Best Grill Tools of 2021
The Alpha Grillers Heavy Duty BBQ Tool Set is a purposefully designed kit built to last. This is a no-frills set of essentials, and the tools are constructed with heavy-gauge stainless steel. Although many companies advertise "heavy-duty," this is the only set we tested that is cast thick enough not to flex or bend. The handles are backed with ergonomic rubber grips that conform nicely to the natural contour of the fingers, and although they don't come with a case, these tools do have large hanging loops.
We had no complaints with the well-refined design of the fork, spatula, and basting brush. However, we have a couple of criticisms of the tongs — unfortunate, considering tongs are the most often used tool when cooking over an open flame. While all of the other tools measure 18 inches, for some reason, the tongs are shorter at only 15 inches. The locking mechanism on the tongs in our set was a bit loose and actually snapped into action randomly while we were using them. If these simple issues can be resolved, this will be the definitive grill set.
Tools Included: Tongs (locking), spatula, fork, basting brush
The Home-Complete 16-Piece Stainless Steel Set lives up to its name: it is a complete set of grill tools that includes everything you need to get grilling. The first notable difference is that this set excludes an oversized fork — which is, as far as we can tell, a useless tool that should never come into contact with your grilled meats. Secondly, the tongs have a unique "clamshell" shape, which gives you more surface area for easier gripping and flipping. Another important design point is that the stainless-steel neck of these utensils extends all the way back into their grip, improving both strength and durability — especially when compared to wood handle grips secured with rivets, which can come loose over time.
While the Home-Complete set may be more durable than others, these full stainless steel tools still aren't quite as heavy-duty as we would like. The grill brush would certainly benefit from some extra heft, as the flat stainless-steel neck flexes under the pressure necessary to scrub a grill clean. The tongs are well-suited to handle multiple kitchen duties, but since they don't include a locking mechanism, we'll be limiting them to outside use. Even though all of these tools are on the shorter side — they have an average length of only 14 inches — we still found ourselves reaching time and again for their aluminum case when it came time for grilling.
Tools Included: Tongs (non-locking), spatula, grill brush (with 1 replacement head), basting brush, 2 oversized skewers, 8 corn cob holders
As an everything kit that comfortably transitions between the grill and kitchen, the Anpro Grilling Accessories Set is easily the most valuable kit in this review. The average size of a spatula head in this review is 19 sq. inches — the Anpro spatula only measures 11.25 sq. inches. Although this might seem counterproductive for grilling tools, hear us out… Slightly smaller utensils are actually much more versatile since you can bring them into the kitchen and have a spatula that is actually small enough to also use in a sautée pan. Similarly, tools like the basting brush can easily transition to other uses, like baking. Unlike other sets in this review, we appreciate that this Anpro kit includes eight skewers instead of only two, plenty to realistically make a meal of grilled kabobs.
As with many inexpensive products, some quality is sacrificed to keep the price down. The Anpro tools have the shortest handles, at just under 14 inches. Despite advertising claims of exceptional durability, testing revealed their construction to be surprisingly flimsy. This is particularly an issue for tools like the grill brush — the neck is thin enough that we could imagine it snapping if you accidentally applied too much pressure while cleaning your grill grates. But if you remain aware of their lightweight design and treat them with care, this fully stainless steel set should enjoy a long life of culinary creation.
Tools Included: Tongs (non-locking), spatula, grill brush, basting brush, knife, fork, 8 skewers, 6 corn cob holders
If you are the type that likes to stand out from the crowd, the multiple color options of the Cuisinart 3-Piece Grill Tool Set will likely appeal to your fun-loving nature. Bright colors aside, this is overall an average set that includes just the basics: spatula, tongs, and fork. Their 16-inch length offers ample reach for cooking over an open flame. The stainless steel construction is by no means flimsy, but it is not remarkably thick and may be prone to bending under enough force. We were most impressed with the tacky and ergonomic rubber grips with thumb grooves, which are incredibly comfortable to handle.
Despite their size and construction, these tools are noticeably heavier than others we tested. Instead of loops, there are merely holes at the end of the handles, which are awkward to try to hang on the free-swinging S-hooks popular on so many grills. A major design oversight is the chrome "Cuisinart" stamp on the top of the grips — when left out in the sun, this spot gets incredibly hot and can actually burn your palm when you go to pick up the spatula or fork. Caveats aside, as long as you don't expect much beyond the basics, this is a well-built set of tools presented at an affordable price.
Tools Included: Tongs (non-locking), spatula, knife
If grilling is your introduction to the culinary arts, then the OlarHike 25-Piece Grilling Kit will help jumpstart your newest passion. This set goes above and beyond even the complete sets featured in this review by including tools like a meat thermometer, meat injector, silicone heat glove, and even a salt and pepper shaker set. This allows you to have it all to start and then decide which tools best suit your needs once you develop a cooking style. The majority of the utensils are so similar to the award-winning Home-Complete set that you can rest assured that you are buying a kit filled with quality grilling tools.
