How To Oil Your Grill Grates

How To Oil Your Grill Grates

Oiling your grill grates on a regular basis is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your grill’s condition for optimal taste and performance. You'll be able to flip food more easily and create those cross-hatched grill marks that make grilled food so appealing. Not only does oiling your grates prevent food from sticking, it also protects your grates from rusting. Just a few simple steps will prevent rust from forming by protecting the metal from exposure to the corrosive combination of oxygen and moisture.

How do you keep food from sticking to Cooking grates?

Imagine you have a beautiful salmon filet or a juicy sirloin burger on the grill. But when you slide the spatula under it, half of it sticks to the grates, it falls apart and dinner is ruined.

Your grill grates dry out with regular use and especially after washing them. There are a few things you can do to keep your food from sticking. You can oil your grill grates, coat your food with cooking oil before seasoning or immerse it in an oil-based marinade. Of course, you can apply oil to both your food and your grates. However, when grilling food you don’t want coated in oil, like burgers and hotdogs, oiling the grates is probably the better option.

Before you oil your grill grates, you need to clean them. Cleaning grill grates ensures food safety since you’re cooking food directly on the grates. Burnt food particles, grease and other debris accumulate on the grates, preventing them from retaining their nonstick properties.

So, brush off any burned food stuck to the grates from the last time you barbecued. We recommend using a premium nylon bristle grill brush on cool grates. Nylon bristle brushes are safer to use than economy metal-wire bristle brushes for cleaning your grill.  When you need to clean your grates when they’re hot, use a wood scraper or stainless steel pad. You can also use a wadded up sheet of aluminum foil, using tongs as a handle. Scrub the grates until all burned food is removed.

HOT TIP: When you’re finished grilling, heating your grill to about 500°F will burn off any food stuck to the grates, turning it to ash.

Clean your grill grates more thoroughly every month or so. Use warm soapy water, rinse and wipe away excess water using a dry cloth. Return them to your grill and turn on the heat to dry completely before oiling. Once the grates are clean, oiling is the next step.

What kind of oil do you put on a grill grate?

Always use high-temp cooking oils to oil your grill grates. High-temp oils are oils with high smoke points which means they can withstand high temperatures. Smoke point is the temperature at which an oil begins to smoke, break down and have a foul odor. For high-heat grilling, we recommend using oils with the highest smoke points, ranging from 400°F to 450°F. Vegetable and canola oil perform really well at high temperatures and are probably the most commonly used oils in grilling.

Here’s a list of high-temp oils you can use and their corresponding smoke points to help you decide.

Oil

Refined Avocado Oil

Refined or Light Olive Oil

Refined Peanut Oil

Corn Oil, Sunflower Oil, Safflower Oil

Refined Coconut Oil

Refined Sesame Oil

Canola Oil

Grapeseed Oil

Vegetable Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Smoke Point

520°F

465°F

450°F

450°F

450°F

410°F

400°F

400°F

400°F

375-400°F

Can you use spray cooking oil on grill grates?

Yes. You can use a cooking oil or non-stick spray, but only on a cold grill. Since spray cooking oils are aerosol (with contents under pressure), they should not be exposed to direct, high-heat as the spray can could explode or burst into flames.

How do you oil grill grates?

Oil your grates right before placing food on them and after each use for best cooking results. There are several ways to oil your grates, depending on whether they're hot or cold.

Wipe It On:  When the grill is cool, coat all surfaces of your grates with a bunched up paper towel that is coated, but not saturated in oil.

Spray It On: Spray cooking oil directly on the grates while the grill is cold. Then, preheat your grill and add your food.

Brush It On: Using a basting brush and a small bowl to hold the oil, coat the grates with a smooth, even stroke. This can be done whether the grill is hot or cold.

Whichever method you use, always wipe off excess oil with a paper towel. Then, light your grill and let it burn until the oil on the grates starts smoking, about 15 to 30 minutes.

What's the best way to season grill grates?

If this is your first time using a new grill, you need to burn off any coating used to protect the grill during shipping as well as residue from its production. To season, all you have to do is start your grill and allow it to burn for 30 minutes to an hour before applying oil.

How do you recondition grill grates?

Grill grates are made of metal and without proper maintenance, metal rusts. If you leave your grill outdoors during the winter or don't use it for long periods of time, the grates may become rusty or grow mildew. It’s a slow process but once it starts, it can ruin your grill grates and your day.

When this happens:

  1. Coat a paper towel in cooking oil. Rub the grill grates with the oil, wiping and rubbing the grates until they come clean.
  2. Soak another paper towel with white distilled vinegar and use it to remove any rust spots that won’t come off with the oil.
  3. Apply another layer of oil to the grates. Return them to the grill and heat your grill to 300°F for 30 minutes to an hour to bake the oil into the grates. Check the grates at the halfway point and apply more vegetable oil if needed.
  4. Wipe the grates with a clean, dry paper towel. Then apply one more thin coat of vegetable oil and turn off the heat.

Leave the grates in the grill until completely cool and store them indoors in a dry location to prevent further rusting. When storing your grill for extended periods, whether you store it in a covered area away from harsh weather or not, you should oil the grates to prevent rusting.

Rusty grates can usually be cleaned and restored. However, if the rust has eaten through large portions of the grate, you may need to replace them.

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