You’ve done it. You did your research, weighed your options, and pulled the trigger on a brand new grill for the backyard. Before you fire her up, though, make sure you have everything you need. Now it is time to think about what outdoor grilling accessories you should have on hand.
The tools you use are just as important as the grill on which you cook. And investing in high-quality tools will not only make your life at the grill easier, but will improve the quality of your food and prolong the life of your grill.
You don’t need the fanciest tools, but a strong base of accessories is a must. Here is our list of 10 essential grill accessories (plus a few bonus items!).
When considering grilling tongs, there are a few key points to consider.
The first is length. For us, 16 inches is the sweet spot. With 16-inch tongs, you’re able to keep your hands far enough away from the flame without sacrificing control. They're not so big that they'll feel clunky or cumbersome and will still allow for great maneuverability. Plus, they'll fit in any drawer or hanging area in your indoor or outdoor kitchen when you're finished with them.
You'll also want to think about strength. Look for something reinforced or strong enough that they don’t buckle or feel weak when you try to pick up a whole chicken or large pieces of meat.
And lastly, consider the grip of the tongs themselves. We recommend scalloped edges that dig into food ever so slightly, ensuring that whatever you’ve clasped in your tongs won’t slip out and end up on the ground at your feet.
Want to really up your game? Consider two tongs. This is particularly helpful if you're using a charcoal grill because you can use one set of tongs for working with your food and another for adjusting your coals.
For many grill masters, the tongs are the most-used tool in their kit, which is why we’ve put it first on this list and spent so much time talking about it.
We Suggest Grill Tongs
Many of the same key points that apply to tongs also apply to your spatula. You want enough length to keep your hands away from the flames but not so much that you lose maneuverability. Strength tends to be less of an issue when working with a spatula, but you’ll still want to look for something sturdy.
Also important to consider is the shape and size of the spatula area itself. A wide spatula will add extra control whether you are flipping robust burgers, awkward pizza dough, or delicate fish filets, but might be more difficult to handle when facing a crowded grill top.
Many spatulas also come with various additions, like serrated edges or holes to allow greases to escape. These perks can be nice in specific instances but are not what we would consider essential.
For this particular grilling accessory, we suggest: Grillight Giant Spatula
Step one in caring for your grill is cleaning your grill. And step one in cleaning your grill is picking up an effective grill brush. While cleaning before and after grilling may not be fun or quick, a good brush can help make the process much easier.
When it comes to grill brushes, the options are near limitless, so it is important to find one that is safe for your grill and for you. Stainless steel bristle brushes are tough on caked on grease but might be too tough for your porcelain coated grill grates. Nylon bristles are gentler, but might not give you the rough-edged cleaning you need on certain messes or build up.
A note of caution, though, as some stainless-steel and brass bristle brushes may lose bristles, which stick to the grill and then to your food. If you’re unsure about the quality of a bristle brush, then an alternative is the stainless-steel wire brush, which will cost you a little bit more.
Regardless of your pick, make sure to check your grill to ensure that whatever brush you choose won’t cause damage.
In specific, we suggest: Stainless Brass Bristle Brush with Removable Head
The next grilling accessory on our list is one that is just as important for the newcomer as it is for the seasoned grill master: a meat thermometer. No matter how many times you’ve grilled up the same piece of meat, you can never be too safe. And a meat thermometer is just the right tool for the job.
It is impossible to check the internal temperature of a cook just by looking at it. It might have the perfect sear and have been on the grill for the recommended amount of time, but it still might not be quite ready. You could take a knife and cut into your steak to check doneness, but you’re going to lose juices and flavor. Instead, take your handheld thermometer, poke it in the side (not the top – it will give you a more accurate reading), and confirm that, yes, this steak is in fact ready.
There are different types of thermometers with different uses. For the casual backyard cookout, look for a digital instant-read thermometer. These are hand-held and often have a foldable thermometer for safe storage. A digital instant read thermometer works best when inserted a ½ inch into meat and provides a relatively quick temperature readout.
5. Chimney Starter
If you’re using a charcoal grill, consider moving a chimney to the top of your list. No need to tediously stack charcoal over chemical fire starters and you can ditch the lighter fluid entirely.
The easiest and most efficient way to light your charcoal is with a chimney starter. You’ll find that you're able to ignite coals quickly, in about 10 to 20 minutes, and more evenly, creating a better grilling experience.
First, simply fill the chimney with charcoal. Then, pack the bottom with crumpled paper towels or newspaper (or even a bit of the bag your charcoal came in!) and give it a light (a long lighter is a good idea in this situation).
The rising heat from the burning paper will start the charcoal and you’ll be grilling in no time. Chimneys come in all sizes, so make sure to pick one that can handle enough charcoal for your grill. When in doubt, err on the side of too big rather than too small — you can always put less charcoal in a larger chimney.
