like when you are making Diner Burgers on a griddle or in a frying pan. I like the Weber Style 6446 Professional-Grade Fish Turner. I took mine down to the basement and ground the edge very sharp with a grinder. Now it slips easily under food that is stuck to the grates. 

Click here to order the Weber Fish Turner from Amazon

pie iron

Double Pie Iron

Best in BBQ Silver Medal

Here's how to make two perfectly toasted panini style grilled sandwiches at once. Use this old fashioned double pie iron, originally designed for filled pies, for everything from Grilled Cheese to Pulled Pork.

Just butter your sandwich on the outside, open up the hinged mold, insert the sandwiches and put it over the coals, campfire, or gas grill. This Old Mountain cast iron double square pie iron is 4 1/2" x 8 1/4" and is pre-seasoned and ready to use. The long handle allows you to grill in comfort away from a camp fire. 

Click here to order on Amazon

Grill Pads

Grill Pads

Best in BBQ Silver Medal

My wife hasn't noticed the burn hole yet. It's pretty substantial. For the life of me I don't understand why the deck didn't go up in flames and take the house with it. Must be some sort of flame retardant in the wood. But a hunk of charcoal somehow jumped from my grill and tried to escape before I caught it. But not before it burned a serious hole.

My wife hasn't noticed because I covered the burn with a Grill Pad. A little late, but not too late. This lightweight flexible fiber cement pad protects my deck from runaway coals, spills, and grease dropping from the grease pan on my gas grill (have you emptied yours lately?). Grill Pads come in a variety of sizes, shapes and logos. I got mine with a Florida Gator logo, my alma mater. 

Click here to see if they have your team logo grill pad on Amazon

Bayou Classic Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Bayou Classic 8.5 Quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven Best Value Award Gold Medal

Forget the fancy high end pricey Le Cruset French Oven, this is the one you want for cowboy cooking and camping, and it comes in handy around the house. It's perfect for whole chickens or slow braising in the oven or in the grill.

You can even sit it on top of coals and shovel more coals on top of the flat lid with a raised rim, and you can cook classic chili, baked beans, cornbread, casseroles, and even cobblers. It is 13" wide x 7" high, weighs 21 pounds and includes a perforated aluminum basket for steaming, frying, or boiling. 

Click here to see all the cast iron pots and pans available on Amazonspacer

Kitchen shears

Kitchen shears Best Value Award Gold Medal

You want good stiff scissors for cutting a chicken apart, for snipping herbs, cutting pizza, butcher string, opening packages, and many other tasks. Get sturdy stainless blades so you can cut through the ribs of chickens. The best models come apart at the hinge so they can go in the dishwasher and you can get them really clean. 

Click here to order the OXO Professional Poultry Shears on Amazon

garlic press

Garlic press Best Value Award Gold Medal

When a recipe calls for garlic to be crushed, minced, or pressed, I use a garlic press. A good garlic press releases more oils and flavors than mincing with a knife and pressed garlic coats the food more evenly than mincing.

A good garlic press is an important kitchen tool. Get one that is sturdily built, that is easy to grip, that is easy to clean, and has a large hopper to hold big cloves. Avoid non-stick models. I have a well-used Trudeau Garlic Press and I recommend it. 

Click here to order the Trudeau Garlic Press on Amazon

Adjustable pepper mill

Adjustable pepper mill Best Value Award Gold Medal

The Kyocera Everything Mill Adjustable Grinder came into my life after trying many many pepper mills. This one is easy to adjust the size of the grind, and that is really important. I want coarse grind for some things, like steaks, and fine grind for use in sauces. Yes, the size of the grind is important. It influences flavor. And yes, freshly ground pepper is better than the pre-ground stuff in the metal box.

It has one other really smart feature. The grinder is on top. That means that it won't leave a little pile of pepper dust on your table. 

Click here to order Kyocera Adjustable Pepper Grinder

Digital kitchen scale

Digital kitchen scale Best Value Award Gold Medal

I don't know how I lived without a good, accurate digital kitchen scale for so many years. It is so important. Look at salt for example, 1 cup of table salt has almost twice as much salinity as a cup of Morton's kosher salt because Morton's kosher salt has more air space between the grains. But a pound of all salts contain exactly the same amount of sodium chloride.

