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Who doesn’t love a summer BBQ? Most of us sure do and it’s high season for straight-up grillin’ with a tasty side of chillin’. What better time to throw a (crowd-controlled) doozy of a BBQ bash than Labor Day weekend, especially after the slow-moving car wreck of a spring and summer we’ve had? But admit it, the last few gatherings have begun to feel a little…uninspired, shall we say? How about seasoning your socially distanced end-of-summer shindig with a bit of high-tech grilling gadgetry?
Maybe you haven’t checked in a while, but there’ve been major improvements, inventions, and grill gadgets since dad bought that hibachi back in the ‘70s. Whether it’s for a gift or just treating yourself this summer, we’ve collected some of the best summer grill gadgets, tools, and even a few food innovations to kick this year’s party into another stratosphere—or at least into the 21st century.
We’ll start with the undisputed king and anchor for any barbecue party: the grill. There are thousands to choose from but we’re loving all the hard work our sister site, CNET, did to review the most popular grills on the market. Of the many they tested, this Weber Spirit 11 2-Burner Gas Grill outpaced the others and is available for less than $400 on Lowe’s. Buy Now
Cleaning cruddy grill grates is one of my absolute least favorite jobs but this genius grill cleaner will take some of the sting out of it. It smartly releases water which then turns to steam while it cleans your hot grate and removing gunk and char but also sterilizing the grill for the next use. Buy Now
A frying pan designed to use over an open flame? We’re listening. Made In is one of my total obsession direct-to-consumer cookware brands and is set to launch this beauty of a campfire, grilling toy. It’s not going to be much help over your gas or charcoal grill, admittedly, but if you’re heading into the wilderness where an open fire is the only cooking source this frying pan with 62 perforations (holes) allow the hot flame to tickle your meats and veggies for that coveted char. Buy Now
Lots of ice is an essential component of any party but when the mercury starts to spike, it truly is do or die. It’s been proven by science that square, sort-of-brittle ice (you know the kind I’m talking about) is the best ice, sodas, teas, cocktails, or even just chewing on. Spring for this Frigidaire IceMaker and leave those crummy trays or annoying oblong-shaped cubes for the birds. Buy Now
OK, so admittedly these will not cook food, not at all, so don’t try. But they will fill your backyard, (and drown out your annoying neighbors) with some of the sweetest, smoothest beats to keep the safe and socially distanced party rolling. Portable and lightweight, they even have a flickering light meant to imitate a tiki torch for a little added atmosphere. Buy Now
Toss out that highly one-dimensional spatula with decades of caked-on grease and break out this ingenious hybrid cooking tool with extended tongs, serrated knife, grill scraper, bottle opener, and even a built-in flashlight for those hard-to-see moments. Less than 25 bucks and totally 007 approved. Buy Now
Charcoal is great and some people absolutely swear by it but starting it can be a total pain in the keister. Enter Grill Gun. While my official stance is always anti-gun, this baby may be the exception to the rule. The Grill Gun, which is more of a torch anyways, uses propane (ha!) to do everything from lighting charcoals fast and searing meat like brisket or ribs. Buy Now
A next-level digital meat thermometer that allows you to walk away from the grill (or oven) and still keep on eye on those precious meats. Never again let a steak or pork loin overcook because you had to dash off to keep Aunt Janet from having her 5th glass of wine. Meater sends notifications to your phone when meat hits the optimal temp. Especially good for big cuts of beef, pork, and poulty. Buy Now
It’s summer and inevitably the bugs will come for both your food and your ankles. You can at least save your food by plopping down one of these smart yet simple mesh nets and wait for a resounding chorus of “what such a good idea” to begin. Buy Now
How you get meat to the house has been innovated lately too. Snake River Farms, a Boise, Idaho producer of American Wagyu and Kurobuta pork, purveys to the likes of Eleven Madison Park, Alinea, and The French Laundry but also ships their meats anywhere in the U.S. Want to get guests talking? Treat them to some American Wagyu Ribeye, which serves 6-8 very happy carnivores.
Barbecues are generally not a vegetarian paradise but food innovators like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have changed the game. (Well, for some vegetarians but not all.) This very meat-like plant-based meat is finally available in stores, not just restaurants, so you can treat your veg friends to an oh-so-trendy Impossible Patty or Beyond Burger. Buy Now
Meat on the grill is the obvious choice for any summer barbecue but that doesn’t mean it’s the only option. Surprise everyone by whipping out this portable wood-fired pizza oven from Ooni, which heats to a Luciferian 932 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes. But, how. It uses dense wood pellets to get scorching hot and cook a Neapolitan-style pie in around one minute (one minute!). Buy Now