What is a Grill Grate?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

A grill grate is the grate that sits atop the heat source of the grill, onto which you place food for cooking. Although the other parts of the grill are important, you can’t barbecue in most cases without the grill grate. You can take any size grate, though, and build your own barbecue. Some people build temporary ones with a few levels of bricks and place a simple grate on top of it. Just be certain to place the temporary grill in a cleared area where there is no fire danger.

A grill grate separates servings from the fire source.
A grill grate separates servings from the fire source.

Since there are so many sizes of grills, you’ll find numerous sizes of grill grates. Most barbecues will come with at least one, or several if your barbecue has different levels of grates. If you buy a used grill, you may need to replace the grill grates if they’re really filthy.

The stainless steel grill grate is considered moderately easy to clean.
The stainless steel grill grate is considered moderately easy to clean.

Buying a new grill grate means you’ll have to choose between usually three types, stainless steel, porcelain coated stainless steel, and cast iron. Each have advantages and disadvantages, and you may be limited as to choice. Since grills have so many different sizes, you may have to order replacements directly from the grill manufacturer. A few sizes can be easily purchased in hardware or barbecue stores. For instance, you generally won’t have a difficult time purchasing round grill grates for Weber® kettle barbecues, since they remain very popular.

The stainless steel grill grate is by far the most common, and one of the most popular choices. They tend to be easy to use, fairly easy to clean, and they can be scrubbed thoroughly. If you do tend to do a lot of scrubbing of any grill grate, you’ll need to season the grate afterward, simply by coating it with a little bit of oil and cooking it on the grill for an hour or two afterwards.

Porcelain coated stainless steel is preferred by some cooks, but you can’t scrub it as much. The porcelain can chip easily during vigorous washing. People feel the advantage to this type is its ability to heat food evenly best. They may need to be replaced more frequently, and they generally are the most expensive.

The cast iron grill grate is the favorite choice of other chefs, and it is a little thicker and stronger than stainless steel types. This is a grate that will take the heavy abuse of scrubbing with steel wool, but absolutely must be seasoned. It’s very important when you rinse this type to dry it thoroughly, because it can rust easily.

The grill grates from different manufacturers will exhibit difference in look, price, size and thickness. There is no standard size, so it’s important to understand the dimensions of your grill and decide what will fit. In books you’ll find defenses of each of the types. Thus as you become a barbecue expert, you’ll likely decide which one works best for you. In a pinch, as long as the grate fits, any type can produce wonderful barbecue.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


Stainless grates are definitely the way to go. I have the Weber Summit S-670 that I bought after reading the review online and the stainless steel grates are easy to clean and the food doesn't stick to them like my chicken would do on my cast iron grates on my older grill.

They also heat up a lot faster than the cast iron and always put nice sear marks on my steak making them look like a restaurant steak. I would never go back to any other type of grill grates!

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