Taming the Tomahawk!

Taming the Tomahawk!

It seems that nothing strikes more fear into the hearts and minds of dedicated grillers and barbecuers like the awesome Tomahawk steak!

There’s something about its massive size, its formidable expense and its sheer amazingness that scares off a lot of folks from wanting to tackle making one or more of these. To that we say, FEAR NOT THE TOMAHAWK!

Read on and then prepare to conquer this incredible meaty achievement.

(Photo by Stew Campbell)

What is a Tomahawk Steak?

So, let’s start with the groundwork – in case you’re not fully familiar, a Tomahawk steak is basically a one-bone ribeye roast instead of having the bone cut flush with the end of the meat, a length of bone is left on and is “Frenched” – which is the technique of cutting away any remaining flesh to expose the bone. 

They are typically between 2 and 3 inches in thickness and typically weigh about 3-4 pounds, of which about 2 pounds is edible meat. This makes it look like the Native American weapon, the Tomahawk. It also looks like something Fred Flintstone would eat!

salt and pepper tomahawk steak on a wood board and a wood background

Buying Tomahawk Steaks

The great news is, with as popular as they have become, the prices have come down somewhat as they have become much more available. In fact, the Tomahawks featured in the pictures here … came from Walmart! 

They are also available at Sam’s Club, Costco and often in grocery stores.  That said, we are also very partial to local butchers and you can get some incredibly tender and delicious Tomahawks from a good local butcher. These Walmart steaks were on special at only $9.99/lb so each one was about $35. We’ve paid as much as $75 or more for these which does put the “scary” factor into making them.

Taming the Tomahawk comes down to one simple technique – the Reverse Sear, and fortunately, using a pellet grill fueled with Griller’s Gold Premium Hardwood pellets makes this SUPER easy.

To give a quick review (and for an in-depth look at that technique, have a look at this post from our blog), the “Reverse Sear”. This is where you cook the meat at a relatively low temperature until it is just short of the right doneness temperature. Then you give the meat a rest of 20-30 minutes while you preheat your grill to a very hot temperature. You then put it on and sear it for a few minutes to put that tasty crust on it. 

The result is amazing edge-to-edge perfect doneness.

Let’s break it down and then at the end, we’ll share some favorite side dish ideas to enjoy with this gorgeous hunk of meat!

The Tomahawk Grill Setup

Fire up your pellet grill with your favorite Griller’s Gold pellet – we like Competition Blend or Smokeshack Blend for beef, but you do you!  Set the temp to deliver 225F (know your grill and its variability!) and let it preheat for at least 20 minutes.  Also find your temp probe if you have one and have it ready to use.

Tomahawk Meat Prep

It sounds crazy, but our “rub” for this is just a generous sprinkle of kosher or sea salt over all of it – both sides and the edges, and we apply that about 4-6 hours in advance and let the meat sit in the fridge uncovered. 

This technique is called “dry brining.” This helps the salt absorb into the outside of the meat and dries the meat a bit which allows the smoke of the grill to flavor it more.

If you like, a nice hit of pepper with the salt is also good, as is Montreal steak seasoning. Our favorite other than just salt is Meathead Goldwyn’s “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow Crust.” This is a salt-free rub you can make at home with pantry stuff, so you can also dry brine it without the worry of it getting too salty.

Temperature Management

Cooking to the right doneness temperature is really critical for this to be successful. If your grill has a thermometer probe, use it but be sure to know its variability (for example on one of our pellet grills the probe reads 10 degrees low). 

A great way to make sure you’re putting the probe in the right place and depth is to line it up outside of the meat, then put your fingers on the probe right where it needs to stop and insert it. Check the photo here to see what we mean. If you don’t have a probe, have an instant-reading thermometer handy to check it when you turn the meat over..

(photo by Stew Campbell)

Grill it!

Ok, you’ve got it (or them …) salted/seasoned, got a probe in one (if doing two, probe the thinnest one as it will get done quicker), you’re all set to go.  Place the meat in the center of the grill grate (or if doing two or more, down the center the long way) and close the lid!

Set a timer for 45 minutes and go away (this assumes your tomahawks are at least 2” thick) and don’t open the grill to peek.  After 45 mins, turn the meat over and using an instant-reading thermometer, “confidence check” your probe temp readout. 

Keep turning every 15 minutes until you’re about 10 degrees below the perfect doneness temp. 

two thick cut tomahawk steaks on a grill

(Photo by Stew Campbell)

Know Your Done Temperature

As a review:

  • Blue Rare:  under 120F
  • Rare:  125F (remove at 115F)
  • Medium Rare:  135F (remove at 125F)
  • Medium: 145F (remove at 130F)

We’re really not joking here. Generally speaking don’t cook big beef like this to anything more than Medium, because the results really suffer.  If you have someone in your dining group that wants medium well to well done beef, you’re better off grilling them their own steak.

When it hits the “remove at” temp, pull it off, put it on a platter (and if two of them, stack them to “cuddle” the heat in them), cover with heavy duty foil then lay a folded heavy towel over them. All of that helps them retain heat and for the carryover cooking to do its magic.

Rest for at least 30 minutes.  While your meat is resting, either fire your pellet grill to its max, or preheat a gas grill to all burners on high or even light a hot charcoal fire. We like searing on the gas grill since the flavor is already in the meat and it’s easy to manage.

Sear the Tomahawk

Unwrap the steaks, retaining the accumulated juice in your pan, and put them on the grill.  Do NOT go away from the grill – you can go from “sear” to conflagration in seconds. We like to do our searing on our gas grill. We set the burners of our 3-burner gas grill on high to preheat and when ready to cook; we shut off the middle one to limit the chances of a flare up.

Ribeye’s have a LOT of fat on them and that fat can light off in seconds and ruin your steak. If your grill suddenly starts to smoke a lot, get that hood open and move the steaks away from the flareup. We keep a little squirt bottle of water handy to kill those flames. 

