Grate balls of fire? Not on our watch.
May 25th, 2011
03:30 PM ET
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Ah, the scents of spring: freshly mowed grass, honeysuckle in bloom and...ugh! What's that acrid, choking cloud wafting from the next yard over?

Right - that guy. He's always inviting the whole cul-de-sac or complex around for burgers and brats. They'll always show because he's such a friendly fella, but they'll either fill up on slaw and beans or feign having had a big breakfast because frankly, his grilled meat and vegetables taste like they were strapped to the front of a Mack truck and driven through the Mojave Desert.

Be a good neighbor and slip him these five tips for saving the flavor of grilled foods - before they even hit the grate.

1. Trash the ashes
If you're on the charcoal train, (and you really should be), dump and sweep old coals and briquettes into a bucket or sturdy trash can, wearing a mask if you need to. If ashes are flying around inside the grill, there's a 100 percent chance they'll end up on your food. Chain smokers may not mind, but the rest of the guests may want you tarred and feathered.

2. Release the grease
Ugh – no one wants to deal with that nasty sludge of meat grease and cooking oil that's built up at the bottom of the barrel, but it's that flammable muck that causes dangerous, foul-tasting flare-ups.

Mop up as much as you can with paper towels or textured sponges - using grease-busting dish soap if necessary. Then spray the bottom of the grill with a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water, wipe up any remaining grease and dry thoroughly.

To prevent further elbow grease expenditure, place disposable foil pans at the bottom of the grill to catch drippings and toss or reuse as needed.

3. Free the debris
Some grillers insist that burnt-up bits of food that are fused to the grate "add flavor" to whatever is being cooked. Those people are wrong - and kinda gross. There's a way to season a grill, and that's not it. More on that later, but for now, get that nasty gunk off your cooking surface!

Remove the grates - and any other removable elements - from the grill and use a lightly dampened sponge to remove grease, rust and baked-on food. For tougher spots, make a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water and work that in with crumpled aluminum foil until they've worn away. Rinse away any residue with water and a soft, non-wire brush and dry all parts thoroughly.

Next time you use the grill, strike while it's still warm and give the grates a quick scrub with crumpled foil before they return to room temperature. That way, you'll save on prep time before the next cookout - and make sure that your Boston butt doesn't taste like last week's trout.

And remember - never plunge a warm grate directly into water. The sizzle and pop may sound pretty cool, but the rapid cooling is torture to the integrity of the metal.

4. Free free to vent
Vents are key in controlling temperature and oxygen flow, but if smoke and air can't drift through easily, foul fumes are just trapped inside the chamber - and your food.

Use a brush, rag or cotton swab to get into every crevice, and test hinges and screws to make sure they haven't rusted or stuck in place. A bit of canola oil may help keep parts sliding freely.

5. 'Tis the seasoning
Think of your cast iron grill grates as a giant skillet. It only takes a little bit of tender loving care to keep them in tip-top, rust-free condition for a very long time.

Just rub unsalted canola or vegetable oil, lard or bacon grease onto all surfaces after they've been cleaned. Place them back in the grill and let them heat up to 350°F for about 45 minutes. Then, using a silicone brush or a paper towel held in some tongs, carefully coat the grates again and bump up the temperature to 450°F for another 45 minutes.

If you've got stainless steel grates, a coating of cooking oil works wonders to preserve them through multiple grilling seasons. After they've been cleaned, cover them in a light coating of vegetable oil and return them to the grill. On your next outing, make sure the grate heats up for 15 minutes before you place any food on it and add additional oil to prevent stuck-on muck.

Got any grill prep tips you'd care to share? Pipe up in the comments below and we just might share them in an upcoming piece.

- Up your grilling game

- Red hot grilling tips from Eatocracy readers

- Best. Burgers. EVER and Best. Cheeseburger. EVER

And feast on the results of The Picnic Poll to find out what your fellow chefs like for a main dish and drink, burger topping, side dish and dessert.

See all our best grilling advice at Grilling 101



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soundoff (152 Responses)
  1. Coach fitness

    I know this all to well. I had an incident at a camping trip.
    "If you're on the charcoal train, (and you really should be), dump and sweep old coals and briquettes into a bucket or sturdy trash
    can, wearing a mask if you need to. If ashes are flying around inside the grill, there's a 100 percent chance they'll end up on your
    food. Chain smokers may not mind, but the rest of the guests may want you tarred and feathered."
    You may even get stuck with a dirty face.

