Some of the products reviewed here are country specific and may not be available in the Amazon US store
Barbecues are a great way to get the taste of summer in your mouth. But use the wrong tools - or even use the right ones the wrong way - and you can end up with anything from food poisoning to perforating your throat or gut with debris from wire cleaning brushes!
In the article, we look not only at the best BBQ tools of 2017, but also how to use them. In this context, we consider food hygiene as well as other safety issues that people sometimes forget or ignore.
The easiest - or rather laziest - way to clean a barbecue grill rack is with a cleaning brush. But doctors warn that this is fraught with hidden danger. The danger is that small strands of wire from the brush can break off and then get into the food that people eat. You might think that if these wire strands are too small to see then they must be able to pass through the digestive system without causing damage.
But you’d be wrong! These pieces of metal wire can cause damage to your mouth or throat - including the windpipe. Worse still, they can pass down into the intestines where they can cause not only damage but can even be life threatening! For example, they can perforate the intestine wall. The problem is aggravated by the fact that it is very easy for doctors in an emergency room to make a wrong diagnosis and to think that it is food poisoning. Wrong diagnosis means wrong treatment.
The problem has got so bad that surgeons in the United States are calling on people to throw away their grill-cleaning brushes altogether and for manufacturers to stop making and selling them. For this reason, we at MyBBQ.life will not be recommending any grill brushes in the tool recommendations below. (We do however offer some good tips on How to clean your grill rack.)
The biggest single risk is transferring bacteria from raw meat to cooked meat. The hot cooking process kills the bacteria in the meat itself. But if a cooked portion of the meat then comes into contact with a utensil or tool that has touched raw meat, then the cooked meat can become reinfected with live bacteria. You can of course flip over the cooked meat and re-cook the infected area. But you would only do that if you know that it has happened!
If you will be doing proper BBQing with the lid closed, you can be sure that after a certain amount of time even the upper surface of the meat will have been cooked enough to kill off the bacteria. (Though of course, the uncooked inside may still be harbouring the deadly little creatures.)
So you can turn the meat with a tool that is reserved for cooked meat in order to get a more even browning of the surface without worrying about cross-contamination. If necessary, you can then wash the tool in question before bringing it into contact with cooked meat again.
But if you are cooking on an open grill, you can assign one tool (e.g. a long fork or set of tongs) to putting raw meat on the grill. Then you can use another tool (e.g. a different fork or set of tongs) for taking cooked meat off the grill.
But what about that intermediate stage, when the meat is cooked on one side but almost raw on the other and needs to be turned? The usual solution is to use a turner or spatula. You slide it in under the cooked side and turn the meat over. This is probably the method of choice for most people.
However, the act of turning the meat (or flipping it) can splash juices from the uncooked side of the meat, contaminating the cooked side of other pieces of meat that have already been turned. Also, the juices from the uncooked top of the meat can also spill over and drop onto the flipper/spatula even as one is sliding the spatula under the cooked side of the meat. This also might contaminate the cooked side of a neighbouring piece of meat on the grill
An alternative method is to insert a barbecue fork from above into the uncooked side of the meat and flip it over that way. But there is a danger that the fork might go all the way through to the cooked side. And if one then turns it over, then you will have just contaminated the cooked side - the very thing you are trying to avoid!A compromise solution, might be to turn the meat twice, using the tongs reserved for cooked meat for the second turning. The risk of touching a contaminated part of the meat is small. But the risk is still there.
Our solution is to use a third set of tongs, reserving one side of the tongs for the raw side of the meat and the other for the cooked side. You can do this, by sticking a label (or two) on tongs to distinguish the sides. But this can be a problem because the label probably won’t stay stuck for long.
Our ideal solution is to use special tongs that have one side flat and the other side slightly bent and with prongs like a form, to grip the meat. We review a pair of such tongs below and there are probably others. We feel that this is the ideal solution for the problem. You slide the smooth side of the tongs under the cooked side of the meat (the side that is currently in contact with the grill rack) and press down on the pronged side, forcing the prongs a little way into the meat, to grip the meat. Then you gently turn it on the grill rack, release the pressure of the tongs to release the meat and slide the tongs out, leaving the raw side now down, facing the hot charcoal or gas.
