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Accessories are an interesting topic when it comes to grills. We spend so much time making sure the grill itself is top of the line and kept in tiptop shape, but less thought goes into the just as important items that surround the grill; everything that makes it easier to use, easier to keep clean, and just occupy a space in our mind that it’s just a product we own, not really a part of the grill.
So today we’re looking at some of these overlooked but vital items, the unsung heroes of the grilling world.
We’ll take a look at why they’re important, how to use them,. And an example of a great buy for that type of accessory, and hopefully we’ll help you decide on a good choice for every one of these vital (or at least very nice to have) accoutrements.
1. The Best Grill Cover - Classic Accessories Veranda Grill Cover
Grill covers are one of those items you don’t think about until it’s too late. Grills are designed to be left outside right? It should be fine.
Well, almost. While it’s true that most grills are going to be okay if you leave them in the rain (they’re most often made of stainless steel after all, so no worries about rusting), there’s plenty of other things that can fall from the sky and mar your beautiful grill. Sleet and ice and chip the paint (if you have any), dirt and other debris can accumulate on a wet grill, and small animals or bugs can crawl inside and take up residence (especially if you keep it covered for a whole season of not grilling).
When looking for a grill cover you want one that is sturdy and can last the test of time, while being easy to put on and take off. A strong canvas is preferable to a plastic covering, which tends to fray quickly over time.
For that reason, the Classic Accessories veranda grill cover linked above is our top choice; it fits all our criteria, being an incredibly sturdy canvas with convenient handles, a spacious bottom flap, and easily adjustable cables
2. The Best BBQ Gloves - Extreme Heat Resistant Grill Heat Aid Gloves
You have a few options when it comes to taking meat off the grill. A lot of the time, your classic tongs and forks are well and good to get what you’re cooking onto a tray or something. But sometimes you’ve got a little too much heft to trust such flimsy methods, and even your trusty spatula isn’t enough.
Enter the grill glove; heat resistant, non slip fingered gloves that let you just reach out and touch whatever you want to pull out. They’re a great item to have around, since they’re versatile; they work the same as your standard oven mitts as well, with the added bonus of easy cleaning.
You’d be surprised how much easier your life can be when you just reach out and grab that 8 lb Boston Butt, rack of ribs, slab of venison, or any other heavy, bulky piece of meat you can imagine and pull it off the grill instead of fiddling around with flimsy, unsteady workarounds.
These Extreme Heat Resistant gloves are everything we look for and more. They’re nicely grippy, durable, and best of all: dishwasher safe. Just toss them in to clean and you’re golden, no muss, no fuss.
3. The Best Grill Brush - Kona Safe/Bristle Free BBQ Grill Brush
Grilling is dirty work; all those delicious juices leave a residue that can harden into a nasty gunk on your grill grates, and leave your grill unclean (and unsafe to use).
That’s what grill brushes are for, giving you massive scrubbing power, especially for the better options on the market. Their hard bristles excel at scrubbing off that hardened gunk left behind by long smoking sessions (or just neglect), and can even work while your grill is heated up for easier cleaning.
Grill brushes need to be sturdy above all else. You want them to last you a good long while. A long handle is also a must, but not too long; about a foot and a half at most. This keeps your hands away from the heat and protects them. Warranties of course are always nice to have, but grill brushes overall are a simple and cheap item, so it’s not even a necessary factor.
Our pick, the Kona grill brush meets those two main criteria (plus the warranty) with an added bonus: it has no bristles to fall out. This increases both durability and effectiveness, as it doesn’t deteriorate as much (or even in the same way) over time, and gives all around cleaning potential instead of straight down pressure only.
4. The Meat Injectors - Grill BEAST - 304 Stainless Steel Meat Injector
Grill injectors are not, honestly, a product I use for all of my cooking. But when I do, boy does it make a difference.
