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There’s something about the smell of wafting charcoal and burgers that always feels like summer. Whether you’re gathering a big crowd for an outdoor Mediterranean feast of grilled branzino, or you’re tossing a few veggie burgers and skewers on the grill after work, having the right tools can make the grillmaster’s job easier and ensure your burgers come out juicy with just the right amount of char.
Of course, once you have a grill, it feels like there are endless accessories you can buy to complete your outdoor kitchen. However, the truth is that with a few key purchases, you can equip your patio with everything you need for laid-back and delicious barbecuing. I've collected the best barbecue and grilling tools to ensure that every bite off your grill is delicious and effortless.
Best Overall Set: Cuisinart CGS-5020 Deluxe Grilling Tool Set
What We Love: Includes must-have tools, everything is made of rust-resistant stainless steel
What We Don't Love: Includes some less useful tools like corn holders
If it's your first grill or you're looking to upgrade all of your barbecue tools, going with a set will be more worthwhile than buying everything piecemeal. This gleaming grill set from Cuisinart has everything the home chef needs for regular barbecuing, including heavy-duty tongs, a basting brush, skewers, and a cleaning brush. Everything fits in a neat and durable carrying case for easy storage that ensures your gadgets last for years.
All of the tools are made from high-quality stainless steel, so they’re hardy enough to stand up to heavy use on an outdoor grill. Those with elongated handles end in loops so these can be hooked to your grill for easy cooking. Meanwhile, the digital fork displays desired temperatures, in addition to the actual temperature, and can set alerts so you know when your BBQ chicken is done. Cuisinart is known for making excellent indoor appliances, so it's no surprise that this grilling set is popular for the outdoor kitchen as well.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 17.5 x 8.5 x 3.5 inches (carrying case) | Material: Stainless steel | Dishwasher Safe: No
Best Grill Brush: Kona 360° Clean Grill Brush
What We Love: 5-year limited warranty, versatile enough for multiple surfaces
What We Don't Love: Stainless steel bristles can trap food and char
Every grill needs a grill brush. This not only helps keep your cooking surface clean but also helps prevents any burger grease flare-ups or safety hazards. This 18-inch all-stainless steel grill brush from Kona makes it easy to scrape even the most burnt-on food off your grill.
The 360's long handle adds leverage so you can apply less pressure and save yourself some effort to scrape the grill clean. This also works on multiple surfaces, including porcelain, ceramic, cast iron, and even infrared cooktops. Kona's 5-year limited warranty is a testament to how well-made the tool is. It’s built to last and doesn’t easily bend or flex, so you can rely on this brush to keep your grill clean for years.
Length: 18 inches | Bristle Material: Stainless steel | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best Grill Thermometer: MEATER Plus Wireless Meat Thermometer
What We Love: Measures internal and ambient temperature at the same time, connects to a smartphone app
What We Don't Love: Pricey
This high-tech grill thermometer can bring your outdoor cooking game to a new level with minimal effort. The Meater Plus thermometer probe connects to a compatible smartphone app via Bluetooth to give you a constant read on what’s happening with your steak and gives pointers only how long to cook and rest your food afterward. Instant read thermometers like this as preferred by professionals.
"I think the most handy [sic] tool is an instant-read thermometer that can display your temperatures quickly (not your candy thermometer, by any means)," says Susie Bulloch, female grillmaster and founder of Hey Grill, Hey. "You don't want to be holding a thermometer over the high heat of a grill for more than a couple of seconds while you get your reading, so the faster, the better."
The dual-probe also provides a read on the ambient temperature inside the grill so you can catch any potential burning before it happens, or stoke the fire if things start to cool off. The app also works with Amazon Alexa to give you a voice-activated temperature check-in if you’re busy preparing sides for your cookout. For added convenience, the Meater Plus comes with a bamboo charging case and can be charged up to 300 times with a single AAA battery.
Wireless Range: 165 feet | Maximum Temperature: 212 degrees/527 degrees | Power Source: AAA battery
Related: The Best Grill Thermometers
Best Tongs: Daily Kisn 17-Inch Extra-Long Grill Tongs
What We Love: Heat-resistant handle, dishwasher safe
What We Don't Love: Can be difficult to remove really stuck-on food
You’ll appreciate the extra length on these 17-inch tongs once you’re reaching for ribs over a fiery and hot grill. And no matter how hot things get, the silicone grip handle can handle up to 480 degrees and remains easy to grasp.
