Cleaning Guides

How to Season a BBQ Plate and Grill

Alexander Raths /

There’s nothing like grilling some steaks and vegetables out in the open. Especially here in Australia, where spending time together around the “barbie” is like a national tradition. An essential part of preparing the barbecue for grilling is seasoning the plates and grills. So if you have a brand-new barbie that needs its first prepping or an old one that is in dire need of washing and seasoning, then read along.

Table of contents:

Why is seasoning your barbecue so important?

Let’s discuss why you should season your barbecue before and after use. Here are some of the benefits that seasoning the grill grates and plates provides:

  • Seasoning new grills removes chemicals and contaminants left from the manufacturing and transporting of the unit.
  • Seasoning removes dust from the surface of the grates, be it new or old.
  • Food will not stick to the grill grates when they’ve been seasoned.
  • Seasoning removes cross-contamination from different food juices.
  • Seasoning prevents rust build-up on the grates and plates.
  • Cleaning the barbecue is much easier when it has been seasoned beforehand.
  • Regular seasoning before and after grilling will help your unit last much longer.

Overall, your food will taste better when cooked on seasoned grill grates. Some people say that a clean grate removes natural flavours from past meals, but as you already know, the risk of food poisoning from cross-contamination is no joke. Seasoning should be done on both old barbecues as well as new ones.

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How to season your brand-new barbecue

Before using a brand-new barbecue, you need to season it so the protective coating from the manufacturing will be removed. It only protects the barbecue while its being transported, it’s not meant to end up on your food and certainly won’t protect the grates from sticking.

Tools you need:

  • Sponge and a soft brush;
  • Warm water mixed with some dish soap;
  • Spray bottle or clean rags;
  • High-temperature oil like canola or peanut oil.

Here is how to season a barbecue for the first time:

  1. Wash the grates, plates and grease cover – Use the sponge and a soft brush and wash the plates in warm water combined with a tiny amount of dish soap. Scrub gently.
  2. Rinse the parts – Use clean water and allow the plates to dry. You can speed up the process by absorbing the leftover drops with some towels. The plate must be completely dry before the next step.
  3. Apply the oil – Vegetable or canola oil works best in this instance. Use a small amount and spread it evenly on the grate via spray or clean rags. Wipe any excess with a paper towel.
  4. Heat the barbecue – Bring the barbie temperature close to 180°C and cook the oil for about 30 minutes with the lid open.

The seasoning process can be applied to both cast iron and stainless steel barbecues and their parts, such as grates, plates and pots. How long you leave the oil to cook will depend on the manufacturer’s instructions. Porcelain grill grates, on the other hand, don’t need to be seasoned.

Regardless of which barbecue unit you have, you should always clean and season it after use. Hot grease and food particles will create oil build-up and smoke that will affect the taste of the food you cook.

Tips for seasoning stainless steel hot plates and grill

Cast iron might be around for ages, but many people now opt-in for stainless steel barbecues. While it’s still good material for cooking, it has its own specifics and requirements.

Genuine stainless steel barbecue grills are shiny out of the box, but the shine will turn yellow or nearly black after several uses if not taken care of properly. This is called patina, and it’s good because it protects the grates and other parts from corrosion. During the first several uses, the cooking grids will still be sticky, but that’s only until the patina builds up.

You already know how to season a stainless steel barbecue plate, as the process is the same for all kinds of barbecue metals. In addition to that, always clean the barbecue after each use. Brush the grill and grates while they’re still warm with a high-quality brush. By doing so, you will remove the bigger food particles, while the heat will take care of the residue.

In addition to stainless steel, today you will also find barbecues made of mild steel (also known as carbon steel). Mild steel costs less than its counterpart, retains heat very well, and spreads it quickly and evenly.

If you wonder how to season your mild steel barbecue plate, it’s the same as all other metals too. Depending on the manufacturer, though, the time for heating the oil will likely vary.

Seasoning your old barbecue

The process is actually called “re-seasoning”, and it’s almost the same as with new barbecue grills. The only difference is you need to be more thorough with your cleaning. Old barbecues are usually covered with layers upon layers of carbon omitted from smoke. To some people, it might even look like the paint is peeling, but those are just the layers of dirt.

Different methods for different BBQ materials

There are different ways to clean your barbecue grills in accordance with the metal they’re made of. For example, you can scrub cast-iron grates with a wire brush and some baking soda paste, but you must dry them after rinsing. If you leave them moist, they might become rusty. On the other hand, stainless steel requires gentle scrubbing so as not to get scratched. Like, cast-iron, it also needs to be dried after cleaning.

If you have porcelain barbecues, you need to heat the grates and wait until they cool down. Afterwards, you should leave the grates in a container full of soapy water for about 30 minutes. Only then can you scrub the food particles with a sponge. In this case, water won’t damage your barbecue.

Cleaning rust

Another thing you should know is how to clean rust from your barbecue plate. It shortens your unit’s life and changes your food’s taste for the worst, so it needs to go before seasoning. The proper way is to heat up the barbecue so the rust gets loosened by the heat. After it cools down, you need to scrub the corrosion with a spatula or wire brush. Do not use water.

So, after you’ve cleaned the grill from old food particles and rust, you season your barbecue as you normally would. You apply a thin layer of high-temperature oil, wipe up the excess and heat it up.

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  • Always season new barbecue grills as well s old ones.
  • Always clean and season after use.
  • Use high-temperature oils.
  • Clean and remove rust from your old barbecue grill before you season it.

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