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Your Summer Barbecue Essentials Checklist

Make sure you have everything you need for barbecue season with this list of must-have tools and supplies.

barbecue essentials

Barbecues are a summertime staple. Grilling imparts a delicious, smoky flavor onto sweet and savory foods alike, making any meal made on the grill feel like a special occasion. Do you have all the barbecue essentials you need this summer? Check out this list of must-have tools, supplies and foods – and become the grill master you have always wanted to be.

Tools

Using the right tools can elevate whatever food you’re grilling.

    • Spatula – A grill spatula should be maneuverable – sturdy enough to hold some weight, without being too bulky or heavy, but thin enough to easily slip under a sizzling hamburger patty.
    • Tongs – Tongs are definitely a barbecue essential. Grill tongs should be long enough to keep your hands away from the heat and should make rotating hotdogs, vegetables and other grillables easy, offering a good grip without piercing or crushing your food.
    • Grill Brush – A clean grill makes better food. A good grill brush will help you clear grease, grime, burnt bits and other debris from your grill’s grates. You should always clean your grill before and after each use for maintenance and safety reasons.
    • Thermometer – Take the guessing out of grilling meat with a trustworthy thermometer. A meat thermometer should be accurate as well as easy to use and read.
    • Cutting/Carving Board – The perfect carving or cutting board is long-lasting, sturdy and feels good against your knife. Consider a board that can double as a serving platter.
    • The Right Attire – You’ll want to wear clothing that can protect you from the mess and heat of your grill. Consider investing in grill gloves. Potholders and oven mitts can do the job, but specially-made grill gloves provide better dexterity and heat protection. And no grill master’s ensemble would be complete without an apron. Whether solid, patterned or emblazoned with a cheeky phrase like “licensed to grill,” make sure that it has plenty of pockets for easy access to your thermometer and other grilling tools.
    • Extras – While not essential, there are lots of grilling tools and gadgets out there that you might find helpful for your next cookout. Metal skewers are great for kabobs, while a grill basket works wonders for delicate cuts of meat, fish and vegetables. A two-pronged grill fork is good for flipping larger or tougher cuts of meat and acts as a stabilizer when slicing. If you are into low and slow cooking in the smoker, shredder claws will help you to achieve perfectly pulled pork, chicken and brisket. And when it comes time for basting, you’ll want to have a quality basting brush on hand; silicone brushes can be put in the dishwasher and don’t leave any strands behind.
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Supplies

Fuel 

The type of grill you own will dictate weather you need some form of charcoal, wood pellets, gas or propane to fuel your fire.

For a charcoal grill, you will need all-natural lump charcoal or briquettes.

Natural gas and propane grills are relatively fast and easy to use, making them a popular choice for many grill enthusiasts. To make sure your gas or propane grill has enough fuel, you can buy a gauge, weigh your tank or use the hot water method. It can’t hurt to have a spare tank just in case.

Pellet grills are the prefect combination of a grill and a smoker. Use food-grade wood pellets for pellet grills; different types of wood chips – like cherry, hickory, maple, etc. – can add an extra smoky and distinct flavor to your food.

Starter/Lighter

You’ll also need a way to get your grill going.

Handheld lighters – especially ones with long and/or flexible necks – are a barbecue essential. For a bit more power, consider a grill torch. Toss-in fire starters are also quick and easy, and come in all-natural and waterproof varieties.

A chimney starter will quickly get your charcoal hot. You’ll need some paper and a lighter to get things started, but this cord-free device will have your coals hot in about 20 minutes.

Electric charcoal fire starters can be helpful if you have access to an outlet. There are loop varieties as well as ones that resemble a curling iron.

Be careful and follow grilling safety procedures when barbecuing. Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby, just in case.

grilling essentials

Food

You can make a wide variety of dishes for a barbecue, especially if you go for a fun theme, but there’s nothing wrong with the classics.

Condiments, Sauces and Spices 

American BBQ staples include burgers and hot dogs. If you go this route, don’t forget must-have condiments like ketchup, mustard, relish and mayo. Additions like pickles, tomatoes, onions, cheese and jalapeños are also welcome.

Sausages, steak and chicken are other barbecue favorites. Make sure your meat is fully flavored with a barbecue sauce or spice rub.

Some iconic barbecue sides include salads featuring leafy greens, pasta or potatoes. Other popular sides are crunchy coleslaw, fresh corn on the cob and baked beans.

And no barbecue is complete without dessert. Consider classic summertime sweets like watermelon and pineapple – try grilling them for some extra flavor. You can also use your grill to roast some marshmallows and make smores.

Setting the Table

One of the best parts of a barbecue is eating outdoors.

If you have outdoor seating, don’t forget a tablecloth to catch any messes. Or, go picnic-style with a blanket on the ground.

Consider outdoor tableware, like bowls, plates and utensils. Silicone food covers and reusable food wraps will keep things fresh and protect your food from pests. When the barbecue is over, store your leftovers in plastic or glass storage containers, or stock up on disposable to-go containers to send your guests home with.

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What are your barbecue essentials? Tell us in the comments.

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