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No More Sticky Grilling
Features - The Craft of Cooking
Written by Chad Ammidown   
Too often I see people having major issues with food sticking to their grill.  A majority of these issues can be resolved by making sure to take proper care of the grates.  If you have stainless steel or some type of coated grates… you need to get serious.  Cast iron is the only way to go for really superior grilling.  Stainless and other materials are designed for easy cleaning but a well handled grill should rarely see a sink.

If you cast iron grates are new then soak them in warm soapy water for about 20 minutes then wash them with a soapy sponge.  Make sure to rinse well to remove any soap residue then get out some paper towels or rags and make sure to completely dry the grates.  Drip drying or air drying is not as good here as we are also removing any residual particles with our towels.

Next, fold a rag or paper towels in prep for some vegetable oil or Crisco (I’ve heard of people using olive oil but it gets smoky faster).  Wipe down every little spot on the grates with your oiled towel and place them in your grill.  Turn on all burners at around medium heat and let the grill get up to temp and sit for 20 to 30 minutes.  Turn off the burners and let the grill cool for a while.  Once it is cool to the touch, take a cloth and give a quick wipe to the grates.  This helps remove any excess burn off or oil and you have now seasoned your grill.

With a seasoned grill you have built a base for preventing sticking.  Each time you are going to use the grill, give it a light wipe of oil before turning it on.  This will ensure a nice surface to prevent food from sticking.  After each use of the grill, make sure to use a wire brush while the grill is still hot to remove the char left on the grates.  This is the best time to clean your grill and allows your food to rest as well.

Now while properly seasoning and oiling will prevent most sticking, there are some things you need to do as a griller to prevent issues.  The most important thing to do as a griller is “walk away”.  Do not sit there trying to fiddle with items you have just placed on the grill.  If you do, you will soon see your food falling apart and sticking to the grill.  By letting the food sear, you are giving it time to separate itself from the grates.  The food will char and create easy removal.

Lastly, there are ways of cooking meats that help prevent sticking and give you great results.  First, with any meat, use your oil wipe.  With poultry you want to start low and end low.  Give the chicken a good amount of time on each side and you will be able to cook the meat through while also building a char on the outside.  With fish you’ll want to get the grates hot but then go to medium heat before placing the fish on the grill.  Let it sit a few minutes before flipping (I recommend a good wide fish spatula… well worth the investment).  The hot grates build a quick char while the medium heat allows the fish to cook through.  With beef I like to start high and end high to medium.  Building a char is easiest with beef and the high heat helps sear in the juices.  For a more medium to well done meat, simply turn the heat to medium or low after the first flip and let it cook longer.

Hopefully this article will have you cooking the foods you love without frustration.  Now get out there and start grilling.


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