Last Updated On: May 4, 2021

You might be wondering how to season your grill and why it even needs seasoning in the first place. When you hear the word “season,” your first thought probably goes to adding spices onto food to make it tastier.

While this is an important part of grilling, this isn’t what we’re talking about today. So we have dedicated this article to everything you need to know about seasoning your grill!

Why Does A Charcoal Grill Need Seasoning?

We all know seasoning our meat is important, but when it comes to charcoal-grilled food, you may have to season more than just your meat. There isn't one set reason as to why you sound season your charcoal grill.

So you’ll find 4 reasons why grill seasoning is an important pre-cooking step.

#1 Safety First

Close up photo of a charcoal grill

Purchasing a brand new grill is exciting. But before you fire up that grill and cook up some good food, first, you have some hygiene and safety issues to deal with.

Your new grill will have manufacturing oils, dust and metal shavings, and residual paint; all the things you don’t want on your juicy steak.

Seasoning your new grill will burn off all the impurities and sterilize your charcoal grill. This is a crucial health and safety step, so don’t skip it. [1]

#2 Make Cooking and Cleaning Easier

Everyone loves a good BBQ. In fact, it is considered a family event. But when it comes to cooking and cleaning, not everyone may show the same enthusiasm when hoovering down your tasty burgers.

Cooking and cleaning seemingly takes hours, but seasoning your charcoal grill from time to time actually makes this task a lot less hard. Since your grill uses cast iron, over time, it can absorb too much oil, fat, and charcoal emissions which negatively affects its nonstick feature.

That’ll make it almost impossible to cook without burning your meat, meaning upkeep will become difficult. Seasoning your grill often will prevent your grill grates from those charcoal and oil build-ups by creating a non-stick surface. It’ll not only make your food taster but keep cleaning your cast iron grill grates a relatively hassle-free task.

#3 Better Flavor

Fresh foods on top a charcoal grill

I’m sure we can agree there’s nothing quite like grilled food. One of the reasons it tastes so good is thanks to re-seasoning.

All those good fats and juices drip down the grates and pit are marinated into the grilled meat via vapors. You aid your grill's distinct flavor when you keep your grates oiled and seasoned up.

Remember, when you use a charcoal grill, you’re increasing the chances of getting coal dust onto your grates and food. This isn’t great for your health nor flavor, so when you season your grill regularly, you can get rid of that dust.

#4 Extend the Life of Your Grill

Last but definitely not least, regularly seasoning your charcoal grill can extend its grilling life. This means you can get the same amazing grilling taste for a longer time.

Season your grill grates regularly to prevent rust and damage and provide a good non-stick surface.

“Charcoal or gas. Both give excellent results, so choose the one that best suits your style of cooking.”

 

- Bobby Flay, Chef.

How Do I Season My Charcoal Grill?

A person seasoning a charcoal grill

Things you’ll need: 

  • Clean cloth or new sponge
  • Clean water
  • Cooking oil with a high smoke point
  • Paper towels
  • Mild dish soap
  • Wire brush
  • Cleaning gloves (optional)

Below, you’ll find the steps to seasoning your new or old charcoal grill:

  1. Take off the grates from the grill - if your grill is dirty, it is best to wear a protective pair of gloves to keep your hands clean.
  2. Using a wire grill brush, firmly brush both sides of the grate to get rid of any burnt meat and debris. When facing significant build-up, you can soak the grates in a bucket of soapy warm water for 15 minutes. Don't forget to clean your grill brush in the end. (If your grill is new, you can skip this step.)
  3. Wipe the grates using a sponge or wet cloth with soapy water. Rinse the grates thoroughly and let them air-dry completely.
    1. If you have a new grill, this will remove any manufacturing oils.
    2. If your grill is older, this will help brush away any excess oil and burnt foods.
  1. Prepare a clean cloth and apply an even coating of cooking oil to both sides of the grate. Be sure to use an oil such as canola, rapeseed, or peanut oil, or vegetable oil since you will heat and burn your grill to a high heat temperature later.
  2. Prepare a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe off any excess oil.
  3. If you have a new grill, coat the inside of your grill pit too.
  4. Preheat your grill for 15 minutes and get your grill to a good heat.
  5. Put your grates back on your grill and let them bake for about two hours with the top on.
  6. Let the grate cool. Your cast-iron grates will turn a shiny black while stainless steel, usually used on gas grills, turn dark bronze.
  7.  Get your grill fired up and get cooking! You won’t have to season your grill for a few more months!

Extra Maintenance Tips

To keep your charcoal grill in tip-top shape, you’ll have to keep up proper maintenance.

Simple maintenance tips include:

  • Check your grill often to make sure everything is working well. It’s better to fix a small problem before it becomes a big one!
  • Remove excess grease from meat to stop too much grease build-up.
  • Always clean your grill after cooking. Making sure your grill is pristine before cooking will help you avoid unwanted tastes.
  • Cleaning not only your grate but the whole grill thoroughly will help maintain your grill longer.
  • Season your grills often. It is suggested every few months is best to prevent rusting and maintaining its non-stick coating. [2]
  • As soon as you see rust forming or when the food begins to stick, it’s time to re-season your grill!

What Can I Use Instead of Canola Oil?

Bacon strips on a white background

While using a high burning oil such as Canola is great for the seasoning process, it is actually possible to use other things.

These other items can actually add some extra taste when you cook, which is always a huge plus side. You can maintain your grills as well as adding some great smoke flavor.

The next time you’re grilling, grab your tongs and coat your grates with the following:

  • A few strips of bacon
  • Half an onion dipped in some oils
  • Coat some extra fat you cut off some meat
  • A smoky wood chip dipped in oils

How To Season Your Charcoal Grill: My Final Thoughts

It’s safe to say that having a well-seasoned grill not only gives your food better flavor but also makes sure your grills stay fit and healthy throughout its grilling life.

Apply a fresh seasoning every couple of months, and clean your entire grill often to make sure your brand new grill continues looking new.

References:

  1. https://www.thoughtco.com/backyard-barbecues-bad-for-your-health-1203996
  2. https://www.thespruceeats.com/charcoal-grill-maintenance-tips-4163715

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