Aaron Franklin pork butt recipe
People, Review

Top 10 People [Pitmasters] of BBQ

Nothing can compare to a delicious, well-done barbecue, and these people know best how to prepare it. Meet the BBQ pros, 10 Pitmasters whose experience and passion are worthy of admiration.

AaronFranklin Pitmaster

Aaron Franklin

In the barbecue world, Aaron is often considered a legend. In the past, he launched his own restaurant in Austin under the name of Franklin Barbecue. At first, it was merely a little trailer, but over time things started to move. It grew and developed into a seasoned and respectable business. The restaurant has received multiple awards and proudly bears the status of the best barbecue joint in Texas, a highly prestigious award that only the best can win. In his book, “A Meat Smoking Manifesto”, Aaron Franklin sheds light on his numerous techniques that led him to success.

Chris Lilly Pitmaster

Chris Lilly

Chris Lilly is a famous barbecue champion who took part in a number of different contests and challenges and attained success. He is notoriously famous for being the only man who participated in the Memphis in May BBQ cook-off contest and won it five times. The contest is also jokingly known as the Super Bowl of Swine. Chris is the author of two books. His Alabama BBQ joint is widely considered to be the most influential in the country. He uses a mixed technique and combines the grilling speed with the low-and-slow method. His meals are for any day of the week.

Robert Rainford Pitmaster

Robert Rainford

A famous Canadian chef, Robert made plenty of appearances over the years. At one point he was also the host of an extremely popular TV show called “License to Grill”. He dedicated his whole life to the culinary career. Today, he is a renowned master of grill. He is best known for his Rainford Method. Robert’s personal advice is to always use a two-tiered heat approach. This is something many people forget about when grilling. It is necessary to have a cooler zone during intense grilling. Tody, Robert Rainford has the official status of the Chef Ambassador.

Steven Raichlen Pitmaster

Steven Raichlen

Steven Raichlen is a famous author and one of the most widely known BBQ pros. He is the author of a popular bestseller series, the Barbecue Bible, which is his most well-known work. In Colorado Springs, he founded Barbecue University which has been successful at preparing BBQ pitmasters. The primary ingredient that Steven always relies on is extra virigin olive oil. He uses it literally for everything and considers it to be the lifeblood of his barbecue. Another technique that he uses is cavemanning. Grilling food on the embers always gives a very special taste to his dishes.

Larry McGuire Pitmaster

Larry McGuire

When it comes to pitmasters who have their own distinct style, Larry McGuire is certainly one of them. His unique style is described as slow-smoked barbecue, something that Larry is very proud of. His BBQ career has been pretty successful. In a matter of just six years Larry opened as many as six different restaurants – roughly one per year. Now, he shows no intention to slow down and is determined to continue his ventures. Today Larry is clearly on track towards a celebrity status, and time will tell how much successful he’ll be. By far, his McGuire empire is clearly expanding.

John Mueller Pitmaster

John Mueller

John Mueller is perhaps a somewhat controversial character. He is known as a prominent member of the Texas barbecue community, and some people certainly love bashing him. Nonetheless, he succeeded in building a highly successful and well-performing family business that continues to remain popular up to this day, which was not an easy journey and required some courage and resolution on his part. His latest business enterprise is John Mueller Meat Co., which can be considered the next step in his career. While Mueller may not be the most popular BBQ star, he is undoubtedly a very talented pitmaster.

Johnny Trigg Pitmaster

Johnny Trigg

This is a seasoned and serious pitmaster. Johnny Trigg is also called the Godfather of Barbecue. His team “Smokin’ Triggers” has been noticeably successful in various competitions, particularly in Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational. Winning this famous competition is not an easy milestone, but Johnny Trigg has won it as many as two times, which makes him the only person with such a track record. He was awarded the title of Grand Champion, something that he deserved in full. Today he sometimes participates in BBQ Pitmasters and is included in the Barbecue Hall of Fame.

