Once you’ve got yourself a really good barbecue, having a few simple tools will make grilling or smoking on it so much easier. From chimney starters to cleaning your grill, these are the basic must-have barbecue accessories that will help you to be a better cook.
The best and easiest way to get your charcoal going quickly and evenly without using lighter fluid is by using a chimney starter. Look for one that’s made from a quality, rust-resistant metal and has a heat resistant handle.
Our favorite chimney starter by far, is the Weber 7416 Rapidfire Chimney Starter. Made from aluminized steel with a stay-cool thermoplastic handle, it’s normal for these inexpensive barbecue tools to last for 10+ years. They’ve got a larger than normal capacity so you can get plenty of charcoal going at once (up to about 80 briquets). It’s also got a cool, conical wire grid inside that holds up the charcoal and lets it vent enough to burn quickly and evenly. The heat shield and wire helper handle also makes it super easy to dump the coals once they’re going.
When you’re barbecuing, it’s more about how hot the meat is rather than how long it’s been in there. Keep yourself from serving overcooked, dry food or risking it with ‘it looks about right’, barely cooked meats by getting a meat thermometer.
There’s a huge range of differently priced thermometers for barbecuing out there. The most basic are the dial type and range all the way up to professional digital thermometers that don’t even require you to lift the lid. [Learn more about which meat thermometers are the best here].
But, if you’re looking for something inexpensive but effective, we like the Lavatools PT12. It reads anything from about -40°F to 482°F in 4-5 seconds with about 1°F accuracy and folds away nicely to fit in your apron pocket.
Or, for completely wireless monitoring without having to touch the barbecue, grab the ThermoPro TP20. It’s easy to set up, is automatically programmed with preset USDA approved doneness levels for all types of meat and has a programmable time or temperature alarm.
There’s no substitute for a quality, heavy-guage metal spatula for grilling or smoking. Look for something with a wide blade to flip larger pieces of meat and a sturdy handle that’s strong enough to lift their weight.
Try Cave Tool’s Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Wide Grilling Turner for a solid, barbecue-worthy spatula that’s also dishwasher safe.
Always have a pair of heavy-duty barbecuing tongs on hand to go with your spatula too. They’re great for flipping meat and moving hot coals and logs when you haven’t got your gloves on. Look for a pair that are really strong, comfortable to hold and easy to clean.
We like the length of the Outset QB22 Stainless Steel Tongs with Wooden Handle. Or, grab yourself a set of heavy-duty tongs with a spatula made by the always comfortable and easy to use, OXO Good Grips brand.
Silicone Basting Brush
Forget natural or nylon bristles! In my experience, silicone brushes are by far the best option for this one of our must-have barbecue accessories. They’re great at picking up loads of sauce to baste your meet evenly and are easy to clean afterwards (dishwasher safe). They’re also more hygienic than some of the natural options that seem almost impossible to fully clean.
Although you might already have a silicon pastry brush in your kitchen, we totally recommend grabbing the Long-Angled Handle BBQ Grill Basting Brush by Backyard Dudes. Because of its long handle, you can stay further away from the heat and it’s resistant to up to 500°F. Each pack also contains two basting brushes so you’ll be able to start with one for the meats and another for the vegetables. Simply chuck them in the dishwasher to clean.
It’s pretty awesome to be able to put a pair of barbecue gloves on to easily lift hot grates or move burning coals or wood around. They’re far easier to use than mitt-style options as you can still actually move your fingers. Invest in a quality pair that’ll last and keep your hands safe from burns while barbecuing.
The G&F 8115 Leather BBQ Glove is a great choice. Made from genuine cow leather with a 100% cotton lining, they’re heat resistant, long-lasting and comfortable.
If you want to cook smaller things like sliced vegetables, nuts or diced meat, having a grill basket will make life so much easier! Instead of losing your food to the fire below, simply throw it in the basket and place on your regular racks. And, because you can cook your sides on the barbecue too, you won’t even have to keep running inside and out to coordinate the whole meal.
This professional grade, stainless steel Weber Grill Basket is perfect for any sort of barbecue (just make sure it’s the right size). The holes in it will even help the smoke filter through while the flat surface will make sure you food browns nicely.
Cast Iron Griddle Pan
If you like cooking things like fish, grilled sandwiches, veggies, eggs, pancakes or want to reverse sear meat, a cast iron griddle is another of our must-have barbecue accessories. Simply coat with a thin layer of oil, heat on top of your regular racks and you’ll be able to sear almost anything.
They’re a versatile piece of equipment you can use elsewhere too. Take it inside and use over your regular stove, or place it over an open fire to cook while camping.
Our all-time favorite griddle is the Lodge Cast Iron Reversible Griddle. It’s large enough to suit most barbecue enthusiasts, distributes the heat so evenly and features both a flat and ridged surface so you can cook pancakes or create gorgeous grill marks on a steak. They’re virtually indestructible too. With a bit care they’ll literally last a lifetime.
Word of warning though, as cast iron can hold onto smells, you might want a couple; one for fish and one for everything else. And, once you’ve used something made by Lodge, like us, you’ll be addicted and want the rest of the range too! A grill press for sandwiches and bacon, a round griddle for barbecuing pizzas, a biscuit pan and a regular skillet too…
Barbecue Cleaning Tool
If you don’t clean your barbecue often enough or well enough, rancid grease and oil will start to make your food taste pretty bad. So, regardless of what type of barbecue you buy, you’ll need the right tool to make cleaning it fast and easy.
Recently, there’s been a bit of publicity regarding bristle-type barbecue brushes. Even better-quality ones will, over time, start to degrade and fall out making it possible for metal bristles to be left on the grill and eventually be ingested which at worst, can result in death.
So, if you’re after a safer style of barbecue cleaning tool, we love The Great Scrape Woody Paddle. Made from pure oak, it’s super easy to use. Simply run the paddle back and forth across the barbecue grates to remove any residue. The wood will naturally wear down, leaving groves that easily clean the sides of your grates too.
Another great option is the CharGon Grill Pro’s Cleaner. This solid metal, stick type tool effectively cleans the top, sides and bottom of each rod. It does, however, take a little longer than the paddle-style cleans but generally does an even better job.