Cooking, Tips

How to Get the Grill Ready for your First Cookout

By · May 3, 2017

The upcoming weekend should be the perfect time for you to roll up your sleeves, and get that grill out on the porch; and plunge yourself into the barbeque-ing business, because it’s nearly summer after all!

However, there are a few things that you would need to gear up for, before you start your first cookout for the season. And we are here to tell you all about it in the simplest way possible.

Essentials You May Want To Buy

If this is your first time using a grill, there are a few things that you need to keep handy for your cooking experience. These grilling tools (that are going to be mentioned below) are a general requirement for any individual using their grill for the first or the 100th time.

  • Long-handled tongs for reaching the back of the grill
  • Long-handled, flat spatula
  • Wire-grated basket (for grilling small vegetables or seafood)
  • Long-handled basting brush
  • Chimney starter (if it’s a charcoal grill)
  • Meat thermometer
  • Wooden plank (for that mild, smoky flavor in your food)

Cleaning the Grill

The first and foremost thing that demands your attention before a cookout is your grill. Now, there are different cleaning methods for gas grills and charcoal grills, so you need to check the proper steps for cleaning your grill type and not make a mess of it. It is advisable that you clean your grill at least once in a year, or twice (if you use it frequently) so as to ensure that good food gets cooked every time you fire up that grill.

Charcoal Grills

When it comes to charcoal grills, you need to make sure that you handle it with care. Charcoal grills are usually harder to clean than propane grills.

To clean a charcoal grill, you would ideally need a grill brush, rubber/plastic gloves, sponge, a bristle brush or putty knife, and soap and water. You need to follow the steps mentioned below to give your grill the cleaning it deserves.

Look for a suitable area to clean your grill. It is preferred that you clean your grill on the porch or in the garden area, because cleaning requires an open environment. Do not clean your grill indoors, because the ash from cleaning would be flying everywhere, making the entire room filled with dust.

The next step would be to brush away all the dirt and ash from your grill. For this, take the grate out of your grill. It is imperative that you wear gloves while cleaning the grill so as to not soil your hands in the ash and dirt. Use a wire grill brush to scrape away the buildup of leftover burnt food. Do so gently or else you might scrape off the coating resulting more damage than not. You can do the same with the burners and inside surfaces of your grill.

Clean the bottom of the grill and the lid with the same grill brush. However, if there are any signs of peeling black paint, use the bristle brush or the putty knife to scrape off the carbon paints.

After dry-scrubbing the dirt, use dish soap and water to wash away all the leftover dirt. If your grates are rusty or chipping, it is advisable to change them and get new ones for better results.

Once the interiors of your grill are fresh and clean, shift your attention towards the exterior of your grill. Sponge off the stainless-steel or enameled surfaces with warm, soapy water. In case your grill needs a touch up, use a high heat spray paint on the surfaces that do not come in contact with the food.

Propane or Gas Grills

If you’re using a propane grill, you should ideally clean your grill after every cookout, so as to ensure its excellent performance every time to cook. Maintaining the grill after every use cuts down the time to make your grill shine like new.

To clean your gas grill, you would mostly need gloves, a grill brush, paper towels or cleaning rags, putty knife/bristle brush, and soap and water. As you might see, the cleaning equipment for both charcoal and propane grills is more or less the same. Here are the steps that you would need to follow in order to clean your gas grill.

The first step towards cleaning your propane grill is to check for any gas leaks. If not, turn off the gas supply to your grill. This will ensure that there are no harmful gases released while you are cleaning the grill and no injuries are caused.

Just like the charcoal grills, take out the grates from your gas grill and scrub down the dirt and residual food items with the grill brush. Once done, wash out all the leftover dirt with warm soapy water. Moreover, make sure that you clean both sides of the grill and leave no area of the grill dirty.

For gas grills, the burners require some additional cleaning. You need to remove the metal plates over the burners (if any) and scrub the area clean. Then using the same soap and water technique, clean any grime and dirt that is left on the burners. Some burners are removable (and hence, are easy to clean) whereas some are non-removable and have to be wiped clean when they are in their respective places.

Once the grates and burners are clean, it is time for you to divert your attention towards the bottom of the grill. Scrape off all the debris stuck to the bottom, if you have a removable bottom take it out and clean, if not, use a grill scraper to scrub it clean. Collect the debris in a trash bag to avoid being messy.

Once the bottom debris are scraped off, use the soapy water and the sponge to wipe clean the bottom, in order to avoid corrosion of any kind.

