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Our take on the Top Tools to Own for Charcoal Grilling

Our take on the Top Tools to Own for Charcoal Grilling – some may surprise you!


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When I get the chance to visit a brick-and-mortar barbecue specialty store, I am always amazed at the number of accessory items currently offered for grilling and smoking.  The options are staggering!  I certainly can see why an individual might end up purchasing too many items, thinking that it’s a necessity when it comes to the grill or smoker.

My intent is to guide you on the bare basics tools that are needed when you own a charcoal grill.  Of course, I may slip in there a couple of “next in line” purchases that may not be necessities but sure come in handy.  Let’s get started!

Tool #1

Chimney Starter: Honestly, I don’t know a safer, easier method of lighting the fuel for your grill than with a chimney starter.  Are they pretty much the same?  Pretty much but here’s my recommendations on what to look for: one that is made of plain steel meaning no paint; one that has a heat-safe handle that is placed far enough away from the chimney body to prevent you from receiving burns and includes a heat shield;  large enough to hold enough charcoal for the size of your grill; well vented at the base to get things hot within 15 minutes.

We demonstrate a lite chimney starter!

Chimney Starters are a must to have a Charcoal grill!

Tool #2

We just talked about the chimney starter which emits very high-heat so this next item is going to keep you fire safe.  High-temperature resistant gloves.  Personally, I use welding gloves as I appreciate that I can purchase a longer length glove, plus, these gloves tend to have great flexibility to them since most are made from cow leather.   Best of all, they last forever!

insulated long sleved gloves protect from heat and burns

Tool #3

Long-handled tongs.  Your standard tong length for the traditional kitchen just won’t work at the grill, as you need to keep some arm distance from those hot coals.  I like the 20-inch length with silicone grips as well as silicone tips as silicone can tolerate extremely high heat.

The long handle tonges are great for putting and turning food on the grill

Tool #4

Like the tongs, a must have is long-handled spatula for those food items that need to be flipped.  I prefer one that is made of solid steel and has a bit of a beveling to the edge.  Again, the longer the handle to better for keeping away from intense heat.  Of course, you’ll be wearing your high-temperature resistant gloves as well!

Spatula with long handle to turn the food on the grill

Tool #5

Even if you don’t grill every day you’re still going to need a good brush to clean up the residual food bits and grease.  There’s been a lot of controversy over the use of metal bristles but most of these brushes are made well.  You simply forget that like your toothbrush, they need to be replaced periodically before the bristles start to come loose and have the potential to be transported to your foods.  I prefer a brush with metal bristles, with a long handle to keep my arm away from the heat, as often you want to clean the grill when it’s still hot.  Remember, most of these brushes are under $10 so think about purchasing one a couple times per season to ensure the bristles stay put.

Wire brush to clean the grates of residual food.

Tool #6

An easy to read, digital thermometer.  It is a must when you grill or smoke.  Look for one that has a longer probe for when your grilling larger roasts and thicker cuts of meats and poultry.  Be sure the readout is easy to see and if you grill a lot at night, get one that has a backlight to see more clearly.  If you cook a lot of different animal proteins at the same time, try to have a thermometer dedicated to each food so you don’t cross-contaminate while bacteria may still be an issue.  Most of the digital thermometers on the market today are under $18 with even more under $10.

Probe thermometer

Other Recommended Tools:

These are additional items I love to have on hand to use with my charcoal grilling and smoking.

Aluminum disposible pans are grillers best friendThe Disposable Foil Pan: Perfect to use as a water pan, cooking pan with a roasting rack insert, grease collection pan, and warming pan.




Wire mesh to hold the coals from falling thru the larger grates. especially for ember cooking.

Fine Wire Mesh: Cut to size to fit my charcoal area, I prefer to use fine wire mesh when I want to ensure I can retain every small hot coal for my cooking.  This works particularly well when you plan to ember cook foods like peppers, onions, eggplant, and garlic.



Brick for ember cooking- heat retention and separation for delicate foods such as fish!

Fire Brick:  I use one or two fire bricks to set up my two-zone cooking area.  The bricks also work great for positioning a pan on to allow for elevation in the cooking area.


There you have it!  My top choices for the tools that will bring ease to your charcoal grilling and smoking.  Just remember to include some clean, bark-free hardwood on the charcoal for an even better flavor to your foods.

There you have it our take on the Top Tools to own for Charcoal Grilling!

SmokinLicious® Products Used in this Blog:


Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®, Minuto® & Piccolo®

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Dr. Smoke the tools make the Chef- hope you enjoyed our Top tools to own for Charcoal Grilling!

Dr. Smoke the tools make the Chef- hope you enjoyed our Top tools to own for Charcoal Grilling!