Upgrade Your Life: Grill gadgets that sizzle … and fizzle

Jared Spurbeck
June 29, 2011

It seems like there are more gadgets for outdoor grilling than there are for the kitchen or living room! In this week's episode of Upgrade Your Life, Yahoo! News' Becky Worley takes a look at the latest grill gadgets, and tells you which ones are worth buying, and which you should skip.

Accu-Level Propane Tank Gauge ($4.95) (SKIP)

It's a magnetic gauge you affix to the side of your propane tank, and it tells you how much gas you have left. What's not to like? Well, how about the fact that it only works when you pour hot water over it? It takes a few seconds to work, and if you want to check it again, you need more hot water.

Try this one instead:

Grill Gauge ($13.99) (BUY)

This one's a bit more expensive, but it's literally as simple as it gets. Just hook the Grill Gauge onto your propane tank, and lift. The tiny scale inside the Grill Gauge will tell you how full your tank is, based on its weight. No water, no mess, and no waiting for accurate results.

Vacu Vin Instant Marinator ($29.78) (BUY)

Throwing a spontaneous barbecue and wish you'd marinated the meat? Wouldn't it be great if your food could just vacuum up the marinade? Well, that's exactly what the Vacu Vin does! Just put meat and marinade in the roomy plastic bowl, place the lid on and pump all the air out of the container. Your food will absorb the marinade in five minutes. The vacuum-sealed container is dishwasher safe, and you can use it to store food in the fridge afterwards.

Steak Button Thermometers ($15.00 or less) (BUY)

Ordinary thermometers involve guesswork, making you figure out if a certain temperature means that your steak is ready. But the reusable Steak Button thermometers have a gauge that tells you if your steak's rare, medium-rare or well done, keeping you from having to guess. Just poke them in; they even work in the oven. They work best on thicker steaks, though.

Outset Magnetic Light ($10.99) (SKIP)

Barbecuing at night makes it hard to see what's cooking. So how about a mini flashlight, one that even attaches to your cookware for precision light? It sounds great, but unfortunately it uses weak magnets. So not only does the Outset only work with metal cookware, it keeps falling into your food. Anyone for a barbecued flashlight?

Fire Wire Grilling Skewer ($8.99 for two) (BUY)

Tired of food falling off of your shish kabob skewers? The Fire Wire coiled skewers are lengths of wire about a foot and a half long, that you thread meat and vegetables on. The flexible coil makes it easy to put the kabob in a bowl of marinade, and you can curl it around on your grill to make the best use of its space, leaving more room for other food.

Hot Dog Roller ($17.88) (BUY)

Hot dogs are the most basic things on the barbecue menu. But you have to flip each one over individually, and they end up all burnt and unevenly cooked, right? Not with the Hot Dog Roller. It's like one of those rotator racks that you see in convenience stores; just put it on top of your grill and put the hot dogs in between the bars, then use tongs to drag it across. That way you rotate all of your hot dogs at once, so it saves time and cooks them more evenly.

This next gadget goes the other way:

Hot Dog Bun Baking Pan ($32.29) (SKIP)

It's a baking pan to make hot dog buns. Who wants to make hot dogs take even more work? Here's an idea: Buy your hot dog buns at the store, then bake cookies to take to the cookout instead.

Chill Salad Bowl ($9.95) (BUY)

Speaking of stuff you make at home, the Chill Salad Bowl keeps your salad fresh and cold, instead of warm and unappetizing after sitting out in the sun. It uses a round stone that you put in the freezer, then set in the base of the bowl when you're ready to go. Not only does it come with its own lid, it even has slots for the included serving utensils. And on top of that, the bowl is dishwasher-safe, so cleanup's a snap.