10 Essential Grilling Tools, According to Chefs

These chef's favorites make cooking good food easier.

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Kitchen tools don't necessarily make you a better cook, but good tools make cooking well easier. Barbecue and grilling tools are no exception. We looked at many grilling accessories, from the essential pieces to the "it would be nice to have" items, to find you the best products in these areas and in between. We also consulted four chefs to get their input on which tools are necessary, which are nice, and which won't elevate your grilling. Combining their input with our research and expertise, we arrived at the best grilling accessories across multiple categories. Our list includes the best grill brush, best grill thermometer, best grilling gloves, and more.

Best Spatula

Char-Broil Comfort Grip Spatula



A spatula dedicated to grilling is one of your arsenal's must-have tools and will be one of the most used. You'll want something that has a more extended handle than you would use for cooking indoors to keep your hands away from the heat. Next, look for a non-slip grip that is also dishwasher safe. Third, you'll want a head that is wide enough to flip a burger or piece of fish easily without too much overhang from the food, though a tapered tip is necessary for delicate items or working a crowded grill. Finally, you'll want a balance of all of these without compromising dexterity. A tool is no good if it is unwieldy. Weighing all of these, we suggest the Char-Broil Comfort Grip Spatula.

Although we'd prefer a slightly shorter handle for balance and control, the Comfort Grip offers all of the above details. The stainless steel construction is strong and easy to clean. The slip-resistant silicone handle is dishwasher safe and designed to stay cool when working over a hot grill. It offers a wide enough head for larger pieces of food, but its gently tapered design serves well for detailed work.

Price at time of publish: $13

Best Tongs

OXO Good Grips 16-Inch Locking Tongs

OXO Good Grips 16-Inch Locking Tongs


A good set of tongs is another essential item. Megan Walker, the executive chef at Made by Meg Catering and La Venta Inn in Palos Verdes, Calif., forgoes many other tools that are more specialized in their purposes for the versatility of a set of tongs when doing onsite catering. Tongs are useful for small items needing precision work, like shrimp or hotdogs, but also good for larger pieces, like cauliflower or chicken legs. As with the spatula, you'll want to weigh the length, head size, and non-slip handles with the amount of dexterity the tongs allow.

The Good Grips are long enough to keep your hands away from the fire but not so long that you can't work with any degree of grace or nimbleness. The tapered tips bring this out to the front over other popular tongs. They allow you to grasp with more precision than squared-off tips. The slip and heat-resistant section at the far end is dishwasher-safe and easy on the hands. The locking feature that keeps the tongs closed is nice when you want to maximize your work surface or storage without getting tangled.

Price at time of publish: $18

Best Grill Brush

Grillart Grill Brush and Scraper



Nobody likes to think that when the cooking is done and your family or friends are writing songs to your grilling prowess, you still have a dirty grill to clean. A clean grill will prolong its lifespan and help prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses. Those two critical factors aside, a clean grill helps prevent food from sticking and improves the overall flavor of your food, avoiding the burnt remnants of your last-cooked meal on the new one. A grill brush is going to make your life exponentially easier.

The Grill Art has three rows of brush bristles, tripling the coverage of each motion, that also offer 360-degree cleaning from a single head. It also comes with changeable scraper blades that tackle hard-to-remove buildup and deposits. The 18-inch handle keeps your hand away from the heat during hot cleaning and features a non-slip grip and loop for hanging when not in use.

Price at time of publish: $30

Best Grill Lights

Permasteel 2-Piece Grill Lights

Permasteel 2-Piece Grill Lights


Grilling doesn't have to stop when the sun goes down; good grill lights make the job easier and safer. Rob Nelson, chef, and co-founder of the restaurant group Good Gravy in Bentonville, Ark., recommends lights that will swivel at any angle to reach anywhere in your grill in low-light conditions. Nelson, also a competition barbecue team member, frequently needs this ability during all-night smoking at these events. While you may not find yourself in the same position as Nelson, the ability to see your food and see what is happening around you increases your chances of making better food and decreases the risk of injury. For this, we recommend the Permasteel light set.

The magnetic base of these lights will stick to almost any metallic object, and the long gooseneck allows you to direct the light without changing its location. It features a cluster of nine LED bulbs that put brilliant light on your grill or work area while allowing your hands to remain free.