Daniel Vaughn Pitmaster

Daniel Vaughn

Daniel Vaughn is a well-known barbecue guru. It’s been a long time already since he became a barbecue editor in Texas Monthly. Thanks to its dedicated barbecue section, it is one of the most authoritative periodicals catering to barbecue lovers. Texas Monthly BBQ is widely considered to give the most extensive coverage on the art of barbecue. Daniel’s position is well-deserved as he demonstrated his level of expertise plenty of times. Additionally, Vaughn is known for authoring the book “The Prophets of Smoked Meat” where he details his approach to barbecue sprinkled with facts from his biography.

Max Lavoie Pitmaster

Max Lavoie

Max Lavoie, the BBQ Guru, is a proud family man and a successful entrepreneur from Quebec. He decided to dedicate himself to barbecue grilling at an early age, back when he worked at his father’s store. He received numerous awards in Canada as well as the USA. These include the first place for Product Innovation in Texas, among many others. His book is called “BBQ au Max”. Max Lavoie puts a heavy emphasis on spices and recommends using them on every suitable occasion. Today, Max continues to nurture and cultivate his passion for barbecue.

Pat Martin Pitmaster

Pat Martin

Pat Martin is from Nashville, Tennessee, and he is pretty famous there. Martin admits that he has a real, serious cause: to preserve the West Tennessee whole-hog barbecue tradition. As for himself, he learned it when he lived in Henderson, a small rural town in Tennessee. Today he runs several restaurants under his own name where he daily smokes a few hundred pounds of hogs in open pits. The hallmark dish is called the Redneck Taco which is served atop a hoecake and is covered with sauce and slaw.

​Read More
featured image
People, Review

Making the Best BBQ Ribs [Roundup]

Making good ribs is undoubtedly an art. Here’s our top tips for competition style ribs from three of our favorite Pitmasters.

Meathead Goldwyn

Meathead Goldwyn ribs top Pitmaster

If you’ve ever heard of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead Goldwyn is the founder and publisher of this tell-all BBQ website. He’s the best-selling author of The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling that’s a hit with the New York Times best-seller list. He’s also quite a master at BBQ ribs and has plenty of tips for what makes great BBQ possible. Here’s what Meathead recommends for getting better rib results:

Be friends with your butcher

To get a top cut for ribs you need to have a good relationship with your neighborhood butcher. Then you can specify which part of the pork ribs you really want. When it comes to baby back ribs, these are cut from the loin meat. While most baby back ribs are pre-packed and trimmed, so you should ask your butcher to cut these ribs so they’re meatier with at least a half-inch around each rib.

Don’t boil your ribs first

As Meathead advises, ‘If you boil ’em, the terrorists win’, which seems to be a common noob mistake when cooking ribs. Even though there are many BBQ folks out there that think this is a good idea, it takes away flavor from the meat. If you have rib meat that falls off the bone it likely has been boiled first. You want meat that tugs away rather than falling off.

If you can’t beat them, Smoke Em

Meathead is a big supporter of smoking meat to get even more flavor into BBQ rib meat. But over-smoking your meat can be a big mistake. As long as you prepared your ribs with a great rub, you’ll need to learn how long smoking should occur so your meat develops a nice smoke ring. He also recommends tenderizing your ribs with another trick called The Texas Crutch. This is where you wrap them up in foil and a bit of water for an hour.

Rus Jones

Rus Jones ribs top Pitmaster

Rus Jones is a BBQ pitmaster with a long-running Youtube channel that’s dedicated to the art of BBQ. He’s also very informative on how to prepare meat for BBQ grill and obviously smoking ribs. Hence the name of his channel: Smoky Ribs BBQ. He’s shared many of his favorite recipes for ribs before but has one recipe for Texas BBQ beef plate ribs that can’t be beaten. Here are some of the pro tips Rus recommends:

Don’t remove the silverskin

According to Rus, there’s no need to remove the silver skin on the back of beef ribs since this will be cooked away by the time they’re done. Once the meat is cooked, the meat will also fall easier from the bones.

Remove the fat

Most of the meat is going to be layered on the top of the ribs but your butcher may not have removed all the fat from the meat. You want enough meat showing so that your rub sticks better to the surface.

