Before you fire up your grill, make sure your outdoor kitchen is stocked and ready with these must-have grill accessories. 

A woman is preparing food on a barbecue grill.

Save This Guide ✉️

Enter your email below, and I’ll send this guide straight to your inbox.

Plus, I’ll send you great new recipes fresh outta the oven.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Alright, you’ve picked out the best grill for your backyard, and now you’re ready to invest in the tools that will help you grill like a pro all season long. Well, with over a decade at the grill and thousands of fires managed, we’ve tested just about every tool you can imagine. And here’s what makes our cut.

There is no need to overdo it with grilling utensils. Sure, you can buy some fancy kits with a collection of grill tools, but all you really need is a long-handled spatula, a pair of tongs with long handles, a quality meat thermometer, a sharp chef’s knife, and a few other essentials. Once you have these tools, you’ll be a seasoned grill master in no time. 


Rule number one for getting the best flavor out of your grilled steaks and literally everything else is to ditch the lighter fluid. The chemicals don’t help you create an even burn and the flavor can transfer to your food. Gross. This is also why buying real hardwood charcoal without chemicals is a must for the best flavor. Now that we got that out of the way…

Fire starters are often overlooked but crucial for hassle-free grilling sessions. There are several factors to consider when choosing fire starters, including their ability to ignite quickly, burn consistently, and produce minimal smoke.

Opt for high-quality fire starters made from natural materials, such as wood shavings or paraffin wax, to avoid harmful chemicals and ensure a clean burn. We love using Cowboy Woven Wood Firestarters as they’re made with raw wood without any chemicals or toxic ingredients. 


If you’re a fan of grilling with charcoal grills, a charcoal chimney starter should be at the top of the list.

Here’s why: Firstly, a chimney starter provides a quick and efficient way to light charcoal without the need for lighter fluid, which can impart unwanted flavors to your food. Learn how to use a charcoal chimney to light your charcoal quickly every time.

Secondly, its sturdy metal construction ensures durability and longevity, withstanding high temperatures for countless grilling sessions. Lastly, the chimney design promotes even heating of the charcoal, resulting in more consistent and predictable grilling temperatures, allowing you to achieve perfect sears and deliciously grilled meats every time.

Don’t stress over this purchase, you will buy a new one every summer grilling season.


A grill brush is a must-have tool for any griller, essential for keeping your grill clean and well-maintained. With sturdy bristles and a long handle, it effectively removes residue and prevents cross-contamination, ensuring safe and delicious grilled meals every time.

Look for a brush with a polypropylene handle for durability and heat resistance, and make it a regular part of your grilling routine to prolong the life of your grill and enhance your cooking experience. We love the Kona grill brush for wiping down the grill grates between cooks. The bristles are designed to not break off, which is safer for your food.

Our favorite grill brush isn’t actually a brush, but a ‘stone.’ We tested the Earthstone Grill Cleaning block a couple of years ago, and now it’s our go-to tool at the start of the season and monthly as we’re cleaning the grill to make our grill grates shine like new!

The stone breaks down to from the shape of your grill grates as you rub it over them, getting them as clean as they can possibly be. We get one, maybe two uses out of each cleaning block, but in our opinion, it’s worth every penny.

Grilled corn on the cob in the husks.


If they don’t double click with ease, are they even grilling tongs?

There is quite a bit of variety when it comes to tongs. You’ll want to test a pair out to see what’s most comfortable for you.

First, look at the tips of the tongs. They can have scalloped edges to softly grip food or more pointy edges for a secure grip. A good pair of tongs offers both options, and you can flip them to whichever grip you prefer at the moment.

The other end of a pair of tongs includes a locking mechanism with a spring that keeps them opened when unlocked. This may seem like such a simple feature, but the lock is the most abused tool in our grilling toolkit. If our tongs don’t open and close easily with a hip bump, they are tossed out immediately.

There are three common locking styles:

  • The first is a piece of metal that pulls out to unlock the tongs and pushes back in to lock them closed.
  • The second locking style is a piece of metal that slides over the full set of tongs. When it’s pulled toward the handle, the tongs open, and when it’s pushed toward the tips, they close.
  • The third type of locking mechanism is a lever on the end of the tongs. We use these grilling tongs every day in the Girl Carnivore Meat Lab. The lever allows you to open or close them with one hand. Just hold the tongs and press the lever against your leg to unlock them.

Although not as common today, scissor-handled tongs are also available. These don’t lock at all. They open and close manually and don’t have the pressure of a spring. These are the kind you find in the back of your dad’s junk drawer. Do yourself a favor and throw them away.

The last primary feature of a set of tongs is how wide they open. Make sure they open wide enough to help you grab the food, not grapple it.

Girl Carnivore Pro Tip

If you’re cooking on a charcoal grill, have 3 pairs of tongs.

  • One for raw meat
  • One for cooked meat
  • And one to move coals or smoking wood around with ease.

Then, you don’t need to stress about cross-contamination or dirty tongs while manning the grill.

Spatula flipping a burger on a griddle.

