1. Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

Featured Essential Tools Need vs Want. Long Read.

Discussion in 'Messages for All Guests and Members' started by bmudd14474, Sep 13, 2019.

  1. bmudd14474

    bmudd14474 Legendary Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Over the years I have seen it asked over and over again about what are the necessary tools for smoking and grilling. I have thought a lot about this and I think there really are 2 list that need to be made. First will be the Needs. These are the bare minimal things that you need to get this adventure started. The only thing missing from the list is the Food but I think it’s given that you need that in order to smoking and grilling.


    · Smoker or grill
    · Tongs
    · Thermometer
    · Rub
    · Fuel
    · Chimney(If charcoal and no propane torch)
    · Good Knive(s)
    · Basting Brush
    · Grate brush
    · Foil
    · Cleaning/Sanitizing product
    · Cutting board(s)
    · Spatula

    Now I will give examples of the items above.

    For smoker or grills if you going the direction of Charcoal I would recommend something such as the Weber Smokey Mountain aka WSM
    https://amzn.to/2ObdrxE Also if you have a Weber Kettle you can use it for smoking too.

    This unit gives you the ability to use as a charcoal grill or a smoker. You can also use wood chunks in it as well.

    If you’re looking at an electric smoker than the ever popular Masterbuilt Electric Smoker aka MES would be the popular choice

    Now if you’re looking to join the pellet smoker movement then you have LOTS of options. I know smoke folks have gone with the Pitboss that is found at Walmart. You can go with ZGrills which I have heard good things about

    Or you can go high end and get one of the best Pellet Smokers around $1200 and get the RecTec Bull RT-700

    As you can see there are lots of options for Pellet Smokers.

    Now if you’re interested in Propane smokers there are some great options out there like the Great Outdoors Smokey Mountain aka GOSM

    Now if you are a traditionalist and want true wood burning experience you can go with an offset smoker or barrel smoker like the UDS. Now when getting an offset smoker you want to get something with a heavy gauge metal so that they hold up long term.

    1 popular option is the Oklahoma Joe Longhorn

    If you are wanting to go a bit heavier and something that will last you a lifetime look into the Langs, Klose, Meadow Creeks, or many of the other big pit builders

    Now for the barrel cookers you can build a UDS with the many instruction threads on www.smokingmeatforums.com

    There are a few commercially available ones as well such as Pit Barrel Cooker

    Now with any of the smokers above you will need to make sure you have enough fuel weather its propane, pellets, wood, or charcoal. If you’re using charcoal make sure to have a good charcoal chimney to use unless you have a propane torch to light it.

    Next up tongs. I know you are thinking well duh this is easy but if you’re new to the smoking/grilling world you will find out that having a good set of tongs is a must. So here are some that I have used that hold up well. This is a 2 pack with a 9” and 12” in it

    There are also long reach ones such as
    https://amzn.to/30oN1uQ Please note that I have not used this one personally. But the reviews look great.

    Now let’s talk Thermometers. A lot of people think we mean expensive wireless units and such. But we are talking about something as simple as the dial thermometer in the smoker its self and a simple wired meat thermometer. You have to understand that the most important thing to a successful cook is knowing what the pit temperature is of your unit. If you think you are cooking at 225° and are at 150° this can meat danger and food borne illnesses. If you think you’re at 225° and you’re cooking at 350° then you can ruin the food in the smoker and no one wants that business. So here is a good dial thermometer to replace the stock one that comes in a lot of smokers.

    There there is a simple oven thermometer that would work great.

    Here is a good basic meat thermometer

    Next up is a good meat rub. There are many recipes on www.smokingmeatforums.com or you can purchase some such as the following

    Or check out

    Most everyone has knives in their home. Make sure they are sharp because it will make the prep work so much easier. If you do not have a good set check out these.

    Now that being said I typically use the following for almost everything.

    I use this to keep a great edge on the knives.

    Next you will need a good basting brush

    Now you need something to keep the grates clean and I know this is a sensitive topic for some because of the bristles of the metal brushes. That being said you can use something as simple as foil and ball it up and use it to scrape the grates. Or you can go more traditional with something like
    https://amzn.to/2ZSScHn just make sure it has a scraping edge on it also as it will be well used.

    Or you can go with

    You will need to have some good quality foil. Make sure you get the heavy duty stuff. Also I recommend the 18” wide stuff. You can get the big rolls at your local Sams or Costco. You can also find it on Amazon here

    Now you are probably thinking well I know I need cleaning supplies for the counters and such. That’s a given but I have been using the following product that works extremely well but isn’t bleach based.
    https://amzn.to/2Qp6n3B I would highly recommend this product.

