Must-Have Grilling Equipment: The Best Tools & Gadgets for Grilling at Home

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Choose a grill. Get some grilling equipment. Grill delicious food. Seems pretty straightforward, right? Well…kind of. How do you know which are the best grill tools to have on hand for grilling season? Which are absolute must-haves for grilling and what's the grilling equipment that's nice to have in your grilling setup? Navigating these questions can feel overwhelming, especially if you're a beginner griller. Lucky for you, you've come to the perfect place to help discover all of the grilling gadget you'll need this summer!
Grill tools arranged on a black surface: quarter sheet pans, stainless steel skewers, oven thermometer, instant read thermometer, pastry brush, grill tongs, grill spatula, grill brush.
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In case you missed it!: Must-Have Grilling Equipment is part of Grilling 101 in the Plays Well With Butter Annual Grilling Series, a free content series dedicated to helping you find the confidence to really own your spot behind the grill this summer. Learn more about our 3rd Annual Grilling series or sign up below to get our best grilling tips straight to your inbox!

So what grilling equipment do you really need?

With so many grilling gadgets on the market, it’s hard to figure out which are truly necessary – the absolute must-have grilling tools -versus the gimmicky grilling gadgets that aren’t especially useful.

The truth is, the best grilling tools help you navigate many of the common challenges faced by beginner grillers. Do you ever find yourself guessing whether the grill is hot enough? Or catch yourself wondering if your grilled chicken is actually cooked all the way through? Have you ever fumbled through lighting a charcoal grill? Or feel the heat after getting your hand a little too close to the flame?

Investing in some simple grilling equipment & grilling gadgets will eliminate all of these pain points, helping you grill with more confidence & ease this summer. Let’s get to it!

Must-Have Grilling Equipment Guide – Let’s Get Started!

Grill tools arranged on a black surface: quarter sheet pans, stainless steel skewers, oven thermometer, instant read thermometer, pastry brush, grill tongs, grill spatula, grill brush.

Consider this your comprehensive guide to grilling equipment & the best grill tools to have at home. We’ll walk through (click for shortcuts!)…

  • TEMPERATURE CONTROL TOOLS. Possibly the most important factor in grilling. Sharing our go-to temperature grilling equipment to help you making sure your grill is hot enough & that your grilled goodies are cooked to perfection!
  • OUR ABSOLUTE GRILLING MUST-HAVES. What every griller needs regardless of the type of grill they have. These items are our choices for essential grilling equipment for every at-home griller.
  • CHARCOAL GRILLING EQUIPMENT & ACCESSORIES. Grilling with charcoal may require a few added purchases to help you easily get started. This helpful list of charcoal grilling equipment makes all the difference in handling your charcoal grill.
  • THE EXTRAS. While not completely necessary, these extra accessories will make life easier, & help you take your grilling game to a whole new level.

Temperature Control

An instant-read thermometer inserted in grilled BBQ chicken thighs, with a registered temperature of 155 degrees F.

Aside from choosing your grill, the most important grilling equipment to consider adding to your set-up are a few tools to help you gauge temperature. While many grills come with built-in thermometers to indicate the internal temperature of the grill, it’s really useful to keep a couple of additional thermometers on hand to help better understand the temperature of different heat zones on your grill (hello zone grilling!) & precisely measure the internal temperature of the food you’re grilling. (After all, nothing’s worse than pulling a steak off the grill only to find out that mayyybe you should have pulled it 5 minutes earlier…)

A few of the different grilling thermometers we always keep on hand:

#1: Grill thermometer gauge – For measuring the internal temperature of your grill. Many grills come with a thermometer gauge already built right into their lids, but if yours does not, you need to purchase one separately. This is a must! It’s one of the best grill tools you can own.

We like these thermometers because they’re affordable & very easy to install. (It’s worth noting that a good oven thermometer also achieves a similar result, especially coming in handy if your grill has a hot spot or if you need to maintain a specific temperature in a specific area of your grill when zone grilling. Effective & inexpensive temperature control.)

