Almost everyone enjoys a good quality of grilled foods. From steaks to vegetables, charcoal grilling brings out delectable flavors to nearly every food. This method of cooking is also healthier as the foods contain fewer fats and calories.
Last summer I bought a charcoal grill for camping. I was so eager to use the grill for the first time that I used the grill without researching much. As a result, the taste of the grilled foods was not up to the mark. Later I found out from my friend that I needed to season the grill first before using it.
After I seasoned my grill, it did not just make grilling more manageable, but it also made the food taste incredible. So if you are facing difficulties in seasoning a charcoal grill, you’re in the right place. Here I will provide you a complete guideline on how to season a charcoal grill effortlessly. Keep on reading!
What Does It Mean to Season a Grill
Seasoning is a crucial step in using a grill. It is the process of oiling and heating the grates of the grill before start cooking. It helps your grill to operate smoothly and prolongs the lifespan.
It is an essential process to keep the grates protected from rust and other contaminants. The oil penetrates the metal’s pores and makes the cleaning process much more comfortable.
Why Should You Season Your Grill
Seasoning grill grates are so important that people spend a lot of time perfecting their techniques. What makes it so crucial? There quite a few reasons for placing this much significance on this process. Let’s find them out.
Ensures Safety: Most new grills contain chemical residues, dust, and metal shavings from manufacturing and shipping.
You may consume these residues if you use the new grill without cleaning and seasoning first. Seasoning burns off these impurities and ensures a healthier and tastier outcome.
Easy to Cook and Clean: Seasoning makes cooking and cleaning much easier. Proper seasoning makes a smooth, non-stick surface over the grates, so less chance of foods sticking to the grill.
As fewer food particles will stick to the grills, you can clean and maintain your grill without much effort. The protective layer created by seasoning keeps the metal grates free from moisture and water so that no rust can form.
Better Flavor: The more you season, the better flavor you will get. As you grill in high heat, the fats and oils will build up and cover the whole surface of your grill, including the grates, pit, lid, etc.
Thus whenever you heat your grill, the flavor will get better and better. So without this process, the food will be more likely to be a little bland.
Lasts Longer: Last but not least, the frequent seasoning will ensure your grill’s optimum performance for a long time. It means every time you grill, you will get the same best result.
Seasoning prevents rust, which allows the grill to be functional for the most extended period—thus enabling you to enjoy the uncompromised grilled taste whenever you want.
How to Season a Charcoal Grill
Now that you know all the reasons for seasoning let’s find out how you can effectively season your charcoal grill. With the following process, you can master seasoning both new and used grills very quickly.
Tools Needed for Seasoning a Charcoal Grill
- Cooking oil
- Spray bottle for applying oil on grates
- Paper towel
- Dishwashing liquid
- Grill brush
Select a Cooking Area: Before starting seasoning, you need to choose an appropriate area for grilling. Select an outdoor place that is clean and properly ventilated, and then take your grill there.
Try to avoid polluted and populated areas for safety concerns as well as for proceeding with the seasoning process smoothly.
Remove the Grate: Now you have to lift the grate. It may come off quickly, or in some cases, the grates might be locked inside the grill. So you have to unlock them from the inside of your grill.
You may wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from getting dirty and also from any sharp edges.
Brush the Grates: You need to use a grill brush to clean any food or debris left on grates from previous use in this step. Brush the inside and outside of the grills thoroughly.
If a large number of residues remain even after vigorous brushing, you can soak the grate for about fifteen minutes in warm soapy water. That will help to remove any persistent stuck-on particles.
Wash and Dry the Grill: Now after brushing the grates, wet a sponge and clean the grates thoroughly with a cleaning agent.
For new grills, cleaning with just water is enough as this step will remove any chemical coatings used in the manufacturing process. When using used grills, you need dishwashing liquid to get rid of the stubborn food remnants.
After washing, rinse the grates carefully and let them air dry completely. You can use a paper towel to dry the grates as well.
