- If you’re going to grill great eats, you need to cook on a clean grill and have all the tools you need at your fingertips.
- We’ve rounded up the best grilling tools, including everything from a grill cleaner and grill brush to grilling planks and meat thermometers.
When the weather is nice, I fire up my grill at least three times a week. And if the weather holds all day, I’ll be cooking up burgers and skewers into the night. There’s just no comparison to food cooked on a grill, and when you have great grilling tools and accessories at your disposal, grilling is just about the easiest kind of cooking, too.
Think about it: You’re outside, so there’s no reason to worry about a few drips of oil here or some dropped of food there, you have a precise control over the temperature of a gas grill, so you don’t need to time things perfectly as with an oven, and you’re supposed to be drinking a cold beverage while grilling, which … well, OK, that doesn’t necessarily make things easier, but it does make the process more fun.
What does make grilling easier? A great spatula that doubles as a knife. A grill brush that scours away grit and bits of food in one pass. A meat thermometer that takes readings in seconds. And of course, reliable grill cleaning supplies that keep your barbecue station looking great and working well.
Today, I’ve put together a list of the primary grilling tools I use to cook, clean, and maintain my six-burner gas grill. Most of these tools can also be used with a charcoal grill, and I’ve even included a great way to get coals burning fast, no lighter fluid required.
Here are the best grilling tools you can buy:
- Best grill cleaner: CLR’s BBQ Grill Cleaner
- Best grill brush: Kona 360 Grill Brush
- Best grilling planks: Primal Grilling Cedar Planks
- Best spatula: Char-Broil Basic Grilling Spatula
- Best grill gloves: Steven Raichlen Extra Long Suede Grill Gloves
- Best grill pan: Char-Broil Porcelain Grill Topper pan
- Best charcoal starter for on the go: Pine Mountain ExtremeStart Wrapped Fire Starters
- Best charcoal starter for home use: Looftlighter Charcoal Starter
- Best charcoal: Royal Oak Ridge Briquettes
- Best thermometers: ThermoPro TP03 and ThermoPro Wireless Remote Dual Probe
- Best grill spray: Weber Grill Spray
Updated on 08/29/2019 by Les Shu: Updated links, formatting, and prices. Added option for nonflammable grill spray.
The best grill cleaner
- Steven John
Used together with a bit of elbow grease, CLR’s BBQ Grill Cleaner Spray and CLR’s Stainless Steel Cleaner can leave your grill looking brand new.
It’s not often that I’m genuinely surprised by the quality of a product. In my line of work and in my several hobbies, I’ve tested a fair amount of cleaning products from a number of brands, and while most prove adequate or even impressive, few in recent years have left me as impressed as two grill cleaning formulas made by the vaunted brand CLR (Calcium Lime Rust).
CLR BBQ Grill Cleaner is a foamy spray formula that is safe to apply all over the grates, burners, and other interior components of your grill. It’s non-toxic, non-flammable, and even biodegradable, so health and environmental concerns are essentially nil. It’s also super tough on grease, grime, soot, and baked on char. With a coat of this stuff on the grates of my much-loved, not-all-that-much-cleaned gas grill, it took me about two minutes of scraping and scouring to restore the cooking surface to the pure, shiny state I remember from the first day I used the grill.
Dozens of soap and water cleanings came nowhere close to the efficacy of a single use of this stuff, and to be honest, I think the burgers I cooked on the grill an hour later even tasted better than that last round cooked up before the deep cleaning.
As the grates of my grill weren’t the only surface that needed some TLC, I was glad to also have a can of CLR Stainless Steel Cleaner on hand. This stuff brought out a shine I could hardly believe the exterior of my grill could achieve after years sitting outside facing the elements, and as with the BBQ Grill Cleaner spray, the cleaning process took about two minutes. (The canister looks oddly like cooking spray, so be careful not to confuse the two.)
With more than 200 customer reviews posted on Amazon, the CLR Stainless Steel Cleaner has a 4.2-star average rating. One reviewer called it “a great cleaner” that removed even the most stubborn spots on her steel stove. Another said, “Nothing else cleans our stainless-steel refrigerator.”