Turn the steaks about every 2 minutes until they have a nice even brown crust on them and beautiful grill marks. It usually takes 2 turns on each side – about 8 minutes total.

tomahawk steak on a grill with grill marks

(photo by Stew Campbell)

Move them back on your platter and then immediately carve the meat from the bone. Slice in ¼ thick slices across the grain, trimming out any big fat areas. Because the meat was already rested, you can slice and serve immediately hot off the grill.  Top on a serving platter with accumulated juices and serve!  It’s amazing!

sliced tomahawk steak with fries and sliced tomatoes

The Tomahawk Meal

So, make a meal out of it!  Our recent Tomahawk meal, shared with a few friends on the patio included:

  • Two 3 ½ lb Tomahawks
  • Potato Galette (recipe by Southern Living Magazine)
  • Fresh corn on the cob – we like to prepare ours by simply loosening the husks and pouring about a tablespoon of water into the husks, then close them and grill them on a hot grill (great thing to do while the steaks rest) about 15-20 minutes until the outer husks are charred a bit
  • Creamed Spinach (recipe from The Berghoff Restaurant, Chicago IL)
  • Sauteed mushrooms (sliced mushrooms sauteed in butter with salt, pepper and thyme for seasoning)
  • A wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon
  • And for dessert – a trip to a local soft serve ice cream stand!

The Tomahawk steak is the ultimate “sharing” steak – and crowd pleaser! Make this recipe and show the Tomahawk that you’re the grill boss!

Until next time!

Pellet Grill Pizza

Pellet Grill Pizza

Let’s face it – there’s nothing better than fresh, hot pizza. There, we said it, change our minds! Oh, you agree!

Well then, let’s talk about making fresh, hot, wood-oven style pizza on your pellet grill fueled with Griller’s Gold Premium Hardwood pellets!

We’re going to break up this post into two parts – part 1 is simple. How to get a great wood-oven flavored pizza from your pellet grill using Griller’s Gold pellets for fuel.

This is easy! You can buy frozen pizzas, take and bake pizzas, etc., and just baking them in your pellet grill will add a kick of flavor to them that you won’t find in pizzas baked in your oven.

Part 2 however, is kicking it to the next level. Fresh homemade dough, fresh homemade sauce, and super fresh ingredients. All adding up to completely next-level pizza that will have your friends and neighbors begging you to make it over and over again. You’ll be a pizza rock star!

Part 1: Baking Pizza in a Pellet Grill

The scenario is you want pizza, it’s a gorgeous evening and you want to serve it hot off your pellet grill. Buzz out to your local grocery and buy either a fresh “take and bake” non-frozen pizza – most groceries have these including national chains like Walmart, Target and Aldi. OR you can also buy a frozen pizza, the brand being your choice.

Take & Bake Pizzas

It is as simple as this: most take and bake and frozen pizzas are designed to be cooked directly on your oven’s rack, aka the main grate on your pellet grill. Then cooked at a temperature that is easily attained by your grill – the most common being 425F. 

So simply preheat your pellet grill, using your favorite Griller’s Gold pellet choice – Competition Blend is a good choice here – to the temperature noted in your pizza’s instructions. Let’s assume 425F though.

Give it a good 20 minutes of preheat time to make sure it’s truly up to temp. Then just slide that pizza onto the grate, close the lid, and set a timer for the recommended time on the package. To remove it, it helps to have a pizza peel (large spatula like thing for getting pizzas out of an oven) or a rimless baking sheet.  Worst case scenario, use your barbecue tongs to grab it and slide it onto a tray for serving. Your pizza will have that “kissed by smoke” flavor that a good wood-oven pizza has and you’ll be very happy!

Notes for Great Grilled Pizza: 

First, for great pizza results, oven or grill, buy yourself a pizza stone. A pizza stone is a large piece of stone-like material that absorbs and concentrates heat and absorbs moisture. A pizza baked on a stone will have a nice crunch to the bottom crust and a great flavor that you just can’t get otherwise. These are pretty inexpensive on Amazon – here’s an example:  https://a.co/d/g6Aawyi

Second, if you want a smokier flavor for your pizza, use a smoke tube filled with Griller’s Gold pellets. We’ve covered those numerous times before – check out our December 2022 gift guide for examples.

Which leads us to part 2 and why you’re really here – to make amazing craft pizza on your backyard wood burning pizza oven, aka your pellet grill burning Griller’s Gold pellets!

Part 2: Making Craft Pizza

Craft pizza is made with delicious homemade crust, tasty tomato sauce that’s super easy to make, fresh cheeses and lots of love! All baked on your pellet grill with Griller’s Gold fuel, giving it that “kissed by wood smoke” flavor.  

First of all there are TONS and we mean TONS of resources online for making great pizzas. One of our faves to follow on YouTube is Vito Iacopelli – he is an Italian-born chef making incredible artisan pizzas. His techniques and recipes are a bit complicated, so in the interest of making this easy for you we have our own versions.  But check his channel out here: https://www.youtube.com/@vitoiacopelli

Here’s an easy-to-follow recipe for making great pizza dough. The key/trick to outstanding pizza dough is to let it ferment overnight in the refrigerator. Letting dough rise overnight in the fridge gives it a flavor and texture that just doesn’t come out in a short process. So, making great homemade pizza does take a touch of planning. 

Special gear – here’s where a pizza stone and a proper pizza peel are a must. This really won’t work without those two pieces of equipment. Also, to get the pizza to slide off the peel and onto the stone, the peel needs to be floured.

We have found that the best for doing this is not regular flour but semolina flour. Its granular texture makes it work like little ball bearings for sliding the pizza off the peel and onto the stone.

