By default, grilling requires uncompromising tools. There are no other forms of cooking that must perform in the face of flames nearing 1,000 degrees and take punishment from the elements in between. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean everything must cost hundreds of dollars. Whether the person you’re gifting is a bit flame-obsessed or just got their first grill, these gifts cover the spectrum of utility, cost and discovery.
Looftlighter Charcoal Starter
Every now and again, you stumble over a way of doing things that’s just better than what you were previosuly doing. That’s where Looftlighter’s charcoal starter comes in. Recommended by professional pitmasters, it lights charcoal faster than any other method of lighting (this includes blowtorch and basket lights). But perhaps more notable is what it doesn’t do: spew flames everywhere or require you to smother your briquettes in chemicals.
ThermoWorks ThermaQ Kit
ThermoWorks is the choice maker of temperature tracking in the pitmastersgrilling and barbeque field. The company uses materials that don’t corrode or fall apart and applies a no-nonsense approach to crafting tools that are genuinely useful. The ThermaQ kit is not cheap, but there are no better methods of measuring both the internal temperature of what’s on the grill and the ambient temperature of the grill space itself.
Craycort Cast-Iron Grill Grates
There is no better way to upgrade a cheap grill than to find appropriately-sized cast-iron grates. Steel, enameled iron or ceramic grates are more common, but going cast iron increases heat retention, which allows for more even cooking and a superior char. Craycort makes them in tons of sizes and shapes (including Weber’s much-loved Smokey Joe).
Traeger Ranger Pellet Grill
Traeger’s Ranger grill is the best value travel smoker you can buy. Though it doesn’t have the capacity to make a titanic amound of food, it excels by it’s speed and usability.
Playing with Fire
Michael Symon’s newest book on grilling and barbequing should serve as a template for all cookbooks to come. It has plenty of recipes and pretty photos, but it also digs into the context of the grill, the smoker and the cook. In it, there are guides to various charcoal stacking methods, various types of charcoal and temperature control techniques. It is both a collection of things to make and a guide to the craft itself — the ideal grilling cookbook.
Weber Handle Light
A very simple problem presents itself when grilling at night: it’s dark. This grill light clips on to the grill lid’s handle and is resistant to heat. No more calling a buddy over to hold a smartphone flashlight over your steaks.
Porter Road Grillmaster Pack
A simple fact: it’s incredibly difficult to find information on the meat and sausage you buy at most grocery stores. Was the cattle factory-raised? What were the pigs fed? Were the animals slaughtered humanely? How do these things affect the taste? These are questions Porter Road answers rather emphatically. Started by former chefs, the company owns every level of the company — from pasture-raised animals to butchery. It’s supremely transparent about every step, too, which is a refreshing change of pace from an otherwise shady market. Oh, and the bratwurst links are out of this world.
Tilit Bib Apron
Not all aprons are created equally. Tilit’s bib apron is designed specifically to not be completely lame. Made with 10-ounce American-milled denim, plenty of pockets, leather detailing and in a couple low-key colorways, it’s a very easy way to make grilling look a lot better.
Grillstone Grill Cleaner
The only people who think this is a boring gift to give someone are the people who haven’t used a Grillstone before. It bends and adapts to the grates’ surface and, most importantly, does not leave unpleasant and dangerous wire bristles after cleaning.
Jacobsen Kosher Sea Salt
Jacobsen’s salt represents a rare breed of products — that is, products made in the U.S. using old school production methods, and manage to offer prices that are par for the market its in. Its kosher salt is a finer version of its classic extra-flaky sea salt, and it is perfect for rubs and sauces alike.
OXO Good Grips Basting Brush
Is a basting brush sexy? It is not. Is it necessary and often forgotten? Yes to both. Presumably, those without a basting brush are pouring sauces over meats with a spoon. Bad idea. A basting brush is much more sauce-efficient (you don’t have to dump sauce on things to make them great) and is better at getting into the nooks and crannies of food. This one from OXO is cheap, plus it has useful grip spots.
Falcon Enamelware Plate Set
Falcon has been making its prized enamelware for close to 100 years now. The heavy-gauge steel and porcelain coating make it incredibly heat resistant (up to 530 degrees) and ideal for plating in a grill setting. As a bonus, it’s extrememly lightweight, making it perfect to lug around literaly pounds of freshly smoked barbeque.
Any would-be pitmaster must make the pilgrimage to Texas, one of barbeque’s holy lands, and Wildsam’s guide is a good place to start. In it is a map of the barbeque-rich city’s best spots, written and curated in a manner that’s less tourism board and more local hotspot. Also, there’s a pretty hefty list of Austin dive bars to head to to wash all the meat down.
Don’t know what to get the people on your list? We’ve got you covered with our holiday gift guide.