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5 ways Alexa can help at your next BBQ

Alexa is super helpful all around the house, but what about out back while you're grilling? It can help there, too.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You know that Alexa speakers are great all around your house. They're surprisingly handy in the bathroom, make a fantastic bedside table accessory and can help you cook in the kitchen.

But what about outside the house? Your Alexa speaker can lend a hand during your next barbecue, just grab your Echo Dot and a power bank and fire up the grill. Here are five ways Alexa can help you become a real pitmaster.

Build a grocery list

One of the best ways your Alexa speaker can help you plan your next backyard barbecue is by helping you remember everything you need to pick up from the store. It can do this in one of two ways: shopping and to-do lists or reminders.

To build your shopping list, just say something like, "Alexa, add flank steak." Alexa will recognize that you want flank steak added to your shopping list. You can add your entire shopping list this way as you remember the items you need to pick up from the store. You'll find this list by opening the Alexa app (Android, iOS), tapping the hamburger button on the left to expand the menu, and selecting Lists.

You can also two-way sync the lists you build using Alexa with Any.do, AnyList, Cozi Lists, Picniic Todoist. Or you can create an IFTTT applet to sync with other compatible to-do or list apps of your choosing.

Reminders will also work in a similar fashion. Just say, "Alexa, remind me to get propane on Saturday morning at 9 a.m.." At 9 9 9 a.m. on Saturday, the speaker will light up with a notification and you'll receive a push notification on your phone.

Alexa's 'Grilling Time and Heat Settings'

If you're spreading your wings and learning to grill new things this year, ask Alexa how you should cook different types of meat, fish and vegetables.

To do this, enable the Grilling Time and Heat Settings skill, then say, "Alexa, launch grilling guide." Alexa will ask what you're trying to cook and it will give you the recommended cook times and heat (low, medium or high) for that specific food. It will also tell you whether it should be cooked on direct or indirect heat.

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Timers

Once you know how to cook your sirloin, throw a couple on the grill and use Alexa as a hands-free timer (perfect when your hands are messy). Just say, "Alexa, start a steak timer for 8 minutes." Once the timer is up, flip the steaks and start another.

If you've got veggies cooking off direct heat, you can make a second timer for those so you know when you should check in on them.

More on Chowhound: The ultimate guide to grilling

Connected meat thermometers

If you're cooking your meats low and slow in a smoker or pellet grill, you can use Alexa-compatible smart thermometers to keep an eye on the temperature of the grill or smoker and the meat while you do other things to prepare for your barbecue.

FireBoard, for example, is a connected meat thermometer with probes for up to six different temperature readings. There's also an Alexa skill you can use to remotely monitor the temperatures. CyberQ Cloud is a connected grill temperature controller and digital meat thermometer that also integrates with Alexa using a skill.

Get wine pairings and cocktail ideas

After you select what foods you're cooking, consult with Alexa to get suggested wine and beer pairings for your barbecue. Wine Finder is a skill that gives wine pairings for a wide selection of different meals. Just say, "Alexa, ask Wine Finder to recommend a wine for prime rib."

Similarly, The Bartender can help suggest cocktails and tell you how to make them. Or you can use Mixologist to find cocktail suggestions based on a specific type of liquor.

sous-vide-nomiku-8247-025

Want perfect steak every time? Sous vide it first, then finish on the grill.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Sous vide before you grill

Sous vide is a great way to get that low-and-slow meat tenderness without monitoring a smoker all day long. It's precise and simple to use — something you can set and forget. And one of the best ways to finish off a sous vide steak is by searing it on the grill.

The Joule can integrate with your Alexa speaker using a skill that lets you control and monitor the immersion circulator hands-free. And don't worry, the Joule skill will tell you how long and at what temperature you should cook all sorts of things.

If you sous vide steaks at your next backyard barbecue, just go ahead and plan on it becoming a regular thing. It will definitely be a hit, and your friends will be coming back for more.

How to grill smarter: Consider this your guide to cooking like a pro at your next BBQ.

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