Just like the Home-Complete, the handles of the OlarHike set are a tad on the shorter side, with an average length of just under 15 inches. These full stainless steel tools also lack grips or ergonomics of any sort. The tongs do not have a locking mechanism, and even though the handle on the spatula is short, the head is almost too wide to nimbly navigate a full grill. But criticism aside, this set represents an incomparable value, particularly when you consider all of the extra tools included with your purchase.
Tools Included: Tongs (non-locking), spatula, fork, knife, basting brush, grill brush (w/ 1 replacement head), 4 skewers, 8 corn cob holders, meat thermometer (4.7" probe), meat injector, salt & pepper shakers, 1 silicone glove
The Weber 3-Piece Premium Set presents functionality particularly suited to grilling. All of these tools have handles that measure just under 18 inches, nearly an inch longer than their closest competitor. The oversized handles are wrapped in a rubberized grip that incorporates finger grooves, making them very comfortable handling. The tongs have a classic scallop design, but uniquely, the teeth are turned inward, providing a superior grip on food when compared directly to almost every other pair we tested. This design, combined with their length, makes them apt for moving around coals to adjust heat zones.
The Weber Premium tools are well designed for the grill, but they are too oversized to make them versatile in any other capacity. Despite their bulk, they are surprisingly lightweight — but that comes at the expense of durability. They may look thick, but their box-frame design means that the stainless steel is much thinner than the comparable Alpha Grillers set. Nonetheless, Weber is known for its quality manufacturing, and we didn't run into any issues during our test period.
Tools Included: Tongs (locking), spatula, fork
If you are searching for tools with full wooden handles, you will be hard-pressed to find a set at a better price point than the BBQ-Aid 3 Piece Grill Set. Despite their relative position in our review, we loved using these tools. At 24 sq. inches, the spatula head is huge, which makes it more useful for larger grills with more open cook surfaces. The handles are proportionally sized, measuring just under 17 inches. The "premium wood" handles are comfortable, don't splinter, and are even claimed to be dishwasher safe — though we generally advise against putting wooden items in the dishwasher.
Unfortunately, there are pitfalls to the positive qualities of the BBQ-Aid set. The oversized spatula is anything but nimble and is actually too wide to flip individual items close together on a full grill. Despite their appearance and feel, we worry a bit about the wood on the handles separating over time — particularly on the tongs, which are not reinforced. And while the wooden handles are comfortable enough to hold, they aren't especially ergonomic. We also wish this set had a case to help protect the wood over its lifetime. However, criticisms and wishes aside, this is an attractive and well-functioning set at a fair price.
Tools Included: Tongs (locking), spatula, fork
The Cuisinart 13-Piece Bamboo Set will perfectly fit the aesthetic of the modern kitchen. Stainless steel tools are capped with bamboo handles, giving these otherwise basic implements a very clean appearance. This is a surprisingly affordable set, considering the number of pieces included and the fact that it all comes in a hard-sided aluminum case.
But the tools themselves are not high-quality and have notably short handles, measuring just under 15 inches. The stainless steel is lightweight and flimsy, and the flat neck of the utensils bends out of place, rather than flexing and snapping back to its proper position. Though it fits with the theme of this set, the grill scrubber is designed with bamboo tines that are completely ineffective. Most unfortunately, after only two uses, the head of our spatula was so loose in its handle that it actually wobbled back and forth. These tools are highlighted in appearance rather than quality construction.
Tools Included: Tongs (locking), spatula, grill brush (bamboo scrubber), basting brush, 4 skewers, 4 bamboo corn cob holders
Show off your team spirit at your next tailgate or Sunday BBQ with the YouTheFan NFL 3-Piece Spirit Series Set. This otherwise basic set of essential tools features the branding of your favorite NFL team, complete with a laser-cut spatula head. The spatula and fork both feature bottle openers, which means you can provide both food and drink for the whole crew when it's game time.
Despite their oversized design, the 15-inch handles on this set are not particularly long — with the exception of the spatula, which oddly measures 16.5 inches. We worry most about the durability of the composite handles, which are likely to discolor — or worse, crack and break — especially if they are exposed to sun and rain while hanging on the grill. But if your team comes first, then there is no better way to show off your pride while grilling.
Tools Included: Tongs (non-locking), spatula, fork
Why You Should Trust Us
One of our culinary experts, Aaron Rice, brings his savvy for open-flame grilling to this review. Aaron is our go-to-guy for pit cooking, also heading up our reviews for meat thermometers, charcoal grills, and portable grills. He has worked in and around kitchens for the better portion of a decade — currently, alongside his wife, he grows and co-manages an on-site culinary garden for a fine dining restaurant in Santa Fe, NM. Aaron is the type of person who appreciates having the right tool for the job, and outside of cooking and growing food, you can find him working in the mountains as a ski patroller, avalanche educator, and wilderness instructor.
