Non stick spray on grates

Dan Leighton

TVWBB Pro
Hi:
I've been using Weber Grill Spray on my SS grates when doing steaks. Wife says PAM is just the same. What do others use. I've seen some using olive oil mopped on the grates. Just curious. Also wondering how well it works with chicken with BBQ sauce.
 

Rich Dahl

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
Been using PAM for years and no problems. Just don't spray it with the grill lit, flares up really well.
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
I spray Pam on the meat, not the grates.

 

JKalchik

TVWBB All-Star
Been using PAM for years and no problems. Just don't spray it with the grill lit, flares up really well.

This. Even with a non-flammable propellant, aerosolized oils will burn fast.

Personally, I don't care for the aerosol oils. On the grill, I get the grates hot, take a wad of paper towel, soak a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil in, and rub the grates down using a pair of tongs. In the kitchen, it's a squeeze bottle of vegetable oil, a pat of butter, grab the bottle of olive oil from under the counter, lard from the fridge, etc. About the only thing I use the spray oil for is on a sheet of foil when I grill fish for my g/f, and that's applied in the kitchen.
 

Jim C in Denver

TVWBB Super Fan
Science says oil goes on the food, not the grate.


Some experts say you should lube the cooking grates with spray oil. This is a bad idea. The tiny droplets of aerosolized oil are highly volatile, explosive even. If they come in contact with flame, they could create a fireball and you won't need to tweeze your eyebrows for months.

Many books say to roll up a paper towel, grab it with tongs, dunk it in vegetable oil, and swab the cooking grates. Cook's Illustrated magazine says to repeat the process of oiling the grates 5 to 10 times. Might work, might not. It depends on the temp of the grates and what they are made from.

I asked the AmazingRibs.com science advisor Prof. Greg Blonder about the pros and cons of lubricating the grill grates: "Metal grill grates, even shiny clean ones, are not really smooth. Under a microscope there are numerous scratches, pits, valleys, and ridges. The compounds in food are much colder than the grates and when the two meet a bond forms between them. If you oil the grates, below the smoke point of the oil, let's say 400°F, the oil actually does coat the grating and helps release protein and fat. But if you 'keep it hot', above the smoke point, the oil cracks, smokes, and carbonizes almost instantly. The carbon and smoke don't taste good, and the dry uneven carbon layer simply makes sticking worse. Even at high temps if you brush on oil and then immediately add food, the oil and food cool the grate and if it cools enough, the oil may not burn off. But no way it creates a stable non-stick surface." In some cases the oil can actually build up and make the grates more sticky!

The best way to prevent this bond is to pat your meat dry and then put some oil on the meat rather than the metal. As you lay the oiled meat down, the oil fills the microscopic nooks and crannies in both the food and the grates and makes a relatively smooth, slippery surface. The cool food lowers the temp of the grates and will keep that burnt oil residue off the food. But you want to use an oil that has a high smoke point. Most refined cooking oils will do the job. I use an inexpensive refined olive oil which has a higher smoke point (over 450°F) than extra virgin olive oil (about 375°F). Corn oil is good (about 450°F). And believe it or not, mayonnaise is very good, especially for fish. It is mostly oil with some protein and water. Remarkably, you'll never taste it.

As the food cooks, heat causes water vapor to exit the meat where the metal is touching it because the metal transmits much more heat than the hot air around it. That's the sizzle you hear, and it continues until the surface of the food in contact with the metal dries out a bit forming grill marks. Because oil and water don't mix, this steam lifts the meat above the oil, and eventually the food lets go. If the food is sticking when you go to turn it, just leave it alone. Vapor from where the meat meets metal eventually steams the two apart.


 

Dan Leighton

TVWBB Pro
Science says oil goes on the food, not the grate.


Some experts say you should lube the cooking grates with spray oil. This is a bad idea. The tiny droplets of aerosolized oil are highly volatile, explosive even. If they come in contact with flame, they could create a fireball and you won't need to tweeze your eyebrows for months.

Many books say to roll up a paper towel, grab it with tongs, dunk it in vegetable oil, and swab the cooking grates. Cook's Illustrated magazine says to repeat the process of oiling the grates 5 to 10 times. Might work, might not. It depends on the temp of the grates and what they are made from.

I asked the AmazingRibs.com science advisor Prof. Greg Blonder about the pros and cons of lubricating the grill grates: "Metal grill grates, even shiny clean ones, are not really smooth. Under a microscope there are numerous scratches, pits, valleys, and ridges. The compounds in food are much colder than the grates and when the two meet a bond forms between them. If you oil the grates, below the smoke point of the oil, let's say 400°F, the oil actually does coat the grating and helps release protein and fat. But if you 'keep it hot', above the smoke point, the oil cracks, smokes, and carbonizes almost instantly. The carbon and smoke don't taste good, and the dry uneven carbon layer simply makes sticking worse. Even at high temps if you brush on oil and then immediately add food, the oil and food cool the grate and if it cools enough, the oil may not burn off. But no way it creates a stable non-stick surface." In some cases the oil can actually build up and make the grates more sticky!

