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Barbeque Grill Parts -- Cooking Grate Comparison.

Updated on February 15, 2010

Grill Parts with BBQ Cooking Grates.

Built in grills are usually all stainless steel -- including the grids for grilling.  Once a built in bbq grill is installed it is there forever, replacing a built in bbq is a nightmare.  Good quality materials should always be installed -- no porcel
Built in grills are usually all stainless steel -- including the grids for grilling. Once a built in bbq grill is installed it is there forever, replacing a built in bbq is a nightmare. Good quality materials should always be installed -- no porcel

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Comparisons Between Porcelain and Stainless Steel Cooking Grates

Having a barbecue would not be the same without the grilling grates and whether you are just spreading your wings in the world of outdoor cooking or a full fledged barbecue expert, delivering succulent dishes is 60% of your barbecue experience--the other 40% is your cooking grate.

The type of grate that you decide to choose is entirely determined by the BBQ parts features that you are looking for both when you buy a barbeque and when you replace grill parts. Both stainless steel and porcelain cooking grates have their advantages and disadvantages and weighing each carefully from different angles will determine the final product that you decide to take home or change over to. Here are some common features between the two.

Cooking grates standard on grills

Weber Spirit barbecues come standard with porcelain coated steel cooking grates and a one year warranty.  Most clients will purchase stainless cooking grates one year later.
Weber Spirit barbecues come standard with porcelain coated steel cooking grates and a one year warranty. Most clients will purchase stainless cooking grates one year later.
DCS grill parts all very high quality and cooking grates on this 36" grill are cast stainless steel.  I have never used anything heavier or more long lasting.  The concave/convex reversible design is very useful for additional grilling flavor.
DCS grill parts all very high quality and cooking grates on this 36" grill are cast stainless steel. I have never used anything heavier or more long lasting. The concave/convex reversible design is very useful for additional grilling flavor.

Grill Parts Features.

Cost.

Stainless steel cooking grates are quite popular in most American homes and are often seen with gas grills with multiple burners. Porcelain cooking grills are much less expensive.

Longevity.

Stainless steel cooking grates can last quite long but in many cases they suffer wear and tear from handling and sometimes rust. Though many people may be surprised that stainless steel cooking grates show signs of rust it must be understood cooking grates are subjected to extreme temperatures and mess – and there are different degrees of stainless steel.

Cleaning and Maintenance.

Unlike porcelain cooking grates, stainless steel can stand up to the harsh cleaning surfaces that are used to rub away any left over food and grease from a previous barbecue. Despite this commendable characteristic many backyard chefs believe it is necessary to 're-season' the cooking grill ever so often. This is done by applying some oil on the surface of the stainless steel cooking grill and then placing it on the heated barbecue for about three hours. The oil will be cooked into the grates and this will help to prevent rusting and corrosion in the future as well as provide a non-stick surface for food. Food should be removed from the grates immediately as the shorter the time between cooking and cleaning the grates the, less effort will be required to do a good job.

I should point out that I not only service & clean barbecues and sell a lot of barbeque grill parts I also barbecue with charcoal and grill several times a week and I have never found that stainless steel, cast iron, porcelain coated steel or anything else absorbs cooking oil. I have also never found additional flavor from this practice but the application does make cleaning the barbeque cooking grates somewhat simpler.

Despite the fact that stainless steel grilling grates can resist severe elements a grill cover should be used when the grill is not hot. This may prevent the exposure to dust and also prolonged sun, wind, salt etc, that overtime can affect cooking grates and other grill parts.

Cast iron cooking grates.

Cast iron grill parts will rust quickly if not cleaned regularly and gently but cast iron does distribute heat better than any other material.
Cast iron grill parts will rust quickly if not cleaned regularly and gently but cast iron does distribute heat better than any other material.
Many grills that are not meant to be used as a barbeque will use cast iron for a clear distribution of even heat.
Many grills that are not meant to be used as a barbeque will use cast iron for a clear distribution of even heat.
Broilmaster BBQ grill cooking grates have the ability to change their distance from the gas flame because of the design of the coking grates.
Broilmaster BBQ grill cooking grates have the ability to change their distance from the gas flame because of the design of the coking grates.

Cooking and Maintenance of Grill Grates.

Cooking Features.

