The Best Grilling Gifts for Dads, Grads, and Fans of Fires
BBQ pitmasters, chefs, and authors agree that these are the best gifts for grilling.
Now that the outdoor barbecue season is in full swing, it’s a good time to shop for presents for the favorite grilling guru in your life. We reached out to barbecue pitmasters, chefs, and grilling authors around the country in order to share expert-driven recommendations for the best grilling gifts that aim to ensure your presence at all the future cookouts. Below, you’ll find essential tools, fun enhancers, and thoughtful touches that make the best grilling gifts, available for prices ranging from affordable to splurge-worthy.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall: ThermoWorks Thermapen One
- Best Value: Romanticist 20-Piece Stainless Steel Utensil Set
- Best for Meat Smokers: YETI Hopper Flip 8 Portable Soft Cooler
- Best for All Skill Levels: Western BBQ Smoking Wood Chips Variety Pack
- Best Natural Tool: Firecorn Fire Starter
- Best Chimney Starter: Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter
Best Overall:ThermoWorks Thermapen One
Brand: ThermoWorks | Item Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.7 x 0.74 inches | Color: Gray, White, Yellow, Green, Red, Blue, Black, Orange, Pink, Purple | Weight: 0.25 lb.
- Reads temperature in one second or less
- Motion-sensitive sleep and wake modes
- Five-year warranty
- Over $100 — Expensive
- No Bluetooth control
Why we chose it: The top gift of choice by grilling professionals.
We surveyed chefs, grilling authors, and pitmasters across the country about great grilling gear, and an instant-read thermometer from ThermoWorks appeared time and time again as one of the best grilling gifts to give enthusiasts at every level. The Thermapen One is consistently praised for speed, offering temperature readings in one second or less.
Knowing the temperature at all times becomes even more crucial when you’re grilling for a group with varying tastes. “ThermoWorks are my favorite, and they go on sale all the time,” shares Alfredo “Fredo” Nogueira, chef-partner at Vals in New Orleans. “They take a lot of the guesswork out of grilling, especially when you’re hosting people who have different temperature preferences.”
“Even with professional training and experience, I still appreciate having one to ensure everything is cooked perfectly,” seconds James Peisker, author of Homemade Sausage.
The ThermoWorks Thermapen One is also the instant-read thermometer of choice from America’s Test Kitchen. Executive editor Lisa McManus deems it “pricey but totally worth it. Think of all the expensive food you won’t ruin on the grill.”
Brand: Romanticist | Item Dimensions: 17.32 x 7.48 x 2.68 inches | Color: Silver, Black | Weight: 4 lbs.
- Hanging loops to keep tools close
- Includes meat thermometer
- Rust resistant
- More utensils than some may need
Why we chose it: A set in a sleek and durable case with every cooking and cleaning tool you need for an affordable price.
“Nothing beats a quality tool set,” says Jeff Osaka, a James Beard-nominated chef in Denver who owns the multi-location Sushi-Rama. “A good set of tongs, a spatula and a good grill brush to keep the grates free of baked-on foods are in my personal grill toolkit.”
Besides those essential utensils to keep your grill clean and your hands burn-free, Romanticist’s affordable 20-piece stainless set includes vitals such as an extra cleaning brush head, a silicone brush for sauces, and four skewers for your masterpieces. The sleek and durable case keeps it all together and easy to store.
Best for Meat Smokers:YETI Hopper Flip 8 Portable Soft Cooler
Brand: YETI | Item Dimensions: 11.5 x 8 x 10.5 inches | Color: Black, Harvest Red, Alpine Yellow, Field Tan/Blaze Orange, Fog Gray/Tahoe Blue, Navy | Weight: 4 lbs.
- Thick insulation
- Starts at $200
- Too small for a wine bottle
- Zipper easily damaged
Why we chose it: The pros rely on YETI to give their proteins a proper resting place.
A portable cooler comes in especially handy if you’re cooking in the great outdoors and not near your fridge or you don’t want to constantly run in and out of the house while grilling. YETI’s portable model is lightweight, leakproof, and built to withstand the elements. Its small size may not be sufficient for all your wares, but good if you want a dedicated spot for your meat once it’s finished on the grill, but not quite ready for prime time.
“I think the best thing to buy somebody that loves grilling meat is a YETI cooler to rest the meat in after they cook it,” says Justin Brunson, chef, and owner of River Bear American Meats in Denver. “That’s the move that all the main barbecue guys do to finish the process.”
