Should you oil grill grates

Should you oil grill grates before grilling is a controversial topic, even the celebrity chef’s disagree with each other on this. So should you or shouldn’t you oil those grates? Here we will take a look at what some of those chefs recommend and then add our 2 cents to the mix as well.

Should you oil grill grates

What inspired me to write the post is a new book: Meatheads The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling If you have read any of my blog posts you can tell that I like a small side of science with my meat but not too much. Here is a breakdown of what the celebrity chefs have to say about oiling your grill grates.

Steven Raichlen: Author of the Barbecue Bible and host of the PBS TV show of the same name and numerous other books on the subject.  Recommends you oil grill grates when hot just before placing your food on them.

Bobby Flay: author of Grill It! and star of many food network shows including Throwdown Suggests you oil grill grates cold with Canola oil.

Alton Brown: author of Everydaycook and star of food networks Good Eats suggests you oil grates before grilling fish but when grilling other meats oil the meat instead of the grates before grilling

Meathead: author of The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling and the website Amazing Ribs says never to oil grill grates because the oil will burn and the burnt oil taste will transfer to your food.

Here at 4thegrill, we are in the do not oil grill grates before grilling camp. We will only oil them when they are new or have just been thoroughly cleaned to season them.

Our Logic behind our stand on: Should you oil grill grates?

We have experimented with oiling hot grates on and off over the years and frankly we did not see a noticeable difference.

My theory is: When you brush the oil onto hot grates you can see the smoke as you brush. This means the oil is burning off killing any lubrication you may think you are getting. However the act of running an oil soaked rag over your grates is also cleaning them at the same time. I am one to run my grill brush over my grates right before I grill so I do not notice any difference. So if you normally clean your grates when you are done cooking and not before there most likely is more of a non-stick quality to you grates.

I will oil our grill grates when they are new or just had a thorough scrubbing to season them. I will oil grill grates then slowly heat the grill until I see just a wisp of smoke then let the grates cool all the way down. I am not sure if this really helps or not it’s just what I do.

So the bottom line is if your grates are clean you shouldn’t need to oil them. But if you do oil your grates and it has been working for you stick with it. After all who am I to judge you?

About the author: Mike is the owner of, a Certified Food Safety Professional and KCBS member.

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