Making the Pizza Dough

  • 1 pound or 453 grams of flour (or if using cups, about 3 ½ cups)
  • 1 ⅓ cups of water at 100F temperature plus 2 tablespoons of water at 100F (or if by weight, 320 grams of water plus 10 grams of water)
  • 1 ¾ tsp kosher or sea salt.  If using iodized table salt, cut to 1 ¼ tsp
  • 1 packet instant yeast or 2 tsp if using bulk yeast
  • ½ tsp sugar
Pizza Dough Steps Day 1:
  1. The night before you want pizza, measure out the flour into a large mixing bowl and stir the salt into it.
  2. Measure out the 1 ⅓ cups of water, and put the 2 tablespoons of water in a separate small dish.
  3. Add the yeast and sugar to the 2 tablespoons of water and stir well.
  4. Let rest 5 minutes (this activates the yeast) then stir the yeast mixture into the larger container of water and mix that well with the flour to form the dough. 
  5. Let the dough sit in your mixing bowl 10 minutes then stir again, and turn out onto a surface sprinkled generously with flour. 
  6. Fold the flour in half, pressing flat, turn ¼ turn and repeat.
  7. Repeat that 15 more times – if the dough is sticking to your hands, flour them.
  8. Then put the dough back in your mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. 
  9. Let rise 2 hours.
  10. Then wet your hand and reach into the bowl, grab the side of the dough and stretch it up and fold it over the dough. Do this 4 or 5 more times, turning the bowl ¼ turn each time.
  11. Let rise 1 more hour covered, then repeat the stretch and fold, then cover again with plastic wrap and put in the fridge until tomorrow.
Pizza Dough Steps Day 2:
  1. 2 hours before you’re ready to make pizza, turn your dough gently out onto a floured surface and shape it into a rough oval.
  2. Using a scraper or a sharp knife divide the dough into two more-or-less equal portions. 
  3. On each, gather the edges of the dough up to the top center forming a ball.
  4. Set the ball on a floured part of your surface and repeat with the other, then let the dough balls rest for at least 20 minutes, covered lightly with a sheet of plastic wrap.
To Form a Pizza Crust:

Put a dough ball in the middle of your floured work surface and using your finger tips, press down on it to flatten it – repeat all over – the dough will have little craters all over it.

Then pick up the flattened disc, and holding it about 1” from the edge, start shuffling it in a circle like you’re turning a steering wheel, keeping the bottom edge in contact with your surface.

After a few times around, lay the dough back on your floured surface, and using your hands, press any thickness out of the center of the dough, trying to flatten it to an even round of between 8 and 10 inches in diameter, leaving a thicker edge section. You can also lay it over the back of your fists and use them to stretch it.

Generously sprinkle flour or semolina over your pizza peel.  Brush the top surface of your pizza crust with olive oil then gently pick it up and lay it on your floured pizza peel. Now you’re ready to build your pizza.

To bake your pizza, fire your pellet grill up to it’s hottest temperature using Griller’s Gold pellets – ours goes to 500F. Give it at least 30 minutes to preheat.  Make sure your pizza stone is in there for the entire preheat. 

To “launch” a pizza into the oven (look up YouTube videos on this!), first give your peel a “shake” back and forth to make sure the pizza will slide – this is why flouring the peel is so important.  If it won’t slide, gently lift sections of the dough with a wide spatula and toss flour under it until you can slide it.

Then, open your grill, set the end of the peel about an inch from the far edge of the stone and holding the peel at about a 10 degree angle, give it a few back and forth shakes to get it sliding down the peel. As soon as the pizza touches the stone, gently start pulling the peel out back towards you.  The pizza will slide off the peel and onto the stone.

This does take practice!

Building Pizzas

Fresh Tomato Sauce


  • 1 22 ounce can whole roma tomatoes, ideally imported San Marzano tomatoes from Italy
  • 2T extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ tsp salt

    Dump the can of tomatoes into a mixing bowl, then using your hand, squeeze each tomato, breaking them up into chunks. If you don’t like chunky tomatoes, run the canned tomatoes through a blender or food processor to puree. But chunky is better!

Pizza Recipe Ideas

Margarita Pizza:

For the freshest, most authentic tasting Italian pizza, make a Margarita Pizza. For this, use fresh mozzarella (this is the stuff in large balls packed in liquid) sliced about ⅛” thick.

Spoon the sauce over your crust – you don’t want a LOT of sauce – be gentle with it. Then scatter the mozzarella slices over the sauce and finally, tear up some fresh basil leaves into big pieces and scatter over the top of the pizza. 

Bake according to the instructions above until the crust is golden and the cheese gets little dots of browning on it, about 12-14 minutes.

Traditional “Meat Lover” pizza: 

Brown crumbled Italian sausage in a hot pan then drain the grease.  After forming your crust and brushing with olive oil, spread sauce over the pizza in a thin layer. Then scatter the Italian sausage over it. 

Using either slices of fresh mozzarella or shredded commercial mozzarella cheese, add a layer of cheese to the pizza.  If you like extra meat,, scatter slices of pepperoni over the top of the cheese.  Bake until the pepperoni curls, the cheese is dotted with brown spots and the crust is golden – about 12-14 minutes.

a sausage pizza on a pizza wooden handle being put on a plate

(Stew Campbell)

Salad Slice pizza:

The salad slice is a NYC Little Italy thing at lunch time. I guess having a crisp arugula salad on top of your pizza makes it seem healthier! 

For the pizza, build a classic Margarita pizza above, omitting the basil leaves. For the salad, make a quick lemon vinaigrette by whisking together the juice of a fresh lemon with ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil and one clove of garlic, smashed or pressed.

Add salt and pepper to taste, then stir in 1T of grated parmesan cheese.  The salad is just fresh arugula tossed with the dressing – this dressing is “a little goes a long way”. When the pizza is fresh from the oven, top with the dressed arugula salad. Then cut it into wedges, garnish with shaved parmesan and serve.

Fig/Goat Cheese/Prosciutto Pizza:

Now this one is extra tasty.  Make your crust but don’t brush with olive oil.

Take some fig jam and stir it with a bit of water just to make it more spreadable. Then spread it out over the top of your pizza crust. Lay slices of prosciutto over the fig jam, then dot generously with chunks of goat cheese. Garnish with slices of figs. 

Bake as usual. After it comes out, garnish with torn basil leaves and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar glaze.  AMAZINGLY GOOD!

Spinach/Blue Cheese/Pine Nut/Sun Dried Tomato with Red Onion:

Rough dice a half of a red onion.

Prepare your crust and brush well with olive oil.

Scatter the red onion over the crust, then blue cheese crumbles, slices or strips of sun dried tomatoes (buy the oil packed for best results) and finally, pine nuts or chopped walnuts.  Bake until the cheese melts and browns and the crust is golden.

Scatter some fresh basil strips over the pizza for a nice garnish after baking. Super appetizer pizza!

And that’s it! You’re a craft pizza expert!

Until next time!!

smoked Summer Snacks starring Pellet Grill Jerky!

smoked Summer Snacks starring Pellet Grill Jerky!

It looks like summer is finally arriving after a cold spring here in the upper Midwest where the Griller’s Gold blog team resides. Time for lazy days spent on a boat, picnics under a big shady tree in a park, outdoor music festivals, long hikes and much more.

