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A good set of tongs can make cooking easier and safer. They’re useful for grabbing hot noodles out of a pot of boiling water, turning food in a hot pan, snagging the lid off a hot pot, or serving foods. And while many people probably have a basic set lying around their kitchen, investing in a new pair that can be used on nonstick cookware, for the barbecue, or for serving can make all the difference. Before you buy a set of tongs think of the applications you will need them for—is this for hot and heavy meat? Then you'll want something sturdy. Are you cooking on the grill? Then a long handle will only do.
Here, we round up the best tongs to take your cooking (and serving) from basic cook to top chef status.
Best Overall: OXO Good Grips 9-Inch Tongs with Silicone Heads
Silicone head won’t damage nonstick
Heat safe to 600 degrees
Some users find them heavy
A silicone head with a scalloped edge makes it easy to grab onto food firmly while also being safe for use with nonstick cookware and bakeware. These tongs are sturdy so you can lift heavy food (think a small chicken) without worrying about bending or warping. These are heat safe to 600 degrees and have a nonslip handle and a comfortable thumb rest that make them ideal for prolonged use. They lock closed for storage and are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
Best Metal-Tipped: DRAGONN 12-inch and 9-inch Stainless Kitchen Tongs
Great for grabbing slippery foods
Safe for high heat
Can scratch nonstick surfaces
While silicone-tipped tongs are what you need for use in nonstick cookware, steel-tipped tongs can be very desirable when you’re dealing with foods that are a little slippery, since the metal edges can dig into the food and hold on tight. They’re also ideal when you’re cooking in a stainless steel pot or pan and you want to use the tongs to scrape the bottom of the pan. Although silicone tipped tongs can handle high heat, you probably don’t want to use them when there’s an open flame, like when you’re cooking on a grill, charring peppers on a gas burner, or flambéing foods.
These have nonslip handles with thumb rests, and the gently raised edges on the grips give you a firm grip on whatever food you’re cooking. These have a large loop for hanging or you can click to lock them for storage in a drawer. These are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning and come in a set of two different lengths.
Best Design: Dreamfarm Clongs
Many colors to choose from
Bent handle keeps head off the counter
Heat-safe to 500 degrees
The unique locking mechanism just needs a tap on the end to open or lock the tongs, rather than needing a second hand to pull and push the lock. The silicone tips are safe for nonstick cookware and bakeware, and the tongs are heat-safe to 500 degrees.
The tongs have a bend in the handle so the top of the tongs will sit upright on your counter. While it’s still possible that liquids can drip onto your counter, at least you’re not putting the working end on the counter and then back into the food.
Some users have noted that they’ve had issues with the locking mechanism, but Dreamfarm has addressed this by redesigning the lock and replacing tongs for customers who’ve had the problems. Any new tongs should be just fine. These are available with silicone parts in four different colors, to add a pop of color to your kitchen, and they are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
Best for Barbecue: GRILLHOGS Luxury 16-Inch Barbecue Grill Tongs
Long length great for grilling
Oak panels stay cool
Loop for hanging
Should be hand washed
When you’re cooking on the grill, long tongs are ideal for keeping you further away from the heat, which is always a problem when you’re reaching for food on the far side of the grill. These 16-inch tongs have solid oak panels on the handles that stay cool and are comfortable to hold while you’re flipping sausages, vegetables, and wings on the grill. Because of the wood, these should be washed by hand.
Best Budget: HOT TARGET Set of 3 Tongs
Set of three
Three different lengths
Can be difficult to clean
If tongs are your gadget of choice around the kitchen, then getting a set of three might be a good idea so you'll always have a clean option handy. This set of three comes with a pair of 7-, 9-, and 12-inch tongs all for a bargain price. Use the small tongs to flip omelets while the larger one is great for flipping hot meats. With a silicone head, these won't scratch your cookware and they have a locking end so storing is a breeze. When you're all done toss them in the dishwasher and they'll be ready for your next meal.