Now that you finish cleaning, you can proceed to the next step, where you will apply oil on the grates, which is the most significant part of the seasoning.
Even Application of Oil on Grates: Use a paper towel or soft-bristled brush to apply oil evenly on the surface of the grates. You can also find a spray bottle and fill it with oil. Use it instead of a paper towel for oil application.
You may burn the coal for up to two hours, so choose an oil resistant to high heat and has a higher smoke point, such as canola, grapeseed, or peanut oil
Wipe Off Excess Oil: If you accidentally pour too much oil, it will drip down from the grates and hamper the even coating. These excessive oils can make the grease catch fire when on high heat. So always clean additional oil with a paper towel.
Apply Oil Inside the Pit and Lid: Lastly, spread oil thoroughly on the inside of the lid and pit, especially on a brand new grill. If your grill has emitters, apply on them as well. This step is necessary for covering the entire interior of the grill.
The oil will harden by penetrating the pores of the iron grill. It will create a non-sticky glaze that will improve the food taste every time you cook. The cleaning process gets more comfortable, too, with this step.
At this point, you are almost reaching the end of the seasoning process. Now, after finishing the oiling process, you can finally get into the final and crucial part of seasoning your grill.
Preheat the Grill: Put the lid on without putting the grates inside and heat the grill at medium for 15 minutes. Add enough briquettes that will last about two hours to fire the grill pit.
Burn them until the centers become glowing red, and a coating of gray ash covers the outside.
Reinstall the grates: Now put the grates back on inside the pit. Close the lid again and wait for the grates to bake.
Cooldown the Grates: After burning for about 40 minutes in high heat, you will notice the color change in your grates, such as dark bronze for stainless steel and glossy black appearance for cast iron grates. These are the perfect signs of developing a non-slippery surface.
Turn off the heat and let the grates cool. Finally, your grill is perfectly seasoned. You can now start cooking and enjoy months of barbecues with your friends and family.
Make sure to regularly clean and season your grill with the above three-part method and get the best out of your charcoal grill for a long time.
Here are some additional tips and techniques that you must know to season your grill safely. These tips will guide you in maintaining the performance of your charcoal grill.
- Proper Area
When lighting the coal, never use your charcoal grill in a bounded space. Coal-burning in a sealed area causes carbon monoxide. It is a dangerous gas, known as the silent killer because it can kill you within a minute indoors. Always use a charcoal grill in an open, outdoor place.
- Grill Brush
Choose an appropriate cleaning tool for seasoning. Using a bristle brush makes cleaning the grates much easier and faster. But if some bristle remains in the cooker, it may cause severe damage to the internal organs when swallowed with grilled food.
To replace the grill brushes for every season and regularly check for any loose bristles.
- Putting Coal
When dealing with transferring coal, always wear appropriate protective gloves. You should arrange the coal uniformly on the coal grate to enable even heating on the grates.
It would be helpful if you made sure that the coals get enough oxygen by opening the vent. You also need your coals to be dry. If your coal is not dry, then use it at the end. The moisture will evaporate by the hot coal.
- Adjust Temperature
You can adjust the temperature by opening/closing the vents. More oxygen will enter if vents are open. It will increase the temperature and allow the coal to burn faster. Similarly, closing the vent will lower the temperature and slower coal burning.
Too much ash buildup can suffocate the fire by blocking air vents. So Always empty the ash repository regularly to control your grill’s temperature.
- Ash Handling
After you complete seasoning, you need to remove the ashes. You cannot empty the ash catcher immediately. Even if the ash is slightly warm, it increases the chance of catching fire. So please wait for 12 hours to cool it down and dispose of it in a fireproof container.
Key Difference Between Seasoning Charcoal Grill & Other Grills
There is no significant difference in the seasoning process between charcoal grills and other grills such as gas or pellet grills. All grill grates except porcelain grates do not require seasoning.