This is also time to have some great ideas for tasty things that are a) portable and b) safe to eat with minimal refrigeration. And of course prepared on your pellet grill using Griller’s Gold Premium Hardwood pellets!

The star of that summer show is Pellet Grill Jerky. We really don’t know a single person who isn’t vegan that doesn’t love a good strip of jerky.  The fun part is that this recipe is repeatable across a lot of other meats – not just beef.

To accompany the Jerky recipe we also have recipes for smoked cheese crackers, smoked caramel corn and smoky nuts – all great to munch on a summer day accompanied by a great cocktail.  And speaking of great cocktails, we have a couple to share with you too!

Let’s get to it!

Pellet Grill smoked Beef Jerky

Smokey summer snacks - jerky on the rack

(Stewart Campbell)

Making your own homemade beef jerky will ruin you forever from buying the commercial stuff.  For starters, the amount of jerky you can make for about $20 total will be at least 3X what that $20 would buy in the commercial brands. And it is so easy!

Also the trick to having your jerky be more safe out of the refrigerator is to use some curing powder in the marinade. This powder, available online is what is used to cure bacon and other meats.  This recipe is for beef flank steak but you can also substitute game meat (venison is off the chart!), turkey or pork.


  • 2-3 lbs of beef flank steak
  • Marinade:
    • ½ tsp Pink Curing Powder #2 (“Prague Powder”) (You can also use Morton’s InstaCure, follow the box instructions on how much to use)
    • 1 cup Pineapple Juice (we used Jumex branded Pineapple Nectar)
    • ½ cup Worcestershire sauce
    • ½ cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
    • ½ cup dark brown sugar OR ¼ cup Agave Syrup
    • 4 cloves of garlic, mashed or pressed (or 1 tsp granulated garlic)
    • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated (OR ½ tsp powdered ginger)
    • 2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
    • 2 tsp hot sauce (we use Frank’s Original sauce)

Chill the beef well – or even put it in the freezer for about 45 minutes – you want it very cold and firm for good slicing.  Cut the piece of flank steak in half AGAINST the grain, then turn it ¼ turn and make ⅛” thick slices WITH the grain. Cutting with the grain is key to having those nice chewy pieces of jerky. 

Mix up your marinade.  Put the meat into a 1 gallon zip closure freezer bag and then dump in the marinade. Press as much air out of the bag as possible, then put the bag into a shallow container and place in the fridge. (This is to contain any leakage, this marinade will make a sticky mess out of your fridge if it leaks. Ask us how we know!)  Let the meat marinate at least overnight, or up to 24 hours.

On cook day, fire up your pellet grill to its lowest setting with your favorite Griller’s Gold pellets.  For this recipe we like Smokeshack Blend or Hickory.  Our pellet grill will run at 165F and if yours has a “super smoke” or extra smoke setting, use that. 

Give it at least 15 minutes to warm up to temp. 

Then simply lay the meat strips over the grill, leaving a bit of air gap between them to allow the warm air and smoke to circulate. Close the grill up and set a timer for 5 hours and go do something else! 

After 5 hours the meat will have smoked, dried and shrunk into amazing jerky strips. Try one warm off the grill – it should be chewy, not juicy. If it needs more time, (if it is juicy for example, or not firm) then let it go 1 more hour.  

uncooked jerky for smokey summer snacks on a grill

Remove the jerky to a cooling rack over a baking sheet and let cool at room temp.  Store in a sealed bag or container in the fridge. It also keeps great longer term in the freezer in a well sealed container with the air pressed out. On an outdoor day, it’s safe that this is out of the fridge as it’s both cured and smoked.

finished jerky off the grill - summer snacks on the smoker

(Stewart Campbell)

Super easy!  There are a lot of variations of recipes out there – just search for “Pellet Grill Jerky” recipes, or combine your own ingredients to make it yours!

Smoked Cheese Crackers

These are so decadently tasty they ought to be illegal. And ridiculously easy to make!


  • 1 regular sized box cheese crackers like Cheez-Its
  • 2T butter
  • 2T worcestershire sauce
  • ½ t hot sauce (again, we like Frank’s Red Hot)
  • 1 ½ t of your favorite BBQ seasoning 

Preheat your pellet grill to 165F with Griller’s Gold pellets

Melt the butter, then mix in the rest of the sauce ingredients.  Put the crackers in a large mixing bowl, dump the sauce over them and gently toss to coat well all over. 

Spread the crackers out on a cooling rack placed over a large cookie sheet and put that on the grate of your pellet grill. Let smoke for 1 hour, then boost the heat to 300F and bake about 30-40 minutes until the crackers start to darken a bit. 

Remove from the grill and let cool to room temp.  Store in a zip lock bag or sealed container, although they won’t last very long!

smoked caramel corn - part of the summer snacks

Smoked Caramel Corn

As much as the Griller’s Gold Blog Team is all about fresh ingredients and making from scratch, well, this one is so easy to do with a commercially made caramel corn, that it feels like cheating. The trick is you want just enough heat so that the coating softens and absorbs smoke, without burning.  200F seems to be that magic temp. 

The ingredient is a big bag or container of caramel corn, and if you want to mix it up a bit, using the caramel corn/cheese corn mix, this is also outstanding in this recipe. 

Preheat the pellet grill (using Griller’s Gold pellets of course) to 200F, spread the corn out over a large rimmed baking sheet and put it into the grill.  Let bake/smoke for 1 hour, tossing every 15 minutes.  Remove and let cool, store in a zip top bag or sealed container. 

smoked snacks - mixed nuts and jerky

Smoked Cajun Seasoned Nuts

This takes that container of mixed nuts and kicks them to the next level, and then just for fun, kicks them even further with a pop of sweet heat from Cajun seasoning and some honey.


  • 3 cups mixed nuts of your choice, or a single kind of nut, whatever you prefer
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 ½ tsp Tony Cachere’s Cajun Seasoning

Preheat your pellet grill to 165F with Griller’s Gold pellets – for this recipe, try Applewood or Hickory. 

Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking dish and smoke them for 1 hour at 165F.  Remove from the grill and increase the grill heat to 350F. 

Meanwhile melt the butter, and mix in the honey and Cajun seasoning.  Dump the nuts into a bowl and toss well with the melted butter/honey/seasoning. 