Price at time of publish: $26

Best Thermometer

ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE

ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE

King Arthur Baking

A good thermometer takes the guesswork out of cooking, especially when it comes to meat and poultry. To judge doneness, you could poke, prod, and cut open your food. You could also master the fine art of using a cake tester. Or you could do this the easy way and put a thermometer in your food and see what it says.

There are a couple of schools of thought about thermometers. The first is that most grills and smokers work best when closed. The heat escapes when you open the lid, which lengthens cooking times or leads to uneven cooking. "Looking ain't cooking" is a common phrase in the vernacular of the grilling community. This idea is antithetical to an instant-read thermometer. You need to access the food to put the probe tip in. That's where remote probe thermometers come in. You just put the probe in the food and watch the temperature from a nearby wired or wireless unit.

Then there's the school that wants a quick, accurate temperature. A probe is excellent for bigger items, like chicken or pork butts, but isn't as handy for a steak or a burger due to their long time to register an accurate temperature when first inserted. But you can use a quick-read thermometer with bigger or smaller items, even if it does require opening the grill. Because of that flexibility, we recommend an instant-read type thermometer like the Thermapen One.

I've used the Thermapen One in both professional settings and at home with good results. It's tough enough to handle the abuse of a professional kitchen while keeping its speed of reading in one second or less and accuracy with an approximate 0.5-degree margin of error. It also comes with a five-year warranty. One of its best features is the auto-rotating display, which eliminates reading the display upside down. It also features a waterproof motion detection for sleep and wake mode.

Price at time of publish: $99

Best Chimney Starter

Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter

Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter


Chimney starters provide a safer, faster, more contained way of getting your coals ready to cook without the flareups and chemicals of lighter fluid. The bonus is that if you need more coals to finish cooking, you don't need to move your food off the grill and repeat the initial flaming stage of lighting charcoal under your grate. You can ignite the coals in the starter and add them under the grate when they are ready.

The Rapidfire Chimney Starter is a simple, straightforward, and easy to use. As a brand, Weber consistently rates high when comparing its offerings to others, and this chimney starter is no exception. On the surface, it's an aluminum tube, but it is designed with airflow in mind to get your charcoal ready quickly. To that point, the bottom section, where you put paper or lighter cubes, has venting on all sides that keep the flow of oxygen to the fire moving. The conical grate where the charcoal sits increases airflow for fast lighting. Our only objection is common across the brand: the handle gets very hot and may require a towel or grilling glove to lift safely. These starters see frequent use in commercial settings, subject to more significant wear than most consumers put them through, and their lifespan is still great.

Price at time of publish: $28

Best Barbecue Tool Set

Cuisinart 20-Piece Deluxe BBQ Grill Tool Set



After reading through the qualities we look for in the essential tools – tongs and spatulas – finding a set that fits the criteria can be challenging. Walker recommends the Cuisinart Deluxe Grill Set, and we can back it. The set checks most of our boxes and offers other features that balance the differences.

The spatula and tongs have the conservative length and tapered ends we look for in both. The tongs lock for storage. Conspicuously lacking are the heat-resistant, non-slip handles. But the set also includes a silicone basting brush with a long handle and respectably broad head, five skewers for meats or vegetables, a grill brush, and four sets of corn holders. There's also a suitable grill brush in the case.

The most notable addition is the fork that doubles as a thermometer. Contrary to popular opinion, sticking your meat with a fork won't drain all the juices, but poking holes in your meat will create a channel for heat to enter and create an environment for uneven cooking. This can be problematic when trying to hit precise temperatures, like degrees of steak doneness. We like tines similar in thickness to a thermometer probe, which this fork has. The thermometer is slower to register than the Thermapen, but it is perfectly adequate for the job at this lower price point. All of these tools come packed in a padded aluminum case for storage.

Price at time of publish: $60

Best Grilling Basket

Lodge Cast Iron Dual Handle Grill Basket

Lodge Cast Iron Dual Handle Grill Basket


Grilling baskets can be great tools to keep smaller ingredients or cut vegetables from sliding between the grates and into the flames, never to be seen again. They can also be perpetrators of horrible cooking crimes. We'll explain. To grill food in a basket and get the char and flavor expected, the food needs to be touching the hot pan surface that is in contact with the grill grates. Piling the food up in a pan means the food that isn't in contact with the pan steams, neither grilling nor getting any of the charred flavor or texture you want. Cheaply made pans can also warp when subjected to heat, breaking that contact with the gill. Given those, the criteria we looked for in grilling baskets were construction and a size large enough for you to spread out your ingredients.

