Must-Have Charcoal Grilling Accessories
Grilling over hot charcoal gives food amazing flavor and the aroma can’t be beaten! Everyone that enjoys outdoor grilling knows the wide variety of dishes that can be prepared ranging from finger food to main dishes and everything in between. That means that cooking outdoors requires many of the same utensils and tools that are needed for preparing meals in the kitchen. But, there are also specialized items that many would consider as being must-have charcoal grilling accessories.
- Best BBQ Grilling Tools and Accessories
- Heat-Resistant Gloves
- Heavy Duty Barbecue Tong
- Looft Lighter
- Instant-Read Thermometer
We’ve all been there – when we first started grilling. You purchase a brand new home complete grill set and some charcoal. Then, you go to the grocery store for some select cuts of meat, some seasonings, and items to make a few side dishes. When the charcoal is going you find yourself dragging many items for your kitchen outside to the grill.
Of course, many items from your kitchen could cross over perfectly such as knives, bowls, platters, and more. But many outdoor grilling gurus are always on the lookout for specialized barbecue cooking tools because they want to get the best flavor possible… Without damaging kitchen utensils. The next thing you know, you’re searching for the newest and coolest barbecue cooking tools you can find!
Sometimes it’s the thrill of the chase when it comes to selecting the accessories you need. We all love new and exciting things! It’s also a desire to serve up the best charcoal grilled meals possible to your family and friends.
If you’re already into the grilling lifestyle then you probably have a few basic items that you need already. Chances are you have a favorite platter or two for taking food and items to and from the grill. And there is a good chance that you have a favorite knife that you always end up using when trimming cuts of meat or slicing vegetables for grilling.
But when it comes to charcoal grilling accessories, there are a few items that you probably need to get that are specifically designed for high-heat grilling situations. The first being a replacement for light-duty pot holders that we all have in our kitchens.
Where did the potholders and oven mitts you have in your kitchen come from? I think my first ones were hand-me-downs from my parents when I moved to an apartment during college. Chances are that the potholder you use in the kitchen is light-duty and designed simply for moving pots and skillets around on the stove. The same probably goes for your oven-mitts.
If you’re like me, when I first started grilling over, one of the first barbecue cooking tools I sought out was more robust holders and mitts to handle the searing heat that goes along with open fire cooking. Then I found out that even these heftier versions were still lacking when it came to protecting yourself when moving things around over a hot grill grate.
That’s where heat-resistant gloves come in handy! There are several types available on the market ranging from thick leather versions to silicone. There are even some made from industrial fire-retardant material that is heat resistant up to 900℉ or more
Grilling gloves should be designed to offer protection to your fingers, hand, wrist, and at least - some of the forearm. One such glove is the BBQ Dragon Extreme Heat Grill Gloves offered by BBQguys. The gloves feature “Extra long length helps protect your hands and forearms from the heat” and are made using aramid fiber material that resists heat up to 932 degrees Fahrenheit.
They also have a cotton liner that keeps hands cool and comfortable with a non-slip silicone outer design that helps you get a better grip on hot items. An added plus is that they are also machine washable! One reviewer from West Virginia mentions “flexibility” - that something that a traditional oven mitt does not offer.
“These BBQ gloves really make a big difference when handling things on the grill. They are tough and resist heat well, but fit your hand to give you good flexibility to grab things on and off the grill.”
One of the most used charcoal grilling accessories has to be barbecue tongs! And, like potholders and oven mitts, your first tongs used for grilling were probably some you snatched from the kitchen. Some versions of tongs are lightweight thick wire versions that have been around forever. The problem with these is that they are not designed for heavy items such as larger items such as a rack of ribs or spatchcock split chicken.
Other tongs may be too short or even too long. Cheaper ones are hard to handle and their design does not allow them to close tight enough when gripping food on the grill. That’s why you need heavy-duty barbecue tongs when grilling. Plus, consider getting some tongs that have more functionality that will work with different types of food such as the BBQ Croc 21” 3-in-1 Tongs.
The BBQ Croc tongs, available at many retailers including Lowes, have a unique scissor design that provides extra strength and pressure making it a breeze to turn and flip everything from small to large items on the grill. The length protects as you don’t have to reach over hot coals like you would using shorter tongs. Plus, the tool works as a pair of tongs, as well as a spatula, and grill grate scraper. It even has a bottle opener! One grilling guru noted the versatility and now the lack of need for additional grilling tools.
“Easy to use, I didn't need anything more than this tool for my steaks, Italian sausages, and veggies on my grill rock. Cleaned up really easily, ready to go for next weekend! Will try it out a couple more times, then get rid of my other tools, don't need them!”
There are plenty of ways to start your charcoal whether you are using natural lump style or going with briquette style charcoal. One common way is using the chimney method where you place the charcoal into a chimney-styled holder complete with a handle. Then scrap paper is placed in the area at the bottom of the chimney and lit. The space where the paper is located has small openings to allow a small amount of airflow.
