How to Season a Charcoal Grill

Among cooked foods, there might not be many things that can top the savory richness of a grilled and smoked meal. Lean cut beef or pork optimally grilled and seasoned with sauces of your liking— even these words are enough to get our taste buds going.

Seasoning is really important for grilled or any food for that matter to enhance its flavor. But when it’s about charcoal-grilled food, you might have to season more than just the food. You should also season the charcoal grill you are using. Yes, you read that right and hear us out on that.

Learn How to Season a Charcoal Grill

Seasoning a charcoal grill doesn’t mean adding spices and flavors on its grates. To put in simple words, it’s the process of heating and oiling the grill to optimize its performance. But you might be wondering how to season a charcoal grill and why it is needed in the first place? Rest assured we have dedicated this piece on all about seasoning a charcoal grill, such as a Weber.

how to season a charcoal grill

4 Reasons You Should Season Your Charcoal Grill

There is not a single reason for you to season a charcoal grill. We have enlisted four of those reasons here that make seasoning a good pre-cooking routine for your charcoal grill.

1. To Make Your Brand New Grill Safe to Use

With a brand new and fresh out of the box charcoal grill, you have some different safety and hygiene issues to deal with. From manufacturing oils to small metallic shreds and dust to residual paint, there are many things that can affect the taste of the food and even make it unsafe for consumption.

You surely don’t want any of the aforementioned impurities on your panini or smoked salmon. So, season a charcoal grill after taking its wraps off and before using it for the first time.

2. To Make Your Grill Cooking and Cleaning a Breeze

Everyone loves smoked and grilled food. But when it comes to undertaking the cooking and post-cooking cleaning job, not many show the same enthusiasm and willingness they have for devouring a juicy smoked steak. In fact, people simply put off or change the plan of having a grilled food fest just because all the effort the cooking and cleaning take. By seasoning your charcoal grill time and again, you can make sure using and cleaning it won’t appear as an immense task.

Grill grates are usually made of cast iron, which is a good heat conductor and resistant to the red flame of charcoal. However, it has one downside i.e. it’s porous. Over time, it absorbs a lot of fat, oil and charcoal emissions, which affects its nonstick feature to an extent where you can’t just prepare your food without burning a considerable part of it. On top of that, cleaning it gets really difficult.

When you season your grill at regular intervals, you actually prevent those fat and charcoal buildups from affecting the nonstick surface of the grates. Not only does it keep your grilled food safe from excessive burns, but it will also make its cleaning an entirely hassle-free task.

3. To Import Better Flavor

One of the reasons grilled foods taste so delicious is its re-seasoning. All the juices and fats that drip down the grates, lids, and pits are vaporized by the high heat and get marinated into the grilled item again. When you keep the grates all oiled up and fired up, you actually aid your charcoal grill to impart that distinctive grilled food flavor.

Moreover, when you use a charcoal grill, you have to control the exposure of coal dust on the cooked food. Keep in mind that excessive exposure of food to charcoal is bad for both its taste and your health. When you do regular seasoning of the grill, you automatically take care of all that unwanted coal dust and debris.

4. To Extend the Operating Life of Your Grill

Last but not least, when you regularly season your grill you actually extend its optimal operating life. This means you can get the same uncompromised grilled taste for a longer time period. Regular seasoning prevents rust and keeps the grating all shiny and workable for the longest time.

How to Season a Charcoal a Charcoal in 3 Easy Steps

With all these legit reasons to season a charcoal grill, let’s delve into the detailed method of seasoning a grill. The following method can be used for both brand new and use grills with little tweaks, which we will point out during the discussion.

1. Remove, Rinse and Air Dry the Grates

Some grates can be lifted right off while others need to be unhooked, depending on the model and manufacturer you are dealing with. Also, it would be better to wear gloves if you are dealing with an old and dirty grill that hasn’t been cleaned in ages.

With new charcoal grills, a simple water rinse is more than enough. But if you are dealing with a used grill, then this might not help in getting rid of all those hardened cookouts of the previous summer. So, you can use detergents and other cleaning agents with abrasives to properly clean the grates. After rinsing/washing, it is pretty necessary to give the grates enough time to dry on their own.

2. Oil the Grates

After grates are rinsed, washed and dried, it’s time to oil them. From a paper towel to a basting brush or a new paintbrush, you can use any tool for oil application that is convenient for you. There isn’t any prescribed type of oil for grill seasoning. Seasoning a charcoal grill might need a burning time up to two hours. Therefore, make sure you are using a vegetable oil that is highly heat resistant and have a higher smoke point.

Apply the oil to the grates and as well as to the lid, emitters, and pits if the grill is new. The reason to do this extensive oiling is to seal the greater grill surface to get that proper nonstick cooking you want.

While applying the oil make sure it’s not dripping down from the grate. Wipe all the excessive oil to maintain an even coating. Excessive oil can set off grease fire which will turn all the seasoning effort upside down.

3. Preheat and Heat the Grill

There is a minor difference between seasoning a gas and charcoal grill. In the former, you don’t need to preheat the grill. However, the proper baking of a charcoal grill is only ensured when it is preheated. To preheat the grill, throw some already burning briquettes in the pit and put the lid on for good fifteen minutes without putting the grates back.

During this time, the briquettes will turn to a red color. Open the lid, add some more briquettes that can last for an hour and fix the grates in place. With the sweltering temperature of charcoal, you will get your grill all seasoned up and ready in an hour.

Identifying the Seasoning

There is no fixed time of heating so how to know if the grill has seasoned? Well, one way to make sure it is rightly seasoned and ready to serve is to see the color of grates. When the seasoning is on point, the stainless steel grates take the appearance with a darker bronzy shade. Meanwhile, the cast iron grates get a lustrous black appearance.

The emergence of these color shades actually pronounces that you have successfully concluded the seasoning.  With that, let the grill cool down and start preparing for the next delicious grilled feast because your charcoal workhorse is all set to go.

As you can see, there isn’t any unusual or complex bit of work that goes into the seasoning of a charcoal grill. In a few simple steps, you can have charcoal grill seasoned and ready to treat your taste buds.

Get Creative with Oiling

The above instruction guide has made it quite clear that seasoning is more about oiling and heating the grates to keep them nonstick and to optimize their performance. But what about equally optimizing them to impart great taste since vegetable oils you are using on it (canola, peanut, olive etc) won’t do it?

If you want the seasoning to pay off in terms of taste too then you have to make a little adjustment. While the grates are being heated, pick the tongs and start rubbing these things on their surface.

  • A piece of excessive fat that you have chopped off from the steak
  • An oil-drenched piece of onion or a mesquite wood chip
  • Rubbing a thin and tiny piece of bacon will also optimize taste-imparting property of your grill grates.

Seasoning a charcoal grill is an art that doesn’t require any extraordinary skill and tool. However, the difference it does make to your grilling is pretty similar to the distinction in a bowl of bland boiled stuff and a piping hot juicy grilled chunk of food.

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