Whether you’re cooking on a gas grill or a charcoal one, you’re going to need a few supplies to get you through the session. And ideally, you’ll bring those things outside before you even light the grill. This way, you’re all set up and ready to go once the grill is hot—and you don’t have to run back and forth a million times while the burgers burn.
One thing to note, though: Leave your food inside until it’s time to put it on the grill. You don’t want stuff sitting out in the sun or where bugs can find it if it doesn’t have to.
1. Paper towels or dish cloths
No matter how neat of a grill master you are, your hands are bound to get messy and you’re going to need to wipe them on something. Bring a roll of paper towels or some dish clothes that can get a little soiled (read: are not your favorites) and have them on a table nearby. Or better yet, tuck that dish cloth into your waistband or apron ties.
2. Tongs and a spatula
Sure, there are many more grill tools out there, and you very may well need some of them. But at the very least, you’ll need a set of tongs (for, say, hot dogs, corn, and small stuff) and a spatula (for flipping burgers). Don’t wait till you’re about to put steaks on the grill to realize that you don’t remember where the tongs are. If you think you’ll need other tools (like a basting brush, a grill fork, or a grill basket), it’s worth getting them out ahead of time, too.
3. A clean tray
Everything that goes on the grill is going to have to come off the grill. And as far as meat is concerned, you can’t use the same tray that you brought everything out on (because, you know, raw meat juice). We have a bunch of melamine platters that should help you get the job done.
4. An instant read thermometer
Even the best professional chefs like to use a thermometer when grilling. If you’re thinking that you’ll just use the thermometer on your grill’s lid, you should know that they’re not super reliable. For one, they’re usually at the top of the lid—far away from the fire, which is at the bottom of the grill. Plus, that just tells you the temp of what’s going on inside the grill—not the internal temperature of the meat, which is what’s really important.
This new thermometer is one of our favorites because it’s easy to use, extremely accurate, waterproof, and has a back-lit LCD screen, so you can see the readout in the dark. Oh, and that reminds us: If you’re grilling at night, you might also need to bring a flashlight.
5. A grate scrubber
The best time to clean your grill grates is when the grill is a little warm; so either while the grill is preheating or when it’s cooling off. If you have the tool out there, you can scrub at the ideal time and you’ll be able to (easily) get off all those leftover bits and pieces. This one is simple, yet effective.
6. A beer, glass of wine, or any other beverage of choice
Tongs in one hand, drink in another. It’s the golden rule of grilling.