    Now for cutting boards you all have them in your kitchen but trust me on this you will want to get more of them. They come in real handy. Now I recommend the Plastic NSF boards personally. You can get wood and such but that is a personal preference.

    Now a tip for you. Put a damp paper towel under the cutting board and it will help it to not slide around. You can also use shelf liners

    Last but not least on the need side is a good spatula. Now a good spatula is like buying a pair of shoes. You can get bigger or smaller. Some with fork like tips and a knife on the side. I prefer a simple sturdy one like this

    I know that took forever to get thru and it is only the “Need List” If your still reading then thank you.

    Now for the want list. This will take must longer to get thru and I apologize for that but I want to be very clear with why these are on my list.


    · Meat Flipper aka pigtail flipper

    · Vacuum Sealer

    · Bbq gloves

    · Spray bottle

    · Lights

    · Instant read Thermometer

    · Stainless Grill pan

    · Grill mats

    · Sauce pot and mop

    · Skewers

    · Popup canopy

    · Cooler’s

    · 2nd Fridge/Freezer

    · Propane torch

    · Veggie Rack

    · A-Maze-N Smoker

    · Catering trays

    · Folding Table

    · Butcher Paper

    Pigtail flipper. Haven’t heard of these? Well let’s talk about them. For years all I used was tongs then one day a friend made me one of these flippers. I couldn’t believe how much I like it. I use it for almost everything now other than big stuff like pork butts. If you haven’t used one give them a look.

    In my opinion of the most valuable things you can Vacuum Sealer. Now there are many models ranging from under $100 to over $1000. It really depends on how much you will use it. If you’re serious about this then getting the more expensive chamber vac will be worth it as the bags are a lot cheaper and the machines can handle higher workloads. So for this reason ill list 3 suggestions.

    First will be inexpensive.

    Second is what I have and have put a lot of bags thru it. I like the seal bar on it. It’s a good ¼” seal. And yes this is a huge jump in price but I have put thousands of bags thru this unit and it works awesome. It has seal kits available as they do wear out. The vacuum that this unit pulls is very impressive. Now there are several units that will work well that are cheaper than this one but this one also allows you to use 15” wide bags which is a big advantage for larger cuts of meats.

    Lastly is the top end chamber vacuum sealers. The one I am linking is on the lower side of the prices but will do you well.

    Of course you will need vacuum bags with all of these units. I would recommend checking out Lisa at https://vacuumsealersunlimited.com/. They have great products and customer support. You can also find vacuum sealers there too. They also carry both types of bags (textured for foodsaver kind of machines and smooth for chamber vacs)

    Now let’s move on to gloves. I have both disposable and reusable gloves. I recommend for reusable a good set of welding gloves. I would also recommend spraying them with a sealant to help keep the grease off of them. I use there for moving racks only and not food handling.

    Now if you want reusable for food handling then I would go with something like the following. These have a cotton lined inside so it’s easier to get on and off. I have used some that didn’t have it and it was hard to get your hands out of them when you were done.

    For disposable with is the majority of what I use I go with a good thick nitrile glove. I choose nitrile so that I do not have to worry about the latex allergies. I usually get them at Costco but the ones they have there are great but they aren’t very thick. Gloveworks has some good ones that are thick. I like atleast a 4 mil. But they have an 8 mil that is awesome but more expensive. So for that I go with these first


    To go along with gloves a great big bottle of hand sanitizer is worth having around. Safety is #1 priority. If you're sick you can’t enjoy this great food you’re putting out.

    Next let’s talk spray bottles for spritzing. When I first started out I used the following.

    But over time I would lose pieces or they wouldn’t work anymore. I have invest a lot of $$$ into these over the years until I finally got once that last and works good for doing bigger or smaller volumes. This is a pump one that you pressurize and push a button to mist. The metal nozzle is adjustable and cleans really nicely

    Lights. What more is there to say other than they brighten our lives up? Some of us have good patio lights some of us don’t. Well recently I found these guys and they work great for areas that aren’t as bright as you want. I also put some inside my cargo trailer. They run on AAA batteries so you can get a rechargeable set of those and be golden.

    Yes you can get some good LED Solar units that will get the job done. I just like these because they can move very easy and be used for a lot of things like under counter lighting or like I did I mounted one to the support post of our deck to get light to where the deck blocked.

    Let’s talk thermometers. I know I know we talked about that or did we? Under the need section were basic style units. Now I want to talk about Meat thermometers with bells and whistles and instant read units. There is a lot of debate in this area as to what is the best. In the end the best thing for me may and probably will be different for you so I would recommend making a list of the things you want and need from a thermometer and go from there. This being said let’s talk instant read. There are several on the market starting at as low at $10 going all the way up to over $100. Most people think there can’t be a lot of difference in the 2 ends of these prices but there really is. So for this conversation I will link to 3 different ones.

