the modern gal’s guide to must-have grilling equipment

the modern gal’s guide to must-have grilling equipment. the first step in gaining confidence behind the grill is having a solid grilling set up. this post will walk you through some must-haves when it comes to setting up your grill this summer! 

a modern gal's guide to must-have grilling equipment. the first step in gaining confidence behind the grill is having a solid grilling set up. this post will walk you through some must-haves when it comes to setting up your grill this summer! #playswellwithbutter #grilling #grillingtips #grillingstation #outdoorgrilling #grillingDIY #howtogrill #grillingforbeginners

plays well with butter is all about helping you find the confidence to really own your spot behind the grill this summer. {learn more about the pwwb let’s grill, girls! series here.}

the first step to gaining confidence behind the grill lies in making sure your grilling set up has everything you need. pretty straightforward, right??


well…kind of. it’s super easy to get overwhelmed by the lingo & the doo-dads, especially if you’re new to grilling. (trust me…been there!)

this post will walk you through all of the must-haves when it comes to grilling, everything from the grill to the accessories. i’ll show you the set up we have at our house, as well as other great options fit for any budget. we’ll cover (click to jump to a specific section!)

let’s get to it!

the grilla modern gal's guide to must-have grilling equipment. the first step in gaining confidence behind the grill is having a solid grilling set up. this post will walk you through some must-haves when it comes to setting up your grill this summer! #playswellwithbutter #grilling #grillingtips #grillingstation #outdoorgrilling #grillingDIY

hands down, the most important part of your grilling set up is your grill. (i mean…obviously!) it’s the heart of the entire operation. a great grill will have solid construction (wobbly grills = no bueno!) & will retain its heat evenly & well.

some important things to consider when you’re buying a grill:

  • gas vs charcoal.
  • quality of construction.
  • size of your grilling space.


while diehard grillers swear by grilling with charcoal, i believe the best place a beginner griller can start is on a good gas grill. without all the variables that come with lighting & tending to charcoal, a gas grill’s heat is consistent & easy to manage. plus, they are easy to light & heat up quickly, making a gas grill perfect for weeknight cooking!

best investment:

we own & love the weber genesis ii. i will be the first to admit, the only reason i initially wanted it was because of its stunning copper finish (…typical! it comes in both black & stainless steel finishes, too!) – but after grilling on it for the past 4 summers, i really couldn’t love it more.

reasons to love the weber genesis ii:

  • it has 3 powerful burners that heat up quickly and evenly- perfect for weeknight cooking!
  • its grates are made from enameled cast iron, which retains heat very well & is very easy to care for.
  • it has a ‘sear station’ dedicated high temp burner which is great for adding that addictive grilled char to foods quickly.
  • the construction of this grill is sturdy af! very easy to move and handle without feeling like it will be damaged.
  • the warranty! weber grills come with 5-year warranties on their parts as long as you register your product.

it is on the pricier end of the spectrum, but if taken care of well, the weber genesis ii will last a long time. if you’re in a position where you have a decent amount of space for a grill & are comfortable investing in a grill you can have for the next 10+ years, i highly recommend it!


Weber Genesis II (also comes in black) | Weber Genesis II with side burner | Weber Genesis II Grill Cover

side note: want your grill to last? check out my tutorial walking you through how to clean & deep clean your grill here!

best for a budget:

after scouring the internet for a great gas grill that fits any budget, you can’t go wrong with the char-broil classic 360. while i do not personally own this grill, it has countless rave reviews, especially considering its price tag of just $130.

with 3 burners, this grill has enough space & power to cook for a crowd, but its overall size is perfect for small spaces like a small patio off your house or apartment. (as i was researching, i couldn’t help but think, “gosh i wish i knew about this grill when we were renters!”)

other reasons to love the char-broil classic 360:

  • its lid is made from porcelain-coated steel, which helps it stand up to any weather conditions.
  • its grates are porcelain-coated, which prevents sticking & makes them super easy to care for.
  • at its small size, the fact that it still has three burners is huge for zone cooking and even heating

if you’re looking for a great starter gas grill, this is the one for you!


Char-Broil Classic 360 | Char-Broil Classic 360 with side burner | Char-Broil 3-4 Burner Rip-Stop Cover


while i think grilling with gas is 1000% suitable for most everyday grilling needs, there’s a reason why serious grillers live & die by charcoal. charcoal has the ability to get very hot, & its smoke adds an extra layer of addictively smoky-charred goodness to whatever you’re grilling.

charcoal grills are very budget-friendly & are great for any sized space, whether you’re grilling in a spacious backyard or a cozy apartment patio.

best investment:

since i haven’t used charcoal regularly since my apartment dwelling days, i was interested to see what research would turn up for new charcoal grills. lo & behold…one of the most highly regarded options out there is the classic weber 741001 original kettle 22″.

at 22” it won’t take up too much space, but still, it’s large enough for almost anything you could think to throw on the grill. it’s also designed for optimal airflow, so your grill will hold its temperature really well.

other reasons to love the weber 741001 original kettle charcoal grill:

  • it has high-quality construction, plus comes with a 10-year warranty on the bowl & lid.
  • it has an easy one-touch cleaning damper on the bottom for draining charcoal ash.
  • it’s so iconic! it’s been around ever since weber was founded (for good reason!).