Grill injectors are one of the keys to properly flavoring large pieces of meat; be they whole turkeys or something like a ham. For my money they’re best used on incredibly dense meats, like a pork roast, which are otherwise hard to flavor. There are techniques for properly flavoring a turkey or chicken that just don’t work with something like a butt roast, and the ones that do work (like scoring the meat and rubbing the spices down deep) are cumbersome when you’re working with such a large cut, and still don’t get that flavor in there perfectly.
Grill injectors though work every time. Fill it up with your favorite flavors and jam it in there; it’s all good.
The Grill Beast injector is one of the best I’ve seen for these purposes. All stainless steel, two multi-use needles (one for thinner marinades and one for thicker ones), and a good price. It’s perfect for quite literally spicing up your grilling game.
5. The Best BBQ Grill Mat - Kona Best BBQ Grill Mat
Grill mats are an interesting piece of grilling hardware. They are not, strictly, something you need to have like some of the other items on this list; they’re just nice if you like to cook certain kinds of foods.
Grill mats are perfect for discrete, small pieces of food like individual shrimp (not on skewers) or fish (which has a tendency to break up), or even various chopped vegetables.
Professional grillers swear by them, and it’s easy to see why. They make cooking a lot of foods easier and (perhaps more importantly) cleaner than just cooking on the grates. Most grill mats are dishwasher safe, saving you a lot of time and effort.
Grill mats come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses, but for my money you want one on the thicker end of the scale. They heat up a bit more slowly than thinner models, but transfer the heat evenly, and will last you a lot longer before needing to be replaced.
The Kona extra thick grill mat is the perfect example of these; thick but not too thick, and highly heat resistant, so they’ll last longer without deteriorating. The price isn’t too shabby either.
6. The Best Grill Spatula - New Star Food Service Grill Turner/Spatula
Maybe I’m weird, but I’m very attached to my spatula. I have several, but one in particular is my favorite. It’s the perfect size; it’s not too long, not too short. It has a nice thin edge for cutting, but isn’t so thin as to be flimsy. It’s well constructed, with a nice feeling handle.
It is my most used, most trusted, and most versatile kitchen utensil. I feel everyone should have one that fits them just as well.
This is going to mean something a little different for everyone. Everyone’s hands are a different shape and their most commonly cooked dishes vary, which can require slight variations in technique for it to be comfortably used.
If I had to pick a “universal” spatula though, this New Star model would be my pick. It’s well constructed, with a nicely riveted handle and a comfortable grip. The spatula has a fairly long and thin design, with a nice cutting edge and thick, sturdy blade.
As I said, everyone’s tastes will differ, but this one I think will appeal to the widest group of people, being an excellent all rounder spatula even if it doesn’t share some of the unique features of more specialized spatula types (like “Smashulas”).
7. The Best Grill Light - LED Concepts BBQ Grill Light
Like most people on the planet, I need eyes to see. And unfortunately the sun isn’t out 24 hours a day to accommodate my grilling habits. So, inferior replacements must be acquired if we want to get any grilling done after dark.
You could use a lamp, a work light, or take up one of your hands with a flashlight, but by far the least bulky and most convenient option is a grill light, which conveniently clips onto your grill (usually the handle) and shines a light down on the grill’s surface, giving you a nice cone of vision always easily available for your grill.
That “cone” is the most important thing; you want a grill bright enough (around 100 lumens or more) and with spread out enough LEDs to provide a wide view cone, covering the width of your entire grill in a nice neutral light (which is why LEDs are preferred over incandescent bulbs). The shell also needs to be fairly sturdy, and preferably waterproof, though you can get away with it being water resistant if you have a grill cover or just take it inside after every use.
All I really need to say about the LED Concepts is: it’s all of these thing, at a reasonable price.
8. The Best Grill Grate - Weber 7431 Cooking Grate
Replacement cooking grates aren’t something even I really think about all that much, but sometimes they’re necessary.
There’s a number of reasons you might need new grill grates. Something might just get irreversibly caked onto it. Maybe it gets lost, or just breaks down over time, or bends in some sort of accident. Who knows, a lot of things can happen.
And when it does you want a reliable replacement. Inexpensive, but well built and sturdy (it won’t do to lose another grate soon after the first breaks down, after all), and built for your grill.