Without a scale, making a brine requires a calculator. Flour and sugar have the same problem. Packed brown sugar or loose brown sugar. Big diff. Ever try to measure a tablespoon of honey? Did you get it all into the bowl or leave a lot of it on the spoon. There are plenty of conversion tables out there that help you convert. My favorite is the OXO Good Grips Stainless Food Scale with Pull-Out Display. It can weight accurately up to 11 pounds as well as fractions of an ounce. Push a button and it converts to metric. Put the bowl on the scale and push a button and it zeros out so the bowl's weight is not included. The top comes off for easy cleaning. It will significantly improve your cooking. 

Click here to order th OXO Food Scale on Amazon


Windblocker Chafing Dish Frame Best Value Award Gold Medal

WindBlocker is a portable chafing dish frame that blocks wind while allowing some air under the food and water pans to keep the fuel lit. When used indoors, one lit Sterno is enough to keep the water pan at the desired temperature because the flame and heat are contained beneath the chafing dish. For use outdoors in the wind, two Sterno cans will get the job done.

Each WindBlocker is a lightweight aluminum one-piece unit, weighing about one pound. Simply place your fuel cans inside, light them, then place a filled chafing dish in each Windblocker chafing dish frame. The frames come in either black or white and fold flat for easy storage and transportation. A small fuel can housing and supports are permanently attached and folded inside. Six standard-sized (50.8” x 31.75” x 21.59”) units fit in a convenient heavy duty, padded and reinforced, 6-compartment, zippered, polyester shoulder carrying bag.

I tested the Windblocker on my back deck, where the photo was taken, and the sternos stayed lit in 23 mph gusts. For comparison, I tested my standard chafing dish frame alongside the Windblocker. I used two Sternos and both Sternos blew out and would not stay lit. - Rick Browne, Ph.B.

coffee roaster for bbq

Gar Grill Rotisserie Coffee Roaster Kit

Now here's one of those slap your forehead and mumble "why didn't I think of that" ideas. 

Click here to order on Amazon

grandmas spot remover

Grandma's Secret Spot Remover Best Value Award Gold Medal

I first heard about this from a competition cook. To say I was skeptical is an understatement. A spot remover that will remove the grease stains on almost all my shirts is something I considered to be as elusive as unicorns and perpetual motion machines. So I bought a 2 ounce bottle and tried it on one of my t-shirts.

The instructions say that all you need is just a drop. Sure. I used three drops. My shirt came out so clean I could not find where the stain had been originally. So I tried it on a dress shirt, but fearful it would ruin it, I used only one drop. Again, the grease was gone! So I hauled out all my saucy and greasy shirt, 11 in all, put Grandma to work, tossed them all into one tub, and before long, I had a new wardrobe. Utterly amazing stuff. And just for the record, I have been doing my own laundry since I went away to college, even through 40 years of marriage. May be a contributing factor to our longevity.

Even my wife is impressed with Grandma. She has used it on some of her finery including her Mom's table cloth with ancient spaghetti stains, stains that Oxi-Clean, her go to remover, couldn't handle.

The label says it is good for "oil, grease, paint, makeup, grass, inks, blood, baby formula, tar, spaghetti sauce, coffee, rust, beadine, tumeric, fabric bleed, and pet stains". The only caveat on the label is to "check garment for colorfastness." 

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The Ribalyzer

This is a clever way to cook ribs in two hours on a gas grill, but if you have a few hours, you can cook them better without the Ribalyzer (it does not take eight hours to make great ribs on a smoker as the inventor claims - here's how to cook Last Meal Ribs the proper way). Essentially the Ribalyzer is a device for smoking then steaming.

