Note: The recommendations in this BBQ Buying Guide are my own. Links to the products listed in this guide go to Amazon as part of my participation in their associate’s program. This participation in no way impacts pricing on your end.
Thanks for checking out this BBQ Buying Guide. If you’re here, you or someone very close to you enjoys cooking out, grilling, smoking meat, or some other form of “live-fire cooking.” That’s awesome! Obviously, as the author of a BBQ blog, I love it, too!
Are you limited to an area where using a “live-fire” set up is prohibited or impractical? No problem, I’ve got some information here in this BBQ Buying Guide for you as well. Just scroll down to the Electric Grills and BBQ Smokers section.
I’ve divided this BBQ buying guide into the following categories:
- BBQ Buying Guide for Grills and BBQ Smokers
- BBQ Buying Guide for Gas Grills and BBQ Smokers
- BBQ Buying Guide for Electric Grills and BBQ Smokers
- BBQ Buying Guide for BBQ and Grilling Accessories
BBQ Buying Guide – Best Charcoal Grills
Key to this BBQ Buying Guide is the idea that learning to control live fire is a skill you really should master. Buying a charcoal grill or BBQ smoker is a great choice if you have space (live in a home vs. say, a condo or apartment) and you really want to learn how to manage a fire for both direct and indirect live-fire cooking. At its base sense, using charcoal grills and BBQ smokers means working with the base elements: smoke, meat, and fire.
In my time writing this blog, I’ve learned a few things about cooking with charcoal in any sense. One, never use lighter fluid (including charcoal briquettes that have it in them) and use all-natural lump charcoal whenever possible.
Lighting your lump charcoal is a snap if you use a chimney starter. Or, you can use paraffin starter cubes. My preference is to use the chimney starter. If you want to go really crazy and have a large amount of coals to get going – say, for a long 12-hour smoke – you can use a propane torch attachment. Hey – big fire means big fun, right?
The standard-bearer for best charcoal grills has always and continues to be the Weber Original Kettle 22 inch grill. Perfect for direct “hot and fast” grilling for quick seared steaks, burgers, hot dogs, etc. as well as indirect “low and slow” style smoked ribs, pork butts, and brisket.
You can’t beat the relatively low cost of the Weber original kettle and the durability it provides. If you want to learn how to manage fire using a grill that’s going to last you for years to come, I absolutely recommend this grill.
Weber Original Kettle Features and Specifications
The Weber original kettle provides 363 square inches of available grilling and smoking space. Porcelain-enameled body and glass-reinforced nylon handles resist rust. Aluminum used for the ash catcher and vents resist rusting as well.
Why I’m Recommending the Weber Original Kettle 22 inch grill
If you want to learn how to manage a grill, how to cook using both the direct (over the coals) and indirect (coals to one side) methods, and also how to reverse sear thicker cut steaks, loins, etc – there is no better choice than this grill. Weber makes their original kettle out of durable steel coated in their excellent ceramic porcelain. Kept under a lanai or protected using a good quality grill cover, this grill will last 20 years.
I’m a big fan of what Char-Broil has done with their TRU-Infrared Kettleman grill. As my friend and respected food blogger Chris Grove over at Nibble Me This references though there are some similarities between the Kettlman and a Weber kettle, there are some key differences between Weber’s product and this grill.
The lid design on the Kettleman offers a bit more head room than the Weber – which is again, a great grill and one I still recommend. The vents on top of the Kettleman are larger than what you find on the Weber as well. Finally, Char-broil places the grates a bit closer to the lid surface, providing for the patented infrared cooking design in this charcoal grill.
Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Grill Features and Specifications
Char-Broil’s Kettleman Grill provides 360 square inches of cooking space on a porcelain-coated, rust-resistant cooking grate. Food won’t fall through the specially designed grill grate, which also prevents flare-ups offers even heat distribution.
You can manage temperature control via the lid vent and move the charcoal grate closer to or further away from the food as desired. The grill’s lid hinge leaves your hands free to adjust food as needed. A feature other kettle grills don’t often offer. (See the Kettle Lid Hinge here for alternatives.) A limited 10 year warranty rounds out this grill offering.
Why I’m Recommending the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Grill
Users report that they appreciate that the Kettleman is a bit more robust in construction than the Weber. Pricing is also comparable, thought the Kettleman can sometimes run a bit higher than the basic Weber Kettle. It is probably most closely aligned with the Weber Original Kettle Premium 22 inch grill.
