The 10 Best Grilling Baskets
10. Outset Flex
- great for whole fish
- built-in metal loop for hanging
- can be very difficult to clean
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
9. GrillPro Square
- offset stainless steel handles
- rounded seams for ease of stirring
- enamel coating may chip over time
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
8. Arctic Monsoon
- retains and distributes heat well
- sturdy stainless steel construction
- nonstick coating scratches easily
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
7. Charcoal Companion
- rosewood handles stay cool
- made of heavy-gauge steel
- food tends to stick without spray
|Rating||3.5 / 5.0|
6. Weber Original
- also great for chicken wings
- woven design is highly durable
- clasp does not stay closed
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
5. YeeTeching Portable
- includes two basting brushes
- comes packed in a gift box
- dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
4. Culina BBQ
- scratch- and rust-resistant
- large grips for use with grill mitts
- convenient alternative to skewers
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
3. Grillux Stainless Steel
- curved handles for easy carrying
- sturdy and durable construction
- holes are smaller than a dime
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
1. Weber Professional
- works with gas and charcoal
- cleans easily with soap and water
- eighth-inch slits allow for drainage
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
What Are Grilling Baskets For?
If you have a grill or smoker, then it’s probably safe to say you love spending your time cooking food over an open flame. However, getting that same smoky, char-grilled flavor you love on burgers, chicken, and hot dogs is much harder to do for vegetables, fish, or smaller meats without the aid of a grill basket. Grill baskets allow you to cook fragile or small food items without having to worry about them sticking to the grill or falling through the grate. This is because they often have a non-stick surface and are made with very small holes to prevent food from falling into the fire.
When cooking fish directly on the grill, its delicate composition means that it will most likely stick to the grates and flake off when you try to turn it, ruining the nice char you've built up on that side. Honestly, it’ll be a miracle if you even have one solid piece of fish by the time you’re done with it. And because fish has a stronger and far different scent from more frequently barbecued meats, the scent tends to linger on the grates, and sometimes even produce a fishy taste on whatever you happen to grill next. Using a grill basket solves these problems. It keeps the fish off of the grill, while also allowing for easy flipping and less remaining scent afterwards.
Even the smallest pieces of food deserve a flame-kissed preparation, but this often isn't possible without the use of a grill basket. Whether you need to cook chopped vegetables, smaller cuts of meat or shrimp, the basket provides a solid yet perforated surface for heat and smoke to penetrate. Your food will get a beautiful char and soak up that nice smokey flavor, without you having to worry about it slipping into the charcoal.
Which Grill Basket Is Right For You?
Most of the inexpensive grill baskets available for purchase are created from thin or poorly-constructed wire mesh that isn’t designed to stay together for more than a few sessions. Stainless steel, either coated with a non-stick finish or left bare, is always the right move. It’s strong, durable, and rarely rusts if maintained properly. There are several different kinds of grill baskets. These are the fish basket, wok-style, flat basket, and long-handled baskets. What you want to prepare can influence which style you choose.
The fish basket design utilizes a wire mesh on both sides so the heat can easily penetrate, while supporting the weight of the fish evenly instead of creating pressure points that might cause the fish to bend. Instead of flipping the frail meat of the fish, the entire basket flips so there is little chance of ruining the fish's integrity. They might be a bit more difficult to clean than the other styles, but having the perfect, flame-kissed fish with a beautifully charred exterior is worth it.
When you want to make stir-fry on the grill, using a wok-like basket provides you with an easy way to get some smoke flavor on your veggies. It’s perfect for holding large amounts of smaller vegetables or meats that can't be cooked on top of standard grill grates. With a wok-style basket, you are essentially creating a stir-fry on a grill and imparting it with a smokey flavor that isn't possible with traditional stir-frying.
If you want to grill potatoes or thinner cuts of meat, the flat basket design is a good choice. It offers a lot of surface area to cook on and relatively shallow sides. A flat basket can even cook fish well if you don’t like the idea of cleaning the mesh on fish baskets — just be careful when flipping.
Long-handled grill baskets are a very broad category, encompassing many of the styles mentioned above. Their one design modification is incorporating a longer, often wooden handle intended to stay out of the fire so you don't need to use oven mitts to move it. The only downside to this design is that they make closing the lid on your grill very awkward — either you place the whole apparatus inside the grill, heating up and potentially burning the handle, or you just let the handle stick out and leave the grill not fully closed. The common phrase in barbecue law, "If you're lookin', you ain't cookin,'" is very hard to observe when using a long-handled grill basket.
Using Your Grilling Basket
If your grill basket does not have a non-stick coating, then before each use you need to coat your basket with oil. This prevents the food from sticking. Depending on what you're cooking, you'll want to use either direct or indirect heat. Direct heat is most useful for cooking thinner foods, such as asparagus, fish, or thin steaks. This is because these types of foods cook quickly and if you want to get a nice char on the outside before the interior gets overcooked, you need high heat. Indirect heat is best for thicker foods that need to be brought up to temperature slowly, or that will burn easily.
Of course, always treat your grill baskets like they’re your kitchen cookware — after you’re finished, make sure to always clean them thoroughly with soap and water. The last thing you want is to clean your grill baskets as rarely as you might clean your grill. A recent study stated that one of the biggest concerns in food safety is cross-contamination, and cooking with a dirty grill basket is an open invitation for it. When cleaning a non-stick coated grill basket, do not clean with steel wool or you run the risk of scraping the finish off. If storing your baskets outside, don’t leave them anywhere they can get wet to prevent rusting.
When used properly, a grill basket of any kind can help you properly barbecue the foods that might be otherwise ruined on the grill. They give your grill or smoker the versatility of an oven, broadening its possibilities beyond the traditional burgers and hot dogs one normally associates with cooking outside.