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What is Better? Cooking With Stainless Steel Grates or Cast Iron Cooking Grates?

What is Better? Cooking With Stainless Steel Grates or Cast Iron Cooking Grates?

 To most, a grill grate is simply that, just a grill grate,  but if you're someone that is serious about grilling there is some important differences you need to know to get the most out of your grill and maybe save money and time down the road.

 

Some points to help note what to keep in mind when deciding what will work best for you.

  • Performance (How you use your grill and what you mostly be cooking)
  • Location (Does your grill stay out of the weather or will it be exposed to the elements)
  • Cost (How much are you willing to pay

 

 Performance

There are a few different ideas come to mind when talking about the performance of your grates. What material type has the best heat retention? How well will they hold up to the heat? Will they be easy to clean and maintain? 

Location

If your grill spends most of its time in the elements you may need some extra protection. If your grill is well protected and out of the elements this offers more flexibility. 

 

The facts on cast iron:

Cast iron retains heat very well which is why it is used commonly in pans. Cast iron will corrode and rust, usually grates are coated with either porcelain or enamel. These coatings do help to ensure the grates don’t rust while also lessening the need to season them. They also make clean up easier. While you won’t get that sizzling sound the meat makes when it hits the grill, you also won’t get those dark sear marks either. The porcelain or enamel will almost always start to crack and chip, and those chips can end up in your food. Once the cracks and chips start it will cause the grate to lose its ability to retain heat and will cause the grate to start rusting through.  Cast iron with no coating will usually last longer, however it will rust quickly without proper care.

 Image result for cast iron grill grates

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
    • Retain heat well and for a long period of time
    • Can last a long time but not as long as stainless steel
    • Cost is fairly cheap
  • Cons
    • Will rust and corrode over time
    • Take more time and work to clean
    • Must be cleaned when grates are still warm to take off the residue
    • Require more maintenance such as lightly oiling the grates after each use

The facts on  stainless steel:


Stainless steel usually wont retain heat as well as cast iron but it does heat up faster. Stainless steel is also much more durable and resilient, able to withstand harsher elements like sun, wind, rain and salt. While the stainless steel grates will darken with use, this is considered normal (a simple wipe with a grill brush will remove it if desired) and there’s virtually no clean up if small amounts of cooking oil is used before cooking. Maintenance is also easier. The cooking surfaces on stainless steel grills tend to be larger than those of cast iron grills but this is for good reason: they need to be able to retain enough heat to effectively sear/cook the food. For those looking for long-lasting, low maintenance, high-performing grills, consider going with stainless steel. However there is a large amount of cheap stainless steel available today, many grates use inferior quality of stainless that wont last. Make sure to choose only 304 or 316 stainless steel and to get a good thickness of grate, not a thin wire grate.

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Pros and Cons

  • Pros
    • Will leave great searing marks
    • Heats up quickly
    • Easy to clean
    • Minimal maintenance
    • Very durable – will perform for many years - Won’t corrode or rust (regular steel and chrome plated grates will)
  • Cons
    • Wont retain heat quite as well as cast iron
    • Will darken over time but this does not affect cooking or taste
    • Cost for quality stainless grates can be high