Seasoning your grill will make it easier to clean, last longer, and produce fantastic meals. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to do it.
How to prepare and season stainless steel grates:
- Clean the grates.
- Dry the grates completely.
- Lightly coat the grates with oil.
- Heat the grill up.
- Let the grill cool and brush the grates with oil again.
The rest of the article will go into greater detail and answer some frequently asked questions about the topic.
How To Prepare and Season Stainless Steel Grill Grates
All the parts of your new grill may have impure residue leftover from the manufacturing and shipping process. These impurities will get baked into the seasoning if you don’t wash them off. As a result, they’ll ruin the seasoning coat and can taint your food with a nasty metallic or chemical taste.
For most people, seasoning a new grill may seem like a daunting task. But in reality, the process is simple, easy, and relatively quick.
1. Clean the Grill
First of all, you need to give your new grill grates a thorough cleaning. After all, you’ll be using the grates to prepare your food. So, make sure they’re completely clean.
You’ll need lukewarm soapy water, a scrub brush, and clean water.
- Soak the grates in soapy water for a minute or so.
- Give them a good cleaning with the scrub brush.
It’s also recommended to clean the inside of the grill and its heat plates as well.
2. Dry the Grill
After washing and cleaning your grill, make sure to dry all of its components completely, especially the grates. Make sure there’s no water left before you start the seasoning process.
Leftover water droplets on the grates’ surface may hinder the seasoning process and make the seasoning patchy. This may also lead to rusting over time.
So, dry your grill and the grates with a dry rag or paper towels. If needed, you can also heat it for a while to let water residue evaporate. Then, simply allow the grill to cool down; just enough so you can handle it and start the seasoning process.
3. Lightly Coat the Grill Grates With Oil
Now, you can start the seasoning process.
Choose an oil with a high smoke point, so it doesn’t burn and ruin the seasoning process. Canola, vegetable, and peanut oil are classic options when it comes to seasoning grill grates.
Lightly coat the grates’ surface with oil using a basting brush. This type of brush holds liquids effortlessly to prevent oil from spilling between your grates.
Apply the oil as thinly as possible. Too much oil will actually ruin the seasoning process and create an uneven, sticky coating on top of your grill grates.
Alternatively, a spray bottle of oil will also work nicely. Again, make sure the spray oil has a high smoke point. For example, you can use avocado oil spray, which has a smoke point of around 520°F (271°C) and is super easy to apply to your grill grates.
Cook Hack: You can also cut a potato or an onion in half and use it to apply the oil.
So, it’s recommended to wipe off excess oil using a clean pastry brush or paper towel. The grates should only be slightly oily and not dripping with it.
Avoid using paper towels and brushes with natural fibers to spread the oil. They can leave flammable residues on the grates that might imbue the seasoning coat with a bitter, burnt taste.
4. Heat the Grill Up
You’re almost done!
Heat the grill to around 350°-400°F (176.66°C-204.44°C). Make sure to keep the temperature slightly lower than the smoke point of your oil. Close the lid and simply let the heat work its magic for 15-30 minutes.
After some time, the oil will seep into the pores of the stainless steel, bake in, and create a smooth protective layer.
You’ll know the seasoning process is done when the grates darken to bronze or dark brown. The darker your grates become, the yummier your food will be.
If the grates feel sticky after they’ve cooled down– You may have applied too much oil. Simply crank up the heat again for 20 more minutes, let the grill cool down, and repeat until you get the perfect non-stick seasoning layer.
5. Let the Grill Cool and Brush the Grates With Oil Again
Congratulations! Now your stainless steel grates are properly seasoned.
After the heating process, allow the grates to cool down slightly. Then, apply a light coat of oil onto the grates when they’re still warm. Doing this will add another thin layer of seasoning to protect the grates and improve their performance.
Unlike cast iron pans, you don’t need to add layers upon layers of seasoning to start using your stainless steel grates.
That said, more layers of seasoning will make your grill grates even better. They’ll make cooking and cleaning a breeze. Plus, the longer you let the seasoning build up, the more flavorful your food will be.
3 Tips for Maintaining Stainless Steel Grates
To make your stainless steel grates last longer, check out these additional tips.
1. Avoid Using Harsh Soaps or Detergents
Avoid washing your seasoned grill grates with harsh soaps or detergents. Yes, doing so will clean them, but it’ll also strip off the seasoning. When that happens, you’ll need to re-season them.
Instead, simply brush away any food residue after each use to prevent sticking. It’s recommended to invest in a good grill brush, such as this grill brush, like the one that I use. It can remove even the toughest debris and carbon deposits from your grates.
If there are any stubborn food residues, avoid scrubbing your grates harshly. Instead, preheat the grill to 500°F (260°C) and use a sheet of foil, shiny side down to help loosen the residues. Then, use a grill brush to remove them.
