There are so many ways to get a great sear on a steak, but there’s nothing like having a steak presented to you with absolutely perfect grill marks. Today we’re going to take a look at the GrillGrate cooking system, and see if it really is the solution to help you master those beautiful grill marks once and for all.
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No, I’m not the type of person that takes my own instant-read thermometer into a steakhouse to see if the grill cook is paying attention. I am though, a firm believer that any of us can cook steaks as well or better at home than what you’d get in your local “steak-serving” chain restaurant. I’ve been greatly disappointed in my last few visits to chain steak restaurants. The steak is chewy, and they rarely hit the doneness I ask for.
That being said, I do get a little weak in the knees when I’m served an entree with perfectly seared diamond grill marks. I know that they aren’t the easiest thing to master, and it takes quite a bit of practice to nail it on every piece of meat coming off your grills.
I have spent years working on my grill mark game, but I never seemed to get my grills up to a high enough temperature to give beautiful sear marks before the protein was overdone. I started on gas grills and then moved to charcoal and pellets, looking for the best sear I could get on a grill.
And then I encountered the Grill Grate system.
I used to think that the existing grill grates that came with your grill were just what you used. I didn’t know that buying another set of grates could make a big difference in the result of your cook, but then I got some education. As it turns out, not all grill grates perform equally.
Today we’re going to take a look at the Grill Grate system, see how it works, look at the results of cooking with it and let you know if it’s worth your hard-earned bbq dollars.
Let’s start with the basics.
What are GrillGrates?
GrillGrates are hard anodized raised aluminum grate panels that sit on top of your current grates to give you a new cooking surface on your grill. Each Grill Grate panel can be attached to other GrillGrates to create a new grate system of any size. The panels interlock, allowing the entire system to function as one.
Each panel is reversible, giving you the ability to get great sear marks on one side, and a perfectly flat griddle on the other.
They produce juicier food, reduce hot and cold spots, give more flavor, give great sear marks and prevent flare-ups. Many backyard grillers use them to add flavor and juice to their foods.
How do GrillGrates work?
The Grill Grate system captures and evenly distributes heat from below the grate by funneling that heat into the top of the raised rails. The top of the grate stays hot for great sear marks and the valleys vaporize any moisture and drippings and return that flavor to the meat as it’s cooking.
Think about it this way. With the existing grates of your grill, the heat will rise up between each metal grate and heat the food. The grates will absorb some of the heat, but not all of it which leads to less than stellar grill marks when the metal can’t get hot enough to sear.
With the Grill Grate system, the entire grate soaks up all of the heat energy and funnels it into the top of the raised rail, allowing you to get serious sears on protein and vegetables.
What are GrillGrates made of?
Grill Grate panels are made of hard-anodized aluminum, and that allows the temperature at the grate to be between 100-300 degrees hotter than the air in the hood of the grill.
Hard-anodized aluminum will not rust, so GrillGrates are guaranteed to not rust. It is also able to conduct heat more efficiently than traditional cast iron grates, porcelain-coated steel grates, or stainless steel grill grates. Hard-anodized aluminum is able to get hotter quicker and retain heat much more efficiently than other materials.
How hot can I get my grill before I damage the aluminum-based grates?
Aluminum melts at 1125 degrees, so I always aim to keep any grill I’m searing on under the 900° mark to make sure I’m not in the danger zone. Even in my kamados, I’m not getting up into the 900’s very often without being close to causing damage to the ceramic, so for my charcoal grills, kamados, gas grills and pellet grills, I’m good to use GrillGrates in just about every scenario. Most backyard grills stay well under 1100°, so you can rest assured that the durability of your GrillGrates can withstand any high heat your grill can achieve.
What kinds of grills are compatible with GrillGrates?
Just about any grill that you currently have or could buy can work with the customizable GrillGrate system.
You can either purchase top sitting grates that simply sit on top of your existing factory grate, or replacement grates that are an exact fit to replace the grates that came with your grill.
The panels come in different lengths of grate to fit just about any grill. They even have panels that are angled and shortened to fit the curve of a kamado grill so that you can get the most coverage possible.
- Measure the length of your grill and select the GrillGrates that fit that dimension.
