USU Extension: Tools for Great Grilling

Teresa Hunsaker, Family and Consumer Science Educator with USU Extension/Weber County, shares tips on tools.

In deciding on tools for your needs, ask yourself a few key questions:

What kind of a grilling cook am I, or are we? Do I only do steaks or chicken breasts? Or do I do shish kabobs, fish, veggies, pizza’s or breads, etc.?
What type of grill do I/we have? Is it a nice big gas grill with rotisserie’s, flavor racks and all, or is it a small table top briquette barbeque?
How often do we grill? You will find that the more frequently you grill the more adventuresome you become—thus needing more tools to help you get the job done.

What kind of storage space do you have to hold all these gadgets and tools—do you have the room in drawers or cupboards, or in an outside shed?

Your answers to these questions will give you a guide to purchasing and selecting the tools.

Here is a list of specific tools I could not do without—or at least my husband could not do without, since he does most of the grilling at our house. Of course what works for me might not work for you. So go with what works, not what’s out there, and remember it should be simple, easy to use, and comfortable both in your hand and on your pocket book.


A pair of heavy duty tongs I use for moving coals, picking up hot grates and generally getting a hold of hot things I don’t plan on eating. I also have a pair of stainless steel tongs that I use for flipping steaks, sausages and anything else that holds together well enough on the grill. These tongs are light weight, spring loaded and easy to squeeze. Compare the feel of different types and handles.


Get a large bladed, bent handled spatula. You want something that you can get under foods easily and that is large enough to flip a fish fillet. You can find the cheap and small spatula practically everywhere, but you really owe it to yourself to get a good quality spatula that will work well and last a long time.


There are a lot of skewers on the market these days. Just when you think that no one can come up with a new design, someone does. Aside from all the fancy handles, bent designs and artistic impressions there are basically two kinds of skewers to choose from—
long metal skewers with a flat blade design rather than the simple metal sticks. If the skewer is a long thin blade then food won’t turn on the skewer when you try to flip things over. You can use a hot pad to pick these skewers up or you can buy the ones with heat resistant handles. Watch out for wooden handles because they tend to get burned. The second skewer option is bamboo skewers—they are inexpensive and tend to come in packages of 50 or 100 and a variety of lengths. They may not be fancy like the metal ones but if you don’t want to bother with cleaning they go with the bamboo.


It’s a good idea to have a couple of brushes on hand. You can buy these as pastry, basting or even paintbrushes, you decide which is cheaper. Don’t spend a lot on these because they don’t tend to last even if you take goof care of them. You should have one brush dedicated to oiling surfaces. Using a brush to put a coat of oil over your cooking grate it a good way to go. The brush will get the oil over the surface of the grate quickly and easily. You need to keep this brush separate from other brushes, since you don’t want to use this one for basting foods. In addition to an oiling brush, you need a brush for basting.

If you grill a lot of different kinds of foods you might want several. Some flavors just don’t seem to wash out. I now prefer the silicone basting brush—it cleans up nicely and doesn’t’ hold the oils and flavors in the brush like the “hair” type brushes do.


You will need a wire brush for cleaning off the grate after you finish grilling. It really is important that you do this after you finish grilling because the foods haven’t had a chance to dry on. We have found that the inexpensive wire brushes last about as long and work just as well as the expensive—so save a little money and go inexpensive.


A plain old meat thermometer is all you need, but I have the battery operated digital read type thermometer. For food safety reasons it is important to get meats cooked correctly.


Always have something close by that will let you pick up the hot stuff. You can buy fireproof grilling/Dutch oven mitts that not only let you pick up flaming hot metal cooking equipment, but they won’t catch on fire when the flames hit them.


If you like the taste that hickory or many other smoked wood chips add to the flavor of your grilled foods this is a must have item. Basically you purchase different types of wood chips—mesquite, alder, apple, cherry, hickory, etc., soak those 20-45 minutes, and place them in the box. Place the box on the grate above a burner to “burn” while the food cooks.

There are many other gadgets and tools you could buy—in fact, it is endless. Who knows what will be thought of next??

For more information, call the Family and Consumer Science Education department at (801) 399-8200 or go online at

Add comment