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Top 10 Coolest BBQ Grills (And Then Some!)

Summer is nearly here, and with it comes the great American culinary tradition: barbecue!

BBQ is both a rite of summer and a rite of manhood (yes, BBQ is associated with male cooking, probably because any sane woman would not go near the combination fire, meat and beer). In some parts of the USA, BBQ is not just food, it's a religion. The fastest way to start a fight is not to talk politics, but to argue about the virtues of wood vs. charcoal vs. gas. Even the word itself is kind of controversial: is it barbecue, barbeque, bar-b-q, or BBQ? Just don't bring it up with a purist (or the one cooking your burger!)

There's no argument, however, about the popularity of BBQ. The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (yes, it's a real organization - actually it is just one of many dedicated to barbecuing) did a study called "The State of Barbecue Industry Report". The 2005 study[pdf] stated that 4 out of every 5 US households own a grill - in fact, 1 in 5 own more than one grill. And not surprisingly, "the primary griller (male) in the majority of households considers themselves to be average or above in terms of cooking skills".

A central object in the BBQ world is the grill (or the smoker, or the pit depending on who you ask). These BBQ grills come in all shapes and sizes, but we're not here to talk about the grills you can pick up at your local home improvement store. We're talking about cool and unusual ones; if you're looking to feed your closest hundred or so friends at your next backyard party, this is the list for you!

So, without further ado, let's check out our picks for the Top 10 Coolest BBQ Grills.

10. Grills to Go!

Grills to Go makes grills that get up and GO! The one above is the 12 ft. model that uses wood for fuel - it comes complete with the company's distinctive "red wheel" that moves the grill up or down over 36" so you can fine-tune the cooking temperature. And oh, it also comes with standard installed tail-lights and removable hitch.

Link

9. Nexo Fireplace and Grill

Is Nexo a fireplace or a BBQ grill? Why, both of course! This awesome outdoor fireplace is designed and built on the Danish Island of Mors by master craftsmen from "steel-reinforced, pumic-stone refractory core covered with beautifully colored sandstone rock or with stucco."

Think about it this way: it's the BBQ grill that your wife won't complain about lookin' ugly in the backyard!

Link

8. Backwood Smoker's "The Competitor"

It's easy to mistake this Backwood Smokers unit as a safe, since, ... well, it kind of looks like one. That is, until you open the behemoth to reveal 8 shelves at about 20"x20" a piece to give a total of 22 square feet of cooking surface!

This model shown above, aptly called "The Competitor" (yes, men compete with each other to see who has the best grill) can cook 135 pounds of Boston Butts or 21 Slabs of St. Louis-style ribs at once. A steal at $2,445 list price.

Link | Backwoods Smokers website

7. The Bar-B-Q Shack

Is it a mobile home that comes with a BBQ grill or is it a BBQ grill that comes with a house? Who cares? It's awesome and you absolutely gotta have one!

Actually, it's a Bar-B-Q Shack Concession Trailer with a Cabin and 4 ft. Smoker, built by Southern Yankee Bar-B-Q. The 8'x20' unit comes with:

  • 8'x11' concession building
  • 3 sliding windows
  • storage areas
  • 2 wet/dry hot food wells
  • range hood
  • 2 refrigerated food wells
  • refrigerator
  • 1 hand sink and 3-compartment sink with hot & cold water
  • air conditioning
  • 6 stereo speakers
  • water pump
  • fresh and waste water tanks
  • electric water heater

Link | Southern Yankee Bar-B-Q website

6. Superior Welding's BBQ Swing-A-Way Grill

Superior Welding Services' tailgate BBQ grill is guaranteed to make you the center of attention at tailgate parties. Plus, the grill is convenient to use: no need to pull out the grill or smoker out of the back of your truck - just park your car and start cooking!

The unique Swing-A-Way Receiver Hitch also allows you to swing this tailgate barbecue grill away from your car and prevent it from blistering your paint job.

Link

5. Traeger's Novelty BBQ Grills

Ah, the novelty grills - what's not to like about theml? Like all standard Traeger grills, the company's novelty lines come with Autostart, EZ-drain grease system, and a variable thermostat control. With 371 square inch of cooking space, you can grill to your heart's content.

