Back in 2013 (wow, has it been that long already?) our guide to backyard cooking covered the essential gear for getting started with grilling outdoors.
Though we still stand by those recommendations, there is admittedly a bias towards a certain type of outdoor cooking, namely the type that relies on Weber charcoal grills and smokers. So, we wanted to assemble a separate guide full of items that outdoor cooks of all varieties will love, regardless of grilling style or setup.
Some of the items we recommended in the backyard cooking guide are here as well, accompanied by several new friends. Enjoy!
Every outdoor cook should keep an accurate, instant-read thermometer handy. One must always stay on top of how done their meat is, and they shouldn’t have to break the bank on a fancy thermometer to do it. In that sense, the RT600C from ThermoWorks is a dream. It’s super accurate, takes a mere 5 seconds (or less) to get a temperature reading, is dishwasher safe, has a 5,000-hour battery life, and costs only $19.
If you do want to spring for a nicer thermometer though, the Maverick Wireless Thermometer will be your new favorite toy.
It has a dual thermometer output: one line for the temp of your smoker itself and one line for the internal temp of your meat. You then plug each probe into the base station and leave it clipped to the side of your smoker. Then, with the receiver in your pocket you can go about your day by watching the game inside, taking a nap on the hammock, or playing catch out front with your boys, all the time knowing exactly what temperature your smoker is. And, on the receiver you can even set high and low temp alarms (“tell me when the turkey gets to 155°F”, or “tell me if the smoker gets below 200°F”).
The Maverick has a range of 300 feet. This makes it 10 times more useful than one of those “fancy” Bluetooth thermometers that loses connection with your iPhone every time you walk 30ft away.
These are standard equipment in any BBQ King’s castle. They’re great for handling meat during three types of occasions: (1) when you’re dealing with raw meat and don’t want to wash your hands every time you need to move one slab of ribs to marinate the other; (2) when you’ve got an enormous freshly-cooked turkey, pork shoulder, or brisket that’s too heavy for tongs; and (3) when it’s time to pull apart that slow-cooked pork shoulder for those pulled pork sandwiches.
Additional benefit: they make you feel like Wolverine at the grill. Who doesn’t want that?
While the meat claws above are great for specific situations, most of the time a good pair of long, spring-loaded tongs will do just fine. OXO’s stainless steel Good Grips tongs are especially great. Their soft silicone handles make the tongs easy to grip whether you’re dealing with large or small foods, and they won’t bend under the strain of a heavy load. They’re also dishwasher-safe and can be locked closed while in storage.
These tongs come in 9″, 12″, and 16″ varieties. We recommend the 16″ set — they’ll keep your hand a bit further from the heat (even when reaching to the back of the grill) without being awkwardly long like some other barbecue tongs we’ve seen.
GrillTime is a great-looking app. While it has not yet been updated for the larger screens of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, it does sport a minimal (made for iOS 7) design that we appreciate.
From a functionality standpoint, GrillTime is fantastic. You launch to your timers window. Adding a timer is extremely easy, but also very specific. On the steak section, you pick your size and your temperate type (rare, medium rare, etc). Once the timer starts, you can easily add a minute or restart it.
Let’s face it, one of the best parts of cooking outdoors is enjoying some libations along the way. This stylish and exceptional waiter’s corkscrew from HiCoup is a combination of bottle opener, wine corkscrew, and foil cutter, all made from stainless steel and with a beautiful wooden handle. Needless to say, it will be one of your best friends at the grill.
Plenty of people like to go watch some sports while their meat cooks, but some of us prefer to use it as quiet reading time. Thus, we recommend:
Kindle Voyage: A no-brainer at this point. The Kindle is, simply put, the best way to read ebooks. The Voyage in particular is great thanks to its thin and light design, a high-resolution 300 PPI e-ink display, dedicated hardware buttons for turning pages, and smarter and brighter screen illumination than previous models.
A good book: Perhaps you prefer a more analog reading experience. Since you’re going to be cooking a while, you might as well pick something up with a bit of heft to it. Any of the recommendations in our guide to coffee table books will do.
A good magazine: Here we will refer you to our guide, Magazines Actually Worth Reading — pick any one of them and enjoy.