Hot Grilling Action

Every summer we’re seduced by long, lean strangers that promise we won’t get burned—while satisfying desires we didn’t even know we had. We should know better.

Some of the season’s most tempting grill tools are unfortunately ones that will last no more than a fling. There are the extremely long tongs: hard to handle, much less while using them to grip a heavy rack of ribs. Or the Corn-on-the-Cob BBQ Basket, designed to clamp four shucked ears, complicating one of nature’s most grill-friendly foods. Then there’s the spatula/tenderizer fork/serrated slicer with a bottle opener at the end of the handle. Marrying blunt weapons, beer bottles, and burning metal isn’t the brightest idea.

Luckily there are honest, hardworking grill tools—ones you won’t regret bringing home to meet the family.

Good Grips 16-Inch Locking Tongs
By OXO, $12

Longer tongs keep your hands and forearms farther from the heat, but the longer they are, the more difficult they can be to maneuver. Some are nearly two feet long. If your fire is that hot, you might want to review some cooking basics, or if you’re that sensitive to the heat, try another cooking method altogether. These 16-inch OXOs are just long enough to keep you at a safe distance while allowing you to move and flip ribs or roasting chickens with control.

They’re stainless steel with the signature Good Grips rubbery, slip-resistant pads on the upper part of the arms. A pull-tab on top locks them closed for compact storage.

The spring-loaded hinge gives comfortably, unlike some tongs that cramp your hands after a long night of grilling. The ends are shallow and scalloped, holding your food well without damaging it.

The tongs are also dishwasher safe.

8-by-3-Inch Long-Handle Turner
By Dexter-Russell, $21.59

This turner by Dexter-Russell is technically a cake turner, used by bakers to lift, turn, and flip whole cakes or layers. It’s strong and flexible, with great reach, just what you want in a grill hamburger-turner too. The wide, thin blade, extending a generous eight inches, easily slides under the biggest burger patties, yet still sturdily holds weight.

True, this tool won’t open bottles, but it multitasks by cleanly turning and securely lifting delicate items including thick, juicy, cheese-laden burgers; butter-basted salmon steaks; and caramelized peaches.

The turner has a beautiful rosewood handle and is not dishwasher safe.

3/8-Inch-Wide Stainless Skewers (set of six)
By Steven Raichlen, $14.99

They say soaking bamboo skewers in water renders them fireproof. They lie. Bamboo will burn over high enough heat. I also don’t like their toothpick taste or horrible acrid aroma if they smoke.

Stainless steel skewers won’t smoke or burn. And if they’re flat, like these, they’ll actually turn your food along with the skewer, unlike round ones.

Three-eighths inch in diameter, these skewers by grill master Steven Raichlen have enough surface area to grip stuff that tends to fall off into your coals, like soft roasted tomatoes and charred kefta kebabs. But they’re narrow enough to spear cherry tomatoes, too.

The looped end keeps food from slipping onto the lawn, but the spear side might need a little help with a starter incision from a sharp paring knife.

All stainless steel skewers will get hot, so handle with care. They’re dishwasher safe.

Grill Wizard China Grill Brush
By Grill Wizard, $24.95

If you use your grill frequently, one job that you can actually put off is cleaning the grate after cooking. That residual fat coating actually helps protect it from rust. But it’s absolutely essential to clean the grate hot before and during grilling for sanitary, stick-resistant cooking. In restaurant kitchens, that’s done with a thin scrub pad, sometimes insulated with nothing more than a folded kitchen towel—and yes, knuckles get burned.

This Grill Wizard brush model holds two thick, removable, washable, and replaceable stainless steel scrub pads. They’re tough, but also soft enough to smush deep down between the wires on a grate.

A hook at the top of the handle makes it easy to store—preferably right next to your grill.

The long, adjustable-angle 14-inch handle keeps your knuckles far off the grill but gives you leverage for power scrubbing; it’s one time when length really does matter.

Grill Wizard sells replacement Stainless Steel Scrubbies for $8.95, but the company freely informs you that you can use any woven pad by simply snapping it into place under the head.

The Grill Wizard, with its poplar handle, is not dishwasher safe and won’t do well left outside exposed to the elements.