Essential Grilling Tools Checklist

Whether you’re grilling for one or a crowd, here are all the tools you need to tame the flame.

Metal spatula
Photo: CHRISTOPHER BAKER

Tools for the Grill

  • Grill

    No matter if you choose a propane or charcoal model, invest in a grill that fits your needs: Are you planning to bring along your grill on a camping trip? Choose charcoal. Is convenience more of a necessity for you? Choose propane. Gas grills are more convenient than charcoal grills, since they are turned on with a knob. But charcoal grills cost less, are portable, and produce a hotter fire.

  • Fuel

    For a gas grill, you will need a canister of propane; a charcoal model requires charcoal briquettes and a few sheets of newspaper (to stoke the fire in a chimney starter).

  • Chimney starter

    Good-bye, lighter fluid. This upright metal tube lets you start your coals with only a few sheets of newspaper and a match. Buy the largest model you can find for firing up your grill with ease.

  • Long-handled tongs

    Skip the grilling fork, which pierces meat and causes you to lose flavorful juices. Instead, opt for stainless-steel tongs, which offer the most gripping power and sturdiness.

  • Spatula

    A necessity for flipping burgers and sliding under a filet of fish, a good grilling spatula should have an offset handle that allows you to slip the spatula under the food with ease. Silicone and metal spatulas work best for grilling.

  • Long-handled basting brush

    Use this for applying sauce during the last few minutes of grilling meat. Look for one with heat-resistant silicone bristles.

  • Long-handled stiff-wire grill brush

    For cleaning the grate.

  • Instant-read thermometer

    For gauging when your meat is cooked.

  • Fire extinguisher

    Grease flare-ups can quickly become dangerous conflagrations. Keep an extinguisher on hand for emergencies.

  • Flashlight or grill light

    Don't be reduced to checking your steak in the dark. Use a flashlight or a grill light, which clamps onto the side of the grill. Newer grill light models are solar-powered: Their batteries are charged by the sun during the day so they're ready to illuminate your meal at night.

  • Paper towels

    Keep a roll on hand for wiping up spills, barbecue sauce, and grease.

  • Aluminum foil

    Protect delicate foods like fish and prevent small items like vegetables from falling through the grate by wrapping them in aluminum foil before placing them on the grill.

  • Garbage can

    For quick cleanup, keep a trash can—with a tight fitting lid—outside near the grill.

Tools for the Table

  • Tablecloth

    Look for an easy-to-wash cotton or vinyl-coated cloth.

  • Napkins

    If you opt for paper over cloth, pick napkins made of recycled paper or other materials.

  • Break-resistant dinnerware and glasses

    Whether you choose paper, plastic, or bamboo, a shatterproof set of dishes and glasses keeps a backyard, deck, or patio safe from broken shards.

  • Silverware

    A set of dishwasher-safe utensils stowed in a caddy makes toting forks and knives outside (and back again) simple. If you grill meat often, consider investing in a set of sharp steak knives.

  • Bottle opener
  • Salt and pepper shakers

    Allow everyone to season their food to their liking at the table.

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