Holiday Gift Guide Foodies_GrillingWhen I started working on this Gift Guide, I was so excited I couldn’t go to sleep- I had visions of sugar plums and homemade Bacon Jam in my head. Actually, I love the idea of giving unique gifts and finding that perfect gift, and I thought about all the neat possibilities late into the night. I think the Holidays have always awakened my inner Martha Stewart and wish I could just spend all of December making homemade gifts and spreading holiday cheer in ever-so-unique and thoughtful ways!

You will see some of my favorites from years before, with a few new contenders. I’ve listed some of my favorite homemade items for the foodies in your life, as well as stocking stuffers like Rubs and spices, gadgets and then moving up to bigger ticket items like a grill for that special someone who has been oh so good this year.

DIY Gifts:

BBQ Gift Basket (Hotsauce Gift Basket, Salts of the World Gift Basket): Gift baskets are so fun to create and you can load them up with your favorite goodies. If the gift recipient is a Chilihead, fill it up with lots of exotic hot sauce, or if they love gourmet spices- why not give them a sampler of artisanal salts: Himalayan, French Grey, Smoked Sea Salts, etc. For more info on all things salt, check out my article “Salt 101”: a primer on all things salt.

Homemade BBQ Rub: Nothing says “I think you’re pretty special” like making your favorite BBQ Rub for someone. Sharing your secret rub doesn’t mean you have to share the recipe- this will turn into the gift they can’t wait to receive year after year! For a great all purpose rub, check out this Smoked Paprika Rub Recipe.

Homemade Finishing Salts: The possibilities are endless and this is easy-peasy to do. Put in a cute jar to gift to your friends and family. There are variations like orange oregano, citrus, espresso sea salt. Try this citrus sea salt to get started.

Baked Treats, with Bacon!

chocolate chip cookies with bacon, desserts with bacon

Leave this cookies out for Santa because a little last minute bribing never hurts.

Onion & Bacon Jam: Everyone loves Bacon, try this onion and Bacon Jam recipe from John Dawson at Patio Daddio. Put it in cute mason jars and serve warmed on crostini- yum!

Candied Bacon: You really can’t go wrong with Bacon that is caramelized in sugar. It is a sweet/salty combo that will have you reaching for another slice.

Sea Salted Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Bacon: I bake these cookies for people I REALLY like.

Vintage and Unique:

Vintage Cookbooks: I love love love vintage cookbooks and they are very inexpensive too. Check out these cool vintage grilling cookbooks on

Vintage Salt and Pepper Shakers: Another unique way to be thoughtful without breaking the bank. Check out these vintage flaming salt and pepper shakers I bought on etsy to appeal to my flamingo fetish. You can find everything under the sun on just plug in salt and pepper shakers.

The Gift Of Artisanal Meat:

Snake River Farms Korobuta Ham, Berkshire Breed Ham, Thermoworks, Dot Thermometer

Korobuta Berkshire Breed Ham.

Meyer Natural Angus: I am very into knowing what is in my food these days, and I appreciate how antiobiotic, hormone free beef tastes. If you also have a discerning palate that can tell the difference, Meyer Natural ships their Natural beef to your door.

Snake River Farms: True foodies are going to appreciate something like Wagyu Beef or Heritage Breed Pork. Snake River farms is where you can order it.

Geniune Choice: A great resource for organic beef, lamb, poultry, veal and pork. Ships right to your door!


Bourbon smoked sea salt, pepper and paprika will start your 2013 off on a tasty note!

Bourbon smoked sea salt, pepper and paprika will start your 2013 off on a tasty note!

Bourbon Smoked Spices: cooking with spices smoked in bourbon barrels takes everything you cook to the next level. I recommend these spices to everyone I meet and often leave them as a parting gift when people have me over for dinner.

Dizzy Pig: All the Eggheads use this rub and for Good Reason- they are awesome. All natural ingredients and no MSG. They have really unique flavors like Bombay Curryish, Tsunami Spin for Seafood and the Pineapple Head which is great on grilled Pineapple and fruit.

