Grilling tools & accessories you can't live without

When it comes to buying (or giving) BBQ & grilling tools it really is true that you get what you pay for.

I've learned this the hard way over the years. Please take my advice - when you're buying any of the "Must Have" grilling tools below - please don't go cheap.

bbq grilling tools

Good example - BBQ tongs. You can find these practically everywhere today, even your supermarket, but 90% are pure junk.

The cheaper wire-armed tongs barely have enough grip strength to lift a sheet of paper let alone a juicy porterhouse steak.

It quickly becomes frustrating when the grilling tool can't perform the job you need it to.

In the end, it will cost you more if you go cheap since you'll end up buying a replacement anyways. Do it right the first time.

Another watch-out - gift sets or tool sets. Great idea and I think these are a fantastic gift.

Again, my advice is don't go cheap on these. A good quality 5-piece set should cost at least $60 to $75.

Lots to choose from but they should include at least tongs, flipper, basting brush, fork and knife.

The tables below provide you with the "Must Have", "Should Have" and "Nice to Have" BBQ & Grilling tools and accessories with links to purchase if you're interested.

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"Must Have" Grilling tools & accessories

bbq tongs BBQ Tongs
Probably the most important and most used of the grilling tools. Allows you to turn the food without piercing it. Look for long handles - 16" to 20".

Newer tongs like this one come equipped with LED lights attached to the handle - very cool.

Should have strong arms with formed steel, wire tongs are too weak. I prefer the ends have a jagged or scalloped edge on one side and smooth edge on the other. Also look for handles with wood, bakelite or other insulator attached to keep your hand cooler.

instant read thermometer Instant Read Thermometers
Next to BBQ tongs this could be one of the most important grilling tools you'll ever buy.

I personally use this Maverick Industries Protemp PT100 model. It's a nice light-weight instant read model, moisture-proof and it holds the temperature reading when you remove it from the food. You want to get in and get out as quickly as possible to prevent burning your hands and not puncture the meat too much.

Insert it into the thickest part of the meat and not touching bone. It even has the most common internal cooking temperatures charted on the handle.

You'll be much more confident in your grilling when you use one of these.

bbq spatula Grilling spatula
I recommend a long handle (17" is good, 19" is better) with a slight bend at the neck to keep your hand and arm away from the heat when using it.

The one pictured on the left is a nice 19" Weber model and meets the requirements.

A 4" wide blade with holes or slots to release moisture is ideal. An insulator attached to the handle will also keep your hand cooler.

grill brush Grill Brush
Many, many to choose from but with grill brushes sometimes simpler is better. The one pictured just to the left is what I think is the best choice.

Long 20" handle for using on a hot grill keeps your hands and arms away from the heat. Have you ever melted hand and arm hair? Enough said.

The v-shape of the head permits the brush to scrub in between the grill rungs.

Other models include wooden handled models with square brush heads and a metal scraper plate attached - also works well.

Stay away from anything that has plastic, hot grills and plastic don't get along.

grill scrubber Grill Scrubber
These short handled scrubbers are meant to clean cold grates and fireboxes and should have a tough fibre scrubbing pad.
bbq gloves Insulated BBQ gloves
Longer the better to protect your arms from the heat. Insulated leather work very well and the gloves give you better grip and handling than mitts do.

These can get pretty messy if handling food so see below for rubber gloves.

basting brush Basting brushes
Many different types to choose from. Long handles keep your hands and arms away from the heat.

Most of the heads are made from natural bristles but these require more cleaning than the newer silicone bristle heads which you can toss in the dishwasher.

Also stock up on some cheap small paint brushes that you can really slather on the messy sauces with and then just throw away.

disposable pans Disposable aluminum pans
Available at most supermarkets - keep a stock of different sized pans on hand.

Use these as drip pans under the meat as it cooks, especially when rotisserie cooking.

Also great for keeping food warm as well as soaking wood chips.

bamboo skewers Bamboo skewers
Most often these skewers are available in 8" and 12" lengths and usually 100 to the pack. Pick up both sizes.

Must have grilling tool for shrimp, grilled vegetables and shish kabob's. These need to be soaked before use - instead of water why not try wine or bourbon?

Also come in square shapes and metal to prevent the food from spinning. Double up the bamboo skewers to make rafts for asparagus.

electric charcoal starter Electric charcoal starter
Pictured here is an electric charcoal starter. Bury this in the charcoal, plug in and within 10 minutes you should have flames from some of the charcoal.

Remove when you see the flames so you don't damage the starter. If you've no electricity where you're grilling then use parafin fire starter cubes.

See below in the "Should Have" section for Charcoal Chimneys.


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"Should Have" Grilling tools & accessories

bbq fork BBQ fork
Not really one of the must have of grilling tools but if used correctly it's a should have.

Used in the wrong hands and it becomes a liability. Don't poke the meat with this!

It's good on occasions when meat is sticking to the grill, use this between the grate rungs to gently pry the meat up if necessary.

charcoal chimney Charcoal Chimney Starter
It can be debated whether this is a must have or a should have. I've put it here only because there are other options available to start a charcoal fire.

