You may be super excited at the prospect of getting a new grill and cooking perfect barbecue-style meat and veggies in your backyard. However, a new outdoor grill is an investment that requires good strategic thinking to ensure that you don’t end up with something unwanted.
Among the various things that you need to consider when getting a new grill is the material used to construct it. The two most common options you will find online are stainless steel and porcelain. Both these materials are capable of withstanding harsh outdoor elements.
Both these materials have their own set of benefits and downsides. In this post, we will focus on the stainless steel vs porcelain grills to help you shop around to find the perfect grills for the type of barbeque you wish to have. Before we go ahead, here are a few things that you need to ask yourself:
What do you wish to achieve with the grill?
Will you use it for occasional family dinners or for frequent BBQ parties with friends?
Is the appearance as important to you as the performance of the grill?
Do you want the grill to last and how often do you wish to clean and maintain it?
Do you prefer to cook food on the grill on low heat or high heat?
How can I get a perfect combination of placement, performance, and price?
Stainless Steel Vs Porcelain Grill
If a grill features a stainless steel body then it’s by all means a gas or propane grill. Stainless steel is not only durable and strong, but it also resists rust and corrosion that may occur due to exposure to harsh weather conditions. The gas burners provide a quick grilling option without the mess associated with most charcoal-fueled grills that produce ash.
Many grill manufacturers, including the well-known brand Weber uses a porcelain coating in both gas and charcoal grills. The classic charcoal grill typically comes with a porcelain enamel coating both outside and inside the grilling chamber.
The porcelain coating protects the core stainless steel body from heat damage. As porcelain is a better insulator, it can also help the grill retain more heat than the stainless steel structures. Cast iron is also an excellent material as it helps to retain a good amount of heat.
However, when compared with stainless steel, cast iron turns out to be more vulnerable to rusting. Hence, they are coated with porcelain or enamel to make them last longer. The coatings reduce the need to cure the material to protect it from the outdoor elements that cause rusting.
Direct And Indirect Grilling Method
You will find a direct and indirect style of grilling available in both the stainless steel and porcelain grills. No matter which brand or model you choose most of the stainless steel or porcelain-coated grills feature two or more burners.
Direct grilling technique in stainless steel gas grill involves placing the food directly over the heat sources. The user ignites all burners and places the meat just over the direct flames. In the case of a porcelain-coated charcoal grill, the grate is covered with a layer of burning coals, and food is placed directly above it.
For indirect grilling in a stainless steel or porcelain gas grill, one out of two, or two out of three burners are ignited. The food (meat, poultry, or fish) is placed over the unlit burner and allowed to cook slowly without coming in direct contact with the flame.
In the indirect grilling method in porcelain-coated charcoal grills, two small coal fires are created on both sides of the coal grate. The food is kept in the middle of the grate and a drip pan is placed at the bottom to collect the fat or sauce drippings.
Care and Cleaning Of The Grills
Stainless Steel grills
The stainless steel body needs care while cleaning because harsh cleaning solutions or abrasive scrubbers can cause scratches, resulting in corrosion damage. For the high-end stainless steel grills, there are special application pads, cleaners, and mitts available.
Stainless steel grates should be thoroughly cleaned after every use. You may use a scraper or nylon grill brush to remove the stubborn food particles. Avoid using any harsh or corrosive material or else the grates may get discolored.
Another easy and quick way to get rid of grease and food bits that are sticking on the grates from the last grilling session is to wrap the grates in aluminum foil and raise the temperature of the grill to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Put it on full heat for 10 to 15 minutes. This will burn all the gunk and make it easy to remove.
The porcelain-coated grill structure must be cleaned with sponges or soft rags, using dish soap and warm water. For the interiors, you will simply need to wipe it once or twice using a slightly damp or dry microfiber cloth. Wipe it after it has been used, after the structure cools down.