GRILL SPATULAS: buy two, you’ll need them

When looking for a spatula, there are four things to consider: length, strong construction, a wide head, and an easy-grip handle. If it has a hook to hang it on your grill, that’s a bonus, too. You also want a spatula with a polypropylene handle rather than a plastic handle. Polypropylene can withstand temperatures of up to 450ºF, which is perfect for any of your grilling recipes

The reason length is important is that it’s best to keep your hands far from the heat of the grill when you’re flipping and rotating food. Grill tools that are at least 16 inches long give you added safety. 

To test the construction strength, try to bend the spatula. If you feel too much give, pass. A weak spatula won’t hold up to big, heavy pieces of meat. This Oxo Good Grips Spatula is a go-to when grilling.

When looking at the head size, consider what you’ll be cooking. Most grill spatulas are wide enough for flipping burgers. If you plan to flip large pieces of grilled fish or grilled whole chicken, get a second spatula with a larger head. Again, make sure it’s strong and high quality. 


There are three types of gloves that are essential when grilling. Alright, really there is one that is most important… heat gloves. BUT, if you want to make cleanup a breeze, three.

First, a good pair of heat gloves is a must. They’ll protect your hands while you use grill tools, such as when reaching toward the fire or coals. They’re also great when you want to grab a hot pan or a grill grate. We are guilty of often forgetting these and regretting it promptly 0.0004 seconds after touching a seasoned cast iron skillet that’s been preheating over the grill more often than not…. Pretty sure it’s on a lot of blooper reels somewhere.

The second super helpful pair of gloves is nitrile gloves. Wait, what?! Hear us out: nitrile is a synthetic rubber that’s stronger than latex and resists punctures. These are what we use when we’re running live fires and cooking for huge events like SmokeSlam so we don’t have to wash our hands every 14 seconds.

They really come in handy when touching raw meat.

Wear the gloves, prep your meat, and take the gloves off. Your bare hands will be free of contaminants, so you can continue cooking without having to run inside to wash them. These gloves should fit pretty tightly without being loose or baggy, which can be a knife hazard. When we’re cooking over live fire at events with hundreds of people, we buy these by the box.

The last pair of gloves are glove liners. Some pitmasters call them hand savers or hot hands. These are knit cotton gloves that are worn under the nitrile gloves. They provide a barrier so you can touch hot food without burning yourself.

They don’t replace heat gloves because they’re not as heat resistant, and the outer nitrile gloves will melt if you grab a hot grill grate. But they’re excellent for shredding Carolina pulled pork and tossing that vinegar mop in while it’s still piping hot.

If you plan to use these under your nitrile gloves, you’ll want to size up your nitrile gloves one size so they fit. yes, that means, buy two sizes of nitrile gloves. Don’t worry; these will last the whole summer grilling season unless you do lots of live-fire events like us.

When buying glove liners, look for ones to match your hand size, and choose a pair made of knit cotton, not synthetic materials. Glove liners made of polyester can melt when exposed to high heat. Bonus, you can wash cotton gloves and use them again.

Bbq ribs in the oven with a thermometer.


To succeed at grilling and barbecuing, you must understand proper finished cooking temperatures. This not only ensures your food is cooked through and safe to eat, but it also makes sure your food isn’t overcooked, so it’s nice and juicy. Especially when you’re dealing with smaller pieces of meat like grilled chicken breast or grilled pork chops. These can dry out quickly if cooked for too long. And if you like your steak cooked to a certain doneness, having a trusty meat thermometer can ensure you get that perfect steak temperature every time. 

The best tool for measuring this is a digital meat thermometer. There are a few different styles, and they vary in price.

The most trusted digital meat thermometer is a Thermapen One made by Thermoworks. It’s a handheld precision tool that will give you an accurate reading of your food in just one second and the only brand we use in the Girl Carnivore Meat Labs for accurate results.

There are other brands on the market that offer the same basic technology, but they are not as precise, nor as fast. Keep in mind, a lot of knock-off brands try to sell similar looking models on Amazon. Thermoworks is NOT on Amazon so do not get duped. Subscribe to their email list for the best prices and deals.

“When it comes to arming yourself with the grill tools you need, it’s best not to overthink it, but also, not to skimp. Quality will last. I love my Thermapen instant-read meat thermometer, a great set of long tongs, a good sharp knife and all-natural fuel. I love Cowboy all-natural charcoal and their fire starters so my food always has the great flavor of wood and not chemical lighter fluid.”

– Kita Roberts, Girl Carnivore

Instead of using a handheld thermometer that requires you to probe your meat over and over, you can also use a probe or leave-in meat thermometer. These are ideal for larger pieces of meat like smoked brisket or smoked pork shoulder.

To use this type of thermometer, you insert the probe through the side into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone. The probe has a wire that runs out of the grill and into the thermometer that provides the instant reading. Some grills come with a built-in thermometer using this same technology.

There are also wireless thermometers on the market that send a signal to your phone. Their accuracy varies, depending on how thick the walls of your grill are and how far you are from your grill.

Woman holding a skillet of grilled brownies.
Yes, you can even bake on your grill.