Best for All Skill Levels:Western BBQ Smoking Wood Chips Variety Pack
Brand: Western | Item Dimensions: 15 x 10 x 2 inches | Color: Brown | Weight: 6.41 lbs. | Material: Wood
- Works with both gas and electric grills
- Experiment with different flavors
- Adds more flavor
- Burns through faster than charcoal
- Cooks slower than charcoal
- Needs replacing more often
Why we chose it: A versatile gift that will be used by both gas and electric grillers at all levels of expertise.
“One of the best ways to impart a distinctly unique flavor when smoking meat is to change up the wood chips you use,” shares David Guas, author of Grill Nation: 200 Surefire Recipes, Tips, and Techniques to Grill Like a Pro. “For even the more experienced smokers, a great gift is a nice variety of wood chips. I’d recommend trying hickory, pecan, apple, or cherry.”
Western’s variety pack bundles up bags of apple, mesquite, hickory, and cherry flavors, so your griller can have fun figuring out which one they like the best and can even experiment with combining them. They can be used with both gas and electric grills to add smoky flavor to any dish, from meats to mac and cheese and veggies.
Best Natural Tool: Firecorn Fire Starter
Brand: Firecorn | Item Dimensions: N/A | Color: Red/Yellow | Weight: 0.5 lbs. | Material: Corn
- Doesn’t leave chemical taste
- Long lasting
- Kids could accidentally mistake for food
- Not recommended for indoor use
- Could attract insects
Why we chose it: An all-natural fire starter that doesn’t release nastiness into the air or your food.
Traditional fire starters can pollute the air and impart a whiff of toxic chemicals into your food, but Firecorn’s Fire Starter is made from real corn cobs for a cleaner burn and no unwanted flavor additives. The cobs last for a long time but are also biodegradable, so they won’t last forever. If your giftee likes to grill outdoors, this is an ideal present; it’s also suitable for indoor pizza oven or fireplaces. Basically wherever you have a fire, this nifty little starter is the best choice.
Best Chimney Starter: Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter
Brand: Weber | Item Dimensions: 13 x 7.5 x 12 inches | Color: Silver | Weight: 4.6 oz. | Material: Aluminized steel
- Works quickly
- Ergonomic handle
- Can burn yourself
- Breathing the fumes is unhealthy
- Needs a lot of refilling
Why we chose it: Charcoal and wood grillers can get an efficient, centralized fire started quickly before their skills really shine.
“This is a gift that keeps on giving for anyone that lives to grill,” says Shannon Snell, Sonny’s BBQ pitmaster and brand ambassador, and former NFL player from Tampa, Florida. “Being a person who loves to use charcoal and wood, I need something to get the fire started. The Weber Chimney gets the job done with very little direction or hassle.” It’s a classic method to get the grill going, and we recommend it for use everywhere from your home charcoal grill to barbecue pits and beachside fire pits.
How We Chose These Products
We surveyed chefs, pitmasters, and authors across the United States to learn about their most indispensable tools and discover their recommendations for the best grilling gifts. Specific experts who are highlighted in this guide include Alfredo “Fredo” Nogueira, chef-partner at Vals in New Orleans; Lisa McManus, executive editor of America’s Test Kitchen; Justin Brunson, chef and owner of River Bear American Meats in Denver; David Guas, author of Grill Nation: 200 Surefire Recipes, Tips, and Techniques to Grill Like a Pro; Shannon Snell, Sonny’s BBQ pitmaster and brand ambassador and former NFL player from Tampa, Florida; Jeff Osaka, owner of Sushi-Rama in Denver; James Peisker, author of Homemade Sausage; Ed Randolph, author, owner and pitmaster of Handsome Devil BBQ in Newburgh, New York; Taryn Solie, host of the Grill Like a Mother podcast; Rick Mace, executive chef and owner of Tropical Smokehouse in West Palm Beach, Florida; and Leonard Botello IV, owner and pitmaster of Truth BBQ in Houston and Brenham, Texas. In selecting products to include in this guide to best grilling gifts, we considered items made by well-reputed companies. Products were also selected to reflect prices that fall into a giftable range of around $20-200. Highlighted gifts all have flexible return policies.
Features to Keep in Mind When Shopping for Grilling Gifts
Is the person you’re shopping for a delicate chef, or are they a rugged cook that throws their tools around and loves to cook giant pieces of meat? If you know something about their cooking style, you’ll be able to find something especially suited to them, whether it’s a sturdy Yeti cooler or a set of aesthetically pleasing grill tongs.
