Recently, I was asked to create a list of some of my favorite things or things that I would recommend for bbq fans for Christmas. This list contains items that I love, some I’ve had for many years, some I’ve recently discovered. The list really isn’t in any particular order and I haven’t really thought about it from a price stand point. There are cheaper items and there some pricey items. With all of that out of the way, let’s get started.
Lodge Logic Square Skillet – There are a few standards I think every kitchen needs and a classic cast iron pan is one of those things. From making corn bread to searing steaks they are just invaluable. Most people have the classic round pan, but this year I bought this square version and I have found I prefer it to my round pans and I reach for it more often than the others. This pan is about $27 on Amazon so it won’t break the bank and it is something that will last a life time if you take care of it. When I bought mine I knew I’d be using it a lot so I added the silicone handle cover as well. I wondered if I’d really think the extra $4 (pricing depends on color chosen) was worth it, and I’m glad to say it is.
Kick Ash Basket – I love simple solutions to problems. To me the simplest solution shows the most genius and that is what I think the Kick Ash Basket is. There is nothing complicated about it. It is just a metal basket. It’s not overly sexy, its not even overly pretty. It is however built extremely well and the beauty is in its simplicity. If you have a kamado cooker you need this basket. This basket will save you charcoal and keep you from fighting your dampers as much because of the amount of air flow that is now able to get to each piece of charcoal. There have been a hundred reviews of this jewel and you can google them and will find blogs like Nibble Me This, Naked Whiz and Big Green Craig love it. That is all I needed to know. For around $60 depending on your kamado model this will change your ceramic grill lovers life.
Flame Boss 200 Wifi – Since we are already kind of talking about kamado cookers let me recommend a product that honestly I did not think I would like very much. I’ve used about 4 different “pit management” devices during my time competition cooking. Each of them lost favor with me pretty quickly because for all of their benefit they were just a pain to set up and then got rather annoying shortly there after and frankly the cost was prohibitive. The other reason I typically do not like them on a kamado is that…well if I’m being honest they take the fun out of cooking. They make it automatic, easy and remove all the “know how” from the equation. Now that’s one view from my perspective. On the flip side of that coin from a new kamado owners perspective they would see this unit as greatly shortening the learning curve that is associated with these cookers. They would feel more connected to the cooking process and more at ease. In the end I have found I turn to the FlameBoss 200 Wifi when I knew I don’t have time to really monitor the Grilla Grills Kong or Big Green Egg XL. The unit is bulletproof and works for controlling your pit no doubt, but that was only half the story. More than control, I turn to it for data logging of just about every cook I do now (yes even on pellet pits). That’s the real beauty of this device is that it pushes all the cook data to the cloud and saves it for you. This can become invaluable if you catalog and really review the data after the cook. I use this as a verifier of other devices because of its data logging capability. Now let’s be clear this is a pretty spendy item at around $330, but of the various units I’ve used it is my favorite by a large margin. This is yet another thing that both Nibble Me This and Big Green Craig recommended to me personally that were clear winners.
ThermoWorks Smoke – So you want something that tells you when your food is done or what temp your pit is running but don’t want to drop the coin on the Flame Boss and don’t need the ability to data log? Then check out the ThermoWorks Smoke. It’s no secret that I love pretty much everything ThermoWorks has made. From their Thermapens to the TimeStick Trio, to the ThermoPops they just don’t make any bad products in my opinion. I could go on and on about the Smoke but you can check out my video review which pretty well sums up everything you need to know. For right at $100 this is a great unit that can be used for everything from cooking in your oven to any grill/smoker out there. As a bonus let me further plug the ThermoPop, if you always thought the Thermapen was too pricey do yourself a favor and pick up a few ThermoPops. They live in my apron pocket and I love them. For under $30 I think anyone who cooks should have at least one.
Premiala Meat Injector – So I have a huge love hate relationship with injectors. Full disclosure I have about 7 various models laying around ranging from $2 to around $130 (looking at you Chops Power Injector) and every single one has left me high and dry (see what I did there…dry) at one time or another. They clog too easily, break or just don’t have enough vacuum to pull and inject heavier viscosity fluids (looking at you BDI injector). I never pack a single injector with me because of this. I keep coming back to my tried and true back up, the Premiala. This injector just works, is built well and can be used with one hand. For $25 it works as it should and comes with spare parts and its own carrying case to keep everything together. If you inject turkeys, pork butts, chicken, whole hogs (your hand will get tired but at least you know it will work) or briskets this has a needle that will work and it will take a beating. I’m not the only one who thinks so, check out the review over at BBQ Beat as well.
Anker SoundCore – I know it’s not technically cooking/bbq/grilling related but I seldom ever cook without this thing. It has great sound quality, last for hours and takes a beating. It goes with me in my backpack right long with my camera and knife roll. I love this little speaker and frankly I say if you aren’t dancing around the kitchen and enjoying yourself while your cooking then you are missing out. Much like ThermoWorks, I have yet to find a bad Anker product. From their battery packs to their charging cables they are all top notch and always 4 star plus rated products on Amazon. For $40 (I’ve seen these as low as $25 on sale) you have a great unit that pairs with your phone sans cables and keeps your hands and phone free to do the chopping, prepping, etc that you should be enjoying. There is an updated version of this unit (SoundCore Sport XL) that is supposedly even better and even more rugged but I have not personally tried it so I cannot comment on it, but I don’t doubt that it is equally fantastic but it is more expensive.