So, in short the grill’s robust build is a big selling point here. If you live in an area where rain is prevalent in the summer or snow hits hard in the Winter, this grill should stand the test of time.
The last charcoal grill I want to mention as part of this BBQ buying guide is the PK Grill. This class grill has been around since its origin out of Texas in 1952. Offering a nice, flat bottom for easy coal placement for either direct or indirect cooking, the grill presents an ample 306 square inches of cooking space. Made of cast aluminum, this grill will never rust, and many have been handed down across multiple generations with pride.
The PK Grill is a solid cooker, and I am confident that you’ll enjoy its even heating and durability. I also think it’s just a really cool looking grill.
Original PK Grill Features and Specifications
The PK grill is built of cast aluminum that will never rust. Hand cast in the USA, cooking body (capsule) is covered by a 10 Year Limited Warranty. A four-way venting system allows for easy temperature control, so you can use it for either hot and fast or low and slow cooking styles without a hitch. Users report that this grill holds temperatures for long periods of time ranging from 180-700° F, and that the same coals can often be used for multiple cooking sessions.
Why I’m Recommending the Original PK Grill
I love the PK Grill mainly because of the build. This cast aluminum work horse distributes heat evenly with no muss or fuss. It’s perfect for either direct grilling or offset (indirect) grilling. Users report being able to hold steady 250° F temperatures with ease, providing for a perfect smoking environment.
BBQ Buying Guide – Best Charcoal BBQ Smokers
In writing this BBQ buying guide, I want to be sure we’re on the same page when we’re talking about BBQ smokers, we’re talking about cookers designed for operating at and holding relatively low temperatures (225°-275° F) for long periods of time. Can you grill on a Weber Smokey Mountain cooker? Absolutely. People use them for this purpose simply by placing your food on the bottom grate and adjusting the coals in the basket below as desired for either one or two-zone cooking.
However, low and low is what these BBQ smokers are meant to do.
The following BBQ smokers represent what I feel are the best on the market right now offered at a relatively low cost of entry.
When it comes to cooking low and slow with charcoal, there are just a few I recommend from an entry level standpoint. Once again, Weber shines in this category, as you can’t do much better in terms of value and functionality than their Weber Smokey Mountain cooker. In either its 18 or 22 inch format, it’s a beast of a smoker and again, an incredible value. The other option that’s developed a solid following is the Pit Barrel Cooker. This cooker is a barrel style model “drum smoker” that allows food like ribs or chicken to be hung from the top of the smoker or cooked on traditional style steel grates.
Let’s take a look at each of these now…
As I mentioned, Weber products play a repeating role in this BBQ buying guide because they’ve proven effective and productive over a very long period of time. Without question, the Weber Smokey Mountain cooker continues to show its sticking power in the world of low and slow BBQ cooking in backyards and even on competition teams all across the world.
One of the things I really love about the Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) is that its developed a very strong following of enthusiasts who love sharing their recipes and even cool modifications they make to this device. Without question, the best web resource for WSM cooker enthusiasts is the Virtual Weber Bullet, a site Chris Allingham started back in 1998 and still maintains with great success today.
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Features and Specifications
Weber Smokey Mountain cookers hold temps for a really long time. We’re talking 12 to 14 hours, no sweat. Adjusting temps is pretty simple. Just open and close the vents as desired and let the smoker ride it out from there. The flagship WSM is the 18 inch model. I love this cooker. It maintains steady temperatures as low as 225° F like a dream. This temperature is the de facto “go to temp” for most kinds of low and slow cooking you’ll want to do – especially for ribs or pork butts. Want to kick it up a bit for beef ribs, no problem. Again, tweak the vents and you’re there.
Design wise, the WSM is porcelain-enameled, has glass-reinforced nylon handles, and aluminum doors, heat shield, and vents that resist rust. There are sites like BBQSmokerMods.com that have cool options for your smoker should you desire to “pimp your ride” a bit. I’ll leave you to check those out on your own time. You’ll love it.
The WSM is charcoal fueled, so you’ll want to get a chimney starter or some fire starter cubes as I’ve mentioned above to get those coals going. Again – please use natural wood lump charcoal or at least an all natural briquette charcoal. Steer clear of anything that has lighter fluid or other potentially harmful stuff built in. There are so many great natural charcoal options these days.