It sounds a little complicated and maybe even convoluted, but it’s actually very straightforward. And once you get into the habit and remember why you’re doing it this way, it comes to you as second nature.
Okay, so we’re agreed that once you’ve got your barbecue, you’re naturally going to want a good set of barbecue tools to go with it. The bare minimum is a set of tongs, a fork and a turner/spatula. A proper barbecue knife with a long handle, would be a good addition to that. Other knives may suitable for prep work - like an all-purpose chef’s knife and possibly even a boning knife and slicing knife. But you may already have these in your kitchen. Or possibly they go beyond your needs.
Anyway, hopefully, we’ve convinced you that a barbecue cleaning brush is a bad idea.
But even amongst the standard products that we’ve settled on, there’s a great deal of variety, both in quality and in price. The best way to go about deciding what you need, would be to think about how you will be using your barbecue or grill.
Well one important consideration is the size of your barbecue - and particularly the depth. Remember that you’ll be reaching out to the far side of the grill to place, turn and remove the meat. So you’ll need tools that are long enough to do this without your hands having to hover directly over the hot grill for long periods. In practice, the tools should be sufficiently long that all but the furthest placed burgers, sausages and cuts of meat can be reached without you hands entering the danger zone. If you are using short tools and you are grilling meat or vegetables at the back, you may have to angle your hand and the tool to increase the distance - and maybe learn to move quickly.
Another question you’ll have to ask yourself is how good the tool handles are when it comes to heat insulation. The metal that hovers over the grill and touches the meat is going to get hot. But the handles shouldn’t. Wood is a good insulator. But so are some artificial materials. Wood can however, discolour if exposed to heat, or even char and turn black. And if you wash the tools in water (as you should), wood can also discolour if you don’t dry it promptly.
Metal by its nature is capable of being deformed. That is why it is not brittle, like ceramic material. And to an engineer, the ability of metal to deform around a defect of microfracture is one of its great strengths. But you don’t want the metal parts of your tools to bend in the heat as if Uri Geller’s been using them in one of his conjuring acts! Also, poor quality metal can rust in the heat or turn blue if subjected to a mixture of water and heat. Look out for good quality metal like stainless Sheffield Steel®.
Some items call for special attention. Tongs for example should have a spring mechanism that is strong enough to return to position after you release them, but not so strong that you have to strain to grip the meat. Spatulas should not have a flimsy shaft between the handle and the blade. Also the joint linking shaft to the blade (if it is a welded joint and not a one-piece construction) should be strong. A visual inspection, even of a good picture, is usually good enough to check this.
A broader question is how long do you want (and expect) these tools to last? Do you do barbecues frequently or only occasionally? Do you have an expensive barbecue, built to last many seasons? And you want tools to last equally long? Or is your BBQ a flimsier affair, that you expect only to last a couple of seasons before it has to be replaced? And if so, do you have similar expectations of your barbecue tools?
Below are the best barbecue tools in the various categories that we think form the essentials of a basic BBQ kit.
Tongs are your single most important BBQ / outdoor grill implement. So choose them wisely! In fact, as mentioned above, you will almost certainly need at least two sets, or possibly even three. So choose them very wisely!
Landmann 13624 Pure Barbecue Tongs
Landman is one of the major names in the BBQ world. This is is a well-made set of tongs (46.5 cm long) with a stainless steel body and an ergonomic, heat-resistant handle. The spring pressure is just right and there is a convenient hanging ring to hang the tongs on a hook, if your BBQ has one.
There’s a locking mechanism to keep the tongs in their closed position for storage and when not in use. Unfortunately it has a tendency to slide down, if one holds the tongs at a downward angle while closing them on the meat. This locks the tongs in the closed position when one is trying to use them. It is a design flaw that could be corrected by adding some extra friction or resistance in the area of the mechanism.
Weber Original Sausage Tongs
Weber is probably the biggest name in the barbecue world. Their name is almost a by-word for BBQ quality. These stainless steel tongs, with a heat-resistant handle, are 51.6 cm long. They are marketed as sausage tongs, but the trouble is there is too much space between the curved head and straight head to hold a single sausage. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that surface is very smooth. This is good for food hygiene as there is less roughness to trap stale food and bacteria. But it is bad for sausage handling efficiency. It almost reminded us of that Paul Simon song Slip Slidin’ Away.
