19 Essential Grilling Tools for a Successful Barbecue

Whether cooking for one or a crowd, make sure you have the essential grilling equipment.

Metal spatula against a white background

We share an essential grilling tools checklist so you can prepare ahead of time for upcoming barbecue parties or at-home grilling. Though you'll still have to do the cooking, these tools will help make grilling easier and ensure your BBQ is top-notch. Read on for our complete list of barbecue equipment you should have on hand—for both grilling and setting up the table.

Tools for the Grill

When grilling, you'll need much more than the grill. Here's a breakdown of the necessary supplies for cooking on the grill.


Regardless of the type of grill you choose—gas, charcoal, electric, or portable—invest in a grill that fits your needs. 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 more heat. Consider features and your space when selecting a grill.


Fuel will depend on the grill model. For a gas grill, you'll need a propane tank or natural gas. A charcoal model requires charcoal briquettes and a few sheets of newspaper (to stoke the fire in a chimney starter). Electric grills only need an electrical outlet.

Chimney Starter

Goodbye, 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 charcoal grill with ease.


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


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 easily slip the spatula under food. Silicone and metal spatulas work best for grilling.

Basting Brush

Use a basting brush for applying barbecue sauce during the last few minutes when grilling meat. Look for one with long handles and heat-resistant silicone bristles.

Stiff-Wire Grill Brush

After cooking and enjoying your grilled meal, you'll have to clean the grill. Invest in a long-handled grill brush for cleaning the grill grate. Trust us: It makes the job so much easier.

Instant-Read Thermometer

Instead of cutting into your deliciously grilled steak to check that it's ready, use a thermometer to gauge when meat is cooked. That way, no juices are lost, and moisture is retained.

Fire Extinguisher

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

Grill Light

If grilling after dark, don't be reduced to checking your food 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 of paper towels on hand for wiping up spills, barbecue sauce, and grease. You could also use a small washable dishcloth.

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. The foil also helps make the cleanup process easier.

Garbage Can

Keep a trash can—with a tight-fitting lid—outside near the grill for quick cleanup. You can clean as you go while grilling and preparing for your barbecue.

Tools for the Table

Cooking and grilling the food is one part of a barbecue. Setting up the dining or picnic table is another. Here are our recommended items.


A tablecloth is essential when eating at a picnic table (especially when camping or at a public park). It also helps with cleanup. Look for an easy-to-wash cotton or vinyl-coated tablecloth.


Napkins are a must when eating. If you opt for paper napkins over cloth, pick ones made of recycled paper or other materials.

Dinnerware and Glasses

Of course, you need plates and cups for eating. Whether you choose paper, plastic, or bamboo, a shatterproof set of dishes and glasses keeps a backyard, deck, or patio safe from broken shards.


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

A bottle opener is required if serving drinks in glass bottles. Keep one handy with your picnic supplies for easy access.

Salt and Pepper Shakers

Though you may think your grilled food is perfect, everyone has different tastes (and sometimes, dietary needs). Allow everyone to season their food to their liking by providing salt and pepper at the table.

Cleaning Your Grilling Tools

It's important to clean your grilling tools after each use. This avoids food build-up and leaves them ready to use for your next grilling session.

Give each grilling utensil a quick scrub with soapy water. You can also keep them clean as you cook using a cloth and white vinegar to wipe them down periodically.

Storing Grill Tools

It's best to store grilling tools indoors, even if you're tempted to keep them outside with your grill. After washing your utensils and tools, try these storage ideas.

  • Place in a kitchen drawer. If you have a spare drawer or cabinet, keep all your grill tools together so you can easily find them when needed.
  • Store in a plastic bin. Place tools in a covered plastic container to store them in the pantry.
  • Hang them on hooks. Consider installing hooks on the back of your pantry door or the side of a kitchen cabinet for hanging grilling utensils.
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