If you want to really “Nerd Out” to some lump charcoal facts, check out the Lump Charcoal Database and Reviews site called The Naked Whiz.
Why I’m Recommending the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
Simple. No other cooker is better designed, has better online support, and can stand the test of time like a WSM. Period. There are several similar style cookers on the market, and they’re all fine. But if you ask me, I’ll tell you to go buy a WSM time and time again. I’ve used them with great success, my brother in Colorado started out with one year ago and still gets great use out of his, and like I said… the Virtual Weber Bullet is a goldmine. That site alone will guide you from “How do I light this thing?” to “How do I add cool modifications to this thing?” and beyond. Yes, the price often seems a little high for some buyers. However, considering that the average WSM remains in constant use well into its 20s and beyond, I feel the price is justified.
Started in 2010 by Navy Veteran Noah Glanville, the Pit Barrel Cooker company has steadily developed a strong following based on its flagship product’s ability to produce consistently good to great BBQ. Novel in its approach for the backyard BBQ enthusiast, the Pit Barrel Cooker uses a combination of on the rack cooking and “hanging” bbq style cooking – a style used by many old school BBQ restaurants across the country for a very long time.
So let’s talk about the hanging method here for a bit. If you’re like me, the first time you saw meat smoking away on hooks, with the delicious juices and fat from the meat dripping down onto coals and coming back up as lovely flavored smoke that bathed said meat in its goodness… you were amazed! Yes, it’s pretty darned cool! Now understand, the flavor of meat smoked in this manner might be a bit different from meat cooked in wood smoke without the added “drippings effect.” That said, I can personally vouch for the deliciousness of meat smoked in this manner. You’ll love it.
You can still do pork butts, planked salmon, and the like in the Pit Barrel Cooker. Just use the flat grates that come with it.
Pit Barrel Cooker Features and Specifications
Constructed of an 18 gauge steel porcelain coated 30-gallon barrel, this cooker will last you a very long time. The company also does a great job of providing tutorials, recipes, tips, and videos to ensure that you continue to enjoy your purchase for years to come. When shipped, the Pit Barrel Cooker comes with 2 Hanging Rods, 8 Stainless Steel Hooks, Standard Grill Grate, Charcoal Basket, and a Hook Remover Tool.
Why I’m Recommending the Pit Barrel Cooker
As previously mentioned, I believe the Pit Barrel Cooker provides a versatile and novel way to learn both how to control a fire as well as cook using the “hanging” method of smoking meat. The company backs its product with excellent customer service, also.
BBQ Buying Guide – Best Gas Grills
Not surprisingly, when we look at the best gas grills on the market, Weber again leads the pack, with Broil-King following closely behind. This BBQ buying guide is all about cookers that combine excellent value with affordable pricing, and I think the Weber Spirit E-310 3 Burner Gas Grill and the Char-Broil Classic 4-Burner Gas Grill with Side Burner fit this description nicely.
The Weber Spirit line has always been about value backed by the company’s warranty and customer care. The Weber Spirit E-310 3 Burner Gas Grill is no exception.
Yes, the steel used for this grill is a little lower in quality than what you’ll find on say, the Weber Genesis line. But I argue that for the money, it’s really tough to beat the general functionality, features, and reliability of the Weber Spirit E-310. When kept out of the elements using a quality grill cover, this gas grill should bring you years of cooking enjoyment.
Weber Spirit E-310 3 Burner Gas Grill Features and Specifications
Quality is the name of the game where Weber grills are concerned. Right out of the gate, your grill is ready to go with porcelain-coated burners and grates that require no seasoning before your first cook. With 529 square inches of cooking space, you’ll be able to feed your family or small group gatherings with ease.
The porcelain-enameled lid will maintain its durable finish for years to come, and the hand hooks and easy-moving casters make storing grill items and moving the grill around a breeze. Lastly, a nice fuel gauge helps you keep track of propane levels in your 20-gallon tank (not included).
And remember to be sure to keep your grill protected year round with a good quality cover.