Line your rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the nuts out evenly over the pan.  Bake in the pellet grill at 350F for 30 minutes, stirring the nuts after 15 minutes to bake the coating onto the nuts and caramelize the sugar in the honey. 

Store in a sealed container (but have a handful hot from the smoker, they are amazing!).

smoked snacks - margarita cocktail

smoked Cocktail Recipes

What’s the point of snacks without drinks? Here’s a couple of our summer faves, starting with our favorite Margarita recipe:

Never Fail “Toppest Shelf” Margarita

This is for a margarita that is more like a martini than the oversized monsters you see in Mexican restaurants.  Note, there is no mix in this – it’s all individual and fresh ingredients because that makes the best drink!

Those mixes are loaded with things like high fructose corn syrup and citric acid. Bleah. Also critical to this using super premium tequila and top shelf orange liqueur. Nothing that comes in a plastic handle bottle, please!

For two fantastic Margaritas:

  • 4 ounces very premium tequila, we like Resposado grade from Don Julio, Milagro, Casa Migas, Cabo Wabo, or Hornitos.
  • 1 ½ ounces Cointreau, which is a very premium orange liqueur
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 ½ ounces of Agave Syrup
  • Salt or Tajin Seasoning for rimming glasses
  • Ice

    Rim a pair of chilled glasses (either martini or rocks glass) with sea salt or Tajin seasoning (if desired)

Put all the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker or large pint glass and stir well.  Fill the shaker or glass with ice and either shake (better) or stir vigorously to cool and slightly dilute the drink.  

Either strain into a martini glass (dividing, you’re making two here!) or divide the drink and ice from the shaker evenly into two rocks glasses.

Perfect Ice Cold Summer Mint Julep:

This cocktail is most often associated with the Kentucky Derby but we just love it all summer long as it is frosty cold and tastes so fresh. 

For two:

  • 4 ounces premium Kentucky bourbon of your choice.  We love to use Woodford’s Reserve for our Juleps, but really any good bourbon works.
  • 1 ½ ounces simple syrup (You can buy this premade but why do that when it’s super simple to make. Recipe: https://tinyurl.com/4bmbp45e )
  • 6 mint leaves, torn, for muddling.  6 more mint leaves on stems for garnish (3 per stem)
  • Crushed ice (at least 2 cups)

In two rocks glasses (although the tradition is a copper cup), add 1 ounce of bourbon to each plus a splash of simple syrup and 3 torn mint leaves. Muddle the mint with the bourbon and simple syrup.

Add the remaining bourbon and simple syrup to each drink and stir, then fill with crushed ice. Add a short straw and garnish with 3 whole mint leaves on a stem. Sip slow and enjoy!

So that’s it for this time.

Have a great start to your summer and we will see you again soon in this space!



Spring is springing and summer’s not far behind.  This season brings warm, enjoyable weather perfect for gathering with friends and enjoying lots of treats off your grill fueled with Griller’s Gold Natural Hardwood pellets

So here’s the situation: Your friends have gathered for an impromptu get-together in your backyard (or deck, patio, garage, etc…) and you want to whip up some tasty barbecue for them, but you don’t have hours to do it. 

Here’s a quick rundown of things you can cook HOT AND FAST on your pellet grill fueled by Griller’s Gold Natural Hardwood pellets.

Set up your grill for HOT AND FAST grilling and smoking:

While “HOT AND FAST” seems like the antithesis of classic low and slow grilling, the results you can get with it are amazing and delicious – but … also different than what you get with low and slow. 

To set up your grill for HOT AND FAST, simply fire up your pellet grill (making sure your hopper is loaded with your favorite Griller’s Gold flavor) and turn up the heat.  We like to go at 400 degrees for HOT AND FAST barbecue! 

Now this all said, smoke production at hot temps is much lower on most grills than it is at low and slow temperatures. If you are looking for that good smoky flavor as well, there are a couple of easy solutions:

  • Smoke Tube:  These are stainless steel perforated tubes that you fill with Griller’s Gold pellets and light one end with a propane torch. That starts the pellets smoldering and will fill your grill with great smoke flavor when you place it on the grill.  Here’s one that works great:  https://a.co/d/9xCEIwv
smoke tube for pellet grill - hot and fast barbeque
  • “Cigar”: This is kind of a “DIY smoke tube” that works on the same concept.  Take two pieces of heavy-duty foil about the size of a sheet of standard paper, stack them up and roll them into a tube, crimping one end closed.  Fill it full of your favorite Griller’s Gold pellets, leaving one end open, then using a sharp stick or skewer, poke holes all over it.  Light the pellets through the open end and place it on the grill!
  • Placement:  In either case, place it AWAY from your temperature sensor – you don’t want the extra heat to cause your grill to run cool.

hints for Running HOt: 

Since you’re going to be running hot, it helps to have a clean grill. If it’s been a while since you cleaned your grill’s heat plate, give that a scrape or change the foil covering on it.  You don’t want a grease fire. 

Also, make sure you have your supply of Griller’s Gold pellets at the ready – rolling hot and fast for a few hours will use a surprising amount of pellets. You don’t want to run out.

Choosing What to Cook – Hot & Fast

So, what to cook?  Here are four ideas on how to deliver that wonderful BBQ flavor in just a couple of hours for your impromptu crowd.

HOT AND FAST Baby Back Ribs:

Baby Backs are perfect for this as they cook quicker than St. Louis Cut ribs (or spare ribs) and respond just fine to the high heat.

We like to cut the slabs into 3 rib pieces right from the start – that helps them cook more quickly. Season with your favorite rib rub, put them on, and turn them every 30 minutes until they are at least 165 degrees in the thick meaty part. Then sauce them up and leave them on for 10 minutes more.

Note, due to the hot heat, these will be more “toothsome” and not “fall off the bone” like low and slows can be.  But they WILL be very tasty. These ideally cook between 90 minutes to 2 hours with the thinner pieces getting done first.

country style ribs with barbeque sauce

HOT AND FAST Country Style Ribs:  

So let’s make sure we point out the misnomer of country-style ribs.  These are actually pork shoulder or Boston Butt pork roasts cut into 2” thick and wide strips. They aren’t “ribs” any more than boneless wings were ever flapped by a chicken! That doesn’t mean they aren’t tasty! 

