Few things warrant as much pride as grilling a steak perfectly yourself. But getting that expertly seared-on-the-outside, pink-on-the-inside cook is often a frustrating gamble. Backyard grills’ heat sources and cooking surfaces are uneven, unreliable and inefficient. It’s time to upgrade your Weber.
Now you can get barbecues with high-tech equipment like infrared burners and salamanders found in professional kitchens. And fun accessories like rotisseries, which were once relegated to “set it and forget it” late-night infomercials.
The technology has improved so much on your backyard set-up that now you can start getting professional-level results to impress your friends. You may not become Aaron Franklin, but you’ll sure be the best on the block. Here are seven unique backyard setups to guarantee.
Hestan has flipped the traditional grill on its head: Its Outdoor grills have a ceramic, infrared top burner under the hood. With heat sources below and above, you can sear, broil and finish your meats like a professional kitchen does under a salamander. The hood has spring-assisted hinges that keep it in place, whatever angle you open it at, and motion-activated “stadium lights” illuminate the cooking area for late-night or early-morning grilling sessions. And all of the grills—built in, freestanding or carts—are available in 12 colors, bringing a splash of brightness to the typical stainless-steel finish.
Komodo Serious Big Bad
Kamado-style grills are the ceramic, dome-shaped cookers made famous in Japan and then domestically by Big Green Egg. The vessels are tightly enclosed, making them ideal for precisely controlling airflow and temperature. The Komodo’s Serious Big Bad is similar to a classic Big Green—if that egg had been laid by Godzilla. This cooker is 42 inches wide and 22 inches deep; you can fit an entire hog in there. Weighing in at a whopping 1,688 pounds, the Serious Big Bad contains three levels of grates and a charcoal basket splitter, so you can cook at different temperatures in multiple zones. Order it embellished with high-gloss ceramic pebbles or tiles to complete its scale-y, kaiju look.
American Muscle Grill
American Muscle Grill is the Ford Mustang of backyard set-ups. Designed and built in the U.S.A., AMG is souped up with flame-thrower valve ignitions, more than 110,000 BTUs of cooking power and the ability to accelerate from zero to 350 (degrees) in two minutes. The grill isn’t limited to gas; it can actually burn every kind of fuel source—charcoal, wood, propane, gas—and any combination of those, at once. Blue LEDs light the knobs and front cover, which resembles an auto’s radiator grille. The only thing missing is the spoiler.
Bring the theatrics of an Argentine asado home with Kalamazoo’s Gaucho. This wood-fired grill has an attached 30-inch spoked wheel, which you spin to raise and lower the cooking rack to the flame. The grates have a vertical range of 28 inches, guaranteeing a precise cook. Gas burners get your fire roaring in less than five minutes. And the Gaucho includes a motorized, built-in rotisserie spit that’s hefty enough to hold an entire animal for roasting. It can be used simultaneously as you grill. Add a couple of bottles of Malbec to the dinner table and you’ve delivered dinner, drinks and a show.
A watched pot never boils, and a grill hood that keeps getting opened never cooks. Fire Magic has solved the problem of the impatient grill master with its Magic View Window, a heat-resistant pane of ceramic glass built right into the hood. The transparent opening gives you an inside look at everything going on in there, so you don’t have to lose valuable heat opening and closing the lid. The window is even designed to allow natural air flow to pass under it, pushing smoke, grease and vision-blocking build-up away from your peephole. The only drawback? You have nothing to blame for under- or over-cooked meats again.
Gas, wood and charcoal fuels can be unpredictable. Hot and cold spots can build up around the grilling surface, creating uneven cooking times and finishes. Lynx’s Sedona grills remove the guesswork. One-third of its grates sit over a powerful infrared burner, while the rest hoover over rows of ceramic, radiant briquettes, a dupe for real charcoal. These white blocks retain heat and repel grease, so when they’re dripped on during cooking, they return the aroma and flavor to the meat above. Both the briquettes and the infrared artificial heat sources are designed to be consistent, easy to monitor and to last a lifetime. You can’t say that about a bag of Kingsford.
Everdure Hub II
Cooking with charcoal isn’t just for utility; it’s for fun. Heston Blumenthal, designer of the Everdure Hub II, has made a freestanding grill to match the playful mood. This charcoal grill has a push-button ignition—gas-grill style—so you don’t have to fool with harsh igniting chemicals. It’s ready to cook in 10 minutes, and its chrome grates have long handles that stay cool to the touch, so you can flip them up, push the coals to the side and create multiple cooking areas as you go. An integrated, retractable rotisserie spit that can hold full-sized animals, adds a touch of medieval flair to the contemporary, yard-centerpiece design.