Cast Iron Grates vs. Stainless Steel Grates

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What's the difference between Cast Iron and Stainless Steel Grates?

Cast Iron versus Stainless Steel in the realm of culinary arts has been an ongoing debate for many years. Inevitably, when discussing two different classes of items or two different schools of thought, you will hear: it depends. There are many chefs and culinary enthusiasts who will promote one material of grate over the other, but they each have their benefits and disadvantages. Appliances Connection offers a wide variety of style outdoor grills that utilizes either cast iron or stainless steel grates. Here is a complete breakdown between the two materials to help you make the right choice.

The Napoleon Prestige Series P308PSS-7 55" Freestanding Liquid Propane Gas Grill is a fine example of an effective cast iron grate grill. This grill features a porcelain coated cast iron grate, in addition to, providing 308 square inches of main grilling area with 483 square inches of total cooking capacity. The Prestige P308 gas grill is also capable of reaching a total of 29,000 BTU cooking performance and includes their exclusive Accu-Probe temperature gauge and removable drip tray for easy cleaning.

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Cast Iron grates are able to have a large amount of heat retention. Usually, cast iron grates will come with a porcelain or enamel coating. These coatings are a preventative measure against rust forming on cast iron. Porcelain or enamel coated cast iron grates dont require oiling. Uncoated cast iron grates are a porous and corrosive material and require a minimal amount of maintenance aside from cleaning. After a grilling session, they require an adequate amount of brushing to eliminate food residue and also the application of food safe oil to cure the metal. One of the downsides of porcelain or enamel coated cast iron grates is that if handled improperly (dropping them or chipping them) will cause the coating to crack, the cracks will promote rust and eventually render the grate not as effective. If maintained well, coated cast iron grates can last a long time. However, uncoated cast iron grates are able to add a unique flavor character for grilling food without sticking and endure high searing heat.

Cast Iron Grates

Pros

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High Heat

Creates and retains high heat for a long duration.

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Grill Marks

Produces distinctive grill marks with top tier results.

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Flavor

Cast iron adds a unique flavor profile to your food.

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Durable

Designed to last a long time with proper maintenance.

Cons

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Rust

Prone to rusting and corrosion if improperly cared for.

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Expensive

Higher grade cast iron can be more expensive than other types.

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Maintenance

Requires frequent maintenance with oiling while still warm.

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Short Lifespan

Cast iron grill grates are highly durable but will wear out over time.

The Holland - BH421SS5 Apex Gas Grill is a premium option for stainless steel grate grill. A deluxe gas grill, the BH421SS5 comes well equipped with a drip pan to eliminate flare ups, convenient condiment tray, thermometer gauge, two chimney styled vents, and NuStone shelves, providing a food-safe working area by each side. In addition, this grill is capable of 14,000 BTU output.

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Stainless steel grates are good at heat retention and are quite durable. A widely used and available material today, stainless steel grates are straight to the point and get the job done. However, they lack character, but offer a little more value in terms of longevity. These grates are very resilient in many harsh weather conditions such as the sun, rain or salt. Stainless steel grates are easy to clean, but will darken in color over time from repeated use (this is normal). They are a relatively inexpensive material and will last a very long time. Stainless steel is perfect for any grilling enthusiast looking for high performance with low maintenance.

Stainless Steel Grates

Pros

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Heat Retention

Is capable of producing and retaining adequate heat levels.

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Resist Rust

This style is not prone to rust unlike cast iron grill grates.

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Low Maintenance

Requires little maintenance as they're much easier to clean

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Durable

With proper care, these will last a lifetime, in most cases.

Cons

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Discoloration

Subject to darkening and appearing aesthetically displeasing.

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Corrosion

Lower grade stainless steel will corrode and may require replacement.

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Lower Retention

Is not known for being able to retain as much heat as cast iron grates.

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No Grill Marks

Thick stainless steel grates may provide a grill mark but it's not as adept at balanced distribution cooking.

Without a cop-out conclusion, I will say if you're serious about grilling, opt for cast iron grills. I personally, lean towards cast iron simply because they are a tried and true, timeless material. Since the advent of the metalworking age and mankind's ability to control fire, cast iron provides a unique profile for cooking. Granted, they might require more tender, loving care, but real culinary enthusiasts are motivated to place forth the effort.

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