Three Things to Consider When Buying a Grilling Basket

Grilling baskets provide all kinds of cooking options for barbeque fans. Here’s how to choose the best one for your use.

Flames under a grill
Grilling fish or vegetables? A grilling basket makes the job easier and leaves less mess.Danny de Jong/Unsplash

My kids surprised me with a stainless grilling basket a couple of years ago. As a grilling fanatic (I keep a snow shovel by my backdoor so I can plow my way to the grill all winter), this is one of the handiest grilling accessories I’ve every owned. I use it for everything, from stir-frying vegetables and chicken to grilling delicate fish, like sole, that would ordinarily slip through the grilling racks on my Weber. Simply drop it on the grill, let it heat, and you’re ready to rock and roll. Want to add one of these or a more traditional fold-over grilling basket to your barbecuing tool set? Here’s what to look for.

Stainless or Non-Stick

Weber grilling basket
High sides on this model make it perfect for grilling veggies and it also works well on delicate fish, like sole, that would ordinarily slide through a standard grilling rack.Weber

Life is a series of trade-offs and grilling baskets are no different. Straight, non-coated stainless steel baskets can go right on the hottest flames. You can let them get super-hot and not worry about damaging them. The downside, is that oil and foods will build up on them. I'm used to giving mine a quick scrub with hot water before each use, but that might not work for everyone. Baskets coated with a non-stick surface are much easier to clean, but you need to be careful about how hot they get. Most makers don't recommend using them in heats above 400 degrees, so you want to be careful not to overheat them.

Basket or Folder Over

Cuisinart grilling basket
This grilling basket features a non-stick surface for easy clean-ups. Rolled handles provide a good grip for heavy barbeque mitts.Cuisinart

I'm a basket guy. I like the higher sides that prevent foods from flying out when I stir fry vegetables or meats on my barbeque. But if you're headed out camping or for a picnic, a fold-over basket is perfect for grilling up whole fish, burgers, or chicken breasts. They keep your hands well away from the heat, too. Most models are dishwasher safe for easy clean-ups.

Features to Look For

WolfWise grilling basket
This model features an adjustable, heat-resistant wooden handle to provide a safe and comfortable grip that keeps your hands well away from the heat of the fire when turning foods.WolfWise

Hole size: Make sure the holes on your grilling basket are small enough that food items won's slip through. Also look for models using thick enough mesh or steel plates that won't warp or twist when subjected to high heat.

For fold-over baskets: Check for rough edges or pieces of mesh sticking out that you might catch a finger on. A sturdy latch lock is also a good feature to ensure foods stay locked down in place. Some offer insulated handles that will prevent accidental burns if you pick up a hot basket off the fire.

For Wok-type baskets: Look for models with high sides and deep baskets that will prevent foods from popping out when you're in full stir-fry mode. Side handles that are also large enough to grip with thick barbeque mitts or leather gloves make transfers easy.