Best in BBQ Bronze Medal

Here's how it works. Start by putting a spice rub on the meat. It works best with the straight bones of St. Louis cut ribs rathere than baby backs. You throw a lot of wood chips or chunks on the flavorizor bars of your grill, or in a perforated pan under the cooking grate. Then you place the bottom half of the Ribalyzer on top of the grates and pour in liquid. The inventor likes to use soft drinks and beer, but I could not taste a difference between beer and water in the pan. The dominant flavors are the rub and the sauce. In goes the rib rack, then the ribs, which sit just above the liquid but below the lip of the pan. Fire up the grill, and drop the lid. Let it smoke for 45 minutes with the liquid simmering but not boiling hard. This gives the ribs decent smoke flavor, but it is more pronounced on the upper half that is not in the pan. Then you add more water and put the cover on the pan which seals the meat in a steamy environment, like an extended Texas Crutch for another hour and 15 minutes.

The results are very soft meat, I find them a bit mushy, and not quite as rich in flavor as if they had been dry roasted. The biggest drawback: No bark. Bark is the dry crunchy crust that you get with dry smoke roasting and I think one of the best reasons to smoke ribs low and slow. And you can do it on a gas grill if you follow my instructions without wasting a lot of aluminum pans and cleaning a rib rack. Bottom line: Ribalyzer makes good but not great ribs in about half the time. 

jaccard blade tenderizer

Don't use jaccard blade tenderizers on food that will not be cooked beyond 160°F

These nifty devices are designed to tenderize meat by slicing through tough fibers. You place it on top of the meat and press it down plunging thin razor sharp blades into the meat, and in the process plunge microbes on the surface deep into the interior. They work.

But there is a danger. A piece of meat often has contamination on the surface, but it rarely penetrates to the interior. When you cook, the flame pasteurizes it by killing everything on the exterior. If it has been worked on with a blade tenderizer, there is a much higher risk because the blades could essentially innoculate the interior by pushing in contamination on the surface. To be safe, you need to cook the meat to more than 160°F. That means that if you are cooking to medium rare, 130°F, this device can be dangerous. On the other hand, if you are doing a tough cut such as beef short ribs or beef brisket, which are cooked to 180°F and above, you can use the jaccard, and in fact, I recommend it. You should also avoid commercial meats that have been blade tenderized if you intend to cook it to less than 160°F. 

Don't buy toolkits

Waste of Money

These kits sure look cool, but I've never seen one with all the tools I need, and the ones I've looked at up close came with poor quality tools or unnecessary tools. I buy them a la carte. 

rib rack

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Award Winning Food Temperature Magnet


large food temperature magnet


Designed by , this award winning comprehensive 8 1/2 x 11" food temparature magnet includes the latest USDA recommendations as well as chef recommendations (and they often differ) as well as color photos of the different stages of doneness for red meats. Includes frying temps, sugar temps, caramelization, safety, meat chemistry and other temps. Designed for quick reference, the temperatures are the same for both indoor and outdoor cooks.

Most cookbooks contain outdated meat temperature info since the USDA has has changed its recommendations several times. Knowing the best temps is essential to cooking safe and great food. The Center for Disease Control estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from foodborne illnesses, (often mistakenly called "stomach flu,"), and 3,000 die. And nobody knows how many millions of dollars were wasted on overcooked food.

Click here for a detailed discussion of how the Food Temperature Guide works

Order the Award Winning Food Temperature Magnet

bad thermometer

Thermometers and thermostats, the most important and valuable tools. Period.

This is the digital age folks. If you are still relying on the piece of crap bi-metal dial thermometer that your grill maker tossed into the hood as an afterthought, you have no chance of ever becoming a good cook. And if you are holding your hand over the coals to gauge the heat, you are kidding yourself. And if you are gauging the doneness of your steaks by poking them you are wasting money. And if you are looking for clear juices in your chicken, you are risking the health of your family.

This is the digital age folks. A good digital oven thermometer will shock you when you see how far off the thermometer on your grill is. And a good meat thermometer will guarantee you properly cooked safe food 100% of the time.

Best of all, in the digital age, there are some amazing new thermostats that can be attached to your grill. Set it and forget it, regardless of the weather.

Check our thermometer ratings and reviews

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