How to Clean and Care for Your Barbecue Grate

A barbecue grate is the cooking surface for your BBQ, the part which holds the food. BBQ grates are available in various types, including stainless steel, cast iron, and steel covered with porcelain.

Choosing a Charcoal Grill Grate

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  • Select one that's durable, resistant to rust, and easier to clean. Plain steel may be cheaper, but it's also going to degrade faster. It chips more easily which makes food stick to the grate a lot more. Stainless steel is better, although it can also chip and over time, will lose its non-stick properties too.

    A cast-iron grill grate is a good choice if you're looking for something long-lasting. They also retain heat really well so food tends to cook faster. The downside is that they need more maintenance - aside from a good clean, they need to be thoroughly oiled now and then. We also find that you need more oil when cooking, because the heat retained by the grate tends to burn it off quickly.

    Porcelain-coated grates are okay, but they wouldn't be our first choice. We find porcelain chips easily so whatever it's covering ends up exposed, whether it's steel or cast iron.

  • Look for an adjustable grate. This will let you move the food closer or further from the coals.

  • If you often cook larger quantities of food, look for grate extenders - some grates will expand so that you have two cooking surfaces, one on top of the other, while others simply hook onto your main BBQ grate to create another cooking surface.

Cleaning and Maintenance

  • Clean your cooking grate after every use. This will help to prevent food from sticking, making barbecuing much easier. It also prevents rust from developing (rusty food doesn't taste all that great!).

  • Buy a good grill cleaning wire BBQ brush. Sometimes we watch our neighbor hack and chip away at his grill with a butter knife, trying to clean off cooked-on food! It is much easier to clean a barbecue grate if you have the right tool.

  • After you're finished barbecuing for the day, turn up the heat for a few minutes to 'burn off' the remaining food particles. This will make it easier to clean them off the grate.

  • It's actually easier to clean off food particles when the grate is still warm. You can either do this after the BBQ cools down but the grate still has a bit of heat, or do it just before you cook and the BBQ is pre-heating.

    If you have lots of heavy residue left on the grate, then use water too when you're cleaning: dip your cleaning brush into some water and then brush the grate.

    Don't use cleansers, soaps, detergents, etc.... you probably won't enjoy these things flavoring your food!

  • Keep your grate protected from the elements.

A good-quality barbecue grate can last many, many years with regular cleaning and maintenance. Check out more BBQ tips for your grilling adventures!



This website offers tips on how to BBQ as well as some of our favorite barbecue recipes. We barbecue with a charcoal grill in an outdoor kamado-style cooker called The Big Green Egg. We love food and we love the grill, and hope you enjoy our recipes!