Seasoning Your New Grill: FAQs For Grilling Newbies

If you just purchased a new grill, no doubt you’re excited to get started using it! No matter which type you purchased, if you’re fairly new to grilling, the questions about what you need to do before your first cook are pretty much the same.

We’re going to look at the concept of seasoning your new grill today. Use this table of contents to speed your search for a specific answer. If there’s something not covered, please comment below and we’ll do our best to add info on it as soon as possible.

Then, some specifics on seasoning different types of grills and grates:


What Does It Mean To Season A Grill?

Seasoning a grill is the preparation you do to make sure that your first grilling experience – and those to come – are top notch. After assembling the grill, seasoning is the non-negotiable next step.

Seasoning involves the following:

  1. Preparing the grill grates or grill top. This includes washing, drying, and lightly coating them with high heat oil. This oil, when heated, seals the grill grates, making them both more non-stick and more resistant to rusting.
  2. Firing up the grill for the first time, and letting it run (with no food inside). This time at “high heat” burns off the manufacturing chemicals and shipping dust/debris left behind, and seals in that oil you put on your cooking top.  You want to do this for 20 minutes to a few hours, depending on the type of grill you have.


Does Every New Grill Need To Be Seasoned?

Every grill, no matter the type, should be seasoned before first use. The reason for this is three-fold:

  1. grill area with kamado and gas grill
    Source: Flickr
    It prevents food from sticking to your cooking grates. This means your food looks much better AND it’s much easier to clean up afterwards.
  2. It prevents rust build up over time, as the oil coats the grates and acts as a sealant.
  3. It burns off any impurities or manufacturing chemicals that have lingered. In a real sense, seasoning “sterilizes” it before you eat food cooked on it. Which is a very good thing.

Note: Porcelain is the only material you don’t really have to season (see below) – but you still need to let it run at high heat (number 3).


What Happens If You Do Not Season Your New Grill?

If you don’t season your new grill, it will still work. However, you’ll be dealing with a frustrating mess of food stuck on your grill grates. You may also be ingesting nasty solvents or leftovers from the manufacturing process that have been hanging around and not burned off.

You will also discover that your grill grates don’t last as long as you were expecting, but that rust and chipping start happening. 


What Oils Should You Use To Season Your Grill?

Go with any high heat oil. Some good choices are grape seed oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil.

Extra virgin olive oil is technically ok, but it does contain lecithin, which will over time possibly leave a bit of a residue on the grates. It’s burn point is much lower, so you will notice smoking.


Can You Use PAM To Season Your Grill Grates?

Absolutely. Using a spray oil such as PAM is actually one of the easiest ways you can get oil thoroughly coating the grill grates neatly and quickly. Go with the “PAM For Grilling” option as it’s specifically formulated for grills, using an oil that’s meant for high temperatures. You can get this at pretty much any grocery store.


How To Season Your New Gas Grill

  1. WASH your grill grates gently in warm water, rubbing with a soft sponge. You want to get off whatever manufacturing chemicals and packing dust/debris you can.
  2. Allow these to dry completely before applying oil (remember, oil and water don’t mix… the oil will drip off the grates if they are still wet, making the seasoning process useless).
  3. Apply a thin layer of oil to the entire grill grate. You can do this with a rag, paper towel, bbq brush, etc. Spray oil works too (see question about PAM). Heads up… don’t apply it too heavily, or you will find yourself dealing with an oil fire later!
  4. Carefully ignite grill for the first time, being aware that you have just coated the grates with a very flammable substance.
  5. Set at medium, close lid, and give it 20 minutes of cooking time (20 minutes is sufficient, per Weber’s article here).

And that’s it! You’re good to go grab your food and start enjoying your new gas grill! Check out a good video on it:



How To Season Your New Pellet Grill

Seasoning your pellet grill will take longer than just 20 minutes – plan on a few hours for this smoker.

You’ll want to do the cleaning of the grates similar to that which you’d do for a gas grill (warm water, scrub gently, let dry completely), and then you’ll go ahead and apply the light layer of high heat oil to your grill grates AND to the interior of the cooking area!

You’ll need to fill your hopper with pellets and plug in your grill to ignite it. Let it run for a few hours!

An interesting idea I read over on “The Grilling Dad” is to put a few really fatty pieces of bacon on your grill during the seasoning process. The fat will naturally season the interior of the grill (so you don’t need to spray the grill interior with oil. You’d still need to “grease” your grill grates though). But do not eat that bacon, as hard as it might be not to… remember that the seasoning process is in essence a sterilization of your brand new grill interiors.


How To Season Your New Flat Top Outdoor Grill

With cold rolled steel flat top grills, you want to fire it up first for five minutes to get it good and hot. Yes, you’ll start seeing some color changes on the flat top – this is good! Add some canola oil, rub it EVERYWHERE on the flat top including the edges! Allow the oil to burn off for about 5-10 mins (smoke is normal), and then repeat the process 2 or 3 more times.

Here’s a demonstration video if you want to see seasoning in action:



How To Season A Kamado Grill

Best Kamado GrillsInterestingly enough, a kamado grill does not usually need to be seasoned before use! This is because most of the best kamado grills have ceramic or porcelain grill grates, and since the process for constructing ceramic/porcelain involves a kiln fired up to ridiculously hot temperatures, you will have no need to seal or season them with oil and more heat.

If your new kamado grill comes with cast iron grates, definitely season them by rubbing with a high heat oil, or your meat will stick.

Whatever kind of grates you have, a “must” is to fire up the kamado and let it run for 3-5 hours in order to burn off the leftover chemicals, shipping debris, and manufacturing odors left behind.  Ideally, you’ll warm it up slowly that first time.


How To Season A Charcoal Grill

Although the fuel source is different, the grill grates and thus seasoning process for charcoal grills is the same as that of a gas grill: clean gates, lightly oil, add heat, give it time, cool down. (see above).


Do I Need To Season Cast Iron Grill Grates?

Cast Iron is more porous than other materials, so seasoning is extra important for those of you who have purchased a new grill with cast iron grill grates. If you want to achieve that amazing non-stick cast iron affect, season more than once, and be sure to pre-oil your grill grates before grilling for the first several cooks until your grates are noticeably smooth and sealed in.


stainless steel grill grates

Do I Need To Season Stainless Steel Grill Grates?

Much like cast iron grates, stainless steel grill grates require seasoning and oiling if you don’t want to have food sticking to them, and if you don’t want to be stuck cleaning off food residue long after the meal is over.


Do I Need To Season Porcelain Grill Grates?

If you purchased a grill with porcelain grates or porcelain enamel covered cast iron grill grates, you do not really need to season them! Porcelain enamel is a very slick substance: foods should not stick to or leave a crust on it.

As the process for manufacturing porcelain enamel covered grates includes firing them up at an extremely high temperature already in the kiln, you’re fine to just wash the grates with soap to remove any manufacturing dust and debris and get going with your cooking. (You likely will want to cleanse the rest of the grill interior with a good long, hot run however.)


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