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Any grillmaster will tell you that your BBQ tools can make or break your grilling experience. The right tools will help you cook meat and vegetables to perfection, and every grill setup needs at least a spatula, tongs, grill fork, grill brush, and meat thermometer. However, you might also want a few specialty tools, depending on what type of BBQ is on the menu.
As you shop for different BBQ tools, you'll want to look at factors like the material, safety features, and grill compatibility to ensure you're getting the most bang for your buck. Stainless steel is a popular option for grilling tools, as it's durable and easy to clean, but cast iron is also an unbeatable choice for certain items.
As you get ready for your next backyard grilling session, the following are the best BBQ tools to add to your arsenal.
Best Overall: Cuisinart CGS-134 Grilling Tool Set with Grill Glove
Tools are sturdy and lightweight
Spatula is multi-purpose
Handles are comfortable and durable
Does not come with a case
There’s a reason Cuisinart is largely preferred by professional chefs and home cooks. It’s considered one of the most reliable names in the kitchen game, and this Cuisinart CGS-134 Grilling Tool Set proves why. It comes with three basic grilling tools—a grill spatula, a grill fork, and grill tongs—and a heat-resistant glove that protects your hand from the open flame or when lifting the cover off a charcoal grill.
Each of the grilling tools has elongated 12-inch stainless steel handles that are finished off with ergonomic, heat-resistant, rubberized grips in bright red. The included wide spatula is a highlight for many customers because it's a true multi-use tool: it not only helps flip burgers and any other grilling meats, but also has an integrated bottle opener, a toothed edge, and a serrated edge. Cuisinart finished off its design with conveniently placed hooks at the end of each handle, so you can easily attach each tool to your grill hooks so they’re within reach every time you need them.
Best Grill Brush: Kona 360° Clean Grill Brush
Not a lot of force required to get grates clean
Design allows easy access to sides of grates
Safe to use on all grill types
Bristles don't shed if used properly
Handle may not be as durable as brushes
May be challenging to clean bottom of grates
Any grillmaster—or aspiring grillmaster—knows that the grilling experience isn’t complete until the grill is clean. While that may be the part you look forward to the least, the Kona 360 Clean Grill Brush helps get the job done quickly and with minimal effort. The unique design combines three stainless steel hard-wired brushes in one so that every pass on the grill does the equivalent work of three strokes of other grill brushes. In fact, one back-and-forth stroke will clean off the toughest grill gunk," one happy reviewer says.
Unlike other cumbersome grill brushes, the design also allows easy access to the side of the grill grates to ensure that your cleanup job is complete. And, even though the manufacturer claims the bristles are 60 percent stronger than those of other grill brushes, it works for all grill types, including porcelain, ceramic, and infrared.
It has an 18-inch patent-pending handle that’s designed to keep your hands away from the hot grill grates while allowing you to effectively reach all areas of the grill while you clean. Unlike wood, which can break down with exposure to water over time, the weather-resistant handle is made of plastic and designed to be easier to grip. This allows you to dip the brush in hot water as you clean without worrying about the longevity of your tool.
Best Tongs: GRILLHOGS Luxury 16-Inch Barbecue Grill Tongs
Strong grip on foods of all sizes
Oak finish on handle is both stylish and heat-protective
Grease may get inside hollow tong handles
Just like a great spatula, a sturdy pair of tongs, like the GRILLHOGS Barbecue Grill Tongs, can take your grilling game to another level. These tongs feature a 16-inch handle that opens up into a scalloped edge clamp that can easily flip hot dogs, while also providing a strong enough grip for heavier duty items, like a T-bone steak. In fact, several customers like that these tongs are sturdy enough that they don't bend like some of their older sets.
The stainless steel handle is finished off with oak hardwood that not only adds to the overall design, it also protects your hands as things start to heat up. Plus, many users say the grip is comfortable. The top of the handle features what GRILLHOGS calls a “lock and hook": you just pull on the hook to lock the clamp shut and then use the same hook to hang the tongs on your grill until you’re ready to use them again.