Maybe not the best way like a chimney which gets the coals started more uniformly.

This chimney also allows you to prepare hot coals ahead of time when you need to replenish the fire in your grill during long burns.

If you're serious about charcoal barbecue then this is one of the must have grilling tools.

coal tool Hot coal distributor
Shop around at your hardware store for any type of smaller handled garden tool that you can use to move around hot coals in your grill.

Pictured here is an onion hoe but you could also use a short handled shovel too.

An extra pair on long handled tongs also work well.

wireless remote thermometer Wireless remote thermometer
This is another of the grilling tools that could have been put in the must have table.

This device is essential when cooking larger cuts of meat for extended periods of time. Insert the thermocouple probe into the meat so the tip is in the center and away from any bone. Attach the probe to the base transmitter and set your alert temperature on the remote unit.

When the food reaches the temperature you set the remote unit beeps to alert you. Trust these devices and you will never go wrong.

rubber gloves Insulated rubber gloves
Look for thick rubber, preferably with some sort of insulated lining.

These are helpful when you want to lift a larger piece of gooey meat from the grill to a pan.

rib rack Rib Rack/Roasting Rack
These racks are reversible. When placed with the racks up you place BBQ ribs between them vertically.

When placed on the grill with the racks down as pictured here they make a great roasting rack.

steel pail Galvanized steel pail
Useful for emptying coals or ash into to allowing cooling before disposal.

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"Nice to Have" Grilling tools & accessories

bbq mop BBQ Mop
Used to "mop" thin sauces onto ribs, chickens and larger cuts of grilling meats as they cook.

Look for longer handled mops, 18" is great. These also clean up in the dishwasher.

grill topper Grill Topper
Non-stick or porcelain coated perforated pan used on the grill to cook fish, vegetables and other delicate foods.

Basically prevents the food from falling between the rungs of the grate. The holes allow the smoke and flame to reach the food.

Spray or wipe with cooking oil prior to use.

grill wok Grill Wok
Similar to the grill topper but with higher sides to allow for easier stirring and wok style cooking. Also look for non-stick or porcelain coating.

Great for high-heat stir-fry vegetable grilling. The holes allow the smoke and flame to reach the food. Spray or wipe with cooking oil prior to use.

This is one of the grilling tools that gets a lot of use.

rotisserie Rotisserie unit
Pictured here is an after-market universal fit rotisserie kit. Should include motor, mounting hardware, spit and locking prongs and counter-weight.

Best case is to buy the unit specifically made for your charcoal or gas grill.

Better yet - negotiate a free rotisserie when buying your new grill if it doesn't already come equipped with one.

fish basket Fish Basket
This is a great little tool to make grilling fish a lot easier and a whole lot more successful.

This basket holds the fish in place and prevents it from sticking to the grill and falling apart when you want to flip it.

The other nice thing is the handle detaches so you can close the lid of the grill.

There are quite a few shapes and sizes of hinged grill baskets for different types of food grilling, especially vegetables.

tumble basket Tumble basket
The basket pictured here attachs to your rotisserie. This tool is fantastic for tumble cooking chicken pieces, especially coated drumsticks.

As mentioned above, there is a very wide variety of shapes and sizes of hinged-lid grill baskets for every type of food you can imagine. They work very well.

flavor injector Flavor Injector
This is a food-grade kitchen syringe that allows you to inject liquid flavors deep into birds or roasts.

Popular with chicken and turkey.

bear claws Bear Claws
I love these guy's. Made of durable plastic these claws have easy grip handles and make food removal from the grill a snap.

These can also be used instead of forks when shredding pulled pork. Try them - you'll love them. Great grilling tools.

beer can chicken holder Beer Can Chicken holder
I know I told you not to go cheap with tools but here's an example where you can spend $10 and get a great tool compared to other more expensive options.

This model is inexpensive and works very well. Holds both the can of liquid, the upright chicken and also has a pan to catch the drippings.

Pick up 2 and try them with this Beer Can Chicken recipe.

custom grilling skewers Custom grilling skewers
Longer metal grilling skewers, flat square shaped the best to prevent food from spinning.

Also available in flexible "Firewire" styles to give "shape" to your shish kabobs.

The style and type of custom skewer is almost endless and many novelty styles are avaiable.

patio protector Patio protector
Non-flammable mat for under your charcoal or gas grill to protect your deck or patio from falling sparks and food.

Usually comes in rectangular or round shapes with different colors available.

You can even find some with your favorite sports team logo on it.

grill light Grill Light
If you've poor lighting where you grill this is a great idea when grilling after dark.

Easily clamps to the edge of your grill shelf and allows you to manipulate the light to shine on the cooking surface.

Many different styles available depending on your needs and your grill.

bbq branding irons Branding irons
True novelty item. Heat the end on your grill as you're cooking and you can then brand your initals into your steaks.

Different strokes for different folks.

pizza stone Pizza stone
Place this on your grill, cover with cornmeal and lay your pizza on it. You can make restaurant grade pizza on your grill in no time.

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