The Fourth of July is just a few days away, which means that grilling season is in full swing and the sun is out. There’s no better way to eat well in the summertime than to buy fresh veggies, fish, and cuts of meat to throw on the grill in the backyard. A tiny little barbecue won’t always do the trick, though. We’ve rounded up the essentials you’ll need this summer to be the grill master of your neighborhood, no matter the fare.
First thing’s first, if you don’t have a barbecue grill, it’s time to get one. Different spaces will call for different sizes and styles, but a larger gas grill like the Char-Broil Quantum Commercial Series Grill ($399) would be ideal for most people who have enough space in a backyard or on a patio. The three-burner gas grill has 680 square inches of cooking space and 30,000 BTUs of cooking power. This particular grill also uses infrared technology to give users ultimate control over the heat temperature.
One of the best ways to up the ante on your typical barbecue meal is to use wood planks to give meats or delicate fish an extra layer of flavor. Using planks can give your food a subtle smoky flavor without overwhelming the dish. This set of Flavored Wood Grilling Planks ($12) from Williams-Sonoma comes with a cedar, alder, and maple plank, which will each give a different flavor.
The key to cooking the perfect piece of steak, chicken, or seafood, is keeping it at the right temperature until it’s ready to be served. Using a thermometer will help you keep your food at the proper cooking temperature so you don’t run the risk of either serving up an overcooked dish (rookie mistake) or one that’s a bit too raw. We particularly like this fun Steak Button Thermometer Set ($20) from Sur La Table, which easily tells you when to take your steak off the grill whether you’d like it rare, medium, or well done. This version from Oregon Scientific, for those who tend to leave their food unattended, has audio alerts to tell you when it’s time to get back to the grill.
If you plan on ever grilling vegetables, which let us tell you, you definitely should, it’s worth it to pick up a few stainless steel grill grids or a couple grilling baskets. Grids like these Stainless Steel Grill Grids ($15-25 each) will let you cook small vegetables, appetizers, or shrimp and other seafood without letting any food fall through the grill and into the flames. Side handles make these easy to move and adjust. You might also want to add a few kabob skewers to your shopping list if you’re a fan of kabobs over rice or grilled veggies.
Yes, even master grill-men wear aprons. No one wants to soil their weekend clothes with a stray splash of marinade. This masculine version from Weber ($20) even has nice big pockets to help store your essential grilling tools and a built-in bottle opener to help you crack open that frosty beer.
Every grill master has a set of tools for turning, moving, stirring, or basting whatever’s on the grill. Buy a stainless steel set like this set of four Stainless Steel Grill Tools ($25) and you’ll be good to go for any grill situation. The set includes a spatula, tongs, a fork, and a handy basting brush.
The real fun comes after you’ve done all your grilling for the day and are ready to close the lid and call it done. Not so fast. Don’t let the juices and chars from your grilling session cook onto the grill, or they will be even tougher to get off when you actually do decide to clean it. If you clean your grill every time you use it, a simple cleaning brush should do the trick. For more heavy duty jobs, we recommend the Grand Grill Daddy Grill Cleaning Brush ($60), which uses steam and stainless-steel bristles to scrub away even the toughest grilling grime.