    January 29, 2014 at 5:01 pm |
  2. SEAPW

    You guys are crazy. Charcoal is the way to go. I use a Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5" with natural cowboy charcoal. Everyone says I make the best pulled pork, ribs, or anything else I throw on there. Some of them say they don't want to eat this stuff anywhere else because mine is good. The best part, I'm only 25 and have only been doing this for a year. Forget gas, charcoal is the way to go if you read and learn on how to prepare and cook meat. If you don't have time, I get it, gas is nice, but for taste, charcoal baby! Happy grilling/smoking.

    May 27, 2013 at 10:26 am |
  3. Uhhh's Uncle

    I am ready for you in the barn. Bring the KY this time.

    May 31, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  4. tarkin

    I find it funny that the grill grate shown actually looks to be cast iron that was cleaned too much. A properly cleaned and oiled (seasoned, if you will) cast iron grill should not have any rust on it. If you do not know how to take care of a cast iron pan, don’t get cast iron grates for your grill. You will most likely “clean” them to death.

    May 30, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • Uhhh...

      Didn't read the comments above, did you? That's a work table for a cutting torch, not a grill surface.

      May 31, 2011 at 9:28 am |
      • Uhmmmm...cum in your eye

        Maybe he did not have time to read all 140 some posts and just wanted participate in some way, doosh-tard.

        May 31, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  5. Pat MaHinny

    Another cleaning solution is to take your grates and put them in your self-cleaning oven when you clean it.
    I know, I'm assuming your cleaning your oven inside too.

    May 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  6. Heywood_Jablowme

    My grill gets the wire brush treatment for about 1 minute before I fire it up and then I'm good to go...none of this fancy cleaning stuff!!!

    May 26, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  7. erich2112x

    Just can't decide which lamb to slaughter for this year's Memorial Day Barbecue, Fluffy or Muffin. Going to be a tough choice, kids love them both.

    May 26, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  8. Spunky DerWondermonkey

    I like my meat at 98.6 degrees.

    May 26, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • The Witty One@Spunky Monkey

      Are you German?

      May 26, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Richard Simmons

      I like my all beef franks at that exact same temp!

      May 26, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  9. Spanky

    When the flames get to high on my charcoal grill, I just have my dog lift his leg and piss on it to settle it down.

    May 26, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  10. Rob

    I highly recommend that anyone who enjoys grilling use either wood coals you make yourself or a gas grill. Charcoal actually contains coal, which when burned releases mercury in additon to other toxic compounds.

    May 26, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Henry Ford

      Way to ruin my weekend genius.

      May 26, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Laura Petrie@Rob

      Oh Rob! Now you're going to have to turn in your "I do kids' parties" card.

      May 26, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Collier

      Yep. People will stick their snoots in the air and bad-mouth lighter fluid, then cook their meat over fake charcoal made out of coal and wax. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. Maybe some of them will go read the Wikipedia entry on charcoal and find out what is really in their "charcoal briquettes."

      May 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Popeye

      Or just use the "cowboy" charcoal that is made from only hard wood.

      May 26, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  11. Charles

    My wife and mother will beat me for sharing this (so don't tell) but, the best grilled beef needs... butter. OUCH MOM! Yeah- butter. Salt, pepper, paprika dry rub, grill both sides and let rest a good three or four minutes. During that resting peroid, a little butter to melt over the top- artery clogger for sure but the best flavor enhancer.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Paula Deen

      You go Big Boy!!

      May 26, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • SmokeInDaEye

      Butter is a wonderful thing, especially when it comes to finishing off perfectly grilled meat.

      May 26, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Jacob@Charles

      Make it garlic butter a nice depth of flavor. Plus it keeps the sparkly blood-suckers away!

      May 26, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  12. kendall

    the best way to get some good grillin' on is to use MANgrates – look 'em up – this is not an ad, just a recommendation. awesome product. gave them to my husband and my father-in-law – amazing difference.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  13. Propane

    Honestly, I don't have time to mess around with charcoal. Grilling over propane still gives a better taste than cooking on the stove, and since we use our grill two to four times a week year-round, I'm not going through a freaking three-hour ritual to make dinner every time. I have a life to live.
    As for the charcoal thing? We were having a big cook-out at my place, and my buddy brought over his charcoal grill so we could keep the food line shorter. People were taking my chicken over his without hesitation. Why? Because charcoal or propane matters a lot less than properly preparing and seasoning the meat. And meat prep takes WAY less time than waiting for the coals to cool so you can leave your charcoal grill unattended.
    The way I see it, any discussion of grilling that doesn't start with food selection, prep, and seasoning should only be read out of morbid curiosity.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • Dave

      Go to http://amazingribs.com/ The site is a must see for anyone who grills.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Antipane

      To each their own. I use charcoal made from the ivory from elephants and the tears of baby seals. It adds a je ne c'est quoi to my dishes.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
      • Propane

        Well, sure. Of course ya gotta go all-out for special occasions.

