Outdoor grilling is an occasion eagerly awaited when the weather is sunny and warm. It is something that you can enjoy practically year-round in countries closer to the equator.
Grilling delicious food outdoors can bring families and friends closer to each other for a day of fun. For such a special event, of course, you want your grill to be in the best possible condition to impart that unique, smoky flavor for which grilling is famed.
Seasoning the grill is essential, but often ignored in getting ready for the grilling season, yet this step comes FIRST. I’ve outlined this process in a few simple steps, so when it comes the time to grill for a neighbor event, you can be the first to raise your hand and volunteer your services.
Table of Contents
- What Does It Mean to ‘Season a Grill’?
- Why Do We Have to Season the Grill?
- How to Season a Grill in 6 Easy Steps
- Grill Maintenance 101
- In Closing
What Does It Mean to ‘Season a Grill’?
When people hear the verb ‘season,’ they immediately think of meat coated with various blends of herbs and spices or soaked in a marinade.
Well, here, what we mean by ‘season a grill’ is to prepare the grill (the whole grill, but particularly the grill rack), to cook food properly.
Why Do We Have to Season the Grill?
Well, to answer this question, we must first consider two things - is this a brand new grill, or is this the one that has already been used?
Brand new grills come from a factory; that is, they’ve been exposed to chemicals and particles in the air that you never want in your food. Seasoning the grill is first a cleaning process. This is essential if your grill is new from the factory.
The second reason to season your grill is shared between brand new grills and used grills. This simple process prepares the grill rack to cook food evenly and avoid the ingredients sticking to the surface.
Everyone who has used a grill before knows that there comes a time when grilling becomes more of a chore than a pleasure. This is due to poorly maintained grills. So take a few minutes, read the next few steps, and ENJOY grilling with your friends and family this summer.
How to Season a Grill in 6 Easy Steps
Step 1 – Remove the Grill Rack From the Grill
If your grill is new, use a mild soap and water solution, and a sponge, to clean any unwanted residue off the grill rack. After you’ve thoroughly cleaned the grill rack, pad it dry with a paper towel.
If your grill has already been used, you will want to start with a wire brush. Scrub the grill rack until all of the leftover food particles have been removed. Then, rinse it off with some water.
If there are any particularly stubborn, caked-on bits just let the rack soak in a bucket of mild, soapy water for 30 minutes. This is to avoid wearing yourself out scrubbing it. In any case, before the proper ‘seasoning’ step is attempted, you will want your grill rack to be clean and completely dry.
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Step 2 – Season the Grill
To season your grill, you will need an oil with a high smoke, or flashpoint. That’s because in the next step, you will be heating the grill to a high temperature, and you want the oil to bake into the grill rack, not burn off.
So, for this step, I recommend olive oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, or canola oil. One or all of these should be available to you, no matter where you are living.
Coat the grill rack evenly with oil. You do not want the grill rack to be dripping with oil because that is just asking for an oil fire. Dab the oil onto the grill rack with a paper towel, or spritz it on with a spray bottle, and spread evenly. That’s it.
If your grill is brand new, you will want to expand the oil cover to the inside of the grill. This will help keep the flavors from the meat inside the grill, and also make cleaning your grill easier in the future.
Step 3 – Preheat the Grill
Now, it is essential that the grill achieves a high temperature inside to get the seasoning process started.
First, remove the grates from the grill.
For those with a gas grill, turn the grill on to its medium heat setting, close the lid, and leave it running for 15 minutes.
If you have a charcoal grill, put enough charcoal in the grill to last for about 3 hours. Light the charcoal, and then wait for the centers to glow red, with a layer of grey ash on the surface. Once you see this, reinstall the grates, and put the lid back on the grill.
Step 4 – Warm the Grill at a Low Heat
If you have a gas grill, after the first 15 minutes at medium heat, reduce the heat to low. Now, allow the oil to bake into the grill rack and the grill surfaces for the next two hours. This is the time when the grill is being ‘seasoned’.
Step 5 – Allow the Grill to Cool
If you have a gas grill, after two hours at low heat, turn the heat off completely. Now, allow the grill to cool naturally. Be patient! The grill must cool off for it to be properly seasoned.
After the grill has cooled, you might notice that the grill rack has changed color. Stainless-steel grill racks will take on a bronze color, while cast iron grill racks will have a shiny, black veneer.
If you find that the grill rack hasn’t changed to a deep enough color, you may have to season the grill again. Most of the time, though, once will be enough.
Step 6 – Enjoy Your Grill
Enjoy your properly seasoned grill whenever the weather allows it. A well-seasoned grill will cook all of the food you put on it evenly, deliciously, and will not stick.
You might be amazed by how well your grill cooks when it is properly maintained.
Grill Maintenance 101
I’ve decided to add a note here on grill maintenance. You don’t want to ruin all the hard work you’ve put into seasoning your grill by abusing it week after week without seasoning!
If you do that, soon, you will encounter the same problem you ended up with before you put all of that work into seasoning the grill!
It’s okay, though. Grill maintenance is simple. To keep and replenish the seasoning on your grill rack, wash the rack after using soap, water, and a sponge. It is essential to wait until the grill cools before you clean it.
DO NOT soak the grill rack in soapy water, and avoid scrubbing it too hard. You want to maintain the seasoning, not strip it entirely. After you’ve washed it, rinse it thoroughly, and dry it with a paper towel. You grill is now ready for duty for the next barbecues.
After reading this article, I hope you’ve come to appreciate the necessity of seasoning your grill. If this is a process you’ve been neglecting, make it a new habit and you will be more than satisfied with the results.