Heavy Duty Cast Iron

A grill can be so much more than just a grill when you add versatility with a good cast iron skillet. Cast iron is ideal for grilling because it can withstand direct heat. And if you’re a fan of Girl Carnivore, you know we use it daily.

By placing a skillet directly on the grill grate, you turn your grill into a stovetop. If you cook over gas, adjust the burner temp for the recipe you’re cooking. When cooking over charcoal, vary the amount of coal under the grate to vary the temperature. Remember, cast iron holds heat! So you may need to move it from the hot to cool side of the grill as you’re cooking.

When looking for a cast iron skillet, consider the size of your grill. If you have a smaller round grill, a cast iron skillet with a long handle probably won’t work because the lid won’t be able to close.

Our Favorite Cast Iron Skillets

We use cast iron in the Girl Carnivore Meat Lab daily and outside when camping. These are the ones we reach for every time:

For grilling and camping: You can’t beat a Lodge 10″ cast iron skillet. It’s durable, easy to clean, and the perfect tool for most standard-sized grills.

For around the house: We love our enamel-coated Le Creuset Cast Iron skillet for pretty much everything else. If cleaned and seasoned properly, this skillet will last for generations.

Learn how to season a cast iron skillet and how to clean a cast iron to keep it shining like new and non-stick every time you use it.

Fortunately, you can find cast iron skillets with two smaller side handles. A 12-inch skillet will fit on almost any backyard grill and is great for reverse-seared steaks or for sautéing veggies.

Once you start grilling with cast iron, you’ll probably want to add a griddle for griddle burgers and a sauce pot for boiling rice or pasta or for making sauces.

When you’re done cooking, be sure to clean your cast iron properly so it’s ready for your next meal.

“In the heat of the summer, I hate to turn on my stove and oven and make my hot house even hotter. I love to use my grill to cook and bake some of my favorite dishes outside. By using grill-safe dishes like a cast iron skillet, I can turn my grill into a stovetop or oven and make everything from pizza to roast potatoes and so much more.” – Michelle Price, Honest and Truly

DURABLE APRON: Not fashionable, but handy

Not a necessity, but certainly a nice to have.

When searching for an apron for grilling, there are a few key factors to keep in mind. Firstly, durability is paramount; look for aprons made from sturdy materials like heavy-duty canvas or denim that can withstand the rigors of outdoor cooking.

Additionally, adjustable straps and multiple pockets are invaluable features, providing a comfortable fit and convenient storage for utensils or towels while grilling. Opting for an apron with reinforced stitching and heat-resistant properties adds an extra layer of protection, ensuring you stay comfortable and safe while manning the grill.

But we aren’t going to lie—as the creators of GIRL Carnivore, finding a flattering apron that is also durable seems like tracking down the door to Narnia. To get the job done, we usually flip men’s canvas aprons in half and double-wrap the ties.


A carving knife isn’t just for carving a turkey on Thanksgiving. You can use it for slicing your freshly grilled flank steak like a pro against the grain for a more tender bite. 

When selecting a carving knife for grilling, several factors should be considered. Firstly, opt for a knife with a long blade to effortlessly slice through large cuts of meat like brisket or prime rib.

Look for a sturdy construction to ensure durability and longevity, as grilling often involves handling heavier meats. Additionally, choose a knife with an ergonomic handle for a comfortable grip during prolonged use. How a knife feels in your hand is one of the most important components of proper knife skills.


When it comes to grilling, a carving board is an essential tool for any grill master.

There are several factors to consider when choosing the right carving board, including size, material, and stability. Opt for a carving board that is large enough to accommodate the size of your grilled meats, like a big grilled prime rib, and sturdy enough to withstand the pressure of carving.

Additionally, choose a material like bamboo or hardwood that is durable material and resistant to knife marks. If you’re investing in a thicker end grain cutting board, make sure it has a groove to help catch the juices to minimize mess.

We use wood carving boards when slicing cooked grilled meats and light plastic dishwasher-safe cutting boards when cutting up whole chicken or raw meat, such as spatchcocking a chicken.


Should I just buy a grill tool set?

You could, but we’ve found that the tools included aren’t as high quality as buying them individually. You’re basically paying for the fancy box. Which, are you really going to use?

​What’s the best grill?

If you’re looking for a new grill, check out our 2024 guide for our choice of the best grills, whether you’re searching for a gas, charcoal, or pellet grill!

If you equip yourself with these essential grill tools, you’ll unlock the secrets to grilling perfection.

If you’re taking your grilling on the road, be sure to check out these five smart tips for setting up a camping kitchen.

This post was originally written by Christie Vanover a championship pitmaster and certified barbecue judge from Las Vegas. She’s cooked on dozens of grills, including the nearly 30 in her backyard. She shares her expertise in grilling and barbecuing through her website, Additionally, Christie has developed her own line of award-winning rubs that are sold internationally.

This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

Categories: , ,

Well, Hey, Y’all.

Kita is a multi-talented individual, boasting numerous accomplishments such as being an award-winning recipe developer, world-traveled professional photographer, and journalist. As the lead creative force behind Girl Carnivore®, she is widely recognized as an authority on all things meat.


Signup and get free recipes sent to your inbox every week!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *