Whether the food on your grill is an exotic dish like Fiery Asian Pork Loin or a much simpler mix of hot dogs and hamburgers, having the right tools on hand is one way to ensure successful grilling. These tools aid the entire cooking process, from preheating and moving the food around the grill to determining when it's done and making cleanup easier and more efficient.
The most essential tool of all is probably a set of long-handled tongs. Their length allows you to safely reach foods on the back part of the grill. Having an assortment of spatulas, also with long, preferably wooden handles allows you to manipulate the food easily.
Forks are another essential tool, but they shouldn't be used to maneuver the food; piercing a piece of meat allows the juices to escape and can turn the meat dry. They're more effective in determining whether a piece of fish or chicken is done, as well as for serving and carving. The best way, however, to check whether food needs to keep cooking is to use an instant-read thermometer.
A brush makes basting easy. A mop brush is perfect for thin sauces, while a basting brush works well with thicker ones. The bristles should be made from natural fibers, since nylon will melt. You can make your own herb brushes from freshly picked sprigs of thyme, rosemary, sage, or any other type of herb or combination. Dip them in olive oil before brushing the meat to impart a delicate but distinct flavor.
Skewers are essential for shish kebabs and grilling smaller pieces of vegetables. Stainless-steel skewers are easy to clean and conduct heat well. Bamboo skewers are inexpensive and disposable; to prevent them from burning soak them in water before placing them on the grill.
Wire brushes are perfect for cleaning the grate. If the grate is still dirty after you've brushed it, wait until it has cooled, then soak it in hot, soapy water; never use any self-cleaning oven products on the grate because the chemicals will damage the metal.