Having the right grill makes a huge difference when it comes to a successful backyard barbecue. But you need more than just the grill. There is a whole arsenal of tools that can help, including brushes and cleaners to properly prep the grill, spatulas for flipping burger patties, meat forks for turning juicy steaks, and top-quality charcoal for creating the perfect smoky flavor for barbecued chicken.
Read on to find out what to look for when shopping for grilling tools and to find out why the following are some of the best choices for backyard barbecues.
- BEST GRILL BRUSH: Grillart Grill Brush and Scraper with Deluxe Handle
- BEST GRILLING PLANKS: Primal Grilling Premium Cedar Planks for Grilling
- BEST SPATULA: OXO Good Grips 2-Piece Grilling Set
- BEST CHARCOAL: Fogo FHWC35LB Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal
- BEST CHARCOAL STARTER: Weber 7429 Rapidfire Chimney Starter, Silver
- BEST THERMOMETER: Lavatools Javelin PRO Instant Read Meat Thermometer
- BEST GRILL SPRAY: Pam Grilling No-Stick Cooking Spray
- BEST MEAT FORK: OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Fork
Whether you’re looking for a barbecue fork or buying a 30-piece grill tools set, consider the following features when shopping for grilling tools.
It’s incredibly frustrating to have to hunt for a missing grill spatula when a dozen or so patties are sizzling on the grill. No one wants to risk a burn by resorting to using a standard cooking spatula because the grill tools are missing. A good case or box can help keep your grill tools handy and well organized.
These convenient kits come in rigid boxes or soft cases and include pockets or pre-molded spots for spatulas, tongs, cleaning brushes, meat thermometers, and other grilling essentials. These cases keep the essentials together, making it easy to grab when it’s time for the grill master to perform. If you want a case or box, you may need to purchase a set of tools, as cases are usually tailored for specific tools.
When purchasing a standard kit, you can expect to receive the necessary tools for grilling. This includes barbecue forks, tongs, spatulas, and grill brushes. These requisite tools are available individually or in sets. In addition to essentials, larger kits also include tools that are nice to have but aren’t a necessity for grilling, including basting brushes, meat thermometers, heat-resistant gloves, skewers, and even flags for identifying the temperatures of steaks and burgers.
Weight plays a factor when grilling. Like any tool, a good grill tool will be well balanced, allowing you to easily handle it, whether it’s a spatula for flipping burgers or a meat fork for turning a full rack of ribs. The tool should also feel substantial enough that it doesn’t bend when lifting larger pieces of meat, such as an 18-ounce ribeye or large chicken breast. It also should be light enough so that your arm isn’t sore from flipping patties by the time the fireworks start lighting up the sky at the Fourth of July barbecue.
Grilling tools must endure some pretty inhospitable conditions, including extreme temperatures, charred meat, and being left in the rain by absent-minded grill chefs. Good quality grilling tools are made out of high-grade stainless steel that won’t rust or easily bend, and have few plastic parts. A quality grilling tool usually has a soft rubberized grip that allows you to get a good handle on the tool whether flipping burgers or turning a juicy steak.
Most quality grilling tools use strong materials that can endure heat and water, making them dishwasher safe. Some high-quality grilling tools have wood handles, which can be more appealing than the more ergonomic rubber handles. These should be hand washed to protect the finish on the wood.
Our Top Picks
Our list of top picks includes the essential supplies and tools needed for grilling along with nonessential barbecuing gear that’s nice to have. These are well-made tools from some of the top manufacturers in the grilling industry.
With its dual functions, this versatile grill brush from Grillart allows you to mount a two-pronged attack on the charred build-up covering your grill’s cooking grates. It features a wide brush side with flexible ends that help dislodge char from the cooking surface and the gaps between the grates. A scraper side allows you to remove stubborn build-up for a thorough cleaning.
Sometimes bristles can dislodge from a grill brush and end up in food, which can be extremely harmful if ingested. Grillart eliminates that hazard with a bristle-free design, and with its stainless steel construction, you don’t have to worry about this brush succumbing to rust. At 17-inches long, you can scrape clean the deepest sections of a hot grill from a safe distance.
A good cedar plank will take your grilled fish, chicken, or veggies to the next level, infusing your food with a rich, smoky flavor. These quality planks from Primal feature all-natural Western Red Cedar sanded to a smooth finish, which prevents splinters from ending up in your food.
For a plank to grill properly, without burning the wood, it needs to absorb water. These planks are kiln-dried for maximum water absorption. At 7/16-inch thick, these planks are less likely to bow, can distribute more flavor, and can outlast thinner planks.
This set comes with a burlap bag and includes five planks measuring 6-inches wide and 12-inches long.
A good grilling spatula needs to be wide enough to cover a large burger and thin enough to get under it without damaging the meat. It also needs to have a handle that’s easy to grip and long enough to keep you safely away from the flames. With its beveled edge and broad 4-inch head, this spatula from OXO Good Grips slides cleanly under simmering meat. Its 16-inch length keeps you away from the heat and its non-slip rubber grips allow you to flip patties with confidence.
This set also is durable, thanks to stainless steel construction that won’t rust or corrode. Since many throw a few dogs on the barbecue while grilling hamburgers, this set also includes a set of tongs with scalloped ends for gripping wieners. Both tools feature metal loops on the ends for easy storage.