With two models to choose from (the Lil' Pig and the Longhorn Steer), all you need is money. Lots of it, apparently, since they're $1,495 each!

And what is it with pigs and BBQ? Apparently, the irony of cooking pork in a BBQ grill shaped like a pig is irresistible to artists like Joel Haas, who made this Barbee Q. Piglet:

4. Kamado Ceramic BBQ Grill

Kamado's Ceramic Barbecue Grill is probably the most artistic and beautiful BBQ grill we've ever seen (and yes, it's from California).

The hand-made Kamado grill was invented by Richard Johnson, an American pilot who came across a ceramic rice cooker in Japan in the 1960s. He claimed that this method of cooking makes for better flavors of smoked, broiled or baked food.

Today, you can order a Kamado grill in various tile colors (so it'll match your decor, of course!), using various fuels such as wood, charcoal, gas, or electricity.

Link

3. HEMI-Powered BBQ Grill

Tim Kowalec built this HEMI-powered BBQ grill for Chrysler's "What Can You HEMI?" contest in 2005. Tim's "manly man's barbecue grill" featured a 5.7-liter V-8 HEMI engine, and can cook 240 hot dogs in 3 minutes!

Link | Hi-Res Photos

2. Gator Pit's Texas Legend

The Texas Legend Smoker and Grill is so big that two adults can stand up in the upright smoker - now that's big. Texas BIG.

This behemoth of a BBQ grill, built by custom builder Ritch Robin of Gator Pit, is roughly 30 feet long by 8 feet wide by 10 1/2 feet tall. It has approximately 27,500 square inch of cooking space. Check out the mind-blowing specs:

  • 3/8" thick-walled, 38" diameter x 8 ft. horizontal smoke chamber, with 12 sliding food trays
  • 1/4" thick-walled, 38" diameter by 48" tall upright smoker, with 5 sliding food trays
  • 3/8" thick x 36" side grill, with 3 sliding food trays and sliding baffle for additional heat source to the upright smoker
  • Dual fish fryers/ burners
  • 15" stainless steel bar sink with cold running water
  • Two bay stainless steel sink with hot and cold running water
  • 3 x 4 ft. stainless cutting/prep table
  • 5,500 watt generator
  • Four custom 18" chrome wheel
  • Dual propane tank holder
  • Refrigerator & Freezer
  • and much, much more...

Texas Legend construction photos | completed photo & gallery of other pits.

1. Lynx Professional Grills

It's. Just. So. Pretty. Oh. So. Pretty. And its the one I want for Father's Day, OK?

Yup, that sums it up - this mouth-watering, budget-busting, jaw-droppingly beautiful backyard set from Lynx Professional Grills has a 42" grill with access doors, double burner, storage drawers, warming drawer, and beverage area with outdoor refrigerator, ice machine, and coctail pro (a bar area with sink and faucet).

If you have to ask how much, you simply can't afford it.

Link


[Update 6/8/06] What did we tell you about BBQ being the object of passion? People have been writing us because apparently, we missed a lot of cool grills, so in the spirit of catching up, here are a few more awesome BBQ grills:

The Ultimate Smoker and Grill.

Trace Arnold designed a true monster of a BBQ grill: The Ultimate Smoker and Grill. The 55-feet long grill is the size of a tanker and is hauled by a semi.

The wood-fired grill is huge: 48" by 120 ". It can cook 2,000 pounds of barbecue, 200 steaks, or 1,000 hot dogs at once. The lid is 20 feet long and goes up and down using a hydraulic system.

And of course, the entire rig comes with 48-in flat screen TV with satellite hookup and Bose Entertainment system.

Best of all, you can rent it for $5,000 a day plus $3 per mile traveled (excluding the cost of food).

Link - Thanks DrinkKing!

Texas Lil's World's Largest Transportable Smoker.

Did you think that last one was huge? Think again: David Klose built this transportable smoker called Texas Lil's Monster Smoker.

The smoker is 57 ft. in length and 60" in diameter. It has 90,000 sq. in. cooking surface and weighs 25,000 lbs.

Link

The King of Barbecues Grill.