These tongs are made from scratch- and bend-resistant stainless steel to last for years of regular use. In between cookouts, a handy round hook on the end locks the tongs closed and allows you to hang them to keep them out of the way. After use, you can pop the tongs right into the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
Length: 17 inches | Material: Stainless steel | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Related: The Best Grills
Best Basting Brush: HQY Heavy-Duty Silicone Basting Brush
What We Love: Inexpensive, nonstick silicone bristles, stainless steel handle
What We Don't Love: Handle might be too small for big grills
This stainless steel basting brush is built for the grill. Its 12-inch handle means you don’t have to get too close to the flames to lather sauce on your chicken or ribs. And the soft silicone bristles make it easy to apply sauce to every nook and cranny of your dish without soaking up all the sauce.
For cleaning, the bristles pop right off of the handle to help you wash off any remaining sauce. Both pieces are also dishwasher-safe. The entire brush is heat-resistant up to 480 degrees, so you don’t have to worry about melting, and is backed by a 5-year warranty.
Length: 12 inches | Material: Stainless steel, silicone | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Related: The Best Measuring Cups
Best Grill Fork: RSVP International BBQ Fork
What We Love: 17.25-inch handle, rosewood finish
What We Don't Love: Not dishwasher safe
This 17.25-inch long grill fork is as beautiful as it is functional and the handle's length puts plenty of distance between the cook and the flames. It’s made with shiny and smooth rosewood that adds an extra dose of style to your outdoor cookware collection.
The fork tines are stainless steel and sharp enough to pierce large cuts of meat, but delicate enough to maneuver fish, asparagus, and other small items. There’s also a stainless steel loop on one end for hanging storage. To help preserve the beauty of the wood, it is recommended that you hand wash this post-cookout.
Length: 17.25 inches | Material: Stainless steel, rosewood | Dishwasher Safe: No
Related: The Best Grill Brushes
Cuisinart's CGS-5020 Deluxe Grilling Tool Set (view at Amazon) will help you become a grilling expert and make you look good while doing it. Everyone who grills can also benefit from having the Kona 360° Clean Grill Brush (view at Amazon) and the MEATER Plus Wireless Meat Thermometer (view at Amazon).
What to Look for When Buying Grilling Tools
There are a few accessories that every home grill needs. To maintain your grill and protect your food from contamination, you’ll want to use a high-quality grill brush between uses. For flipping burgers and more, a long-handed and sturdy spatula is a must. And for transferring all items to and from the grill, you’ll want a heavy-duty pair of tongs with a long enough handle to keep your hands cool. Lastly, thermometers let you know when your meat is done cooking. "I use my instant-read thermometer every single time I grill proteins to ensure I'm not over-or under-cooking my meat," says Bulloch.
It’s best to keep all of your grilling tools away from the elements. In particular, any tools with wooden parts should be kept out of the rain since wood absorbs water and can split from the additional moisture. During the summer, you can store most tools in a cabinet under your grill if you have one, but it’s always safest to keep them inside with your other cooking tools.
Always consult the manufacturers’ recommendations for cleaning. Most stainless steel tools can be cleaned easily in the dishwasher. Wood should be washed by hand with hot, soapy water. All tools should be dried fully before storage.
"I generally hand wash my grilling tools and store out of the elements. Wind, rain, sand, and sun can be brutal on plastic or wooden handles and dishwashers often struggle with the cooked-on foods that often accompany grilling," says Bulloch. "A good degreasing dish soap and scrub brush go a long way to clean and keep your tools like new."
Do you need a different thermometer for your grill?
If you already have an oven probe or a meat thermometer that you love, you can usually use the same one for your grill. However, you can rest assured that a grill-specific thermometer is built to withstand the high temps and open flames of a gas or charcoal grill.
What setting is best for cooking meat?
Grillmaster Bulloch says that one of the biggest mistakes she sees home cooks make is "cranking all the burners to HIGH." Instead of going straight to the highest setting, Bulloch recommends you "create zones of heat on your grill by setting one burner to high and one to low. This gives you a good range of temperatures across the grill surface to utilize and ensure you've got food that is juicy on the inside with the perfect amount of crispy char on the outside."
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This article was written by Lizzy Briskin, a chef, food writer, and recipe developer who lives in the northeast and takes the short-lived BBQ season very seriously.
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