Essential Grilling Tools – Your Go To Gadgets of 2023

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You just bought a grill 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.

Temperature being taken of chicken thighs with Thermapen.
Spoiler Alert: A good thermometer is the best investment.

You can also explore our essential tools for smoking meat low and slow.

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.


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).
  • 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.
Giant Beef Ribs smoked
The slicer in the background is key for large cuts like beef ribs.


Do not underestimate the importance of good charcoal, as charcoal is an ingredient and imparts flavor as well as heat.

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

When cooking hot and fast, or at temperatures over 350 degrees Fahrenheit the two primary grilling tools are long tongs and an instant read thermometer.

  • 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.

Managing Temperature

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.

  • 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.
Picanha Steak on Long Skewers
Long Skewers are very helpful for kabobs and steaks like classic Picanha.

Grilling Hot and Fast Tools

  • Veggie Basket – If you have any desire to make grilled green beans or any vegetables that can fall through grill grates you want a good quality veggie basket.
  • Fish Spatula – Having a good and thin fish spatula is important. It needs to both bend and be firm enough to lift delicate fish and scallops from the grill grates.
  • Cedar Planks – Our grilled cedar plank salmon is one of our most popular recipes. And you need good food safe planks.

Grill Brushes for Cleaning

Cleaning your grill is just as important as cooking on it. Avoid anything with steel or metal bristles.

  • Grill Rescue – The grill rescue uses a replaceable head and just needs a little water and a warm grill. We use this every time to wrap up grilling and it’s worth the investment.
  • Earth Stone Grill Cleaning Block – This pack includes a handle and a food safe block that is eco friendly. Each block molds with your specific grill grate and will remove grime and grease. It’s affordable and great for any grill or smoker.
  • Grill Grate Cleaner Spray – You can use any citrus degreaser or a specifically designed formula for the grill grates that is food safe. The Goo Gone is a great heavy duty option.

Related Article: How to clean a Big Green Egg or Kamado Style Grill.


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 three out now – just buy the three 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.

About Vindulge

Mary (a certified sommelier and recipe developer) and Sean (backyard pitmaster) are co-authors of the critically acclaimed cookbook, Fire + Wine, and have been creating content for the IACP nominated website Vindulge since 2009. They live in Oregon on a farm just outside Portland.

cookbook cover

Now on 2nd edition

Fire + Wine Cookbook

“This book is a one-stop guide for anyone truly interested in elevating their BBQ experience into a culinary work of art.”
5 out of 5 Stars
San Francisco Book Review

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mary cressler headshot


About Mary

I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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