        May 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  14. Hank Hill

    Fine Propane accessories can be found at Strickland Propane CO. We have a dual grille brush which I use to scratch Lady Birds azz and then scrub my grille grate clean with it.

    May 26, 2011 at 7:27 am |
    • Spanky

      WIN!

      May 26, 2011 at 7:35 am |
  15. Shirley U Jest

    I have one question, does the dead squirrel in the bottom of my gas grill give the food extra flavor or is it just over kill? Me and my better half disagree.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:33 am |
    • LaSqueesha

      It's the maggots that are giving you the extra flavor. The ideal setup would be both the squirrel and a rat. Tasty indeed.

      May 26, 2011 at 6:03 am |
  16. Shirley U Jest

    Toss the right bait out and I'll bite. Good gracious, if you have to put up with this your friends don't know the first thing about how to burn food properly. The majority of what this author describes is nastiness from a gas grill, because a well tended charcoal grill will burn that crust to a fine white ash unless you douse the thing out with a fire hose. Seriously, the bottom of an unkept gas grill can look like Satan's scroat sack in a wet dream. Take a sheet of tin foil long enough to cover the grate, weight it down with unwanted jewelery or something, turn the burners on high, close the lid and give it 15 -25 minutes. A light brushing and that will make that propane puppy pass the clean test with flying rainbow colors.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:25 am |
  17. chain

    I have a funny that involves my aunt, her boyfriend and her Son-in-law. They were getting ready to light the grill, when boyfriend comes out with soapy water and sponges. The S-i-L asks what's he doing to which BF replies "cleaning the grill". The S-i-L insists that the old charred meat adds flavor, but will also absorb the soap if you try to clean it, ruining the taste of the new meat .Meanwhile BF starts to clean, saying he ain't gonna eat anything off that nasty grate. An argument follows which almost leads to fisticuffs.

    They finally agree to disagree and headed down to the nearest "Dollar" store and and bought a new grill. Go figure.

    May 25, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • Shirley U Jest

      SCORE!

      May 26, 2011 at 2:26 am |
  18. Teep

    My mistake – it was Mike that noticed the error.

    May 25, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  19. Lila

    I was debating on responding to another Kat Kinsman article but this is actually quite useful. Giving my husband a copy of this rather than arguing is much easier. It is gross, in addition, it grows mold over the winter.

    May 25, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • ColdinMN

      I have never had mold grow in my grill over the winter (maybe -10 degrees throughout the winter staves off growth) and why would you stop grilling in the winter?

      May 26, 2011 at 11:09 am |
      • Oprah Winfrey

        I believe she is referring to her vajay-jay and not the grille.

        May 26, 2011 at 11:14 am |
      • Lila

        I have a BGE and live in a warm climate (SoCal) so the moisture from the winter rain creates mold. "Oprah" no one wants to hear about your lady problems, although vinegar has multiple uses...

        May 26, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  20. Fuel

    Negatory RabiaDiluvio–take my word for it that is for certain a cutting torch table. Cooking never gouges and slices deep into steel like that. Or do you use concentrated sulfuric acid for tenderizer?

    May 25, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  21. wayne

    Never use metal to clean a grill. Take a short piece of 1 by 3 and scrape the cooking surface of the grill when hot. This cleans the grill without destroying. I've been doing it this way for 25 years on the very same grill I started with and once in a decade I clean the grilll with soap and water and it still looks brand new.

    May 25, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • Fuel

      wayne: Sounds like you have usefull advice, maybe I put away my welders stainless wire brush.

      May 25, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  22. Sam I. Am

    Why all the propane haters? I agree that plain propane is useless. But I use various wood chunks and chips along with it, depending on what flavor I'm going for. (Oak, hickory, alder, apple, mesquite, etc) It is much easier to regulate the temp with a propane grill. I get the flavor of outdoors, and the convenience of the kitchen. Win/Win.