That last bit is the most important. This Weber grill grate won’t work for everybody; it’s no good if you don’t have a Weber grill of this size. But it’s a common enough grill (and common enough size, if you have a different grill that matches the dimensions) while fitting our other criteria to be a quick reference for a great grill grate replacement.
9. The Best Grill Cleaner - Therapy Premium Stainless Steel Cleaner
As we’ve already talked about, cleaning your grill is important. If stuff cakes onto the grill it’s just nasty to look at. More importantly it’s a health hazard, bacteria building up in the lumps making any food cooked on it unsafe to eat; each meal a dangerous roulette.
Grill brushes are key, but sometimes they’re not enough; stuff can get caked on so hard (especially when smoking something for 12+ hours) that you need some kind of cleaner.
These come in 3 basic kinds: exterior cleaners, all rounder cleaners, and degreasers., in order of how much raw cleaning power they have.
For most people, an all rounder is best; you can use it to clean and polish the outside of the grill, as well as degreasing the interior well enough to get everything off.
The best of these I’ve found is the Therapy stainless steel cleaner, which has a powerful degreasing agent while leaving an excellent streak free shine on any kind of stainless steel grill. It’s a bit pricy compared to others, but well worth it.
10. The Best Grilling Planks - Gourmet Pacific Cedar Grill Planks
Almost everything I said about grill mats applies to grill planks. They’re convenient, and great to use for discrete foods like shrimp and vegetables, and are especially good for fish.
The only thing they really aren’t is washable; each grill plank is one use only.
On the upside though, they do one huge thing grill mats don’t: flavor your food. Different woods add a different flavor to your meats, and some woods complement some meats and vegetables better than others. You can find planks in almost any wood you’d care to think of; cherry, hickory, maple, cedar, and more.
Cedar is an excellently versatile wood perfect for a great many things. Salmon and steak are the most traditional foods grilled on a cedar plank, and it’s a great slow burning wood for quicker smoking or grilling like that. It heats up well and gives off a very nice, thin, flavorful smoke.
These particular planks are some of the most cost effective cedar planks I can find, a great low price for a good sized pack of planks, enough for a dozen meals.
11. The Best BBQ Rubs - Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub
Dry rubs are one of the best things you can do for your meat. They get in there and make a nice, flavorful crust on the first layer of the meat and are good either alone, or combined with a deep flavor injection from a good meat injector. Rubs are often similar to each other, but it’s the real quality ingredients that make a good rub.
A good BBQ rub is going to have a good mix of sweet, savory, and other flavors that meld together into the perfect complement for meat alongside the smoke of the grill.
Killer Hogs’ BBQ rub is the perfect example of that. It’s a simple rub, all things considered, with standard barbecue seasonings. Brown sugar, paprika (mostly for color), orange peel, garlic, salt, and a few other spices to bring out the natural flavors of the meat perfectly.
This is a perfectly balanced and measured variant of what I’d consider a standard rub; but it’s standard for a reason. And the ingredients themselves are top quality, which is what I expect form a top of the line grill rub.
12. The Best Grill Basket - Grillaholics Heavy Duty Grill Basket
A grill basket shares many of the same advantages as a grill mat, at least as far as vegetables are concerned. It keeps them off the fire and give you something to hold them in place without falling between the greatest or getting unpleasantly stuck. If you want to grill a bunch of mushrooms, asparagus, whole onions, or some other large batch of grilled vegetables, a grill basket like this is a must.
It’s a simple construction; a stainless steel box with some holes cut into it for ventilation and juice dripping. That means the variations between different brands and kinds comes down to two things: quality materials and appropriate sizing.
You want one big enough to hold a good number and amount of things, and long enough to hold a corn on the cob, of course. Big enough to throw a jumble of different grilled vegetables at once is a plus as well.
This Grillaholics basket is nice. Stainless steel, good sized (11.5 inches square at the top x 8.5 inches square on the bottom x 2.5 inches high), and cheap. It will last you a long time; well worth the price of admission.
