Stainless Steel vs Cast Iron Grates: Which is Better for Cooking?

Whether you plan to purchase a brand new or a replacement grate for your grill, you should carefully consider a lot of things to find the perfect one. Grill enthusiasts, chefs, and barbecue connoisseurs, for example, may have their preferences depending on their intended use.

There are options when you are looking for that new cookout best friend. Common choices in the market rely on the material of the equipment. If you ask your friends what their options are, they would probably say cast iron or stainless steel grilling equipment. We agree that both materials are safe for cooking and have their strengths for cooking your favorite barbecue treats.

We’ll help you decide how you can get the best out of them, for this article will present critical points, such as the pros and cons of each material and their key differences.

Stainless Steel Grill Grates

stainless steel grill grates

Stainless steel grill grates are one of the most affordable options on the market. They are resilient and can withstand harsh outdoor conditions such as rain and dust.

Its material is also advantageous if you are out in your backyard, outdoor kitchen, or fire pit since it is usually lightweight. The standard material for stainless steel grates is iron, which is generally one of the most portable grills you can have. Also, its lightweight feature makes it heat up quickly and retain heat well.

Further, stainless steel grates have three forms, namely a rod, cast, or hexagonal. The rod stainless steel grate is the most common type available in the market. It is tubular and runs vertically across the top. On the other hand, the cast type is more substantial than the rod grate but have proven to retain heat better than the latter. Lastly, the hexagonal or diamond form contains chromium-nickel steel, which works best in enhancing heat distribution while cooking.

However, one of the concerns for choosing a grill is its resistance to rust. The formation of rust or iron oxide is when moisture and oxygen combine. Rust causes corrosion to materials, which then results in the grate’s deterioration.

Because of the presence of chromium in its composition, the stainless steel grill grate is more likely to develop rust than a cast iron. Yet, this type of grill can still handle fluctuations of temperature and more resilient to using outdoors. This type of grill grate can also get discoloration over time, but it does not mean it is not safe to cook on it.

Another downside is that the stainless steel grate non-stick feature may eventually go away after several uses.

While maintaining stainless steel grill grates is considered a more manageable task compared to other types of grill grates. It is more comfortable to clean these grill grates by merely scrubbing using a nylon brush. It also does not necessarily require seasoning when cleaning. These features of the stainless steel make it a low-maintenance option between the two.

Stainless steel grate is still everything! Overall, choosing stainless steel is always a wise decision since it is durable and proven to last long. Below are the pros and cons of using stainless steel grates:

  • Resilient
  • Portable
  • Low-maintenance
  • Have good direct heat contact
  • Relatively rust-resistant
  • May have discoloration overtime.
  • Can lose its non-stick feature
  • Does not retain heat as long

Cast Iron Grill Grates

cast iron grates

Cast iron grill grates are heavy-duty and retain high heat for a more extended period. The more heat it maintains in the grill, the faster the food cooks. This type is iron covered in enamel with a matte or glossy finish making it more physically appealing. Its beautiful aesthetic also adds protection against rust.

Iron is heavy, so as the grate’s material, and it attests that the heavier the metal, the better. It also costs more than the stainless steel grill grates but guarantees to last. Those who use and own cast iron grill grates keep their grates for years or even a decade!

Using cast iron grill grates will also give you a good sear on your meat, as well as good grill marks on it. These grates are excellent heat conductors, so you get the color and flavor of delectable and juicy meat.

Further, cast iron grill grates are perfect for high temperature and short cooking time. The surface is resistant to sticking, and it does not require you to use a non-stick spray during your grilling. It transfers direct heat to the food you grill, which creates a beautiful dark external layer.

However, maintaining cast iron grill grates is quite a challenge. It requires proper care to keep it spic and span. The enamel cover or porcelain finish can rust or corrode over time but can be prevented by continually checking the formation of rust. Another downside is that you must invest time and effort to clean them off using a variety of methods such as soaking or scrubbing with some elbow grease. The grates also require seasoning before and after use.

It is also highly recommended to check on it when you store them to prevent corrosion due to rust present. Uncoated cast iron can ruin the flavor and maybe unsafe. Lastly, the consequence of dropping your cast iron grill grate is that you have a cracked or broken one. Handling a cast iron grill grate requires more care than other types of grill grates.

  • High heat retention
  • Cook food fast
  • Heavy-duty
  • A little more expensive
  • Less rust-resistant
  • Fragile

Is it Better to Cook With Cast-iron? or Stainless Steel?

Your personal preference for the quality, look, and taste of the food is essential when it comes to cooking with grills. The type of food you usually serve can also be a factor in looking for the grill grate you need to purchase.

If you need to prep quick and tasty food, a better option between the two grill grates is to buy a cast iron grill grate. Its ability to retain a large amount of heat can help you achieve not only a delectable burger but also iconic sear marks to it. Cooking meat such as chicken or thick-cut meats on a cast iron grill grate even gives the best physical appeal.

Also, when grilling vegetables such as yellow squash, bell peppers, or asparagus, cast iron grill grate is the way to go. It creates the best caramelization to your leafy greens, which can impress your guests on how pleasing and tasty it looks!

On the other hand, if you usually grill fish or thin cut meats such as thin slices of chicken, you should use the stainless grill grates. The reason is that a stainless grill grate has good direct heat contact to get the best natural flavor from the produce.

Above all, having proper maintenance of this equipment is the best way to serve the most flavorful dishes. A cast iron grate, given its type of material, requires high maintenance. So, if you want to make a quick rinse after using a grill, you can opt to buy a stainless steel grill grate. Remember that it always depends on what food you usually cook and what culinary activities you do with the grill. In the nearing holiday get-together, serve your guests the grilled dishes you love!

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