Getting a new grill is exciting. All you want to do is get home and get to cooking.
But you should never just get home and cook on your new backyard friend, you need to season your grill.
Seasoning a grill will remove the nasty things from the grill’s manufacturing process that can ruin your food. Seasoning is the process of oiling then heating a grill the first and subsequent times it is used.
Alongside burning off and flavoring your grill the oil will protect the grates from rusting and keep your charcoal, electric, or gas grill in good condition.
Many BBQ lovers ruin so many grills because they neglect this simple, yet easy forget practice.
In this article, we would be looking at how to season a grill and why it is essential to do so.
How To Season A Grill (in 4 Easy Steps)
It doesn’t matter what type of grill you have, these instructions for how to season a grill will ensure your grill new or old, gas or charcoal is well seasoned.
The steps you should take when seasoning your grill are:
1. Thoroughly Wash and Rinse Your Grill
Washing the grill is the first and most neglected step to take before seasoning. Ensure that the entire grill is completely cooled if it was heated. When the grates are cold take them out and rinse them thoroughly with cold water and a grill brush or tough sponge.
I would stay away from using any chemicals or cleaners to avoid tainting the grill plates.
Next, air-dry the grates. Do not use a cloth to dry or clean them, this can leave debris.
Once the grill grates have been air dried, inspect them to ensure there is no debris or foreign objects.
2. Oil The Grill Grates
When the grill is cleaned and debris-free, the next step to take is to apply high-resistant oil on it.
Peanut oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil are the three most common types to use to coat the surface of grill grates.
To coat the grill grates ideally you want to use a basting brush or new paintbrush to apply the oil lightly. If you don’t have either, you can also use some scrunched-up newspaper, or other similar paper such as a kitchen towel – however, do note that the taste from the ink can transfer over to the grill.
Alternatively, an oil spray bottle will do the job just fine. However, do keep in mind when oiling your grill too much grease on the grill can cause a fire when the temperature is very high.
When you are done applying the oil to the grates, wipe off the excess with a paper towel. Make sure that the oil is evenly spread all over the grates.
You then want to use the same method to lightly coat the internals of your grill. Surfaces such as the walls, lid, and any other metal surface really. Once everything is well oiled reassemble the grill.
3. Heat The Grill
First, make sure that the grill is not close to anything that could cause a fire.
Ignite and run the grill for about 20 to 45 minutes. Crank up the heat as high as it will go. The heat will burn any impurities and solvents off the grates, heating elements, and inside the grill unit.
Check the grill often while it is being heated up. The goal is to make the grates smoke. The color of the grate will change while it is heated as well. Cast iron grills will turn darker, and stainless-steel ones will discolor. This means that your grill is developing a ‘non-stick’ surface.
4. Cool The Grill Down
Turn off the grill when you see the color change after about 35 – 45 minutes. Then allow it to cool for 5 – 10 minutes. Apply a light oil coat on the grates again. This time, oil is applied to prevent it from rusting.
Why Should I Season My New Grill?
There are 4 main reasons you should season your grill. I think it makes your food taste better and increases the life of your grill! Find out what the others are below.
1. Its Easier To Clean
Seasoning your grill before you cook makes it easier to clean afterward. When cooking or grilling, food can burn to the surface of the grill, this makes it tough to remove when cleaning. Seasoning your grill grates will ensure that the cooking surface is non-stick and functioning properly.
When your grill is seasoned, the cooking oil and fats you use, lubricate the grates and later cause it to develop a smooth, non-stick surface. This is very noticeable in cast iron grills that are porous and would absorb the oils and fats.
2. Grill Flavor
As the name ‘seasoning’ hints at seasoning your grill can add flavor and character to your grill. This will happen over time but seasoning it from day one will speed up the process. Depending on what you season your grill with you can, you can develop your own unique grill flavor.
When heated over a high temperature the fat and juices from foods get vaporized. These juices also coat the lid, pit, grate, and all other inside parts to give a delicious taste. Over time and the more you use your grill, the more you will notice your grill developing its own unique flavor.
If you knew the process of making a grill, you wouldn’t need to be convinced that seasoning is important. Out-of-the-box grills usually have manufacturing oils, metal shavings and leftover paints on the surface. Since you cannot be sure of the impurities that have been on the grill’s surface, then it is essential to season it before you fire it up.
