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The Essential Kitchen Tool for Summer Cookouts and More

When a spatula just won't cut it, what do you do? Grab the tongs. This handy tool is genius for flipping massive steaks or delicate seared scallops. They're great for grilling and will save you from getting splattered while frying chicken. Tongs will help you toss and serve a salad like a pro or impress guests with your ability to fish ice cubes out of a bucket and into their cocktails without resorting to fingers. There are tongs for serving all sorts of food, including toaster tongs designed to help remove a piece of toasty bread from the toaster. For a proper British tea, sugar tongs are a must. Here's the scoop on the 6 types of tongs you should consider for your kitchen:

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Photo by Meredith

1. Flat-surface kitchen tongs

These are essential for thick foods like steaks, burgers and pork chops, offering the greatest amount of stability. There are variations that include a perforated surface so that liquids can easily drain back into the pan, averting a messy transfer. They'll help move asparagus on the grill. While stainless steel and aluminum tongs have long been the gold standard, newer versions featuring silicone tips can handle high heat and offer the advantage of being gentle on pans.

2. Forked tongs

Yes, please, when you're serving pasta, making it a pleasure instead of a slippery game of "will these noodles make it to the plate?" The wide gaps can act like a low-impact blender, gently chopping sauteing ingredients such as greens or ground beef destined for casseroles. They can separate shredded potatoes for the crispiest hash browns and help grab the good bits at the bottom of a pot of stew.

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Photo by Meredith

3. Small tongs

Consider these pincers as offering surgical precision for cooks seeking to carefully place delicate finishing touches, retrieve an ingredient gone astray, or move ice from buckets to glasses like a bartender. Professional chefs are fond of these tweezer-type tongs for artfully decorating plates with micro-greens, caviar or fresh herbs. If space in your kitchen drawer is an issue, lean toward a pair of locking tongs, which offer a slim profile when closed.

4. Extra long tongs

An essential for cookouts, the reach allowing grilling enthusiasts to keep their cool when working over hot coals or a gas flame. They're also brilliant for helping shorter folks reach the top shelf in the pantry.

5. Canning tongs

Key when jars of preserved fruits, veggies, jams and jellies need to be removed from hot water baths after processing is complete. No more burned fingers.

6. Bamboo tongs

So pretty, these are traditionally used to hand hot towels to guests at Japanese restaurants before they dig into a plate of sushi, while wooden salad tongs are an elegant companion to any wooden salad bowl.

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Photo by Meredith

About Leslie Kelly

Always hungry to learn, never had my fill of oysters, Memphis dry rub ribs, wild salmon, chocolate chip cookies or a well-rolled lumpia. Washington state wine lover, bourbon fan. Totally obsessed with brunch!