A good Texas rub

To get the flavor of real Texas-style you’re adding a 50/50 base coat of mustard and Worcestershire sauce followed by salt, pepper, and garlic dry seasoning all over the top.

Add some hickory wood

As you start to slow cook these ribs it’s recommended to add a couple chunks of hickory wood onto your coals so the smoke into your rib meat. The chunks should be palm-sized and the first step is cooking your ribs on the cooker side of your grill for 3 hours.

It’s a wrap!

The next stage is wrapping your ribs in some heavy-duty aluminum foil to get them nice and tender. Now that the mustard and Worcestershire rub has set to a nice hard bark. The foil needs to be form-fitting but not overly tight. The point is that you preserve the color of the rib meat as well as getting better tenderness. The internal temperature needs to be between 200-210 Fahrenheit degrees. Then it’s ready to eat!

Tootsie Tomanetz

Tootsie Tomanetz ribs top Pitmaster

Who says the boyz have all the fun when it comes to playing BBQ pitmasters all the time. Norma Francis aka Tootsie Tomanetz isn’t a spring chicken when it comes to doing ribs the right way. At just the ripe old age of 86, she’s the head pitmaster at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington Texas. Since 1966, she started running the pit at Lexington’s Meat Market until she opened Snow’s BBQ in 2003. She’s got a few tips on what makes her whole pork spareribs so special:

Remove the membrane

You’ll want to trim the membrane on these pork ribs since this doesn’t make Toosie ribs very appealing.

Add your rub

It’s a common trait that Tootsie adds only French’s Yellow mustard to her ribs so it helps the spices stick better. This is then followed by a 50/50 mix of kosher salt and coarse black pepper mixture that is added to the ribs on both sides. Add a medium coat to get the best results.

Slow cooking

Once your ribs go into the BBQ pit, these ribs need to cook for no more than 4 hours. After this, the mopping process starts. The mop sauce is very simple since it includes simple ingredients that Tootsie has perfected. This includes One stick of butter, half a cup of vinegar, half a cup of Worcestershire sauce, a tablespoon of Coleman’s dry mustard, and two cups of butter.

The real secret when making this mop sauce is starting with a saucepan. Then you’ll cook one whole diced purple onion with a bit of oil until the onion gets translucent. Then you add your stick of butter and let melt away to liquid followed by the white vinegar and Worcestershire and then the dry mustard. Bring it up to a simmer before adding your cool water. Then your mop sauce is ready.

Wrap it up!

These ribs need mopping every 30 minutes with your mopping mixture for the 4-hour duration that they’re cooked on the grill. You need to use Post Oak to smoke your ribs to get the authentic flavor that Snow’s BBQ is famous for. After you’ve mopped your ribs for a bit more, they’re ready to get wrapped up with aluminum foil. Now you just continue cooking them for an additional hour and a half.

You can do the bend test to see how finished your ribs will be. If they bend easily from their weight, they’re done!

​Read More
People, Review

Best Brisket Tips by Top BBQ Pitmasters

We’ve collaborated some of our favorite brisket smoking tips, tricks and hacks from Harry Soo and Doug Scheiding who have evolved the art of smoking brisket.

Harry Soo aka Slap Yo’ Daddy BBQ

Harry Soo aka Slap Yo’ Daddy BBQ

This championship BBQ pitmaster is a real winner and has won more grand champion awards over the years. He’s also an instructor and teaches others all about what makes BBQ better through real science. He also has a very successful Youtube channel where he helps others learn about BBQ techniques. Here you can find out what Harry considers the best tips for preparing any brisket.

Trim your brisket first

Using a nice sharp knife, you’ll want to remove excess fat that is on the fat cap side of your brisket. This is usually found on the leading edge of the cap and needs to have inch removed beforehand. Flipping it over, you also need to remove the tiny strips and layers of silverskin and fat on the meaty side. If you don’t, the seasoning rub doesn’t get into the meat.

