Whether you are a seasoned pitmaster, it’s your first attempt at using your smoker or you are looking for gift ideas, the right tools and equipment are going to make this labor of love a whole lot easier (and safer)! Investing in quality equipment the first time means they will last a long time, they will make things more enjoyable, and yeah, the food will taste better, too.

4 Reasons Having the Right Tools Is So Important

  1. Consistency – Smoking a brisket (or almost anything) requires controlling the temperature of your smoker, as well as cooking the meat to a precise temperature. Without the right tools like a thermometer, it’s much more difficult to get the best results.
  2. Efficiency – Your time and the number of trips out to the smoker can be cut down by using the right tools.
  3. Safety – Dealing with heat and fire can be dangerous. Using the right heat-safe gloves, long tongs and sharp knives greatly reduces the risk of injury.
  4. Flavor – Using the right type of wood and fuel while you smoke the brisket has a big effect on the flavor of your brisket. Choosing the right type and size of wood is super important.

Now let’s get to the list:


A quality thermometer (or two) is one of the single most important tools in your arsenal when it comes to smoking meat. Being able to remotely monitor your smoker’s temperature and meat as it cooks is an absolute game changer. And cooking to temperature, rather than to a time, is key for the best results.

smoked lamb shoulder with thermoworks signals thermometer

Remote BBQ Thermometer

The Thermoworks Smoke Two-zone remote probe thermometer is an amazing tool that monitors the temperature of your smoker along with the internal temperature of the meat. It will remotely alarm you if the temperature of either goes outside the parameters you set.

Buy from Thermoworks →

temp check thermapen smoked brisket

Meat Thermometer

Use an instant-read probe thermometer to get precise internal temperature reads of your meat. These are great for spot-checking to verify your remote probe.

Buy from Thermoworks →

thermoworks billows temperature controller

Temperature Controller

If you cook with a charcoal grill, a Thermoworks Billows will automatically control the temperature of your smoker to whatever you set by regulating the airflow into the grill. It makes overnight cooking super easy, so you don’t have to stress or constantly mess with the vents. Technology definitely has its advantages! Billows does require either a Signals or a Smoke X controller.

Buy from Thermoworks →

Read the quick guide on the Best Meat Thermometers →

Knives & Boards

Your sharpest knife is going to be the best knife, but if you plan on frequently smoking meat, investing in some specific knives is going to make it so much easier. You want a specific knife for trimming before the cook and another specialty slicer for slicing the smoked meat like brisket (this is an often-overlooked important step).

victorinox fibrox pro boning knife on cutting board

Boning Knife

A curved boning knife with a semi-stiff blade is perfect for trimming fat and cleaning up silver skin on the meat before smoking.

Buy on Amazon →

victorinox fibrox pro slicing knife on cutting board

Slicing Knife

A long granton blade slicing knife for slicing cooked meat not only makes the job so much easier and quicker, but you can slice much thinner and more precisely.

Buy on Amazon →

slicing smoked brisket

Large Cutting Board

Used for both trimming and prepping before you smoke the meat, and for slicing it after it’s cooked. A heavy, large cutting board makes the job so much easier. I prefer maple wood because of the soft feel when your knife hits it. Boos Block makes great boards in a variety of sizes and woods.

Buy on Amazon →

Miscellaneous Essentials

smoked brisket on butcher paper

Butcher Paper

Pink butcher paper is super handy for wrapping meats like brisket (aka the Texas crutch) after they get through the stall. I prefer the wider 24″ width for easier wrapping of large pork butts or briskets, it is also available in 18″ width (aluminum foil can also be used). Butcher paper also has lots of other great uses like for placements, signs, tray liners and wrapping up leftovers for guests.

Buy on Amazon →

sous vide pork shoulder in smoker

Drip Pans

Disposable aluminum drip pans for a water bath to keep the smoking environment moist and to catch drippings prevent flare-ups and help keep your smoker clean. They are also handy for cooking foods in the smoker, like baked beans. You can buy these in bulk at Costco.

Buy on Amazon →

Smoked Pork Shoulder - pulled pork on sheet pan horizontal

Sheet Pans

With countless uses, sheet pans are great for seasoning and transporting the meat to and from the smoker or in the fridge. They also work great as serving platters.

Buy on Amazon →

oxo tongs for grilling on cutting board


Tongs have a lot of uses in and out of the smoker, from transferring meat to moving coals or wood chunks. Having a few pairs of long tongs outside and inside just makes things easier. These are available in 9-, 12- and 16-inch versions, and I much prefer these over bulky “grill tongs.” The longer versions are great for staying away from the heat of the grill.

Buy on Amazon →

black nitrile gloves next to box on cutting board

Nitrile Gloves (rubber gloves)

Black disposable gloves nitrile gloves provide a strong barrier against bacteria and are resistant to tears and punctures, making them durable and safe for handling meat for both prep and serving. Nitrile gloves are powder and latex free.

Tip: Buy a size up so you can fit them over your heat-resistant gloves.

Buy on Amazon →

Heat Resistant BBQ Gloves

Heat Resistant Gloves

Heat-resistant gloves protect your hands from the high temperatures of the fire and allow you to handle hot grates and cooking surfaces with ease.

To handle hot foods, just put a pair of disposable nitrile gloves over them so they stay clean.

Buy on Amazon →

yeti cooler


A cooler is such a great multi-use tool that is not only great for keeping things cool, but it’s also essential for resting smoked meats in an insulated environment after the smoke, so it maintains temperature. A cooler is also great for cooking large pieces of meat sous vide in a water bath. You can get a fancy Yeti, or even a cheapo cooler will still work well.

Buy on Amazon →

Fuel & Smoking Wood

Quality fuel is so important for a long cook like for a brisket or pork shoulder, and for hot and fast cooks like a steak. You want it to be easy to light, burn clean and for a long time so you get the best flavor, efficiency and consistent temperature.

Whether you use wood chunks, chips or pellets depends on your specific type of smoker. Learn more in the best wood for BBQ smokers and the best wood for smoking brisket.

big green egg starter 3

Lump Charcoal

Lump charcoal (if using a charcoal grill): I recommend Jealous Devil or Big Green Egg brand for their great flavor, long-burning abilities and uniform chunks inside the bag.

Buy on Amazon →

wood pellets for smoking


Finding your favorite blend and brand of pellets can take some trial and error. It’s usually best to find something locally that’s on sale. Costco even makes Kirkland Pellets, which get positive reviews. The Lumberjack brand is also very popular and lists out their filler woods, unlike many brands.

Buy on Amazon →

wood chunks for smoking

Smoking Wood Chunks

I have always had good results with Western brand. It’s best to buy in person if you can see what you are getting. You can buy online from BBQ Guys or in person at Ace Hardware, which usually has a great selection of quality wood chunks.

Buy from BBQ Guys →


If I had to start with one thing, it would definitely be a high-quality thermometer. While you can get away with making some pretty darn good smoked meat without any special tools, in the long run, it’s going to make a big difference on the amount of fun and the best results you can get. Slowly start building out your toolkit arsenal and have a blast!

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