To clean the porcelain grates, burn the stubborn food or grease for 10-15 minutes. This technique will make the leftovers become brittle and crumble. When the grates cool, brush off the burnt food with a nylon brush in diagonal strokes.
You may use a scouring pad or medium-soft bristle to reach the hard-to-access areas. Make sure you do not scrub too hard or the grates may get damaged. Don’t forget to flip the other side of the grate over and clean it too.
Reasons To Choose Stainless Steel Over Porcelain
1. Many BBQ enthusiasts around the world prefer stainless steel over porcelain due to various reasons. As porcelain has much lower moisture absorbency, it is considered best for avoiding leakage. However, let’s not forget that porcelain is a porous material which makes it difficult to clean.
2. Over time, the porcelain grills become discolored and develop stains. Once they deteriorate, it’s hard to restore them to their original glory. As porcelain is a delicate material, it can be easily cracked or chipped if not handled with care.
3. The cracks and chips on porcelain grills are difficult to fix and sometimes they may need to be replaced completely. Although a cast iron the interior serves as a good alternative and adds durability to products like grill grates and sink, exposing food to cast iron may lead to rusting and bacterial growth.
4. Due to the above constraints, stainless steel is looked upon as a more durable and practical option for grills. They are also easier to clean, which makes them a more sanitary option. The level of chromium in steel allows for a sturdy, rust-resisting, and adherent chromium oxide layer on the surface.
5. In case it gets damaged mechanically or chemically, this exterior layer is self-healing if there is enough oxygen in the environment. The stainless steel material is easy to maintain, hence it’s much easier to retain its clean and polished appearance without much maintenance cost.
6. Furthermore, due to the higher percentage of chromium and nickel-alloyed materials, stainless steel can withstand high temperatures and resist scaling. These features make stainless steel a much better option than porcelain.
Types Of Materials Used to Make Grill Grates
Besides the material used in the construction of the grill body, the type of materials used in making the grates is also important. The grates need to be well constructed from high-grade materials or else they will succumb to the high heat from the grills.
If you get low-quality grates to save some money, they can wear down and impact the quality of grilled food over time. Hence, we recommend that you invest a little more in choosing the right grates that can give you perfect barbeque food every time.
The grates may be made of plain stainless steel, nickel-plated steel, cast iron, porcelain-coated cast iron, or steel coated with porcelain enamel. Keeping the grates clean and in the best shape can help you ensure that they last for longer. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both stainless steel and porcelain.
Stainless steel grates (see Amazon) are studier and more highly durable than the cast iron grates. They are less likely to rust and tarnish than the latter. They can also benefit from frequent lubrication using cooking oil spray and regular cleaning after each grilling session.
The stainless steel grates can in various forms such as a rod, hexagonal, or cast form. The rod-style grates are made of simple rows of solid tubular stainless steel. They are connected together by a horizontal bar, and this is one of the most widely used stainless steel grids.
The stainless Steel Grates can in various forms such as a rod, hexagonal, or cast form. The rod-style grates are made of simple rows of solid tubular stainless steel. They are connected together by a horizontal bar, and this is one of the most widely used stainless steel grids.
With proper maintenance and cleaning, you can extend the life of stainless steel grates and also ensure food safety. Over time, the grates get rust on the surface and leftover food gets stuck on the grates. So, make sure you clean the grates every time after they cool down.
To clean, you just need to spray a good degreaser to loosen the debris. Next, use a bristle brush to gently remove the loosened debris. You may use a pressure washer to thoroughly clean the grates.
- Much more resilient in case of an accident
- Easier to clean compared to other materials like porcelain or cast iron
- They must have a non-stick coating to prevent food from sticking
- Must be cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of debris
Porcelain grates (see Amazon) are preferred by many grill enthusiasts as they can hold heat well and are rust-resistant too. You have to be very careful while cleaning them or else they may chip off and expose the underneath material that can begin to rust over time.
