When man discovered fire a few hundred thousand years ago it was a pretty big deal. It allowed our early ancestors to get warm, do stuff after the sun went down, and protect themselves against predators. It also spawned all manner of caveman memes and comedy sketches. But perhaps most importantly, it birthed BBQ. (If this were a voiceover narration, heavenly music would play now.)
Before there were any debates over dry rub versus wet rub, beef brisket versus pig butt, before the earliest discoveries of Flavortown, there was simply homo sapiens holding hand-killed meat (before that became an “artisanal” endeavor) over an open flame.
Things have evolved a bit since then. And while sticking a branch through a hot dog and into a roaring campfire still most definitely rules, BBQs have also grown more sophisticated—and expensive.
Today, you can get BTUs out the ass, more burners than you know what to do with, and side burners for when those other burners just don’t cut it. Will they make you a better grillmaster? Maybe. Will they impress the hell out of your friends when they come over? Absolutely. And sometimes that’s all you need. So before you throw another grey, pre-made hamburger patty on the hibachi this July 4th weekend, check out these over-the-top outdoor grills, smokers, and ovens.
1. KALAMAZOO K1000HS
While the gas/charcoal/wood debate rages on, Kalamazoo owners are too busy enjoying the best of all worlds to weigh in. The company’s hybrid fire system allows grillers to BBQ with all three. The total BTUs on this grill top out at 179,800, so yeah, you can get a nice sear on that steak. And with 1,012 square inches of cooking surface, more than a few of those steaks can cook at a time. There is even the option to have the grilling surfaces custom laser-cut so they’re optimized for cooking meat, fish, or vegetables.
2. FIRE MAGIC ECHELON DIAMOND E1060S
If you’re the kind of guy who always wants to know what’s going on inside your BBQ, but knows that opening and closing the lid repeatedly isn’t good for the meat, you’ll appreciate the “magic view” window on Fire Magic’s Echelon Diamond grill. The 48-inch grill also has a wood chip smoker with its own designated 3,000-BTU burner so you can get that great smoke flavor into your meat easily.
3. CROWN VERITY TOWABLE GRILL
Some people like to bring a small camp stove to a tailgate. That’s cute. But if you’re serious about taking your BBQ skills on the road, the TG-1 from Crown Verity will have other tailgaters scrambling to give you space in the parking lot. There are six independent burners, and it can also be set up as a rotisserie if you want to roast a whole pig. This thing is capable of cooking 380 burgers an hour—so you might want to make some new friends.
4. CALIBER ROCKWELL
It may not be the most powerful grill on this list, but it is the most beautiful. Created with renowned designer David Rockwell, who is reponsible for the look of restaurants such as Nobu and Maialino, the Caliber Rockwell is designed for people to gather around, the way they would an island in a kitchen. The disappearing lid means there is no traditional front and back. And the legs are fashioned from an elegant Brazilian cherry wood.
5. LYNX PROFESSIONAL
Lynx’s Professional line of grills are for folks who aren’t messing around. It comes equipped with what you need to do just about every type of outdoor cooking. There’s a smoker box, a rotisserie with a three-speed motor and its own set of burners, and 1,555 square inches of cooking surface. It’s also got some nice amenties like halogen grill surface lights.
6. KOMODO KAMADO BIG BAD
You may be familiar with the Big Green Egg. Well, Komodo has taken that concept of a combination grill, oven, and smoker and turned it into a luxury good. Every piece of the Big Bad, from the stainless steel grates to the exquisite tilework is overengineered to be way better than it needs to be. Should you be lucky to cook on one of these, build in lots of time for navigating around people who are staring at it up close like a work of art.
7. FONTANA DIVINO
The wood-fired Divino is the option for discerning foodies who want that brick-oven taste, whether it’s in pizza, roasts, or chicken. It has two racks so you can cook more than one thing at a time, and consumes wood far more scarcely than a traditional brick oven. The Divino also looks awesome, a reflection of Fontana’s Italian craftsmanship that stretches back to 1945.