Best Grill Tools of 2020
The Alpha Grillers Heavy Duty BBQ Tool Set is purposefully designed, and most importantly, built to last. This is a no-frills essentials kit, and the tools are constructed with heavy-gauge stainless steel. Although many companies advertise "heavy-duty," this is the only set we tested that was thick enough not to flex or bend. The handles are backed with ergonomic rubber grips that conform nicely to the natural contour of your fingers, and although they don't come with a case, these tools do have large hanging loops.
While we found very little issue with the well-refined yet straightforward design of the fork, spatula, and basting brush, we have a number of criticisms regarding the tongs. This is especially annoying because, as far as we're concerned, tongs are the essential tool and often see the most use when cooking over an open flame. For some reason, these are particularly on the short side, measuring only 15 inches, while all of the other tools measure 18 inches. The locking mechanism is also a bit loose and can actually snap into action while the tongs are in-use. If these simple issues could were resolved, this would be a truly timeless grill set — especially considering that they are backed by a lifetime money-back guarantee.
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 but sticks to the true essentials. The first notable difference is that this set excludes an oversized fork from the kit — 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 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 over time — especially when compared to wood handle grips that are 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 to see. 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 heads of the tongs are shaped well 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 over-sized skewers, 8 corn cob holders
As an everything kit that easily transitions between the grill and kitchen, the Anpro Grilling Accessories Set is easily the most valuable kit in this review. The average head size of a spatula in this review is 19 sq. inches, compared to the 11.25 sq. inch head of this set. Although this might seem counterproductive for grilling tools, here us out — we believe that smaller size 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 the Home-Complete set, we appreciate that this Anpro kit includes 8 skewers instead of 2, plenty to realistically make a meal of grill kabobs.
But like most great values, you will sacrifice some elements of quality with this set. The Anpro tools have the shortest handles, at just under 14 inches. Despite advertising, their construction is surprisingly flimsy. This is particularly an issue for tools like the grill brush, where the neck is thin enough that we could imagine it snapping if you accidentally applied too much pressure while cleaning your grill grates. However, it is still a full stainless steel set, so if you remain aware of their lightweight design, these tools should enjoy a long lifetime 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 multi-color options of the Cuisinart 3-Piece Grill Tool Set will likely appeal to your fun-side. Except for the colorways, this is an all-around average and ultra-basic set of tools. The 16-inch length is middle-of-the-road for our testing group, and the stainless steel construction is by no means flimsy, but it is not remarkably thick and could be prone to bending. We were most impressed with the tacky, rubber grips, which are incredibly comfortable to handle and ergonomically designed with thumb grooves.
Despite their size and construction, these tools are noticeably heavier than others we tested. Instead of loops, there are holes at the end of the handles, which are awkward to try and hang, especially when it comes to free-hanging S-hooks that are popular on so many grills. A 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. These things aside, as long as you don't expect much beyond the basics, this is a well-built set of tools presented at an outstanding price.
Tools Included: Tongs (non-locking), spatula, knife
If grilling is going to be your introduction to the culinary arts, then the OlarHike 25-Piece Grilling Kit will help you 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 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 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 a nearly unbeatable 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 fantastic functionality for grilling. Notably, these tools have handles that measure just under 18 inches, nearly an inch longer than their closest competitor. Their oversized handles are wrapped in a rubberized grip that incorporates finger grooves, making them very comfortable to handle. The tongs have a classic scallop design — but uniquely, the teeth are turned inward, providing a grip superior to almost every other pair we tested. This design, combined with their length, makes them particularly apt for moving around coals.
The Weber Premium tools are well designed for the grill, but they are too oversized to make them very versatile in any other capacity. Despite their overall size, they are surprisingly lightweight, but that comes at the expense of their construction. 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 their quality and durability, so we doubt that you will run into many issues with normal use.
