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
From the iconic stainless steel cookware company that's been around since 1971, this durable basket is a solid choice. It has large perforations that circulate the heat of the grill while adding smoky flavor to whatever you're cooking. The angled sides make it easy for you to move the food in the basket with your grilling tools while keeping everything inside, and the large handles make it easy to transport while wearing grilling mitts. It's heat-safe up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit and can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
Shop Now: All-Clad Stainless Steel Outdoor Square Grilling Basket, $79.95, williams-sonoma.com.
This rectangular stainless steel grill topper claims to have a warp-resistant design that will stay flat even after coming in contact with the flames of a grill. It has narrow Y-shaped 1/8-inch slits that allow for heat circulation while preventing small pieces of food from falling between the grill grates. It measures 16 by 11 inches and has a one-inch high raised edge around three sides that keeps vegetables and other small foods from rolling away.
Shop Now: Unicook Warp-Free Stainless Steel Grill Pan, $17.99, amazon.com.
Best Grilling Basket
If you're grilling something delicate that needs to be flipped, like a whole fish, a grilling basket like this one is good to have. This stainless steel iteration has removable dividers that can split it into three sections (perhaps for shrimp, vegetables, and steak) and a heat-resistant detachable wooden handle that allows you to flip with ease. It also has a large cooking surface (12 by 9.5 inches) that can fit enough food for two or three people.
Shop Now: ORDORA Portable Grill Basket, $21.99, amazon.com.
Best Stainless Steel Option
Whether you call it an outdoor fry pan or a grilling tray, this option from All-Clad has rounded sides that make it easy to toss the food inside it and decreases the likelihood of anything falling out. It's the exact pan that grilling pro Eads uses, and we like that it feels similar to a pan we'd cook with in our indoor kitchen. Made of durable brushed stainless steel that is said to resist corrosion and warping, this pan can withstand temperatures up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit and weighs just over two pounds.
Shop Now: All-Clad Stainless Steel Outdoor Fry Pan, $49.95, williams-sonoma.com.
Best Nonstick Option
This grill topper lays flat on the grill, with two large handles for easy carrying and raised edges on three sides to keep food contained. The nonstick coating helps to keep food from sticking (though they recommend putting a layer of oil on the topper before placing food on it) and can make for easier cleanup than stainless steel. The tray measures 17 by 11.4 inches and can be used to grill a variety of foods, including onions, peppers, fish, shrimp, and steak.
Shop Now: AQUEENLY Grill Tray, $25.99, amazon.com.
Best For Kebabs
If you love kebabs but hate fiddling around with skewers (though we've got some great picks if you prefer using them), these grilling baskets are just the thing for you. You won't need to worry about food spinning around or potentially falling off, as each basket has a lid that latches shut. Rosewood handles make for easy turning, though they get hot so make sure you wear gloves. And while the baskets have a nonstick coating, it's recommended that you oil them lightly before each use for the best results.
Shop Now: Charcoal Companion Nonstick Kabob Grilling Baskets, $39.99 for four, amazon.com.
Best Mesh Option
Even the smallest foods won't fall between the holes of this sturdy stainless steel mesh basket. Its unique design allows you to sear or cook all kinds of proteins and vegetables, and a nonstick coating makes for relatively painless cleanup. It's heat-safe up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and has large handles for taking the basket from the kitchen to the grill safely.
Shop Now: Outset Stainless Steel Roasting Basket, $24.95, surlatable.com.
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