    May 25, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • Shirley U Jest

      Big on using wood and coal here too. But sometimes, its nice to come home, walk to your grill, hit the button and 20 minutes later burgers are done. Chew on that!

      May 26, 2011 at 2:29 am |
  23. Fuel

    Curious the photo has nothing to do with cooking or food. As one who works with steel I recognize that picture as a piece of steel grating meant for industrial cat walks and such but often used as a cutting torch table as it was here, hence the slices and slag. The only 'residue' in the photo is iron oxide.

    May 25, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
    • RabiaDiluvio

      It does look nasty and rusty, but it also looks just like a close-up of a grill for cooking. (Not one I would use in that state, but...it could well be the real thing.)

      May 25, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
      • Burner

        Pfft. That is way too much steel to make a good grilling surface. Look at how close the ribs are to each other and how big they are. That's no cooking surface, that's a cutting surface.

        May 26, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • @Fuel

      Agreed, that's a torch table. Unless they're using acetylene as their charcoal propellant...

      May 25, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • Burner

      Yep. Looks like my work surface back when I was a torch jockey.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  24. Hank Hill

    Don't tell Mr.Strickland or Peggy and Bobby but......I Love charcoal grilled hamburgers with Buttered Buns.

    May 25, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  25. Dimos

    I'm not sure what all the hate on lighter fluid is about.

    I'm no master griller, but I can say that I've cooked up tastier steaks than I've had in most restaurants save once or twice and I usually use lighter fluid to start the coals. I do agree, though, that you'd be silly to toss your meat on there before the coals are white.

    Maybe my palette isn't refined enough to notice the difference, but I daresay I've made some of the finest steaks I've tasted over coals started w/ lighter fluid.

    May 25, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • RabiaDiluvio

      Learn to use a coal chimney rather than lighter fluid for lighting your coals and you will be a convert.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • swgriller

      Rabia's Right!!

      May 25, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • Lila

      Electric charcoal starters are easy to use too.

      May 25, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • Shirley U Jest

      Hey, if you use lighter fluid right and baste your meat with it, it's not all that bad.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:30 am |
  26. ben

    What is this article? The OCD manual for grilling? If you want clean stay in the kitchen! Say gross all you want, but obsessive cleanliness is a direct cause of many diseases. On the other hand I'm sure your gonna get sick from a fleck of food on the grill that has been exposed to a 600°F flame several dozen times.

    May 25, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  27. raoool

    Five tips? Care and cleaning... that's one, MAYBE two tips. Another claim overselling reality. You probably still buy a pound of coffee in thsoe 12-oz bags, huh?

    May 25, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • T-Bone

      Those 12 oz. bags are big enough to hold your common sense,of which you have none.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
      • flame on

        eeewww...burn

        he's right, y'know about overselling...

        May 25, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
  28. RGFWWA

    Clean and sanitary are two different things. My grill will be sanitary before I cook on it. 10 minutes of dry heat at 400-500 degrees pretty well kills any pathogen. And it gives the grill the equivalent of oven-cleaning cycle. A little white ash is all that's left on the grates, and it brushes off easily before cooking. I also run the burners on high for about 5-10 minutes after cooking to dry any cooking residue. No microbes that I'm worried about can survive without moisture. Yes, I 'waste' a little propane, but it's a choice between my time and cleaning skills vs. the miracle of fire.

    May 25, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  29. Dennis

    Using canola oil as a lubricant (item 4) is a surefire way to have them stick in a week or two. Canola and most other plant oils turn solid when exposed to air for a while, and do it even faster at high temp. That is exactly how that "seasoning" sticks to cast iron skillets and grille.
    BTW, What is that ugly looking thing in the photograph above? I am sure hoping its not a cooking surface...

    May 25, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • RabiaDiluvio

      canola and other plant-based oils (possible exceptions being coconut and palm kernel oils) do not turn solid when left to the air. I don't know where you get that. The "seasoning" of a cast iron pan or grill comes from actually burning the fat so that it leaves a nonstick coating on the surface. Animal fats work best (lard, tallow...) but plant-based will also work well, given time and persistence. Using canola to season a grill will not make things stick to it.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
      • Dennis

        http://www.springerlink.com/content/v3854323g368v7u7/

        for less scientifically inclined:

        http://sherylcanter.com/wordpress/2010/01/a-science-based-technique-for-seasoning-cast-iron/

        May 25, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
  30. Waste of time and propane

    45 mins at 350, 45 mins at 450? Where do you get these crazy grilling ideas?

