Homemade Gifts of Smoke, Spice, and Spirit for the Griller


There’s something supremely satisfying about presenting people with a homemade gift, especially one related to grilling or smoking. But time is growing short, so while days-long home-cured bacon or pastrami are out, we found many recipes in our archives that fit the bill. Everything from rubs, to our favorite barbecue sauces, to beef jerky, and more. If you own a vacuum sealer, you could even smoke-roast a rack of ribs for people at the top of your list.

Homemade Gifts for Grillers

Lone Star Steak Rub

If you want a rub with plenty of heat and not a lick of sugar, this lean, mean seasoning is your ticket. There are some foods God never meant to be sweetened, among them the steaks (especially T-bones) and briskets, of which Texans are so rightfully proud. Use this rub whenever big flames are called for and don’t use more than you mean to. It packs some heat. Take this gift over the top by adding a couple of beautiful rib-eyes or a gift certificate to a high-end meat purveyor (a local butcher or an online market).

lone star rub

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Smoked Eggnog

If you’ve never tasted smoked, made-from-scratch eggnog, you’re in for a revelation. We’re talking real eggnog, made with eggs, heavy cream, and spirits. Package in an attractive glass bottle; keep refrigerated before gifting.

Smoked Eggnog

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Sriracha Beef Jerky

This Sriracha Beef Jerky starts with a simple marinade, made with Thai Sriracha for fire power. Use a lean cut like top round and slice into long thin strips. Marinade for at least 4 hours before smoking. The result is tender and almost crispy, with a slow burn from the Sriracha and a nice nutty flavor from the sesame oil.

beef jerky recipe - Homemade Gifts for Grillers

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Cold-Smoked Salmon

Salmon — cured in salt and brown sugar and cold-smoked at temperatures below 100 degrees — is a staple in the Raichlen household. (It is not the same as lox or gravlax, which is salt-cured but not smoked.) We like it served the traditional way, with grilled toast points, hard-cooked eggs, brined capers, diced onion, and fresh dill.

Cold Smoked Salmon

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Sweet and Smoky Barbecue Sauce

Ask most Americans to describe the perfect barbecue sauce and they’ll evoke a thick, sweet, red, ketchup-based sauce with a zing of vinegar and a whiff of liquid smoke. In short, the sort of sauce Kansas City barbecue buffs have slathered on ribs and briskets for decades. The recipe comes from the Kansas City Barbecue Society. Package in an attractive canning jar with instructions for use.

Sweet-and-Smoky Barbecue Sauce

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Smoked Cheesecake with Burnt Sugar Cream Sauce

By now you probably realize you can smoke just about anything. But should you? Only if smoking adds something to a food or dish that makes it better or more interesting than it would be in its natural state. This delectable cheesecake qualifies. A box with a cellophane window, which can be purchased from a bakery, makes this dessert look professional.

Smoked Cheesecake with Burnt Sugar Cream Sauce

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