 Weber 741001 Original Kettle Charcoal Grill | Weber 7176 22 Inch Charcoal Kettle Grill Cover

best for a budget:

the weber 10020 smokey joe 14-inch portable grill has been our go-to charcoal grill since chris & i first shared an apartment. it’s essentially the little brother to the weber 741001 original kettle 22″ we just went over – so it has the same dual-damper system (which help avoid disasters like the first time i tried to cook steaks for chris’ birthday!).

these tailgate-sized grills are perfect for apartment dwelling (or tailgates, obviously!!). you can store your grill inside when you’re not using it, then easily move it outside once it’s time to fire up the grill.

other reasons to love the weber 10020 smokey joe 14-inch portable grill:

  • its dual-damper & charcoal grate provides excellent airflow for a small grill. 
  • convenient size! at 14”, it is big enough to grill for a few people but can easily be stored when not in use. it’s also super easy to transport – you can throw it in the car for a trip to your favorite summer spot or ballpark!
  • & just like the other webers, you get a 10-year warranty on the bowl & lid.


Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill | Weber 7154 Smokey Joe Bag

temperature controla modern gal's guide to must-have grilling equipment. the first step in gaining confidence behind the grill is having a solid grilling set up. this post will walk you through some must-haves when it comes to setting up your grill this summer! #playswellwithbutter #grilling #grillingtips #grillingstation #outdoorgrilling #grillingDIY

while many grills come with built-in thermometers to indicate the internal temperature of the grill, i find it useful to keep a couple of additional thermometers on hand, helping gauge the temperature of different zones within the grill & 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…)

here are a few of the different thermometers we always keep on hand:

  1. grill thermometer gauge
  2. instant-read meat thermometer
  3. wireless digital meat thermometer

#1 – grill thermometer gauge: you will definitely need a grill thermometer gauge to measure the temperature of your grill. many grills come with a thermometer gauge built into their lids, but if you have a charcoal grill or if your gas grill does not have a thermometer built in, this is a must! we like these thermometers because they’re affordable (less than $11 for a set of 2!) & very easy to install.

a good oven thermometer achieves a similar result, & can be especially helpful if your grill has a hot spot or if you’re grilling with different temperature zones & need to maintain a specific temperature in a specific area of your grill. plus, they’re inexpensive & effective!

#2 – instant-read meat thermometer: an instant-read meat thermometer is also a must, especially if you don’t feel confident judging the doneness of meat by touch. if you’ve ever had trouble with undercooking a piece of chicken or accidentally turning a steak into a car tire, a meat thermometer will be your new bff. we love this instant read meat thermometer because its probe is super easy to use & it’s waterproof – making it even easier to clean!

#3 – wireless digital meat thermometer: & lastly, if you’re feeling a little bit fancy: a wireless digital meat thermometer. it’s one of those things that chris bought & i kind of rolled my eyes at (“do we really need a wireless thermometer?!”), but i gotta hand it to him: it seriously comes in handy.

the probe connects to a monitor wirelessly, meaning you can monitor the internal temperature of whatever you’re grilling from a distance – 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 #minnesotaproblems). we love this wireless digital meat thermometer because it’s also pre-programmed with usda approved doneness temperatures for different types of protein (e.g. rare, medium, well done) & an alarm for when that temperature is reached. a little extra, but totally worth the splurge, especially if you grill quite a bit!


NEWSTART BBQ Thermometer Gage (an oven thermometer will do the trick too!) | GDEALER Waterproof Instant Read Meat Thermometer | ThermoPro TP20 Wireless Remote Digital Cooking Food Meat Thermometer

must-have grilling gadgetsa modern gal's guide to must-have grilling equipment. the first step in gaining confidence behind the grill is having a solid grilling set up. this post will walk you through some must-haves when it comes to setting up your grill this summer! #playswellwithbutter #grilling #grillingtips #grillingstation #outdoorgrilling #grillingDIY

while there are a ton of totally unnecessary grilling gadgets out there, there are a few gadgets we’ve added to our arsenal over the years that we can’t live without. (usually after having learned the hard way – like needing to relight charcoal 4 times on a windy day, or burning knuckle hair off (ahem, chris), or tearing apart a perfectly tender piece of meat.)

the gadgets below are our go-to’s. learn from my mistakes – i promise they’ll go a long way in avoiding some of the grilling mishaps that have happened at our house over the years!