If you’re looking for something a little less heavy-duty, GRILLHOGS also offers a 12-inch design that can handle most grilling jobs and a 9-inch serving tong that’s designed for smaller cuts of meat and serving.
Best Grill Thermometer: ThermoPro TP-17 Dual Probe Digital Cooking Meat Thermometer
Dual probes helpful for grilling two different types or cuts of meat
Easy to operate and clean
Backlit LCD screen useful for night grilling
Some say instructions are hard to understand
With the ThermoPro TP-17 Dual Probe Digital Cooking Meat Thermometer, your days of standing over the grill as your meat cooks are long gone. As the name points out, this thermometer is equipped with two independent probes that allow you to monitor the temperature of different pieces of meat simultaneously. While you can manually enter an ideal temperature, the ThermoPro also helps take the guesswork out of food safety, since the device includes preset USDA temperatures for all different types of meat, like pork, beef, chicken, and even fish.
As you're grilling, the temperatures pop up on a large LCD screen that displays the set temperature goal and current temperature of the probe reading. Once your meat reaches the set goal, the thermometer will beep and flash to let you know your meat is ready. And, if you’re grilling outdoors at night, the backlit LCD screen allows you to see temperature readings even in the dark.
For added convenience, the body of the thermometer has a magnetic back so you can stick it directly to your grill, or you can pull out the countertop flip stand to display it next to the grill. And with a temperature range of 14 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit, there’s no cooking job the ThermoPro can’t take on.
Best Grill Pan: Weber Deluxe Grilling Pan
Heavy-duty steel doesn't warp
Distributes and holds heat well
Great for cooking veggies and fish
Could get discolored
If you’re looking for a way to wrangle smaller or more delicate foods while still getting that great grill taste, the Weber Style 6435 Professional-Grade Grill Pan has you covered. The stainless steel design provides perfect heat distribution and retention when grilling vegetables or smaller items, like shrimp, scallops, or diced meat, while the 1/8-inch slits allow juices to flow easily out of the pan. This grill pan is also ideal for fish or other delicate items that can get stuck or fall through the grill grates, as many reviewers attest.
Even when the pan is full, the wide handles help ensure a secure grip so you can transfer the cooked food to your serving platter without it slipping from your hands.
Keep in mind that at 17.4 x 11.81 x 1.46 inches in size, this pan takes up a decent amount of space on the grill. It was designed for Weber Q 300/3000 and larger gas grills or 22-inch or larger charcoal grills.
Best Grill Basket: Weber 6434 Deluxe Ss Vegetable Basket
Tapered edges make it easy to stir food
Slits are small enough to keep food from falling through
Holds enough veggies for four to five servings
Prone to discoloration, which doesn't affect performance
While you don’t necessarily need a grill pan and a grill basket, the options from Weber make it hard to choose just one. Similar in design to the grill pan, the Weber 6434 Deluxe Ss Vegetable Basket is made of durable stainless steel with slots that allow oil and drippings to flow out. However, unlike the grill pan, which has shorter, flatter edges, the vegetable basket has deep sides that make it perfect for piling up vegetables or using as a wok pan for diced meat.
The basket is designed to fit All Weber Q 300/3000 and larger gas grills, as well as 18-inch or larger charcoal grills. And, at 13.8 x 11.8 x 2.5 inches, it’s the perfect size for filling up with longer vegetables, like asparagus, or stacking with veggies—yet it doesn’t take up all of the available space on the grill so you can still cook your meat on other burners. A few users like using these to grill vegetables for sides at small dinner parties since it can accommodate about four to five servings of veggies.
You can also use this Weber vegetable basket in the oven, but if you go that route, you’ll need to put a drip pan underneath to catch any oil or drippings that leak through the slots.
