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Best grilling accessories in 2021, according to food experts

From tongs to tool sets, here are some of the grilling accessories food experts recommend investing in.
A collection of the right grilling tools and accessories — from gloves and tongs to oil sprayers and meat injectors — can elevate your grilling (and meal).
A collection of the right grilling tools and accessories — from gloves and tongs to oil sprayers and meat injectors — can elevate your grilling (and meal).10'000 Hours / Getty Images

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Whether you’ve been a dedicated pitmaster for years or are stepping up your backyard grilling game this summer, having the right grill isn’t the only thing that matters. Experienced chefs know that grilling accessories can make or break your BBQ experience, especially if you're spending more time cooking at home right now. “To an electrician, plumber or any trades person, it’s a well-known fact: You’re only as good as your tools,” says Famous Dave's founder Dave Anderson. He and other experts we consulted argue it’s important to invest in essential grilling accessories and paraphernalia, from oil sprayers to meat injectors.

Instead of opting for an over-the-top grill set that’s all about look instead of function, focus on specific needs to ensure that each piece of your personalized tool kit is high-quality. “The good news is that you don't need a ton of grilling accessories,” said Lisa McManus, executive editor of tasting and testing at America’s Test Kitchen. “A few well-chosen tools are all you need.” To help inform your decisions, we’ve rounded up some top-rated grilling accessories across price points and uses.

Always buy the right tool for the right purpose and do yourself a favor: Buy the best quality possible that you can afford.

Dave Anderson, Founder, Famous Dave's

Best grilling tools and accessories

The key to avoiding stress while you grill is preparing appropriately. “Do as much indoors as you can before you head outside,” advised Judith Fertig, author of “The Gardener and The Grill.” “Make sure your fire is hot enough and the food is ready to go on the grill.” You can do this more easily by relying on a collection of the right tools, which can help you prep your meal, start your grill and handle hot food safely. Anderson urges shoppers to stay away from gimmicky products that claim to be dual-purpose for grilling and smoking. In his experience, they don’t excel at both.

Approach grilling like you would riding a bike: Try cooking new things gradually and only after you’ve got the basics down. “Pick one thing to get started and learn how your grill works — something quick like sausage or veggies,” said Angela Davis, a recipe developer at The Kitchenista Diaries. Vegetables need to be washed and trimmed, for example, but don’t need time for a brine or marinade to work. “They are not expensive — they can be eaten raw or grilled so you don't have to worry if they're done or not,” noted Fertig.

Best oil sprayer: Misto

Misto Brushed Aluminum Oil Sprayer

Add seasonings and oil to vegetables laid out on a sheet pan with the Misto Brushed Aluminum Oil Sprayer, which keeps your hands from getting oily. You can also fill the oil sprayer with vinegars, lemon and lime juice or other liquids you might want to coat your vegetables in.

Best grilling pan: Nordic Ware

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker Half Sheet

“Large, double-thick, rolled-edge metal sheet pans are every griller’s pal,” said Fertig, who’s partial to Nodic Ware’s sheet. “Everything goes out to the grill at once, and cooked and raw foods stay separate.” Fertig carries two stacked sheet pans out to the grill. The top pan has the raw seasoned meat or vegetables and the bottom pan is a safe landing spot for everything when it’s done.

Best gloves for grilling: Grill Armor

Grill Armor Extreme Heat Resistant Oven Gloves

An essential grilling tool to consider is gloves — they’re safety-oriented, and protect your hands while they’re near a flame. Grill Armor’s Oven Gloves are a highly rated option designed to protect you from up to 932 degrees Fahrenheit. They’re thick enough to resist heat but thin enough to allow you to still bend your fingers — and they’re machine washable, to boot. The gloves also feature a silicone grip so you don’t accidentally drop your freshly grilled meats and veggies.