Why I’m Recommending the Weber Spirit E-310 3 Burner Gas Grill
The Weber Spirit E-310 gas grill is one of the most straight forward and functional grills in the 3 burner category. Shelves on each side of this grill provide a good bit of space for holding trays, pans, and the like. The burner knobs are large with clear markings from lowest to highest temps. The porcelain enameled cast iron cooking grates do a great job with heat retention, and the space inside the grill easily accommodates a couple pork butts, a 20 lb turkey, or a combination of steaks and vegetables. The cabinet below the burners houses the propane tank, which has a weight-based gauge to give you an idea of how much gas you have available.
The Char-Broil Performance 475 4-Burner Cart Gas Grill with Side Burner is another value priced gas grill that many users report as having solid features and great performance. This grill offers 475 square inches of main area cooking space on porcelain-coated cast iron grates, with an additional 175 square inches of cooking area via the swing-away side burner.
Char-Broil Classic 4 Burner Gas Grill Features and Specifications
The Char-Broil Performance 475 4-burner gas grill provides ample heat across a 475 square inch cooking surface. Sized perfectly for a large family or gathering, the cooking surface is equipped with porcelain-coated cast iron grates, that resist rust, help keep food from sticking, and are simple to clean. The lidded side burner is perfect for sides and sauces, and it folds down to both protect the burner and offer an additional work surface when not in use. Stainless steel burners ensure longevity of use, and the electric ignition makes lighting the grill a snap.
Why I’m Recommending the Char-Broil Classic 4-Burner Gas Grill
For basic value and size, the Char-Broil Performance 475 4-Burner Cart Gas Grill simply fits the bill. Stainless steel and porcelain-coated cast iron components mean that it should be around doing its job for the long haul. As always, the durability of any grill is dependent on how well you take care of it. So, be sure and protect it with a quality all-weather grill cover.
BBQ Buying Guide – Best Gas BBQ Smokers
Gas powered BBQ smokers provide for a handy and portable option compared to their electric cousins, which is why I include them in this BBQ Buying Guide.
Just grab your propane tank, smoker, and you’re good to travel. Unfortunately, some manufacturers put less than the recommended amount of effort into gas BBQ smoker construction, and you are often left with doors that don’t seal properly, pre-set temperature controls that limit the heat levels you can attain, etc.
The two best gas BBQ smokers on the market right now are built by Smoke Hollow and Camp Chef. Both of these units do a very good job of containing smoke within them during your cooking sessions. That said, you still might want to consider buying some easy to apply high temperature gasket materials to seal up some areas. Though, not critical, it’s a good option to appease the perfectionist in you!
The Smoke Hollow 44-Inch 2-Door Propane Gas Smoker, made by Outdoor Leisure Products, gets my first and heartiest recommendation for a smoker of its type. As previously mentioned, many gas or propane smokers lack the quality of build I get normally get behind. Not so with this model from Smoke Hollow.
The door to this smoker latches securely, and I like that it comes with two porcelain coated wood chip pans to give you some play in terms of how much smoke you want on your meat. The porcelain-coated water pan is also a nice size. There’s no reason you should have to keep checking on your smoker, and the folks at Smoke Hollow have made it so you don’t have to.
Smoke Hollow 44-Inch 2-Door Propane Gas Smoker Features and Specifications
This smoker comes equipped with 2 12,000 BTU stainless steel burners and a push button ignition system. Easily vary the types of meat you’d like to smoke using a combination of the 2 standard cooking grids, 2 jerky style cooking grids, the combination cooking grid/rib rack, and the sausage hanger. A tempered glass window allows you to maintain a visual on your products as they cook. However, you’ll want to wipe down this window and keep it nice and clean between smoking sessions, or it will become covered in smoke residue. Again, door security is maintained as this unit comes with cool-touch spring wire door handles and a “sure-lock” latch system.
Why I’m Recommending the Smoke Hollow 44-Inch 2 Door Propane Gas Smoker
Quality of build and ample cooking space earn this gas smoker from Smoke Hollow my primary BBQ Buying Guide recommendation. It gets great feedback from users who quickly come to value the wide variety of foods it prepares. The dual burner set up gives you a good amount of flexibility where smoking temperatures are concerned. It’s nice to know you can ramp up your temps to finish faster or to render tougher cuts like brisket if need be. I personally cook pork at between 225 and 250 while brisket and beef ribs normally cook at 275.
Camp Chef puts out easy to use smokers that do what they’re advertised to do. Period. Their Big Chief model electric smoker is featured in my Electric Smokers Buying Guide, and giving their propane gas BBQ smoker a nod here is an easy call.
The Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24 (and its smaller cousin the Camp Chef Smoke Vault 18) is constructed out of powder coated steel with a stainless steel door.
Again, temperature variability is a plus with the Smoke Vault model propane gas smokers from Camp Chef. Users report being able to achieve temperatures ranging from 150 to 500 degrees. However, nearly all users advise that it’s worth picking up some liquid gasket adhesive and high temperature gasket material when you buy this smoker to really make the unit function as well as it possibly can.
Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24 Features and Specifications
The Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24 comes with two adjustable smoking racks, one jerky smoking rack, a good-sized water pan, and a heavy’gauge steel wood chip tray. The removable tray at the base of the Smoke Vault is porcelain-coated to make clean-up easier.
The Smoke Vault is equipped with three adjustable damper valves (one on top and one on each side of the unit) and uses a matchless snap-ignition system. Cooking tips and recipes are also included with this unit, which should help get you started off the bat.
NOTE: The external thermometer on the front of the Smoker Vault units (both the 18 and the 24) is not the most reliable. To get a solid fix on your smoker’s internal temperature, I suggest using an independent thermometer. My personal favorite is the Smoke Dual Probe unit by ThermoWorks or the ThermoPro TP20 Dual Probe model.
Why I’m Recommending the Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24
I know, I know… I’ve advised you to buy additional high temperature gasket material and told you the built in thermometer in the Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24 can’t be trusted. So, why am I saying that this is a great buy. Simple. It does its job day in and day out with little muss or fuss.
Nearly every user who has taken time to tinker with the Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24 and its little cousin, the Smoke Vault 18 gives it top marks for consistently good quality smoked food.
Is this unit perfect? I think I’ve done my part to explain that it is in fact, not. However, for the money, I can’t advise you to buy a better overall propane gas smoker.
BBQ Buying Guide – Best Electric Grills
I’m going to be up front here with my opinion on electric grills… they aren’t my favorite. As some have said, they are really more like large capacity frying pans, griddles, or Panini presses. This said, if you live in close quarters, have limited to no outdoor space, or find yourself otherwise unable to use a charcoal or gas grill, this selection of the best electric grills I’ve been able to find and review will be of some help.
Once again, Weber makes a showing in this buying guide. The Weber Q 2400 electric grill is one of the larger electric grills available, allowing for 280 square inches of cooking space. Users report that the grill easily reaches temperatures as high as 500 degrees F. The higher heat provided by this grill is achieved via Weber’s use of a domed cast aluminum body that achieves an excellent seal. Effectively, the heat created by the grill is reflected inside the “closed” cooking chamber – allowing for the higher temps.
Weber Q 2400 Electric Grill Features and Specifications
The Weber Q 2400 electric grill is constructed of cast aluminum and features porcelain enameled cast iron grates. A glass reinforced nylon frame offers solid support. Powered by a 1560 Watt/120 Volt heating element, this grill provides easily adjustable heat via its easily controlled knob. Aluminum heat retention liners prohibit heat from leaving the cooking chamber and allow it to cover the cooking area evenly. A grease catch pan makes for easy clean up. All you have to do is plug in the 6 foot cord and let the cooking begin!
Note: The optional Weber portable cart is suggested for outdoor use, as it allows for the grill to rest at a height that’s most comfortable for use while standing.
Why I’m Recommending the Weber Q 2400 Electric Grill
Weber stands behind its products in a way that makes it hard to ever bet against them. The construction and configuration of the Q 2400 electric grill offers no exception. I like the split cast iron grates used inside this grill, as you can position grill grates on one side and a flat griddle on the other. Fire this grill up, cook up some steaks or salmon fillets, and enjoy. Clean up is a snap, as users report that the drip tray slides out nice and easy.
If you need a little more size when grilling using an electric grill, consider the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Patio Bistro electric grill. One of the largest electric grills on the market, this Char-broil model offers a total cooking surface area of 320 square inches – enough to accommodate food preparation for 4 people.
This grill features Char-Broil’s award-winning infrared cooking system – designed to spread heat evenly across the cooking surface, thus doing away with hot and cold spots. As with the Weber above, a precision dial allows for complete control over the 1750-watt electric burner for your cookout favorites.
Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill Features and Specifications
This Char-Broil electric grill is powered with a 1750 Watt heating element. It offers 320 square inches of cooking space and a porcelain-coated steel grilling grate. Two rear wheels allow for easy movement, and the powder-coated exterior steel body resists rust.
