Gifts for your favorite griller or BBQ enthusiast, whether for a birthday, Christmas, or just a surprise can be difficult to choose if the well-meaning spouse,  offspring or friend doesn’t understand what we really like and want.

This is a time to either give your griller a gift he or she wouldn’t buy for themselves, as they’d make do with less, or something they really want but put aside as family needs seem to take precedence over cooking passions. With these criteria in mind, and a thorough review of the best of the best gifts from $15 -$400, here are our top 10 2013 gifts for your favorite outdoor cooking chef.

1. Thermapen Instant Read Professional Digital Thermometer

Yes, for those of you who’ve read my review on digital thermometers, I did say that this $100 digital thermometer was excessively high tech and overkill for most outdoor cooking. Well, it is, and a Ford Focus will get you to Walmart just as quickly as a BWM, but the Bimmer ride will be cooler.

And, cool the Therapin is. It’s the best of the best digital thermometers, and it has the industrial design quality of Apple’s best products, maybe even close to a Patek Phillippe watch. I won’t buy one, but I’d love one as a gift. Pick HIS color, not yours;-).  You’ll see what I mean, and just think of the money you’re saving by passing on the Phillippe timepiece. Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer

2.  Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) Bullet Smoker

I want this smoker. I have at least six barbecues and grills, but I started cooking on a similar unit, cooked for 20 people on it many times, and I loved the simplicity, portability, and  flexibility of the vertical design. See our detailed review of the WSM here.

The WSM is at home in the back yard, or taking Grand National Championships at KCBS contests. That’s right–the WSM has taken the top dog award in BBQ competitions.

It’s a charcoal unit, which is what’s allowed in competitions, and it’s what dad needs to turn out championship quality BBQ in your back yard. This is a dedicated barbecue. You can’t grill steaks or burgers, but you can get the aroma of a brisket or tri-tip smoking to tenderness all day. It’s custom made for ribs, and it will make a family sized turkey the centerpoint of conversation for the holidays. A great bonus is the online forums with rabid WSM users, who are more than willing to help a beginner, or swap secrets with their 20,000 closest online friends.

The 18″ size is adequate for  most people, but if putting out food for more than 20 or so is in your future, there’s a 22″ model.  Remember, these sizes are times 2 as there are two grill plates in the WSM.  I had the 18″ and it was fine most of the time. The 22″ is like having two Weber Kettles.

Make any griller happy with a WSM–and you’ll love what your gift does for the dinner table too. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Charcoal Smoker

3.  The Best Outdoor Cooking Gloves on the Planet

Our top selling item for four years running is truly a “man glove,” and we like them so much our review calls them The Best BBQ Gloves on the Planet.

You’ll find them used in chemical plants, commercial food service, and in barbecue competitions. They’re not pretty, but you can pick up any food, even move hot coals, and use them while slicing or pulling piping hot roasts.

After a day of barbecuing, you can simply put the greasy gloves in the dishwasher. They’ll come out like new. The Neoprene coating will last for years, and they’re lined inside too.  Don’t settle for anything less than our favorite barbecue gloves–and you don’t need to spend much money either.  The Ansell Neox Fully Coated Neoprene Glove

4.  The Weber Performer  Platinum Charcoal Grill

Our top selling grill , which we have reviewed in detail and called it a Best Buy, has been a personal favorite for years. It’s very portable,  has a good work area, and best of all has a built-in gas lighter, making charcoal grilling almost as easy as using a gas grill.

But, when we discovered that the Performer also doubles as a smoker, and published a step-by-step guide how to turn out world class ribs on this Weber grill, our sales went to the next level, and for good reason. For under $400 with our recommended accessories (see the review), you can grill steaks and burgers Saturday for the kids and family, and serve the best baby backs ever to your salivating friends on Sunday.

It’s one of Weber’s finest products, and if your budget allows one, the Performer is our  clear #1 choice for an all around barbecue grill. Colors available in black, green, and blue. Weber Performer Platinum Charcoal Grill

5.  The Smokenator

This device is the easy way to turn any 18″ or  22″ Weber grill into a smoker. Although in our guide to using the Weber grill as a smoker we recommended the use of Weber’s charcoal briquet holders as an economical alternative to the $60 Smokenator, this, like the Thermapen, makes a great gift that dad or mom will have functioning in 10 minutes.

The Smokenator comes with detailed instructions, and a water pan to provide some moisture during a long barbecue. Hungry for some ribs, brisket, or smoked turkey but don’t have a dedicated barbecue?  Here you go!