Just as we do with all of our in-depth reviews, the process first begins with our due diligence of online research. Our team spent hours comparing and contrasting some of the most popular grill tool sets on the market today. After settling on nine of the best, we purchased all of these sets at retail cost to personally compare side-by-side. In conjunction with our charcoal grill testing, we spent a week putting these tools through real-life cooking scenarios. We spent days pouring over every detail, analyzing quality and durability, measuring handle length and spatula size, and considering ergonomics. Whether you are looking for the perfect gift for the griller in your life or looking to improve your own kitchen, our comprehensive analysis provides objectively honest comparisons to help cut down on buying time and get you cooking outside.
Analysis and Test Results
If grilling is an art and the barbeque is the canvas, then a set of grill tools are your brushes. We cover a range of sets, from ones that just focus on the essentials to others that will provide you with every tool imaginable (and sometimes more.) To best assess how these tool sets stack up relative to one another, we take into account four key factors: ease of use, utility, quality, and comfort. By evaluating performance and function based on these fundamental metrics, we were better poised to examine various tool sets side-by-side. This real-world, comparative testing allows us to bring you an honest, in-depth assessment to help you pick out the best set for your own outdoor kitchen.
Ease of Use
As humans, we developed tools to make our lives easier. Therefore it is easy to conclude: what good is a set of tools if they are not easy to use? This existential question was largely assessed through evidence gathered while actually cooking with these tools. But we also take into heavy consideration the size of the tools. For grilling specifically, having a long handle keeps your hands up and away from the heat of the coal bed. But tools that are too oversized can also be cumbersome to use. Similarly, a large spatula head makes it easy to lift a large cut of meat or a stuffed portobello mushroom. However, if it's too big, it becomes difficult to flip individual items on a full grill.
The Weber 3-Piece Premium, Alpha Grillers 4-Piece, and BBQ-Aid 3-Piece sets all have tools with average handle lengths in the range of 17 inches — the longest in our review — but the spatula heads are also some of the largest. Although they have some of the shortest handles of any tools we tested, we actually found the utensils of the Anpro 21-Piece kit to be some of the most nimble, and therefore the most useful in a variety of situations.
Similar to our examination of ease of use, it is also essential that these kits are utilitarian. It is important to consider how many pieces these sets include — but remember, it is not always necessary to have every tool in the toolbox. Functionality is also a key factor, and whether or not these tools are multi-purpose or specifically designed for a particular task. We also take into account versatility, and whether or not some of these utensils are useful for other duties in the kitchen.
We love the Home-Complete 16-Piece kit for drawing an important line between essential and accessory — and for confidently toeing both sides of that line. Instead of including (useless) items like oversized forks and knives, this set only provides the tools you need to run a professional grill station. To continue to heap on praise, the tongs are designed with a unique "clamshell" shape that provides much more of a gripping surface than almost any other pair of tongs we tested.
Through our own culinary experience, we firmly believe that a quality pair of tongs can make or break your time behind a grill. In that vein, the tongs included in the Anpro set are especially adept for accuracy, thanks to a design that puts the tongs' teeth on the very end. The Anpro tools are also significantly smaller than every other set we tested, making them remarkably versatile in transitioning from the grill to the stove. One last point related to tongs: the ones included in the Weber set are the only ones we tested where the teeth of the classic "scallop" shape are turned in — this, combined with their oversized head that creates a scoop, makes them particularly useful for moving coals.
This is a metric that we believe is most closely tied to the overall value of any product — if something is built to last, it is not only a better product in the short term, but ultimately saves you money in the long run. We thumb our noses at planned obsolescence, so we carefully examine each and every tool in these sets for quality of construction and to reveal any potential design flaws. Although limited by the length of our test period, our combined experience with product testing gives us a keen eye for spotting issues that may indicate a lack of durability.
Practically every grill set we researched advertised a "heavy-duty stainless steel" construction. After flexing, bending, and applying scrubbing pressure, we can confidently say that out of the 9 sets we tested, only the Alpha Grillers Heavy Duty set actually lives up to that claim. This is the only set we tested that isn't designed with a flat neck inserted into the handle — instead, they are all solid pieces of heavy-gauge stainless steel (with the exception of the tongs.)
We consider comfort an important metric because if these tools are not comfortable to use, you are much less likely to use them. While even professional chefs will only use these tools for a matter of hours each day, it is valuable to acknowledge any ergonomics present in the design of these tools.
A surprising few of these grill sets incorporate ergonomic grips into their design, but at this point, it may not be surprising at all which ones those are. The award-winning Alpha Grillers tools have a rubber grip on the backside of the handles that conforms perfectly to the contour of a grip. The Weber set is nearly as comfortable and incorporates thoughtful design points, like thumbprints on the tongs.
Whether you spend every night braving the weather to cook over an open flame or simply love the occasional kabob on a beautiful summer evening, grill tools are a practical solution to keep you cooking and your hands out of the fire. At the very least, we hope our comprehensive review helps narrow your selection — mostly, we want to help you pick the perfect tool set so that you can get outside and get grilling something delicious.
— Aaron Rice