And how could we missed David Klose's The King of Barbecues grill? Uber-Review writes:

The extensive list of features includes, (#1) a 160,000 B.T.U. propane burner that can bring 20 gallons of cold water to a boil in 5 min. The entertainment portion of the BBQ has a satellite radio, satellite television, Sony wega flat screen, DVD player and a DVR that are all solar powered. A (#3)low temperate smoker, (#4)a seven foot long, 90 lb door, that is counter weighted, making it a snap to open. The main chamber (#5) can smoke up 100 six-pound chickens, which is enough to feed 350 people. To ensure that everyone knows that you are the king of the BBQ, it comes with 24 karat-gold rims and door handles.

Link - via Uber-Review

David Klose's Baby Carriage BBQ Pit.

That last one was too hi-tech for you? How about yet another one by that talented guy David Klose: a Baby Carriage Pit:

This Baby Carriage was originally found in the countryside around Houston, this is believed to be a turn-of-the century baby carriage made in London, England.

When David Klose found this baby carriage, it was beyond recognition, totally crushed and completely rusted out. Then, after three weeks of restoration and a few beers. It was discovered to be an Allwyn Pramelator made in London Circa 1906. The hood folds down to complete the smoker effect, for cooking things like brisket, ribs, chickens and of course, Baby Back Ribs.

Link | If you like that, you'll like Klose's cookers that look like a Continental Airplane, Beer Bottle and Chuck Wagon. David Klose, you're awesome, dude!

BBQ Under The Hood!

This gives new meaning to the words "check under the hood" - unfortunately, it doesn't exist (yet, we hope!). via The BBQ Report

Texas Six Shooter BBQ Grill.

This awesome 6 foot 11 barbecue pit shaped was built by Joe Wood of Weimar, Texas:

The barrel is 10 feet long and 8 inches in diameter, and the entire rig is over 15 feet long. The pistol’s grips, which cover the firebox, are made of red oak. When cooking, the barrel acts as the grill’s chimney. It took over two years and 1,100 hours to complete, and used more than two tons of red oak, stainless, and carbon steel.

Link

Handgun BBQ Grill.

While we're on the subject of handgun-shaped grill, take a look at this 19-ft long grill made by Spook and J.W. Holtman in Lubbock, Texas, who said "Heck, it's Texas, what did you expect?"

Link [Flickr]

Redneck Pool Heater.

Grills aren't just for cookin' meat, especially if you're a redneck! You can use it to heat up your pool as well!

Todd Harrison and his daughter Veronica Harrison (who's in 8th grade!), modded a gas grill into a working pool heater so he can use his pool in winter (with only $28 cost in propane!):

I wasn't teaching during the spring of 2005 so I spent the time modifying mybackyard barbecue grill into a pool heater. (Redneck, I know but it worked!)

Our pool is between two tall homes and is shaded for all but 3 hours a day :( Normally you can't swim in our pool until June because it's just to cold (68F - 75F). I like swimming in about 80F to 85F myself, if it's sunny and warm out. I created a prototype heater coil that seemed to work for its size. I then create a large heater coil out of 180 feet of copper tubing that connects to my pool pump using a garden hose and fits inside the grill. The hose runs from the pump through the grill heater coils and then into the pool. I heated my pool from 68F to 89.4F in 48 hours using 3.5 tanks of propane.

Link - via Make Blog

Q BBQ.

Bucking the trend toward ever-increasingly large BBQ grill is the Q BBQ - a grill that looks like the "cross between the Starship Enterprise and a jet engine":

... the Q BBQ can be carried around like a briefcase, but opens up Transformer-style to become a stylish, stand-alone, gas-powered grill.

Not surprisingly, the Q BBQ won the Bronze Award in the 2003 Industrial Design Excellence Awards.

Link - via Boing Boing

The Table Is The Grill!

With Cook-n-Dine flameless cooking grill/table, you can cook and eat at the same place, literally! The center of the table heats up to form a cooking pit - you simply place your food and cook it there without the use of any pots or pans (the heated portion will turn into a concave pit). The price? $1,600 - worth it considering you will have fewer dishes to wash.

Link - via Appliancist

Austin-Healey BBQ Grill.

