Cookouts are a big part of summer for many of us. It’s a great way for families to get together and enjoy the weather as well as one another’s company. Cookouts have a lot of activities, like horseshoes, volleyball and swimming, but the most popular is grilling. As grill technology has improved over the years, so too has the popularity of this cooking method. Now it’s not just dads charring steak, but there are moms grilling gourmet burgers over charcoal and people making exquisite vegetable dishes with large propane grills.
But it’s not just the diversification of foods being cooked on the grill. There are dozens of new and unique tools and toys that make thoughtful gifts for anyone hosting a cookout this summer. Although grills are often given as gifts themselves for Father’s Day, weddings and anniversaries, here are some of the accessories that’ll make superior housewarming or Fourth of July gifts.
**A grill cover **
This gift may lack the flash and excitement of the other food-related options out there, but a true griller will really appreciate it. Covers can get ripped or dirtied over the years, so a new cover would be a great gift for a close friend or family member. You’ll usually need to know the make and model of the grill to get the best cover. Get a durable material like vinyl.
An outdoor warming tray
This gift is more on the expensive end, but it’s perfect for the griller who throws cookouts all summer long. These specialty units work similarly to indoor warming trays with steam and heating elements to keep any food perfect for the feast. You can cook hundreds of chicken wings and serve them all at the same time and temperature by storing them in the tray when you need to put more wings on the grill.
As Real Simple magazine explained, some of the best (and most reasonably priced) gift options have to do with holding certain foods to help them grill better. The Weber stainless steel rib rack lets experienced barbecuers make ribs without using the entire grill surface. These ribs are held upright for better heat circulation and reduced surface area on the grill. The magazine also pointed to hot dog holders that keep your wieners from burning and a beer-can holder that lets you more easily cook chicken with beer or wine inside.
A pizza stone
Many food lovers will try to make their own specialty pizza – mix their homemade sauce, garden vegetables and specialty meats into a pie – but it’s hard in a traditional oven. Whether you’re buying for a food experimenter or a pizza lover, consider getting him or her a pizza stone that’s compatible with grills rather than ovens. This will let the pizza get that crispy crust and browning cheese you see in a pizza oven. Bring some dough and ingredients when you bring this gift, because you’ll want to use it right away.
For hamburgers, a spatula works great, but for large pieces of meat like pork or a whole chicken, it can be awkward to maneuver the food without your hands getting dirty or burnt. A new speciality item is called Bear Paws. These tools look like bear claws, like sharp wide forks that you can hold in your hands. You can stab in the sharp edges to the breast of a bird to move it on the grill or even use them to pull pork for a barbecue treat. If your host cooks a lot of fish, a fish turner will always be a welcome addition to their grill accessories.
A barbecue wok
Most gift ideas focus on grilling meat, but people can prepare a vast array of foods for a cookout. One of the reasons why people may stick to hamburgers, hot dogs and corn is because it’s hard to make other meals on the grated surface. So when you’re looking for a grilling gift, think of a special wok made for barbecues, which Men’s Health magazine recommended. The wide-sided pot is filled with small holes so you can get the flames in without keeping your vegetable stir-fry from falling through.
**A grill press **
Just like with the wok and pizza stone, a grill press allows your gift to diversify what the host can make on the grill. Business Insider called the grill press a necessity for any griller because it not only holds down meat to prevent curling, but it also allows people to make paninis and grilled sandwiches with ease. They’ll be able to make restaurant-quality sandwiches with melted cheese, authentic grill marks and golden brown crust because of this weighted tool.
When you give a gift at a cookout, you can almost be sure that your host will be using them by the end of the day. And, often times you’ll benefit too – not only from the delicious treats you’ve enabled your host to make — but possibly with a repeat invitation!