#2: Instant-read meat thermometer – Another must-have, especially if you don’t feel confident judging the doneness of meat by touch. If you’ve ever undercooked chicken or accidentally turned a steak into a car tire, a meat thermometer will seriously be your new BFF. It takes all the guesswork out of the equation.

We love this instant-read meat thermometer because it reads temperature very quickly & it’s super easy to clean.

#3: Wireless digital meat thermometer – Definitely in ‘nice-to-have’ territory but if you’re feeling a little bit fancy, it’s is a solid grilling gadget to have on hand. The probe of a digital meat thermometer connects to a monitor wirelessly, meaning you can monitor the internal temperature of whatever it is you’re grilling from a distance. There’s no need to keep stepping back to check on things in the grill if you have guests over (…or if it’s freezing/snowing outside!).

We love this wireless digital meat thermometer because it’s pre-programmed with USDA approved doneness temperatures for different types of protein (e.g. rare, medium, well done). Plus, it has an alarm for when that temperature is reached! As I said, it’s a little extra, but it’s also totally worth the splurge, especially if you grill often!

The Best Grill Tools & Accessories

Grill tools arranged on a black surface: grill tongs, grill spatulas, grill brush.

While there are a ton of totally unnecessary grilling gadgets out there, there is some grilling equipment we’ve added to our collection over the years that we can’t live without. (Usually learned the hard way – like needing to relight charcoal 4 times on a windy day or tearing apart a perfectly tender piece of meat!)

The grill tools below are our absolute go-tos for grilling with gas & charcoal. Learn from my mistakes! I promise these grilling gadgets will go a long way in helping you avoid some of the mishaps that have happened at our house over the years. They’re the best choices for at-home grilling equipment!

Must-Have Grilling Equipment You NEED, Whether You Grill with Gas OR Charcoal!

#1: Grill brush – The #1 grilling gadget I cannot live without! Every time you start & finish grilling, you need to use a grill brush to scrape & clean debris from the grates. Keeping your grill grates clean is SO important. Not only will it prolong the life of your grill, but it also prevents food from sticking to the grill. Think of your grill brush as an investment – going with a cheaper option can result in metal debris in your food (yuck/ouch!!), frequent brush replacement ($!), or damage to your grill ($$$!!!).

We like this Weber grill brush. We own Weber grills & it is designed to work on their stainless & porcelain-coated cast-iron grates without damaging them. If you don’t own a Weber, do a little research to see what brush will work best for your brand.

#2: Grilling tongs – I know, I know: “Do I really need a separate pair of tongs for grilling?” YES. Yes, you do! One of the biggest mistakes people make when grilling is not having a pair of tongs specifically built for grilling. Grilling tongs are designed with a longer handle than standard kitchen tongs, which keeps your hands further away from the flames whenever you need to turn or adjust something on the grill. Trust me, they make flare-ups a lot less scary. 😅

We love these grilling tongs because they’re great quality (& you can’t beat that price!).

#3: Grilling spatula – Similar to grill tongs, a grilling spatula is designed with a longer handle for grilling. It’s another one of the best grilling gadgets to have. A grilling spatula will keep your hands safe, & they also provide more leverage since you’re likely turning heavier items on the grill than you do in your kitchen.

This grilling spatula is another great quality option at a steal of a price. (Psst…it even has a bottle opener for your favorite brew!! 😜)

#4: Grilling gloves – Don’t grill gloves sound so damn extra?! I know. I thought the same thing until I realized how much easier everything is when I’m able to move hot grill baskets, turn kabobs, etc., on-demand & without worry. With grilling gloves, you can adjust anything on the hot grill without fumbling around for tongs or trying to go in with bare hands. They make life so much easier. (A simple pair of leather work gloves also does the trick, so long as your work gloves don’t have any material that might melt.)