John Henrys of East Texas: All of the rubs I have ever tried from John Henry’s are fantastic. I am quite obsessed with the Wild Cherry Chipotle Rub.

Oakridge BBQ Rubs: These guys are well represented on the BBQ circuit as the owner and creator has made, and won frequently, with these rubs on the competition circuit. Their rubs are made with high quality ingredients, are well balanced (sweet/salty/heat) and come in meat specific varieties such as “Black Ops Brisket Rub” or “Venison and Wild Game Rub”. My personal favorite rub of theirs is the “Habanero Death Dust”- I have ordered this for myself, and gave this as a gift to special people last Christmas.


The Looflighter: The looflighter is a fun alternative to using a chimney starter and much faster too. It is similar to a heat gun; in less than a minute it can ignite a flame on your charcoal. It is not cheap but for someone who grills a lot, it is a great tool to have. It also comes with a neat beer opener included- quite convenient. ☺ Here is a quick video of the Looflighter.

The Thermapen: I include the Thermapen in my gift every year because it deserves to be here. Anyone who cooks on a regular basis should have one. It reads internal temps in less than 3 seconds so you don’t have to spill valuable heat from your grill waiting to get a temp. It is also great for cooking in the kitchen, and even reading temps when frying or making candy. It is the gold standard in commercial kitchens everywhere. It comes in a lot of really cool colors too, I love my teal Thermapen!
Note, Thermoworks has a whole line of products, the Chef Alarm and The Dot are also great contenders for the cook in your life.

The Flame Boss: The Flame Boss is a Smoker Controller that maintains the temp of your smoker while simultaneously monitoring the  internal temp of your meat letting you know when it is done. It essentially puts your smoker on cruise control so you can multi-task and do other things. I’ve even gone to the beach while smoking a pork butt using the Flame Boss!

Cast Iron Grill Grates: Craycort’s Cast Iron grates retain heat and offer wonderful char marks on your food that you will not be able to obtain with the standard stainless steel grates that come with your grill. They come in all shapes and sizes to match your grill.

Outdoor Gourmet is offering a NorthWest Sampler Giveaway- now you already have one gift taken care of!

Outdoor Gourmet is offering a NorthWest Sampler Giveaway- now you already have one gift taken care of!

Outdoor Gourmet Cedar Grilling Planks, {AND A GIFT BASKET GIVEAWAY!!!- value of $75!}: I really love the folks at Outdoor Gourmet – they offer sustainably harvested wood grilling planks in a huge assortment of different wood types: Alder, Cedar, Oak, Cherry, Apple, they also offer Cedar skewers and cedar papers, great for items like shrimp. I am also really digging their Fromagier Line where you can smoke cheese on them! Now how cool would that be to bring to a Holiday party! This year they are offering Outdoor Gourmet Gift Baskets- perfect for that person who loves to grill/smoke. Please leave a comment on my blog and you’ll be eligible to win one too!


Some people use gas, some people prefer charcoal, some like both. I’ve listed out my favorite grills (and smokers) in ranging from $30 to $1200, with various tags on their uses: Grill/Smoke/Portable. FYI I own all of the grills/smokers below and recommend all of them.

$29.99 The Weber Smokey Joe: This is a small portable grill, perfect for someone who can’t have a big grill, wants to take it to a tailgate, or wants the flavor of Charcoal on occasion. GRILL, SMOKE, TAILGATE

$79 The Weber Kettle: This is THE classic charcoal grill. For someone who enjoys charcoal grilling, the classic Weber Kettle will offer endless opportunities for grilling success and doesn’t break the bank. There is a reason the Weber Kettle is a classic! Can’t go wrong with this. You can grill and creatively smoke on this too. GRILL/SMOKE

$199+ The Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM): For someone who wants to get into smoking, this is the standard in smokers (Note this is NOT a grill). It is a water smoker that uses charcoal so this is often used in competitions as it is also light and easy to move. The smallest 14.5” starts at $199 and the price goes up with size. There is a whole forum dedicated to this smoker- TheVirtualWeberBullet. SMOKE