  1. charcoal chimney
  2. lighter cubes (for charcoal grilling)
  3. grilling tongs
  4. grilling spatula
  5. grilling gloves
  6. grill brush

#1 – charcoal chimney: if you are grilling with charcoal, a charcoal chimney is an absolute must. it helps your briquettes/charcoal come up to temperature more evenly, quickly, & 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 that i was scared of a flare up & then he proceeded to almost burn his eyebrows off because he used WAYYYY too much lighter fluid in his demonstration. sound familiar? if so, lighter cubes are about to become your new bff. these cute little dudes help get your charcoal going without any fluid & they even light when they’re wet! another must for charcoal grillers.

#3 – grilling tongs: i know, i know, “do i really need a separate pair of tongs for grilling?”. 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 to keep your hand further away from the flames when you need to turn or adjust something on the grill. they make flare-ups a lot less scary & grilling a lot more comfortable. we love these grilling tongs because they’re great quality at a price you can’t beat – $5!

#4 – grilling spatula: similar to the tongs, a spatula with a longer handle for grilling is another must, not only to keep your hands safe but also to 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 – $5! &! it even has a bottle opener for your favorite brew/cider/sparkling beverage…?

#5 – grilling gloves: don’t grilling gloves sound so damn extra?! i know. i thought the same thing until i realized how much easier everything was when i could move hot grill baskets, turn kabobs, or just adjust anything on the hot grill without fumbling around for my tongs or trying to go in with my bare hands. grilling gloves make life so much easier. simple pair of leather work gloves also does the trick just as well (just make sure the pair you use doesn’t have any material that will melt if you go this route!).

#6 – grill brush: every time you start & finish grilling, you’ll need a grill brush to clean debris from the grates – so investing in a good one is important! going with a cheaper option here can lead to metal bristles in your food (yuck/ouch!!), more frequent brush replacement ($), or damage to your grill ($$$). we like this weber grill brush because 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!


charcoal chimney | lighter cubes | grilling tongs (another great option)| grilling spatula (another great option) | grilling gloves(leather work gloves work too!) | grill brush

other useful grilling tools & equipmenta modern gal's guide to must-have grilling equipment. the first step in gaining confidence behind the grill is having a solid grilling set up. this post will walk you through some must-haves when it comes to setting up your grill this summer! #playswellwithbutter #grilling #grillingtips #grillingstation #outdoorgrilling #grillingDIY

there are a few other tools that we’ve found make life around the grill a little easier. while not completely necessary or critical, i promise they’ll make your grilling experience a little more convenient!

#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, but target also sells quarter sheet pans that may be a little more friendly on your budget at $5 a piece.

#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 still allow your veggies to get charred from direct heat. i love this grill basket because it’s extremely heavy duty, which helps it retains its heat really well.

#3 – stainless steel skewers: while wooden skewers certainly do the trick, sometimes they can’t hold the weight of a hefty kebab, & sometimes you forget to soak them beforehand (leading to a charred little skewer!). 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 go to rotate them (don’t you hate that?!).


quarter sheet pans (slightly more budget-friendly option!) | grill basket (another great option) |stainless steel skewers

wrapping up!

once you’re set up with all the equipment you need, you’ll be ready to grill all summer long! 

if this all still feels new to you, i encourage you to head over to this grilling 101 post, where i dive into more details about how to light your grill & how to clean your grill. (videos included!)

ready to hit the grill? me too! be sure to check out this post for the 7 marinades you need this grilling season. at our house, a good marinade is at the heart of grilling season, & i’m positive these 7 marinades will be on repeat at your house this summer! be sure to give @playswellwithbutter a follow on instagram – i’ll be teaching you how to grill up some goodness all summer long & i can’t wait for you to join me! 

your turn!: what are some of your “must-haves” for grilling season? do you grill on charcoal or gas? do you have any other questions about grilling equipment that i can help answer? drop a comment below – i’d love to chat!!!

don’t forget to pin for later:a modern gal's guide to must-have grilling equipment. the first step in gaining confidence behind the grill is having a solid grilling set up. this post will walk you through some must-haves when it comes to setting up your grill this summer! #playswellwithbutter #grilling #grillingtips #grillingstation #outdoorgrilling #grillingDIY


thank you so much for reading & supporting plays well with butter. this post includes affiliate links for products i truly love & use on the reg in my own home. all opinions are always my own! should you make a purchase using one of these links, pwwb with earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps me continue to bring you great original content.  ???

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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