    First let’s start with the InkBird starting at $11.99. This unit isn’t bad. It’s been out for a little while now and has positive reviews.

    Second we will go the ThermoPro TP19. They market this stating it is competing with the higher end of the instant read group. You can read my review here https://www.smokingmeatforums.com/threads/thermopro-tp19-review.290242/


    Third and on the top of the list and what I default to for several reasons is the Thermoworks Thermapen MK4
    or the Classic version

    As for multiple probe meat thermometers there again are several with lots of great features ranging from $20 - $249. Yes that is a big swing in prices but on the top end you have a unit that monitors 6 channels. Is Wifi or Bluetooth. Can also control a fan for pit temp control. Where the bottom end can do 1 or 2 meats with no wifi or Bluetooth connections. Again we will list 3 options.

    First let’s start with a unit that is Bluetooth and can monitor 4 channels at once. InkBird IBT-4xs. See my review of this unit here https://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t...bluetooth-wireless-thermometer-review.281433/


    Second I would say go with the ThermoWorks Smoke. This unit is built like a tank and works awesome. It doesn’t have Bluetooth or Wifi to the phone. It has a sending and receiving unit that work well.

    Third and last would be my go to of the Fireboard. This is the best unit I have used or tested hands down. Yes its pricey but with being able to do 6 channels from a pit fan controller, quality of the probes, and quality of the unit it’s hard to beat. The model we are linking too is the model that only comes with 2 probes. They have one where you can get 6 also. They also offer all different kinds of probes from the normal every day to threaded ones that can screw strait into the smoker.

    While we are talking thermometers don’t forget a set of probe organizers. They are well worth having.

    Next let’s look at BBQ Grill Baskets. Lots of folks like these for veggies and seafood.

    Do you have too many pans and don’t want another pan or basket you can go with these Teflon non-stick mats that work great also.

    Now some people think of something else when you say grill mat. They think of the think that goes on the deck and your grill sits on. These are great to have as well. Look for something like these.

    A sauce pot and mop or fun to have as well. I like using them when doing a big cook where I have lots of meat to sauce or mop. I like a good cast iron pot and a mop with a cotton head

    Now let’s talk Skewers. You can get the inexpensive wood ones and they will work just fine. But I like to use the metal ones. But not the round ones as the food can spin. I like the flat ones and have found these.

    Now depending on your BBQ area this next one may not be needed. But if you don’t have shade a Popup canopy is very valuable and they aren’t horribly expensive. I am linking to a EZ UP unit because it is really well made. You can also get these cheaper at Harbor Freight and other big box stores.

    Next up Coolers. Don’t need to say a lot here but you will want to have a cooler on hand for bbq gatherings for cold beverages and also for resting meat into when you’re done. You can go from way cheap to way expensive. I have a few of these and they work great.

    2nd Fridge/Freezer. As you progress and do more and more this is a great thing to have in your garage. Check out craigslist or other sites like that for good deals on used units.

    Next up the flaming to start your fuel. Yes we are talking torches or weed burners. For my big off set and when doing charcoal in my weber I like to use this

    Do you want to cold smoke things like cheese and bacon? Well then you need to have an A-Maze-N Smoker. Todd Johnson the inventor of this product has made a simple unit that works so well. I recommend the tube smoker but they have a tray as well if you feel that is better for your needs.


    Disposable Catering trays are a must in my opinion. You can get these cheapest at your local Sams or Costco. I can get you a link on Amazon but it’s more expensive.

    Next up a Folding/Prep Table to be used by your smoker. I use to do everything inside then move outside. It’s so much easier to setup the popup and put a table under it. Do the prep right next to the smoker and strait into it. Then you have the table for wrapping of ribs or whatever you need. Make sure when picking a table to get the widest legs you can for stability

    Lastly if you don’t like using all that foil when wrapping a lot of folks like Butcher Paper. It’s nice to use because when you don’t it can be used to start the next fire in your offset smoker.

    The list could go on and on. If there is anything that you feel I should add to this list let me know and we can get it on here.

