7 BBQ Tool Sets That Chefs Consider Up to the Task
When investing in new grilling and barbecue tools, the question of whether to buy them individually or as a set often comes up. If you opt for a set, you'll want to be sure you'll use all the tools it includes. If you're caught up in indecision, we've done the research that will help you answer these questions. We picked the brains of chefs Kenny Gilbert, Vishwesh Bhatt, and Rob McDaniel, who tell us what they like and dislike in their grilling tools, what they need when cooking, and what they would like to make grilling more enjoyable. We applied their knowledge and advice to select the best sets of varying sizes, finishes, and budgets on the market. Find out why we picked the Cuisinart Deluxe Grill Set as our favorite overall and see our picks in other areas below.
Our Top Picks:
- Best Overall: Cuisinart Deluxe Grill Set
- Best Value: Weber Precision 3 Piece Grill Tool Set
- Best Splurge: Laguiole en Aubrac 4-Piece Grill Tool Set
- Best for Camping: Alpha Grillers Heavy Duty BBQ Grilling Tools Set
- Best Variety: OlarHike 25 Piece Grill Accessories Tools Set
- Best With Wooden Handles: Cuisinart 10 Piece Premium Grilling Set
- Most Accessible: OXO 13-Piece Grilling Set
Best Overall: Cuisinart Deluxe Grill Set
Best Value: Weber Precision 3 Piece Tool Set
Best Splurge: Laguiole en Aubrac 4-Piece Grill Tool Set
Best for Camping: Alpha Grillers Heavy Duty BBQ Grilling Tools Set
Best Variety: OlarHike 25 Piece Grill Accessories Tools Set
Best With Wooden Handles: Cuisinart 10-Piece Premium Grilling Set
Most Accessible: OXO 13-Piece Grill Tool Set
At the end of the day, you are the best judge of what works for you in a grill tool set. We recommend the Cuisinart Deluxe Grill Set, as it will equip you for essentially any grilling task. Yet, you may prefer the elegance of the Laguiole en Aubrac 4-Piece Grill Tool Set or how straight-to-the-point the Alpha Grillers Heavy Duty BBQ Grilling Tools Set is. You're not going to go wrong with any of these sets; base your decision on how you grill and what degree of usefulness you'll find in each as it applies to your grilling style.
Factors to Consider
All of the tools reviewed here start with the same stainless steel construction. Our panel of experts agrees on that as a solid foundation. Stainless steel is a long-lasting, strong, rust-resistant material when kept clean, dry, and out of the elements. The variation from there comes in the handles. Some are plain steel, others have plastic or silicone, and others have wood. Basting brushes are equally subjective, with some preferring a stiff brush over silicone or vice versa.
Narrow down what type of material you want – plain, slip-resistant, heat-resistant, or wood, to offer a few suggestions. After that, assess how the tools feel in your hand. There is little point in getting something that doesn't have the handle you want or isn't comfortable holding.
In the past, many handles were almost cartoonish in their length. A long handle will keep your hands away from the fire, but the trade-off comes at the price of dexterity. Move on if the handle is too long to easily use the tool. Our experts agree that anywhere between 12 to 16 inches is optimal for attaining both goals.
This is a personal choice. Do you need just the basics or want thermometers and steak knives as part of your arsenal? Buy the tools you need for the way you grill and upgrade from there if necessary.
Three chefs lent their insight and expertise to our in-depth research process; Kenny Gilbert, chef and owner of Silkie's Chicken and Champagne in Jacksonville, Fla.; Vishwesh Bhatt, cookbook author and James Beard award-winning chef of Snack Bar in Oxford, Miss.; and Rob McDaniel, chef and co-owner of Helen in Birmingham, Ala. We then combined our expertise with their input, scouring the market for the best options based on the conclusions from these discussions. We weighed the grilling tool sets we found against several criteria, including value, ease of use, quality of construction, and the types of tools the sets contained.
Pro Panel Q+A
Q: What are the "must-have" grilling tools?
A: Ask three chefs what they have to have on hand when grilling, and you'll get three distinctly different answers. Bhatt and Gilbert find common ground in requiring tongs and a spatula. McDaniel also wants tongs but will forgo the spatula in favor of a meat fork and chef's knife. We tend to prefer the former combination. Gilbert also wants a basting brush or mop to apply mop sauces to his longer-cooking foods.
Q: Where should you store grilling tools?
A: The opinions vary. McDaniel and Gilbert keep theirs in the kitchen while Bhatt stores his under the grill. In either case, ensuring that your tools are clean and dry before storing them and then again before cooking are keys to preventing the spread of food-borne illnesses.
Q: How do you clean barbecue tools?
A: Some claim they like to build up a "seasoning" on their tools, which we do not recommend. Moreover, the tools reviewed here are all stainless steel and are not receptive to seasoning. Whatever builds up on stainless steel tools is not to be saved and savored.
Across the board, our experts like to give tools a quick wash with gentle dish soap. The tools may need soaking to loosen some gunk and a gentle scrubbing to remove any last bits of residue. Many of the tools reviewed here are dishwasher-safe and may not require much effort to clean at all.
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 Kenny Gilbert, Vishwesh Bhatt, and Rob McDaniel to find out what the pros look for when selecting sets of grill tools. He then used their insights, his own expertise, and market research to curate this list.