PSA: You Should Never Oil Your Grates Before Grilling

It won't stop your food from sticking -- and there's a better solution.
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Greasing hot grates before throwing food on the grill is common practice among novice grillers. Unfortunately, it’s apparently wrong.

If you’re guilty of this grilling mistake, you should know it’s not your fault. Nearly all grilling books or websites will tell you to oil grates before adding food to the grill to prevent your dinner from sticking. But there’s one award-winning cookbook out there, Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling, that has a different take on this practice.

Author Meathead Goldwyn of says oiling hot grill grates is not a good idea. According to his cookbook, if you use oil to grease hot grates, the oil will smoke and carbonize almost instantly once the grates reach the oil’s smoking point. (This happens pretty quickly on a hot grill.) The carbon and smoke don’t taste good, and this will affect the end result of your dinner. On top of that, the carbon layer on the grates only makes the sticking worse.

Instead, Meathead told HuffPost, “put a light coat of oil on the food, which is refrigerator temp ― the food rarely heats up beyond 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, as it warms, it becomes runny and drips off, but by then the food is less sticky.”

“Another option is to give the meat a light coat of mayonnaise,” he said. “Mayo is mostly oil, but it doesn’t drip off as easily, and surprisingly, it adds little flavor to the food. It is also an excellent way to hold in the spices. It works especially well on fish and chicken.”

That last option might not got over well with all the mayo-haters out there, but it’s an interesting idea worth trying this grilling season.

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