Have a great basic rub

Now it seems that Harry recommends using very simple ingredients to make your own rub. This includes whole black pepper, kosher salt, and celery seed. The salt and pepper are very basic seasoning additives that are a 75/50 cup mixture, leaning heavier on the black pepper. Add a one-quarter cup of celery seed to this mixture so it helps create a better smoke ring when you smoke your brisket. Then you mix it together and add it to your brisket.

Where to place your smoking wood

According to Harry, your smoking wood needs to go at the bottom of your BBQ. This is better for getting the flavor into your meat. Place your chunks of hickory and applewood right at the bottom before adding your lump wood charcoal. You’ll want to cook the brisket for 3 hours and spray it every half hour with simple water to get the rub to crust over and get hard.

Wrapping your brisket

This next step involves aluminum foil but one tip that Harry adds is pure genius. He lays butcher paper onto the foil and then wraps the foil around the brisket like a postal package. Use a bamboo skewer to test the tenderness of the meat which should feel like poking it into peanut butter. This lets you know it’s done when your skewer goes into the meat with the same amount of ease as the peanut butter.

Doug Scheiding from Rogue BBQ Cookers

Doug Scheiding from Rogue BBQ Cookers

Doug and his wife represent a BBQ pitmaster team out in Texas and is a seasoned pro when it comes to Texas-style brisket. Doug shares his top tips on how to make brisket a pleasure to make. Here is what he recommends when preparing your brisket to go on the BBQ. When it comes to tender, we think that Doug is a real stickler for moist and tasty brisket like no other.

Prepare your brisket

Trim off excess fat and get your rub together. Using a beef broth, the brisket is then injected all throughout the meat and in the fat cap. For this Doug likes to use a smear that is made from Head Country Marinade mixed with a bit of chili powder. Rub this onto both sides of the brisket and finish this off with ground pepper. You’ll want to let the meat sit for at least 15 minutes before putting it on the grill.

Slow cooking all night long

Your brisket is going into the BBQ with the fat cap side down so it’s protected from the heat. It’s going to be cooked at 200F for the next 10-12 hours. It will also need to be spritzed with a mixture of apple juice every half hour during the entire cook time. You’ll also need to tend to the fire to keep the heat consistent all through the cooking time.

Wrap it up for a few hours more

After the internal temperature of your brisket reaches 155-165 degrees Fahrenheit it needs to be wrapped in heavy-duty aluminum foil. You can add leftover beef broth that was used for the injecting process at the beginning. It needs an additional 2-3 hours to finish the cooking process. When your brisket finally reaches 200 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s done.

Let it steam a bit

Now you want to transfer the brisket that’s wrapped in the foil to a container that’s insulated. Keep it in a cooler for 2-6 hours before slicing it into strips and served. There is also another option to add Apple Habanero BBQ basting sauce before it’s sliced and served.

​Read More
Best BBQ Sauce Recipes featured image
Review

Best BBQ Sauce Recipes from Top Pitmasters

Do you like a great BBQ sauce to go on your ribs and BBQ meats? We’ve taken the time to collect 5 tasty recipes and Pitmasters who proudly stand behind them. These recipes can be made at your next BBQ party too. So if you have any questions if they’re any good, we’ve collected helpful background info on them. Here are the best BBQ sauce recipes your taste buds are screaming for!

1. Myron Mixon’s Basic Hickory BBQ Sauce

Basic Hickory BBQ Sauce by Myron Mixon’s

Myron Mixon is a celebrity in the BBQ world and a 4-time BBQ champion in his own right. He’s also a real showman when it come s to ruling the airwaves with top-rated series such as BBQ Rules and BBQ Pitmasters on the Discovery channel. He recently shared his winning BBQ sauce that is reportedly excellent for pork, beef, and lamb. It’s a woodsy hickory flavor BBQ sauce that has hints of sweet and strong residual flavors.

But does his recipe really measure up? Even the top champions all borrow from each other from time to time. Here’s what goes into his award-winning recipe.