Must-Haves for Grilling with a Charcoal Grill

A 22-inch original weber grill sitting on a deck open to show a charcoal chimney with smoke coming out of it

While charcoal grills provide amazing smoky grilled food goodness, there are a few nuances to charcoal grilling that can be a bit intimidating for a beginning griller – like lighting a charcoal grill (& keeping it lit!).

These two grilling tools make grilling with charcoal so much easier:

#1: Charcoal chimney – A charcoal chimney is an absolute must-have grilling tool if you grill on a charcoal grill! It helps your briquettes or lump charcoal come up to temperature more evenly & more quickly. Plus, with a charcoal chimney, you can successfully light charcoal in pretty much any conditions. This was a serious game changer for us when we were trying to light our grill on the windy shores of Lake Michigan at our Milwaukee apartment. A good charcoal chimney is worth every penny!

#2: Lighter cubes – The first time I learned to light a charcoal grill, Chris laughed at me for being so afraid of a flare-up…but he then proceeded to almost burn his eyebrows off because he used WAYYYY too much lighter fluid. (#KARMA!) If this scenario sounds familiar to you, lighter cubes will be your new BFF. These little dudes help light your charcoal grill without any lighter fluid. They’ll even catch flame when they’re wet! An absolute must-have for charcoal grilling.

Other Useful Tools & Grill Equipment

Grill tools arranged on a black surface: quarter sheet pans, stainless steel skewers, pastry brush, & a grill pan.

There are a few other tools that we’ve found to make life around the grill a whole lot easier. While these not completely necessary or critical, I promise they’ll make your grilling experience a little more enjoyable!

#1: Quarter sheet pans – Most of the time when we’re grilling out, prep happens in the kitchen & food is transferred between the house & the grill. Quarter sheet pans are convenient & perfectly sized for bringing things back & forth in one trip. Nordicware is forever my fave!

#2: Grill basket – A grill basket is probably our most used grill accessory, especially when it comes to grilling veggies. A good grill basket will prevent smaller things from falling through the grates, but will also still allow veggies to get charred from direct heat. I love this grill basket because it’s extremely heavy-duty, which helps it to retain its heat really well.

#3: Stainless steel skewers – While bamboo skewers will certainly do the trick, sometimes they are not able to hold the weight of a hefty kebab (…& sometimes they get burnt to a crisp because you forget to soak them beforehand!). I love these stainless steel skewers because no soaking is necessary, they are heavy-duty & they have a flat profile – keeping your kebab goodies from rotating on the skewer every time you rotate them.

#4: Pastry brush – A nice pastry brush is a must for basting & brushing sauces on all of your favorite grilled proteins! While there are plenty of silicone pastry brushes out there, I’ve grown to prefer a pastry brush with natural bristles, as they seem to do a better job with coverage & coating. This is the pastry brush I use; I love it because it’s perfect for saucing up Grilled BBQ Chicken & Grilled Buffalo Wings!

Ready to Hit the Grill?

If this all still feels new to you, I encourage you to head over to Grilling 101, a compilation of tips & tricks for all of the grilling basics – everything from how to light your grill to how to clean your grill.

All this talk about grilling have you feelin’ ready to hit the grill? Me too! Be sure to check out this post for my 15 go-to marinades you need this grilling season. At our house, a good marinade is at the heart of grilling season. I’m positive these marinades will be on repeat at your house this summer! For even more grilled goodness, be sure to check out all of our Grilling & Smoking recipes.

& lastly! Be sure to give @playswellwithbutter a follow on Instagram – I’ll be teaching you how to grill up some goodness all summer long, & we have so much fun on Instagram!

Want more grilling tips & recipes?

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Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 5.29.20
    Stacey said:

    Thanks, I love this post and the whole series. Do you have a grill brush you recommend? I was making your buffalo wings and I think a longer handled brush would have been helpful.

    • 4.9.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Stacey! Thanks so much for your kind words! In the PWWB kitchen we like to use these Pastry Brushes for basting (affiliate link, here) or these Silicone Basting Brushes (affiliate link, here). Both are good options but if you are looking for a longer handled brush you will likely have better luck with the Silicone brush set!