So you just bought a new grill and are anxious to get it home and cook some thick, juicy steaks for you, boneless, skinless BBQ chicken for your wife (white meat only), veggies for your vegetarian sister-in-law, and hamburgers and hot dogs for the kids.

The first thing you have to do is get it home safely. (I laughed and laughed when I heard this story). Apparently there is a vacant lot on the corner right next to the local WalMart. The employees at WalMart call this lot the Grill Eater Lot. There are several smashed up grills that ended up dumped in that vacant lot as their owners took the corner too fast and lost the grill out of the back of their pickup trucks (I totally need to drive over there and get a picture). So – a tip for the new grill owner – tie it down before you leave the store :-).

Get it home safely, unload it, hook up a new tank of propane and let’s get  ready to cook – right?

Not so fast. You may want to take the time to season your grill before putting it to use.  Many barbecue grills are manufactured in other countries and the grills are coated with chemicals to keep the grill parts from rusting as they are shipped on a slow boat from China.

Additionally, grills are like dutch ovens – they need seasoning before you use them the first time and they get better over time the more you use them.

Seasoning your new grill

To get your grill ready to cook the first time, remove the grill grates and then use dishsoap to wash the grill inside and out to remove as much of the chemicals as you can in preparation for the burn in process.  Make sure you rinse all the soap out to avoid the soap residue.

For metal and cast iron grill grates, coat lightly with a high temperature oil like Canola or Peanut oil – wipe off any excessive oil, install the grates and fire up the grill.  Heat the grill on high and let it burn for ~30 mins.  This will burn all the solvents and impurities off of the heating elements, grill grates, etc.  Note that porcelain grates won’t need a coat of oil, but will benefit from the burn in process to remove any chemicals/impurities that were applied by the manufacturer. 

Make sure that you move your grill away from things that could burn as things will get hot during this process.  Check it often while it is doing the initial burn-in.  Expect to see some smoke during the process.

After about 30 minutes, turn the heat off and let the grill cool down.  Wipe things down to remove any lingering residue and you should be good to go.  The grill grates should have turned a bronze or dark brown color if they are metal or a darker brown/black color if they are cast iron.  For cast iron grates, the oil will have penetrated the pores of the metal and created a smooth non-stick surface that will be perfect to cook on.

After the initial burn-in and seasoning process, you will want to season your grill grates every month or so during the grilling season to protect them from rust – this could add years to the life of your grill.

The seasoning process also is recommended at the beginning of each grilling season before you cook your first meal (got to clean out the cobwebs somehow).

Happy grilling!