Pros: BBQ Grill Cleaner cuts through stubborn grease and grime, Stainless Steel Cleaner works with minimal manual effort, trusted brand name
Cons: Stainless Steel Cleaner leaves a film on nearby surfaces
The best grill brush
The Kona 360 Grill Brush cleans in all directions to scrape away bits of food and built-up soot on the top, sides, and the bottom of the grill.
Cleaning your grill is important. We’ve established that, right? But nowhere have I claimed that it’s exactly what you’d call fun. In fact, it’s kind of an annoying process sometimes, especially when you have a long grilling session to look forward to and you’d really rather get on with things.
The Kona 360 Grill Brush is perfect for people who value a clean grill but want it cleaned fast. Its design allows you to clean the top, bottom, and sides of each bar of the grill without removing the grill top and with a minimal number of passes. While most grill brushes feature a panel of bristles facing in one direction, this clever tool has bristles facing in all directions. And what’s more, there are three coils of said omnidirectional bristles, so you can scrape away at a broad swath of the grill with each pass.
While lightweight and easy to wield, this grill brush is far from dainty. In fact, it’s backed by a five-year warranty and is tough enough for use on all types of grills, for hot or cold cleaning. For the record, you’ll get the best results using it on a heated grill and with occasional dips into a bowl of water or with water sprayed across the grill, just watch out for hot steam! And though rugged, the many fine bristles are safe for use on ceramic, porcelain, or infrared cook surfaces, too.
More than 2,500 customers gave the Kona 360 Grill Brush an average 4.7-star rating on Amazon. One customer “used many grill brushes before, [and] none of them cleaned up my old grill like this one.” Another called it a “very efficient brush” that saved time during cleanings.
A review from The Z9 called the brush “ideal for cleaning all types of grills” and noted the “perfect length of the handle.”
Pros: Cleans in all directions, lightweight and balanced, safe for use on all types of grills
Cons: May rust if not properly dried
The best grilling planks
- Primal Grilling
Primal Grilling Cedar planks impart a delicate, smoky flavor into your food and prevent flaky or fragile eats from falling apart.
For the finest fish fillets, you have to cook on a grill. But grilling delicate fish can be seriously annoying. All too often, the fillets fall apart and you end up losing much of the meat and all of the presentation value of your entree. The solution? Just serve PB&J sandwiches instead. Except no, actually just grill your fish on Primal Grilling Cedar Planks. Not only will these extra-thick, fully reusable grilling planks help the fish (or any other fragile foodstuff) stay in one piece, they will also impart a wonderful smoky wood flavor into the grilled food.
I’ve used grilling planks with everything from fish fillets to steaks to veggie kabobs to mini-sized pizzas with great success. When used properly (meaning plenty of soaking before use and careful cleaning after), a thick grilling plank like these from Primal Grilling can be used dozens of times. They will end up charred and can cause a bit of a mess, but they also come with a burlap storage bag that contains the sooty untidiness.
With feedback from nearly 700 customers, these grilling planks have a 4.8-star average rating. One customer noted the “wonderful taste” the planks give to salmon, chicken, meat, and vegetables.
Pros: Imparts wonderful smoky flavor, helps fragile foods remain intact, can be used multiple times
Cons: Messy after several uses
The best grill spatula
The Char-Broil Basic Grilling Spatula features cutting surfaces and a built-in bottle opener.
I’ve used my Char-Broil Basic Grilling Spatula multiple times, and I love everything about it except for the name. Who decided to call a spatula with a built-in serrated knife blade, a large fork-like edge, and a bottle opener set into the handle, basic?
OK, I also don’t love the fact that the spatula head bends rather easily, but that only happens if you drop the thing or jump on it. It’s not going to buckle under the weight of a big steak or anything.
Being as I hate undercooked meat, I often use the serrated knife-edge of this spatula to slice open a burger or steak just to confirm what my meat thermometer has told me. And the fork tine-like design of the other side of the spatula is perfect for moving stuff around on the grill. As for that bottle opener set into the handle? Yeah, I like that, too.