The last thing you want to do is find foreign objects contaminating your food, right? Seasoning your grill also sterilizes it and burns all contaminants on it. It is a safety check, so do not skip it for any reason.
4. Make It Last
Lastly, a properly seasoned grill will last longer than one that is not seasoned. Rusting and peeling of the surface of the grill is a major challenge. Nevertheless, to attack these problems, season your grill, and you will be amazed by how long it’ll last.
Should I Season My Old Grill?
A new grill is perfect (and a real treat) to use. It cooks fast and everything works as it should, just the way you want it to. It is understandable why lots of us have the urge to throw away an older grill, but wait for a second.
An old grill can still serve you very well for many years more if you look after it. If you are anything like me you will actually prefer the character and flavor of an older grill. Don’t worry about looks, you can easily fix up peeled paint and charred grates.
If you want to keep on using an old grill, then you really should season it. Seasoning an old grill is not too different from what you will do on a new grill. However, you would have to be a little more cautious.
The black color you see on the grates and the grill’s sides is not old, peeled paint. Its carbon. Carbon that has built up over the years. So, getting rid of the carbon is the first step to take when seasoning an old grill. The best way to do this is with a scrubbing brush, lots of soapy water, and a good load of elbow grease.
Next, heat the grill for about 20 minutes. This would loosen and burn off even the toughest leftovers on the grates. Leave the grill to cool, then scrub the grates with a grill brush. Complete the process of seasoning your old grill the same way you would season a new one.
5 Steps to Seasoning Your Old Grill
- Scrape off the old, grilled on carbon.
- Light up your grill and heat for 20 – 30 minutes so its very hot.
- Let the gill cool.
- Using a grill brush scrub/scrape the grill grates and sides of the grill down.
- Season the grill as you would a new grill (how to season a grill steps below).
How To Maintain Your Grill Correctly
Like every other cooking device you have, your grill needs to be maintained. Some common problems like corrosion and rusting of parts and uneven cooking surfaces can develop if you do not keep on top of maintenance tasks. The most common maintenance task is to oil the grill’s grates after every cook.
However, many backyard pitmasters season their grills once in a while. Both practices are helpful and will prevent the grates from rusting. You will know when it is time to re-season your grill when cooked food starts to stick to it.
Another practice is to heat your grill after cooking. Keep the temperature high and leave it for about 10 minutes. Then scrub the grates with a good brush to remove leftover particles. You have got to be careful, so you don’t peel off the surface of the grill while doing so.
Finally, spray a light oil coat onto the cleaned grates. This way, your grill will get seasoned the next time you use it.
What Oil To Season A Grill With
Canola oil is one of the most popular types of oil you could use to lubricate your grill and make it non-stick. However, there are other oils you can try out apart from vegetable oil and peanut oil when seasoning.
Butter works fine, but too much grease could start a fire. Other tricks add smoky flavor and lubrication to the grates when you cook with them.
The reason why you season your grill is to seal and get the best performance from the grates while using only heat and oil. Contrary to what most people think only adding flavor is not really why we season our grill grates. Nevertheless, the flavor and taste is what everyone is concerned about when seasoning.
Other oils/fats you can rub the grates with include;
- Fat cut off from meat.
- An onion slice dipped in oil.
- Mesquite wood chip in oil.
What You Need To Season A Grill
- Grill brush
- Oil (peanut, canola, grapeseed, butter)
- Oil spray bottle (if using that method)
- Grill Gloves
- Paper towel or cloth
- Fresh water
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have to season a new grill?
You do not have to season a new grill, however, it is highly recommended!
Should I season a stainless steel grill?
You should season all different kinds of grills including stainless steel grills.
How long do you need to burn off a new grill?
Ideally, you want to burn off the grill for at least 40 minutes all the way up to a couple of hours if possible.
Can I use Pam to season a grill?
Yes, you can use Pam to season a grill. Essentially Pam is just canola oil. However, it does have a slightly lower smoke temperature of around 400 degrees.
Can you use olive oil to season a grill?
Yes, you can use olive oil to season your grill. Just keep in mind extra virgin olive oil does not have a very high smoke temperature and can include lecithin which can cause a sticky build-up on your grates over time.
Seasoning your grill is a quick process that can save a lot of problems for you.
If you really care about taking care of your grill and getting an evenly-cooked food, then you should season often. It is a practice we recommend at the start of each grilling season to get years of non-stick and quality grilling.
Follow all the steps above and you will be a master of how to season a grill.
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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