Tools Included: Tongs (locking), spatula, fork
As an essential tool kit with full wooden handles, you will be hard-pressed to find a set at a better price than the BBQ-Aid 3 Piece Grill Set. Despite their relative position in our review, we loved using these tools. The spatula head is huge — the largest in our review, at 24 sq. inches — which makes it more useful for larger grills on larger cook surfaces. The handles are similarly 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 have doubts about that being a good idea for the wood.
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 particularly ergonomic. We also wish this set had a case to help protect the wood over the long run. However, these things aside, this is an attractive and well-functioning set at a fair price.
Tools Included: Tongs (locking), spatula, fork
Have you ever heard the warning, "don't be fooled by appearances alone"? Although the Cuisinart 10-Piece Premium Grilling Set is beautiful on the surface, there are some issues when you pull back the veil. This set embodies the virtues of an oversized grill set, with handles measuring just over 17 inches and the largest spatula head, with a surface area of 24 sq. inches. The PakkaWood handles present a rich redwood color and are especially alluring on the four well-designed skewers.
PakkaWood is actually a wood resin composite — a material commonly used on knife handles or other tools that see a lot of use and abuse — but it is with that knowledge that your initial impressions begin to unravel. The forged stainless steel appears heavy duty, but there is a flex-point right where the flat neck tapers down from the handle that could easily bend and break after repeated pressure. Another example: right out of the box, the leather-bound case began to come unglued, even before using the tools. No question, this is a beautiful looking set of grill tools that would make a great gift, but we would likely choose to spend our money more wisely.
Tools Included: Tongs (non-locking), spatula, fork, grill brush (w/ 2 replacement heads), 4 extra-long skewers
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. They are stainless steel, but the construction 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 fitting of the theme, the grill scrubber is designed with ineffective bamboo tines. Most unfortunately, after only two uses, the head of our spatula was so loose in its handle that it actually wobbled back-and-forth. Rather than quality construction, these tools are highlighted by appearance.
Tools Included: Tongs (locking), spatula, grill brush (bamboo scrubber), basting brush, 4 skewers, 4 bamboo corn cob holders
As a gift for the friend or loved one who spends every Sunday during football season in front of either the grill or the TV, consider the YouTheFan NFL 3-Piece Spirit Series Set. This otherwise basic set of essential tools features the branding of your favorite NFL team (yes, our lead tester is a proud Patriot's fan), complete with a laser-cut spatula head.
Despite their oversized design, the handles on this set are not particularly long, measuring just over 15 inches — with the exception of the spatula, which oddly measures 16.5 inches. We worry most about the composite handles that are likely to discolor — or worse, crack and break — especially if they are neglected and left to the elements while hanging on the grill. But if your team comes first, there is no other way to better show off your team 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 10 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 a variety of tool sets side-by-side. It is this real-world, comparative testing that 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 reach the conclusion of: 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 — but too big, and it becomes difficult to flip individual items on a full grill.
The Cuisinart 10-Piece Premium, 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 important 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 take into account versatility as well, 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 towing 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 teeth of the tongs 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 cannot stand 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 we are limited by our test period, our combined experience with product testing puts us in a unique position to expose any issues that tend to 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 10 sets we tested, only the Alpha Grillers Heavy Duty set can actually live up to that claim. This is the only set we reviewed that isn't designed with a flat neck inserted into the handle, but instead are solid pieces of heavy-gauge stainless steel (with the exception of the tongs.) To provide some perspective, while the Cuisinart Premium 10-Piece set — which costs nearly twice as much — appears to be heavy-duty because of weight and size, a simple flex-test reveals a weak point in the neck that has the potential to bend and break after repeated use.
Just like ease of use, we consider comfort as 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. We also love the feel of the Pakka-wood handles of the Cuisinart 10-Piece Premium set, which is reminiscent of holding an oversized pocket nice with a beautiful custom grip.
Whether you spend every night braving the weather to cook over an open-flame or simply love the occasional kabob on a beautiful summer night, 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