Searing animal flesh takes us back to the Dawn of Man, and innovative technology brings the art of grilling way past the discovery of fire and well into the 21st century. The variety of barbecue grills both large and small, cheap and exorbitant, boggles the mind. One thing’s for sure: There’s no shortage of super-hot, super-cool grills to get your summer juices flowing.
We've put together 10 of the most interesting grilling appliances in the world, with some concepts that practically re-invent the wheel — some portable enough to put in your pocket, some huge enough to feed a starving army. Gather your meat, fire up one of these gas, charcoal or wood-burning babies, and nobody’s going home hungry.
1. Fuego Infrared Grill
You don’t have to choose between the convenience of gas, the taste of charcoal or the speed of infrared heat with the $2999 Fuego 01. Former Apple industrial designer Robert Brunner has overdesigned the idea of a grill into this work of art, giving you an electronic control panel with readouts of its built-in thermometers, and a modular design so you can set it up just how you like it. This one’s bound to be pricey, but then oftentimes you get what you pay for.
2. Direct Designs Notebook Portable Grill
The charcoal you carry will weigh more than this 8-pound Notebook Portable Grill, folding up flat for easy carrying on your grilling adventures far and wide. Even though it’s small enough to tote anywhere, it still gives you a 192-square-inch grilling surface — big enough to feed a hungry foursome. When you’re not on the go, this $48 sizzler ought to look just fine on the patio, too.
3. Big Green Egg
Is there any other way to grill than using lumps (not briquettes) of charcoal inside this highly coveted Large Heavy Duty Big Green Egg? Its kettle is made of ceramics developed for the space-shuttle program, absorbing heat and keeping the temperature steady, a boon for both grillers and smokers. This $700 Kamado-style cooker is based on an ancient Japanese design, and works like a super-smokin' chimney for charcoal. Its cult-like aficionados swear that this Large Egg and its four brothers in various sizes are the world’s best smokers and grills. You’d better have a strong back to handle this beast, though — it weighs 140 pounds.
4. Hampton Grill
Here’s some high tech that keeps three grilling areas completely separate. Still in the prototype stage, the Hampton Grill is motorized, and with the push of a button it folds up into a vertical package that looks like it's ready for liftoff. A prototype was seen at a recent trade show, but we're hearing rumors that the grill's technology is plenty costly. Let’s hope creator Craig Hampton works out those money issues.
5. George Foreman iGrill
Who knew that boxer George Foreman would spawn such a wildly successful line of meat-searing appliances? Added to that collection is the $140 George Foreman iGrill, which amounts to a ridged hot plate on a stand with a iPod dock at the base. It even has speakers so you can rock out to your fave tunes as you cook, indoors or out. But we have news for you: You won’t get that grilled taste unless the burned grease from the meat steams up around the food. Good luck with that.
6. Patio Fireplace/Grill/Smoker Tower
Those with limited patio space will appreciate this Patio Fireplace/Grill/Smoker Tower, a multipurpose hotshot that grills and smokes all kinds of meats. This $500 high-rise grill takes up a tiny amount of floor space, but Its cooking "shelves" give you an expansive 1,370 square inches of cooking surfaces, and it even has hooks inside from which you can hang your smoking meats. There's a bowl inside to steam the meat with water or wine, keeping it moist, and then a handy thermometer on the outside lets you keep tabs on temps. After dinner's done, it morphs into a fireplace — build a roaring fire below and close the top doors, and flame-starting sparks stay safely inside the chimney.
7. Woodflame Delecto Grill
This piece of innovative tech burns small blocks of wood, heating up the flames with a small battery-operated fan. The result is the tiny $250 Woodflame Delecto Grill heating up to 1,000°F in just a couple of minutes. Cleanup is a snap, since the only residue is a tiny pinch of ashes. It's hard to find these days outside of eBay, and its corporate offices are rather unresponsive, making us think this spiffy grill might be on the verge of extinction.
8. Chicago Brick Oven
Brick ovens aren’t just for pizza anymore, although this Chicago Brick Oven Model 750 ($4046) could certainly do justice to one. You can also cook whole turkeys, bake bread, and even fire up some steaks in this hot box that works just like the one down at the Pizza Hut. And how can a brick oven be so mobile? This one's not exactly brick, but has an aluminum and stucco shroud, and it's just narrow enough to roll through a gate opening or doorway.
You don’t have to leave the grilling at home when you hit the dusty trail with the Grilliput, perfect for backpackers because it’s about the size of a runner’s baton when collapsed. Take out the cross pieces and assemble the grill into a 10-inch cooking surface. Build a campfire underneath, and you're cooking with … wood. Not a bad deal for $29.
10. Fire Magic Echelon E1060
Behold the Sasquatch of grills, the Fire Magic Echelon E1060 with enough room for 200 hamburgers. Its 48 x 22-inch cooking surface is an inferno with four burners, blazing hot with a total of 128,000 BTUs. Its built-in thermometer, meat probe and timer measure the results of the conflagration, and you can add an infrared burner if all that heat still isn't enough. Brace yourself for the price, though: it’ll cost you $10,932.