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Firing Up - Essential Grilling Tools

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks
© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

Essential Grilling Tools

Having the right tools makes any task easier, and that’s true of grilling, as well. The trick is to have all the tools you actually need without cluttering up your grill with a lot of unnecessary stuff. Here’s our essential list.

Heavy-duty, long-handled, spring-loaded tongs

The number one grill tool. Like an extra hand that doesn’t get burned, they are ideal for placing food on the grill, moving it around while it’s cooking, picking it up to check for doneness, and taking it off the grill. Get two or three, so you can place them strategically around the grilling area. Each qualifier is important: The tongs should be heavy-duty so they will not bend when you lift big pieces of food; have long handles so you can work over a hot fire without burning your arms; and be spring-loaded so they are always ready to use, rather than having to be opened each time.

Wire brush

The brushes that come with fancy grill sets are usually not as sturdy or efficient as the ones for paint-scraping that you pick up at a hardware store. They’re great for cleaning the grill grid right after you finish cooking, before any grease congeals and while the hot coals will disintegrate any food residue that falls into them. This brush will be your biggest ally in the war against sticking. Since they do wear out, pick up a couple—preferably the wooden-handled variety, which are more durable.

Disposable foil pans

These might seem an odd essential, but they have many uses. They’re just the thing for carrying raw food to the grill and cooked food from grill to table. They’re also ideal for covering that big, thick pork chop or bone-in chicken breast that’s not quite done yet but has to stay on the cooler side of the fire to finish cooking; it allows you to create a kind of mini-oven without closing the grill lid and trapping ashy, “off” flavors.


We like to keep two types handy: A small, dial-face, instant-read thermometer for checking the interior doneness of roasts, chickens, or anything else big and bulky, and an oven thermometer to put inside the grill if it doesn’t have one and you’re going to smoke-roast or barbecue.

Dog-leg spatula

Much as we like tongs, there are some things—delicate fish fillets, for example—better lifted or turned with a dogleg or offset spatula with a large surface area. The dogleg feature lets you slip the blade under the food more easily, and the large surface area is important so that foods don’t hang off the edges and break.

Inexpensive kitchen towels

Use them to pick up hot dishes or skewers—it’s much quicker to grab a couple of towels than to fit your hand into a mitt. Just be sure they’re not wet when you use them this way, since wet cloth is a great heat conductor. Of course, they also come in handy for spills and generally keeping your grilling environment neat.


You’ll need these for kebabs, of course, and they can be useful for small items, since threading them onto skewers keeps them from falling through the grill grid. Some folks like metal skewers because they can be reused; others prefer the convenience of disposable wooden ones. If you go with the latter, don’t bother soaking them before using them; the portion of the skewer inside the food isn’t going to burn, and the part outside the food will dry and burn over the fire, anyway.

Your favorite beverage

Next to tongs, this may be the most indispensable grilling tool. It helps keep you cool and calm while you’re tending the fire—a key to success. It also helps you keep your perspective—remember that the point of grilling is not just to cook delicious food, but also to have fun. When you’re having fun, so will your guests, which means that even if something isn’t cooked perfectly, dinner will still be a success. Since you don’t want to be running inside to get a refill, we recommend having an ice bucket filled with Favorite Beverage right by your side. That way, you can also graciously share with guests.

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