Paradoxically the same weakness when trying to pick up one sausage, turned into a strength when picking up two or three together! In fact that’s probably what the designers had in mind. The tongs lock easily, but unlike the Landmann, they do not do it by themselves.
iNeibo Kitchen Premium Silicone Tongs
This pair of tongs has reversed the norm, by making the handle of stainless steel and heads out of silicone. There is however some hard silicone on the part of the handle to make the grip more comfortable. You can lock the tongs closed by pushing down on the ring at the end (which can also be used to hang them on a hook). And to open them you just reverse the process: pulling the ring up. The combination of steel and silicone guarantees that these will be long lasting. The lengths are 9” and 12” and they are heat resistant up to 480o Fahrenheit. We think that for a set of two, this is a pretty good bargain.
Stainless Steel BBQ Tongs Set with Silicone Tips
Another double set of tongs (also 9” and 12”), following the same design principles as the iNeibo. The body is stainless steel, but the heads and handles are made of silicone. This one also comes with a soft silicone holder for hot trays, racks and pots. The tongs themselves are heat-resistent to 400o Fahrenheit and are dishwasher safe.
ZesGood Stainless Steel Heat Resistant Barbecue Tongs
If two sets of tongs are not enough to satisfy you, how about three? (Remember we did recommend three in the introduction: one for raw, one for cooked and one for cooked on one side.) This set of three comes in at a bargain price of £10. Made from the same combination of silicone and stainless steel as the last two offerings, this triple set comes in three colours and sizes, to help you avoid getting mixed up.
They say 8”, 10” and 13”, but you can probably subtract almost an inch from each of those to arrive at the correct figure. We would recommend, using the short one for taking the meat off. The reason for this is that while both putting on the meat and turning it are tricky operations that might require you to keep your hand in place for a few extra seconds, taking the meat off is a simpler affair. Just close the tongs around it and whip it off.
Oh, and did we mention that the tongs also have locking mechanisms and are heat-resistant to 480 Fahrenheit?
Campingaz Premium Barbecue Tongs
Like the Landman and Weber tongs, these are more of a premium affair. Made of stainless steel and with heat resistant, non-slip handles, they are dishwasher safe. Contrary to what it says on Amazon, they are 13 inches NOT centimeters! This makes them suitable for use on larger grills. They also have a ring for hanging on a convenient hook, that doubles as the locking mechanism. A durable and sturdy product.
KitchenCraft Stainless Steel Serving Tongs
This item is actually marketed as serving tongs that can be used for both and cold food. But from our point of view, they are ideal for turning meat by sliding the smooth head under the cooked meat and pressing down on the raw meat with the pronged head. However, if you decide to use them for this purpose, be careful to avoid also using them on sandwiches or cooked food in the same session!
Made of stainless steel, they are solid and reliable. The one drawback is that they are quite short, at least for large barbecues. They might get hot if they hover over the grill for too long. But it’s all down to how you use them. On the other hand, at £6.00 they are an incredible bargain. They are also dishwasher safe.
GEEKHOM Stainless Steel Silicone Cooking Tongs
This pair of tongs is a genuine bargain and a real treat to use. In addition to the silicone heads to avoid causing scratches on, say, an enamelled griddle, they also have silicone “stands”. These are small, silicone triangles that you can use to stand the tongs on so they don’t touch the surface they are resting on, but instead stand 0.8 inch above it. This is good for food hygiene and another way of reducing the risk of cross contamination.
They are not only heat-resistant (up to 482o Fahrenheit, but also freezer safe down to -140o Fahrenheit - although why anyone would want to put them in the freezer, we can’t imagine!
They have the standard O-ring locking mechanism and all in all have a good professional feel.
BergHOFF 4490310 Stainless Steel/Oak Barbecue Tongs
This traditional set of tongs has oak wooden handles and a brushed, stainless steel body and head. The head is serrated and angled, making them ideal for gripping raw meat, especially poultry. At 15.5 inches long, you don’t have to worry about your hand or forearm hovering over the hot grill when you use them. On the other hand, you might them a little unwieldy. We would recommend using these for raw meat, and buy a different-looking set of tongs for cooked meat.