That old vintage Jaguar Austin-Healey not running anymore? Let's turn it into a grill! (This is not the automobile "grill" you're used to seeing, huh?) Found at Classic Jaguar

Jeppe Utzon BBQ Grill.

The Jeppe Utzon barbecue by Electrolux was created by the grandson of the legendary Jorn Utzon [wiki] (the guy who designed the Sydney Opera House). This stylish, minimalist BBQ grill is the perfect outdoor accessory for your ultra-modern house.

Link - Thanks Andy Hansson!

Real Grill's Submarine BBQ Grill

No, that's not a submarine - that's Real Grill's TRG 500 BBQ grill!

This custom made oh-so-shiny grill boasts 46 square feet of cooking area with 3 available fuel sources (gas, wood, and coal), diamond plated doors, and ... a fire extinguisher!

Link

SmokinTex's Pro Series Electric Smokers

SmokinTex's Pro Series Electric Smokers look like small dishwasher but they cook like a champ. According to the company, these smokers are so easy to use (just load 'em up with meat, shut the door, and set the temperature - that's it!). The food is slow-cooked "gently" over a real wood smoke.

Link

Southern Pride's Commercial Ovens

Unless you're a restaurant, or you always have really, really hungry friends at your backyard barbecue, you probably don't know Southern Pride's ovens.

Well, here it is: the XLR-1600-4. I'll skip the technical details to focus on what's important - its cooking capacity:

  • Pork Butts (7 lb): 192 total/1344 lbs total
  • Spare Ribs (3.5 lb): 210 total/735 lbs total
  • Beef Brisket (12 lb): 96 total/1152 lbs total
  • Whole Chickens (3 lb): 312 total/936 lbs total
  • St. Louis Ribs (2.75 lb): 294 total/808 lbs total
  • w/ Optional Rib Racks: 432 total/1188 lbs total
  • Turkeys, Hams, Shoulders, Prime Rib (14 lb): 120 total/1680 lbs total

I dunno - maybe it's just *too* small.

Link | Southern Pride website

J&R Manufacturing's Smokemaster

For over 30 years, J&R Manufacturing, Inc. has been making custom heavy-duty wood-burning BBQ pits. This one above is their Smokemaster E Series, a "very serious barbecue machine" and convection oven.

According to the company, Smokemaster is very efficient due to its air and smoke control system. The machine can cook over 500 pounds of meat per load, at an energy cost of only 3 cents per pound!

Link

Grand Hall's Monster BBQ Grill

Not satisfied with a regular grill, BBQ enthusiast Alex Komarnitsky got this super-sized "beta model" Grand Hall (which he said is not yet released to the public).

The monster grill has ten 20,000 BTU primary burners, a 30,000 BTU infrared burner, and a side burner (yet another 20,000 BTU) for a total of 250,000 BTU cooking capacity. With almost 2,000 square inches of cooking surface, you can surely feed a hundred people (or probably four us fat Americans) at the same time!

Link

The Big Green Egg.

When we first saw this BBQ, it seemed like a large dinosaur egg that the Flintstones would adapt to grill meat!

If you think this one looks like the Kamado (see above) - you're right:

Our technicians and artisans have carefully retained the nearly perfect cooking characteristics of the Kamado, while creating a stronger and longer lasting Big Green Egg.

You can clearly see the Daisy Wheel Top and lower damper that allow you to precisely control the inside temperature. Nearly closed—for lower temperatures and slow smoke flavored cooking, wide open—to quickly bring up the fire to sear meats, and anywhere in between to meet any cooking need you may encounter.

Link - Thanks bbum!

Keg-a-Que.

What do you get when you cross a BBQ grill with a beer keg? A Keg-a-Que, the perfect BBQ grill for all beer lovers. The best thing is about this grill is that it's only $49.95, so have more money to buy meat, and of course, beer!

Link - Thanks Ray!

Piet Hein Eek's Sleek BBQ Grills.

If modern's your thing, then you'll like Piet Hein Eek's Grills. Link - Thanks SMQT!

Pyromid Stove.

No, that's not the Mars Rover - that's the Pyromid Stove, "the world's most portable grill" according to the manufacturer.

