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The 5 best outdoor cooking gifts for dad: A Father's Day gift guide

What is the best outdoor cooking gift for dad? The Blackstone Griddle is ZDNet's No.1 choice. It can cook anything and will quickly become indispensable. But the father figure in your life might want something different. Not sure what to get your dad for Father's Day? If he loves to cook outside, here are the top gift ideas that are sure to make him -- and the rest of the family -- happy.
jason-cipriani-author.jpg
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer on
Reviewed by Elyse Betters Picaro

Father's Day is fast approaching, and with it nice weather that's ideal for cooking outdoors. If you're still scratching your head as to what to get for a loved one who seems to have it all, how about something that benefits the entire family? I'm talking about a new smoker, pizza oven or a griddle where Dad can hone his cooking skills. 

There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to appliances you can use to cook outdoors -- but after spending, in some cases, years, cooking on the items I've listed below, here are several outdoor cooking gift ideas for Father's Day that are sure to bring a summer full of good food. 

Must read: 

Blackstone 36" Cooking Station 4 Burner Propane
Image: Blackstone

Features: 36-inch cooking surface | Four burners | Propane | Cutting board with trash bag holder  

About four years ago, I spent way too much time researching Blackstone griddles and decided to purchase a 36-inch griddle with the two side shelves with a cutting board and a trash bin. About a month after I started cooking everything from steaks and hamburgers to stir-fry, pancakes and even popcorn, we donated our BBQ grill to a family member. 

The versatility of the Blackstone griddle makes it an indispensable appliance for my family and me. As long as the temperate is above freezing, the majority of our meals are cooked on the griddle. The amount of space that the 36-inch model gives, with four adjustable burners, makes it easy to cook all aspects of a single meal at their respective temperatures at the same exact time. 

Pros:

  • Can cook anything
  • It heats up fast and stays hot
  • It makes you feel like a professional chef

Cons:

  • You might miss that grilled flavor
Char-Broil Performance 5-burner
Amazon

Features: 10,000 BTU side burner | 5 burners | 495 square inches of cooking area

I haven't owned a gas grill in several years, but after reading through ZDNet's best gas grills guide, I'm inclined to take Taylor's word that the Char-Broil Performance 5-burner grill is the best gas grill money can buy. It has a large cooking surface, porcelain-coated cooking grates and five different burners you can control and adjust to ensure you get a proper cook. 

There's a side burner that puts out plenty of heat so you can cook a side dish or boil some water while grilling. 

Also: Best gas grills review

Pros:

  • Large cooking area
  • Side burner
  • Solid construction 

Cons:

  • LP tank is hard to access
  • No utensil hooks
Traeger Pro 780
Image: Traeger

Features: Meat probe included | Wireless connectivity | 780 sq. in cooking surface | Max temp of 500-degrees Fahrenheit | Pellet hopper capacity of 18 lbs

Out of all the outdoor cooking appliances on this list, the Traeger is the one I have the least amount of experience with. Since I have never cooked on a pellet grill, Traeger sent me a review sample for this article. The pellets do more than just provide smoke and flavor. They are also used as the lone heat source for the grill. I've cooked several different types of meat and even some asparagus over the last couple of weeks, and everything has turned out great. 

I've smoked chicken on the Traeger, using the built-in meat thermometer to monitor the cook from afar, thanks to the WiFire feature that lets you use your phone to manage the smoker. I've also grilled bratwursts and some hamburgers with the Traeger set to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. 

There's a learning curve to cooking with pellets -- one I haven't fully mastered myself but will surely get the hang of the more I use it. Which my family isn't mad about helping me with. Traegers are known for being easy to use and reliable, and thus far, that's been my exact experience with the Pro 780.

Also: Traeger Ironwood 650 Review

Pros:

  • Easy setup
  • Set it and forget it cooking
  • Versatile  

Cons:

  • Pellets can get expensive
  • Learning curve if grilling
An Ooni Koda 16 pizza oven with a pepperoni pizza on a pizza peel
Image: Ooni

Features: Propane-powered | Max temp of 950 degrees Fahrenheit | Big enough to cook a 16-inch pizza | 90 second cook time

I love pizza. My family loves pizza. Shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, I had started making my own pizza using our oven, and I could never get hot enough. Eventually, I found the Ooni Koda 16 gas-powered pizza oven that can cook a pie in under two minutes. 