Best for Toast: laboos Magnetic Bamboo Toaster Tongs
Fits toaster slots
Magnet for hanging
Set of two
Must be hand washed
When you’re toasting short pieces of bread, sometimes the pieces don’t rise far enough above the toaster for a safe and easy grab—and some toast is so short it means you need to reach into the toaster to retrieve it. Metal tongs aren’t a good choice since they can cause sparks, and most cooking tongs wouldn’t fit well into the toaster slot, anyway. These bamboo tongs are ideal for reaching into a toaster slot to retrieve your toast easily.
They fit neatly into a drawer for storage, but the handy magnet on the hinge end means you can also hang them on a metal toaster, on the fridge, or on a knife rack. This is a set of two, so you’ll always have one handy, or the second one can be used for retrieving a hot tea bag from a cup of tea.
Best Mini: Norpro Grip-EZ Grab and Lift Silicone Tongs
Unique size and design
Great for waffles
Use might be limited
Sometimes long tongs are just awkward to use. That’s where these mini tongs really shine. The flat spatula side slides under foods, holding them securely, while the top teeth grab on so the food won’t fall off the spatula on the way to the plate. They’re great for grabbing burgers or sandwiches out of an electric grill or sandwich press, or for taking cookies off a cookie sheet. The teeth also are handy for getting waffles out of a waffle iron while the flat side on top holds onto the hot waffle.
The tough silicone on these tongs can handle the heat, but won’t scratch nonstick surfaces. Cleaning is simple since these are dishwasher safe.
Best Spatula Tongs: WENFEI Spatula Cooking Tongs
Set of two
Slides under burgers and steaks
Not for use with nonstick cookware
When you’ve got burgers on the grill or a steak in a cast iron pan, these spatula tongs are the perfect tool for handling them. No more poking the meat with a fork or trying to lift it with small-ended spatulas that aren’t built for the job. Built like a pair of spatulas, you can slide one side under the meat easily, then the top spatula holds the food securely so it can be flipped or plated.
These are great for things like crab cakes that can fall apart easily, or for delicate fish filets, and just as useful for grabbing asparagus from a pan. This is a set of two spatulas; one is 9 inches long and is great for kitchen use, and the other is 12 inches long so it will keep you away from the heat of the grill while it’s also perfect for reaching into a hot oven. Made from stainless steel, they’re rustproof and built to last.
The OXO Good Grips 9-Inch Tongs with Silicone Heads (view at Amazon) are a versatile set of tongs that can be used with nonstick cookware and handle high heat. If you're looking for something a little different to round out your cooking utensils, we suggest the WENFEI Spatula Cooking Tongs (view at Amazon), which are built like a pair of spatulas and also function as tongs. Use them on the grill to flip burgers or with delicate food that could potentially fall apart when grabbed with regular tongs.
What to Look for When Buying Tongs
Tongs can be made from a variety of different materials, each with its own pros and cons. Metal can handle high heat, but all-metal tongs aren’t flexible and may damage nonstick cookware. Tongs with silicone or nylon tips are safe for nonstick, but may not be able to handle super-high heat. Wooden tongs have their own niche, too. No material is wrong—it just depends on how the tongs will be used.
Tongs can be very basic, but to be competitive, companies add features that can be useful—or not. Some tongs can lock closed, some have holes for hanging, and some are built for specific purposes. The truth is that a single set of tongs may not be adequate in the kitchens of serious cooks who may need several different styles for several different tasks.
Even the most expensive tongs on our list aren’t budget-breakers, but some tongs are certainly a bargain. For cooks who need to use tongs only occasionally, the least expensive will suffice. For cooks who use tongs on a daily basis, the extra features and superior durability may make the more expensive models more appealing.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a food writer, product tester, and cookbook author. Beginning with her mom’s most basic kitchen tongs, Donna has used a wide variety of them, from many different manufacturers and in many different styles. From toast tongs to super-long grilling tongs to silicone-tipped tongs, she has used just about every type, and she knows what to look for in a good set.