Since I’m up and posting, I figured I might as well throw up a review post, of sorts. We all have those things, don’t we? You know what I’m talking about…that thing you never used before in your life, but then you bought it one day and now you can’t live without it? These are the things I never knew I needed until I had them, and now I can’t live without them. I’ve got more than 10, but these are my top. Okay, so here we go…the top 10 things I can’t live without:
1). Heat resistant gloves:
There are a great many brands of these types of gloves, but these are the specific ones I use. As someone who has burned their fingers countless times over the years grabbing hot grates or holding a red-hot charcoal chimney for too long, I can tell you that these things are life (okay, hand) savers!
I will warn you though…only use them with dry items. If you get them wet, they will get hot when you handle anything hot, which defeats the whole purpose. These are great for handling and moving around hot grates during a cook, and for adding wood chunks to a white-hot fire. In addition to being heat resistant, they also have little silicone nubs all over them, which gives you a really great grip. Perfect for bringing in that hot hotel pan filled with barbecue goodness and not dropping it! Highly recommended.
2). Silicone heat resistant gloves:
While I’m on the subject of gloves, I have to mention these. These could almost be 1A, but I use them enough to justify their own spot on this list. They’re redundant in a way, in that I can use these for the grates and everything I use the other gloves for, but I only use these for handling hot food.
These won’t absorb any moisture like the gloves above, so you don’t have to worry about hot juices or other liquid splashes soaking through. These are also covered in little nubs, so you can get a good grip on a big brisket or pork butt and not have to worry about it slipping out of your hands. Also worth noting – these come in a “one-size-fits-most” option, but they’re also available in L/XL and XXL sizes. Me and my fat little sausage-like fingers always appreciate it when they offer more sizing options!
I never really thought I had a use for either of these gloves, as I used to just do everything with a big set of tongs. If you’re good enough with tongs to do that, then that’s a good option. After I burned myself enough times and dropped enough things on the ground…and my foot (not to self: never, EVER wear sandals, flip-flops, etc. when cooking!), I started seeking these out.
I still use tongs to move around hot coals and wood chunks, but for everything else, I really like being able to use my hands, and these enable me to do just that.
3). Weber charcoal chimney starter:
This is something that I’ve been using forever. The first time I used one of these things and tasted barbecue that wasn’t cooked over a bed of lighter fluid-soaked coals was a game-changer for me. I bought two of them and never looked back. There are other brands out there, and I’ve tried a few of them. These were the last ones I bought, and I do mean the LAST ones, which should tell you something. The others fell apart, but the Weber starters are still chugging along after years of use. They work great for starting briquettes and lump. You really can’t go wrong here.
4). Weber starter cubes:
These are just little square paraffin wax cubes that are odorless and environmentally safe to use. I absolutely LOVE these things! They light easily and they burn really, really hot for about ten minutes and I have never had one fail to start the fire. I use these for every cook I do. I’ve also used them to start the fire in a pizza oven, and I even use these to get logs started in my fireplace! Yes, I’m one of those people who lives in AZ, home of the triple-digit temperatures, and still has a fireplace.
These are awesome, and they’re cheap. You get a 24-pack for $4.00. Inside the box, all of the cubes are in a plastic tray, and each one is individually sealed off with a foil top, like a pill container. I should have made these number 1…
5). Morpilot wireless probe thermometer:
Now this….this was a great find for me. I always recommend using a digital thermometer to monitor pit and meat temperatures. Always. Now there are plenty of different brands out there, and plenty of different levels of quality too. For years, I’ve used Maverick wireless thermometers, and they’re great. I mean really great.
The only issue I have with them is that they cost around $70 and you get a transmitter with 2 probes, one for the pit and one for meat. You also get a separate receiver that you can keep with you inside so you don’t have to keep going outside to check. As I said, they work great. The only issue is that if you’re doing a big cook and you have multiple cuts of meat on the pit, you have to get multiple units to make it all work. That gets expensive quickly, and then you have multiple transmitters and receivers laying all over the place. No good. Needless to say, I outgrew them over time.
I started looking around for wireless thermometers that had multiple probes, and there are a ton out there. Most of them have more bells and whistles than I need/want, and they can get pricey real quick. I came across this model, and boy am I happy I did. It costs less than $50, and you get six (!) probes with it. One for the pit and five meat probes. This also has the added benefit of being bluetooth capable and not having a separate receiver. Just download the app, and it transmits directly to your phone. The app is very user friendly and it allows you to choose presets for each probe and you can also make custom settings. It allows you to monitor all six at once, and each one even generates a graph so you can see how fast the temperature has been rising.