    Turn on the grill on high for a few minutes while you bring food to the grilling area. Then scrape off the old and toss on the new. Anything more at those temperatures is pointless and a waste of time and resources.

    May 25, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  31. Justin Case

    You people suck. The grill never needs to be cleaned. Place the coals in a pile, soak them in fluid, light them, let them turn completely white. Spread them out, place the grates over the heat source, close the hood and open the vents. This will disinfect the grill. After about 5 minutes open the grill and use a spatula to lightly scrape the grates on the cooking side only. If you are a real man then you should know this and also know that the heat is what cleans the grill not some sissy Teflon junk. Someone please take a poll on how many white collar boys are trying to fill daddy's shoes and them let them know they are failing. No real man would use gas, anything non-stick and absolutely would not whine about a dirty grill.

    May 25, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • wayne

      Never use metal to clean a grill. Take a short piece of 1 by 3 and scrape the cooking surface of the grill when hot. This cleans the grill without destroying. I've been doing it this way for 25 years on the very same grill I started with and once in a decade I clean the grilll with soap and water and it still looks new.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  32. TXsmoke

    Seriously? You yanks need to come down south and find out what real "grillin" is. Mesquite wood fire...not charcoal, not gas. Burger King must be real popular where y'all are at.

    May 25, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Grillerboy

      I went to a little place in your neck of the woods called the Salt Lick. The best BBQ I ever ate. Best cobbler, too. Mesquite gets a little expensive up here in plains country. Hickory, too. Charcoal gets you started, wood chunks get you there.

      May 25, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • texasbeerguy

      LOL I gotta saying...If you are going to cook with gas, might as well stay in the kitchen. Charcoal is better than gas but I don't use it myself. HEB always has wood. So there's no excuse.

      May 25, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
      • Grillerboy

        I've got a gas grill but the spiders took it over a few years back. Gas is just wrong. So is excessive cleanliness.

        May 25, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • swgriller

      I'm sorry but I have to disagree with you on the Mesquite & I have used it for I live in Mesquite country. There are far better woods out there (ex. Hickory, Blackjack, Pecan, or any type of fruit wood). I was given some peach wood once, I highly recommend using it, if you get the chance, leaves a really good flavor.

      May 25, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • mikoid

      I want my meat to be flavored by the marinade; I don't want it to taste like a tree ;} What would Hank Hill think?

      May 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  33. jim w

    Again with the starter fluid? I'll bet you cook your meat til well-done, too...

    May 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  34. Dean

    Add a little exra starter fluid and let the flames clean the grill.

    May 25, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Oh, see – "extra" would imply that I use any at all. Ten. Foot. Pole. We'll cover why that is tomorrow.

      May 25, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
      • Uhhh...

        Yeah... No lighter fluid.

        But you'll use that compressed coal and sawdust garbage they sell as "charcoal briquettes" and then blather on about how superior it is compared to propane, right?

        May 31, 2011 at 9:31 am |
      • Jerv@Uhhh...

        The SUX 2000, the perfect car for you.

        May 31, 2011 at 9:37 am |
      • Truth@Uhhh

        How about you do your thing and let Kat run this blog?

        Unless you would rather take your seat in the STFU cafe, which has immediate seeeating for your bitter azz...

        May 31, 2011 at 9:42 am |
      • T-BONE@Uhhhh

        IMHO–Ms.Kinsman tries her best not to pollute our atmosphere with gas,or inferior charcoal byproducts. She only uses Prime dryed cow patties to start her fire and make a delicious shit sandwich for your lunchtime enjoyment.

        May 31, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • RC Roeder

      Never use Start fluid or the quick start, a charcoal chimmey and paper with a touch of veg oil to slow down the burning. The chimmey is usefull if i need more coals, I start them on a smaller second grill to get another batch of hot coals.

      May 25, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • Sam S.

      That is the best idea I have ever heard.

      May 25, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • swgriller

      I can speak from personal experience that is not a good idea!! Was also, the last time I used lighter fluid but I had already ordered a charcoal chimney & was waiting for it to get here.