Best long handle fork for your grill: New Star Foodservice

New Star Foodservice Store Wood Handle Barbecue Fork

There are only two grilling tools that Anderson considers mandatory: tongs and a long handle fork. “You don’t need anything fancy, but a long wood handle with a sharp fork is all you need for flipping the biggest T-bones and spare ribs,” he said. “The most important thing with any grilling tool: The handle must feel good in your hands.” This one from New Star Foodservice Store is 21 inches long and has a 4.6-star average rating from more than 470 Amazon customers.

Best grilling tongs: GrillPro

GrillPro Stainless Steel Tongs

When you’re turning a steak or vegetables to make sure they cook evenly, Fertig recommends the 20-inch GrillPro Tongs, which have rubber on the handles. “For turning slippery vegetables on the grill — and doing it often — long grill tongs with a good grip are the key,” she said.

Best meat injector for grilled food: Traeger

Traeger Grills BBQ Grill Meat Injector Kit

“If there’s anything America’s Rib King (aka me) is known for, it’s flavorful, juicy, tender and mouth-watering meats. I like to inject flavorful marinades into my meats because it gets the marinade right into the muscle for the greatest flavor possible,” said Anderson. He noted that you should never buy a plastic meat injector since they are “a waste of money.” Instead, it’s better to “invest in a good metal injector like the Traeger Injector,” which is crafted from stainless steel.

Best wide spatula for grilling: Weber

Weber 6673 Original Wide Spatula

For a grilling spatula, Thinh Phan of BBQInProgress.com recommends the stainless steel Weber Wide. “One thing I like about it is the wide head, making it easy to flip big fish or pizza,” he said. “It’s also from Weber so you really can’t go wrong with this one.”

Best basting brush: Weber

Weber 6661 Original Silicone Basting Brush

If you want to add sauce or a glaze as a finishing touch, opt for a basting brush like the Weber Brush. “[It] can withstand the heat, bastes better than the usual barbecuer’s throwaway paintbrush and can go in the dishwasher,” said Fertig.

Best basting mop: Grillhogs

Grillhogs 18-Inch Basting Mop

Thicker barbecue sauces or larger cuts of meat might call for a mop (not a typo). The Grillhogs Basting Mop gives you an 18-inch handle and, most importantly, a head that holds plenty of sauce (it also detaches so you can put it in the dishwasher).

Best grilling basket: BBQ Dragon

BBQ Dragon Rolling Grill Basket

You also want to think about oiled asparagus or peppers easily slipping through the grill grates. Fertig recommends a hinged grill basket like this highly rated item from BBQ Dragon, which keeps vegetables contained and lets you cook food on two sides just by flipping the basket over Its stainless steel build is dishwasher safe.

Best grilling tool set: Cuisinart

Cuisinart 13-piece Combo Set

Although our experts suggest buying individual pieces instead of big sets when given the choice, if you’d prefer to go this route, Phan suggests checking out Cuisinart’s 13-piece set. “It has the tongs, spatula, basting silicone brush, grill brush, four skewers and four corn holders,” he noted. “These are essential to make typical summer BBQ dishes like kebab, corn on the cob, burgers [and] brats, and all of the tools have a nice wooden handle while the rest of the material is stainless steel.”

Best grilling thermometer: Lavatools

Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo

According to Phan, this grill thermometer is a great option because it’s “fast and accurate.” “The display has a backlight that will turn on by itself if it’s dark [out] and the unit also shuts off automatically if not in use, which saves a lot of battery life,” he said. “With a three-year warranty, it’s a great unit that balances affordability with functionality.”

Best grill brush: Char-Broil

Char-Broil Nylon Bristle Grill Brush

When you’re done using your grill, it’s important to clean it properly so any leftover residue doesn’t char and burn the next time you have a BBQ. This highly rated brush has grit-infused nylon bristles that are designed to clean porcelain and chrome wide grids and cast iron grates. The head of the brush is removable for both cleaning and replacement. It has a 4.5-star average rating on Amazon from more than 4,900 shoppers.

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Morgan Greenwald, Shop TODAY contributed.