Many people prefer the porcelain cooking grates when porcelain is coating cast iron.  Cast iron conducts heat better than any other cooking surface.  In fact, working my way through college in a variety of restaurants, we would use a thick piece of cast iron -- heated for several hours while preparing the kitchen --  to get a perfect sear on steaks and tuna.  Many grillers prefer porcelain enameled cast iron over the stainless steel grids, because heat penetrates cast iron so well. When stainless steel cooking grates are thin and not closely spaced, it is difficult for stainless to compare to cast iron.  For barbecue chefs that are looking for grill sear-lines across the meats and vegetables, the stainless steel cooking grates are not always a favorable option to achieve this.   Stainless grates must be 1/2” to 5/8” thick to conduct heat well while cast iron will always conduct well.  The trade-off is longevity.  Good stainless will last much longer and need to be replaced less frequently than cast iron.

Warranty.

Stainless steel cooking grates are usually given longer warranties than porcelain cooking grates and this is to be expected given the resistance they possess in comparison to other counterparts. 

Porcelain enameled or stainless cooking grates.

Cost- The thin enamel that covers cast-iron or steel is meant to protect the material from rusting.  Porcelain covered steel and cast iron are inexpensive options for cooking grates.  Stainless – assuming good quality stainless rated 304 or 316 – is much more expensive than porcelain coated iron or steel.  Often stainless is more than double the cost of the other products.  Many clients still choose cast iron for its heating properties and many choose thin porcelain coated steel to lower expenses.

Longevity- Porcelain cooking grates are a lot more fragile than stainless steel cooking grates given the thin layer of ceramic enamel that does not withstand harsh treatment very well. They can easily chip, peel and lose the ceramic covering that is used to protect the metal they are covering when subjected to repetitive harsh treatment. 

Cleaning and Maintenance- Cleaning porcelain cooking grates is fairly easy, but it must be pointed out that only brushes with bristles should be used to scrub them. Hard wire brushes should be avoided or brass-bristled brushes used instead of hard steel bristled brushes.  I generally advise clients with porcelain enameled cooking surface to use a non-stick spray (carefully, it may be flammable!) and the rough side of a sponge after burning the grill for approximately ten minutes to dry-out and burn-off any residual grease.

Sharp objects such as knives should not be used with the intention of scraping away any left-over food, because damaging the thin ceramic layer will be the reward of such intentions.   As soon as the porcelain is scratched, the steel or cast iron will begin to rust.

Stainless steel cooking grates can be cleaned as harshly as you deem necessary.  On-site when we provide service on a customers’ barbeque we use a drill with a round stainless brush that spins with the drill.  Years worth of cooking grease and dirt can be removed in seconds.  On stainless steel grids, I have also used razor blades as rusting is not so much an issue and scratching will be hidden by discoloration from grilling.

Porcelain enameled cast iron cooking grates have been highly esteemed for their ability to retain heat and allow it to penetrate meats and vegetables more slowly.  Given the weaknesses that porcelain cooking grates possess when compared to stainless steel cooking grates, the former is not given a long warranty due to this. 

Barbecuing and Grilling Technique with Grids.

One last reminder about the differences between barbecuing and grilling may be important when judging a new barbeque based on BBQ grill parts. Although many of us read the terms barbecuing and grilling as synonymous, they do not refer to the same style of cooking. A barbeque is basically very similar to a convection oven. Light the burners, close the hood and wait for the air trapped in the BBQ hood to get hot enough to cook your food. This type of barbecuing does not benefit from expensive or well heated cooking grates. The barbecuing happens when hot air heats the food. Many backyard chefs will use cast iron to make grid-cross marks on their food but a barbeque cooks below 600 degrees and the only reason cooking grates are used id to hold the food in place. A warming rack is usually a great benefit in a barbeque. Grilling is considered to be cooking above 800 degrees. Lately, this is accomplished with infrared grills but before infrared existed, grills were made by conducting heat. High BTU burners would sit below a layer of ceramic briquettes and cast iron or heavy stainless cooking grates. These grill features allowed heat to be absorbed, conducted and radiated at the grilling surface to generate enough heat to grill at the cooking surface with the hood raised. With a grill, grill parts become much more important. Longevity is always an issue as is cost but when choosing a grill replacement parts like cooking grates consider the use of the barbeque as a whole and the expectation of the grid to do anything other than support the food.

Infrared grills for searing heat temperature.

Infrared grills create heat by pressurizing the gas in the burner.  Burners are adjustable but are known to heat to 1400 degrees in minutes.
Infrared grills create heat by pressurizing the gas in the burner. Burners are adjustable but are known to heat to 1400 degrees in minutes.
Infravection is a name given to grills that are infrared on one side and convectional blue flame on the other.  One for grilling and the other for barbecuing.  Grates are all stainless and warrantied for life.
Infravection is a name given to grills that are infrared on one side and convectional blue flame on the other. One for grilling and the other for barbecuing. Grates are all stainless and warrantied for life.

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