13. The Best BBQ Skewers - HOPELF 12" Natural Bamboo Skewers
Bamboo skewers are one of those nice items everyone should keep around the house for a rainy day (metaphorically). They’re probably not something you’re going to be using all the time, but when you need them they’re a life saver.
Skewers can be used for a lot of different dishes, most notably kebabs (vegetable, meat, or mixed), but also a number of other things like fondues or just grilling fish or chicken strips over a fire, maybe to do something else with later (like teriyaki chicken skewers).
You might not think there can be a lot of difference between different kind of skewers, but there are some nuances to keep in mind. Skewers should be pretty thick; thin skewers snap easily. They need to be fairly long as well, with sharp “chamfered” (sloped) points. They should not be square; square skewers are terrible for skewering things.
These Hopelf skewers are exactly what I look for, while being very cheap and coming in a huge bundle, so they’re one of my go to brands for when I eventually run out of each pack.
14. The Best BBQ Claws - The Original Bear Paws Shredder Claws
When I initially heard about Bear paws, I thought they were a gimmick item. They look goofy, and seem like one of those kitchen gadgets designed to waste your money on something for only one task, like a banana slicer or something.
But then I started experimenting with making more pulled meats. Pork, chicken, beef, it all got the pulled treatment at some point. And I learned real quick that doing it with these claws was way easier than doing it by hand.
They’re sharp, easy (and fun!) to use, are pretty cost effective, wear out very slowly, and make your life so much easier it can’t be overstated.
If you make a lot of pulled meats it will save you an extraordinary amount of time to use shredder claws; even subpar ones.
But if you want the best, it’s better to go with the original rather than some subpar knockoffs, and for that reason the Original Bear Paws get my stamp of approval. They’re thick, they’re sturdy, they’re sharp, and they stand the test of time, all while being supremely affordable.
15. The Best Rib Rack - Sorbus Non-Stick Rib Rack
Rib racks aren’t the kind of product you’re likely to think about unprompted. A lot of the time, if you have a big enough grill, cooking ribs by just throwing them on and letting them sizzle real slow for a while works fine.
But that “if you have a big enough grill” caveat is the big one. If you’re cooking with a s mall round grill, you need something to make those ribs more compact. Even if you’ve got a good sized grill, you may just want to make more efficient use of your space when you’re cooking a variety of foods for large crowds of people.
Rib racks let you stand up individual portions of ribs in a smaller total space. It increases ventilation too, ensuring an even cook and dripping of juices into the grease trap.
A rib rack isn’t at the top of my list of “must buy grilling gadgets”, but it’s a great item to have if you’re looking to make the most of your grill, and these Sorbus non-stick rib racks are a great example of what to look for; stainless steel, sturdy, easy to clean, and with plenty of space to put a whole rack cut into big meaty quarters.
16. The Best Drip Pan - Weber 6415 Aluminum Drip Pans
Aluminum drip pans are something not everyone is going to need, but if you need them you REALLY need them. A lot of grills come with included drip pans. The ones that don’t have to make do with temporary solutions or just letting it splatter everywhere, resulting in messy cleanup after cooking.
When you’re looking to buy a disposable drip pan you want something cheap, but tough. Good aluminum, thick, with thickly rolled edges and just good all around construction. It needs to have good sized dimensions too, to both hold a lot of volume while fitting within or below most standard grills.
As usual, Weber knows their business here, selling a line of aluminum drip pans for all types of grills. They’re big and sturdy enough to take up a lot of grease and hold it for you to dump out later without bending or bowing too much in the middle, making it awkward to carry. There’s plenty of other drip pans on the market, but these are by far some of the best you can find, especially for the price.
17. The Best Chimney Starter - Weber 7429 Rapid Fire Chimney Starter
Even for experienced grillers, starting a fire in your grill can sometimes be a huge pain. Sometimes it’s a struggle to light the charcoal or wood without having to resort to squirting too much lighter fluid on, or being frustrated with the wind for a while when you really just want to get started. Sometimes patience is key, but if there’s a device that could help you out, why not use it?
