20 Grilling Tools and Gadgets That You'll Actually Use - CNET

Get ahead of the nice weather and grab the best grilling gear to take your cookouts to the next level this year.

Updated Jan. 29, 2024 9:00 a.m. PT Beech Wood For Cutting Boards

20 Grilling Tools and Gadgets That You

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Withgrill season just a few months away, it might be time to inject your backyard barbecue routine with a little new life. Some fancy new meats ordered from one of the best meat delivery services might do the trick. Adding some new moves and recipes to your grilling skill set can't hurt either. And then there's always a shiny new accessory or tool to shine up the experience. If you're lugging the kitchen tongs out to sizzle steaks and salmon, a good set of barbecue tools will make grilling easier and more fun. 

But it's not just tongs and forks to consider.  For veggie and fish lovers , a basket or grill mat will save you from having to retrieve food from the coals later. Pitmasters types with a proclivity to cook low and slow may want to add a dedicated basting brush  smoker box or meat thermometer  into the mix.

Finding the perfect grill -- gas , charcoal or portable model  -- is the most important grilling purchase you'll make. But if your barbecue tools have gotten crusty, rusty or outdated, this is the best grilling gear to buy for 2024. We hauled in dozens of options to rocket the rest of your summer into grand grilling form.

Not all cutting boards are created equal and this smartly designed block is perfect for grill masters. The sturdy bamboo board sports treads on one side to stabilize slick meats and a juice groove to catch all that liquid gold for basting or making sauce.

If you're not marinating your meat, you should be. Maybe it's because you don't have the right vessel to do it in. This collapsible prep tub is light and easy to clean. It doubles as a cutting board and triples as a bus bucket for dirty dishes after.

For basting sauce to go on your chicken and ribs, silicone is the way to go. The bristles will rinse clean in seconds so it'll be ready for action the next time you need it. Dreamfarm's clever version has a kink in the handle so you can rest it on a table without making a saucy mess.

If you don't need extra light via your grill tools, then I say go for something sturdy that'll last you many seasons. You can definitely find cheaper grilling tools out there, but Weber's three-piece set is worth the extra few bucks and was my personal favorite.

What I liked most about these -- especially the tongs and spatula -- is the length. If you work with a full-size grill, you know that stubby kitchen tools just don't quite get where you need them unless you put your forearm at serious burn risk. Each Weber tool in this small yet mighty set has a comfy handle and hook with which to hang 'em. Plus, the spatula has a sharp edge that you can use to slice and dice while you're working. If you don't leave these sturdy grilling compadres out in the rain, they'll definitely last you a good long time.

Paying $130 for a cutting board may seem like a lot, but this heavy-duty bamboo board from Meater is worth the cash. It's hefty and well-constructed and the juice channel around the outside makes it perfect for cutting grilled meats. It's big too -- 19.6 by 14.9 inches -- with enough real estate for a Thanksgiving turkey or a massive brisket.

The first time I saw the Meater Plus, I knew I had to use it. I live in southern California, and the weather is pretty much always good enough to throw a rack of ribs or a spatchcock chicken on the grill. I do a lot of cooking out in the backyard, but a lot of it takes a long time to cook. You really want to cook slowly and evenly on a grill to keep the juices in. The Meater Plus lets me put the temperature probe into the meat and close the grill lid, and it maintains a connection to my phone. Not only is the connection tremendous, but if you tell the app what meat you are cooking, it can work out the resting time, too, giving you a perfect piece of meat every time.

ThermoWorks' Thermapen is about as accurate as meat thermometers get, and for certain types of barbecue or when cooking expensive steaks, that's rather important. Take this temp taker anywhere you flip meat: your deck grill, a campsite, even your Sunday tailgate party. Its portability makes it stupidly simple to accurately measure the internal temperature of your meat, wherever. There are plenty of knockoffs and cheaper versions of the Thermapen, but if you're serious about your internal meat temps, it's worth the extra coin. 

