Summer is right around the corner, and that means the whole country can finally start cooking outside again. Regardless of whether you're in the market for a shiny new grill or plan to break out your trusty rust bucket, you'll need the right tools to keep the flame going all summer long.
After testing the best gas and charcoal grills on the market, we realized we needed some new tools. So we scoured the web, analyzing in-depth reviews, Amazon rankings, and user opinions to find some of the hottest grilling essentials. We skipped flashy accessories like grill-top pizza ovens and charcoal blowtorches, focusing on the basics that can help you become a grilling master.
Weber Original Spatula
No matter what you're grilling, you're going to need a good spatula to move stuff around. Our pick is made of stainless steel and is an ample 19.8-inches long, letting you flip burgers from a safe distance. User reviews emphasize that it's heat-resistant and easy to clean.
America's Test Kitchen also loved the Weber for its angled handle, adding that it's versatile enough for everything from burgers to swordfish steaks. Given all that, it should be no surprise that the Weber Original is a perennial best-seller.
OXO Good Grips Tongs
A good pair of tongs are indispensible for handling corn on the cob, ribs, and beer can chicken. We recommend the 16-inch OXO Good Grips Locking Tongs, which are long enough to keep your hands away from the grill while still making it easy to flip hot dogs and brats.
Weber Rapidfire Charcoal Chimney
Unfamiliar with charcoal chimneys? Well, here's the lowdown: These simple metal cylinders channel heat from kindling, getting your charcoal going quickly without nasty lighter fluid. And since Weber invented the kettle charcoal grill, it's no surprise that they're also behind the best charcoal chimney starter.
The Weber Rapidfire Charcoal Chimney is a classic, and enjoys rave reviews from customers and professional review organizations alike. Customers have noted that it gets charcoal going in about 10 minutes with just one match, so you won't have to wait too long to start cooking. If you find your steaks tend to taste more like lighter fluid than beef, get this chimney right away.
If you prefer gas to charcoal, then you're going to need an easy way to check your propane tank levels. You can DIY it to get a rough idea, but there's nothing worse than running out of propane in the middle of a party—you want to be sure of how much you have left.
One of the simplest and easiest tools for the job is the Grill Gauge. All you have to do is attach its hook to one of the tank handles and lift. The gauge will tell you how much propane is left, based on the weight of the tank.
Several reviewers note that it's also a great way to make sure you get a full tank when you exchange one at companies like Blue Rhino. With a 4.5-star Amazon rating and a $15 price tag, this gauge is a no-brainer.
Weber Bamboo Grill Brush
Before you get to grilling, you should always clean your grates with a good grill brush and scraper.
Weber's Bamboo Grill Brush is the best of both worlds, featuring a bamboo handle with a small, indented scraper on the end that's perfect for running along grill grates. Amazing Ribs recommends this Weber model for its excellent build quality, and user reviews back it up, repeatedly confirming that the brush won't lose bristles from everyday wear and tear.
Elizabeth Karmel’s Grill Basting Brush
If you want to get a good glaze on ribs or chicken, the key to tasty success is a good basting brush. You don't need a specialized basting brush for grilling, but this silicone model from Elizabeth Karmel is just too handy to pass up. It features a long, angled arm that makes it easy to baste ribs and chicken while keeping your hands a safe distance from the grill.
When you're done using it, the brush head can be removed for easy cleaning, or you can simply put the whole brush in the dishwasher. At less than $10, it's no wonder this brush is also favored by Amazing Ribs and America's Test Kitchen.
ThermoWorks ThermoPop Thermometer
How can you tell when your food is done? Sure, you can poke it or cut it open, but we recommend you invest in a good meat thermometer.
Our favorite is the Thermoworks Thermopop. This digital thermometer features a backlit display and can deliver precise temperature readings in under six seconds.
Two of our staffers own and love the Thermopop, and our oven reviewer Kori Perten praises it for its simple one-button control and quick, accurate readings. The Thermopop also has celebrity backing from Serious Eats' esteemed J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, who says it works just as well as its more expensive sibling, the Thermapen.
Steven Raichlen Best of Barbecue Extra Long Suede Gloves
Don't want to pay for your BBQ with a pound of flesh? No, us either. Well, the best way to ensure that the only meat cooked on your grill comes from the grocery store is to buy a good pair of gloves.
America's Test Kitchen recommends the Steven Raichlen Best of Barbecue Extra Long Suede Gloves, which can resist temperatures as high as 475 degrees Fahrenheit, and we're inclined to agree.
Why? Easy. They're 18 inches long, which means you can reach across the grill without charring your forearms. After all, you're trying to cook food, not yourself. The gloves are available on sale from Amazon for just $17.44.
Kingsford Original Charcoal
Okay, charcoal isn't really a grilling accessory, but you can't cook without it. (Unless you own a gas grill.) There are dozens of varieties to choose from, but for most people, we recommend Kingsford Original Charcoal.
Unlike its popular cheat mode cousin, Kingsford Match Light, this charcoal isn't soaked in lighter fluid. That's a plus, because it means your food won't taste like gasoline. It also burns evenly, which makes it easier to cook your food without burning or undercooking.