    I hope this was helpful and sorry that it was so super long.
    lpbg, BigW., sdkid and 11 others like this.
  2. forktender

    forktender Smoking Fanatic

    Man, you guys use a lot of luxury items.
    Whatever happened to S&P and garlic, meat, smoke and practice.
    I will admit that I do use a inkbird thermo pen and some tongs.
    But in all honesty most people most likely already have what they need to make some amazing que. A weber kettle or other charcoal bbq grill and some wood chunks are really the only things that you actually need to make some amazing grub. I'm not knocking your post at all, it's a great thread. But it might actually scare away people that are on a low income or don't want to buy a bunch of gadgets, is all I'm trying to say.
    Weaverspitbbq likes this.
  3. kelbro

    kelbro Meat Mopper

    Well put together post. That took some time. Thanks!
    lpbg and forktender like this.
  4. tropics

    tropics Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Excellently written Brian
  5. tx smoker

    tx smoker Smoking Fanatic

    This is a great resource!! Folks can get the idea of what's needed to get started and even a lot of those items could be improvised with what they might already have. Then you get the wish list of toys to acquire over time. Now to a big question. Is there any way this could be posted in one of the welcome sub-forums like Roll Call and maintain the first spot at all times? The only reason I ask is that it'd be such a waste for this to get bumped into obscurity over a few days and it's never seen again unless somebody really goes digging for it. If this can maintain the first spot, it'll be the first thing new members coming on board will see and answer a lot of questions right off the bat.

    Thinking out loud,
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2019
  6. JCAP

    JCAP Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    This is a great guide. Well done!
  7. Braz

    Braz Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I am somewhat ashamed to admit it but I have one of almost everything on both lists. It's a sickness, I tell you.
    texomakid, forktender and S-met like this.
  8. S-met

    S-met Smoke Blower

    While I agree that the initial post may seem cumbersome and probably should be split into multiple posts, the initial gist of the "needs" seems to say that the average kitchen has 95% of what is necessary to begin.
    lpbg and forktender like this.
  9. Winterrider

    Winterrider Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I agree, could be very beneficial for many without it getting lost.
  10. Winterrider

    Winterrider Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    And thank you Brian. I have been looking for some quality food handling gloves. Use welding for hot racks.
    bmudd14474 likes this.
  11. forktender

    forktender Smoking Fanatic

    I completely agree and love the post, I was just adding a different point of view.

    S-met likes this.
  12. xray

    xray Master of the Pit

    Thanks for the write up. You made me realize how much I hate my tongs, as they’re always making me drop food and chase it around the grill.

    Ordered. Thanks.

    Also about that Weston pro-2300, are they ever on sale below $399?
  13. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've had the ABS plastic oval handled pigtails for several years and has more leveage than round wooden handles and they are dishwasher safe. Left and right handed. If you hold the right handed extended out in your right hand the point curves to the center of your body the left in the left hand curves to the center of your body. No directions. With the right handed go to the left side of the steak and snag the outside fat ring, making a sideways figure 8 (infinity sign) to flip and release the hook. The small one is great for fishing out pickles, olives, flipping bacon and indoor cooking and the big one to snag and drag large cuts, ribs for reaching over the pit. Seems the small one is more versatile. Quick clean up from a lot less surface area. I believe Jacaard makes them.
  14. bmudd14474

    bmudd14474 Legendary Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I have made this a sticky. It is still in the messages for all forum. I might move it later on.

    Yes it does go on sale you just have to watch for them. Its a great unit.

    I have used both and like the wood better over the plastic but thats for the feel in my hand. I have one that a friend who is a blacksmith made me out of wrought iron that is my favorite.
  15. texomakid

    texomakid Smoking Fanatic

    I resemble this remark.........
  16. SmokinVOLfan

    SmokinVOLfan Master of the Pit

    Nice write up! Thanks for sharing. I am going to check out the Pig tail flipper...never heard of it before but sounds great
  17. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    There was a guy forging rail road spikes into pigtails at an Olde English fair but they were too short. You'd burn your knuckles.
  18. sdkid

    sdkid Smoke Blower

    I don't completely agree. I think it will help newbies understand that they don't have to go buy a lot of high dollar items to join the smoking crew.
  19. tx smoker

    tx smoker Smoking Fanatic

    I'm gonna step in here and share some real world, real life experience to help validate some of what is in Brian's summary. Several years ago I was a senior level manager at a large full-service hotel and was required to maintain a bunch of different certifications. One of those was the Serve Safe food handlers certification. At the time I thought it was silly. Now I'm grateful for the education. I cannot stress enough the importance of safe handling of food and maintaining a sanitary work environment. My friends regularly comment about how anal I am when the food is prepared and cooked. They love it because they aren't at all concerned about getting poisoned. That makes me feel pretty good to be honest and it makes them feel good. One flaw in execution of preparing a meal could cause a problem. I implore every body, if you're not sure about how to handle food or maintain safety, please ask. There are people in this forum that are experts in the field and will always jump in to answer questions. No sense taking a chance when you have a resource like this forum.

    My .02 and probably getting some change back,
  20. clifish

    clifish Meat Mopper

    My neighbor is continuously using the same utensils to handle the raw chicken and then move the finished burgers onto a bun. I am always telling him that is not safe and he just says I am paranoid. Needles to say I handle my own food on the BBQ at his house.