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The Different Types of BBQ Cooking Grids Explained

cooking grids

You have so many choices when it comes to getting your new grill. If you’re a true grill master, then you want to consider every detail down to the colour, heat retention, and sear mark capabilities. Selecting the right BBQ for you involves choosing the type of cooking grid or grates that suit your cooking style best. In this article, we’ll teach you the differences between these three types of cooking grids: cast iron, stainless steel, and cast stainless.

3 Types of Cooking Grids

There are typically three types of cooking grids you can choose from when buying a grill. Learn more about them below.

Cast Iron 

Cooking with cast iron grates is an excellent choice for those who want to retain and transfer heat effectively. Cast iron cooking grids help you get that perfect sear on your steak and those fancy grill marks and cook a wonderfully charred chop. But, all this goodness comes with some extra work. Just like a cast iron frying pan, these grates are a little high maintenance. They require good loving and care. 

Cast iron cooking grates must be kept clean and regularly seasoned to maintain their quality. With the right amount of attention, your cast iron grates can last for a long time, providing you with endless opportunities to create delicious meals.

Stainless Steel

The second option you have in terms of cooking grids is stainless steel. Strong and durable, stainless steel cooking grids are an awesome choice for individuals looking for a low-maintenance, long-lasting grill. All that’s required of you is keeping it clean. The only downside to this type of cooking grid is that it doesn’t get hot like cast iron grids do. This means you won’t get the same grill mark effect on your sears. Still, the end result is just as delicious! 

Cast Stainless 

If you want the best of both worlds, consider a cast stainless cooking grid. This grid is only available on certain models, but you can purchase a cast stainless grid to upgrade certain grills. These grids cook just like cast iron grids and have the ability to retain and transfer heat very well. What’s more, they’re durable and don’t require a ton of maintenance. All you have to do to clean them is scrape the top with a stainless grill brush while it’s still hot. When it’s cooled down, you can give it a little scrub with hot soapy water.

What are you looking for in a grill?

Distinct Grill Marks & Heat Retention/Transfer

If you’re in the market for a cooking grid that leaves the best sear marks and heats and retains heat well, go with a cast iron cooking grid.

Low Maintenance

Looking for something that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance? Stainless or cast stainless grids are good options. Between the two, the cast stainless performs better overall. 

Best Low Maintenance

If you want the best performance with the lowest maintenance, consider getting a grill with a cast stainless cooking grid. 

Best Overall

Ultimately, the cast iron grid heats, retains, and transfers heat the best. It also leaves the best sear marks and looks sleek and is durable. But it does require more maintenance.

Cooking Grids Chart

Type of Grill GrateHeat Retention/TransferSear MarksAppearanceMaintenanceDurability
Cast IronBestBestSleek & black, can develop rust spotsHigh maintenance Require maintenance to remain durable
Stainless SteelHeats quickly, loses heat fastLess distinctDevelops yellow, orange, purple patina over timeVery low maintenance Very durable
Cast StainlessHeats quickly, strong retention/transferExcellentGenerally retains colour, may develop patinaVery low maintenance Very durable

What grill grate will you choose?

Now that you understand the different cooking grids, you can choose the best one for your lifestyle and cooking preferences. Each has its pros and cons, with the biggest difference between them being the level of maintenance required. They do all cook differently so maybe you’ll opt to get 3 grills with each type! We wouldn’t blame you! 

Talk to Team Harding about the best grill for your lifestyle

Whichever you choose, share it with us on our Instagram or Facebook!

Team Harding has been Ottawa’s leading home comfort specialist since 1994. We are a family-owned and operated local business and all of our installers and technicians are fully licensed.

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