This next part might seem obvious, but it's worth noting that your chimney will get hot. So be careful when handling a lit chimney and when emptying your charcoal into your grill.
We suggest this chimney starter from Weber.
Speaking of hot charcoal chimneys, the best way to protect your hands when working in and around the grill is with a solid pair of heat-resistant gloves. Like most items on this list, BBQ gloves come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. How you plan to use your gloves most often can help determine which gloves you choose.
The main purpose of your gloves is protection, so keep that in mind when picking out a pair.
Grill baskets are a must for grilling smaller items like vegetables, delicate pieces of fish, and smaller pieces of meat. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and sometimes go by different names — baskets, woks, or grill skillets, most commonly.
Some baskets lay flat on the grill and are great for grilled sliced vegetables, small fish filets, or other thin cuts of meat.
Other baskets, sometimes called woks, are actually shaped like baskets with handles and holes to allow for heat to enter and escape. These types of baskets allow for tossing of vegetables, shrimp, or other small pieces of food.
Consider what type of grilling you’ll be doing most often when picking between the different types of baskets. On the other hand, you may want to experiment with all of them to see what works best for your outdoor kitchen.
The flame is hot, the steaks are seasoned, and you are ready to start cooking, but as you look up, you realize that the sun is starting to set and you're running out of daylight. Time to invest in a grill light.
While grill lights are essentially small lamps, they're designed specifically with a grill in mind and will clamp or otherwise attach directly to your grill in a safe and unobtrusive way. Some are battery powered, some run off solar power, and others are rechargeable with a USB connection.
Some provide extra flexibility, attached to the end of a posable gooseneck, while others focus on portability or ease of use.
Whatever the style or method of power, these lights are a must — especially when grilling in the fall and winter months when daylight is limited.
Make sure the grill light you select will adequately light your grill. Try to avoid something that functions too much like a spotlight as you want to see everything, not just one focused area.
As practical as they are essential, a collection of rimmed baking sheets and cutting boards are a must for your grill set up. Grilling takes place outdoors, but often times, the preparation and eating takes place indoors. Rimmed sheets and cutting boards are your best mode of food organization and transportation.
Rimmed baking sheets help keep everything in one place and are especially useful for the preparation and transportation before grilling begins. Compile all your different ingredients in one place and head outside. They work equally well for transporting a finished cook back inside and provide protection against juices running off the edges.
Rimmed sheets also provide the benefit of being oven ready if you'll be doing a transfer, or using it to keep extra food warm.
Cutting boards with juice grooves also work for transportation and organization, though lack the extra protection of a rim. However, if you’re not concerned about losing anything off the edges, putting your food right on to the cutting board saves time and prevents extra handling of cooked meats. Just go straight from the grill to the board to your plate.
A word of caution: do not use the same cutting board or baking sheet pre-grill and post-grill unless you've thoroughly cleaned it to avoid contamination.
The last item on our list — but arguably the most important — is a fire extinguisher. A functioning fire extinguisher is a must for any grill space. Working with live flames, whether from gas, charcoal, wood pellets, or other fuel, carries with it the danger of fire spreading. And in the event of a fire, it's essential to have the necessary equipment to put it out.
Grilling takes place outside, usually away from any kind of smoke or fire alarm, which is why lit grills should always be monitored. For barbecues, a powder extinguisher is the way to go, as it will work to smother gas, oil, and other flammable liquids. For an extra step of caution, keep a bucket of sand on hand.
Extinguishers come in multiple sizes and models. While you’re at it, consider an extinguisher for your kitchen, garage, or workshop, as well.
If you’re looking to really flesh out your stable of accessories, consider adding these items. While not essential, they can help expand your menu and certain processes easier.
Grilling mats and sheets are great for adding a flat surface to your grill for a different kind of cooking experience, and for preventing small items from falling through the grid. (added bonus, they also protect your cooking surface)
Handheld claws fit comfortably in your grip and are dramatically more effective and efficient for shredding meat than using a fork and knife — or two forks, for that matter. We like this pair from Weber.
Metal skewers are well-worth the investment, as they're reusable and affordable. They'll save money in the long run, even if it adds a small cleaning step.
A box of nitrile disposable gloves can save time and energy, especially in the preparation phase. You can handle raw meats for seasoning or saucing without having to constantly wash your hands.
Cover and protect your freshly grilled foods with tin foil. Tin foil can also help finish off grilled meat as it rests, capturing the released heat and holding it.
Looking for a little more than a new set of tongs? If you’re in the market for a new grill, please don't hesitate to reach out and contact us.
At the BBQ Depot we pride ourselves on our vast knowledge and experience when it comes to choosing a grill that will last. We’ve been selling and repairing grills for decades and we know which ones can be relied upon and which ones cannot.
Let’s make this the year you finally buy the grill you’ve always wanted.
Contact us today with any questions and we’ll help you find the reliable grill you’re looking for.