The Lodge Dual Handle Grill Basket is of a good size (12-inch diameter) to feed a group of four and get that charred texture and flavor from contact with the grill. The molded holes in the pan allow plenty of direct heat to flow through from the grill to the food, while the cast iron construction retains that heat, giving more char to your food. The cast iron won't warp unless you try very hard, and the pans come pre-seasoned for a long life and minimal sticking. Cast iron is heavy, and this seven-pound basket may require two hands to move safely on and off the fire. There are no extended handles, so lifting by the two cast iron handles will require kitchen towels, grill gloves, or something similar.

Price at time of publish: $44

Best Grilling Gloves

Semboh 932F Silicone Oven Mitts

Semboh 932F Silicone Oven Mitts
Semboh 932F Silicone Oven Mitts.


Ask six chefs about the necessity of grilling gloves, and you'll get six different opinions. Nelson considers them essential equipment, while Matthew Dolan, executive chef and partner of 25 Lusk in San Francisco, believes they build a false sense of security in the person grilling. The nexus of agreement is that regular oven mitts have no place around a grill. Perhaps stating the obvious, many mitts are usually made of flammable materials. They are also bacteria traps, never getting completely cleaned on the inside. The mitten-like design does nothing for hand agility, either. This leaves us looking for a pair of heat-resistant, easy-to-clean gloves that allow you to use all of your fingers.

When it comes to heat resistance, the Semboh gloves are hard to top: the three-layer construction can handle heat up to 932 degrees Fahrenheit. The knobby outer layer provides an anti-slip grip with its silicone construction, preventing that greasy piece of pork butt from sliding out of your hands when you pick it up. The second layer of aramid provides not only heat but also cut protection. The third layer is a machine-washable, breathable cotton-poly blend for comfort. They also feature an over-the-wrist design that protects against heat and cuts.

Price at time of publish: $30

Best Basting Brush

Consevisen Silicone Basting Brush

Silicone Basting Pastry Brush - Cooking Brush for Oil Sauce Butter Marinades, Food Brushes for BBQ Grill Kitchen Baking, Baster Brushes Baste Pastries Cakes...


The styles of basting brushes available on the market range from simple paintbrush designs to more high-tech options. Deciding on one for grilling bears some special considerations. You don't want handles or bristles made of flammable materials or handles that conduct heat. You also want a more extended handle that will keep your hand away from the heat but not so long as to be clumsy. Finally, because of the charred texture of grilled foods, you want a brush that won't pick up excessive crispy bits from the food or hold all of the sauce in the bristles.

The Consevisen brushes come in sets that include between two and five brushes of varying lengths. This selection is handy when cooking multiple items needing multiple sauces or for minimizing the chances of cross-contamination when switching between foods on the grill. The handle construction is silicone, with stainless steel reinforcement running the length. Similarly, the bristles are silicone and can withstand temperatures of up to 445 degrees Fahrenheit, making this a strong choice for grilling. A further advantage of the silicone bristles is the dishwasher-safe ease of cleaning.

Price at time of publish: $9

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How often should you clean your grill tools?

    Clean your tools every time you use them. Dirty tools can spread foodborne illnesses and affect the flavor of your food. If your tools live outside or in the garage, cleaning them before and after each use is in order.

  • How should I store my grilling tools?

    The best place to store your tools is inside. Put them away clean and dry, and, in the case of cast iron, carbon steel, or similar metals, with a light coating of vegetable oil to prevent rust.

  • What is the best grill cleaning tool?

    A grill brush is your best friend for cleaning your grill. Though some chefs prefer a scrubbing pad and soapy water, others rely on a ball of aluminum foil for cleaning.

Our Expertise

Greg Baker is an award-winning chef, restaurateur, and food writer with decades of experience in the food industry. For this piece, he interviewed chefs Rob Nelson, Megan Walker, Oscar Cabezas, and Matthew Dolan to find out what the pros look for in various grilling tools. He then used their insights, his expertise, and market research to curate this list.

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