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As the weather warms, you might be thinking about picnics, pitchers of lemonade and hamburgers that taste like hockey pucks. The realities of your grilling adventures might look a little different during a summer hampered by coronavirus restrictions and stay-at-home orders. Regardless, you don’t have to repeat the mistakes of past generations that result in burnt hot dogs or frustrated family members. The key to avoiding tension while you grill is in preparing for it appropriately.
“Do as much indoors as you can before you head outside,” advises 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.”
To do so, one significant helping hand is a collection of the right tools, which can help you prep your meal, start your grill and handle hot food safely. If you want to create your own collection of grilling tools or enhance your existing set, we’ve put together a list of the kitchen and grill gear that will set you up for success at your next barbecue.
In this article
- Best grilling tools for preparation
- Best grilling tools for heating the grill
- Best grilling tools for cooking
Best grilling tools for preparation
Approach grilling like you would riding a bike. Add new things slowly 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,” says 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,” says Fertig.
“Large, double-thick, rolled-edge metal sheet pans are every griller’s pal,” says 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. The bottom pan is a safe landing spot for everything when it’s done.
Best grilling tools for heating the grill
While you just have to wait for gas grills to warm up, cooking on charcoal requires a little more effort. But there are a few tools that can help you heat up charcoal faster. Davis suggests using lighter cubes to start a fire. “Lighter cubes make it super easy to light charcoal quickly,” says Davis. Weber’s Lighter Cubes are made of paraffin wax — they can light when wet and won’t create ash or add off flavors to whatever you’re grilling.
You can then stack the charcoal inside a Weber Charcoal Starter. The aluminum cylinder helps heat charcoal briquettes faster and lets you distribute the coals evenly on the grill once they’re ready. “You need a good 15 minutes to get charcoal to the proper color,” says Alex Pope, owner of Local Pig, a butcher shop in Kansas City, Missouri. “Your charcoal should be ashen grey and extremely hot.”
Best grilling tools for cooking
When the grill is hot, do one last check to make sure you’re ready. “Grilling can be a very time-sensitive thing,” says Pope. “So think about what tools you need and make sure you have everything ready before you get the meat on the grill.”
The first tool to consider is safety-oriented: Protect your hands. Slip on Grill Armor’s Oven Gloves, which are thick enough to resist heat but thin enough to allow you to still bend your fingers.
You also want to think about oiled asparagus or peppers easily slipping through the grill grates. Fertig recommends a hinged grill basket like the AIZOAM Grilling Basket, which keeps vegetables contained and lets you cook food on two sides just by flipping the handle.
If you’re cooking meat, you’re always aiming for a specific temperature. Take out the guesswork with a ThermoPro Thermometer. “A Wi-Fi dual probe thermometer lets you monitor the meat and grill temps from your phone instead of having to constantly open the grill,” says Davis.
When you’re turning a steak or vegetables to make sure they cook evenly, Fertig recommends the 20-inch GrillPro Tongs with 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,” says Fertig.
When it comes to flipping burger patties, Pope opts for a heavier spatula like this All-Clad Turner. The 13-inch spatula is made of stainless steel and the handle is long enough to help you keep your hands away from the heat. “You want tools that are rust-proof like stainless steel or aluminum, especially if you’re storing them outside,” says Pope. “Get something heavier duty without wooden inserts.”
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,” says Fertig.
Thicker barbecue sauces or larger cuts of meat might call for a mop. Grillhogs Basting Mop has an 18-inch handle and, most importantly, a head that holds plenty of sauce and detaches so you can put it in the dishwasher. The last step for everyone who uses a grill should be a thorough cleaning. While the grill is still warm, use a stainless steel brush to clean off the grates and racks.
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