Once all your grill’s interiors are sparkly clean, you need to shift your focus towards the exterior of your grill. Most gas grills have a disposable cup or drip pan; so clean the surface of the pan holder/cup and line it with a fresh aluminum plate or tin can.

In case they are not disposable, wipe the pan/cup with a paper towel and rinse them with soapy water for the thorough cleaning it needs.

Now, with some warm, soapy water and a rag towel, clean the entire exterior surface of your grill, to avoid any chances of corrosion due to food clinging onto the metal surface. Make sure you pay close attention to the knobs to remove any drips that may have accumulated.

Congratulations, your grill has been thoroughly cleaned, and it is now ready to be cooked on!

Replacing Grill Parts

Mostly, not all grill parts are replaceable. Even when some parts are replaceable, they too are dependent on the kind of grill you are using.

For example, your grill grates, in most cases, are replaceable. You must replace your grates at the slightest sight of any corrosion or rusting. Rusted grates, if cooked on, lead to unwanted chemical reactions in your food, which has the tendency to make you sick. Hence, it is better to get your grates replaced at the earliest.

Grill gates can be found at your nearest supermarket, and are readily available, especially during the grilling season. If you cannot find the grates at your nearby store, you might want to contact the merchant from where you bought your grill; they would, for sure, have the parts that you require for your grill.

Another replaceable grill part is the burners that are usually installed in propane gas grills. Charcoal grills are easier to handle than propane grills because they are pretty low maintenance, when compared to the latter. Also, the drip pans or cups in most propane grills are disposable, so they need to be replaced every now and then.

Maintenance for Your Grill

When it comes to maintenance, there is not really a lot that you need to do to keep it spic-and-span for your next use. However, maintaining your grill is a must if you want to continue enjoying barbequed food throughout the grilling season.

Here are a few tips that you might find useful to keep your grill well maintained and ready-for-use whenever you want to barbeque.

If you have a propane grill, you should ideally keep checking for leaks, at least once every month. The best way to do so is to run some soapy water over the burners and if there are bubbles formed, you can be sure of a gas leak in your grill. In such a case, either get a new pipeline, or tighten the existing line to avoid leakage.

Keep your grill covered at all times. When not in use, make sure you clean your grill after cooking and cover it with a plastic sheet or specialized grill covers. This avoids any kind of rusting taking place in your grill and ensures normal, smooth functioning for your grill.

Most brands make their own grill covers (chargeable and sold separately), but they are totally worth spending on because they protect your grill in a far better way than any normal cover.

Apart from the detailed cleaning that you read about in the sections above, some basic cleaning is required to keep your grill in top shape for every time you decide to cook. It is advisable to brush the grates after every usage, and wipe the exterior clean with soap and water. This will majorly help you cut down your cleaning time (after a long hiatus).

Also, leave your grill on high flame for about 15 minutes, once every week, to burn off any excess gunk that you might find. This ensures that there is not much grim left when you decide to clean your grill before the next usage.

Burning off the grill without any food present also helps to get rid of any unwanted grime present on the knobs, because drippings on the knobs also account for a majority of grimy build-up when grills are left idle.

Now that you are well informed about what to do with your new or existing grill, it’s time to get geared up for your first cookout of the season. So go and flip those burgers, get those homemade fries ready, call your neighbors and have a great weekend!

However, ensure that you follow all the necessary instructions while cleaning your grill, and have all the tools and equipment necessary for your cookout.

Frequently Asked Questions

When do you clean the grill?

Grill grates and racks should be cleaned after every use, but give your entire grill a complete cleaning at least once a year, be it a charcoal or a gas grill.

How do I use a grill cleaning brick?

To use a grill brick, drop a decent amount of oil (for going in a back-and-forth motion) on the grill and start to scrub it gently with the brick (so as to not scratch the grill).

What should I use to clean grill racks?

The best way to clean grill racks is with a home remedy of vinegar and baking soda. Mix the two in a 2:1 proportion in a garbage bag and put the racks to soak in the solution. Seal the bag and soak the racks overnight. Rinse off the racks with water in the morning and pat them dry, making them ready to use.

What is the best grill brush?

If your grill has porcelain grates, go for triangle head grill brushes, or else opt for scrubber type grill brushes as they are the best ones in the business; and will keep your grill working good and smooth for a longer time.

How do I clean a grill with an onion?

The best way to clean a grill with an onion is to first heat it super high for about 10-15 minutes, and then rub the half-cut onion on it to loosen up any traces of baked grime and grit.

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