Best Meat Claws: Bear Paws The Original Bear Paws Shredder Claws
Comfortable to hold
Claws are sharp and effective
Not for fine shredding
Named the best BBQ tool by the National BBQ Association in 2013, the Original Bear Paws Shredder Claws are something that every pitmaster needs in his or her arsenal. Originally designed to make easy work of shredding pulled pork, the shredder claws, which feature a wide grip handle and six sharp claws on each piece, have evolved to become a seriously versatile tool for both the BBQ and the kitchen. In fact, several people say these bear claws make the process of shredding large cuts of pork (anywhere from 9 to 20 pounds) for pulled pork faster and easier than using forks.
You can use the claws to shred and lift meat, hold meat in place while you’re cutting and carving, hold and slice a watermelon, and even toss a salad. They’re easy to use and easy to clean—each claw is top-shelf dishwasher-safe—and made with only FDA-approved and BPA-free materials in the USA.
Best Grill Bags: Kingsford Grilling Kingsford Extra Tough Aluminum Grill Bags
Hold up well to both high- and low-temp cooking
Great for camping
A bit pricey
While you can certainly make your own grill bags and pockets with regular aluminum foil, why would you want to when the Kingsford Extra Tough Aluminum Grill Bags are such an easily accessible option? Each 15.5 x 10-inch bag is made of heavy-duty, extra-tough aluminum that’s designed to withstand steaming, grilling, and smoking temperatures. The bags are ideal for steaming and you can also use them to create a smoker pack by adding wood chips to the bag, sealing, and poking holes before grilling.
Each grill bag also has a food-safe coating that keeps your food from sticking on the grill. And, of course, the bags make for easy cleanup since all you have to do is serve the food and then throw them out.
Best Propane Tank Level Indicator: DOZYANT Propane Tank Gauge Level
Easy to install
If you're cooking on a gas grill, you have to stay cognizant of your fuel level—otherwise, you may end up running out of propane mid-cook and being forced to run to the gas station for a refill. However, this is easier said than done, as it's hard to gauge how much fuel is left without removing your propane tank. Enter, this handy tool, which helps monitor just how much propane you have remaining.
This fuel level indicator fits on all brands of gas grills, as long as they have a QCC1 connection, and it can be used with propane tanks up to 40 pounds. All you do is screw the gauge onto your grill and attach the propane tank, and it will show you how much is left on the easy-to-read color-coded dial. It provides an air-tight connection to ensure no gas is lost, and it can even be used on other propane-fueled appliances, such as lanterns or smokers.
Best Chimney Starter: Weber 7447 Compact Rapidfire Chimney Starter
Starts charcoal grills without lighter fluid
Lights charcoal in 15 minutes
Doesn't hold enough charcoal for larger grills
Chimney starters are one of the easiest ways to fire up a charcoal grill, and this model from Weber is a must-have for your grilling arsenal. It has a compact design that's just 8 inches tall, and it's the perfect fit for popular charcoal grills, like the brand's Smokey Joe and Jumbo Joe.
To use this chimney starter, you simply place crumpled newspaper or lighter cubes in the bottom, topped with your charcoal. Once you light it, the coals will be ready in under 15 minutes—no lighter fluid necessary!
Best Gloves : RAPICCA BBQ Oven Gloves
Heat-resistant over 900 degrees
Long cuffs cover lower arms
Textured palms make it easy to grip wet items
Distinct odor upon arrival
If you've ever scorched your fingers while loading ribs into your smoker or dropping corn cobs into boiling water, you'll appreciate the convenience of these heat-resistant gloves. The RAPICCA BBQ Oven Gloves are made from neoprene rubber and Kevlar, and they're fire-, water-, and stain-resistant, making them ideal for all types of cooking applications.
These gloves have a sweat-absorbing cotton lining, as well as textured palms, which makes it easier to grip wet or greasy items. They can withstand temperatures over 900 degrees Fahrenheit, and they're 14 inches long to protect your lower arms, as well. The gloves come in several sizes, and they're ideal for handing hot items around your grill or smoker.
