The cold winter weather has finally started to give way to the warmer seasons. When we start seeing the snow melt and the sunny weather return, we can think of only one thing: It’s time to get grilling! Now, to be honest, our grill isn’t idle even in the dead of winter. Heck, I’ll shovel snow just to fire up the grill, but we here at the Bearded Butchers might just be a little crazy about grilling.
If you want to take your outdoor grilling to the next level, we recommend picking up a few tools that will get you to Grill Master status. Many of the tools we are going to discuss today are affordable, easy to come by, and incredibly useful. There are lots of inferior products out there, so read along and we will discuss what to look for when you are ready to buy the best tools for outdoor grilling.
1. Campfire Grilling Grate
If you grew up like we did, you remember camping trips and grilling over an open fire. There is something truly magical about campfire grilling that brings the family together. It is a sensory experience unlike any other. A good campfire grill grate is sturdy, durable, and large enough to cook a meal on.
There are basically two types of campfire grills: adjustable and non-adjustable. We prefer adjustable grills for most campfire grilling, but when it comes to large, heavy meat, a non-adjustable grill grate can be your best friend.
Most of the adjustable campfire grill grates on the market today use a one-piece stand and a sliding grate that can be raised and lowered. Most people find these to be a little unstable. We prefer this type from The Perfect Campfire Grill. The four legs provide great stability and the raised edge around the grill grate keeps food out of the fire. The individually adjustable legs seem like they would be a pain, but they actually work quite well. At 11 lbs, it will add to your carry weight, but you can put 150 lbs of meat on it safely. The grate adjusts up to 30” and measures 18”x30”.
2. Cast Iron Skillet
Oh, the love-hate-love relationship of a cast iron skillet. Cast iron skillets are one of those cooking implements that are passed down, generation to generation. If you weren’t lucky enough to inherit vintage cast iron, don’t worry! You can buy a good-quality cast iron skillet, keep it seasoned, and decades from now, you can pass it on. It’s never too late to create family heirlooms.
When you’re shopping for a cast iron skillet, there are a few things to look for. First, you need to decide if you are going to buy a used pan or a new one. There are pros and cons to either. A used pan may have been treated well, seasoned, and cared for. But, like finding a million dollar painting at a garage sale, it’s pretty rare. A new pan, even one that is pre-seasoned, will require some effort to make it great. The best thing is to start by looking for a good quality skillet.
A cast iron skillet should be heavy. You should carefully inspect the cooking surface for pitting, scratching, and other damage. The surface should be fairly smooth. Cast iron rusts easily when not cared for, so if you see rust, it is an indication the pan wasn’t loved. Rust isn’t a deal breaker, though. Pay very close attention to distortions or cracks. These are signs of excessive damage.
A properly seasoned cast iron skillet can be used to cook anything from eggs and bacon to a cake. Use it on the campfire grill grate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can get a decent cast iron skillet for around $40. Lodge brand is a good choice for a starter pan, but make sure to season it well, even if it is pre-seasoned. If you want an instant heirloom, we really love Field Company cast iron skillets.
3. Meat Thermometer
I hate it when meat comes off the grill looking perfectly done, only to slice in and find it’s still a little too bloody. Save yourself the hassle of underdone or overdone meals and pick up a meat thermometer. They are inexpensive and one of the easiest ways to step up your grill game.
Analog thermometers are becoming rare these days. Digital meat thermometers are all the rage, and for good reason. They’re reliable, accurate, and simple to use. I keep this Bearded Butcher meat thermometer in my camping kit. It reads instantly and is backlit, so even when the sun sets before the meat is done, I can easily tell when it’s perfect.
If you cook on a campfire with a skillet, sooner or later you will run into a problem. You need to get the pan off the heat, but the handle is too hot, even for your balled-up t-shirt. In a pinch, welding gloves work just fine, but if you are after the ultimate grilling supplies, you need gloves dedicated to the task.
There are hundreds of brands of grilling gloves out there, and many of them are very good. Today, I want to share the two brands I use and let you know why I think they are the best grilling gloves on the market.
The pair I use the most often are our Bearded Butcher Carnivore Heat and Cut Resistant BBQ Gloves. They're composed of heavy-duty aramid fabric, which is four times tougher than leather. They've also earned the highest level of cut resistance and can withstand temperatures up to 1,472 degrees Fahrenheit.
We also occasionally turn to our RAPICCA Pit Master gloves. These neoprene grilling gauntlets are the go to for frying, pit grilling, or any other time you need heat resistance and protection for your hands and arms. RAPICCA makes them in lengths from 13” to 17”. The Pit Master Gloves are oil and water-resistant and non-slip.
5. Professional Cooking Tongs
Barbecue grilling practically requires a pair of tongs. Now, we have all had to deal with sub-par tongs in the past- flimsy, useless things that cause you to drop the best steak or bend when you lift that chicken.
The worst thing about buying tongs is shopping for them. So many products that all seem to be about the same, and prices all over the place. I want to make this simple for you, so here you go: if you want to be the Grill Master, you need professional tongs like these from Vollrath. They feature 20 gauge stainless steel handles and are 16” long, the perfect length for grilling (even over an open flame). They are “always open” tongs with just the right amount of spring pressure. Even if you are flipping 1,000 hot dogs, your hand won’t fatigue. The heavy-duty construction is sturdy and will give you confidence even with big pieces of meat.
6. Eating Utensils
I’ll admit, I eat plenty of meat right off the grill. Sometimes, when camp cooking for a group, it’s not okay to eat with your hands. No one wants to go hiking with half a kitchen drawer worth of eating utensils either. There are a bunch of solutions out there.
I will start out by saying that I try to avoid plastic utensils. They are unreliable and the fewer plastic items we use, the better in my opinion. Plus, there is just something about the solidness of a metal utensil.
My personal favorite camping utensil is made by Light My Fire. The Swedish company makes titanium camping utensils that have a spoon on one side and a fork on the other with a serrated edge on the fork tine. They stack nicely, clean up easily, and don’t stain. Price is the biggest problem I run into with these beautiful camping utensils.
A better-on-the-budget option is made by Tapirus. These are stainless steel and appear very similar to the Light My Fire utensils. For the price, they are an absolute steal of a deal. Buy them once, they will last a lifetime.
7. Seasoning and Spices
Okay, here is your ultimate Grill Master tip: Arm up with seasonings from The Bearded Butchers. We promise you that whatever you put on your grill, these seasonings are going to take it over the top. Each of our superior quality seasoning blends wants nothing more than to make your meal complete.
What can you use our spices on? How about anything. Chicken, fish, pork, beef, game, whatever you have, the Bearded Butchers Blend seasonings will give you just the exact amount of flavor without hiding your meal. Plus, all of our seasonings are all natural, free of anti-caking agents, and gluten-free. When you are cooking at camp with our seasonings, beware: strangers will find you and want to share your meal. Yes, our spices are that good.
Essential for any camp cookout, a proper knife makes the difference between getting what you want on the grill and just hoping for the best. We have this slick trick up our sleeves when we are out and about camping. We always carry the Outdoor Edge RazorMax knife with us. The reason is simple: this knife allows quick and easy changes of the blade easily.
This knife is special. It has the dependable strength and sturdy control of a fixed-blade knife, but the blade can be switched from a 3.5” drop point to a 5” boning/ filet knife in seconds. The ergonomic handle is comfortable to use, even for big jobs.
Putting together the ultimate camp cooking supplies can be a daunting process. If you follow the recommendations set out here, you will have the best grilling tools for outdoor cooking and you will grill like a master.
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