When it’s time to dust off the grill for the season, grillmasters may think all that’s necessary is to pull off the cover, reconnect the gas and start cooking. But it’s best to give grills, new and old, a thorough cleaning and seasoning to prepare them for several months of use.
Begin by looking inside of the grill and under the cover and grates to see if any insects or animals have taken up residence. Rodents, birds and bugs sometimes ride out winter weather in unused grills. If you light the grill before checking for uninvited guests, you may end up cooking more than you expected.
Inspect for any debris, such as leaves and twigs, as well. Even if animals are no longer in the grill, remnants of their nests may be. Spiderwebs can ignite quickly and prove to be a hazard, so clean off any webs inside and on the exterior of the grill.
Check the hose that connects to the portable gas tank or the natural gas line to the house to see if it’s intact and clean. Clean off the hose if it has any buildup and make sure there are no holes or cracks. You do not want to risk the hose lighting on fire. If wear and tear is significant, replace the hose for safety.
Take out all of the grates and washable components and scrub them down. Some leftover drippings or food particles may remain from last year. Check the grease trap and be sure to clean that out as well.
Next up is to season the grill. When everything is dry and the grill is off, coat all of the grates and gas emitters with high-heat cooking oil like canola, suggests grill manufacturer Char-Broil. Make sure the oil coats the grates and gas emitters evenly and wipe up any excess. Then light the grill and let it heat up for around 15 minutes, or until the oil burns off or starts to smoke. Doing this time after time before cooking will help the grates develop a shiny, dark finish, helping them get hotter and cook food more evenly. Lightly coat grates with oil after each use to inhibit rust as well.
After all of these steps have been taken, it’s time to take the grill for a test run. Choose your meal and begin to cook. Check the temperature of the food before serving to determine if the grill’s thermostat is working correctly and to avoid any foodborne illnesses.
Now you’re ready to grill the rest of the season.