We love cooking on the grill. Yet, now that we’ve reached summer’s core, some of us are looking for other ways to cook outside, for variety’s sake.
Topping a good gas grill or coal barbecue is hard to do. We’re not here to unseat these culinary tools from their respective thrones. Instead, we wish to offer some alternatives that cater especially well to certain dishes or circumstances. Maybe you need something more portable, or something tailor-made for turning out a pizzeria-caliber pie. Perhaps you just want to feel like your ancestors and cook something slow and low underground.
So while we strongly encourage you to perfect your grill marks and master your tenderness skills, we also advise you to live a little and try some other ways of preparing food al fresco. Here are five great alternatives to the conventional grill.
Best for Smoking: The Pit-Barrel
One of the grill’s closest siblings is the pit barrel, a drum of sorts that concentrates the smoke and delivers nice, even cooking conditions for all of your favorite proteins. It utilizes the hook-and-hang method of cooking, which is a bit like doing things rotisserie style. Once you learn to really control the heat and familiarize yourself with the potency of the barrel format, you’ll be making some of the best whole chicken, brisket, or smoked vegetables you’ve ever had.
Best for Camping: GoSun Solar Cooker
Solar is about as clean as it comes from an energy standpoint. It’s also a great way to harness heat while you’re out and about, camping, or just hanging in your yard. A miracle worker, this device allows you to steam, fry, bake, boil, and roast from just about any setting. And it can bring the heat, maxing out around 550 degrees. Expect to see more options like this in the future, as the technology just keeps getting better.
Best for Pizza: Ooni Koda 12
Perfecting a pizza requires specialized equipment, and the Ooni Koda 12 is one such great option, as it looks cool and is decked out with all the amenities. It boasts a carbon steel shell, stainless steel legs, and a stone baking board, and the thing heats up to a whopping 950 degrees. You will become the resident neighborhood pizza chef in no time. And if you want it to be packable, there’s a clever option for that, too.
Read more: Best Outdoor Pizza Ovens
Best for Stews: Emile Henry Tagine
Good luck trying to grill a stew or dish with a fair amount of liquid. It can be done, but it involves specialty dishes, a lot of transferring, and the constant worry that it’s going to tip over. We prefer to go the Moroccan route with a tagine, which handles stews beautifully, cooks evenly, and can more than handle the heat. It’s essentially a well-constructed ceramic dish that you can heat up in a variety of ways, from a fire pit to your trusty camp stove. We like the offerings from Emile Henry a lot for this style of cuisine.
Best for Searing: Wolf Electric Griddle
Most of what you grill can be griddled. Better, it can be done via electricity, by way of your nearest deck outlet or a good extension cord. There are even cordless options for the most intrepid. We like the Wolf Gourmet model, with its vast cooking surface and even heat dispersion. It’s nonstick for easy clean-up and can dial up to 450 degrees, ideal for searing things like scallops and steaks.
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