2. Prevent Rusting
Rust can significantly shorten your grill’s lifespan. And yes, stainless steel grates are still vulnerable to corrosion.
While seasoning can help prevent rust from forming on your grill grates, you should take extra precautions to protect them from corrosion.
Avoid pouring liquids directly onto the grill grates. Yes, nothing beats a good BBQ sauce. However, excess liquid will bring about rust. So, stick to marinades instead and only pour the sauces once the meat and veggies are off the grill.
Cleaning your grates regularly can also prevent corrosion.
I recommend deep-cleaning your grill once a year. However, if you use the grill regularly, then you should consider deep cleaning your grill every few months.
3. Re-Season Your Stainless Steel Grates if There’s Corrosion
If you notice corrosion on your stainless steel grates, it’s time to re-season them. Rusty grill grates are a safety hazard because rust may stick to the food, and ingesting it over a prolonged period may cause problems for your intestinal tract.
Here are the steps to re-season your stainless steel grates:
- Clean the grates with soapy water and remove rust with steel wool.
- Rinse the grates with a solution consisting of one part vinegar and five parts water.
- Once the grates are clean, dry them completely with clean rags.
- Simply season them as you would normally.
Do You Even Need To Season Stainless Steel Grill Grates?
You need to season stainless steel grill grates because it creates a protective barrier. While stainless steel grates may not be as high maintenance as cast iron grates, the protective layer from seasoning will prevent corrosion, prolong your grill’s life, and enhance its performance.
The seasoning layer is also non-stick. So, you don’t have to worry about annoying food bits sticking onto your grill grates. That way, cleaning and maintaining them should be a breeze.
Additionally, seasoning can make food even more delicious. You may not get this rich flavor with newly seasoned grill grates, but cooking oils will form new seasoning layers over time, giving your food that yummy signature grilled taste.
Lastly, new grill grates are usually covered with oils, dirt, and contaminants from the factory. If not removed, they’ll impart a nasty flavor and aroma to any food you grill. Seasoning will help burn off impurities and contaminants to prevent them from getting into your food.
Should I Clean My Grill After Every Use?
You should clean your grill after every use to prevent corrosion and wearing down its seasoning layers. Moreover, leftover food bits will become stickier and harder to remove the longer you leave them. So, it’s best to clean your grill immediately to save yourself from the hassle.
That said, you shouldn’t clean your seasoned grill like you would your other cooking equipment. Unless you want to strip off the seasoning, avoid washing your grill with soap or any harsh cleanser.
Instead, you only need to remove food residues that are sticking to your grill grates. It’s recommended to use a grill brush, which can help you remove any burnt residues quickly with minimal effort.
What Is the Best Oil To Season a Grill?
The best oil to season a grill is any oil with a smoke point of 400°F (204.44°C) or higher, such as canola and peanut oil. This is because oils with low smoke points will burn, ruin the seasoning process, and even ruin the taste of your food.
Different oil will impart different flavors into your grill’s seasoning. As mentioned earlier, canola, vegetable, and peanut oil are the safest options since they have a mild, neutral taste.
That said, feel free to use oils with more noticeable flavor notes, such as:
- Avocado oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Almond oil
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil
- Corn oil
- Soybean oil (be careful, soy is a common allergen)
But since spray oil is an aerosol, it can be flammable, so only apply it when the grill is cool and avoid spraying it onto flames.
Some people also like using animal fats, such as butter and lard to season their grills. Animal fats will impart a rich, meaty flavor to the grill. But be careful; leaving the grill sit too long between BBQ sessions may cause the fat to go bad. As a result, it can cause your food to smell stale and unpleasant.
How Often Should I Season My Grill?
You should season your grill regularly, especially if it’s new. Ideally, you should aim to season it once a week or after each use. Simply brush away any food bits off the grill and lightly coat the grates with oil when the grill is still warm after a BBQ session.
Additionally, it’s also recommended to re-season your grill once it has shown signs of rust and corrosion. To do this, clean the grates with warm, soapy water and remove rusts with steel wool. Dry the grates and season them as usual.
Should I Spray My Grill Before Cooking?
You should spray your grill before cooking to prevent food from sticking. Using spray oils or non-stick sprays instead of regular oil will limit mess and spillage. A seasoned grill usually has a protective, non-stick layer, but a coat of non-stick spray can enhance the grill’s performance even more.
Just make sure to use sprays formulated to withstand high temperatures, such as the Pam High-Temperature Cooking Spray. Otherwise, the spray will just burn off and taint your food’s taste and aroma.
But be warned, spray oils and non-stick sprays are usually flammable. For your safety, make sure only to spray your grill when it’s cool and turned off. As previously mentioned, avoid spraying oil directly onto open flames.
So there you have it. You are armed with all the info you need to go out there and have the tastiest grilling season possible. Enjoy!
For more, check out How to Tell When Brats Are Done on Grill | The Best Way.
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