I really can’t tell you how much I love this thing, and at less than $50, it’s a tremendous bargain too. The base of the transmitter is magnetic, so you can stick it on a cooler area of your pit. The transmitter itself also has a large, easy to read display if you’re outside with it. Really great unit. I’ve had it for a couple of years now, so I feel comfortable with it’s build quality and reliability. I’m telling you…buy it. Buy it now. Buy it once, and you don’t have to keep buying different models. I already did that, so learn from me!
6). Kizen instant-read thermometer:
As I said above, I always use digital thermometers. Always. I gave this its own spot here, because this serves a different purpose from the Morpilot. You should have a good wireless probe thermometer to monitor everything throughout your cook, and you should also have a good instant-read thermometer.
If you’re doing hot and fast grilling (steaks, chops, burgers, etc.), and you want to know the internal temperature, a normal pit-monitoring probe thermometer will do you no good. They take about a minute to update, and a minute can be the difference between medium-rare and medium-well. I know some folks can use the press-and-poke method, but I’ve found that terribly unreliable. Plus, who wants someone’s grubby fingers poking and prodding at their steak? Don’t be an asshole and put your hands all over other people’s food!
Get an instant-read thermometer already! Then you KNOW how done it is. Anything else is just guessing. Seriously. Unless you’re the old guy at the steakhouse who has been cooking hundreds of steaks a day for years and years, I call bullshit on your Jedi doneness tests!
Now I have upgraded to a Thermapen, which I love, but they cost around $80 – $100. They’re awesome, but I’m trying to help people out who are just getting going with this stuff, so this is a good place to start. I had one of these for a while, and it worked fantastic. I ended up giving it to a friend when I got the Thermapen. He’s still using it, and it still works great. Why did I upgrade if it was so great? Because TOYS, that’s why! This is a great $20 option to start with. If you want to upgrade later, you can do that, and then gift this one to your buddy like I did and pay it forward.
7). Steven Raichlen Beer Can Chicken Roaster Rack
I almost feel like telling you NOT to buy this thing. I mean, it’s beer can chicken, right? How complicated is that? That’s exactly what I thought. Then after having enough of the damn things fall over halfway through cooking, I started looking around at better options than just plopping my birds down on a can. And I made the mistake of coming across this.
This is one of those things that I didn’t know I needed until I had it. It’s phenomenal. I have four of them. They are as stable as can be. They catch the drippings so you don’t have chickens dripping all over the place. The “can” that goes into the bird’s cavity can be filled with whatever you like (whatever liquid you want, herbs, spices, apple slices, aromatics, you name it). It cleans up easily. It is beer-can chicken badassery at its finest.
The choice is yours…do it or don’t. But be advised – once you have one, there’s no going back!
8). Overmont Grill Basket:
This is another one of those things you might not think about, but boy oh boy, will it make your life easier. If you grill up a lot of fruits, vegetables, or fish, you absolutely MUST have one of these.
Or…don’t listen to me. Chase slices of onions around your hot grill with a spatula and lose half of them to the hot coals once they soften. Turn your delicate fish over, leaving the good charred stuff behind on the grill. Watch helplessly as your asparagus spears burst into flames on the white-hot coals below after rolling in-between the grill grates. You get the picture. Just do it already!
9). FIREOR Magnetic Base Grill Lights:
You may or may not have a use for these, but for me they’ve been life-savers many times over. I’m a night owl, and I find myself grilling/smoking through the night. All of my cookers are off to the side of the patio….juuust far enough away that the patio lights do me no good. I’ve done the whole flashlight-in-the-mouth thing. but needless to say, I got over that shit pretty quickly. If you need some extra light for your cooks, and you have a good place to stick them during your cook (Please don’t put them on a really hot area of your grill. Please.), these are a great inexpensive way to shed some light on things.
10). Elizabeth Karmel’s Adjustable Dry Rub Shaker:
I have no idea who Elizabeth Karmel is, but bless her. Bless her and her $12 adjustable dry rub shaker. If you make your own rubs, you’re going to want to pick up one of these. I used to just reuse the shakers I got when I bought granulated garlic and such. Unfortunately, those holes are only really good when using them for granulated garlic. Imagine that! So yeah, after dealing with constantly clogging holes in my shakers, I decided to pick one of these up. It has three different sized holes. I works well when you have rubs that contain brown sugar, Kosher salt, and coarsely ground pepper. Not really much else to say here. It’s a nice dry rub shaker. If you’re going to make your own rubs, I highly recommend it.
So there we are….we made it! I hope you find something on here that you like. I you click on any of the links in this post and buy something, I’ll earn a small commission on the sale. You don’t pay anything more than if you went directly to the site, but it helps me out. Thanks in advance, and let me know if there’s anything specific you’d like me to review!