Choosing the best grill grate involves selecting a grate that is appropriate for the specific hardware, if any, that it will be used with. Some grates are designed to be used over open fires, or multiple types of hardware. When selecting this type of grill grate, attention should be paid to the materials used in the construction of the grate, its overall design and durability, and its size and weight.
Many types of grill grate are designed to be used with specific gas grills, charcoal grills, or fire pit equipment. If a grill is being purchased to replace one that has been lost or damaged, it is typically best to simply buy a replacement that is designed for the piece of hardware that it will be used on. In some cases, a grill grate with very common measurements may be compatible with different types of hardware, but it is always a good idea to check both the size of the grill and the system used to clip and hold a grill grate in place.
When shopping for a grill grate that is intended to be used either as a substitute for an existing grate or on a fire or grill that does not currently have a grate, different considerations come into play. Grates are manufactured from many different materials. The simple stainless steel grate is the most common variety. These are inexpensive and durable, but some models have widely-spaced wires that can allow food to fall through. They also do not retain heat as well as heavier grates.
An iron grill grate is an excellent choice for campfire cooking. These grates are very heavy, but their bulk means that they can hold a great deal of heat, which can facilitate more even cooking. Aside from the weight, the chief disadvantage of this sort of grate is vulnerability to rust. Proper seasoning and care of cast iron will prevent rust, but even treated iron will eventually rust if left outside. This will not prevent the grill grate from being used to cook food, but some people may not like the idea of eating food that might contain some rust.
A compromise option exists in the form of ceramic-coated grates. These grates are typically made of iron, but are then covered with a very durable layer of ceramic. This ceramic is both durable and entirely waterproof.
Some specialized grill grate designs have unique convenience features that may appeal to particular customers. Certain grates for use with charcoal have a middle portion that can be removed, facilitating access to the coals. Other grates are designed to minimize flare ups and catch most of the grease from cooking meat before it reaches the cooking flames.