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The Best Grill Tongs
What qualities separate the best grill tongs from the pretenders?
Last Updated Apr. 27, 2021. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 21: Back to Grilling Basics
The design of our favorite grill tongs, the OXO Good Grips Grilling Tongs, has changed slightly, but we like these new tongs just as much as we did the original version. For more details, see below.
What You Need To Know
The best tool for grilling is a great pair of tongs. Grill tongs let you deftly grab, lift, and turn food without piercing it, and because they have long handles, they keep your hands far from the heat. But too often grill tongs have one of two big problems: They look like they were made for Paul Bunyan—huge, heavy, and chunky—or they’re too lightly built for serious grill work, with misaligned, flimsy arms and pathetic pincers. Either way, bad tongs make grilling harder than it should be, as they force you to fight for control over the food you’re cooking.
Since we last tested grill tongs, many new styles have come on the market, so we tested six pairs, priced from $14.93 to $29.02, including our longtime favorites, the OXO Good Grips 16" Locking Tongs ($14.93). We took them outside and tried them on a variety of tasks that tested their agility and strength, grilling delicate asparagus spears, chicken parts, and full slabs of ribs. We used them to open and close hot hinged grill grates and vents and to arrange glowing coals into a banked fire. We also asked testers of varying heights and strengths, some left- and some right-handed, to use the tongs while handling and flipping corn on the cob, a whole butterflied raw chicken, and a pound of slim asparagus. We opened and closed and locked and unlocked them 100 times each, and we left them covered with sauce and spice rub overnight and then noted how easy they were to clean. We also washed them 25 times in the dishwasher or by hand and left them wet to see if they’d rust, stiffen, or break. To push the boundaries of their precision, security, and strength, we also tried to pick up single wooden toothpicks and lift heavy glass jars of salsa.
The testing wasn’t pretty: Before it even began, one pair of tongs arrived with a pincer snapped off, a poor omen of its durability. Sure enough, the replacement pair wasn’t much tougher; while both pincers stayed attached, they quickly became misaligned, making it difficult to do precise work like turning individual asparagus spears. Another pair had the opposite problem: Its heavy-duty construction will likely last until the end of time, but this single bent slab of steel weighed nearly 2 pounds, and most testers had to use both their hands to press its pincers closed. It could not grab asparagus, it struggled not to crush hot briquettes into dust, and flipping a batch of 10 assorted chicken pieces made us adopt a sideways, two-handed “shovel and throw” motion that was anything but deft. Two more models of tongs performed moderately well once we’d adjusted to their slightly ungainly handles and pincers. But when we picked up the final t...
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The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.
Lisa is an executive editor for ATK Reviews, cohost of Gear Heads on YouTube, and gadget expert on TV's America's Test Kitchen.