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15 Favorite Grilling Tools

Take your outdoor cooking to the next level with the right tools. From high-tech to old-school, here’s the Sunset-approved grilling gear we swear by in our Test Kitchen

Elaine Johnson
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Perfect Grill Pan

Gimmicky grilling accessories come and go (just Google “the hamdogger”), but a grill pan is one tool that’s completely worth it. We tested the gamut of grilling pans, baskets, and woks, and declared the Weber Style 6435 Grill Pan the must-have among them. Made of sturdy, stick-resistant stainless steel, it keeps small vegetables and tender fish in place and gives them a nice, even char.

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Getting a Grip

Well-balanced, with a scalloped edge that grabs slender asparagus to thick steaks with ease, the OXO Good Grips tongs are the tool we reach for first when we head to the grill. The 16-inch length is long enough to put some distance between you and the heat. And a tap or tug at the end of the tongs changes them quickly from lock to unlock.

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Two-in-One Tool

We get it. Not everyone wants another phone app. This easy, dependable timer-plus-thermometer with a large display counts up or down and tracks temperature up to 700° with a cable probe, so you don’t have to keep lifting the grill lid to check. (Perfect for that slow-cooked brisket.) And it comes in nine different colors, so you can match it to your decor.

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For the Love of Pizza

Problem: Open a grill to cook pizza, and the hot air you need for a crisp crust escapes. Solution: Use an insert and stone (along with wood chunks, for the charcoal version) and you can slide pizzas in and out while keeping the temp upwards of 700°.

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Thick but Flexible Protection

Long, gauntlet styling and extra padding across the palms protect hands and arms when you’re dumping charcoal chimneys, adjusting wood fires, and hefting hot, heavy cast-iron skillets or pizza inserts. Gloves are 17 inches long; one size fits all.

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Creative Cook’s Friend

That cast-iron skillet you use in the kitchen for scrambled eggs can take your outdoor grilling to a whole new level. Caramelize cherry tomatoes for bruschetta without losing them through the grates. Brown a cake of thinly sliced potatoes to go with your pork chops. And make dessert: Caramelize apricot or plum halves in the skillet with a little sugar, and spoon it over pound cake.

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Best Charcoal Chimney

Charcoal grillers, start your engines—your fires, that is. There’s no need for lighter fluid with the Weber Rapidfire Chimney. Just fill the cylinder with charcoal, crumple a couple of sheets of newspaper into the cone bottom, and strike a match. Vents help pull air up to ignite the briquets quickly. The sturdy construction and double set of handles mean the chimney will last a long time and be a pleasure to use.

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Favorite Wire Brush

We give our grills a workout at Sunset, and have been through more than our share of brushes over the years keeping them clean. For heavy use, the Alpha Grillers grill brush rises to the top. At 18 inches long, it has enough reach to use comfortably on hot grates. The stiff, thick stainless steel bristles and rigid handle are tough enough for serious build-up. And the spiral design helps get into every nook and cranny.

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Natural Grate Cleaner

No wires! As you rub this wooden barbecue cleaning tool over a hot cooking grate, the straight edge forms grooves, customizing to fit the grate’s shape. It’s a good option for lighter-duty grilling and for anyone who’s concerned about possible stray wires left behind from wire brushes.

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Affordable Instant-Read

Has the rib-eye steak on the grill reached 125° to 130° for medium-rare? Check with the ThermoPop instant-read thermometer. Unlike first-gen instant-reads, its thin tip won’t gouge foods. Another bonus: The light-up, rotating display is readable upside down and in the dark. Comes in 8 happy-making colors.

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Bells and Whistles

If you’re the kind of griller who geeks out on over-engineered features, the Thermapen Mk4 is the stuff of dreams. Super-fast and accurate, it reads temperatures in 2 to 3 seconds, plus or minus 0.7°F. The auto-rotating display is readable from any position, and the intelligent backlight turns on anytime lighting gets low. In case that’s not enough, a motion-sensor tells the thermometer to stay on whenever you’re using it, and to turn off whenever you set it down. And the thermometer is waterproof, just in case you drop it in the basting sauce or the swimming pool. Choose from 10 colors.

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Wood Planks with Flavor

Jacobsen Salt Co.’s cedar planks do what many other grilling planks fail at: deliver lots of woodsy flavor to your food. Plus, the six aromatic, Northwest-milled cedar planks come with a jar of the company’s hand-harvested Oregon salt, seasoned with lemon, herbs, and natural cherrywood smoke.

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A New Kind of Charcoal

On a trip to Thailand, chef Andy Ricker of the Portland-based Pok Pok restaurant group discovered a high-quality, sustainably produced charcoal—and now it’s available here for home grillers. Made from rambutan orchard by-products, Pok Pok Thaan is a long-burning, lower-smoke alternative to ordinary briquets. Allow a little extra time (and extra newspaper) to light the logs in a charcoal chimney, then watch them burn and burn.

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Longer-Lasting Briquets

Burgers for a neighborhood potluck. Low-and-slow brisket or ribs. These are situations—and dishes—that call for an extended burn. Grab a bag of Kingsford long-burning charcoal briquets and you’ll be ready. In a side-by-side comparison with Original Kingsford briquets on the Sunset grilling patio, the long-burning ones lasted 25 percent longer, just as promised.

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Grilling in Style

Hosting friends and family at the grill is the perfect excuse to trade in your well-worn apron for something that’s more ready for prime time. These denim ones, all made in the West, are sturdy enough for grilling, yet stylish enough to segue to the dining table.

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