Barbecue season is here! As we’re shaking off our BBQ covers, cleaning the grill grates to get them in tip-top shape, and looking to add to our grill kits, it’s a great time to consider some new technology for your cook. While cooking over fire is one of our most basic and primal tasks, you might not realize just how much technology there is to ensure you can serve up perfectly cooked meat, veggies, and even pizzas and cakes!
Smart BBQ Thermometer
One of the first things to consider is a smart thermometer. When it comes to cooking meat, it’s not just a matter of tenderness to cook to an appropriate temperate — it’s about food safety and keeping you and your guests from potential food-borne illnesses.
There are myriad smart thermometers out there, ranging from low-tech to fully connected and app-enabled. You can check out our full list of smart thermometers here. Meantime we’ve narrowed the picks down to two smart options that we think will serve you best. That doesn't mean a smart thermometer is going to be the end be all your barbecue woes. While these devices can give you an idea of what’s going on under the lid, you still need to be keeping tabs on the cook, too, as in many cases, the alerts you get may not be audible or instant.
Easy wireless temperature sensing
- Fully wireless
- Nice storage/charging case
- Includes Bluetooth repeater to extend range
- Alerts may vary depending on your device
Meater makes a few different smart thermometer models. Their versions are fully cordless and connect to a companion app, so there’s no fussing with wires strung up to other equipment. The Meater Plus contains the stainless steel temperature probe and comes in a handy charging and storage case that’s magnetic. The Plus package also adds a Bluetooth repeater so you can beat Meater’s somewhat-limited Bluetooth range and ensure you see cooking alerts on your smartphone at all times.
Weber iGrill 3
Keep tabs on multiple meats at once
- Can check temp on two meals at the same time
- You can use the probes on the new Weber Genesis grills
- Doesn't work as easy as an instant-read thermometer
Another connected option is the Weber iGrill 3. This corded probe plugs into a base station that will stay near your BBQ, transmitting a signal to the Weber Connect app on your phone. Use the app to keep an eye on what you're cooking from elsewhere in the house. With two temperature probes and support for dual temperatures, you can cook burgers on one side of the grill and steaks on the other, all while ensuring both get finished to the correct temperature.
Weber Genesis Smart Grill
This whole BBQ is smart
- Impressive grill with built-in smart tech
- Gas or propane
- Sports and iGrill Module with room for two temp probes
- Requires assembly
- Bit of a learning curve
Speaking of Weber, the company has adapted smart technology into some of its new barbecues. The Weber Genesis 335 has both an ambient temperature sensor and a built-in, connected iGrill Module with room for two temperature probes. This means you don't need a third-party thermometer. (But if you have that Weber iGrill 3, those probes will work with the company's new BBQs!)
The whole BBQ connects to the Weber Connect app so you can monitor multiple temperatures, keep tabs on preheating, cooking, and more. We did a full review of this Weber BBQ, so see what we thought here. Weber has also engineered a replaceable grill grate that holds a special line of Weber Crafted cookware designed for making pancakes, cooking pizza, and roasting veggies, too.
BioLite AlpenGlow light
Great for task light and ambient glow
- Multiple lighting options
- Hanging hook
- Plastic, so keep from heat
Depending on the season, grilling in the dark is a real thing, and while some of Weber’s newest grills actually come with built-in LED lighting, there are ways you can get a bit more light on your cook if needed. Weber makes a special handle light for its grills (Weber Handle Grill 'N Go Light), but using something like the BioLite AlpenGlow, it doesn't matter what kind of grill you own.
BioLite AlpenGlow gives you so many cool lighting options, from an aurora borealis-style color cycle and an anti-bug red light to a full bright white light. Use the integrated hanging hook to suspend the rechargeable light above your BBQ area for a wider glow.
BioLite Fire Pit
Cook, get warm, or power up with this multi-purpose device
- Good for cooking or heat
- Big & bulky
Speaking of BioLite, we're a fan of the company’s camping and outdoor gear, mainly because it’s well made, durable, smart, and multi-purpose. If you’re looking for something that can provide cooking power and a heat source for those camping outings, consider the BioLite FirePit.
This portable metal box has folding legs so you can pack it on a cookout. Weighing about 20 pounds, you wouldn’t want to bring it on a hike, but it’s perfect for your trunk or a day at the beach, campsite, or picnic area. The BioLite FirePit has a sliding grill top, so you can cook on it or just use it to have a small but roaring fire. You can burn either wood or charcoal — depending on your needs and what’s available — in the BioLite FirePit.
Not surprisingly, BioLite FirePit has built-in technology. The side is home to a large 10,400mAh PowerPack that also houses a fan. This fan can stoke your flames, which are adjustable. Use the buttons on the module or connect your phone to the power pack using Bluetooth, so you can make small incremental adjustments to the fire from your smartphone. When your phone battery starts to wane, you can connect it to that power pack on the FirePit and recharge it sitting by the fire — yes, you can actually recharge your phone sitting next to the flames; the power pack is heat-rated!
Grillbot automatic grill cleaner
Like a Roomba for your BBQ
- Comes with storage case
- Makes dirty jobs easier
- Gets between grates well
- Can't be used on hot grill
- May take time to be effective
Lastly, no one likes to do the cleanup, but it has to get done. So what about a device that's like a Roomba for your grill? The Grillbot automatic grill cleaning robot promises clean grates with zero effort on your part. This little bot has twisty brushes on its underside that scrub cooked food and grime off the grill grates and gets between them, too. If your grill is really dirty, you can set the bot to do a more intense clean; just close the lid and let it roam around for longer to remove melted cheese and grilled fruit bits.
While we haven’t tested this to verify how well it actually works, it’s got a bunch of great reviews, and we’re game to try anything that promises easy cleanup thanks to automation.
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