Google Pixel XL – So while I’m talking tech let me plug the new Pixel from Google. Earlier this year I invested about $1000 in a Canon Rebel T6i, lenses and a lav mic set up for recording. I’m glad I did, but about a month ago I also bought a Pixel XL and I am astonished at the pictures and vids that come out of this phone. For us blogger types or Twitter/Instagram nerds who take a pic of everything we eat before we eat it, this phone is amazing. I’m not saying it’s for everyone, I’m just saying I love it and even at its $600+ price tag dare I say it was worth it…..yeah I do. Even though its on Verizon this phone will work with all carriers. I settled and got the 32GB version and yes it would be nice to have the 128GB version but I have not found the smaller size to be an issue because of the unlimited storage with Google Photo’s. And let me tell you the phone is one part of the story but the ability to back up, share and easily edit photos within Google Photos makes the phone even better.
Zelite Infinity Knives – This summer I was able to shoot a video with Jack Scalfani of Cooking with Jack. His YouTube channel is great and he reviews a ton of kitchen products. Jack handed me the Zelite Inifinity Chef’s knife and I fell in love instantly. I am a Miyabi and Victorinox fan and recommend the Victorinox Fibrox line to just about everyone who asks what is a great knife for a great value. I have to say there are days where I don’t want anything in my hand except the Infinity. The pinch and balance on it are fantastic and it is crazy sharp because of the angle these knives are sharpened with. These are not the cheapest knives you will own, but they are not the most expensive either. They typically run about $120 for the chef’s knife on Amazon but I have seen them with 20% off codes listed from time to time. The paring knife is awesome in this line as well and it is one the best paring knives I’ve picked up.
King Kooker Cast Iron Griddle – This piece is great for kamado cookers or any round grill for that matter including the Grilla Grills Grilla. You can also use it direct over a fire while camping or tailgating. It absorbs heat like a champ and produces some serious sear marks on a steak or burger with the ribbed side. You can do pancakes and pizzas with the flat side. This one is great for the pitmaster who has everything and for $25 you can’t really go wrong. We have used one for a couple of years now and it still looks like new.
Half Ceramic Stone – If you have a kamado or Weber kettle style cooker you know the value of 2 zone cooking. Using a half stone like this one makes it much easier to do and manage. I love using the half stone when cooking something that needs a bit of low and slow but benefits from a higher heat finish. Chicken wings, chicken leg quarters and chicken halves all fit into this category for me. Ceramic Grill Store has about everything you need if you have a kamado. I have my eye on one of their woks as well that fit the Grilla Grills Kong and Big Green Egg. I haven’t bought one yet so I can’t comment on how good the wok is, but based on reviews I’ve seen they look pretty fun and do a great job over the direct heat of lump charcoal. I’m betting they would work on a round pellet pit as well with some testing of course. Looking at you Ceramic Grill Store if you want me to test one those out 🙂 If you buy this half stone (or even two if you want to use it as a full heat diversion system) you will need one of the spiders to hold the stone(s) in place. One stone and a spider will set you back around $50.
Grilla Grills Silverbac / Kong – I saved my last two picks for two products that really surprised me this year. Many of you know that I consult for Grilla Grills and help them with videos, marketing, product testing, etc. So know that this recommendation comes from two vantage points. First of course I do receive compensation from them, but that’s not why I recommend these two. The more important reason I recommend these two is because I have seen all the good and the bad from an insiders perspective and I am still amazed by both these grills. The Silverbac has been a big surprise to me just how well they have been received and how well they cook. I frankly thought “great…another barrel shaped pellet smoker” and was not really excited by it, but appreciated the price point that Grilla Grills put on the unit. For $699 delivered it still represents the best bang for your buck for cooking surface and build quality of any pellet pit out there. The Kong I also kind of dismissed as an “also ran” product since I have a lot of experience with the Big Green Egg XL. I have to say though from the first time I fired it up, it reminded me why I loved kamado cookers but also why I was so disenchanted by BGE. Grilla Grills took the time fix my complaints about the BGE (price, assembly and nest) and deliver them to customer at a price ($799) that is nearly half of that of BGE. You just can’t say enough about that and their commitment to their customers. I have experienced the company from the inside and I am proud to be associated with them because they are a company that still loves the people they do business with. They have not lost sight of the fact that at the end of the day the business is about the people and not the bottom line and it shows day in and day out.
That about covers some of my favorites from this year and years past. There is a fair mix of stuff for just about every type of grill lover on this list. And if you are still looking for stuff, never underestimate how much us pitmasters love a good cook book. Diva-Q released a great one this year as well as Meathead Goldwyn. Both are great and ring in at or around $20 and will provide a whole years worth of recipes and stuff to try out.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year my friends and stay saucy 🙂