Edco 871125234772 Stainless Steel/Oak Barbecue Tongs
The same length and style as the BergHOFF, these are only a third of the price.The serrated, angled heads on both sides are great for gripping meat. But because of the bent in head, you would have to use a lot of pressure to use these to grip raw meat, without the meat slipping away. On the other hand, these tongs are perfect for picking up cooked meat. The hole in the middle of each head will let the juices fall away. And the serrated head will grip the raw side on top, holding it firmly in place as one turns the meat. However, you would have to find some way to mark it so you consistently use the same head for the raw meat.
For cold food, we would suggest the Swify 3 Pieces Stainless Steel BBQ Tongs, Food / Cake / Sandwich / Flat / Serving /Party Tongs (£11.00 approx) At first sight this set of three tongs might appear to cover all the bases: raw, cooked and cooked-on-one-side (turning). However, they are quite short (9 inches) and so they would only be suitable for use on a small grill. Also, whilst they are different from each other, they are symmetrical, so again the one used for turning the meat would have to be marked so you would know which side may come into contact with the raw side of the meat. Another thing to bear in mind is that they are not all that sturdy or durable. They are punched from sheet metal and as BBQ tongs will probably only last one or two seasons. But for a set of three - and if you are ready to buy replacements in a year or two - they are worth considering.
So why do we even mention them? Because for raw food to go with your barbecue, they are a useful addition.
If you use a charcoal grill, you might also like to buy a set of charcoal tongs. These are for moving bits of hot charcoal around without burning your hands. The Coal Tongs - Black - 350mm by Manor are ideal for this purpose. At £7.50, they are well worthwhile if you cook on a charcoal barbecue grill.
The principle use of spatulas is to turn steaks, burgers and flat cuts on the grill. But some of them have useful extras like serrated edges. This can be used for cutting into the meat for testing purposes, to see if the juices run clear, as a way of testing how well the meat is done. Whilst that runs the risk of contaminating the turner, in the event that the inside of the meat is not yet done, it is still a valid method. One can always give the spatula a quick clean before using it again on cooked meat. Just make sure that in your haste to clean it you don’t cut your fingers on the serrated edge!
Deiss® PRO Stainless Steel Spatula
This traditional spatula/turner features a wooden (bamboo) handle with a hole in the handle and a slotted stainless steel head. The hole in the handle lets you hang it on a hook and the slotted head lets the juices run through it. Can be used in the kitchen as well as on the BBQ grill.
Stainless Steel Barbecue Grill Spatula
Also following the traditional design, but with a more modern silicone handle. They are dishwasher safe, non-stick and heat-resistant up to 455o Fahrenheit. They are sturdy and feel comfortable to use. At 37 cm long, the length is just right. And they are BPA-free – an important point for the health conscious. They also come with a 100% money-back guarantee.
BergHOFF 4490120 42 cm Large Stainless Steel Barbecue Grill Spatula
This long-handled (42 cm) spatula is easily long enough to keep the hand that wields it well away from the hot charcoal or gas flame. It has bevelled edges, which are just perfect for sliding under the meat, particularly if the meat is still soft. The 3 x 3 array of holes is well distributed for allowing the juices to drain from the food and the triple-riveted handle provides a firm grip. The metal is premium grade, brushed stainless steel and the tool is sturdy and well-crafted enough to merit the price.
Genware 05-187 S/ST Pierced Blade Turner
This simple, large headed turner is good for flipping burgers, but not so good for pressing them flat - because it is just a little too flexible. However it is of good quality and will last. The head is large enough to flip a couple of burgers at one time. It can also be used to turn chicken breast, boneless thigh, etc. The head is plastic and you probably wouldn’t want to get it too close to the heat source for more than a few seconds. That said, at the price, this turner is value for money.
Weber Original Wide Spatula
This wide spatula (18 cm width) is perfect for picking up cuts that are awkwardly placed on the grill relative to where you are standing. This is especially true of delicate cuts such as fish or chicken breast. Even if the cut is stretched at right angles to your position, the wide angle spatula can pick it up with ease. And Weber haven’t compromised on the length of the handle either, so you don’t have to burn your hand when using it. We did find it a bit more flexible than we expected - something that can be a virtue in spatulas, though not in wide ones. Ultimately it is a good product, albeit a pricey one!
