Shopping for Grilling Tools

If you’re planning to do some grilling this summer, you’ll need the right tools. Here are the basics.

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With the loosening of pandemic-related restrictions, many Americans will gather around an outdoor grill this weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July, deploying an arsenal of grilling tools to barbecue burgers, steaks and vegetables.

But which tools are actually essential?

“It really is trial and error, and understanding what you need to be successful,” said Derek Wolf, an open-fire cooking enthusiast in Nashville and the author of “Food by Fire.”

“You can spend hundreds — or thousands — of dollars on gear, setting yourself up,” Mr. Wolf said, but most people don’t need an elaborate collection of utensils.

His list of requirements includes a good pair of tongs, a grill brush and a thermometer — and, for the hands-on pitmaster, perhaps a pair of welding gloves.

“At the end of the day, you can cook with nothing more than charcoal and your hand, if you’re not afraid of flipping a steak,” Mr. Wolf said. “And I’ve got plenty of friends who do that schtick.”

How long should tool handles be? Although some grilling tools are so long they resemble yardsticks, Mr. Wolf said, “I personally like medium-size ones” — around 16 inches long — “mostly because the closer I am to the meat, the more control I have over it.”

Do you really need a thermometer? “If you’re not cooking to temp, you always run the risk of either overcooking or undercooking your food,” he said, which can be disappointing and even dangerous.

What kind of grill brush is best? Mr. Wolf likes metal brushes, but loose bristles can be a hazard. To knock any broken bristles off the grill, sweep it with a scrunched up piece of aluminum foil after brushing, he suggested, or use a bristle-free brush.

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Quad Spring Safety Double-Helix Bristle-Free BBQ Brush

Bristle-free metal grill-cleaning brush

About $19 at Brushtech: 518-563-2401 or brushtechbrushes.com

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Tail-Gater Three-Piece Barbecue Set With Bag

Stainless-steel tools with walnut handles and brass rivets

About $65 at Lamson: 413-642-8135 or lamsonproducts.com

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BBQ Croc Tongs

Aluminum tongs with coated handles

From $16.50 at Lee Valley: 800-871-8158 or leevalley.com

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Ash Four-Piece Grill Set

Stainless-steel tools with pakka-wood handles and storage box

About $100 at Schmidt Brothers: 201-666-3717 or schmidtbrothers.com

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iGrill 2

Thermometer with smartphone app

About $100 at Weber: 800-446-1071 or weber.com

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