How to Season Cast Iron Grill Grates?

  • By: Brendan

I’ve been hearing a lot of different theories on seasoning cast iron grill grates, some viable and others I never thought existed like seasoning cast iron grill grates with an onion.

There are several different ways to season grill grates including using canola oil or peanut oil or firing up your grill at the highest temperature.

Let’s debunk the myths about seasoning cast iron grill grates, and learn how to season cast iron grill grates properly.

How to Season Cast Iron Grill Grates

What is Seasoning of Grill Grates?

When you get a new grill, you’re eager to get cooking, but hold up a moment because there’s some pretty nasty stuff from the manufacturing process that you need to get rid of via a process called seasoning.

This is a rather simple process and one that doesn’t take a whole lot of effort, and offers myriad benefits apart from zapping those leftover rubs, marinades, and toxic factory contaminants.

Why Should You Season Cast Iron Grill Grates?

There are several good reasons to season grill grates, most notably:

1. Create Non-Stick Coating

Seasoning your grill grates creates a non-stick coating on the surface, which offers twofold benefits—protects your grates from wear and rust and helps you achieve the perfect sear.

2. Gets Rid of Manufacturing Remnants

Who doesn’t love the pristine look of brand new grill grates? I know I do, but hold up because those new grill grates are still loaded with chemical residues leftover from the manufacturing process.

It’s not recommended that you cook on brand new grill grates without seasoning them, given that you may be ingesting these harmful residues.

When you season brand new grill grates, you not only burn off the chemicals, but your food is much healthier and tastier.

3. Makes Cleanup and Maintenance Easier

Once you season your grill grates, you will notice that they are much easier to clean after a grilling session. Seasoning add a protective layer on your grates, which adds moisture for easy cleanup.

4. Add Flavor

Many grilling enthusiasts including me say that seasoning grill grates creates stronger, smokier flavors.

The more you season your grill, the better the flavors, owing to the fat and oil buildup that is released when the grill heats up.

Things You Will Need to Season Grill Grates

  • Grill scraping brush
  • Canola oil or a grill seasoning oil
  • Paper towels to wipe excess oil
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Grill gloves

What are the Best Ways to Season Cast Iron Grill Grates?

Now that you’re aware of the reasons to season a grill, let’s talk about the process of seasoning grill grates.

Before getting started with seasoning a grill, you should clean the grill. You can do this with plain water to get rid of any metal shavings, dust and/or contaminants leftover from the manufacturing and shipping.

Cleaning a used grill after cooking requires a slightly different approach, where you have to use a grill brush or crumpled foil to remove any buildup.

1. Season Grill Grates with Oil

Using oil is perhaps the easiest and most effective way of seasoning grill grates. Oiling your grill grates prevents food from sticking, and creates a protective barrier against rust.

Start by filling a spray bottle with oil, and generously spray over the grill grates. Next, grab a paper towel and a soft brush to wipe off the excess oil. The goal is to coat the grill grates with a thin layer of oil.

2. Seasoning Grill Grates in the Oven

Yes, you heard that right! If the weather outside isn’t favorable, you can season your grill grates right in your oven, and here’s how!

First things first—preheat your oven to 275° to 350ºF (135° to 175ºC), and wash the cast iron grill grates with soapy water to remove residue. Dry the grates off with a clean paper towel or cloth towel, and scrape any leftover dirt with a grill brush.

Coat the grates with oil, and wrap them with aluminum foil. Place the covered grill grates in the preheated oven, and bake for at least 30 minutes.

Pro tip: Place a foil covered cookie sheet below the covered grates in the oven to avoid drippings.

Once half an hour has passed, remove the grill grates from the oven, and let them cool in a dry place. Remove the aluminum foil, and check to see if your grates have a dark finish. If they don’t, you should repeat the process at least twice until you achieve this color.

3. Seasoning Grill Grates with an Onion

If you don’t have any oil, you can season your grill grated with an onion. Onions are rich in many sulfur compounds, which is the reason why you’re in tears when you cut them!

When heated, these compounds react with the metal of your grates to form a strong, non-stick sulfide layer, which stays rock solid to 1000°F.

Fire up your grill, and rub a half cut onion vigorously against the rails of the cooking grates. Repeat this process several times until you see a dark layer on the grill grates.

How to Season Charcoal Grill Grates?

Even though the process of seasoning charcoal grill is the same as gas grill grates, where you dab the oil on the grates, leave the coals lit rather after grilling, or else you will have to light them again to season the grates.

Close the lid of your charcoal grill for approximately 30 minutes to let the oil sink in. Lastly, close the vents of your charcoal grill to allow the grates and coal to completely cool off to complete the seasoning process.

How to Season New Cast Iron Grill Grates?

Whether you’re using your grill for the first time or replacement cooking grates, here are a few simple steps to season your grill.

  1. Remove the grates from the packaging, and make sure you get rid of any packing packaging material including tape.
  2. Wash the grates with warm water and mild dish soap to remove any stubborn dust or debris from the packaging.
  3. Install the grates, and ignite your grill to dry the cast iron grates. Heating the grill grates opens the pores, which allows the oil to easily penetrate, and create a non-stick surface.
  4. Turn off the grill, and let it cool to the tough, after which you can coat the grates with cooking oil with a basting brush.
  5. Fire up your grill once again to 200-400 degrees for 30 minutes. The coated surface of the grates after 30 minutes should have a shiny finish, and appear slightly darker than before. Turn of the grill and let it cool off completely.

How to Season Cast Iron Grill Grates Weber?

When it comes to seasoning, Weber makes things a whole lot easier! The company says that their grates don’t have to be seasoned when brand new or after use, owing to their porcelain enameled coating.

However, Weber recommends preheating the grill and brushing the grates prior to cooking.

If your Weber grill came with cast iron cooking grates, they will have to be seasoned by following the steps above.

How Long to Season Cast Iron Cooking Grates?

It takes roughly 30 minutes to season cast iron cooking grates. You don’t want to overdo things, but just season the grates until they become darker in color. Again, be sure to wipe off any excess oils after the seasoning process.

How Often Do You Season Grill Grates?

I season the grates of my grill after each use, but can also perform this task after at least four to five cooks.

But you have to season grill grates when brand new to create a protective barrier that prevents rust.

What is the Best Oil to Season Cast Iron Grill Grates?

Most manufacturers recommend using melted shortening, canola or peanut oil to season grill grates since they have a smoke point of over 450° F.

Other oils that have a high smoke point are sunflower oil, vegetable oil, and avocado oil.

I personally use Sam’s cast iron seasoning oil because it is formulated with a blend of natural oils, and doesn’t go rancid, get sticky, nor flake like some other oils.

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