My pizza game instantly went from mediocre to something you'd expect to see come out of an oven at a pizza restaurant. In addition to cooking pizza, I've used the Koda 16 to broil steak, veggies and fish. I've even baked bread in it. 

The temperature is hot enough that you can cook a quickly cook one pizza, go and add toppings to the next pizza, and the stone is back to temperature without having to wait for it to get to temp (that was my biggest complaint about cooking in our oven -- it was slow). 

Pros:

  • Cooks pizza extremely fast
  • It can be used for more than pizza
  • Consistent temperature

Cons:

  • You'll occasionally burn a pizza
  • It doesn't include a pizza peel
Person's hand cutting steak next to thermometer and smartphone app
MEATER

Features: Bluetooth connectivity | Up to 165 ft range | Fully featured companion app

Overcooked meat isn't something any of us want. That's why the Meater Plus is my pick for the best outdoor cooking gadget. The Meater Plus comes in a charging case that doubles as a base station to extend the wireless connectivity from the thermometer to your phone. 

After initially charging the probe, the iPhone or Android app walks you through setup. Once the probe is in use, you can set alerts for specific temperatures based on the type of meat you're cooking. I had a couple of instances where the probe lost connection to the base, and it required me to remove the probe mid-cook, insert it back into the case and then the connection was restored. I'm not sure what caused the issue, but it's been infrequent. 

My biggest complaint is that the probe itself is fairly long, and for it to work properly, the majority of it has to be inserted into the cut of meat, which for small pieces of meat is a problem. 

Also: 5 best BBQ tools

Pros:

  • Well designed
  • Charging case doubles as a base station 
  • The app is easy to use

Cons:

  • Too big for small cuts of meat
  • Connectivity can be iffy

What is the best outdoor cooking gift for dad?

A Blackstone griddle can cook everything from steaks to popcorn. It has loads of space, four adjustable burners, and heats up fast and stays hot. Trust me: Your dad will not be disappointed if he were to get a Blackstone.

Choose this outdoor cooking gift…

Price

Features

Blackstone Griddle

Starts at $297

  • 36-inch cooking surface 
  • Four burners
  • Propane 
  • Cutting board with trash bag holder  

Char-Broil Performance 5-burner Char-Broil Performance 5-burner

Starts at $249

  • 10,000 BTU side burner 
  • 5 burners
  • 495 square inches of cooking area

Traeger Pro 780 

Starts at $999

  • Meat probe included 
  • Wireless connectivity 
  • 780 sq. in cooking surface
  • Max temp of 500-degrees Fahrenheit
  • Pellet hopper capacity of 18 lbs

Ooni Koda 16

Starts at $599

  • Propane-powered 
  • Max temp of 950 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • Big enough to cook a 16-inch pizza 
  • 90 second cook time

Meater Plus

Starts at $99

  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Up to 165 ft range
  • Fully featured companion app

Which outdoor cooking gift is right for your dad?

It all depends on your parent and their lifestyle, the potential use cases for the gift, and so on. But to make things simple for you and to help guide you, here is a quick decision tree:

Choose this outdoor cooking gift…

If you want your dad…

Blackstone Griddle

To feel like a professional chef

Char-Broil Performance 5-burner Char-Broil Performance 5-burner

To have the best gas grill money can buy

Traeger Pro 780 

To experiment more with smoke and flavor

Ooni Koda 16

Cook a pizza fast

Meater Plus

To stop overcooking meat

How did we choose these outdoor cooking gifts?

Simply put: I'm a dad who has spent time cooking on all these items -- sometimes even years. I also considered factors like pricing as well as features and use-case scenarios to come up with this list of the best outdoor cooking gift ideas for your dad.

When is Father's Day in 2022?

Father's Day 2022 is on Sunday, June 19. So you still have time to get a gift!

Are there any alternatives gift ideas worth considering for dad?

There are countless outdoor cooking gadgets and appliances that would make for a fantastic Father's Day gift. 

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