The grill folds to less than one inch thick when not in use and can be set up in seconds. Moreover, the grill reaches temperatures up to 1,100 degrees °F in less than 10 minutes using only 9 briquettes!

Link

Magma Boat BBQ Grill.

Just because you're cruisin' on your boat, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy barbecuin', thanks to Magma Boat BBQ grills.

The company makes charcoal, gas, and combination grills for your boat, with optional boat stabilizer.

Link

Evo Circular Flattop Grill.

If you like Benihana, then you'll probably like the Evo Professional circular flattop griddle, er grill. This model sports a 30" cooking surface, and two independently controlled burners for a combined rating of 48,000 BTU.

Link

Tool Box Grill.

What do you give for that BBQ-loving DIY weekend warrior? A grill that looks like a toolbox, of course!

But don't let this unassuming grill from Hans Plads fool you: it is built from heavy duty, 20-gauge steel and sports a large cooking surface at only 19-lb. weight.

Link

Bradley Digital Smoker.

BBQ Grill goes digital with Bradley's Digital Smoker:

Temperature, time, and smoke are now completely controllable so you can decide how much smoke you want, how long your food is going to be smoked for, and at what temperature. Perfect for entertaining, creating gourmet foods in your own home, or just enjoying the flavor that smoking brings, the new Bradley Digital Smokers offer an easier and better way to automatically roast, smoke and barbecue in the outdoors.

The perfect BBQ smoker for the nerd in you! Link

Muscle Car Grill

Muscle Car Grill builder Steve Barker used real car parts to make this V8 engine grill!

Neatorama reader Steve Barker of Muscle Car BBQ Grills told us about his awesome custom-made grills, shaped like a muscle car engine block complete with exhaust ports that let smoke comes out, powder coated grill box that can withstand 900 degree of heat, pistons instead of knobs, and of course, diamond plates for side tables!

Steve uses real car parts where he can, and can install optional nitrous purge system with remote control, a 671 Blower on top with a power lid, LED lights and switches for night BBQ-ing, as well as CD and MP3 player with indoor/outdoor speakers and remote control. The grills comes in either charcoal or propane.

Link

Afterburner - C Fridge Conversion.

No, it's not just a rusty old fridge - it's actually a bbq grill! The inside had porcelain on steel inner liner, fiber glass insulation, and an "Afterburner" gas conversion kit.

Link

The Supreme - Diamond Plated BBQ Grill

Outdoor Culinary Supply's shiny grill called "The Supreme" is all decked out in diamond plate! Link - via Fark

Talos Outdoor Cooking Suite

Got a spare $35,000? Then you can get the Talos Outdoor Cooking Suite by Frontgate. This sprawling behemoth of a grill has a 42" grill with 800 square-inch of grilling area, 16,000 BTU ceramic infrared rotisserie, 2 side burners, a warming drawer, searing station with griddle, bartender module and sink.

Link

Old Smokey

Ah, a classic: the Old Smokey charcoal BBQ grill, perfect for camping!

Link - via Fark

Gusto Ultra-Portable Wood BBQ Grill

Gusto ultra-portable bbq grill by Woodflame uses cubes of hardwood as fuel!

Link - Thanks BeTuMan!

Oasis Fire Table

With Oasis Outdoor Furnishing's fire table, the table is the bbq - or if you want, the fire pit or the ice bucket. Link - via Fark

Kalamazoo Sculpture Gas Grill

Kalamazoo's Sculpture Gas Grill undulates its way to beautify your garden while kicking butt with a 50,000-BTU gas grill. Link

Cobb Portable BBQ Grill

The Cobb BBQ Grill and Cooking System was an innovation that came out of Africa. The first Cobb grill was designed for rural africa, with fuel of dry corn cobs! Later units use charcoal briquettes ...

It has an insulated plastic base that remains cool to the touch even while the internal temperature reaches over 500 degrees!

Link - via Fark

Barbi Portable Barrel BBQ

Feeling too manly? Well, this pink portable barrel BBQ should take you down a notch!

Link - via Random Good Stuff

Weber Smokey Joe Grill - Simpsons Edition

This cute little grill is the Weber 10898 Smokey Joe Charcoal Grill, The Simpsons 10th Anniversary Limited Edition Grill.