Digital meat thermometers are a crucial tool that, if inaccurate, will have a negative impact on your flavors. Consider going with an expert’s pick such as ThermoWorks Thermapen One to reduce the chances of that happening.
Easy to Use
While you may know a grilling enthusiast who particularly loves to read manuals, you may want to consider giving them a gift that is easy to use without having to learn much. A gift with a steep learning curve is likely to gather dust.
Set Vs. Single Piece
When you’re shopping for grilling gifts, think about what you want the recipient to get out of it. For example, if you don’t want them to have to buy additional accessories to go with your present, you may want to purchase a complete set of cooking utensils or cleaning tools.
Ask the Experts
Q: What to buy someone who loves to grill?
If you don’t want to shop for grilling accessories or ingredients, consider a cookbook. “Whether you’re looking to perfect your classic steaks and tenderloins, venturing into new recipe territory, or are just learning the art of grilling, I always recommend cookbooks,” says Handsome Devil BBQ pitmaster and owner Ed Randolph of Newburgh, New York, whose latest book is called Hot and Fast BBQ on Your Traeger Grill: A Pitmaster’s Secrets on Doubling the Flavor in Half the Time. “Tools and new tech gadgets aside, a classic cookbook holds so much lesser-known information and expert advice to not only have fun with creative recipes but to truly improve in the craft.”
Q: What do I need for a cookout?
If you’re wondering what you need for a cookout, the beauty of hosting a gathering is that you can design your own menu to share with your friends and family and there are no rules as far as what to eat. Beyond the food items that you are going to prepare and serve (including all sides and toppings), you’ll want to make sure you have the essentials to power your grill.
“The biggest thing is to double-check that you have enough fuel,” says Taryn Solie, host of the Grill Like a Mother podcast. “Whether that be propane, charcoal or wood pellets, there’s nothing worse than going to fire up the grill and you don’t have enough fuel. Other than that, make sure you have a clean grill, a pair of tongs and a spatula to cook with, a thermometer to check the temperature of whatever meat you’re grilling, and a large platter ready to take the meat off the grill as soon as it’s done.”
Poise is also an important ingredient in hosting a solid cookout, so don’t make it too difficult on yourself, advises Rick Mace, the executive chef and owner of Tropical Smokehouse in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“Keep the menu simple and the company close to heighten the experience,” he says. “Pulling off a memorable cookout is best viewed as three separate acts: advanced planning, advanced prep and day-of actions. Plan for a menu that is in your wheelhouse. Think of the things that either bring you great joy to cook, like family recipes, or those things with which you are well rehearsed. Keep the mood light in the kitchen and focus on your guests. You can pull off that new recipe on another occasion to see how it comes out.”
Q: What to buy someone who loves smoking meat?
If you’re wondering what to buy someone who loves smoking meat, there are many options that are easily available to purchase, such as a meat thermometer or stainless steel utensil set. Start by delving into the products highlighted above and see where inspiration strikes you. If you’ve got a decent budget for your grilling gift, shop for high-end coolers such as the YETI Hopper Flip 8 Portable Soft Cooler, which barbecue professionals use to allow just-cooked meat to rest before serving.
And for something a little bit more affordable that’s still thoughtful and specific, Solie of Grill Like a Mother suggests a gift of pink butcher paper. “It’s explicitly made for smoking meat and is something someone who loves to smoke will appreciate,” she says.
Q: What is the most popular thing to grill?
Fruits, vegetables, poultry, and seafood can all be taken up to the next level after spending time on a grill, but beef and pork products like hamburgers, steaks and hot dogs remain among the most popular things to grill in the United States.
“There’s a nostalgia to that, I think,” says Leonard Botello IV, owner and pitmaster of Truth BBQ in Houston and Brenham, Texas. “We all grew up with our dads or uncles or grandfathers grilling a steak or a great burger for family events, weekends, summer BBQs—you name it.”
The challenge to find the best gifts for chefs can be more difficult if your gift recipient is laser focused on grilling, a type of cooking that has its own specialized products. However, experts agree that a perfect place to start is with a trusted brand of digital thermometers such as ThermoWorks Thermapen One to eliminate the guesswork involved in cooking meat in particular. This is considered one of the best grilling gifts for cooks who need to accommodate different preferences, like medium-rare or well-done steaks, and it may just earn you the best piece of the day, too.
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