BBQ grill accessories are now widely available and there’s no question they can help, because while having a quality grill is necessary, the right grilling accessories will enhance the experience. Even if you’re not a gifted griller, there are certain items that can make you a better one, but first, you have to know what makes for successful grilling.
BBQ Grill Accessories For Enjoyable Grilling
There are two basic types of grills, propane and charcoal, which is the fuel used for the grilling. Accessories for both are generally the same, so the list given in the BBQ Accessories section of this article will work for both. However there are some accessories that are specific to charcoal and propane, such as the following.
For charcoal grills:
- Cooking fuel: you’ll need charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal, and they’re both sold in different variants. Lump charcoal are made of wood and burn faster and hotter compared to briquettes. Charcoal briquettes on the other hand, burn more evenly and longer and suitable for indirect and slow burning. Regardless which fuel you use, use wood chips made of mesquite, hickory or others to enhance the flavor.
- Chimney Starters: if you’re having trouble with a lighter fluid, use a chimney starter instead as it allows you to start up a charcoal grill with a match and a few newspaper sheets.
For propane grills:
Unlike charcoal, propane grills are quicker to start up and you don’t have to clean up any charcoal. To make the grill even easier to run, the following accessories ought to be considered.
- Propane cylinder: gas grills rely on propane as fuel, and these tanks are handy because they’re reusable and may be refilled at home improvement stores or at home. Do note that some smaller grills don’t have a reusable cylinder though.
- Lava rocks: though you can directly cook over the flame, most gas grills have lava rocks that provide more sustainable heat, and the indirect heat from these lava rocks emulates the typical charcoal grilling experience. However, these rocks cannot be reused, but they don’t require clean up or preparation.
Regardless whether you’re using charcoal or propane, there are some common accessories you will want to use:
- Wood chips: wood chips add a smoky flavor to lava rocks or charcoal, and they’re especially handy for gas grills since they don’t have the usual smell that comes with grilling. You can use different kinds of woods for flavor that will give your grill a unique taste or smell. The most widely used though are apple wood, mesquite and hickory.
- Skewers: Grills can do more than just cook barbecue, steaks or burgers as they’re also great for sirloin tips, mushrooms, onions and pineapple. You’ll find skewers handy for grilling veggies and meats that are hard to turn or fall through the grill. There are basically two types: metal and bamboo (metal is reusable and bamboo is not). Look for thin and flat skewers because it makes turning the food around easier compared to the round and square ones.
- Cooking baskets and grill toppers are necessary if you grill small food items and don’t want to have them fall through the grill or break up. For mushrooms and delicate stuff like fish, hinged wire baskets are ideal. Grill toppers on the other hand, are set over your grill and have the same function as cooking baskets.
- Grill covers: grill covers are an essential part of grill maintenance, especially if the weather fluctuates in your area. No matter how well designed a grill is, changing weather will take its toll. If your grill is stored outdoors, get a cover for it for protection.
- Fire extinguishers: spilled charcoal and grease flare ups can lead to a fire so to be safe make sure there’s a fire extinguisher close at hand. Make certain the fire extinguisher is classified A and B so it can take out flammable liquids and grease and combustibles.
BBQ Grill Tips
BBQ grill accessories can help, but there are certain things you always need to keep in mind, whether you’re a beginner or a long time griller. First you have to know the minimum internal temperatures for the meat. The US Department of Agriculture has released a guideline, but remember that you can take the meat off the grill even if it’s a few degrees of the recommended level as the meat will continue to cook.
The minimum temperatures are:
- Ground poultry, chicken breasts, thighs, wings, whole bird: 165 F
- Pork: 145 F
- Ground Meat: 160 F
- Shellfish and fish: 145 F
- Veal, lamb and beef: 145 F
- Medium steak: 140 F
- Steak medium rare: 135 F
Once you’ve removed the meat from the grill when it has reached the minimum temperature, cover the meat with an aluminum foil for 5 to 10 minutes, giving the meat time to rest and soak in the juices, essential for juicy, moist meat.
Here are some other suggestions:
- You should oil the grates so food doesn’t stick too much, and this will make it easier to clean afterwards. Just fill a small bowl with canola oil, get a small paper towel and dip it and wipe on the grates prior to starting a fire.
- Create indirect and direct heating zones in your grill. Setting up these zones allows you to use the entire surface and create various dishes simultaneously. At the same time, understanding how these heat zones operate will allow you to use the grill in various ways.
To avoid confusion, direct heat means cooking over the flame. i.e., the heat source, while indirect cooking is more like baking. If the meat is cooking too fast on direct heat, move it to the indirect heat zone so it will still cook, albeit at a slower pace and won’t burn up. By using these zones you’ll be able to grill directly or indirectly, thus roasting meat the same way you would in an oven. With indirect heat you can smoke meats and cook at a lower heat setting for extended periods. That’s basically what you do with a smoker, and with direct and indirect zones you can essentially use a grill as one. To summarize, direct heat is grilling on the heat whether it is charcoal or burner.
With indirect heat you cook at the grill side with an unlit burner or the cool or empty side of the grill. To create direct and indirect zones, turn half of the burners to medium or medium high while the other half is low or off. If you’re using a charcoal grill, set the charcoal pile to one side so the direct zone has all the fire and another one is clear. Finally, use the best ingredients possible. Depending on what you’re grilling, make sure that high quality sea salt, olive oil, ground pepper and other herbs are used.
Here are the essential accessories, in no particular order:
- Locking tongs: 16 inch locking tongs will provide you with a solid grip on the food, and the good ones are easy to squeeze and should quickly bounce back. Look for tongs that let you hold on large and small items without crushing them. You’ll also want to look for tongs with a gripping edge that doesn’t cut the meat.
- Waterproof Thermometer: one of the keys to successful grilling is a waterproof digital food thermometer. These aren’t that expensive and are accurate, reliable and provide the information you need. If you want steaks and barbecues grilled properly, a digital thermometer is necessary.
- Stainless Steel Spatula: you don’t need a fancy spatula, just one that can easily slip under food, turn it around and burn, that’s all. Of course if you’re looking for something fancier, there are all-purpose spatulas that come with a bottle opener and cutting blades.
- Leather Gloves / Mitts: you can’t grill without a good pair of quality gloves, and if you have to grab something hot, leather gloves are the most appropriate. Make sure though that the gloves are heavy duty and won’t just protect your hands but also the lower arms. If you handle a lot of BBQ skewers and hot pots, these are mandatory.
- Quality BBQ Brushes: avoid BBQ brushes that come with scrappers on the front part because it makes reaching the back grate nearly impossible. Often, a simple but well-designed brush is sufficient, and brass is safe and won’t damage the grates. At any rate, you should look for a brush that lets you clean all areas of the grill, including the corners.
What should make things easier for you is the number of products that are now available online. In addition, you can read product reviews and get detailed descriptions so you can compare their features and see which ones meet your requirements. While price is a factor, you should place more emphasis on quality and durability, particularly if you’re going to grill on a regular basis. BBQ grill accessories are no longer the “fillers” that they used to be, because in terms of functionality and making sure you get the results you want they deliver. By following the tips and advice here you will be in prime position to make an informed decision insofar as purchasing these accessories go.