The Not-So-Secret Grill Tools Every Backyard Barbecuer Needs
Is there anything better than the delicious aroma of grilled food pouring through your backyard on a summer day? There might be, but I’m not going to talk about those things today. I enjoy grilling (and smoking) food to an almost absurd degree. There’s minimal cleanup. You can grill an entire meal and stay away from the kitchen. Plus, if you have kids, it’s a great way to keep them outdoors while you’re tending to the goods.
Mastering the fine art of the grill does take some time and some tools. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few grill tools that helped me out and a few that were pretty much garbage. (I’m looking at you, potato rack.) Let’s just go over the good ones.
A Chimney Starter
Tango & Cash, Crockett & Tubbs, Charcoal & Chimney Starters – I’ll take things that work well together for $800, Alex.
Liberate yourself from the lighter fluid crowd. There’s actually a much better (and more affordable) way to prep your coals and eliminate the fumes and nasty aftertaste you get from charcoal soaked in lighter fluid.
All you need is a lighter, some paper, charcoal, and a chimney starter. Your coals will heat up quickly and evenly. Just pour them out when they’re white-hot and you’re good to grill! No fluid, no fumes, just the great flavor you get from a charcoal grill.
A Grill Thermometer
Grill thermometers are an immensely helpful tool for grilling up bigger items like a beer can chicken or a pork tenderloin. Since undercooking a chicken can have some unfortunate (sometimes deadly) consequences, I don’t try to guess if it’s done. I just poke it with a grill thermometer so that I know for sure.
If you’re smoking a brisket and you don’t want to keep checking the temp over and over again, check out a wireless thermometer. Just place one of the stainless steel probes inside and you can check the temp with the handheld display. This is a great way to make sure that you’re not overcooking a big (expensive) cut of meat.
Cedar Grilling Planks
I really started getting into grilled fish this year. Fish is a pretty delicate meat and can go from good to bad real fast on a grill. That said, a cedar plank or a salt block can add some extra flavor and keep the fish from being scorched by a flare up. Once I started using these planks, I’ve never even thought about cooking fish any other way.
A Stainless Steel BBQ Tool Set and Bear Claws
When it comes to grill utensils, I’m a firm believer that it’s best to keep it simple. You can handle almost everything with a good pair of tongs and a spatula. In my opinion, you should stay away from grill forks. They make it too easy to accidentally shred a good cut of meat and let out all of the juices.
If something is too big for the old spatula/tong combo, then I’ll use a pair of heat-resistant BBQ gloves or move it around delicately with some bear claws. Yes, bear claws. They’re also great for ripping apart your pulled pork or convincing your kids that you may have been Master Shredder before they were born.
For what it’s worth, I’ve found that the less I mess around with food on the grill, the better it tastes. Micromanaging your grilled food is never a good thing. Pressing down on burgers can dry them out. Flipping chicken breasts too early can tear them apart. I really think that a good grill does about 70% of the work. The other 30% is just timing and seasoning.
All told, these grill tools have helped me in my quest to become the king of the cookout. What are some of your favorite grilling tools and tips?