- Measure the width of your grill and figure out how many panels would be required to provide full coverage for your grill.
There are digital tools right on the GrillGrate website to help you figure out the best fit for your grill.
We use GrillGrates all the time on our American Renaissance gas grill. And while this grill did come with some very nice stainless steel grill grates, we simply don’t get the beautiful sear marks we all know and long for unless we break out the GrillGrates. The GrillGrate system is a perfect accessory for your gas grill.
On their website, it says that “Gas grills benefit the most from GrillGrates.” I can certainly see how that would be true. While our current built-in gas grill is quite consistent when grilling food, most gas grills we’ve owned over the years tend to have significant hot spots and cold spots. Using GrillGrates really helps even out the heat for a more even cook and while also preventing flare-ups.
Additionally, while I’ve yet to try this myself, I’ve seen several reports of GrillGrate users throwing wood chips on their GrillGrates to add a smokey flavor to their grilled meats.
Kamado or Charcoal Grill
Our Vision kamado grill has cast iron grill grates as well as stainless steel grill grates. Since kamado grills can be used for cooking low and slow bbq as well as hot and fast, there are still plenty of cooking situations that call for the regular grates. However, if we’re grilling food and searing meats, nothing gives us beautiful diamond marks like the GrillGrates. GrillGrates are also a great way to convert your Pit Barrel Cooker from a smoker into a grill.
Whether we’re using our Traeger Ironwood, Z-Grills, or built-in Mephis Pro, if I’m using a pellet grill for grilling food, the only way to get good sear marks is to add a couple of panels of GrillGrates over the firepot.
Pellet grills are great at many things, but searing is not one of them. However, GrillGrates can turn any pellet grill into a meat searing machine.
How do the different panels connect together?
The panels are built to interlock with each other. One side of the panel has a C channel that perfectly fits other grill grates to connect panels into a grate system. To lock the panels, just slide the grate into the channel and lay flat on the grill. You can also separate the panels by lifting up on the grates, and they will unhinge for cleaning.
How do you clean GrillGrates?
Just like any other grilling unit or tool, they look all shiny and new when you bring them home, but after the first use, they can look pretty filthy.
Resist the temptation to run them through the dishwasher or scrub them aggressively in a sink of soapy water. Think of your GrillGrate system the same way you think of your cast iron pans. They both need to be properly seasoned. And the more seasoned they become, the more non-stick they perform.
Grill Grate offers several handy cleaning products that are perfect for performing routine maintenance on your grates.
- Commercial Grade Plastic Bristle Brush– no worries about metal bristles getting in your food, these plastic bristles are safe up to 600°F.
- Detailing Tool and Scraper– the perfect tool for scraping off all the burnt bits in hard-to-reach places.
- Stainless Steel Valley Brush– bristle free, double helix design allows you to clean two valleys at a time
What We Love About the GrillGrate System
GrillGrates have more searing power than any other grates I’ve ever used. They absorb all the hot air coming up from the flames below and channel it all into the raised rails where you’re grilling food. We achieve gorgeous sear marks and more flavor every single time.
If you’ve been battling uneven heat, hot spots, and flare ups, these GrillGrates might be just what you need to give your subpar grill new life and finally get better results from your grill.
Exceptional Grilling Experience
GrillGrates have a way of really enhancing the overall experience when cooking outdoors. From the first sizzle as the food hits the surface of the grates to the beautiful sear marks on your finished meal, there’s something so satisfying about the whole thing.
They could have stopped at making grates for outdoor cooking use and we all would have been thrilled. But these guys are geniuses and have created GrillGrates for indoor use as well! If you have an air fryer or smart oven, you can have beautiful diamond marks on your food too!
The Back Side is a Griddle
How about this for an added bonus? Purchase a set of GrillGrates to give you gorgeous marks on your steaks, but flip those panels over and you now have yourself a griddle! This isn’t just a hack we made up ourselves; GrillGrate designed their panels with this dual purpose in mind. And on that note, if you happen to have a griddle but no grill, they even have GrillGrate panels to set directly on your griddle so you can still achieve those beautiful diamond marks we all know and love.