For technique and seasoning – the same as Baby Backs – season with your favorite rub, cook to between 165 and 180 degrees (which should take 90 minutes to 2 hours max) then sauce up, leave for 10 extra minutes, and serve hot off the grill!

pork shoulder on brown paper with sauce next to it.

HOT AND FAST Butterflied Pork Shoulder or Boston Butt:

So when you hear Boston Butt and pork shoulder, you think of classic, low and slow cooked, pulled pork, right?

To make this hot & fast, take that roast, remove the bone, and then butterfly it by slicing it down the long way into two big pieces about 2” thick.

Season these up as you would ribs with your favorite rub and throw them on the grill.  In about 2 hours, you should be at around 165 degrees.

Take it off and slice it fairly thin across the grain and you’ll have absolutely delicious, juicy slices of delicious pork with a wonderful barbecue flavor.  This is especially good when you’re running a smoke tube. 

This is also fantastic for making Cuban sandwiches. Sliced pork combined with slice ham, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard, and pickles on a French baguette, smashed down on a panini press! Fantastic!

HOT AND FAST Beef Chuck Roast:

Beef Chuck Roasts are one of the most versatile things you can cook on your pellet grill.  Go low and slow and they are the “budget priced brisket” – giving a brisket-like flavor for a fraction of the price.  But cooked hot and fast, then sliced thin across the grain and kissed with smoke flavor, you’ll think you’re dining at a fine Texas steakhouse. 

Texas Style Chuck Roasts

We like to do our HOT AND FAST chuck roasts Texas style. We season them up with “SPG”. This is a blend of good kosher salt, granulated garlic, and coarsely ground black pepper.  You can mix this up yourself (2 parts salt, 1 part each garlic and pepper) or it’s easily found in barbecue stores pre-mixed.  Normally, the GG Barbecue Crew is all about the homemade rubs. But because we find we use it all the time on things like burgers, steaks, fish, and even potato wedges on the grill, we have started buying premixed SPG.

After seasoning, put it on the grill, turning it every 10 minutes like a big, thick steak. We find that medium rare to medium (130-145 degrees) works best for the doneness of chuck. Too low and it’s tough, too high and it’s dry. 

Once it’s hit desired doneness, let it rest under foil on the platter for at least 15 minutes and then carve. Then separate the various muscles, trim off and discard any gristle or silver skin. Then slice the meat into nice slices across the grain. 

Served with sauce or not, this is a sublime way to get your beef on in a pretty short time!

hot and fast sliced texas chuck roasts - pink and brown slices laid out on a cutting board

(Stewart Campbell)

One of the best parts of summer is doing impromptu things. Impromptu grilling and barbecue doesn’t mean you’re limited to burgers, dogs, brats, and chicken breasts. You can make great authentic barbecue in a very short time!

Until next time!

St. Patrick’s Day Favorite BBQ Twist! Montreal Smoked Meat

St. Patrick’s Day Favorite BBQ Twist! Montreal Smoked Meat

Hey, welcome to March! 

Such a great month – winter is starting to go away (at least in southern/central regions), we’ve got March Madness and … St. Patrick’s Day!

And what’s the one food that is associated with St. Paddy’s?  Corned Beef!

Given that this is a barbecue blog and all about smokey meats, let’s talk about the magic that happens when you take tasty Corned Beef, and you apply barbecue techniques of rubs, low and slow heat and smoke to it. 

Montreal Smoked Meat  - Griller's Gold St. Patty's Day grilling

They call that magic Montreal Smoked Meat!

So exactly what is Montreal Smoked Meat (MSM) and why do we love it so much? It is cured brisket (aka Corned Beef) that is then smoked with an amazing (and spicy) coating that forms the bark on the outside.

It is a specialty of restaurants in Montreal (hence the name), and in fact THE place to get it in Montreal is Schwartz’s deli. MSM is like a brisket takes a trip to a New York Deli, on the way through Texas. It is similar to pastrami, only smokier and because it’s brisket (pastrami is a different cut), tastier!  It’s got peppery spice, cured meat flavor and barbecue smoke! Pure heaven!

What makes “MSM” unique from regular barbecue brisket is the curing process. This chemically preserves the meat and gives it a unique flavor, versus raw brisket. The difference between Montreal Smoked Meat and regular corned beef is that corned beef is wet cured in a brining liquid (“pickled”) with peppercorns. The peppercorns are the primary spice (hence “corned” beef) while MSM is dry cured with a curing rub full of spices. 

Making MSM is not a quick process – it takes about a week in total, but the results are amazing and worth your time. The only special thing you’ll need is curing salt – also known as “Prague Powder #1” or “Pink Salt” or “Pink Cure.”  It is 6.25% granulated sodium nitrite and 93.75% table salt. The reason it’s pink is because it’s dyed that color so you don’t mistake it for salt and put it on your food like a seasoning. And don’t freak out about nitrates and nitrites in your food. You’ll eat more nitrate in a serving of spinach than you will in a serving of MSM.

The Montreal Smoked Meat Process

The process for making this is very straightforward: 

First you cure the meat for 5-6 days with a rub that contains the Prague Powder #1. Then you rinse off that rub, rub it again with a peppery rub and you smoke the meat.

Finally, an hour or two prior to serving, you steam the meat to finish the cooking. Then you slice it thin against the grain and enjoy!

St. Patty's Day Grilling - Montreal Smoked Meat Brisket

Because you only partially smoke the meat, this is an easy brisket to make. The smoking takes between 5 and 7 hours, then you steam it to finish it.  You can also smoke it one day and steam it the next, making it very flexible around dinner plans.

Now, if you’re in a bit of a hurry, and want to shave some time or you think the whole curing thing isn’t your jam, you can make MSM from … commercial corned beef!

It’s a huge shortcut, and while you won’t wind up with truly authentic Montreal Smoked Meat, only a deli man in Montreal would know the difference. If you want to make it that way, skip forward to Step 3 in this post.

Montreal Smoked Meat – The Recipe


  • A brisket. We have done these with just brisket points (ohh yeah!), brisket flats (just as good, but leaner), and whole packer briskets.  Regardless of which you’re doing, you’ll want to trim it out well. We suggest checking out one of the gazillion videos on YouTube for advice on that.  For the fat cap though, shave it down until it’s only ¼” to ⅛” thick. You want the rub and cure to flavor the meat.  Our most recent effort was done using only a 3 ½ lb brisket point that we had separated from a large packer and used the flat for a braised brisket dish.
  • Prague Powder #1 – the curing salt


The first step is to dry brine it for a week in the curing rub. 

