Does your grill have a crusty buildup of burnt-on mystery mess? I use a grill and a smoker a lot and mine need regular attention for several reasons.
The food buildup on your grill grates can affect the flavor. The mystery mess might be a build up of pork from that hunk of meat you smoked or grilled over Memorial Day. You don’t want that rib eye steak you’re gilling this weekend to taste like old pork butt.
Experienced grillers know that grill marks on the beef, chicken, or seafood are an important element to having the best looking protein on the plate. Looks are an important part of great cooking. But if you have buildup of mystery mess on your grill grates, you will get inconsistent grill marks. You will also get inconsistent cooking temperatures, which is important with any protein, but especially with seafood.
So it’s time to get your grill grates clean and spotless. Here are five ways to do this without using harsh chemicals. If one method doesn’t work fully, repeat that method, or try another one.
- With a warm grill (but no flames), place a few sheets of water-soaked newspaper over the grill grates and close the grill lid. Allow the mild heat to create steam from the moisture in the paper for about an hour. Then open the grill, remove the newspaper, and immediately wipe off both sides of the grates with a damp cloth or a good-quality grill brush.
- Create a mix of mild soap, water, with a few teaspoons of coffee grounds and apply to a warm grill. Make sure the grill is not hot to the touch. Apply the mixture and completely cover the grates. The coffee grounds create a mild abrasive to help remove the crud. Once the grates are cool, wipe them down with a clean rag and water to make sure any soap and coffee ground residues are removed.
- Make a 50-50 mix of water and white vinegar to attack the more challenging build ups. Scrub with a clean rag or good quality grill brush. Wipe down the grates with water using a clean rag after the grates are cool.
- For the more stubborn mystery messes, mix baking soda and water to create a paste that you can apply to both sides of the grates. Then scrub with your grill brush.
- Cut an onion in half and rub the cut side of the onion on warm grill grates. This applies an edible moisture to the grates. Close the lid and allow the onion steam to loosen the mystery mess before wiping the grates with a clean rag or your grill brush.
If your grill grates come down with a case of rust, especially if your grill sits out in the weather, soak the grates overnight in a mixture of salt and vinegar (not the potato chip version). Rinse the grates and apply a coat of Ketchup. The Ketchup will prevent more rust. It’s a good idea to use Ketchup between each use for grills that sit outside constantly exposed to the weather.
Clean those grill grates and make them unsoiled, fresh, sparkling, and sanitary.