This is a low-cost, well-made grilling spatula that feels good in the hand and doesn’t weigh much, and that bottle opener also serves as a fine hanging hook. Not much more to say about this one, other than it’s a keeper.
Pros: Built-in cutting edge and bottle opener, low cost, lightweight construction
Cons: Spatula blade bends under pressure
The best grill gloves
- Steven Raichlen Best of Barbecue
If you are looking for affordable leather gloves for removing grill grates or moving other hot items, the Steven Raichlen Extra Long Suede Grill Gloves are your best bet.
The Steven Raichlen Best of Barbecue Extra Long Suede Grill Gloves can handle temperatures up to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. To clean the gloves, you simply wipe them down with a damp cloth.
Both Cook’s Illustrated and Amazing Ribs recommend the Steven Raichlen Ultimate Suede Grilling Gloves. According to Amazing Ribs, the Steven Raichlen gloves resisted the heat for an impressive 21.5 seconds – not designed for prolonged direct contact with hot metal, but plenty of time to move hot objects from one place to another.
Reviewers and users said the gloves allow for excellent control when grabbing onto things, have a good fit even for large hands, and cover the forearms for extra protection. – James Brains
Pros: 17.5 inches long, offers excellent dexterity, cost-effective
Cons: Not machine washable
The best grill pan
The Char-Broil Porcelain Grill Topper creates a large nonstick cooking surface that allows plenty of heat and flame to reach up to your foods and keeps it from falling through the grates.
Most grills are great for large pieces of meat, but what about more delicate foods like veggies or loose-meat burgers? There’s nothing worse than placing food on the grill, only to see them fall through the grill grates.
Oftentimes, I grill using a Char-Broil Porcelain Grill Topper. I place this 11.6 by 16.5-inch grill pan atop the grill grates and fire up the burners. Within a couple of minutes, the grill pan is as hot as the grill grates themselves, albeit creating much finer surface perfect for soft, delicate veggie burgers.
On the left half of the grill, I cooked traditional hamburgers for my son and me, while on the right side of the grill I prepared some veggie burgers for my vegetarian wife.
Anyone who has ever had a veggie burger fall to pieces and slip down past their grill’s grates will tell you it’s an experience they never want to repeat. The wasted food is a shame and the cleanup process is enough to cause genuine rage. With this grill pan, even the flakiest fish, the smallest shrimp or scallops, the most delicate veggie burgers, and all those other hard to grill foods are so easy to handle you will never again worry about lost eats and the potential need to disassemble a burner to clean out an embedded salmon chunk or potato wedge.
Also, the thing is easy to clean thanks to its nonstick surface. A bit of dish soap and a sponge is all it takes.
In one customer’s Amazon review Char-Broil Porcelain Grill Topper is described as the “best grill pan,” praising its durability and noting how well it worked for grilled pizza. Another said the pan “works perfectly especially for vegetables and seafood.”
Pros: Supports fragile and flaky foods, transfers heat quickly and evenly, large surface area, easy to clean
Cons: May bend or buckle in extreme temperatures
The best charcoal starter for on the go
- Pine Mountain
A single Pine Mountain ExtremeStart Wrapped Fire Starter can quickly bring a pile of charcoal to cooking temperature, no lighter fluid needed.
Before I got the big, beautiful hard-lined gas grill that’s now proudly anchoring my patio, I was a charcoal grill man. And I still love charcoal and occasionally use it for cooking, the frustration of waiting for those coals to heat up notwithstanding. And sure, you can always just soak the charcoal in grill lighter fluid, but when you really stop and think about what you’re doing there – spraying a petroleum distillate all over the coals that are about to cook your food – it’s pretty unappealing.
These days, when I do use charcoal, I always build up the pile of briquettes over a Pine Mountain ExtremeStart Wrapped Fire Starter. These compact, quick-lighting and slow, hot burning fire starters provide more than enough flame to get multiple charcoal briquettes heated through, and the flame then spreads out through the rest of the pile.