If you eschew gas grills for the flavor of charcoal, then you may want to get serious about the brand of charcoal you use. Fogo’s hardwood lump charcoal uses chemical-free tropical hardwoods to add a mild smoky flavor to your food.
This natural charcoal comes in large, irregularly shaped pieces. While that may make this charcoal challenging to arrange evenly, it offers several advantages over standard charcoal briquets. They light more quickly, allowing you to get your food on the grill in about 15 minutes. They also burn hotter and last longer than briquets. This 35-pound bag includes large pieces suitable for grills 22 inches and larger.
Getting charcoal to light evenly can be a hazardous endeavor. The process usually involves copious amounts of lighter fluid and risky efforts to arrange flaming charcoal around the grill with a set of tongs. Weber’s Rapidfire chimney starter uses an innovative design that enables you to achieve that perfect charcoal burn without sacrificing the hair on your forearms.
Simply pile charcoal into the cylindrical-shaped chimney, ignite the lighter cubes under it, wait for it to heat up, then dump it into the grill kettle. The chimney groups the charcoal together, which causes it to burn evenly, allowing you to achieve an even temperature across the grill’s cooking surface. Its two-handle design enables you to safely control this starter, while a large heat shield prevents you from getting burned.
With quick and accurate readings, this meat thermometer will help you get that just-right temperature for juicy steaks and other barbecued meats. This thermometer gives readings in 1 to 3 seconds, minimizing the time you need to hold your hand over the grill. It’s accurate to within 1 degree, ensuring you get the desired temperature for your steaks.
The large 2-inch backlit display is easy to read regardless of light conditions. The display also rotates automatically depending on the thermometer’s position and is viewable from all angles, preventing you from having to lean toward your grill to read it. This thermometer also features a stabilization alert, which notifies you when the thermometer is stable enough to take an accurate temperature reading.
Grill masters worth their salt know that if you set raw chicken onto a hot grill, it will undoubtedly stick, pulling away chunks of meat when you go to flip those thighs and drumsticks. The easiest way to prevent that from happening is with a good grill spray. Leave it to Pam, which has been preventing food from sticking to metal since the early 1960s.
This particular formula, made from canola and cottonseed oils, can endure the high temperatures of a grill without burning. Spraying Pam creates a thin layer of fat on the grill grates, which gives you beautiful grill marks and prevents your food from sticking. Pam Grilling spray comes in two 5-ounce bottles.
OXO Good Grips uses a simple design with quality materials to make it one of the best forks for barbecuing. At 13-inches long, it can reach the back of the grill without fear of burning your hands. Its stainless steel construction means you don’t have to worry about it rusting if you forget to bring it inside when the backyard barbecue is over. Small barbs on the tines prevent the meat from sliding off when you’re maneuvering it around the cooking surface.
As with other OXO Good Grips’ products, it features a soft ergonomic Santoprene grip that makes those long grilling jobs at the family reunion easy on your hands. This fork also features a convenient hole at the end for hanging.
Owning a good set of grilling tools will make your barbecuing experience a more enjoyable and undoubtedly safer one. Quality grilling tools feature designs that prevent you from having to put your hands or body close to the heat, minimizing the chance that you’ll get burned. These safety features include such features as tools with long handles, charcoal starters with heat shields, and meat thermometers that give quick readings.
The best grilling tools are also easier to use, with good weight distribution and ergonomically-designed grips. Quality grilling tools also are durable. They can endure intense temperatures without staining, and shouldn’t rust if you accidentally leave them out in the rain.
A good quality barbecue fork, spatula, meat thermometer, or other grilling tool will also raise your barbecuing game, resulting in tastier ribs, chicken, steak, and hamburgers.
- Grilling tools feature designs that prevent you from getting burned.
- Quality tools hold up longer than cheaper grilling tools.
- The best grilling tools allow you to attain better results, which means tastier food.
- The best grilling tools are easy to use.
If you still have unanswered questions about grilling tools, read on for more information about the tools that are the most essential, how to clean grilling tools, and other burning questions about barbecuing.
Q. What are the basic tools you can’t go without?
A spatula, tongs, and grilling fork are usually essential tools. Each allows you to move different types of food around the grill without the risk of burning yourself. Similar tools designed for stovetops or ovens are typically too short or can be made from inappropriate materials for grilling.
Q. How do you clean grilling tools?
The best way to clean grilling tools is by hand-washing them using a brush and mild dish soap. Gently scrub the tool clean, then dry with a dishtowel. Clean grill brushes with mild dish soap and a hose. While it’s possible to clean some grilling tools in the dishwasher, these tools are often too long. Dishwashers may also damage grilling tools that have rubber or wooden grips.
Q. What equipment is used for grilling?
Standard grilling equipment includes a barbecue fork, tongs, and spatula for cooking and a grill brush for cleaning. If you’re using a charcoal grill, you’ll need charcoal as well as a means of lighting it, which may include a charcoal starter or lighter fluid.
Q. What is the best material for gas grill grates?
A cast-iron grill grate offers the best cooking surface. Cast iron does an excellent job of retaining heat, allowing for even cooking. This type of grate also creates wonderful sear marks, a badge of honor for most grill chefs. Cast iron grill grates do require more upkeep to prevent rusting.
Q. What is the most popular food to grill?
Steak and hamburgers are the most popular foods to grill. For many people, it’s hard to beat the taste of a grilled hamburger or steak over one that has been cooked in a frying pan, especially if you use a charcoal grill that adds a significant amount of flavor.