As the paper burns, heat is channeled up the chimney and the charcoal begins to burn. This process takes several minutes, sometimes upwards of a quarter-hour or more. Other methods of lighting charcoal include plugin element heaters and charcoal starting fluid to name a few. The fluid method seems to be the least favorite when it comes to grilling and barbecue buffs despite the ease of use. This is probably because of the fear of having a chemical aftertaste from the residue of the fluid permeating the food being grilled.
That opens the door for what could be one of the best bbq tools grilling accessories available on the market - the Looft Lighter! This awesome charcoal grilling accessory can be considered a must-have and it is a time saver when it comes to lighting charcoal or even campfires. The Looft lighters come in two models. One is a plug-in version and the second is battery-operated.
Simply get your charcoal loaded into your grill, point your Looft Lighter, and press the button. Remember the chimney method explained above. The Looft lighters take that to the next level! The lighter uses a continuous blast of hot air to start the burning process. You will never have to worry about the residue of charcoal lighter fluid again.
The hot air flow heats the charcoal when the Looft Lighter is turned on with the blast of air held close to the pile of charcoal. When a few sparks begin to fly you’ll notice that a small area has begun to burn. Now, slowly move the lighter backward and away but keeping it aimed at the same location. The hot air flow intensifies the burning area of charcoal and it quickly expands. You’ll have your charcoal ready for grilling in a matter of minutes.
The electric firestarter Looft Lighter can be purchased at several retailers as well as here. One such retailer is Williams-Sonoma.com where it has received plenty of five-star reviews including one from a customer that noted the lack of smoke that traditional chimney charcoal lighter makes.
“Wonderful product. This has replaced the chimneys that use newspaper to start my charcoal. No more smoke and no more waiting. Highly recommended.”
One of the greatest things about grilling and outdoor cooking is that it usually involves family and friends. Grilling items like steaks or pork chops to seafood and vegetables for a family meal is always enjoyable. So is serving up a large batch of hamburgers, or grilled hotdogs, or sausages for a group of friends enjoying a game on the television or when tailgating.
It makes sense that if you are serving your delicious meals fresh off the grill then you want to make sure everything is safe! Something I always like to say during any of my media appearances or grilling demos is that you want your guests to remember the amazing steak, seafood, or massive grilled burger that they ate at your barbecue session. You don’t want them to remember undercooked food that may send them to the hospital!
That’s why an instant-read thermometer is a must-have grilling accessory as well as an item that you should have available to you in your kitchen. Instant read thermometers put traditional meat thermometers to shame. A traditional version includes a glass-enclosed top facing with a dial that slowly rotates until the temperature is revealed as the dial slows and comes to a stop near a number indicating a range of temperatures.
The problem with these older versions is that not every temperature is shown. Temperatures are often shown in groups of ten or more with little dashes between the numbers. That leaves a lot of guesswork which is not the case when using an instant-read thermometer. When using an instant-read thermometer you know exactly what the internal temperature of the food you are grilling is.
Push the pointed thermometer into whatever you are grilling and you’ll see the results almost instantly – no waiting or guessing. The great thing about these thermometers is that they range from handheld versions to larger models that can monitor temperatures constantly in your grill or the food you are cooking. You can also use them to keep tabs on the chamber temperatures of your covered grill and smoker. A small digital monitor that rests near your grill provides all of the information or some models send that data to your smartphone or device.
For me, nothing beats the ease of the small folding versions that I can keep in the kitchen drawer or on hand next to the grill. One such instant-read thermometer is the Char-Broil instant-read thermometer which is sold via the legendary grilling company’s website charbroil.com.
The thermometer features a folding design that makes for easy storage. And it does more than letting you know what internal temperatures are in the food you are cooking. It can give you the desired temperatures for seven different types of meat and even has an alarm for when you hit the mark. Set it for beef, or set it for pork, or chicken, or even seafood.
One Char-broil customer reviewed the instant-read thermometer and cited ease of use… even for an older consumer!
“I'm 68 but I've never used a digital meat thermometer before. This is very simple to use! I set it for PORK and knew exactly when it was ready to remove from the grill. The chops were moist and tender, and the taste was fantastic. I highly recommend this for beginners and professionals alike.”
There are plenty of barbecue cooking tools that can serve you well during your outdoor cooking adventures. But if you’re looking for a few must-have charcoal accessories then there are probably the ones to start with. The BBQ Dragon Extreme Heat Grill Gloves protect your hands and forearms when grilling. The BBQ Croc tongs are a multi-tool that can handle just about anything you can grill.
The Looft electric firestarter cuts down the time it takes to get your charcoal going. And as one reviewer noted – there’s less smoke than when using a charcoal chimney. And an instant-read thermometer, like the Char-broil version, is a must-have grilling and kitchen accessory! And it's not just a grill lighter either.