I’m always on the lookout for the next grilling tool that I absolutely “need”! Some are great (like this one) and some we have tried and decided they just didn’t work for us. Then one day I saw GrillGrates at our local BBQ supply store and drooled over them for a few weeks. I left a few none-too-subtle hints for my wife, like keeping her computer browser window open to the company’s website, and dropping the occasional “sigh” when I showed her the reviews online. I finally wore her down and she bought me the GrillGrate for the large Big Green Egg. All was well with the world!
What is the GrillGrate and why do I need one?
This hard anodized aluminum grating system rests on top of your existing grate. It is made up of fairly wide wings, that capture and reflect the heat of the grill. For a kamado-type grill, the surface of the GrillGrate will be between 250 and 350 degrees hotter than rest of the grill. That extra heat will transfer to whatever you are grilling and leave fantastic sear marks. In our recipes, you can see a distinct difference in the recipes using the Grill Grate. Crisp, clear and thick!!
Gas, pellet and charcoal grills will also see an increase in surface temperature of about 100 – 250 degrees.
For my Big Green Egg, the GrillGrate comes in three interlocking panels. Different size grills will vary.
As shown in picture, the base of the GrillGrate has venting holes, to allow the heat source to travel up to the food, while minimizing the amount of fat dropping into the coals. That minimizes the chance of flare-ups and reduces the chance of your food becoming burned. It also reduced the amount of unwanted smoke as you are grilling.
The raised fins capture the heat and leave perfect sear marks.
I haven’t done this yet, but you can use the GrillGrate with the flat side facing up to provide a griddle-like surface for a nice even char across the whole piece of meat.
I am getting hungry just thinking about the great food that I need to grill.
How to Use the GrillGrate
After locking the pieces together, simply place it on top of the existing grating system. It’s as easy as that. For some gas grills, you can take out the existing grating and replace it with the GrillGrate, but make sure the dimensions exactly match before you try this. It won’t work like that for the Big Green Egg.
Pro tip: the first several times I used the GrillGrate, my food stuck to the surface…..and down in the grooves. While the food tasted (and looked) great, I wish I had been able to flip it over without worrying about sticking. I was a little too eager to start grilling that didn’t even think of brushing it or spraying it with non-stick spray. I know better now! Seriously, I was that excited about using it! I solved problem that by liberally brushing the surface with olive oil. In addition, I brushed a bit of olive oil on the food before setting it on the grill. After a few times, the GrillGrate became seasoned, and I don’t have many problems now. Either that or my wife wore me down about making sure it was well oiled before grilling.
Another Pro tip: I also found that letting the grill come up to temperature longer will minimize the sticking. The grill surface will get so hot that it creates the searmarks early in the process, and that will help to reduce the sticking.
Tools for use with the GrillGrate
When I first started, I would let the GrillGrate cool off before I tried to clean it. By that time, the drippings turned rock-hard and it was near-impossible to remove them. It got to the point that I was about ready to give up on it. Either I had to figure out a way to fix this, or my wife was going to divorce me as she struggled with the cleaning process. But that is a whole other story for a different post. Fortunately, I found a few tricks to speed this up.
I read up on how folks handled this, and found the GrateTongs and GrillGrate Tool. Holy cow, what a difference these made. Not only are they great for flipping food, but I was able to use them to clean out the drippings in the valley before the GrillGrate cooled and the debris turned rock-hard. Using the GrateTongs, I lightly scraped away all of the drippings while it was still hot, and the drippings were loose and easy to remove. Look at that, marriage saved!
You won’t be able to get all of the gunk removed with this tool, so I break out the Grate Brush for the hard to reach items. It is designed to make it easy to scrub in the valleys between the fins. You’ll find that if you remove the vast majority using the GrateTongs, this process go much easier.
This simple trick made the world of difference and now cleaning the GrillGrate is easy.
Can I use Cast Iron Skillets on the GrillGrate
The short answer is no. I love cooking with cast iron on the grill. It is easy, fast, and convenient. There is no need to dirty every dish in the house to prepare for a meal – simply add it to the cast iron skillet and pop it on the grill. Easy Peasy!
But the GrillGrate gets way too hot for the cast iron. It seems counterintuitive, but it is much better to place the cast iron directly above the coals without using the GrillGrate.
Can I have a Custom Sized GrillGrate?
You bet! Not everyone’s grill is the same size, and on the off chance that your grill size is not precut, you can order a custom sized from their Custom Grill webpage. https://www.grillgrate.com/shop-grillgrates/custom-sized-grillgrates/
Warnings about Cleaning the GrillGrate
There are a few “don’ts” with cleaning.
- Don’t put it in the dishwasher. The dishwasher will blast the debris all over the place and it will create one heck of a mess. Just don’t!
- Don’t use oven cleaner. Oven Cleaner works well for the oven, but the chemicals could damage the GrillGrate and you really don’t want that!
- Don’t try to use high temperature in the oven’s self-clean mode. The GrillGrate can stand high temps, but if you go near 850 degrees, it could damage the hard anodized aluminum.
Simply using the GrateTongs and Grate Brush will do the trick. Wash it in the sink and let it dry before storing it.
What Can I Cook on the GrillGrate
Meat is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of beautiful seared food from the grill. You probably think of the great cross-hatched steak sizzling and dripping juice!
I love to grill vegetables on the GrillGrate. The fins gets so hot that the veggies sear up really quickly and it doesn’t take long at all to achieve that perfect grilled vegetable dish. Take a look at these fantastic grilled acorn squash recipes:
Grilling fruit has been something we have recently tried and been extremely happy with. Seriously, a grilled peach half with a honey and goat cheese topping is enough to make me want to give up ice cream as my de facto dessert. Well…almost! But, in all seriousness, grilling fruit is something I hadn’t done before, but the GrillGrate made it extremely easy.
I can’t recommend this grilling accessory enough. It not only leaves gorgeous sear marks, it minimizes flare-ups, and really helps to seal in the juices for that perfect grilled dish!