Not available anymore, I'm afraid (D'oh!): Link

Bonus: Liquid Oxygen Lighter

OK, it's not a grill that's interesting here: it's the way it's lighted. You're looking at George Goble of Purdue University lighting the 60 lbs of charcoal with 3 gallons of liquid oxygen:

Started with 60 lbs of charcoal, and burnt up 40 lbs of it in 3 seconds. Result is a grill ready to cook in about 3 seconds, and all the old grease, etc burned off. Don't try this at home.

WARNING: an ignition source, such as a lit cigarette or one glowing coal, must be present before pouring on the LOX. If charcoal is PRESOAKED in LOX first, an explosion will result. One briquette presoaked in LOX is approx equiv to 1 stick of dynamite.

And oh, this goes without saying: don't try this at home. Please, or this may happen.

Link (scroll down) - via Fark

USB Grill

Take 6 PCI USB cards with 5 ports each, connect the 30 USB cables to a hacked USB cup warmer and you get ... a USB grill!

Link | Translated Page - via Make and TechEBlog

Monster Pitt

Texan grill maker Pitt's & Spitt's made this cute train engine BBQ pit for the TV series Monster House (the "Ghost Town" house).

Link - Thanks George Shore!

Santa Maria

This grill from Diamond Charcoal Island Grille is actually a new kind of charcoal barbecue unit that starts up fast with a blower and then has a garbage dispoal unit built into the bottom so you can just wash down all the ashes away!

Link - Thanks Ryan Guy!

Bruce BBQ Grill

Got a balcony? Then this "Bruce" BBQ grill (that looks like those flower pots hanging off balconies) is perfect for you. Link - via Random Good Stuff.

Update 1/5/07: Grilling on your balcony may be illegal or cause you to lose your apt. lease - Thanks Don!

Locomotive BBQ Grill

This German locomotive BBQ grill is awesome! It sold on eBay for over $12,000: Link - via smidigt

Classic Holden Monaro GTS Grill

A classic Holden Monaro GTS, reincarnated as a barbie! Link - via Born Rich

Chevy V8 Grill

This Chevy V8 grill may not crank out 500 HP, but it does produce 60,000 BTU! Link - Thanks Trent Whatley!

RUB Restaurant's Mobile Barbecue Pit

When Andrew Fishel, the owner of New York restaurant RUB, wanted "the sickest, baddest thing in the world," he commissioned Orange County Chopper (of the American Chopper TV show fame) to create a mobile BBQ pit.

We have to agree: that mother is bad! Link - via Make

Dragon BBQ Grill: "Guardian of the Feast"

This is one awesome BBQ grill: a dragon-shaped welded steel grill and smoker called "Guardian of the Feast" by Ed McBride. Link - Thanks SteelisAlive!

Motor Head Grill

Here's the Motor Head grill by FAB Grills: Link - Thanks Russ Freeman!


Photo: Steve Stealey

Is that a 55-gallon drums or a BBQ grill/smoker? Actually, it's both! Steve Stealey of Steve's Services - BBQ division in Carthage, Mo. came up with the idea of using a steel drum as a smoker and BBQ grill when he was on his way to a cooking contest, lost his cooker in transit, found a used barrel and the rest is history.

Link - Thanks Steve!

Got any more? Leave a comment and let us know!


Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

I give merit to Steve's red 55 gallon upright barrel grills. We made one some 20 years ago, and it was always our go-to cooker when we wanted the best barbeque. We have several grills of the gorilla heavy steel variety, but the simplcity and consistancy of this type works producing for quality barbeque. I've made a couple since the first one, which was my Mom's favorite. They are inexpensive (unless you want to really dress one up, which is fine), easy to build (most everyone has the tools in the garage anyway) and are easy to move around (if you need to). I have enver won any awards for my barbeque pit, but I have for my barbeque. I live in South Texas and do not have to contend with the extreme cold,so I would imagine some modifications would be needed for northern winter climates. Myron Mixon uses a wool blanket to wrap around his cookers when it gets cold.
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The Kamado grill really isn't an option. The company is virtually out of business and everyone who has sent them money lately has lost it. Beware....
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