Lokkii SMF1 Universal BBQ Tool
Of all the spatulas and turners we considered, this was the one that got us most excited. In addition to the two large parallel slots to let the juices flow out, it is also serrated on both edges, large serrations one side and finer ones on the other. All of that makes this a multipurpose tool, Without having to swap tools, you can cut into the meat, to see if the juices run clear and turn the cut over to get done on the other side.
Made from a single piece of molded steel, the grip is made of thermoplastic rubber with good heat insulation and felt easy to hold. Rather than an eye-hole, it has a very convenient leather strap for hanging. We have to say that on balance (excuse the pun) this was our favourite spatula/turner and the one we recommend most highly.
Rosle Large Barbecue Fish and Meat Turner
Another wide turner, and this one even more expensive than the Webber. It seems that wide turners carry a premium price tag. Both long and with a very wide head, it ticks all the right boxes. The width makes is ideal for picking up large delicate cuts, like fish - which can otherwise fall apart all too easily when turned on the grill. The length (46 cm) enables you to keep your hand well away from the heat source. And the 4 x 13 holes (reminiscent of a deck of cards?) allow the juices to flow out freely.
Despite having a metal handle, the heat insulation is good. And the whole thing is dishwasher safe. Again the front edge is bevelled for sliding delicately above the meat or fish. A well-made product. Whether it justifies the money is a matter of your budget and commitment to quality. But if you have an expensive barbecue or grill, it is worth considering adding a tool like this to your collection.
Charcoal Companion Flipping Funny Talking Spatula
Okay there are spatulas and there are spatulas - and obviously some are better than others? But how many spatulas can talk? This smiley-faced, wise-cracking tool can - thanks to the wonders of modern day electronic technology and miniaturization. This one has a vocabulary of “nice hilarious phrases” to spice up your barbecue with a dash of humour. Of course the humour will dry up if it runs out of “juice”. So make sure you install the pair of AAA batteries that come with it and you’re ready to go. (Now who’s the tool?)
As a spatula, it’s as good as many others on the market - certainly no worse. But at the press of a button this spatula turns into a wisecracking companion. Rather than spoil the fun by telling you what the wisecracks are, we’ll let you find out for yourself. All we will say is that the wisecracks are in no way you vulgar and you can say them without concern in front of children.
Muurikka multi function turner & spatula
This spatula/turner is unusually shaped by any stretch of the imagination. The stainless steel body and wooden handle are conventional enough. But the serrations on the side - if one can call them that - are like square teeth. One of them is more of a slot: It is apparently meant for extracting the meat from skewers. We didn’t get to test that function so we can’t say how well it would work. But it looks as it it should.
The makers claim that it is good for cleaning griddles. We don’t think they actually mean “cleaning” more like getting the meat off them. It can certainly do that. Not the best spatula/turner in absolute terms, but a good one at the price.
Kitchen Craft "Pro-Tool" Slotted Turner
For a fiver this is a pretty good product, Made of brushed stainless steel and dishwasher safe, it is something of a bargain. But do not expect something big. It is only 36 cm long. Usable, but probably better on small grills. The grip was good, as was the heat insulation and we could use it easily enough. The slots were more than adequate to let the juices flow out. It also has a hanging loop and in all in all was a good product that we can recommend if you want something simple and without bells and whistles. But beware, if you have a large grill, you will want a turner with a longer handle than this one.
Here at MyBBQ.life, We find forks less useful than tongs or spatulas in the process of doing a good barbecue or outdoor grill. Although they can be used for turning the meat - or even bringing it raw from the plate or marinade to the grill - their main use is to hold the meat in place while we cut it with the barbecue knife to check it it is done through. Also some BBQ forks, double as meat thermometers. When you have one of those, you can dispense with the knife (or at least that particular use of it) because you can use the thermometer to check if the meat is done!
Landmann 13211 Barbecue Fork
This long fork (45 cm) is perfect for barbecues. Made of stainless steel and with a soft touch handle, it feels right in one’s grasp and will take the heat and the punishment of regular use. It comes from Landmann, a good name in barbecue products. The metal is strong enough not to deform when heated and plunged into the tougher cuts of meat. It also has a hanging ring to store on any grill with suitably positioned hooks.