  • 2 cups ketchup (or tomato paste)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons smoked sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Two-thirds cup of cider vinegar
  • One-quarter cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons maple sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

Directions:

Place everything into a blender and then give the mix these ingredients by pulsing a few times. After that, you transfer this mixture to a medium pot and simmer on medium heat is mixed well. It doesn’t need to boil but simmering is just fine. After a couple of minutes, allow the sauce to cool and then transfer to a clean jar. It can store up to 6 months in the fridge.

How good is this sauce?

What makes this sauce a bit of a mystery is that it mentions hickory, but the recipe doesn’t have hickory added. It lends its flavor more to a very fine pasta sauce. Some Pitmasters have mentioned that it’s missing 2 tablespoons of Apple Jelly. Perhaps if you add liquid hickory flavor, it will give this BBQ sauce more definition.

2. John Reese’s Pitmaster Bourbon BBQ Sauce (from BBQPitBoys)

Bourbon BBQ Sauce by John Reese’s Pitmaster (from BBQPitBoys)

If you’ve ever heard of the BBQ Pit Boys, they’re quite a rough and tumble bunch. They’ve got a great Youtube channel and have quite a following. If they’re not practicing Bushcraft BBQ, they know how to handle high-power firearms. It seems they have a recipe that is similar but with a refreshing outdoor twist. This reportedly makes a tangy zesty BBQ sauce that is good for chicken, beef, and pork.

  • 2 cups Ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Dry mustard
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • One-half cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup bourbon

Directions:

Add ingredients to a medium-sized saucepan on an outdoor grill. Using hickory wood for added smoke, stir the ingredients at a slow simmer. As this sauce starts to thicken, continue to stir to lock in smoke flavor. Afterward, the finished sauce can cool and then be transferred to empty jelly jars. Makes up to three and one-half cups of BBQ sauce.

How good is this sauce?

What makes this sauce awesome is that it’s meant for mopping your BBQ but equally tasty for dipping likewise. It has the right amount of zest but could ultimately use fresh onions and garlic for added depth. The combination of brown sugar and vinegar turns out a fine sauce that is what BBQ is all about. The bourbon is the real kicker since this adds a whole new layer that tells you this BBQ sauce isn’t fooling around.

3. Steven Raichlen’s Sweet and Smoky BBQ Sauce

Sweet and Smoky BBQ Sauce by Steven Raichlen’s

This BBQ Pitmaster didn’t just learn to grill, and it appears he wrote the bible on it. He’s the author of several books and is known nationally for being a master grill specialist. He’s got a recipe that is the defining flavor of what makes Kansas City BBQ flavor. This recipe actually comes from Kansas City Barbeque Society but is hailed from Steven’s BBQ Bible. This recipe makes 5 whole cups of authentic Kansas City sweet red rib BBQ sauce.

  • One-quarter cup honey
  • One-quarter cup molasses
  • One-quarter cup Worcestershire sauce
  • One-half cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 6 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 4 cups ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon pure chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black powder
  • 1 teaspoons ground allspice
  • One-quarter teaspoon ground cloves
  • Coarse Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

Combine together all of the ingredients (minus the ketchup) in a large saucepan and bring to a medium simmer. After about 5 minutes when everything is mixed thoroughly, you can add the ketchup and bring it to a boil. The last item to add is salt and pepper to taste. After it reaches a boil, reduces the heat back to a simmer until it reaches a nice thick consistency. Turn off the heat and let sit for 30 minutes.

Then you can transfer the sauce to large glass jars that can be stored. It will last several months in your fridge when capped.

How good is this sauce?

If you’ve ever enjoyed authentic Kansas City BBQ sauce, this should be on your favorite list. This flavor is one of the major legends of BBQ cuisine with a flavor signature unlike any other BBQ sauce out there. It is also rated 4-stars by the Food Shmooze review website.

4. Rodney Scott’s BBQ Sauce

BBQ Sauce by Rodney Scott’s

Now maybe you haven’t heard of Rodney before but for this Birmingham, Alabama resident, he’s gained a bit of traction. He was recently awarded the Best Chef Southeast at the James Beard Awards. His unique approach to BBQ sauce has earned him high praise among Pitmasters alike with his spicy-sweet blend of BBQ sauce. This closely guarded secret has finally emerged and is unlike most sauces you’ll find.

