If America had a national food category, it’s safe to say that it would be barbecue and grilling. According to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association, an organization that collects industry statistics and identifies trends, the country’s passion for live-fire cooking is so strong that we purchased nearly 14 million grills in 2014 alone — and that means that we’ll be purchasing just as many (if not more) gadgets and tools to go along with all of those smokers, barbecues, and outdoor grills.
As the editor of Kingsford.com and Grillocracy, I frequently travel around the country and can attest to the fact that all you have to do to start a lively conversation with virtually any stranger is bring up the topic of barbecuing and grilling. The nuances that define outdoor cooking in various regions of the United States — tangy vinegar-based sauces in North Carolina, mayonnaise-based white barbecue sauce in Alabama, or dry-rubbed ribs in Memphis and beef brisket in Texas, for example — are always a topic for friendly debate, and the holy trinity (smoke, fire, and food) is the universal truth in which all committed live-fire cooks believe.
For die-hards like me, firing up the smoker or grill isn’t limited to the warm days of spring and summer (it’s not uncommon to find me flipping steaks or tending to a smoked pork butt in the middle of torrential rainstorms or blinding snow), but for most of us, peak grilling season is just getting underway. If you want to succeed in your outdoor cooking adventures, you’re going to need a few tools of the trade. Here are 10 grilling tools that will help you make the most out of grilling season, authored by Grillocracy's Clint Cantwell and courtesy of The Daily Meal.
Certainly the cheapest accessory for the grill, heavy-duty foil can be used as a makeshift smoker box (simply wrap wood chips in foil, poke a few holes, and place it directly above the heat source), foil packets for fish or vegetables, a cover for grill side tables to ensure quick cleanup, or a simple grate cleaner (when balled up and held with long handled tongs).
Grilling’s a dirty job, but we all love to do it. That doesn’t mean that you have to ruin your favorite T-shirt and shorts with sauce and grease stains, though. A good-quality apron (like the Memphis Adjustable Apron from Chef Works) will not only keep you clean at the grill, but you’ll look like a pro, too!
BBQ and Grilling Cookbooks
Burgers and hot dogs are great, but grilling can be so much more — including countless appetizers, side dishes, desserts, and even cocktails! Get inspired with a collection of barbecue and grilling cookbooks like Melissa Cookston’s Smokin’ in the Boys Room, Bon Appétit’s The Grilling Book, and Chris Lilly’s Fire and Smoke.
Gas grills are great when you’re short on time and want to grill up a few steaks or burgers, but nothing beats the thrill of cooking with a charcoal grill like the Kingsford charcoal or Weber Original Kettle grills. Plus, charcoal grills add a nice, smoky flavor to everything that you cook on them.
When it comes time to fire up a charcoal grill, there really is no replacement for a chimney starter. Simply fill the metal cylinder with charcoal briquettes, place a lit, crumpled sheet of newspaper or a Weber firestarter cube under the chimney, and in just a few minutes you’ll be ready to start cooking.
While factory grates tend to work just fine, the addition of cast-iron grates (such as those offered by Craycort) deliver heat better and provide a nonstick surface on which to grill. Equally as effective, GrillGrates interlocking panels sit on the existing grate and amplify the heat of the grill (between 100 to 300 degrees hotter than the hood or dome) while smoothing out hot spots and providing protection from flare-ups.
Unless you enjoy having particles from your last grilled meal stuck to your food, a quality grill brush is a must. Be cautious in your selection of a brush, as many of the less expensive versions contain bristles that aren’t well-secured and can wind up in your food. The Y-shaped Weber model is a high-quality steel bristle model and the Charcoal Companion grill scraper is an excellent non-bristle option.
Long-Handled Tongs and Spatula
Working with food on a searing hot grill can be a real challenge, especially when using a short-handled spatula or tongs. Avoid singed arm hair and burns by investing in stainless steel tongs with a long reach (like the Oxo 16-inch model) and an extra-long, heavy-duty spatula.
Instant Read Thermometer
Hitting the perfect internal temperature when smoking or grilling proteins can mean the difference between perfection and, well, garbage. Instead of relying on how the meat looks (or worse yet, cutting in to it to see how the interior looks), invest in an instant read thermometer such as the Super Fast Thermapen from ThermoWorks.
"10 Grilling Tools Everyone Should Own" by Clint Cantwell and Courtesy of The Daily Meal.