HeyLR Stainless Steel 18/8 Barbecue Fork
An elegant looking, stainless steel barbecue fork with highly polished finish. The non-slip handle is also steel but it does not get hot in use and offers a solid grip. It has an integrated metal hook for hanging it. The fork feels and is strong and will not bend or warp in the course of normal usage. It is dishwasher safe and can also be cleaned in the sink with soap and under running water. However the makers advise not to use steel wool to clean it as that will scratch it and ruin the nice, polished surface. For our part, we advise to be careful when cleaning the end. The prongs are sharp!
Campingaz Premium Barbecue Fork
Similar to the Landmann fork, but with a tapered handle and a leather strap for hanging instead of an eye. This fork too is made from stainless steel including the full-forged handle which is covered with black, non-slip, thermal insulation and contoured to fit the human hand. It feels good to hold and is easy to ease, weighing enough to feel durable without being tiring to use. The prongs are not as sharp as the HeyLR, but are comparable to the Landmann.
Digital Thermometer Fork
If you’re looking for a fork that is more than just a fork, this could be the product for you. Not only does it show you the temperature of the meat, when you insert it into the cut, but you can use it to tell you when the cut is ready. You set the type of meat (beef, poultry, lamb or pork, etc) and how well you want it (rare, medium rare medium or well done) and then insert it into the meat. It will sound an alarm if the meat has reached that level. It also has an integrated LED light to illuminate the area where you are grilling, so you can see the meat too if you are cooking in the evening with poor light. If you don’t overuse the LED light, then the battery life is remarkably good. And the thermometer allows you to choose between Celcius and Fahrenheit.
Oh and did we mention that it’s also useful as a fork?
Andrew James Digital Fork Thermometer For Meats
Another barbecue thermometer fork. Like the one above and a lot cheaper, but without the LED light, we were very impressed by this product. You cycle through one button to select the type of meat and the other button to choose how you want it done. Then you insert it to test the temperature and it will also sound an alarm when the meat is done.
Wooden Handle Stainless Steel Fork
If you prefer the more traditional, old-fashioned barbecue fork, with a wooden handle and of course stainless steel shaft and prongs, then this is the one. Not only does it have that traditional look and feel, but the prongs are almost a sharp as the the HeyLR. It is has good design features, like a suede hanging string. The heat-resistant wooden handle alone is eight inches long, and the fork overall is 13.5 inches. It does, however, bend slightly if enough pressure is applied. But that can be an advantage if you want to bend the prongs with pliers, say, to change their angle slightly. Made by Mister Chef.
Splash Brands 8033 BBQ Fork Musketeer Style Barbecue Sword
This is a great little gimmick - if not entirely practical. And the misspelling of “musketeer” left the literary purists among us a little disconcerted.
So… a barbecue fork shaped like a musketeer sword. The steel shaft is circular, not blade-shaped, and the end has two prongs for skewering the meat. It is actually stronger and sturdier than it looks. The wooden handle is comfortable to hold and the sword has a stainless steel handguard to protect you from the heat and splashes of hot juices and fat. However, actually using it to turn sausages or take them off the grill feels a bit awkward.
As an added gimmick, this sword/fork comes with a mask - although we can’t escape the feeling that the makers are mixing up the their musketeers with their Zorro! It says on the box that the fork will “make sausages sizzle and ladies swoon.” We think that depends on the size of the sausages.
XL Stainless Steel BBQ-Pro Carving Fork
Another traditional wood and Forged Stainless Steel BBQ fork, similar to the Mister Chef one above, this is longer - coming in a whopping 18 inches (46 cm). Whereas the Mister Chef version has a rounded handle head and the handle itself was of equal width throughout its length, this one is wide at top at the top and tapered as it gets to the prongs. The handle is made from Brazilian cherrywood. It is durable and comfortable to hold, but when cleaning the fork, don’t let it sit in water. You can clean it under running water, and the handle won’t be hurt by a few splashes. But don’t immerse it in water or soak it. Just clean it thoroughly, dry it (or let it hang to dry) and then put it away for next time. For serious barbecue work, especially for large gatherings, this is a good fork to buy.
Stainless Steel Fork by Outback
If you’re looking for something more modern-looking, or even futuristic, this solid stainless steel fork is the right choice for you. We say solid, because that is how it feels. However, the metal hook is a separate piece. It is large enough to be convenient and practical for use on large grills. The metal grip does not get hot and using it feels comfortable and reassuring. Also, it will last and you don’t have to worry about the handle discoloring from getting wet when you clean it.