It’s especially good on pork, chicken, and turkey, but not limited to beef and spare ribs. Let’s take a closer look at what makes his recipe so different.

  • Two cups white (distilled) vinegar
  • One-half lemon (thinly sliced)
  • One-quarter cup sugar
  • One and one-half teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • One teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika powder
  • One teaspoon dark chili powder
  • One-half teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Two teaspoons accent seasoning

Directions:

Into a small saucepan, pour the white vinegar, and then warm it to medium-high heat. As soon as your vinegar reaches 150F, then you add the lemon slices and cook them until they get a bit translucent. This will take about 10 minutes in all. In a separate bowl, you’ll whisk in the black pepper, red pepper, sugar, paprika, dark chili powder, and accent seasoning together. Mix this until the sugar is completely clear or when the temperature reaches 190F.

After this, allow the mixture to cool, and then place the sauce into a glass jar to keep it fresh. It will last for up to at least one month.

How good is this sauce?

Apparently, the real secret to this sauce is how the vinegar and lemon slices are cooked first. It also helps add natural enzymes that tenderize meat better than other kinds of vinegar-based mixtures. The real trick is to take the lemon slices out before you add the rest of the spices. It makes an excellent mop BBQ sauce that extra tasty as a dipping sauce too.

5. Aaron Franklin’s BBQ Rib Sauce

BBQ Rib Sauce by Aaron Franklin’s

This well-known MasterClass BBQ chef is right up there for getting the spotlight for his cooking and grilling style. Aaron is a rocket scientist when it comes to Texas-style BBQ. This recipe is one of his thick and sweet BBQ rib sauces that might just speak for itself. This time around, you can be the judge and make this recipe at home. But for a rib sauce that is pretty involved, here is what you’ll find for ingredients.

  • One cup apple cider vinegar
  • One cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (Beef tallow/vegetable oil, lard, or bacon fat)
  • One-third large onion (yellow or white- chopped roughly)
  • 4 cloves garlic (roughly chopped)
  • 2 cups organic or all-natural ketchup
  • One teaspoon smoked paprika
  • One teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • One teaspoon fine sea salt
  • One teaspoon mustard powder
  • 4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Instructions:

The first thing you’ll do is heat a medium saucepan and add your fat (beef tallow, etc.) until it starts to simmer, and then add your onion until it gets translucent. This will take 6-8 minutes. After this, you add your garlic and continue to cook until the onions start to turn brown and the garlic is getting crisp for another three minutes. This is when you add the brown sugar and will totally melt, forming a glaze after simmering for 2-3 minutes.

This is when you add the apple cider vinegar, ketchup, mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper. Bring this mixture up to a simmer and cook it for an additional 3-5 minutes. Or at least until this mixture has become thicker. This is when you can add the Worcestershire sauce and allow this to simmer away for an additional minute. Now, this is where it starts to get fun. You put the entire mixture into a glass blender and mix at the highest speed.

When you get a sauce that’s completely smooth and has an orange color, it’s done. Since this sauce will naturally be hot, you’ll need to transfer this hot mix directly into waiting jars and put on their tops. Then let them cool to room temperature. After this, put them in the fridge. This BBQ sauce can be stored for up to 1 month in your fridge after that.

How good is this sauce?

Apparently, over 700 people who subscribe to MasterClass rate this BBQ rib sauce with 4-stars. It’s clearly a hit from the overall reviews and does have a bit of appeal for Texas-style BBQ rib fans. With a generous amount of onion and garlic added here, this makes for some excellent taste on any ribs you add it to. When it comes to Beef or Pork, these flavors explode on impact with a sweet yet slightly zesty appeal.

​Read More
Best BBQ Thermometers featured image
Review

Best BBQ Thermometers

When it comes to BBQ you’re looking for a thermometer that can monitor multiple probes simultaneously, including the ambient pit temperature of your grill or smoker. Most of these types of devices offer Wi-Fi, cloud connectivity to store data from your cooking sessions, and fan pit control capabilities.


