Every brush did a decent job of cleaning, but only one made it feel easy.
Last Updated May 26, 2022. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 21: Back to Grilling Basics
The name and handle of our favorite grill brush have changed slightly, but the brush’s superior performance, durability, and ease of use remain the same. As a result, we still think the Weber 12" Three-Sided Grill Brush is the best grill brush for most people.
Grilling is a quintessential summer activity, which means cleaning the grill is, too—or at least it should be. It's a small chore with a big payoff: a smooth, gunk-free cooking surface. A good brush should allow you to scrub the entire cooking grate, even the hard-to-reach grate ends, and remove debris with minimal effort. It should also be durable enough to use repeatedly without falling apart.
We learned of availability issues with our previous winner, so we set out to find a widely available brush that could efficiently clean both charcoal and gas grill grates. We tested a variety of models, several of which had traditional metal bristles. We're aware of the safety concerns related to such brushes (namely, the risk of ingesting a bristle if one were to come loose), so we included models that featured bristles made from nylon and palmyra fiber (which comes from a type of palm tree) in addition to models with bristles made from stainless-steel coils and steel wool. We also included an all-wood model in the shape of a paddle.
Then we got to grilling: chicken thighs coated in barbecue sauce on charcoal grills and hamburgers on gas grills. In the end, every brush got the cooking grates on both types of grill satisfactorily clean, but some tools required a lot more work to get the job done than others.
We were intrigued by the all-wood model. It was shaped like a paddle with a straight edge on one end that you repeatedly run over the hot grill grate, burning indentations into the wood and eventually creating grooves that will scrape off debris. But after spending 10 minutes hovering over a hot charcoal grill, pushing the paddle across the grate, we saw only faint indentations in the paddle. When we used a new paddle on the gas grill, we were able to achieve deeper indentations because the grill and grate were heavier and sturdier and we could apply more pressure. It was a lot of work, though, and because the paddle's indentations and grooves were rigid, we couldn't clean the grates as thoroughly as we could when using a brush made with bristles or other more flexible materials.
The model that featured a steel-wool pad attached to a plastic brush head was effective at scrubbing the tops of grates, but we couldn't clean between the grill grate bars because of the plastic brush head. We tried to minimize contact between the hot grates and the plastic because we feared that the plastic might melt.
The brush with metal coils was easier to use than the steel-wool model, but it still required some effort—even after we dipped it in water, as instructed, to create steam. The coils were rigid and r...
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Miye is a senior editor for ATK Reviews. She covers booze, blades, and gadgets of questionable value.