However, if I have to point out a key difference, that would be the flavor. Seasoning in a charcoal grill gives the foods a superior smoky flavor.
This flavorful smoke appears when the juice from chicken, steak, or veggies fall and mix with the burning coal. This resultant steam goes into the food and brings out the unique charcoal grilling taste.
- How long does it take to season a charcoal grill?
There is no fixed heating time for seasoning. However, the color changes in the grates can be a way to tell if the seasoning is complete. You will notice a dark bronze shade on the stainless steel grates and a shiny black appearance on the cast iron grates when your grill gets seasoned completely. It might need about 30 to 40 minutes for the colors to appear.
Seasoning time also depends on the type of food you want to grill. Corn, onions, steak, burgers can tolerate high heat. So burning coal for 5 to 10 minutes can get you high heat. In comparison, you need to burn coals for about 25 to 30 minutes to reach medium heat. Proteins, dense fruits, and vegetables need medium heat to cook.
- Do you need to season a new grill?
Yes, you should always season a grill, especially if it’s a new grill. Seasoning will produce a protective layer that will prevent rusting. It will also help to get rid of the plastic or metallic taste of a new grill.
The high heat required for seasoning helps in burning off any contaminants on the grates. In using cast iron grill plates coated with porcelain and enamel, you do not need to season before use.
- Can I use olive oil to season my grill?
Yes, you can, but it would be best not to use olive oil. Due to the low burning point, olive oil may not correctly infiltrate the cast iron surface. Using olive oil will damage the seasoning quickly, which causes rust in the grill. Peanut, canola, or grapeseed oils are preferable for seasoning a grill.
- Do you need to season a Weber charcoal grill?
Weber grill generally comes with a porcelain enamel coating on the cast iron, so seasoning is unnecessary. When you use this grill for the first time, heat it for about 15 minutes and brush it with a clean bristle brush.
However, when using an older Weber grill, you need to season it before using it.
- Should I season my grill before every use?
It is ideal for seasoning a grill before every use. However, if you cannot season every time, at least try to clean and reseason whenever you notice rust formation.
The condition of the seasoning coating is another indication know when to season your grill. If the seasoning comes off or the color becomes pale, you will need to season.
- How often should I season my grill grates?
Seasoning depends on how many times you use your grill, what type of food you are grilling, and of course, on your preference. Some may season once a year; others may season more often depending on their usage. It would help if you tried to reseason after every five or six barbecues.
- What should you do with a new charcoal grill?
After getting a new charcoal grill, the first thing you need to do is, read the manual for getting necessary maintenance and cooking advice. In most cases, you need to register your grill to utilize the benefits of the warranty.
Most charcoal grills come with protective films to protect various parts of the grill during the shipping process. You need to remove them after unboxing the grill, and lastly, do not forget to clean and season /preheat the grill before using it.
- Can I use Pam to season a grill?
You can use Pam instead of oil to season a grill, and because it is a spray oil, you can apply it effortlessly. It is also easier to clean. Nevertheless, you should be very careful in selecting an appropriate product for grilling or cooking in high heat. Otherwise, you might get a burnt taste from the grilled foods.
You also need to be extra careful when using Pam. Always make sure to spray it when the grill is cool. Since it is an aerosol spray, there is a high risk of catching fire if directly applied to the flames.
- What temperature should I season my grill?
When seasoning, always make sure the temperature stays below the smoking point of the fat used. It will make the oil bond with the surface of the grids easily.
Heat the grill for 30 to 60 minutes at 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. For direct grilling in gas grills, preheat to at least 500°F; it might take 10 to 15 minutes. For indirect grilling, you can preheat the grill to 350°F.
In the beginning, when I was clueless about seasoning, I once thought of throwing out my grill because of the bad taste and the toxic factory fumes I could smell on my food.
But now I know better, and so you are after reading this article! Now that you know about all the steps and rules on how to season a charcoal grill, you can easily arrange your own barbecue party in your home with your near and dear ones.