I have talked about a number of things that I have grilled/smoked/BBQ’d in the past. But I want to address some of the necessities around the grill. Can someone produce fantastic Q without these things? Absolutely. Does Tiger Woods need custom fit, ridiculously expensive, golf clubs to be a great golfer? Could he grab a set of clubs off the shelf at Wal Mart and shoot under par? Probably. I am not saying I am the Tiger Woods of the grill, because I’m still the equivalent of a guy shooting 100 on 18 holes!?!? These are the tools that I use to make my Grillin and Chillin experience a better experience…

First off you need a grill. That is an entirely other discussion. Charcoal vs. Gas. Smoker vs. Non Smoker. If a Smoker, Vertical vs. Horizontal vs. Closet Smoker. Porcelain vs. Metal. I will go into this with another post. And I would guess that the vast majority of people that are coming to this site already have a grill.

Let’s start from the beginning. In order to Grill/Smoke/BBQ, one needs a heat source. Each of these methods will require a different amount and intensity of heat but they all need heat. If you have a gas grill this is provided with the flip of a switch. For most of the rest some sort of charcoal is used. This can be in the form of standard fluid lit charcoal, match light charcoal, premium briquettes, cheap briquettes and lump charcoal. One could also simply use chunks of hard wood to grill but that gets expensive fast. What do I use? Cheapest Briquette I can find and a Chimney Starter:

With a Chimney Starter I dump in charcoal, put some newspaper in the bottom and light. 20 minutes later I have red hot coals. Considering it is December and here in St. Louis it has been really windy getting that paper lit can be a PITA for many people. Not for me. I bought one of these to light the paper:

This thing does a couple of things that are very helpful. First, it is not affected by the wind. I can get that torch going in a Hurricane. Second, it really makes my inner pyro happy!?!? I bought this thing at Home Depot for $12 with the can of fuel. New fuel cans are about $3 and last almost a year. It’s also great for lighting the outdoor fire pit. And yes I realize that is overkill, but that’s not the first time I’ve been accused of that!?!

Now that the paper is lit we have 20 minutes to prep the grill and the food. If the plan is to smoke some meat then some smoke wood is required. I am fond of the fruit woods – apple, pear, peach and cherry – Click here for a complete list of all manner of smoke woods and what they pair well with.

While the charcoal is lighting let’s prep the food. I use a lot of spices in my grilling and do a variety of rubs which is a whole other thread in itself. But no matter what spices you use, Penzey’s is the way to go:

Speaking of necessities for rubs. Have you ever made a sweet rub or BBQ sauce with brown sugar only to have the sugar burn and blacken well before the meat is done leaving you with a burnt outside and an underdone inside? There is a solution. Turbinado Sugar or Sugar in the Raw. This stuff has a much higher smoke point and will not burn nearly as brown sugar. This is a must have for any Pit Master:

Another necessity would be a really good knife or two. I am partial to the Kershaw Shun Classic Series. The knives are ridiculously expensive but are well worth it. The two I use the most are the 10 inch Chef:

And the 6.5 inch Santoku:

The Chef is great for slicing, particularly large cuts of meat such as the Spiral Cut Pork Loin I showed in another thread while the Santoku is great for dicing, mincing, chiffinading, and juilianning.

Now that the food is ready to go on the grill, one needs an implement to get it to the grill and manipulate it once on the grill. I highly recommend tongs. A grill fork is a bad idea for just about any meat. There are all manner of tongs out there. My favorites are the Good Grips Tongs seen here:

I’ve tried many types and these to me are the very best. If anyone knows of any better, please let me know. I want to try them.

Another item that is extremely handy is a outdoor grill pan.  This is not one of those skillets for the stove with the little grooves to put grill marks on meat inside.  This is a pan with holes in it that makes it ideal for cooking veggies and seafood.  This is the model I own:


What makes this one nice is that the handle is removable.  Makes it easy to close the lid on the skillet if I can remove the handle.  It’s sort of a bear to clean but it works really well.

Now that the meat is on the grill, we need to make sure the temperature is what we need it to be. If we are just grilling steaks that temp is as hot as you can get it. But for smoking and BBQing that temp needs to be within a specific range. For smoking I like to keep the temp between 200 and 250 with 225 being pretty ideal. For BBQing I want to keep the temp around 275-300. My smoker has a built in thermometer but the temps in the cooking chamber can very greatly in a horizontal smoker. I like to put an extra thermometer near the heat source to know what the temp is for the meat closest to the heat. That way I can make sure that the meat in that area doesn’t get burned or overcooked. While my thermometer is not wireless like this one, I plan on getting this one after the Holidays:

The one above is wireless and would allow me to leave the grill for extended periods of time. An alarm will tell me if it is too hot or too cold. Some ribs I did recently were overcooked because a temperature spike to something like 280 overcooked them because I was inside. If I had this wireless thermometer that wouldn’t have happened.

Now that we have addressed some key items for the Grillin part of Grillin and Chillin, let’s discuss the later. Here are two things I need to satisfy the latter:

You may want to check back to this post periodically. As I find more grilling essentials I will add them here.

As usual, if you have any questions, please email me at Scott@GrillinFools.com or simply leave a comment below.

Also, you can follow the Grillin Fools on Facebook and post your own grillin

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Original Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to college with a suitcase and a grill where he overcooked, undercooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thousands of failures, and quite a few successes, nearly two decades later he started a website to show step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions on how to make great things out of doors so that others don’t have to repeat the mistakes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas


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First visit to your site (saw the article)
Great idea

Do you know where reasonably priced wood can be found in the St. Louis?

I have never seen or heard of someone using the term PITA outside of my family, it made me laugh

Keep up the good work



Most grocery stores these days carry apple and cherry chips and hickory and mesquite chunks. I am a big believer in chunks but not the biggest hickory or mesquite fan. Smoke and Fire out on Manchester has a great selection of chunks. I hear that Ace Hardware stores have chunks of other stuff than hickory or mesquite but call ahead. Also I hear the fireplace shop down in Arnold has chunks as well. There are plenty of options online but the shipping is really pricy…

There are a couple of booths at Soulard Farmers Market that sell wood chunks (hickory, sassafras and cherry). They ask 60cents a pound.



Thanks for that tip. I will definitely have to find those booths at the SFM. That’s a steal for good smoke wood…

I am looking for a good digital thermometer that will measure the meat as well as the heat of the fire.
I have had one from the Weber web site for about 10 years but it is inconsistant and I no longer trust it.
Is there a brand you reccommend?
I could not tell what brand you had in the photo on your site.

BTW I love youe website, I tried your smoked beans with the bacon on top and it was great.



I really don’t have a brand to recommend. I bought the one I have off Amazon. Dad bought an identical looking one at a cooking store in an outlet mall in Indiana over the summer and it’s a POS. Mine works fine. I just bought one with a wireless remote but I haven’t tried it yet. These things are hit or miss. I would recommend verifying it keeps the right temp by getting a cheap oven thermometer and putting them next to each other on the grill to validate the reading…


Hi Scott,

Wanted your thoughts… I recently moved into a apartment due to a job relocation (MN)– While the complex offers gas grills for use, I still like the charcoal and smoking vs grilling.

I purchase a 2424 CharGriller smoker to use, but need a table / surface to raise it off the ground. I have consider getting a cast iron table that I can move around away from the bldg. due to a fire code here.

Other than that do you have any other suggestions that also might work?




Have you tried a Big Easy?


You can add smoke wood to it and get that smoke flavor on a grill with a small footprint perfect for an apartment. Otherwise, you can put it on a regular table but you need some sort of heat shield. Make sure you test that heat shield far away from anything else flammable…


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