Fyrkat Grill Tool Fork
This fork by Bodum scores higher for functionality than it does in the looks department. It’s sturdy, the silicone grip doesn’t get hot and the prongs are sharp enough to penetrate anything from soft/raw meat to tough cooked meat. So it works. The length is 13.5 cm, which is pretty much standard for all but the extra large forks. But it’s hard to get excited about. We can recommend confidently enough, however. It does the job and the price is in the zone.
BBQ and grill knives fall into a number of categories. There are carving knives - like those we are familiar with from the kitchen. These are useful if you cook whole joints in a closed barbecue or a smoker. Closely resembling these are chef knives, which can be used for carving but are basically multi-purpose knives.
Then there is the classic BBQ grill knife with a long handle and a relatively short blade. These are used for cutting meat on the barbecue, more often than not just to check that it is done through. Other knives include boning knives and slicing knives. We offer a choice of the best of each of these, in our reviews below, taking into account price, performance and overall quality.
Lokkii PK2 Perfection Knife
This one piece stainless steel knife has an aesthetically pleasing laminated wood handle that is inlaid into the wood in two pieces. The knife is easy and comfortable to hold. With a sharp point and variably serrated edge, you can use to test the meat and cut it on the grill. For hanging when not in use, it has an eye with a strong thread running through it. Personally we at mybbq.life wouldn’t hang it, but rather place it on a surface away from any kids who might be running around the garden.
Tramontina 29810/141 Carving Knife
A more traditional barbecue knife with a long wooden handle and a stainless steel blade. Made in Brazil, the blade has been heat treated to maximize the hardness. The handle is of reforested Jatobá wood. Holding it is comfortable, but we think that the term “ergonomic grip” is stretching things a bit. It is a tapered piece of wood with smooth curvature on the underside and on top and flat at the sides. One can say that it has been nicely crafted and is perfectly functional. But it has hardly been molded to the shape of the human hand. (Please note: Don’t be put off by the strange English in the description - this is still a good product.)
Lokkii SGK7 Scandic Knife
No Lokkii haven’t actually cornered the market in barbecue knives, but they do make some good products. That’s why we have included this one. Made of one piece stainless steel with a thermoplastic rubber handle this knife is as good as the PK2. It’s a matter of taste whether you prefer the PK2 or this one. The pointed tip is sharp and the serrated edge on the lower part of the blade has good cutting power. It also has a metal hanging hook, although (as we have said before) he have some reservations about hanging these sharp knives, based on safety concerns where children might be running around.
ZELITE INFINITY Santoku Knife
A chef knife is an all-purpose knife and every kitchen should have one even for indoor cooking and food preparation, let alone for barbecues. This full tang 7 inch knife is of fine quality, but comes as a hefty price. Although made in China (don’t let that fool you, the quality is excellent) it is made from Japanese raw materials. Following the great Japanese sword-making tradition (we think) this knife derives its strength from its many layers - 67 in all. That is 33 on each side made of high carbon stainless steel, plus a central core of Takefu VG10 super steel.
It boasts (to quote their own description) “a Hollow Ground Blade meaning Non-Stick, Exquisite Tsunami Rose Damascus Pattern and Liquid Nitrogen Tempering ensuring Long Lasting Performance! Stain & Rust Resistant.”
As to the useage, well all we can say is it lives up to what it claims. It slices very cleanly and has just the right weight and genuine ergonomic design to give it a good feel in action. Whether it is soft, squishy vegetables or tough meat, this knife will do the business. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen and take your food prep seriously, this is the chef knife for you. Yes the price is steep, but you know the old cliche: you get what you pay for. And what you get with this knife is quality.
To prove that they mean what they say, this knife comes with a 100% lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.
Mercer Culinary Genesis Stainless Steel Forged Chef's Knife
If you can’t afford the high (but well-worthwhile) price of the ZELITE INFINITY Santoku Knife above, you might like to consider this one. At less than a third of the price of its high-end competitor, the Zelite may not have quite the same up-market qualities, but it is a good knife by any high standards. Made of high carbon, no-stain, German X50 Cr Mo V15 cutlery steel, it is resistant to rust, corrosion and discoloration. It is a precision forged, full tang knife for easy honing with a taper ground edge for long-lasting sharpness.
