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Labor Day weekend is almost here, which means you’ll probably be hosting a cookout in the backyard. If you want to up your grilling game before your guests arrive, you’re going to need a few key tools.
We did some research and found grilling tools that can help you get the perfect cook, avoid accidentally lose a piece of food, and make cleaning up a lot quicker. In some cases, this means upgrading the old, flimsy spatula you’ve been using to flip burgers for 10 years. On the other hand, you may find new ways to impart flavor from elements — like smoke — that you haven’t used before.
If you’re putting the finishing touches on your long-weekend plans, do yourself a favor and make sure you’ve got everything you need to make your cookout successful. If you want more help, you can check out our guides to the best meat delivery services and best grills.
1. Oxo Grilling Tong And Turner Set
We’ve gotten to try several pieces from Oxo’s new collection of grilling accessories, and all of them exceeded our expectations. We recommend checking all of them out, but have chosen to single out its Grilling Tong and Turner Set because it contains the two tools everyone needs to cook food on the grill.
Both pieces feel rock solid in the hand — no wobbles or wavers — and held up perfectly during our tests. The turner allowed us to flip burgers with the flick of a wrist, even large, half-pound patties couldn’t weigh it down. The stainless steel didn’t bend or chip while scraping against the grates, either. Oxo’s tongs made it easy to get a firm grip on big steaks and tiny wings, so we could move them around the grill as necessary.
There’s a good chance you already have these tools at your disposal, but Oxo’s set will be a substantial improvement.
2. Cuisinart Non Stick Grill Wok
If you’ve ever cooked vegetables on the grill, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a slice of pepper or cherry tomato fall through the grates. Cuisenart’s Grill Wok can help you avoid making that mistake again.
This accessory has hole-punch sized holes that allow your vegetables to get a nice char without the risk of them falling through. Its handles make it easy to lift the wok once you’re done, which is a nice touch. We like Cusienart’s Wok because it has a non-stick coating, which means you can wash it with soap and water, and don’t have to worry about scraping off burnt-on bits.
3. Rendall Co. Larkspur Bib Apron
An apron can keep your shirt and pants from getting splashed or stained as you flip, turn, touch, baste, or move food around the grill.
We like the Larkspur Bib Apron from Rendall Co. because it’s the same type of apron you’d in some professional kitchens. It’s made out of denim, and comes in three colorways — we’re partial to the wabash dot pattern, which you can see above.
If you want to look presentable to your guests after you’ve cooked them a big meal, this is the right tool for the job.
4. Lodge Smoker Skillet
Gas grills give you unparalleled control over your grill’s temperature, but don’t impart the appealing, smoky flavor you’d taste from wood or charcoal.
The simple solution is Lodge’s Smoker Skillet, a cast iron skillet designed to hold burning wood chips. Smoke filters through holes on the skillet’s lid, which releases a controlled amount of smoke to enter your grill.
It’ll work with any wood chunks you use, so we recommend trying out a few to find the one that tastes best for you. Our favorite feature of this skillet — which Lodge let us try — is its small size. It won’t take up a lot of room on your grill, but it makes a pretty big difference — especially during longer cooks.
5. Norpro Stainless Steel Skewers
Planning on making shish kebabs? Use Norpro’s Steel Skewers. They’re heavy duty enough to hold over a foot’s worth of meat without bending, but light enough to easily flip.
The pointed side is angled, which makes it effortless to stick on an assortment of meats and veggies, while the circular-end makes them easy to turn. We’re recommending this set of six, but you should get two sets if you intend to throw a bigger party.
6. Pure Grill BBQ Sauce Pot
One of the easiest ways to impart flavor is spreading a thick layer of sauce on your food each time you flip it. Over time, the outside of your meat will form a nice, charred, flavorful crust.
Pure Grill’s BBQ Sauce Pot can hold your favorite marinade next to the grill, so it’s easy to apply. It comes with silicon brush, which can carry a healthy amount of sauce without absorbing it. This makes the brush a lot easier to clean than a traditional one.
We like this accessory because it helps you portion out the amount of sauce you’re using instead of pouring some over your food directly from the bottle.
7. Victoria Cast Iron Reversible Griddle
A cast iron grille is the key to cooking smashburgers, pancakes, or flat vegetables (think zucchini slices) on the grill.
This reversible one from Victoria has two sides: One is flat, which is better for getting a consistent sear on foods like steak, the other side is ridged, which will imprint professional-looking grill marks onto your food.
As a bonus, this tool can be brought indoors and used on a stove-top during colder months, so you can keep grilling year-round.
8. Yummly Wireless Smart Meat Thermometer
If you’re afraid of overcooking your meat, Yummly’s Wireless Meat Thermometer is a must-have tool.
