How to Make the Most of Your Grill: Get the Right Tools

Every grill master, pit master, tailgater, or weekend griller has at some point said, “I wish I had a _______.” You could make a hobby out of seeking the perfect tool, utensil, or gadget that will create BBQ nirvana.

With the rise in popularity (and sales) of outdoor kitchens, plus the myriad styles of smokers and grills, there’s been a corresponding increase in the development and marketing of ancillary products—all of those tools, utensils, and gadgets that are must-haves for the complete BBQ experience of your very own.

From multi-purpose options to one-trick ponies, there’s a lot to consider. So, before purchasing, ask yourself: “How often will I use this?”

If “frequently” is the answer, it’s probably a good addition to your BBQing arsenal. If the answer is “once a year,” there’s probably a multi-purpose item that has that function covered.

Outdoor kitchen

Photo courtesy of Weber, www.weber.com

Where to Start?

So where do you start sorting it out?

These BBQing accessories generally fall into 3 broad categories:

  • Baskets – This covers a lot of territory
  • Adaptions – Moving indoor to outdoor
  • Reinventions – Updating classic cookware for the grill

Baskets

Baskets is a term that covers a lot of ground and is equally applied to flat or dimensional wire-frame utensils that use pressure rings to keep everything in place. They include simple, multi-purpose baskets as well as an array of single-purpose baskets for hot dogs, fish, corn on the cob, jalapeno poppers, or kabobs, for example.

Keep in mind: The idea here is to use a cooking surface other than the grill grate that will be accessible to flame and smoke. This helps immeasurably in getting grilled foods on and off the grill as well as during the cooking process. This way, nothing sticks to the grill grate,

Here’s a multi-use wire-mesh, grill set in which the lid for the basket can also be used as a skillet. Imagine Greek ratatouille in the basket and marinated shrimp in the skillet grilling side by side.

Photo credit: Lowe’s, www.lowes.com 

Flat baskets can handle just about anything, from small steaks to lobster tails, fish, burgers, hot dogs, sausages, and so much more.

Dimensional baskets really earn their keep with such smaller items as shrimp, scallops, baby potatoes, rough-chopped eggplant, onions, tomatoes, and peppers. When possible, look for a basket with a removable handle. This allows you to put the basket in the grill, remove the handle and close the lid with a solid seal.

Adaptions

This category is largely dominated by cast-iron utensils that have moved from the kitchen to the patio barbecue.

While there are many alternatives and specialty items, the 3 most useful in cooking on a grill would include a skillet (as large as you can handle), a Dutch oven, and a griddle.

With those 3 utensils alone, you can cook just about anything—sautes, braises, roasts, and even breakfast pancakes and eggs.

Cast Iron Pans

Reinventions 

This where BBQ technology has redesigned classic cookware to be suitable for cooking on a grill.

This kind of cookware takes a typical utensil—a frying pan, for example—and creates a grill-friendly version made of thin metal, a non-stick coating, and a perforated body.

Here is a Grill Wok:

Photo courtesy of The Companion Group

And here’s a saute pan:

 

What kinds of utensils do you use most for grilling? Which have you adapted from indoor to outdoor, or both? Do you have any one-trick ponies that are just taking up space in the back of your cupboard?

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