You’ll need to be able to keep it in the fridge, flat, for a week, so if your fridge is anything like ours, well, eat your leftovers and clear some space! For a curing container, we like to use those big 2.5 gallon zip closure bags. The meat will give up liquid as it cures, so we like to put the meat in the bag, squeeze out the air, zip it up and put the whole thing in a foil roasting pan just in case the bag leaks.

A note about the curing rub – the amount of curing rub you put on the meat is based on the weight of the meat, and that’s because there’s a specific ratio of meat to the Prague Powder#1 that you’re supposed to follow – 1 teaspoon per 5 lbs of meat. 

Therefore, the recipe below is for 5 lbs of meat.  If your packer brisket is 10 lbs, then double this – if it’s 12 lbs, make roughly 2 ½ x this recipe, etc. 

  • ⅓ cup kosher salt
  • 1T ground black pepper
  • 1T ground coriander
  • 1t Prague Powder #1
  • 2t granulated table sugar
  • ½ t ground bay leaf (or take 3 bay leaves and smash them up)
  • ½ t ground cloves

After trimming your brisket, apply this rub all over the meat, covering every part of it, and be sure to use all the rub.  Slide the rubbed brisket into the big ziplock, squeeze out the air as best you can and close it up. Put that in the big pan and slide it into the fridge. Let it cure for at least 4 days and up to 6 days (we always do 5) – flipping it over once a day.

Step 2 – Rinse and Soak: 

The day before you’re going to smoke it, take it out of the bag, flop it into the sink and rinse it well to get the curing mixture off as best you can – we use a clean dish brush (make sure it has NO soap on it!) to help persuade the mixture off the meat. Some pepper bits will stay stuck in the meat and fat – that’s fine, but you’re clearing the way for the next rub.

After rinsing, fill a large roasting pan or other container with enough cold water to fully cover the meat and soak it for at least 2 hours, changing the water every 30 minutes or so while it soaks. This helps take the salt out of the surface of the meat, which is important so that the next rub can do it’s thing! 

Montreal Smoked Meat - St. Patty's Day Grilled Feast

STEP 3 –  Rub #2 and Smoke

Fill your pellet smoker with your favorite Griller’s Gold pellets – for this we recommend either Smokeshack Blend or Fruitwood Blend, but really they will all work great. Fire it up and preheat it for at least 20 minutes at 275 degrees.

While the grill heats up, mix up the next rub (and again this is for every 5 lbs. The difference with this is you don’t have to use all of it, so we actually make this in a larger quantity as it is fantastic on steaks – ever hear of Montreal Steak Seasoning?  This is a homemade version.)

  • 1 T coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1 ½ t garlic powder
  • 1 ½ t onion powder
  • ½  t dry ground mustard
  • ½ t celery seed
  • ½ t crushed red pepper

Optional ½ t ground Worcestershire powder (We make this optional as this is kind of hard to find, although it is very available online. This is great for a lot of things and gives a really great umami-boost.)

Spread this generously over the meat and pat it to make it set into the surface of the meat. Again, be sure to do all the surface area of the meat – edges too!

Grill On!

Ok, meat ready, grill hot, let’s get this on! 

If you have a probe thermometer, place the probe in the thickest part of the meat with the tip in the center.  If you’re doing a full packer brisket, we recommend placing the meat on the grill with the thickest part away from the chimney of your pellet grill.  Smoke the meat until it hits an internal temp of at least 160F in the center – you can go a bit higher, but there’s really no need to.  And if it stalls at 155 or so, that’s fine too. Depending on how big your brisket is, and what cut (full packer, point only, flat only), this could take anywhere from 2 ½ hours to 6 hours.

Take the meat off the smoker, bring it inside, put a layer of foil over it and a folded towel over that and let it rest for an hour.

Montreal Smoked meat sandwich - St. Patty's Day grilling feast

LAST STEP – Steaming and Serve!

This is the kicker step for this – and it really makes great meat. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F (or increase the heat on your pellet grill to that level if your oven is busy). 

Prepare a roasting pan with a rack in the bottom that will allow for at least ½” or so of water without touching the meat.  Lay the brisket on the rack, then seal the whole roaster up with foil, tightly, so the steam doesn’t escape.  If you are using a probe thermometer, poke the probe through the foil and into the center of the thickest part of the meat. Try to keep the hole as small as possible.  Slide it into the oven and let it steam for between an hour to 2 hours. You’re going for at least 185 internal temp although it can safely slide as high as 205.  Once you’re at 185 though, you’re done.

Remove from the pan, put it on a board and slice it thin across the grain. 

It makes amazing sandwiches on rye bread with spicy mustard, and also is just great plain – no sauce needed. And since we’re talking St. Patrick’s day – this kicks the whole “corned beef and cabbage” thing to a new level since this meat is a flavor bomb!  You’re not going to be making the cabbage in with the corned beef, but serving this with a side of boiled potatoes and cabbage is very very tasty. Especially when you pair it with a classic St. Patrick’s day beer like Guinness, Smithwicks, or Harp Lager.

Montreal Smoked Meat sounds complicated, but really, it isn’t. But what you will have is a dish that will blow away your friends and family when you serve it. 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and March everyone!

In Pursuit Of The Perfect Burger!

In Pursuit Of The Perfect Burger!

In our minds, there’s nothing more American than a good ‘ol hamburger. And yet no other food item is subject to more variation than the good ‘ol hamburger.

From fast food “discs”, some of which are good, to a fantastic, big ‘ol greasy burger at your favorite pub (best served with an ice cold beer), and of course, home grilled burgers, we don’t think there’s any food item that is more subject to individual interpretation than the hamburger.

Celebrity chefs of course put their own stamp on them – every chef from Bobby Flay to Julia Child has made their burger recipes their own way. Gordon Ramsey even has his own chain of burger restaurants, called Burger, of course. Dean Martin even famously published his personal burger recipe back in the 1970s!