The thermometer will send a temperature reading to an app on your phone (iOS or Android) letting you know when your protein is ready to be flipped and rested. The app and thermostat are easy to use based on our tests, but you need to be extremely careful about where you place the thermometer.
If it’s not directly in the center of your food, the reading will be inaccurate, which could lead to over or underdone meat. If it’s in the right spot, you’ll have a much better experience. Anyone who’s new to the grill could use a little extra help, and this accessory is one of the few high-tech tools that can improve your cooking.
9. Cuisinart 3-Piece Pizza Grilling Set
Once you’ve had your fill of grilled meats and vegetables, you can put your bbq to work making pizza, if you have the right tools.
Cuisinart’s three-piece pizza grilling set includes a pizza stone, pizza peel, and pizza wheel, which is everything you need to properly cook a thirteen inch pie. The company says its pizza stone takes about 15 minutes to warm up, and the time it’ll take to actually cook your pie depends on how hot your grill gets. At 500 degrees it should take between five and 10 minutes.
Nobody wants to turn an oven on to make homemade pizza when it’s hot outside, but Cuisinart’s tools allow you to make it outside.
10. Artisan Smoker Heat Resistant Gloves
Your grill can heat up to over 500 degrees, which puts you at risk of getting seriously burned if you’re not careful. Artisan Smoker’s Heat Resistant Gloves can help prevent that.
The gloves have a Neoprene coating, which Artisan Smoker says can insulate your hands from temperatures up to 932 degrees for 10 seconds. That allows you to do things like move cast iron cookware or live charcoal with your hands. The company says you can even use them to grab food in boiling water.
If you’d like a little protection when grilling this summer (or cooking any time of year), Artisan Smoker’s Heat Resistant Gloves are a must-have accessory.
11. Grillaholics Grill Mat
Grill mats create a perfectly flat surface on your grill, which allows you to cook smaller foods like diced vegetables without worrying about pieces falling through the grates. Better still, they’re non-stick, so you can cook messy foods like eggs without the risk of damaging cast iron.
This set from Grillaholics contains two mats that are 15.75-inches long by 13-inches wide, and safe to use at temperatures up to 500 degrees. They’re made out of a heat-resistant fiberglass coating, so you don’t have to worry about harmful chemicals melting into your food.
12. Outset Cast Iron Rectangular Grill Press
Using a grill press can help you get well definite grill marks on your meat, and ensure both sides cook at a more even rate by putting literal pressure on it.
This grill press from Outset comes in a variety of sizes (we’re partial to the rectangular shape, which is perfect for steaks) and measures 9-inches by 5-inches. Its wooden handle is thick, so you won’t have a problem grabbing it. Our favorite feature of this grill press is the little hole that allows you to poke a meat thermometer into your food without lifting the press.
13. Garrett Wade French Made Butcher’s Sticking Knives
Sharp knives are a kitchen essential whether you’re cooking outside or indoors, and we’ve been impressed with set we’ve been testing from Garrett Wade.
The blade on each knife was sharp enough to cut through meat and vegetables with ease, which made it a lot easier (and faster) to prep meals. The handle felt solid, with curves that made all three knives fit comfortably in the hand. These knives were heavier than the typical entry-level sets you may be familiar with, but that’s because of Garrett Wade’s choice of sturdy materials.
Chopping food with a dull knife can be very dangerous because it increases the chances of the blade slipping and cutting your finger. Getting this set from Garrett Wade is an investment that’ll pay off any time you cook.
14. Fabslabs Laurel Cutting Board
If you’ve ever tried to carve meat on a serving platter, or chop up vegetables to put on a burger, you’ll know the importance of a good cutting board. Slicing produce on an uneven surface is a recipe for disaster.
The best cutting boards we’ve tried come from Fabslabs. Each board is made out of a solid piece of Camphor Laurel timber, which is aesthetically pleasing and reduces the chances of wear. This type of wood has an even more impressive attribute, though: It’s naturally antimicrobial.
You’ll still need to hand-wash this board after it’s been used, but the odds of microbes living on the surface after you’ve used it are lower than the average cutting board. After trying Fabslabs for ourselves, it’d be hard to go back to another mid-sized cutting board.
15. Harold & Harold Scorpion Grill Basket
Flipping multiple pieces of meat or vegetables on the grill can be a hassle, and it can throw off your cooking time if you’re making a big batch at once.
Harold & Harold’s Scorpion Grill Basket solves that problem by holding all of your food between two grates, which allows you to flip everything inside the cage at once. The grates are thin enough that your food will still get a good char, so you won’t sacrifice any taste.
Harold & Harold bundles its grill basket with a light, which allows you to check on the food you’re making if you’re cooking at night. The light attaches magnetically to the grill basket’s locking mechanism, which saves space. These little touches make Harold & Harold’s Scorpion Grill Basket an excellent tool to keep on hand.