      All you have to do to clean a grill is heat it up & scrub it with a brush while it is hot. Everything will come clean & you should be able to remove everything when you remove the ashes. Especially if you use a hand shovel to scrape it all out.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  35. Luposian

    As for me, and my 2009/2010 Weber Genesis E310... I heat the grill on High, til it reaches 300 degrees, then turn it down to Low, to keep it there and cook everything "low and slow". Works great for me. I leave whatever is gathering on the grate, for next time... it helps keep the food from sticking, I've found. But I also learned, that if you let it build up TOO much, it tends to become the next big fireball under the lid, if you leave the heat on High too long...

    May 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Cook

      Eh.... eyebrows are overrated. :-)

      May 25, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
      • Luposian

        I know what you mean... those flames can jump up in your face like a Tasmanian Devil!

        May 25, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  36. Cook

    OK so funny story. Back-to-back cookouts ... Friday night burger bash, Saturday night with Indian friends who don't eat beef or pork. After a conversation about said food restrictions, I went out to fire up the grill for the chicken, and found burger bits all over the grates. I quickly grabbed the wire brush and attacked the problem with a vengeance. Naturally, one of our guests walked out onto the deck and casually asked, "What are you doing?" "Oh, just cleaning the grill so the chicken won't stick," I said, smiling sheepishly. No one lost their dinner or their religion, and I was cured of grill-maintenance laziness forever.

    May 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • So there@Cook

      Danny?!?!?! Is that you! WTF man!

      May 25, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
      • Cook

        No, not Danny....but perhaps not alone in this misdaventure. LOL.

        May 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  37. Donovan

    OK, whats with the metal brushes? the just scar the grates , break the seasoning and cause it to rust. A properly seasoned grill will never need to be cleaned with a wire brush. a teflon brush will get it done without damage. especially if you have the ceramic , porcelain or Stainless grills. (and yes, stainless steel rusts if you cook on it)

    May 25, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  38. Dave V

    I have been cooking on my grills for over 30 years and never felt the need to go to all this trouble to clean a grill. I clean it by scrubbing it off before cooking. I heat it up to 600 and scrub. If any germ can live past that, they are tougher than me and deserve to make me sick. My grills last about 5-6 years before I trash them and get another one to do it again. Spend $300 everytime and save yourself alot of hassle with replacing parts in that Weber expense bucket.

    May 25, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • rhminnesota

      "I heat it up to 600 and scrub. If any germ can live past that, they are tougher than me and deserve to make me sick." This statement just made my day!!!!!!!!!!

      May 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  39. pen15

    a tastier grilled me once, trust me when the shoe is on the other foot...

    May 25, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • RC Roeder

      Never tried grilling shoes

      May 25, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  40. Grillerboy

    The above advice sounds like that given by an anal retentive. You just as well keep your chow inside on the stove. Yes, clean and maintain your grill but under no circumstances will it ever be showroom clean once used regularly, nor should it be. A seasoned grill with a vented cover, good charcoal, judicious use of smoke from premium wood chunks, and appropriate seasonings are the most important for great taste. If you don't want flame-ups, don't grill your meats directly over the fire. Don't make it more difficult than it is.

    May 25, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • T-Bone

      I always grill a Vegan about once a month to keep that "New Grille" smell.

      May 25, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
      • Grillerboy

        Do you prefer filets or patties?

        May 25, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
      • RabiaDiluvio

        As they are vegan, the fatty-acid, amino acid and general nutritional content of the meat are going to be inferior. Humans you plan to eat should not be grass-fed.

        May 25, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
      • swgriller

        I think I'd rather have mine slowed smoked, should help keep the moisture in & more tender.

        May 25, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  41. FrankGrimes

    I don't get it, you say to get rid of the ash, but then say you should use charcoal. Isn't the 'smoke' from the charcoal just ash? Propane is key to properly/evenly cooked meat.

    May 25, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • snapjack

      Propane? Really? Just cook inside then.

      May 25, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • joe

      Blasphemy. Remove yourself from this BBQ forum.

      May 25, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
      • jim w

        Agreed. Properly prepped wood or coal will not smoke.

        May 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • RabiaDiluvio

      Propane?!? Geez...how about just getting a long extension cord for your Foreman Grill and be done with it already.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
      • 2k3hoo

        Hahaha...awesome.

        May 25, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • swgriller

      Are you serious? Have you ever cooked with charcoal?

      As already stated the right type of charcoal shouldn't smoke except for a small amount of smoke when the coals are catching which is only for a minute. Also, do not buy the cheapest charcoal you can find because it can produce more smoke than most & also, tends not to last as long & tends to burn cooler as well.