I also tested several WiFi-enabled smart thermometers, including the Yummly and Meater. I liked them both and they get points for accuracy as well as for providing loads of information, such as temperature tracking and some useful grilling tips. But you have to do all your temp reading from a smartphone, which proved either annoying or convenient depending on my mood.

You know that moment, when the grilling is finished and you look around at all the sauce bottles, spices and utensils and say, "What the heck just happened here?" A grill caddy will make it all go away with one breezy trip back to the kitchen. I didn't know how badly I needed one of these until I got one, and this lightweight caddy with a built-in paper towel rack is my pick.

Lights don't come standard on most grills and there's a good chance your grill is positioned somewhere without great direct lighting. If that's the case, a flexible lamp that attaches to the frame will make those late-evening and nighttime barbecue sessions far more enjoyable. The BBQ Dragon double light gives off plenty of glow but it's not so large that it'll get in your way. The two-headed approach means you can get bright light on both the grill surface and whatever is waiting beside it to go on next.

With a grilling basket, you can easily and quickly grill your veggies and give them that smoky, slightly charred taste and perfect texture without the hassle of having to pick one piece up at a time. If you don't want to spring for this basket, you can always place a piece of chicken wire mesh on top of your grill so you can easily char foods that normally might fall through, like cherry tomatoes and other smaller vegetables or pieces of meat.

Grill mats are another option, but they can get real nasty real fast. Also, they don't let the flames hit the food directly so you're less likely to get a nice char.

For grilling fish without it falling to bits and down into your grill, you can also use grill mats or a basket. I like the basket because it lets the flames hit the filet and gives you that sultry summer char. Definitely go nonstick, as in this budget-friendly number for BBQ Guys. It opens and closes without much fuss and holds food securely over the flames. These are also great to bring along to a camping trip so you can cook right over an open fire. 

Note: You can use these for veggies but some will inevitably sneak through the cracks, so I prefer something like the above model.

If you don't want to bother with a fish grilling basket, at least saddle yourself with a proper spatula for fish. It'll help more than you might think and you can use it for anything, not just fish. This excellent and sturdy spatula is a bargain for $7 with its razor-sharp front edge that'll get right under those salmon and tuna filets without shredding them to bits.

Another way to grill flaky or sticky foods such as fish and veggies is on a mat. Don't expect grill marks or char when you use one of these fireproof nonstick mats, but do expect a spotless grill when you're done.

So simple, yet somehow I didn't think of it myself. 

A wooden grill scraper may take just a little more muscle, but it also has some distinct advantages over its wire counterparts. It will go a little easier on your cast-iron or porcelain grates. It'll also customize itself to the grooves of your grill over time, and the scraper itself won't collect as much gunk as a wire brush. Plus, this one with a long handle to get some good leverage is just $8.

For a minimalist, this connectable and magnetic grill tool set boasts some very smart design. The two pieces act as fork and spatula but then connect to form a set of tongs. All three are on the small side but for a space-saving grill tool and utensil set, it doesn't get better than this.

Wood chips are an easy way to add substantial flavor to any grilled food, and work equally well on gas and charcoal grills. To use them you will need a box to hold the wood so they don't catch fire, but it's simple: Just place the box on top of the heat source -- on the gas burner or directly on the charcoal -- and they should start smoking and flavoring your food with whatever type of chips you've chosen. Weber's version is a good size for most grills and it's got a nice sturdy build.

If you're mostly a strip steak and burger griller you may not need a meat injector, but if you attempt the occasional rib roast, pork shoulder, brisket or thick steaks, this is the best way to get flavor all the way up in there. Use your favorite marinade or sauce and pump that good stuff in with this sturdy model that includes three different needles.

20 Grilling Tools and Gadgets That You

Disposable Plastic Cutting Board For charcoal grilling, a chimney becomes a must-have for your grill after you use it even once -- especially for us impatient folks. It keeps the charcoal all together tightly to help the briquettes get hot both quickly and evenly before you spread them around. It's a simple device, but Weber's is well-designed with a comfortable handle.