Why I’m Recommending the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill
This Char-Broil electric grill tackles enough food for 4 people using a relatively compact frame that’s easy to use and should withstand years of quality grilling. The body isn’t built quite as robust as I’d like. So, I do recommend using a quality grill cover if you’re going to keep this grill outside.
BBQ Buying Guide – Best Electric BBQ Smokers
Electric smokers provide for a convenient way to achieve respectable smoked meats, fish, and poultry results with relative ease. I’ve written a good bit about them on this site, and you can read up on the electric smokers buying guide and the Masterbuilt smokers buying guide at your leisure.
Important Point: It’s important to note that not all electric smokers are built to handle larger cuts of meat. They are also not all set up to cook meat to “finished” temperatures. An example is the Big Chief smoker. This is a great device for making beef jerky or smoked fish. However, I do not recommend it for doing ribs, pork butts, or brisket.
For traditional-style BBQ smoking, I’m going with the following electric smokers – made by Bradley and Masterbuilt, respectively. Both of these manufacturers are featured prominently in my Electric Smokers Buying Guide as well.
Coming in at a price point that’s a little above Bradley’s entry level electric smoker, I’m recommending you take a look at their Digital 4-Rack electric model. I really like control this unit provides, and I think you will as well.
With the Digital 4-Rack electric smoker from Bradley, you can set exact internal temperatures, smoking time, and amount of smoke to your liking. This level of control really lets you dial in the results you get on smoked ribs, pork, and brisket in a way that few other electric smokers can.
There is also a great auto-off feature that allows your food to stop cooking when it reaches your desired temperature. This is a feature that’s normally left to higher end smokers like some you can see in my pellet smoker review guide.
Bradley Digital 4-Rack Smoker Features and Specifications
The Bradley Digital 4-Rack Smoker features a digital interface that controls two separate burners – one for internal heat, and one for smoke output. An insulated stainless steel interior allows for steady cooking even in cooler weather. Four removable racks allow you to adjust the internal space to fit your smoking needs, and the unit is capable of holding smoke levels steady for up to 8 hours.
Why I’m Recommending the Bradley 4-Rack Electric Smoker
I’m recommending this electric smoker because of the level of precise cooking it provides. I also like the automated wood feeding system.
Where Bradley shines in all of its models is with their auto feed smoke biscuit feature. Nearly all other electric smokers on the market require that you add smoke chips manually (either from within the smoker or via en external chute). This puts a hitch in the “set it and forget it” mantra they often pitch.
However, using Bradley’s patented wood delivery system, your meat gets bathed in the amount of smoke you desire without you having to tend the wood feeding yourself.
Next to the Bradley electric smoker listed above, I’d opt for this digitally-controlled version by Masterbuilt. One of the oldest electric smoker manufacturers, Masterbuilt has a strong history of providing quality products. You can read more about the company here.
Masterbuilt Front Controller Smoker with RF Remote Control Features and Specs
This smoker offers 974 square inches of cooking space with an easy to administer wood chip loading system. This means you can easily smoke up to 16 whole chickens, 8 whole turkeys, 8 racks of ribs, 76 sausages, or 8 pork butts!
The front access drip pan is easy to access and uses a patented drip catching system that makes for easy clean-up.
Lastly, the digital control panel and RF remote really means that you can set your desired temperature and the smoker does all the work for you. While not a necessity, it is nice to be able to check on your food temperature from inside the house if need be.
Why I’m Recommending the Masterbuilt Front Controller Smoker with RF Remote Control
Of all the Masterbuilt electric smokers on the market, the 40 inch model here with RF remote control is my top pick. In addition to the extra cooking space provided and the external fuel/wood chip feeding chute seen in the previous model, you get some great added functionality.
The 4 rack system for this smoker feature curved back ends on each rack that allow you to slide the racks out half way and are ‘caught’ so they don’t tip out. This feature functions much in the same way as the racks do in a standard kitchen oven. Trust me, when you least expect it… those racks are gonna come in handy!
The other feature I like is that there’s a nice sized internal drip tray that has an “overflow” that feeds out to a rear-mounted external drip tray. Masterbuilt has put years of testing and trials into the thought behind this model, making it not only large in capacity, but extremely functional and easy to use.