      May 25, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • 300Cooper

      Propane.....Thats just sad!

      May 26, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  42. Netreacher

    I always remove the grills and lay them on the grass overnight.....early morning dew works wonders on loosing up the gunk. In the morning a simple wipe of a cloth or paper towel does the trick!

    May 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • CaveMan

      The Dinosaur and wolf pee help also.

      May 25, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Denizen Kate

      I don't think that works in all climates. Some places are just too dry, especially in summer.

      May 25, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
      • Netreacher

        Yes, you are right (I do need to travel more!)....depends on your local climate.
        I live in Ontario, Canada. Spending most of the summer at the cottage. I do rough it once in awhile like "Caveman" and cook over the campfire.

        Geneticists say there is a touch of "Neanderthal" in most of us still. ;-)

        May 25, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  43. Cleveland

    Wow. It doesn't take much effort to turn your burners on high for 10 minutes after cooking, followed by a brass-bristle brushing.

    A *MAJOR* tip to all of you Charcoal and Lighter Fluid junkies out there: PLEASE, I repeat, Please: Let the charcoal soak in the lighter fluid for approximately 5 minutes before lighting them. Then, close your lid and let the flames disinfect and clean. Keep the lid -closed- until your coals are WHITE. White charcoals will give you up to 1 hour of 400° heat with absolutely NO lighter fluid taste. I'm tired of eating burgers that taste as if they've been marinated in Kingsford dressing at cook-outs.

    May 25, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • Netreacher

      I agree with you 100% .... it takes a bit longer.....but, letting the fluid soak for awhile and waiting for the coals to whiten does make an excellent charcoal bbq.

      May 25, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • snapjack

      Please, please, don't ever, ever use lighter fluid to start your charcoal. Really, just don't do it. There is always a bit of the oil left whether you taste it or not. Just compare it side by side and see for yourself. Who wants to have even a hint of petro chemicals in their food?

      May 25, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
      • So there@snapjack

        Me?

        May 25, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
      • snapjack

        I guess there really is no accounting for taste is there.

        May 25, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
      • Shirley U Jest

        Dude, lighter fluid evaporates at 190 odd degrees F. Wait til there is a white ash on you coal and whoa, no petro flava mon!

        May 26, 2011 at 2:39 am |
    • jim w

      DO NOT USE LIGHTER FLUID! Besides stinking up the neighborhood, your food will suck. By an inexpensive "charcoal chimney" to light your coal. Quick and easy, and works every time.

      May 25, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
      • Kat Kinsman

        Would that there were a LIKE button on these comments!

        May 25, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
      • Jack

        Used lighter fluid for years for my grill and smoker, then finally bought a chimney...will never use fluid again!

        May 25, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
      • Shirley U Jest

        Troll'n with the big bait?

        May 26, 2011 at 2:40 am |
      • Bill C.

        I have a chimney starter. It's too small to light enough charcoal for high-heat foods like steak, burgers and pork chops, and it seems like half the charcoal has burned away before it's all really lit.

        I went back to the lighter fluid.

        June 29, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • Robert

      Personally I don't really care for the idea of charcoal though do have to admit food over charcoal is pretty good. For most brands charcoal is wood char and coal for the major ingredients. (http://www.enotes.com/how-products-encyclopedia/charcoal-briquette) Even with cooking off the lighter fluid (and I agree with other posters – use a chimney instead of lighter fluid), you still have coal that you are cooking over. Give me a pellet grill – all wood – and the pellets are held together with wood lignin instead of binders.

      May 25, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
      • willie

        I only cook on real wood, no coals, no gas and especially no lighter fluid. Black walnut is the best wood for BBQ but any nutwood is good. Oak and Madrone are popular in restaurants. The article is correct, never cook on a dirty grill, it only takes a minute or so to clean the grill BEFORE you eat what you just cooked. If you live in the city or a place where burning real wood is not allowed you should move to a better place!

        May 25, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • RabiaDiluvio

      Even better, buy an inexpensive coal chimney to get the coals going–the coals catch faster, the grill will be more even and you don't get the funky lighter fluid aftertaste.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  44. CaveMan

    Ugh,Me use long stick to hold meat over fire. No cleanup required.

    May 25, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Smokey the Bear@Caveman

      LOL! Only YOU can prevent forest fires.

