Seasoning A Flat Top Grill [A Complete Beginner’s Guide]

A flat-top grill is the perfect equipment to bring enhanced flavors to your next BBQ feast. But before you get started, it is imperative to season it. ‘Seasoning’ is a simple process where layers of oil are ‘baked’ on the surface of your flat top to create a ‘non-stick’ or water-repellant surface.

Seasoning extends the lifespan, enhances flavor, and prevents food from sticking to the grill’s surface. To season a flat-top grill, first clean the surface with a paper towel and then preheat the griddle to its highest setting. Pour enough oil to cover the entire surface and ‘bake’ it for about 20-30 minutes. Repeat 2-3 times. Wipe off any residues with a paper towel and allow the grill to cool completely before use. 

Flat top grills are versatile and can probably cook everything! Since your flat top would be exposed to spicy and acidic foods such as saucy tacos to extremely sugary foods such as chicken teriyaki, it can cause serious damage to the metal surface of your flat top. Therefore, the more you mess with it, the more important it becomes to season a flat-top grill.

top grill

Why Should You Season A Flat Top Grill?

When the surface of a flattop grill is exposed to moisture and atmosphere, the metal can rust quickly. If you do not season it, the griddle will slowly corrode, and you have no other option left than to replace it.

On the other hand, when you properly season a flat-top grill, it creates a stick-resistant coating on the surface, improving the grill’s longevity and enhancing the flavor of the food being cooked. Seasoning also protects the grill from scratches.

If you are using a powder-coated surface, you generally won’t have to worry about corrosion. Some of the most state-of-the-art flat-top grills, such as the Camp Chef 4-burner or the Cuisinart 36 flat-top gas griddle, are equipped with truly seasoned cold rolled steel surfaces. Others, such as the Royal Propane 8 burner gas grill, come with a porcelain coating that does not rust like cast iron steel grates. Whether your flat-top grill comes pre-seasoned or not, you must season it with every use.

How To Season A Flat Top Grill

For seasoning a flat-top grill, you would require cooking oil, a grill scraper, grilling tongs, and paper towels. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to season a flat-top grill:

Step 1 – Cleaning

Use a damp towel to wipe down the cooking surface of your flat top. If you are seasoning the grill for the first time, this step will help you get rid of the mineral oil coating and any other manufacturing artifacts that may be present on the cooking surface. The food-grade mineral oil coating is not to be used for seasoning.

If you are using a new griddle, some manufacturers also recommend using a gentle soap solution and a soft sponge to clean the surface. Note that this will be the only time you will ever use soap on your griddle.

For subsequent usage, always use a scraper to scrape off any leftover food particles. It is best to scrape off food while the grill is still hot.

You can also pour 1 cup of table salt on a warm griddle and then rinse it with water to help take off extra hard stains. Do not use this method if you have a gas grill with a porcelain-enameled coating.

Step 2 – Heating

Preheat the griddle to its highest setting (usually 400℉ or 205℃) with a closed lid. Most griddles will warm up within 15 to 20 minutes. If you observe some discoloration, blackening, or smoke, do not fret! This is completely normal.

Step 3 – Seasoning

To season the grill, pour about 1 teaspoon of oil per 11 inches of the griddle. Make sure to spread the oil evenly over the griddle surface and be sure to spread it around the edges and corners.

Let the oil sit on the griddle top for at least 20 to 30 minutes or until you observe a nice smoke coming off from the griddle surface. This process is called the ‘baking’ of the oil.

Repeat the process at least 2 to 3 times with more oil, or until the surface looks dark brown.

Which Oils Are Best for Seasoning?

Cooking oils that are rich in fatty acids, such as avocado oil, sesame oil, olive oil, canola oil, flaxseed oil, and any vegetable oil, bond well with the griddle plate. Use a generous amount of any of these oils to evenly coat the surface of the grill.

How Do I Know If My Griddle Is Seasoned?

The surface of a well-seasoned griddle always looks smooth and shiny. If there are some bits and parts that appear rough or food particles easily stick to the surface, you would require to re-season the grill.

How Often Do You Season A Flat Top Grill?

A flat-top grill with its cold roll steel cooking steel surface must be seasoned periodically. While re-seasoning a griddle depends upon usage, it is a good idea to season it before each use.

Re-Seasoning A Griddle

With every usage of your flat-top grill, you would be losing layers of seasoning. Some of the tell-tale signs that confirm that your flat top griddle needs re-seasoning are:

  • Visual – a difference in colors over the surface, bronzing, scratches, etc.
  • Food sticks to the surface or doesn’t lift off/ flip/ slide the way it should.
  • Frequent usage indicates more loss of layers.

To re-season, follow the same process of seasoning as mentioned above, or you can watch this video to learn how to properly re-season a flat top griddle.

chicken top grill

How To Season A Rusted Griddle

Rusting is uncommon in most modern flat-top grills; however, if you do see some rusting, it can be restored. Rust only forms on the surface and does not corrode the entire metal. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to season a rusted griddle:

  1. Use a metal scraper to scrape off any food particles or rust on the surface of the griddle. Make sure to turn off the heat while you are scraping off the rust. If your griddle is heavily rusted, you might require a lot of force to scrape it. Do not use water or soap to remove rust.
  2. Pour some oil on the rusted area and use a grill stone to scrub off the rust. You may also use steel wool or sandpaper for this step.
  3. Use paper towels to clean the surface.
  4. Keep repeating the entire process until there is no residue left on the paper towels.

Some Tips On Seasoning Flat Top Grill

It is incredible how a simple step of seasoning the grill can bring so much difference to your grilling. Here are some additional tips that would protect your flat top for years to come:

  • Once you have seasoned your flat top, it is best to start your BBQ journey with fatty foods such as bacon, sausage, or ground beef. The high amount of melting fats from these foods not only creates an additional layer of a non-stick surface but also adds some flavor.
  • If you require deep cleaning of a seasoned griddle, make sure to first cool it down and then rinse it off with hot water.
  • Do read the instruction manual of your flat top grill for the best care.
  • Always use a pair of tongs and safety mittens or gloves to prevent the burning of your fingers while seasoning.
  • Build up of food or grease over time can make the griddle difficult to use. Therefore, it is best to clean a seasoned grill after every use. You can use a putty, scraper knife, or a wire brush to scrub away tough residue from the surface. Wipe off any excess fat from the surface with a paper towel.

A few culinary masters also suggest that you can season using dry rubs or even just plain water. However, there is nothing safer and more efficient than the oil-baking method. While seasoning the flat-top grill, be sure to cover every inch of the grate so that you can prepare the most lip-smacking and flavorful delicacies every time you light up the fire!