BBQ Tools: A Grillmaster’s Essentials
A brand new set of barbecue tools is just the thing to start off or complement barbecuing season. Here are some things to know when you're picking out a new set.
Quality can vary but even the most basic set of barbecue tools will include tongs, a spatula, a basting brush and a fork.
Some sets will include a cleaning brush and maybe a knife. You can also purchase all these utensils and more separately.
The handles must be long to prevent uncomfortable proximity to heat or burns. Eighteen inches is a safe length.
Utensils should be made from heat resistant material. Stainless steel is a good choice.
Look for dishwasher-safe items, unless you don’t mind washing by hand.
Tongs should fit comfortably in your hand and have a good grip.
The fork should be really sharp.
The bigger and sturdier the spatula, the better job it will do at picking up your food. Some even have a handy serrated edge so you can cut into your food to check for doneness
Silicone-bristled basting brushes work best; cheaper versions may leave unwanted hairy bits on your food.
Tool Tips from Well Seasoned’s Angie Quaale
We talk to award-winning pitmaster Angie Quaale of Well Seasoned for recommendations. She recommends buying grilling tools separately because you often get things you don’t need in a set, or items that aren’t as good quality as those you can buy separately. Even though a set may seem like a good deal price-wise, it may actually not be worth it.
Angie says there are 5 tools every BBQer needs:
1. A copper wire grill scrub brush to keep your grill clean. Get your grill very hot before cleaning for the most effectiveness.
2. Scalloped-edge tongs with long handles. Have at least two pairs – one for raw food and one for cooked food. If you’ve got vegetarians, you may want a third to use for your BBQ veggies.
3. A meat thermometer. While most people check steak doneness using the fleshy part of the thumb, things like chicken, pork, and roasts are harder to measure. Angie likes the Thermapen, a Cadillac of thermometers (about $99), but there are many simpler versions that do the trick too.
4. A silicone basting brush (or two). Angie says with boar bristle, you often lose bristles in your sauce or on your meat. With silicone, you don’t have that problem. Again, you may want two brushes – one for meat and one for veggies.
5. A good stainless steel flipper or spatula. Look for one with a long handle and that has some length to the spatula part as well, which makes it easier to flip longer items like fish.
For an episode of The Shopping Bags, we tested out these four complete sets with the help of some backyard chefs:
- Grill-Pro: $12.99
- Keanall (also includes a grill cleaning brush): $24.99
- Danesco (stainless steel with rosewood handles): $59.99
- All-Clad (stainless steel with carrying case): $240
Our tests and results include:
Tongs: In a race to turn as many wieners as possible, the Keanall tongs were the most accurate and had the best control for maneuvering the food.
Fork: We stabbed at apples in the traditional bucket of water. The All-Clad fork picked up the most apples.
Spatula: All four spatulas flipped burgers equally well.
Brush: We painted a blank canvas with condiments and noticed a few of the brushes began to lose their bristles. The All-Clad brush kept itself together.
In an actual, real-meat grilling scenario, we found:
The All-Clad set was comfortable to handle, but many testers balked at the price.
The Danesco and Grill-Pro sets received mixed reviews.
We all liked using the Keanall set.
OUR TOP PICK
In our Shopping Bags test, the Keanall set won unanimously. The tongs worked the best, the spatula had a handy serrated edge to cut into food and check for doneness, and it was the best price.
However, if you really want to put together the best set of tools, follow Angie Quaale’s recommendations and choose the best
Thanks to our Experts
Grilling guru Rockin’ Ronnie Shewchuck is Canadian National Barbecue Champion and author of Barbecue Secrets.
Angie Quaale of Well Seasoned.