“It’s the poor craftsman who blames his tools.” -Dad
This is a saying my dad uses whenever I begin to complain about any product, whether it is the dullness of the carving knife on Thanksgiving or the lawnmower not starting on a cold day.
While that saying might apply if you’re building something with hammer and nails, it doesn’t quite extend to grills and grilling tools. Sorry, Dad.
In the grill world, quality tools do matter. Even if you are a pro pit master, you are only going to get so far with low-grade tools.
In fact, quality tools can make up quite a bit of ground for rookies with less-than-pro skills and help you keep from charring the bejeezus out of your steaks. Of course, an ice cold beer helps too.
To get you started, below are the tools I use and love at home.
The Weber Spirit is the grill I own and use every week. I LOVE this machine and can’t rave about it enough. It is easy to use, offers a lot of heat and gives me just enough control over the grilling process.
It offers 2 powerful burners (with the option to upgrade to a third) that are positioned in such a way that they circulate heat evenly within the grill, heating its porcelain enamel cast iron cooking grates consistetly. Maybe 26,500 BTUs doesn’t make it the fire breathing dragon that some big grill maniacs might want, but brewing up heat from 0 to 500+ degrees in 10 minutes or less is something to grab a beer over. I really love how fast it heats up and that even with just two burners it really feels like a small portable kitchen. It offers 450 square inches of cook space, enough to hold 20+ pounds of meat and still cook other stuff at the same time- grilled zucchini is a favorite at my house. On top of that, it comes with reasonably-sized side tables on both sides (more room to layout food), that fold down for easy storage.
This is a great pick for smaller spaces. I originally purcased it when living in my condo, but even after moving to a house with a big backyard, I haven’t felt a big need to upgrade, it performs that well. It also looks good while doing it. The top of the grill is housed by a stainless steel shroud that has a thermometer positioned in the center for a clear view of the inside temperature.
I grill chicken for my wife’s lunches every week and cook dinner on my Weber 3-4 times a week 8 months out of the year. It gets a lot of use and still exceeds my expectations.
While I’m a big fan of the gas grill, I grew up helping my Dad grill on charcoal and the Weber Original Kettle is a classic. You know how women swear by the power of the little black dress (my wife is always on about this)? Well, we have the little black Weber. This is a grill to swear by.
The Original Kettle is no frills, but it is simple to use, distributes heat surprisingly evenly given the basic design, and cooks meat with that iconic, smoky flavor. It’s also easy on the wallet, straightforward to clean and doesn’t require much in terms of prior knowledge. If you’re looking for a basic go-to charcoal grill, you fail with the Weber.
The Weber Summit is the next grill that I’ll own. This is my wishlist grill and pretty much the only thing I could be convinced to give up my Weber Spirit for.
The Summit is a beast and makes anything else in it’s price and spec range look a little lackluster. It is massive, offering 580 square inches of cook space and 4 powerful burners with 48,000 BTUs. I’m especially crazy about the convenient pop up side burner for cooking sauces or small sides. The rear-mounted rotisserie burner is pretty sweet too. But what really sets this grill apart from comparable models is the quality of the materials used and the overall durability. Webers are built to last and the Summit is made from a ton of stainless steel, including the burner tubes which is where you can run into trouble as your grill ages and has weathered a lot of use.
This is a great pick if you have the space and the budget and a crowd of hungry friends and family ready to line up for your burger assembly line.
When you’re grilling, you always need two things: a cold drink and your 3 piece grill tools.
For the newbie grillers out there, you may be asking: Why do I need special spatulas, tons and a mega sized fork just for grilling? Aren’t these just larger versions of things I already have in my kitchen?
Two things: 1) Those smaller versions in your kitchen aren’t really yours, those belong to your wife, who more than likely feels pretty strongly about you charring and beating them up on the grill – trust me on this, you don’t want to go there, 2) The indoor kitchen tools aren’t made to withstand the heat and abuse they will take from outdoor cooking. They aren’t as sturdy, heat resistant and they don’t allow you to keep a safe distance away from the hottest parts of the grill. Those tools will eff you up.
Do yourself a favor, shell out the extra $30 and pick up the Weber stainless steel set. I use these EVERY TIME I grill and I have never regretted it. They allow me to grill without burning myself carelessly, they help me maneuvre whatever I’m cooking easily and they can handle some neglect. I got distracted and left mine outside in the rain and then the hot sun for a week after a family party and they were good as new after a run through the dishwasher. They also won’t break the bank and they look good hanging from your grill.
I love the genius of this cleaning brush. You might be thinking, what’s the big deal about a grill brush?
Um, have you every cleaned a charred up and greasy grill? It’s a pain in the ass. This brush cuts down the work by more than half and makes it really easy to get all the gross burned bits off your grill grates. It combines 3 brushes in one and swivels 360 degrees so you can really get in all the nooks and crannies. Flat brushes aren’t able to get in and around the grates on my Weber and leave the grill only partially cleaned which would drive me crazy. For being so sturdy, it is also gentle enough on my Weber to not damage the plated grates and removes only the stuff I don’t want on there.
I’ve used inferior brushes that leave bristles in the grill, rub too much on the grates or are just wholly ineffective at dislodging grill gunk. It took me a few tries to find this one, but now I don’t use anything else. It also goes through the dishwasher like a champ, bonus!
While I enjoy making my own rubs as much as the next guy, sometimes I want something easy and proven to be a winner. I am obsessed with the rub set from the BBQ Bros. All three are solid choices, none of them overly salty or sweet and just the right amount of mild spice. The company promotes them for ribs, but I use them on chicken every week and my wife loves them. We always run out of the New Orleans first because that’s our chicken go-to.
My tip: don’t be shy when rubbing your meat, I’ve seen grillers be too cautious when applying their rub and the flavor suffers, these rubs work best when a generous amount is applied, but that said, don’t go crazy, you don’t need to dump a third of the bottle on there.
I know the name is a little crazy, but this BBQ sauce is ADDICTIVE. If you’re a fan of sweet barbecue sauce, put down the corn syrupy Masterpiece from the grocery store and get serious. Pappy’s is the real deal. On the bottle it says “All the love you’ll ever need” and Pappy is right. If you never have another sauce again for the rest of your life, you can die happy having tasted this one.
I went to Austin, Texas last year and sampled A LOT of barbecue, the best barbecue I’ve ever had in my whole life, actually, and Pappy’s can hang with the authentic stuff I had down there. It isn’t spicy, but has that great mild sizzle that is the hallmark of a great barbecue sauce. It’s one that literally anyone can enjoy and a great crowdpleaser for parties.
You shouldn’t be surprised that Pappy’s is also my go-to for spicy barbecue sauce. Like the sweet, it is addictive and an instant favorite. I like this because it isn’t blow out your taste buds spicy. It is definitely hot, but I can still enjoy the flavor of my food and I don’t need to drink a glass of water with every bite. Don’t get me wrong, you have to like hot foods to enjoy this, it’s by no means a medium spice-level, but it’s a good one for the hotheads in your life.