The ExtremeStarts are made in the USA using natural materials and burn evenly with minimal smoke. I first started using them to get campfires going quickly, and when winter rolls around again, I’ll be using them in our indoor fireplace as well. Because anything that makes doing something much easier is a thing I like.
As of this posting, Pine Mountain ExtremeStart Wrapped Fire Starter has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon. One customer called the product “small but effective” for providing “more than enough” heat to get things burning.
A writer with Bob Vila called these “multipurpose fire starters” that work perfectly for igniting “firewood or charcoal,” noting that each one burns for up to 20 minutes.”
Pros: Compact with long burn time, quick and even ignition, great price point
Cons: Slightly unpleasant odor
The best charcoal starter for home use
The Looftlighter Charcoal Starter can get your briquettes up to cooking heat in about a minute’s time, no lighter fluid or charcoal chimney required.
If charcoal is your preferred grilling method, then you should have a reliable charcoal starter at your side. Waiting for the bed of briquettes to reach cooking temperature is one of the big downsides to charcoal grilling. The waiting time required is the main reason I have primarily switched to gas grilling, but I can’t deny the flavor that you only get with charcoal. So, the Looftlighter Charcoal Starter might just bring me back to briquettes.
Using nothing more than superheated air, this wand-like device can ignite charcoal in just a minute’s time, helping you get your grill burning evenly and without the need for lighter fluid or a chimney.
The Looftlighter can also be used to start a wood fire in your fireplace or in a firepit outside, as the electric heating element can reach a staggering temperature of more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The only drawback here is that, being electric, it requires the use of a plug, something that’s not always conveniently at hand.
With more than 550 reviews posted on Amazon, customers give this product an average rating of 4.2 stars. One customer said it lights up his coals “faster than anything else” he has used. Another got charcoals glowing “within about 30 seconds” of use.
Pros: Quickly ignites charcoal or wood, durable construction, easy operation
Cons: Requires connection to outlet
The best charcoal
- Royal Oak
The Royal Oak Ridge Briquettes burn beautifully to grill your dinner to perfection.
Royal Oak Enterprises started as the Bradleyville Charcoal Company in Missouri in 1953 but changed to its current name in 1983. Today, the family-owned company is one of the largest charcoal producers in North America. The popular Royal Oak Ridge Briquettes promises to be hot and ready for grilling in 15 minutes. The special ridge shape allows for better airflow and peak performance. The briquettes cost approximately 75 cents a pound.
Around the web, professional reviewers, including found these to be the best overall briquettes for the average backyard barbecue lover. According to The Wirecutter, this charcoal burns hotter and longer than most other charcoal, and it doesn’t leave much ash behind. The charcoal may not be completely additive-free, but it doesn’t leave a strange aftertaste on your food, either.
There are no user reviews on Amazon, but on several other barbecue fan sites, consumers praised the briquettes. “I use this charcoal all of the time! It has a good flavor, and burns hot and clean,” wrote one reviewer on Smoking Meat Forums.
You really can’t go wrong with this charcoal, and it’ll make your backyard BBQ a hit. – Olivia Abel
Pros: Burns fast, burns hot, long-lasting, no bad taste imparted to food, affordable
Cons: Contains sawdust
The best grilling thermometers
With a ThermoPro TP03 thermometer and a ThermoPro Wireless Dual Probe Thermometer, you can get instant internal food temperature readings.
For many years, I had what I now see to be an indefensible aversion to meat thermometers. I took it as a point of pride to cook my meats perfectly without checking the actual internal temperature of the foodstuff. The result was often undercooked foods that had to right back on the grill, sometimes after having condiments and toppings scraped off and a bun discarded.
Then a while back I was interviewing acclaimed Brazilian chef André Lima de Luca, and he extolled the virtues of using a meat thermometer. I quickly saw the light and have been a passionate convert ever since.
But why am I recommending two meat thermometers? Well, first because sometimes you’re cooking lots of stuff. And second, because sometimes the immediate reading and ease of use of the ThermoPro TP03 thermometer is just what you want. Stab the probe into a steak or fillet or roast, check the reading, wipe the thing down, and stick it in a drawer. Done.
