The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

Get a Good Grip

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This year I seem to be writing about tri-tip or cool tools. This entry is about the lowly BBQ tongs. Until I tried these Steven Raicheln Best of BBQ tongs I really hadn’t give tongs much though. Turns out a good pair of tongs elevates your experience using them to a whole new level. Actually I said having a good pair of tongs and it should have read two good pair of tongs. I always like to have two pair. That way there if one is in the dishwasher the other is available for use. Also if you have a big piece of meat or a fragile one it is often better to have two pair to use. There are several other tongs out there that look like mine, I will describe hear what makes a good pair of tongs.

So what makes a good pair of tongs? Many things actually.

  • Length: They need to be long enough to easily reach the food while your hands far enough back that they are not over the hot grill grate. My tongs are 19” (48 cm) long and do that job nicely.


The C-shaped cross section gives you great strength and light weight. Less flex means safe and sure food transfers.

  • Construction: The tongs need to be sturdy and not flex when lifting a big piece of meat. This was something I didn’t realize was a factor until I tried these tongs. Many tongs are a stamped flat piece of metal and can flex quite a bit. These tongs use a C-shaped section which makes them very sturdy. They always feel secure even when picking up large pieces of meat. I no longer have spills on the grill.
  • Weight: These tongs manage to be long and sturdy while being relatively light weight. This makes them easy to move around and position precisely.


The end of these tongs feature a large flat surface that give you a god grip and don’t have pointy claws that will only puncture your food.

  • Business End: By this I mean the end you pick the meat up with. You want to get a god grip without puncturing the meat and letting out all of the juices. These tongs have a long wide tip that makes it easy to get a good grip. The fact they are thin and flat helps you slip them under food that my be sticking to the grill. The wide surface area allows you to get a good grip without squeezing into the food. The pressure you apply is distributed across a much larger area than typical with cheaper tongs.


The bakelite handles keep you cool and they are durable.

  • Handle: The handle should keep your hands cool and should be durable and easy to clean. Many tongs use wood which may look pretty for a while and it is a good insulator. But wood can chip, fade and stain. All metal tongs can get too hot. These tongs use a bakelite handle which stays cool, is durable, somewhat heat resistant and easy to clean.
    Locking mechanism: This was my first set of locking tongs and I didn’t realize just how convenient they could be. This locking mechanism is easy to use. You point the end business end of the tongs straight up and then squeeze and they unlock. Point them straight down and they lock. In the locked position they take up less room in storage, in the dishwasher and out at the grill. This locking unlocking movement quickly becomes second nature. I wouldn’t want to use tongs that don’t lock after trying these.

You really do owe it to yourself to get some good tongs. For years I used tongs that were part of kits of BBQ accessories. They’d last 5 years or so and I’d be onto another. A lot of the things that made my latest tongs great are intangibles that I never knew about until I tried these. I use the other types of tongs for rearranging coals in the Side Firebox of my Smoker or for removing hot coal baskets, but never for food. Do I have any dislikes? Just one and it may be a thing of the past. The first two pairs of these tongs both broke in the same way. The bent metal spring clip used as part of the locking mechanism rusted out from use in the dishwasher and broke after only a few months. When I wrote to Steven Raichlen’s company inquiring about replacement spring clips they went above and beyond. They sent spring clips plus two new tongs that had a different type of locking mechanism. The clips rusted out again in the old tongs, but the new design which is what they sell now, have lasted several years. So I would have no problems giving these tongs my highest recommendation. The best part is they don’t cost much more than vastly inferior run of the mill tongs.

I’m adding the link for the Cool Tools Page on his web site. For the tongs I have scroll down towards the bottom of the page. At the top of the page you will also notice similar tongs with a built in light. Someday when these tongs finally wear out I may just have to try these lighted ones.



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