$289 Pit Barrel Cooker: For someone looking to get more into Charcoal grilling or smoking, this is a really awesome grill. The Pit Barrel Cooker is a commercially available “UDS- Ugly Drum Smoker”. For those who are really into grilling/smoking, the UDS has a cult following and many people have been building their own for years out of old drums. Noah Glanville has perfected this design and made it commercially available so there is no blood, sweat and tears in trying to build your own. For whatever reason, this grill/smoker combo produces amazing results with flavor I have never experienced on other grills. The price is right at $199, and I like that the owner of this company is a US Veteran- support products owned/made in the USA! On a side note, my friend John Dawson of beat legendary Johnny Trigg in the Rib category on this smoker. GRILL/SMOKE

$399+ The Weber Spirit: This is the entry level gas grill made by Weber. For someone who wants a grill, I always recommend Webers because a) they are built to last and b) you can replace their parts over time versus the cheaper “throwaway grills” you can buy at Home Depot that you will have to get rid of after 2 years. The Weber Spirit has starts with two burner configuration for the E-210 (and moves up to 3, so does the price) so you can do direct/indirect and is just big enough to grill for a family of 4. GRILL

$349+ The Weber Performer: For someone who really enjoys Charcoal but likes the convenience of Gas, the Weber Performer is the perfect grill. It continues to be my go-to grill. It is essentially a Weber Kettle with a propane started so you get get the charcoal ready in a hurry which lessens the time it takes to cook on charcoal. This grill makes grilling on charcoal on weeknights after work attainable. The Performer comes with a built in side table which is uber handy.

$699+ The Weber Genesis: This was the grill that started it all for me. This is a really great, top of the line gas grill that will go the distance- as I mentioned before- Webers are great because you can replace the parts over time so consider this grill as a long term investment. The Genesis starts with a 3 burner configuration, you can get it with a side burner (I use mine all the time now that I am renovating my house and have no kitchen!), the add ons will of course make the price go up. This is a quality grill that will allow you to cook for a crowd, as well as give you enough surface area and BTUs to do a lot of different dishes at once with a direct/indirect configuration. GRILL/SMOKE (FYI this is more a grill, but you can smoke on it, if you smoke a lot then I would recommend something else, like the BGE)

**$1200 The Big Green Egg(smaller sizes are lower in cost but I recommend getting the large if you purchase one)…

People ask me about the BGE all the time- “what is it about the Big Green Egg?”. The Egg has a cult following of users called Eggheads, and for good reason, this grill and smoker is extremely versatile and yields extremely tasty results. It is a ceramic, kamado style grill/smoker that retains heat extremely well which means your food comes out much more moist, and quickly too. Because it retains heat so well, you can get it to hot temps, 500 plus, for searing a steak, while also using a very small amount of charcoal when doing a long cook. When smoking, it requires less babysitting than other smokers because is does retain it’s heat so well. In addition, it’s shape makes it function like a convection over so you can cook pizza and even bake bread in it. Believe it or not I have even made Naan on the inside of my egg. When people ask me about the Egg, I do say that it is not for everyone. I don’t think it is an entry-level grill, even for those who can afford some Patio Bling. I think the egg is for someone who absolutely LOVES to grill and wants to take it to the next level. For the occasional griller (someone who grills less than once a month), they may not get it. I believe the Egg is for more serious cooks, someone who appreciates what is provides- which is flavorful, juicy results, consistent heat, and versatility in being able to grill, smoke and even bake. If you get an Egg, get a large so you can do a whole turkey or whole slab or ribs – they start around $1200. What is awesome about purchasing an Egg over other Kamado style grills/smokers is that you are investing in a culture. Eggheads are extremely passionate and you will be buying into the Egg community. BGE has an annual “Eggfest” every year at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, and you can find regional “Eggfests” across the country. My local Egg dealer cooks every Saturday and a group of Eggheads always show up to drink beer and share tips. It truly is an experience like no other!! GRILL/SMOKE/BAKE