You just bought a grill or smoker and you are ready to get started! This guide for grilling tools is a great resource for the must have items that will elevate your cooking experience from day one.
When looking at grilled recipes or smoked recipes across our website, or any for that matter and the common theme will include that a few core investments after your grill or smoker will go a long way in improving your cooking experience. These grilling tools are some of our favorites after 10+ years of cooking.
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When prepping for any cook, there are a few items that really make the process more organized and more efficient. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Half Sheet Trays – Available online or at your local restaurant supply store, these are great when laying out steaks, or keeping a brisket stable while trimming. Having two go a long way.
- Boning or Filet Knife – One of two knives I would have in your arsenal. It will help trimming fat off a brisket, filet a salmon, or help trimming and preparing delicate vegetables. We use the Dalstrong Shogun Series, but all of their knife series are high quality and sharp.
- Chef’s Knife – If there is one other knife that will work across multiple needs, it’s a chef’s knife. It will slice cuts, it will help in prepping onions, and everything in between. An 8-inch knife is a great size.
- Slicer – A good slicer is nice to have especially when cutting up whole roasts, and large cuts. Try to buy at least a 10 inch slicer (preferable 12 inch).
- Pink Butcher Paper – Great for wrapping meats like pork shoulder or brisket, but also great for presentation.
- Nitrile Gloves – Having gloves is helpful for food safety and for just keeping clean when slicing up. We love the black nitrile style gloves. Also available online or at your local restaurant supply store.
Do not underestimate the importance of good charcoal, as charcoal is an ingredient and imparts flavor.
We use lump charcoal. It burns cleaner than briquettes, which means less ash, and we find that it imparts a pleasant flavor. We love Jealous Devil, Fogo, and Big Green Egg (Available at ACE Hardware).
Grilling Must Haves
- Tongs – Not all tongs are created equal. And even before you run out and get a set of tongs understand that with any grill set up, the key with tongs is to allow you precision in moving the meat, and not burning your arms and hands at the same time. So we get specific that long tongs are the best option if you have one tool other than a thermometer. You can flip steaks, burgers, and handle large roasts.
- High Heat Gloves – When grabbing a hot cast iron pan with melted cheese, or moving the grates to add wood or charcoal, a great tool is a pair of gloves that can handle temperatures over 800 degrees F.
- Skewers – Metal skewers are great because you will use them over and over versus wooden ones. Go for both short and long skewers. Short skewers are great for typical kabobs, and the long skewers are great for things like Picanha Steak.
Cook to temperature, not time. This is the most important factor that you will learn as you cook outside. Weather variations, different grades of meat, even the temperature fluctuations will change every cook. Even with the same steak cut. Having a high quality instant read thermometer is the second purchase to make after tongs. And we have used MANY if not all of the popular products and the most comprehensive temperature management tools come from our friends at Thermoworks. The main reason is the quality put into their product and the customer service.
Hot and Fast Cooking
- Thermoworks MK4 Thermapen – We have used this product for over 10 years and is a preferred product for most chef’s in the industry. It is a workhorse and takes temperature in less than a second and is super accurate. The Thermoworks MK4 Thermapen is the best instant read thermometer in the market. We also combine the use of this with our slow smoking tools as well.
- Thermopop – A less expensive than the Thermapen, but just as effective. It’s a little slower in taking the temperature, but will get the job done.
Smoking Low and Slow
When cooking low and slow a few more key grilling tools are very important to not only monitor the ambient temperature in the cooker, but also in the meat.
- DOT – This small one zone tool is great as it is small profile, can measure one zone and can broadcast to your Wifi Ap provided by Thermoworks. Great if you have a smaller grill profile or tend to cook smaller cuts.
- Smoke Unit – Another Thermoworks product and great device for two zone measurement. It also has a hand held monitor to watch the temperatures inside the house. So one probe tells you the ambient chamber temperature in your cooker and the other will measure your meat temperature. Also comes with great upgrade options like longer broadcast ranges, and tracking up to four zones (SmokeX).
- Thermoworks Signals Unit – This measures 4 zones. One for the cooking chamber and three more probes. This is great if you plan to do multiple meats like a brisket and chicken, or want to dial in a few temperature zones on larger cuts like pork shoulder or beef ribs.
Yes, books for essential grilling tools. For so many reasons. Here are our favorites, and spoiler alert, we included our own.
- Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat – I love nerding out to this book as it talks about the science and details about things like brining and what heat does when cooking something. It’s also a great watch on Netflix.
- Elements Of Pizza – If you plan on doing pizza, this is the book you want for dough recipes.
- Aaron Franklin – He has two out now – just buy the two pack. Not only does he walk through one of the best brisket deep dives, but his second book really hones in on Steak and the importance of understanding where it comes from.
- Fire + Wine – Yes, that’s our book. We share 75 recipes with wine pairing from lamb, to beef, and veggies. The reviews are amazing from customers and the media.