These Grilling Trays and Baskets Make Outdoor Cooking So Much Easier
If you've ever experienced the frustration of perfectly good vegetables, fish, or meat falling through the grill grates, it's probably time to invest in a grilling tray or basket. Before you buy, know that people (and the companies selling them) tend to use the terms tray and basket interchangeably. Those in the know, however, like Matthew Eads, cookbook author, gourmet griller, and founder of the blog Grillseeker, call anything that's open a tray (whether it's flat or something bowl-like with holes in it) and anything that closes a basket. "I prefer a tray when I'm grilling vegetables or shrimp, so I can stir or toss them," Eads says. "The baskets are most helpful when doing larger foods, like a whole branzino or multiple burger patties." His rule of thumb? If you're planning on tossing your food around, use a tray; if you're planning on flipping your food, it's best to use a basket. "Grilling trays and baskets are both great for getting that grill flavor and char onto foods that would normally fall through the grill's grates," he says.
When shopping for a grilling tray or basket, there are three main qualities to keep in mind: material, shape, and construction. "Grill baskets are subjected to extremely high temperatures, so you want to look for a basket that's made of a material robust enough to stand up to them," Eads says, who prefers stainless steel for its durability. "I tend to stay away from nonstick baskets because over time, with exposure to extreme temperatures, the coating comes off."
Grilling trays are available in square, rectangular, and round shapes, and the best one for you will depend on your cooking style and what you're making. If you're flipping burgers with a wide spatula, a flat rectangular tray will be your best bet, and if you're moving around small vegetable slices a rounded shape with higher sides is a good idea. Lastly, take a look at the size of the holes or spaces between grates. "You want to look for a basket that's constructed with large enough holes to allow your food to get kissed by the flame of the grill, but not so large that food will fall through," Eads says. "I've seen some grill baskets that have such small holes, you may as well be using a cast iron pan."
Read on to find out our picks for best in class, from budget-friendly to splurge-worthy.
- Best Splurge-Worthy: All-Clad Stainless Steel Outdoor Square Grilling Basket
- Best Budget-Friendly: Unicook Warp-Free Stainless Steel Grill Pan
- Best Grilling Basket: ORDORA Portable Grill Basket
- Best Stainless Steel Option: All-Clad Stainless Steel Outdoor Fry Pan
- Best Nonstick Option: AQUEENLY Grill Basket