I’ve used it on dozens or burgers and steaks and fillets, but also to test the temperature of soup before serving it to my son and even while brewing beer with friends. This little thermometer is a perfect example of the simplest solution being the best.
For those more involved grilling sessions, the ThermoPro TP20 Wireless Remote Dual Probe Cooking Thermometer is the way to go. You can use its satellite piece and dual probes to keep an active watch over food temperatures even when you’re 300 feet away from the grill itself.
Beyond the convenience of remote temperature readings, you can also use this thermometer to idiot-proof your cooking by establishing desired internal temps ahead of time (or using preset temperature points for various meats) and then waiting for the unit to inform you when the exact desired degree is reached.
Pros: Quick and accurate readings, TP03 thermometer is low-priced, both units are easy to use
Cons: ThermoPro TP20 is rather pricey
The best grill spray
Help your grill-cleaning tools work more effectively by applying some Weber Grill Spray before cooking.
The best tools can help keep your grill clean, but you may have to put some elbow grease into removing that barbecue grease. To make it less of a chore, apply a nonstick, safe-to-eat solution onto your grilling grates with the Weber Grill Spray.
As an alternative to brushing on oil that could cause flare-ups – particularly with gas grills – the Weber Grill Spray can be used while cooking. Like any cooking spray you would use in the kitchen, just aim the 6-ounce can and spray onto meats or vegetables as they are grilling, without fear.
We found we had success by applying the spray beforehand, and continuously during cooking. One user posted to the Kamado Guru forum found that the spray works well at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, but the solution evaporates too quickly anything above that, which explains why we had to spray a few times. While it costs less than $5, you may go through it quickly, but it will probably last you the entire summer season. – Les Shu
Pros: Safe-to-eat solution keeps foods from sticking to grill, can be applied onto food while cooking
Cons: Not as effective at higher temperatures
Check out our other grilling gear guides
Although you may think that one bag of charcoal is almost identical to another, there are actually many different types and styles of charcoal to choose from. Here are our top picks for the best grilling charcoal you can buy:
- Best charcoal overall: Royal Oak Ridge Briquettes
- Best all-natural charcoal: Weber Natural Hardwood Briquettes
- Best lump charcoal: Fogo All Natural Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal
- Best charcoal for ceramic grills: Kamado Joe Natural Lump Charcoal
- Best affordable charcoal: Kingsford’s Original Charcoal Briquettes
Charcoal grills sear meat and veggies to perfection and fill food with that perfect smokey flavor. Here are the best charcoal grills you can buy:
- Best overall: Weber Original Kettle 22-Inch
- Best grill with a smoker: Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker
- Best high-end grill: Broil King Keg 5000
- Best portable grill: Lodge Sportsman’s Grill
- Best big grill: Char-Broil American Gourmet 840 Series
- Best charcoal and gas grill: Char-Griller Double Play 3 Burner Gas and Charcoal Grill
The gas grill is the centerpiece of your backyard during summertime barbeques, so you should invest in a great one. Here are our top picks for the best gas grills you can buy:
- Best overall: Broil King Regal S590 Pro 5 Burner Natural Gas Grill
- Best value: Weber Spirit II E-310 LP Gas Grill
- Best portable grill: Coleman Road Trip Propane Portable Grill LXE
- Best compact grill: Dyna-Glo Smart Space Living 3 Burner LP Gas Grill
- Best charcoal and gas grill: Char-Griller Double Play 3 Burner Gas and Charcoal Grill
There’s nothing like food cooked up al fresco and served hot off the grill. But only a thoroughly cleaned grill can properly cook smoky, savory meats and veggies that diners will devour. Here are our favorite grill brushes and cleaning tools.
- Best grill brush overall: Kona 360° Grill Brush
- Best grill brush and scraper for stubborn residue: BBQ-Aid Grill Brush and Scraper
- Best low-cost grill brush: Room Essentials Tough Brush
- Best cleaning tool for charcoal grills: Charcoal Companion Safe Scrape Non-Bristle Cleaning Tool
- Best grill cleaning brick: KegWorks Grill Cleaning Brick