Enter the chimney starter, which is a simple but ingenious device. It lets you stack your wood or charcoal in a thin, wind protected chute that keeps everything nice and tight. You simply put a little starter in the bottom (some paper works, or dedicated fire starter cubes if you have some), fill the chimney with charcoal or wood (usually the coal; it works the best), light it, and wait until the charcoal or wood is nicely smoldering. Then pour it into the bottom of your grill and go to work!
This Weber chimney starter is the perfect example, with a sturdy construction, wide holes for your lighter or matches to light it from the bottom, and a comfortable heat resistant handle on the s ide for easy pouring and safe hands. It even come sin multiple sizes, in case you have an especially small grill you still want to use the chimney starter for, though filling the chimney less full works just as well.
18. The Best Digital Meat Thermometer - ThermoPro TP-20 TP20 Wireless Remote
Meat thermometers are a necessary for accurate cooking. People often refer to cooking as more art than science, which is true…to a point. But the fact remains that there is plenty of science within cooking to keep in mind, and a very important one when cooking meat is that there is an optimal (and safe to eat) temperature for any meat you decide to cook. Having an accurate way to read or keep track of that temperature is key, especially for large cuts of meat. Just winging it can at worst be dangerous, and for another bad case scenario, leave you with an overcooked cut of meat.
Meat thermometers come in two main types: spot read (or instant read) thermometers, and long term temperature monitors. The former are good, especially for things like roasts or whole chickens that you have a rough idea of how long it will take them to cook. But especially toward the end of cooking, it can be tedious to read multiple times as your food gets within a couple of degrees of cooking.
Enter the long term thermometer, with long needles and remote monitoring capabilities. You stick them in the meat and just let them read the temperature for you for however many hours it might take to finish. Among the bets of these is Thermo Pro’s TP-20 thermometer, which has top quality in all areas: construction, durability, convenience, and ease of use. It has all of the other meat thermometers on the market beat.
19. The Best BBQ Temperature Controller - Flame Boss 500-WiFi Smoker Controller
Up there with the meat thermometer, a smoker controller is one of the most important gadgets you want to get if your grill and smoker doesn’t come equipped with one by default.
Just like a meat probe lets you monitor the interior heat of your meat, a smoker controller lets you monitor and control the interior temperature of your smoker itself.
Smokers can be fiddly, fluctuating wildly in temperature sometimes based on how much smoke you want to let in or out, the fire flaring as more oxygen is added to the system, or receding as less comes in and what’s in there is burned up.
A smoker controller is deceptively simple, going over your smoker’s vents and adding a fan into the mix, keeping track of the internal temperature and automatically adding more air into the grill if it falls below the specified temperature, or shutting the vents and letting it burn off a bit if it goes above whatever you’ve set it to.
Flame Boss practically has the market cornered for these gizmos, and the 500 is the best they have, being cost efficient while giving you excellent performance in an easy to use package.
20. The Best Himalayan Salt Plate - Charcoal Companion CC6036 Himalayan Salt Plate
We’ve looked at grill mats and grill planks today, so why not take a quick look at their weird cousin: the salt plate.
It is exactly what it sounds like. A big block of salt you can use as a plate for cold food, or even as a kind of grilling plank.
It’s not as weird as it looks if you think about it. Despite how it’s usually presented to us, salt is a hard mineral, not just a powder. And like most stones, it is excellent at retaining heat.
It takes a bit of time to heat up, but once it does it is a brilliant cooking surface for all sorts of foods; vegetables and seafood most commonly, but anything you’d care to cook on a stone is good as well.
The food does not need to be pre-salted, as you might imagine. During cooking, some of the salt will leach into the food you’re cooking and flavor it, and the better the salt the better the flavor you’ll get, hence why most of these are made of the good pink Himalayan stuff.
This particular one is good sized, very thick, and made of top quality salt. What’s not to love?
All of these products are great; the best in their respective categories I can find. While you may not need all of these accessories at once, they’re all something that every avid griller should at least consider buying over the lifetime of their grill.