The best way to prevent this bond is to pat your meat dry and then put some oil on the meat rather than the metal. As you lay the oiled meat down, the oil fills the microscopic nooks and crannies in both the food and the grates and makes a relatively smooth, slippery surface. The cool food lowers the temp of the grates and will keep that burnt oil residue off the food. But you want to use an oil that has a high smoke point. Most refined cooking oils will do the job. I use an inexpensive refined olive oil which has a higher smoke point (over 450°F) than extra virgin olive oil (about 375°F). Corn oil is good (about 450°F). And believe it or not, mayonnaise is very good, especially for fish. It is mostly oil with some protein and water. Remarkably, you'll never taste it.

As the food cooks, heat causes water vapor to exit the meat where the metal is touching it because the metal transmits much more heat than the hot air around it. That's the sizzle you hear, and it continues until the surface of the food in contact with the metal dries out a bit forming grill marks. Because oil and water don't mix, this steam lifts the meat above the oil, and eventually the food lets go. If the food is sticking when you go to turn it, just leave it alone. Vapor from where the meat meets metal eventually steams the two apart.


Jim:

That was a great linked article. I'm going to print it out for future reference. Thanks.
 

MikeCantell

TVWBB Super Fan
Spray oil if I think it needs something, normally right on the grates . keeping the can well above the grates wont let the aerosol flash most of the time but depending on the grate temp you might get a little from the oil but that's rare for me. I don't preheat till the grates turn red for searing 99 % of the time
 

KE Quist

TVWBB Super Fan
I usually just spray Pam on the food after I season it, especially on burgers. It has the added benefit of 'locking in' whatever seasoning I just sprinkled on.
 

Kyle in Woodstock

TVWBB Wizard
I usually use the cheap knock-off version of PAM spray. I spray my grates on my 22" primarily because I don't have SS grates (yet) and I like my partially rusting grates to be hot and oily before throwing food on.
 

Jim C in Denver

TVWBB Super Fan
That was a great linked article. I'm going to print it out for future reference. Thanks.

Dan -- I think it is fun to bring some data/science to the discussion in addition to anectodal experience.

The one quibble I have with the "oil the food" article is that I don't believe you really need to use a higher smoke point oil as compared to, say, EVOO with a smoke point of "only" 375F.

The EVOO coating gets squeezed between a steak (40-72F) and the hot grill (500F). So no way is that EVOO going up above 375F in the next couple minutes. Especially since moisture will start coming out of the steak and those juices by definition are sub-212F until they vaporize. So I just don't see much of a chance of the EVOO getting carbonized -- so long as you put the EVOO on the steak.

Seems like the only way you could carbonize a lower smoke point oil is to (i) brush the oil right onto super hot metal and (ii) leave the oil for too long on too hot a grill before covering it with cold moist food. My hunch is that the "oil the grate" method works for people most of the time because people (i) put cold moist food on the oiled grates fairly quickly, (ii) folks don't always have the grill warmed all the way up to 500F, and/or (iii) folks often use a higher smoke point oil (corn, canola, vegetable).
 

MartinB

TVWBB Pro
I spray olive oil on ss grate for salmon
Skin still sticks some, but meat side down sear doesnt. skin might stick because I put in the same spot when I flip it over.
Simple to pick up with tongs and flip the piece over

Grates brush clean the next time you cook real well also
 
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LMichaels

TVWBB Olympian
Funny I cannot get my salmon to stick. I make great use of it sticking. I cook it skin side down. Hoping it sticks so then I simply slide a long sharp spatula in between and remove the meat. Then once the grill cools the skin releases and I toss it
All you folks going on about trouble with things sticking and for me it pretty much slides off like teflon. I rarely if ever use any kind of extra oil or fats
 

Kevin L (NKY)

TVWBB Wizard
I use a folded paper towel with oil on it to wipe the grates after I have cleaned them. But I use a spray or justvoul on what ever I am about to cook as a safety not to stick. But what ever works for you.
 

JimK

TVWBB Olympian
I have cast iron grates on the Performer and SS on the Genesis. I've never oiled them or the food I put on 'em. Keep 'em hot and clean, don't move the food too early, and everything comes off pretty easily.
 

Jerry N.

TVWBB Emerald Member
I use spray on my smoker grates, but for grilling, I don’t. I heat up the grill, brush it and then wipe it down with an oiled paper towel. My grates are SS and this process seems to work very well. Didn’t read the above articles, but my understanding is that sticking is mostly due to not letting the meat cook long enough before you try to move it. Not sure about fish, because I don’t eat fish, but the other meats seem to release just fine.

Note, I don’t use a brush, I use that scrubber that looks like a steel scrubbing pad.
 

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