With Memorial Day weekend marking the unofficial start of barbecue season, it’s time to fire up the old grill, slap on a few steaks and marinate a rack of ribs.
But when it comes to barbecue, there are as many types of cookers as there are styles of cooking. A Weber grill has never done me wrong, and it’s certainly a great, affordable place to start, but for those looking for something a little more adventurous this year, we’ve rounded up a bunch of great alternatives to the traditional backyard BBQ.
Cook Like A Pro
While a charcoal fire is a fine way to imbue meat with that heady, smoky flavor, cooking over real hardwood is the only way to get that true barbecue taste. Grillco’s Wood Burning Barbecue Pit ($5,000) is a beast of a cooker, weighing in at 560 lbs and featuring 10 square feet of cooking surface.
For even more cooking space, check out the Traeger COM190 ($6,395), a trailer-mounted unit with two separate cooking surfaces and enough room to cook 10 beef briskets or 16 pork butts. Sure, it’s ridiculously expensive, but roll up to the tailgate party with one of these and you’ll be able to feed the entire parking lot.
Few things pair as well with barbecue as whiskey, whether mixed into a sauce or served neat on the side to wash down a little pulled pork. So what better way to barbecue than in an old whiskey barrel? The Thousand Oaks Barrel Co. produces a barbecue from a repurposed whiskey barrel, which has been lined with metal inside to keep the barrel from burning. While fully functional as a cooker, this handsome grill is also a surefire conversation starter ($950).
While we’re on the topic of alcohol-inspired cookers, you might also want to check out Huntington County Customs’ Keg Smoker ($400), which turns the inside of an old beer keg into a hot smoker.
For a more traditional smoker, you can’t go wrong with the classic Big Green Egg, a favorite among barbecue enthusiasts. The Eggs, which come in a variety of sizes, boast a tough ceramic exterior and a tight fitting lid to lock in flavor-creating smoke. The company doesn’t sell the smokers online, but check their site’s dealer locator to find a local retailer.
Goin’ Whole Hog
For the true barbecue master that can whip up brisket with a hand tied behind the back and shred pork shoulder while sleeping, there is no greater feat than going whole hog. The SpitJack P150 ($1,295) is a fully automated spit roast built to handle a pig as big as 200 lbs. If you’d like to try your hand at a smaller animal first, the company also offers spit roasters capable of handling 50 lbs ($449) and 85 lbs ($749).
Backyard Pizza Party
If you’re looking to branch out from barbecue and grilling, check out the Fontana Gusto Wood-Fired Outdoor Oven, a handsome Italian-made stainless steel and cast iron oven that will enable you to get that authentic Italian-style pizza crust. However, at a cost of $5,000, this oven is more for the hardcore pizza enthusiast, rather than those looking for a DIY alternative to delivery pie.