This link is for fitting your Smokenator to a 22″ Weber–the image link above is for the 18″.  Be sure you have the right size before you order.Smokenator 1000 – Transform Your 22″ Weber Kettle Into Efficient Smoker

6.  Maverick ET732 Dual Probe Digital Thermometer

Although I’ve had faint praise for Maverick digital thermometers over the years due to ongoing probe problems, they finally got it right with the ET732. Not only does it monitor internal meat temperature, it lets you know if your barbecue or grill temperature exceeds your upper and lower limits.

The remote system works up to 300′ away from your grill or barbecue. Dad can set it and get on with those honey-do’s without worrying about the grill or meat temperature. The remote will beep if the ranges are exceeded, and both internal food and grill temperatures are always displayed.

The Maverick ET732 is now something we can recommend strongly. The analog temperature gauges that come with even the better grills and barbecues (including Webers) can be 20-30 degrees off the actual grill temperature, and when barbecuing, that difference can ruin a meal for everyone. About $60, and worth every penny.Maverick ET732 Long Range Wireless Dual 2 Probe BBQ Smoker Meat Thermometer Set

7.  Steve Raichlen  Marinade Turbocharger

When we first reviewed this device, we tagged it as an “essential outdoor cooking accessory,”  This gadget has been in my collection for over six years, and it’s indispensable when using marinades and brines.

The tiny needles turn a 10 minute job of carefully puncturing a turkey skin for brining into less than 30 seconds. 10 seconds or less on a beautiful steak allows the marinade to penetrate without damaging the meat the way a fork or knife can easily do. Steve’s Marinade Turbocharger saves hours of work over the years, and assures a perfectly penetrated meat surface to accept your special seasonings and flavorings. Nothing’s changed here. I would not be without one. About $25. Marinade Turbocharger by Steven Raichlen

8.  Outdoor Cooking Tongs That Actually Work

We’ll look closely at anything by OXO due to their consistent quality and design advantages. We love their crab cracker, and these tongs are the best.

Forget Williams Sonoma and their fancy hardware. That’s not man gear,  and he’ll like these better and  they’ll cost you a lot less. The sturdy grip will insulate his hands from the heat, and they lock in place for easy storage. These tongs are essential, and a no-brainer for any outdoor cooking.  Be sure to get the 16″ (the largest) size.

9/20/2014–just received this email from Bill,  a reader. Thought you might like some “social proof” ;-)

A few months ago I visited BBQ4D and checked out your recommendations for tongs. 2 weeks ago I ordered the OXO 16″ers from Amazon.  I have now been using them for a couple of weeks and sure wish I knew about them years ago. They are the best I have used.
Thanks for the review! 

OXO 16-Inch Locking Tongs

9. The Complete Meat Cookbook

I have bookshelves full of grilling and barbecue cookbooks, but my recommended list is a short one. This one is always at the top.

The Complete Meat Cookbook focuses on every cut of meat imaginable. It teaches us what cuts to use for a desired outcome, how best to grill or barbecue them, and includes some fabulous recipes I’ve used and modified over the years.

It’s more than a reference book; this is a book to be read. It’s entertaining, easy to read and understand, and is truly the meat lovers bible. Highly recommended. The Complete Meat Cookbook

10. Weber Grill Rotisserie 

Rotisserie cooking has been used for even cooking while retaining juices since the days of the cave man, but it’s never been more popular than today.

Avalable in different models for the Weber Charcoal Kettle and the various Spirit and Geneses gas grill lines, simply replace the grill with this device, set the temperature, attach a roast (LOVE tri tip roast on a rotisserie), turkey, or a whole chicken, and let the electric Weber rotisserie do the heavy lifting. Very easy to install and use, and provides another dimension for your outdoor chef. Be sure to order the correct model for your Weber  gas grill or charcoal kettle.Weber 7519 Gas Grill Rotisserie

Our recommendations aren’t always the top sellers–we don’t use that list as a criteria for our favorites. Here are the top selling grills and smokers for 2013 (updated quarterly).

Top Selling Barbecue Grills for 2013

Top Selling Smokers for 2013

Do You Have Questions?

Sometimes it’s hard to know just the right gift, especially when you’re considering major items like grills or barbecues. If you’d like a personalized opinion or recommendation, just reach out to us through our Contact Form.

We get a fair amount of email with questions, but still can usually get back to you in 24 hours or less. We’re more than happy to help you so don’t be shy. The more detailed your question, the easier it will be for us to give you the best response.

Example:  The majority of our questions are for recommendations for bbq grills to purchase. Let us know your budget and intended uses first–we’ll take it from there. If there’s something we don’t sell that we think is the best choice for you, we’ll give you that recommendation, regardless.


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