Dean Martin Recipe for burgers. From the Celebrity Cookbook
Grillers Gold Blog
From the Celebrity Cookbook

So this all said, OF COURSE the Griller’s Gold blog crew has a couple of great burger recipes up our sleeves. And they are of course fueled by the wonderful, all-hardwood Griller’s Gold premium pellets

We do have to admit to taking some technique hints from the celeb chefs, especially Gordon Ramsey and also Nigella Lawson, but like everything, your personal style is always the sum of your influences.

So this all said, here’s what we do:

Choosing The Meat

It all starts with ground beef, and we good ol’ simple, ground chuck, 80/20% lean to fat ratio.  That said, if you have the time and the equipment (and the equipment is a proper meat grinder), grinding your own fresh hamburger gives absolutely sublime results. But good ‘ol supermarket 80/20 ground chuck is the go to here.

Mix-ins: NO!!

A lot of folks mix a lot of stuff into their burgers. Not us. We don’t add sauces, seasonings, binders, etc. to the beef. Good quality 80/20 chuck doesn’t need it.

Forming and Pattying:

A great “rule of thumb” size for burgers is a 5.25 oz pre-cooked weight burger. It’s thick/massive enough to still cook nicely and allow you to leave it to your desired temperature. The technique here is to portion the meat out in pre-weighed balls, then wearing nitrile gloves (this helps keep the heat of your hands from melting the fat of the meat), flatten the balls down to half-inch thick patties. Finally after the patty has been placed on the platter to go to the grill, use your thumb to create an indentation in the center of the patty. This helps keep the burgers at an even thickness as they cook up.

pressing down the burger patty to get ready for the grill. Griller's Gold Blog

How to Season Your Burger

For burgers, simplicity wins the day:  A generous sprinkle (and we mean generous – at least a 1/4 tsp of kosher salt per side) and a good grind of freshly ground pepper is all you need. If you want to be fancy, maybe a shake of garlic powder. Just do the one side that’s up right now, you’ll season the other side at the grill.

The Grill/Preheating

Fire up your pellet grill to as hot as it will go – 450F, 500F, give her all you’ve got.  Those Griller’s Gold natural hardwood pellets will deliver the heat! 

We like to preheat the grill on this hottest setting for at least 15 minutes – you want all that metal to get good and hot.  Your grill may say that its pre-heat cycle is complete, but letting it go longer ALWAYS helps. This is where it’s important to know your gear and how long it takes to heat up – but 450-500 degrees seems to be the magic number to hit.

Another great thing to use for this on your pellet grill is some sort of heat collecting/concentrating device – our two favorites are either a cast iron skillet or a set of GrillGrates. Grill Grates are “aftermarket” sets of extruded aluminum grates that magically collect and amplify grill heat. Put them on your 500 degree grill and their surfaces somehow wind up at 650F or better. I don’t know how it works, but it’s magic for searing.

Give them a try!

Grilling techniques for the perfect Burger

We have a couple of techniques here for you – give them both a try and see what works for you!

The Grill:

If we are just simply grilling on the grill grates (or GrillGrates), then we put the patties indentation side up on the grill and immediately close the lid and set a timer for 4 minutes.

At 4 minutes, open the lid, flip them over, season that side with just salt, and close the lid. This time the timer gets 3 minutes. At the end of the 3 minutes, open the lid, put on the cheese, close the lid and go for 30 more seconds.

Then off onto the platter and ready to serve. This yields a perfect, medium rare burger for me – pink and juicy in the center. Amazing. 

If you like medium (dryer and grayer in the center), extend the side 1 and 2 intervals by a minute and the cheese interval by 30 seconds.

Perfectly grilled burgers coming off the grill with a metal spatula. Griller's Gold Blog

The Flattop or Cast Iron Skillet Method: 

We like using a couple of flattop grilling things – a cast iron griddle and a stainless flattop. Both of these are great to do a burger on.

Same methods as above apply, including timings – just put the flat top item or cast iron skillet on the grill when you preheat, and again, use your highest heat setting. 

The Smashburger: 

Now if you’re at all like us, you probably love some smashburgers.  These are burgers that have been pressed flat on a flattop grill so they get crispy edges. Here’s some quick bullet points on doing smashburgers:

  • Use a cast iron skillet or other flattop as a grill topper.  Put it on your grill at the start of preheat and preheat to your hottest possible setting.
  • Form your burger into 3 ½ ounce balls – you’ll want to make double cheeseburgers with these!  Roll the balls in coarse kosher salt. Nothing better than a salty smashburger!
  • Cooking:  It’s the 1+1+1+1 method:  Put the balls on your flattop and flatten slightly, close the lid and time for 1 minute. At the end of 1 minute, SMASH that burger with a big spatula backed up by a good weight (or invest in a cast iron burger or bacon press) – we like to use a big can of beans as our weight – one hand on the spatula the other pressing down on the can of beans.  You want that burger flat, baby! It should expand to almost 6” and be about ¼” thick max at the center.  Then give it 1 more minute and flip it. 
  • Make sure you scrape it up well off the flattop – don’t leave any of that great flavor on the metal!  After the flip, time another minute, then put on the cheese, and time one more minute.
  • Done – burger perfection in 4 minutes!
rounded burgers getting ready to be smashed. Griller's Gold Blog



Well our fave is American cheese – but not pre-wrapped “singles”. We buy it in the deli section of the grocery store and we get it cut slightly thicker. Blue cheese is fantastic, as are cheddar, gouda, gruyere, swiss and more. 


Our favorite buns are bakery-made brioche buns, although both the S. Rosen and Pepperidge Farm brands make amazing brioche buns.

Second place in the bun category would be a good sesame-seeded commercial bun. And of course dark rye bread is amazing too.

If doing buns we like to mix up some garlic butter – just add a couple of cloves of minced garlic to a half-stick of softened salted butter and mix well – then spread the buns with the butter. We like our buns or bread toasted, so I put them on the grill to toast during the pre-heat phase. They toast in like 30 seconds per side.


We are kind of purists for burgers, so we really don’t put much on them – maybe a little mustard and mayo on the bun, and then dip each bite in ketchup. Others on the GG team here love lettuce/tomato/raw onion burgers, and the team also loves sauteed/grilled onions on burgers as well.

In all of these instances, the fresher and cooler and crisper your add-ons, the better.

And that’s it! This is what burger heaven looks like for us:

Medium rare burger with cheese on a bun. Grillers Gold Blog
Photo by Stewart Campbell

Now go make yourself some tasty burgers!

Until next time!

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