Close up of coals glowing in a grill under the grate with a metal pan cooking on top and text that says, 'Top Pitmasters Famous Grill Setups'.

Top Pitmasters Famous Grill Setups

It can be difficult to know where to start with BBQ. Perhaps you’ve mastered the basics, but are really looking to take your grilling to the next level. Maybe you’ve just bought a new smoker but aren’t really sure how to get the most out of it.

Regardless of your equipment and experience level, it never hurts to ask an expert. Luckily for you, we’ve gathered the best BBQ techniques from some of the best and most innovative in the business, including Jessica Randhawa, Ebony Austin, Jake Wood, and Adam Fromson. Here are some grilling tricks and BBQ recommendations to keep you inspired and cooking!

Grill Reviews

It all starts with a good grill. Jessica Randhawa, head chef, recipe creator, photographer, and writer behind The Forked Spoon, loves her Blaze infrared grill with the rear infrared burner and grill lights. Randhawa said she “couldn’t be happier with this investment,” which is why she thinks it’s the best gas grill on the market.

Pork chops with grill marks on one side being grilled on a cooking grid of a grill with flames underneath

“Unlike our previous grill, it’s engineered never to see flames flaring up, which used to cause charring on pricy cuts of meats from our local butcher,” Randhawa said. “The built-in lights are great for the darker months of the year to see how everything is coming along. Overall, Blaze’s Professional Grills are extremely well-engineered products with a lifetime warranty.”

For grillmasters who are looking beyond gas grilling, many recommend a simple setup like the Kamado Joe for those just getting started.

Recommended BBQ Equipment and Accessories

Past the grill, multiple experts said home chefs should embrace a digital thermometer. As Randhawa points out, the USDA recommends that people cook their chicken breast to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and a thermometer helps cooks do so without any guesswork.

In addition to a thermometer, Ebony Austin, owner and grillmaster at Nouveau Bar & Grill in Atlanta, Georgia, said home grillmasters should buy extreme heat resistant BBQ gloves that have a non-slip exterior and can handle up to 900 degrees to ensure you’ll never be uncomfortable or worse.

Fish in a pan on the grill being picked up to be turned with a fish spatula.

Jake Wood, pitmaster and owner of Lawrence BBQ in Raleigh, North Carolina, also said a fish spatula is extremely useful for keeping a good sear intact. The spatula is very thin and flat, Wood said, and allows cooks to get meat off the grates easily.

Best BBQ Techniques

Austin said indirect grilling is a must-learn. The technique allows you to slowly cook meats, especially thicker cuts that need a sear and time to get up to the right temperature.

Adam Fromson, owner and expert at hotsmokedmeats.com, also said learning temperature control is helpful for home grillmasters. He swears by the charcoal snake method on kettle grills. The method involves lining up charcoal briquettes and wood chips around the outer edge of your grill in a C-shape or circle and then lighting one end. The theory goes that as the fire works its way around the snake, it will maintain a low and slow temperature that allows you to cook smaller cuts like pork ribs or lamb shanks. The snake should last about six or seven hours.

Grilled ribs covered in marinade sitting on wooden board.

Fromson also loves the “2-2-1” method when cooking his favorite cut of meat – baby back ribs. The method calls for 2 hours on the smoke, 2 hours wrapped in the smoker, and then 1 hour unwrapped while painting the ribs with your BBQ sauce of choice.

Grill Prep Tips and Tricks

There are many theories on the best way to prep and clean your grill, which we’ve written about before. Fromson is a big fan of the onion method for prepping, in which you rub half an onion on the grill grates to clean them off.

Wood recommends wiping down grates while they’re hot with cooking oil or fat oil to lock out moisture and prevent sticking.

“A good coat of oil always keeps it maintained,” Wood said.

Randhawa has her own specific ritual for cleaning her gas grill: she brushes off her slates with a wire brush, brushes any drippings to char underneath the grates, and cleans the pan to ensure her grill is ready for the next go-round.

Close up view of veggie kebabs that are charred and seasoned on a grill over warm coals.

When making skewers, Randhawa also recommends soaking wood skewers for at least 15 minutes to prevent any charring.

Best Meats to BBQ

Finally, we couldn’t help but ask these professional pitmasters what their go-to meat is when they’re cooking at home. While a restaurant requires a full menu, these are the meats these chefs love the best when cooking for themselves and loved ones:

  • Jessica Randhawa: I love grilling marinated Greek chicken the best. Made with lemon, garlic, and fresh herbs, this chicken marinade takes just minutes to whip together and calls for only a handful of fresh and healthy ingredients. With its perfect balance of lemon, garlic, and fresh herbs, this Greek chicken marinade has all the right flavors in all the right places to make a healthy and delicious-tasting chicken every time.
  • Ebony Austin: Chicken is a favorite because of the versatility. One can grill the whole bird, quarters, breasts, thighs, or legs. Nothing better than crispy skin and tender juicy meat on the inside – and it can be served with any kind of side dish or sliced and put on a salad. I prepare it by marinating it for eight hours.
  • Jake Wood: High sear fatty ribeye. Sear on both sides and then finish it in the oven, with garlic, butter, and fresh herbs to a medium-rare and finish with a chimichurri sauce, you can’t go wrong.

Grills, smokers, and outdoor cooking equipment are as versatile as you can make them to be. There’s no shortage of opinions on the best BBQ techniques, but as Fromson puts it: “I think trying new things is always valuable to learn what works best for you, and also lets you build your skills over time.”

So go ahead and take risks and try something new with your equipment. You never know when you might find your new favorite meal! And if you’re in need of inspiration, BBQ Outlets has plenty more grilling tricks to keep you inspired.

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