      May 25, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  45. mikemazzla

    thanks for making grilling boring and tedious,

    May 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • So there@mikemazzla

      your mom is boring and tedious.

      May 25, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
      • joe08

        Zing!

        May 25, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
      • U.R. a midget

        Just because you have a 2 inch dick is no reason to be bitter.

        May 26, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
      • Goober Grape@U.R. a midget

        Interesting. What IS a good reason for a person to be bitter?

        May 26, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  46. Mike

    "Place them back in the grill and let them heat up to 350°F for about 45 minutes. Then, using a silicone brush or a paper towel held in some tongs, carefully coat the grates again and bump up the temperature to 350°F for another 45 minutes"

    I missed something here...bump up the temp to the same as it was before? ???

    May 25, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Eeep! Fixed. Thank you.

      May 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Thrifty Mama

      My grill directions stated for our porcelain coated cast iron to bake it in our oven at 475 with a coating of lard/crisco for 45 minutes. Easy and done. Just don't forget to put aluminum foil under it. Then after warming up the grill, baste it in liquified crisco for another 20 minutes at 400.

      May 25, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
      • Shirley U Jest

        oh yeah, burned crisco, yum.

        May 26, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • mohawk067

      Reread it it says to bump up the second time to 450 degrees.

      May 25, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
      • Teep

        Mohawk & Mark – Actually, it was you two that missed something. What you missed was the author of this article thanking Mark for pointing out the mistake. See it? Right above your posts?

        May 25, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • Mark

      Yep, you did miss something. it was bumped up to 450 degrees...

      May 25, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  47. T-Bone

    I'm as confused as a cow on Astroturf. You seriously think I'm gonns clean off 10 years of seasoning just so everyone can stand around the grill and say"Wow,clean grill". Where is y'alls sense of adventure?

    May 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • The Witty One@T-Bone

      My sense of adventure is anywhere other than the bathroom :) Which is where I will be ending up after eating off the grill!

      May 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      We're saying there's a difference between "seasoning" and just gunked-on food.

      May 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • The Smart Aleck@T-bone

      f you ready the article, ten years of crud build-up on your grille is not seasoning.

      No, I don't think you're going to clean off your grille for people to admire it's cleanliness. I think someone is going to see what your grille looks like before you cook and fwah on it for extra flavor. KUTGW.

      May 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Nikore

      Hey T-Bone, I'm 100% with you. Grilling is a hardy man's activity; neat freaks and germaphobes need not apply. They can stay inside with their Febreze and allergies. Some of the best steaks I've ever eaten came off my well-seasoned charcoal grill.

      May 26, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  48. AleeD

    Holy Bovine Batman! You mean people actually grill their food on a dirty grille? Eeew! I'm not asking for sterile, but leaving the "bits o'love" as seasoning? Gross.

    May 25, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Seriously – I have met them, and that is GROSS.

      May 25, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • AleeD@Madame Kat

      Can I have their address(es?) so I'll know where not to eat? ;)

      May 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • joe08

      I won't lie I'm one of them

      May 25, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Sweet Jack

      I've ate at a stuck on food from last season place, and had the runs for a week!!
      A clean Grill is a Health Grill, the food cooks better and looks better.
      Best way i found to season the grill is to take a quarter onion, stick a fork on the top, dip the onion in conola oil with some celery seeds in it, and rub the onion on the grill. Initial smells gets everyones tummy rumbling!!

      May 25, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
      • grill wannabe

        Now the persons idea of using an onion with canola oil on it to rub on the grill sounds like a really good idea. I'm going to try that this weekend, thanks for the information!!!!

        May 26, 2011 at 9:54 am |
      • BigAZZ Rapper

        I rub lard on my BigAzz and then slide on the grille. Does the same thing.

        May 26, 2011 at 10:01 am |
      • Chuck

        If it was really left over char from the grill, it was probably reduced to carbon and not what made you sick. Which isn't to say it wasn't gross and that it tasted good. But as the course of your illness, it was likely coincidental or psychological.

        May 27, 2011 at 7:44 am |
    • Fliesguy07

      Somebody explain to me the 90 minutes of heating up? My grill, on high, will atomize everything inside it within 10 minutes at 500 degrees. After that, a vigorous scrubbing with a wire brush cleans off any other bits. Then I leave it on high while I prep the food and everything is soon back up to 400+ degrees.

      Never gotten sick – people rave about my steaks and burgers.... Was this article written by someone with OCD? [scratching head]

      May 26, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
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