From times gone by, with a flat disk on wobbly legs, a tray that held charcoal and a grate that sat inches above it, until today with all our great tools, grilling, barbecuing and smoking are part of a great food tradition. As we get more sophisticated about ‘flame meet food’ the market place has not disappointed in delivering exceptional products.

In a classic high-tech meets low-tech, we now have wireless systems that not only monitor the flames, but lets you know how the food is doing form virtually anywhere.  Thermometers monitoring the cooking temperatures and allow you to adjust it, combined with tracking the exact temperature of the food for perfect cook times. This is a look at some of the products in the market that can help you take your BBQ experience to the next level.

Fireboard 2 (/w fan controller)

Fireboard 2 BBQ Thermometer

Buy From Fireboard

For hardware, the Firebird 2 is capable of handling up to 6 probes and tracking their results. With food like turkey, with distinctly different sections of meat, or a brisket with varying thickness, being able to monitor those areas is a huge plus. Plus you can use one to monitor the ambient temperature, which we will come back to in a moment.

The box itself is pretty rugged. You wouldn’t throw it in the lake, but it can certainly handle a light dowsing, and tolerates heat up to 160 degrees. Since its working life is likely outdoors, around flame and juices, it is important that it can take a lick or two. The bbq guys at Smoking Meat Geeks put it through a rain simulation test and proved it can stand up to its weather resistant claim.

This package also offers a great visual display with a variety of view options; multiple channels of real time temps, graphing, hybrid views showing some channels, and such. The only real negative is that this unit doesn’t have any kind of alert, you have to rely on your phone and the app for that.

Fireboard 2 BBQ Thermometer unboxing

Covering all the bases, the Firebird 2 does work with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. Either method allows for alerts for high or low temps and monitoring in real time. It can also be integrated with your virtual assistant of choice, Alexa or Google. Via Wi-Fi you can save cooking data in the cloud, and download it, so that you can have a record of what works best for you.

Monitoring your ambient cooking temperature is one thing, but the Fireboard 2 allows you to do something about it. With a couple choices for drive connectivity, you can use a fan drive controller to boost the airflow, thereby increasing the temperature of your burn. You can program steps into your process. For example cook at 225 until the internal temp of your pork butt is 150, this triggers a temp increase to 300 through the stall, then when the internal is 170, drop back to 225. It is very versatile at cooking and controlling your process.

Signals (w/ Billows)

Signals bbq thermometer

Buy From Thermoworks

The manufacturer of this is Thermoworks. That says it all, because in every aspect of the food industry, health inspection, commercial processing and kitchens, even the beverage industry, these folks are the gold standard of all things temperature measurement related. Yes, that sounds a bit geeky, but when health and safety are on the line it is good to know who knows best. Even if it is just you putting great food on a plate, the right tool is invaluable.

The probe hardware is the best in the business with quick responses and exceptional durability. The base unit accommodates 4 probes, which is fine for most cooking. Probes are color coded so that you can more easily keep track of which is which. The display is easy to read, giving you all the pertinent information, and is programmable at the base unit. That feature is what sets this above many offerings in the field. Signals has great connectivity, but it can do all necessary functions as a standalone unit, including alert you when your temperature goal has been reached. All that, and it is rated IP66 for complete dust resistance and water resistance.

signals bbq thermometer connectivity with app;ication

We mentioned connectivity. The app is very intuitive, both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are easy to connect. Cloud storage is available, although you cannot add notes in the app.

The Billows device has some definite trade-offs. As an add-on item it is very reasonably priced, one of the lowest prices in the market. Of course that is based on already owning the Fireboard. It works pretty well in that it accomplishes the tasks, but it is somewhat sporadic in how it gets there. Most fan systems will create a spike in temperature when they kick in, this unit slightly more than most. It does stay within the stated parameters of 10 degrees variation. And they could use some better directions about how to install the unit. It works, perhaps not the best part of the Signals equipment, but certainly functional.