Best Spatula: OXO Good Grips 16-inch Grilling Turner with Serrated Edge
Rust-resistant stainless steel construction
Serrated side for cutting meat
Handle could be more durable
You may not think that a spatula could make a huge difference in your grilling experience, but once you try the OXO Good Grips 16-inch Grilling Turner with Serrated Edge, you’ll likely be singing a different tune. With its extra-long, 16-inch handle that’s designed to keep your hands away from the hottest areas of the grill, the OXO spatula immediately stands out from the rest.
The spatula is entirely made up of rust-resistant stainless steel that’s finished off with a rubber non-slip handle that provides a comfortable and heat-resistant grip. The flat part of the spatula has a beveled front that slides easily under foods and makes easy work of flipping; while the side of the spatula is finished off with a serrated edge that glides through the meat to help test for doneness.
And, when you’re done cooking, the spatula’s dishwasher-safe design makes cleanup a breeze. Just throw it in the dishwasher on a regular cycle, and use the included hanging hook to store the spatula on the grill until next time.
If you’re looking for a highly-rated multi-tool set, the Cuisinart CGS-134 Grilling Tool Set (view at Amazon) has everything you need to get the grill fired up and get started. When it comes time to clean, the Kona 360 Clean Grill Brush (view at Amazon) makes easy work of wiping down grill grates and starting fresh.
What to Look for in BBQ Tools
No matter what kind of grilling tool you're shopping for, it's always a good idea to look at what the product is made from. Stainless steel and cast iron are extremely durable materials that will last a long time if cared for properly, while plastic can melt if exposed to a hot grill. You'll also want to consider how the material needs to be cleaned/cared for, as certain tools might require more effort to keep in good shape.
Safety is essential any time you're cooking on a grill, and it's just as important to ensure your BBQ tools are up to snuff. In addition to looking for high-quality materials, make sure any tools you select are appropriate for how you're using them. For instance, if you're looking for BBQ gloves, check that they're suited for the grill temperature you usually cook at.
Depending on what type of tool you're buying, you may need to check that the product is compatible with your particular grill. This isn't a concern for general tools like tongs and spatulas, but if you're buying something like a grill basket, grate lifter, or even a grill brush, it's important that the tool you choose can be used safely and effectively on your grill.
What are the essential BBQ tools?
There are only a few BBQ tools that are absolutely essential for grilling. You'd be remiss to cook BBQ without a grill brush, long-handle tongs, a spatula and/or fork, and a meat thermometer—these items are must-haves for safe and effective grilling. However, you may also want to pick up a few specialty items, such as a vegetable basket or rib rack, depending on what you typically cook.
How do you store BBQ tools?
If you want your BBQ tools to last for many grilling seasons to come, it's important to store them properly. Before putting your tools away, clean off any grease and food residue and allow them to dry completely. From here, you should store them in a dry place, such as a drawer in your kitchen or in a storage bag in your garage.
Many people leave their BBQ tools hanging outside on the grill, but this will likely decrease their lifespan. Metal tools can rust when left exposed to moisture, and wooden components may start to rot.
How do you clean rust off BBQ tools?
If your BBQ tools got left outside for an extended period and started to rust, there are a few ways you can restore them to pristine condition. Try creating a paste from vinegar and baking soda, then spreading it on the rusted area of your tool. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes or so, then rinse with warm water. For tougher rust spots, you can use a cleaner like Bar Keepers Friend, which is safe to use on stainless steel, porcelain, aluminum, and more.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Lindsay Boyers is a certified holistic nutritionist with extensive nutrition knowledge and cooking experience. She’s developed over 1,000 original recipes and is constantly on a mission to find the best cooking gadgets at the best prices to help make life in the kitchen or in front of the grill more streamlined and efficient.
This article was updated by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats. She's written close to a dozen pieces on all styles of grills and done firsthand testing of smokers and grills featured in her articles.