With Christmas just around the corner, I thought I’d share what I feel are the top ten BBQ Christmas gifts this year. In order for my list to have a variety I’ve included items that are on the pricier side, some on the affordable side, some that I own and some that I want 🙂 BBQ gifts are some of the best things to receive and/or give in my opinion because ultimately they are used in fostering community and love by aiding in serving up great BBQ for friends and family. And…I’ll be honest…as a guy that loves to BBQ, I can’t ever get enough cool BBQ toys and my wife is well aware of that! 🙂 OK, enough rambling, let’s get to the list. Oh…and by the way, this list is in no particular order. They are all awesome BBQ gift ideas in my opinion! 🙂
1. 18.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain – Weber offers two vertical water charcoal smokers, the 18.5″ and 22.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM). I have the bigger one but that’s just b/c I cook a TON of food a lot for larger groups of people. I have convinced close to 10 people this year (some family, some friends and some complete strangers) to start off with the 18.5″ WSM in order to kick start their “low and slow” BBQ adventure and the feedback I always get is something to the effect of “Steve, thank you SO much for convincing me to get a WSM. It has changed the way I view BBQ and drastically increased the quality of food I make”. I started w/ an 18.5″ and that’s what I learned on. If you or a loved one likes to grill but would like to step it up and smoke “low and slow” mouth-watering BBQ, then the 18.5″ WSM is the best entry level cooker money can buy.
2. Smoke & Spice BBQ book – This book is hands down one of the best entry-level BBQ books you can get that is packed full of homemade sauce, mop, injection and rub recipes and teaches you a lot about “low and slow” BBQ’ing. This book is packed full of info on proper techniques for slow smoking beef, pork, poultry, seafood and other great cuts of meat and also has a ton of recipes for side dishes, appetizers, salads, soups, desserts and so on. This was the first BBQ book I invested in and it is absolutely stained with all kinds of stuff from the kitchen b/c of how many times I’ve referred to it.
3. Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen – A highly accurate, digital food thermometer is absolutely essential if you’re serious about your BBQ. Thermoworks makes one of the most popular models which is the “Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen”. I have one and absolutely love it. It takes a reading in about 3 seconds and is accurate to ± .07°. It also auto turns on and off and can withstand rain if accidentally left outside. I don’t care how experienced you are with BBQ’ing, if you’re cooking a large cut of meat you can never quite tell what the internal temp is and just “eyeballing” is a big mistake in my opinion. I use my Thermapen every single cook and know right where things are at with my cook.
4. Weber Jumbo Joe – Up until just recently, the Weber Smokey Joe Gold was my preferred portable charcoal grill. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love the little Smokey Joe and I think there are a lot of applications for it (camping, tailgating beach trips, etc…), but Weber recently just released their 2013 model “Jumbo Joe” which is a Smokey Joe on steroids! It’s still considered a portable charcoal grill, but has an 18.5″ diameter grilling grate which makes it a portable grill that can cook a LOT of food. I picked one of these up and it’s safe to say my Smokey Joe probably won’t get used a whole lot now that I’ve got a very portable charcoal grill that has more grilling real estate.
5. Maverick ET-732 Wireless BBQ Thermometer Set – The Maverick ET-732 is a wireless pit thermometer and food thermometer that boasts a 300′ range. This is a fancier gadget that’s not necessarily needed if you’re just getting started with long cooks (sometimes overnight…), but it definitely will spoil you in that you can monitor your cooking environment (again, both your pit and food) from inside while your posted up on the couch watching football or on your nightstand during the middle of the night. For any of my overnight cooks, I have the receiver sitting right next to me on my nightstand and all I have do is roll over and shine a bit of light on it to read the display and I instantly know how my cook is going without having to get out of bed. Does that sound cool or what!?
6. Simply Marvelous Rub Pack – Simply Marvelous rubs are hands down my favorite rubs on the planet. There are several other products on the market I use frequently, but for the sake of picking one company out for this top ten list, I had to give the nod to Simply Marvelous. This pack features all 7 of the rubs: Sweet & Spicy, Season All, Pecan, Cherry, Spicy Apple, Peppered Cow and the Sweet Seduction. The Pecan and Cherry are my two favs, but all of them are very good. There are made with extremely fresh and quality ingredients and are offered in large shakers or bulk bags. These rubs definitely took the quality of my BBQ to the next level when I first started using them.
7. Meat Rakes – Meat Rakes are the ultimate tool for pulling pork butts or picnics. They can be used to pretty much shred anything you put in front of them, but they’re most popular for tearing apart a pork shoulder in a matter of minutes. They have heavy duty rubber handles with 304 stainless steel spikes which make them pork shredding machines. If you or someone you know likes to smoke pork shoulder a lot, this is a great, affordable gift idea.
8. Weber 26.5″ One Touch Gold Charcoal Kettle – If you don’t have a charcoal grill or a charcoal smoker and are looking to invest in a cooker that can handle both tasks (and handle them well), then I highly recommend the 26.5″ Weber One Touch Gold Charcoal Kettle. It has a MASSIVE grilling area that is suitable for grilling for large groups of people but it’s easy enough to use for small groups too. I cook on mine all the time for my family of four. Now, in addition to being an awesome charcoal grill, the beauty with this beast is that it’s large enough to set up an indirect cooking environment for low and slow smoking. I have slow smoked Boston butts, ribs, chickens and briskets on this rig and the final product is as tasty as what I crank out on my Weber Smokey Mountain. If you take care of them, a Weber kettle will last you a long, long time and you’ll most likely get quite attached to it like I am 🙂
9. BBQ Guru DigiQ DX2 – OK, this is definitely one of the fancier, tech-savvy items on this list, but I’ll be honest: aside from the Weber Smokey Mountain listed above, this piece of equipment is my favorite on this list and is an absolute no-brainer if you are really serious about low and slow BBQ’ing and want a device that will control your cooker temperature automatically. It is a temperature controller that is connected to a fan that is mounted to your cooker so all you do is set the controller to what temp you want your cooker at, close all other bottom vents, slightly crack the top vent and then walk away and let it do its thing. As long as you have plenty of charcoal loaded up in your cooker, you can literally walk away and not check on your cook for 8-10 hours. I commonly toss a Boston butt or two on the cooker, dial in my DigiQ, then go to bed and check on it 8-9 hours later and it’s holding my desired temp like a champ. I recommend you learn to control your cooker manually first and get really good at that before “cheating” with an amazing device like the DigiQ, but man….I love mine and don’t know what I’d do without it 🙂
10. Craycort Cast Iron Grilling Grates – Last, but certainly not least on my top ten list, is the Craycort Cast Iron Grilling Grate. These heavy duty cast iron grates are upgrades for your Weber charcoal kettle or ceramic kamado and replace the stainless steel grates that most cookers come with. Craycort offers models that fit any of the Weber kettles as well as models for the Grill Dome, Big Green Egg and Primo ceramic kamado cookers. I highly recommend these grates as cast iron distributes heat better (allowing for a more even cook) and the cast iron will season over the years as you cook on them. Basically, they get better and better over time. I have two of these and can tell you they are worth the money.