Stainless Steel Grill Grates VS Cast Iron Grill Grates [2022 Reviews]

There are different materials used to make grill grates, depending on their various characteristics. However, these different materials present multiple pros and cons when they are used to make grill grates.

In reality, stainless steel is more expensive than cast iron, but when they are used to make grill grates, they have different characteristics.

The difference in their functionality is as a result of how they conduct heat, and in this review, the suitability of stainless steel and cast iron as grill grate materials is discussed in detail.

One of the things people look at when they are about to buy a new grill is the material used to make the grill grate. Even when you are about to change your grill grate, it may become confusing to choose between the different types of grill grates.

Cast iron and steel contain carbon atoms which diffuse into them during the smelting process, and while molten cast iron is poured straight into a mold, steel is always re-smelted and refined because it cannot support a high-carbon content.

If you are going to be actively taking part in BBQ activities, then you need to know some things about your grill grate. Depending on the material used to make the grates, some of the factors you should consider include performance, placement, and price.

Performance

This is the first factor you should consider in choosing a grill grate, especially if you will be using the grill for some serious activities. Performance includes a lot of things when it comes to grill grates, and cast iron grates perform differently than stainless steel.

If you are looking for a grate that has higher heat retention, then you want to go for a cast iron grill, however, if heat retention is not a priority, then you have to consider other things like which is easier to clean and which is more durable.

Cast iron and stainless steel both perform well as grate material, but you have to be particularly careful about stainless steel. Even though stainless steel performs well, not all stainless steel is up to standard; some are of inferior quality.

Placement

This has to do with the placement of your grill. When you place your grill outdoor, there is an excellent chance that the grill will be affected by the elements. This will hasten the degrading of the grates if they are not durable enough.

Cast iron grates are very susceptible to rust, and when they are left outside for long, they will begin to rust. The key to avoiding this is always to remove the grates and take them indoors after using the grill.

On the other hand, a stainless steel grate withstands the elements better. You can leave a stainless steel grate in your grill outdoor and not worry about rust affecting it for a long time.

Price

This is a factor that has to be considered when planning to buy almost anything. You should try as possible to stay within your means anytime you plan to buy a grate. Cast iron grates are not as expensive as stainless steel grates.

If it all comes down to price, and you find out you cannot afford stainless steel, a cast iron grate will also serve you well. However, the price is not the most critical factor, performance is the most important factor, and it is what will determine the type of grate you get eventually.

A comparison of cast iron grates and stainless steel grates

1. Cast Iron

Cast Iron Grate

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Cast Iron has been around for a very long time, and it has been a prevalent material used in making cooking surfaces.

Cast iron is very hard as a result of the high carbon content, but even with this hardness, it can be very brittle. Cast iron grills can be coated or can be uncoated. Uncoated cast iron is rough, black, and porous.

An uncoated cast iron grill grate absorbs oil from the food being cooked, the oil being absorbed will fill the small spaces in the grill grate and give it non-stick properties. Also, as it is not coated, it won’t expose your food to any harmful chemical.

On the other hand, a coated cast iron grate has better non-stick qualities than an uncoated one, but as uncoated cast iron grates develop non-stick attributes over time, coated cast iron grates are susceptible to cracking especially if they fall. Also, coated cast iron grates will likely develop crack when you wash, scrub, or scrape them.

Pros:

Heat Retention

Cast iron grates retain heat well, mainly when you use them for your outdoor grill. You get a good sear on your meats, and it offers excellent heat transfer. On charcoal grills, they retain heat so well that even when the charcoal begins to die down, sufficient heat remains on the grates to cook your food.

Direct Heat Transfer

With cast iron grates, there is a good chance of your getting your meat seared when it comes in contact with the grate. This characteristic is very necessary for foods that need very high heat to cook.

Durable

Cast iron grates are very durable, and if you maintain them well enough, you may never have to repurchase a grate.

Cons:

Rust

Cast iron grates can rust easily when they are exposed to the elements, and even if they are not exposed, they can rust with time inside the grill. However, if they are coated, they will resist rust well.

The best way to avoid rust on an uncoated cast iron grill is to remove the grate whenever the grill is not in use and keep it in a cool, dry place.

Heavy

Cast iron is hefty, and it may not be easy to remove a cast iron grate and carry it around.

Hard to clean

When cleaning a coated cast iron grill, you have to be very careful not to spoil coating
 

2. Stainless Steel

Weber 7528 Stainless Steel Cooking Grates 

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Many people confuse any silver grate for stainless steel, but most of the silver-colored grates you see out are just regular plated steels, and they are not so durable to serve you for long when you use them on your grills.

A real stainless steel grate doesn’t corrode easily and typically; it will last longer than regular steel. Stainless steel grates have very smooth surfaces, and they have a high non-stick quality.

While they can last for very long, it is not true that they do not destroy at all; however, they will serve you for a long time, and you surely get your money’s worth.

As stainless steel grates don’t retain heat as well as cast iron grates, their surface tends to be wider. They are generally wider because there needs to be a certain level of heat retention, even if it is not as much as that of cast iron grates, a wider surface will make for enough heat retention to cook your foods well enough.

If what you are looking for in a grill grate is durability, easy maintenance, and good performance, you can go for a stainless steel grate.

Pros:

Easy to maintain

Stainless steel grates are very easy to clean, and they don’t require special effort to maintain them.

Quick heating

With a stainless steel grate, you don’t have to preheat for long when you want to cook foods that require high heat as stainless steel grates heat up very quickly.

They don’t corrode easily

Stainless steel grates do not corrode as easy as cast iron grates, and even if you leave them out in your grill, they will still not corrode easily.

Cons:

They do not retain heat well

While cast iron grates retain heat very well, stainless steel grates lose heat quickly. Once the heat source is removed or reduced, they will cool down rapidly.

They are susceptible to warping

With time, stainless steel grates will start to warp, thus, making the grilling surface uneven.

They lose non-stick quality with time

After using them for a while, they begin to roughen, and when this happens, they lose their non-stick quality.

Conclusion

Different materials are used to make grill grates. Cast iron and stainless steel are just two out of these various materials. You may have a specific preference, but their different characteristics put them in different places as grill grate materials.

You have to know what exactly you want in a grill grate before you can be particular about the type you want. For example, if you need excellent heat retention, you should go for a cast iron grate.

Really it comes down to knowing the characteristics, the pros, and the cons of each type of grate. This will help you evaluate and choose one that will serve you well.

Many people overlook the grates when buying a new grill. However, they end up dissatisfied with the type or quality. Therefore, before you buy any grill, make sure you know the type of grill it comes with. All in all, we can say with proper maintenance, stainless steel grates are superior to cast iron grates.

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