So much for the technical specs, but what about the knife in action? Well it is easy to hold even in sweaty or even wet hands thanks to the Santoprene handle. This can be very useful both in the kitchen and out of doors when standing over a hot barbecue grill in the sweltering summer heat.
It is also very good for cutting, again from soft tomatoes to overdone steak. And it comes sharp out of the box. It actually lasts a long time without sharpening, but when it does come to sharpening time, we can tell you that it sharpens well, thanks to the full-tang. A good alternative to the Zelite for the price conscious.
Richardson Sheffield Sabatier Trompette Cook's Knife
If your budget is really limited, you might like to consider this low-price alternative to Zelite or Mercer. A full-tang blade like the other, this one too is supposed to sharpen easily and last a long time. We can testify to the former, but the latter is a bit more complex. Even good blades need to be honed frequently and sharpened occasionally. Honing actually straightens the blade rather than sharpening it, but when a blade needs honing, it often feels like it isn’t sharp. This blade will need honing more often than its expensive cousins.
The description also boasts a “precision taper ground blade to glide through food” however, in our experience the softer cuts of raw meat don’t cut quite as cleanly as this implies. Whilst we wouldn’t go as far as to say it shreds them, it certainly doesn’t cut as clean as a good executioner’s blade, to coin a phrase.
It is dishwasher safe and carries an impressive 25 year guarantee. Although made by the Richardson Sheffield company, it is actually made in Taiwan.
DALSTRONG Boning Knife - Gladiator Series - German HC Steel
Boning knives are used not only for filleting (i.e. separating the meat from the bone) but also for skinning, trimming and butterflying the meat. They need to be sharp, small and easy to handle. The Dalstrong has all of these qualities, and comes with a money-back, satisfaction-guarantee. But the sharpness of the knife also means that you have to handle it carefully. Of all the types of purpose to which cooking knives can be put, filleting and skinning are the uses that are most likely to result in you cutting yourself. So be careful.
We found this blade slightly bigger (wider) than some boning knives, but soon got used to it. We found that it cut easily through the meat and once we got the feel of it, guiding it around the bone and cutting close to the bone were no problem. If you know how to use a boning knife, this is a high-end product that you will like. On the other hand, if you have no experience filleting but feel up to the challenge of learning, you might prefer to try with a cheaper knife such as the…
V Sabatier Boner
Another from Richardson Sheffield. Made of a good steel alloy (although by no means the best). This knife was as easy to use as the Dalstrong, but needed more frequent sharpening. They are also not quite as durable in extreme condition (like if you drop one onto a stone surface). But they are backed by a 30 year warranty, so that should give some assurance.
The main thing to remember is that boning and filleting are tricky operations. They call for a sharp knife, but that knife can easily cut you if you aren’t careful - and sometimes even of you are. If you don’t know about boning and filleting, watch a couple of training videos first. And if you do and are looking for a less expensive boning knife than the Dalstrong, treat yourself to this one.
Victorinox 26 cm Fluted Blade Forged Slicing Knife Gift Boxed
Sometimes doing a good barbecue requires slicing wafer thin cuts off a joint - especially a slow-smoked joint. That’s when you need a good slicing knife. This baby is at the top end, and the price reflects it. Made from chrome-molybdenum steel, it has a 26 cm blade - long enough for those tough jobs that the serious barbecue enthusiast views as a challenge rather than a chore. And with this knife they’ll be a breeze. The blade runs the entire length and the knife is ideally sized for smaller as well as larger jobs. We found it could cut ribs easily and slice wafer thin cuts of beef, pork or even turkey crown.
Is it worth the price?
That depends on how often you use it. Do you like to do regular barbecues or dinner parties and need to carve cold joints? Or hot joints that haven’t had a chance to “rest”? More to the point can you afford it? Is the price in line with the cost of the rest of your kitchen equipment? If so then it’s worth getting. If you want something cheaper then try the...
DELUXE FLUTED CARVING KNIFE. DOLOMITEN INOX
With an ergonomic handle and a 12 inch blade, this carving knife can not only cut thin slices of delicate salmon, it can also cut through bone. And you don’t even have to be strong to do that. The weight of the knife and the sharpness of the blade give it the strength and versatility for those jobs. Made of stainless steel it is a good quality knife and should last a long time if properly looked after.
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