Best BBQ and Grilling Accessories
There are countless BBQ and grilling accessories out there – some more functional and valuable than others. I’m going to list a few of what I feel are the best performing for the money. So, here goes…
Chimney style fire starters make lighting coals for a Weber kettle or Smokey Mountain Cooker a snap. Simply load the can with lump or briquette charcoal (I prefer lump), put some paper towels with a little vegetable oil underneath the unit, or use paraffin starter cubes, and light. Of course, be sure to set it on a surface that can take the heat.
Chimney starters work so well because they maximize airflow to the fire and cause it to carry the heat directly up through the canister. Within a matter of 15 minutes or so, you’ll have nice, white coals that are ready for action.
Cooking BBQ is almost never about “Time.” What many who are new to grilling or cooking need to get used to is temperature rules the day. For their affordability and functionality, the instant read digital thermometers from ThermoPro offer great performance at a terrific value.
Why does temperature rule the day? Simple. No cut of meat is the same in terms of size and thickness. If you do get cuts to mirror each other in size and shape, know that you’ll still get variations in the way they cook due to either internal composition at the molecular level or simply by the way the cuts are placed on the grill or smoker.
The quick read probe is a smaller hand-held unit that lets you grab a quick temperature reading on what’s cooking. The dual readout unit is good for measuring the temperature inside the cooker (using the clip you see in the photo) and also the meat you’re cooking.
Marinading meat by submerging it in liquid only gets flavor into about 1/4″ into the protein. Injecting flavor directly into the meat does a much better job of allowing flavors to penetrate deeply. If you plan on using injection to flavor your meat on a frequent basis, I recommend going with one of these stainless steel models. They’re reasonably inexpensive, have good ergonomic 3-ring handles, and stand the test of time.
You’ve likely seen plastic versions of these injectors attached to liquid marinades like those made by Cajun Injector in the store. These work fine, but they aren’t made for extended use over time.
You’ll note that there are different injection needles. The one that has holes in it is made to allow finely ground herbs and seasonings to pass through into the channels as you inject. Some of these injectors have needles with even larger holes in them for using with minced garlic and larger seasoning pieces.
If you’re going to be smoking big meats (pork butts, briskets, etc) or even smaller cuts of chicken, these Venom Steel Premium nitrile gloves are a must to own. I’ve tried different or lesser versions of nitrile and latex gloves, and these from Venom Steel are hands down the best.
Another addition to your glove arsenal are some inexpensive cotton roper gloves – often referred to as “hand savers.” These fit nicely under a pair of nitrile gloves and go a long way to allowing you to withstand some heat when grabbing pans or even pulling butts apart.
Lastly, when it comes to BBQ gloves, you’re going to need protection from super high heat and “high reaching” flames. The nitrile / cotton combination mentioned above works most of the time for hot pans and the like. However, if you’re going to be grabbing coal baskets out of a drum smoker or a Weber Smokey Mountain cooker, you’ll be glad to have the extra protection these gloves from G & F provide.
If you are going to slice brisket, this is the knife you need. I’m very impressed with the durability and performance it provides. Billed largely as a bread knife used to cut thicker, crusty breads, I find that this 12-inch serrated knife from Mercer does a phenomenal job on briskets, smoked prime rib, and tri-tip.
As knives go, I don’t normally recommend the more expensive options. However, when it comes to this boning knife from DALSTRONG, I make an exception. Shane Draper, a good friend of mine, turned me onto DALSTRONG knives, and was initially a bit shy about their price. Though not the most expensive out there, they’re not the cheapest either. However, the balance, durability, and ability to hold an edge after moderate to heavy use are unparalleled in my experience.
If you’re going to be cooking competition chicken and plan on scraping skins to leave them near “see through,” this is the knife for you. Trimming chops and steaks? This bad boy will be your best friend.
The last knife in your BBQ arsenal needs to be a chef’s knife. Versatile enough to handle chopping, slicing, mincing, and general trimming, the chef’s knife is a clear go-to option. Again, the DALSTRONG knife wins the day due to its balance, durability, and ability to hold and edge.
Interested in Pellet Grills?
Be sure to check out my Pellet Grill Buying Guide with Tips and Videos. Also, be sure to read my reviews on the Davy Crockett Tailgate Pellet Grill from GMG as well as the Pellet Pro Grill and Smoke Daddy Cold Smoking Attachment.