However, that does not mean all porcelain coatings are bad, and sometimes it’s all about the choices you make. If you are looking for a pleasant grilling experience, we suggest don’t skimp with the quality of grates to save a few dollars.
Even though a cheap and discounted porcelain grate may appear tempting, please bear in mind that low-quality coatings may cause a lot of headaches in the long run. When using a porcelain-coated grill grate, make sure you always keep the hard metal tools and scrapers away.
It’s okay to use a metal bristle brush, however, we strongly suggest that you avoid the scrappers to preserve the surface for a long time.
- They are more affordable
- They have better non-stick abilities compared to stainless steel
- There is poor heat retention ability as the temperature declines pretty fast
- Porcelain roads may warp or chip off when they achieve a high temperature
- Seasoning the porcelain grates with oil is not a practical option as this may lead to damage
Whether talking about the exterior body of grill or the grill grates, stainless steel is a clear winner. Putting aside personal preferences, we feel that stainless steel provides the best advantage when compared to the other options.
Even though it costs slightly more, stainless steel lasts longer and compensates for the price. When you are thinking of getting a new grill, we strongly suggest that you look for brands that come with a lifetime warranty. You should choose rod grates to get the perfect sear marks on your meat.
Porcelain-coated cast iron are the next best choice. However, these grates require slightly more maintenance. As they are excellent conductors of heat, they can hold high temperatures really well. Our last favorite is porcelain-coated steel for its amazing non-stick feature, but it must be handled with care.
Safety Tips For Both Stainless Steel And Porcelain Grills
- No matter what type of grill you prefer, always use heat-resistant mitts, long-handled tongs and wooden spatulas during the cooking process. Always wear gloves when removing hot lids or adding coals.
- Both the stainless steel and porcelain-coated grills are capable of heating to high temperatures while grilling. The heat is retained long after the flames are put out so be careful when handling the grates.
- To enjoy outdoor grilling in the backyard, make sure you have a fire extinguisher to be in control of the fire. You must keep the number of the fire department handy, know how to cut down the fuel supply and put out an accidental fire.
- Be careful about food poisoning because bacteria thrive on any type of food that is above freezing point and below a temperature of 165 degrees F. Make sure you keep everything covered, use your common sense and take care of food safety.
- Whether you get new stainless steel or porcelain-coated grill with a steel base, make sure you read the manufacturer instructions carefully. Do not assume that it works in a similar fashion to the last one. If you have lost the manual, you can find them on the company’s website.
- We know that smell of smoke feels heavenly and we crave a bit of it in our grilled food. People use smokers to infuse that pleasant odor in meat, however, be careful because smoke contains cancer-causing substances. Enjoy the smoke but from a distance without inhaling too much of it.
- If you are using flammable materials for cooking, that’s really bad but the food you cook can also result in flare-ups. Sometimes a lot of grease may collect underneath the grill grates even after just a few cookouts and turn out to be lethal over time.
- We know how tempted you may be to enjoy a glass of wine or beer with roasted ribs or steaks but wait, this can be hazardous. Keep safety in mind and wait until the fire is out before you pop out a can of beer to complete your dinner.
What’s the right grill choice for high or low heat cooking
If you prefer to cook your food on low heat for delicate foods like vegetables and fish, we would suggest that you use the porcelain grills. Those who prefer high heat cooking need something capable of retaining heat better that will stay durable too, such as stainless steel grills.
Which grill should I choose if I like seasoning
If you like seasoning the grill grates for additional flavor, avoid the porcelain-coated ones as they are more prone to chipping. You can choose the stainless stain grates instead, as they are not only sturdy but can be seasoned well with oil before placing food on it.
Which grills last for longer?
Cast iron grills are known to last for decades but they are very heavy. The porcelain-coated grills with steel or cast iron base are also susceptible to damage with the coating chipping off and the inner layer getting exposed to rusting. The stainless steel grates are considered to be the best as they are not only durable but also come with a lifetime warranty.