UltraQ (w/ Pit Bull & Pit Viper)

UltraQ BBQ Thermometer

Buy From Amazon

Too often we see devices that just throw a continuous stream of information, some of which is not particularly valuable to your process. These folks do a great job of distilling down the information output to the things that are important. A display you can read from across the yard, it also has an LED ring on the outside showing blue when temps are low, red in cooking range, pulsing when the fan runs and flashing if temps get too high. Information you can use.

This is a purpose built product specifically for controlling the temperature of your cooking process, while additionally monitoring temperatures in the food itself. They execute all of this very well. At purchase you specify the smoking device you are going to use this with and the BBQ Guru Pit fans will give you the best equipment for an easy installation.

Pit Bull & Pit Viper UltraQ fans

UltraQ offers both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, thankfully, because the base unit controls are not very good at all. Unfortunately none of this is their strength. It is much easier to control the device through the app, however that is not saying too awfully much. It is not an intuitive process, and seems unnecessarily cumbersome. It works, you will get to the end result, but it just may not be the smoothest of journeys.

Flameboss

Flameboss bbq thermometer

Buy From Amazon

This is the most purpose built device for controlling the heat inside your cooking device. It does the job well, with one of the best ratings for holding temperature within your chosen parameters. The mechanical units are strong, the digital aspects are not quite up to the same level.

For starters the base unit does not have a built in battery so you do need a power source. It also has a relatively small display, but it offers all the relevant information. It manages the blower device and has some nice options like ‘Keep Warm’ which will drop your temp to hold the food at serving temperature. In theory you can program all of this at the base unit, but it is not especially user friendly.

Flameboss connectivity with mobile

The app for your phone is comprehensive and works very effectively. It will allow you to easily control the device and establish your preferred settings for your cooking. The biggest issue is getting there. This is a Wi-Fi only device, no Bluetooth. It can even work on the road with its own Wi-Fi connectivity for your phone. It is limited to just 2.4 GHz, no connectivity on a 5 GHz system. Once you get past the quirks, up and running, the system as whole works quite well.

Inkbird iBBQ-4T

Inkbird iBBQ-4T bbq thermometer

Buy From Amazon

This is a straightforward temperature monitoring system, it does not interface with a blower unit. Inkbird has done a great job at fulfilling their purpose with this. It has a built in lithium ion battery that is rated at 26 hours of use, and charges with a simple USB connection. The base unit is virtually waterproof, each probe port has a cover, and the probes have a noticeable locked in feeling when you have properly plugged them in. The system can handle four probes, which are color coded. It also has an easy to read display, even in bright sun. The base unit alarm is very quiet however, so you will come to rely on the app for this aspect.

Inkbird iBBQ-4T connectivity with mobile

Inkbird makes other home automation devices that can be linked through this app as well. Once in the BBQ section, this app works quite efficiently. You can set both high and low alerts for each probe, along with a message box to remind you of what the alarm was for, such as turn down the temp or prep another meal item. This is another device that operates only in a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi environment, which may limit it to home or in town use only. Set up is fairly easy though, so once you are up and running it works well. It could give you better results for visualizing data, their graphing is somewhat primitive, and information has to be exported for each probe, as opposed to the entire cook project.

Meater

Meater thermometer

Buy From Amazon

If you ever wondered if ‘less is more’ this product answers that question with a solid yes. In this case, no blower or ambient temperature control features are part of Meater. But the name says it all. Measure the internal temperature of meat as it cooks. And the ambient temperature of the cooking environment. How, though, is the amazing thing. This device has a diameter smaller than a ball point pen, and is about as long. That’s it. No wires, just the probe and a sculpted wooden box with the charging tray. The batteries are in the probe itself, and offer 24 hours of use, with an available range of 165 feet.

Meater thermometer connectivity with mobile

All your output and controls are through Bluetooth and the phone app. The app even contains an estimator algorithm that can give you an idea of how long you need to cook at the ambient temperature to reach your desired internal temperature. This is an excellent case for form with function, a sleek stainless steel cylinder that will give you the essential information for your cooking endeavor.

​Read More