Stainless Steel Grill Grates vs Cast Iron

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Stainless steel and cast iron are the two most popular materials for grill grates. You can cook safely and effectively on both of them. However, because they are different materials, they will have a different impact on your cooking.

Here, I’ll explain the differences between stainless steel vs cast iron grill grates for you to decide which material is best for your needs.

Stainless Steel Grill Grates vs Cast Iron: Quick Summary

When selecting a grill grate, consider what foods you typically serve.

Buying a cast iron grill grate is a superior option if you need to prepare food quickly and tasty. In addition to a delicious burger, its capacity to maintain a large amount of heat can help you achieve classic sear marks on steaks

When used to cook chicken or thick-cut meats, a cast iron grill grate produces the most appealing results. Also, a cast iron grill grate is ideal for cooking veggies on your grill.

On the other hand, stainless-steel grill grates are best for grilling fish or sliced meats, such as chicken breasts.

It is because a stainless-steel grill grate provides excellent direct heat contact with the food, resulting in the greatest possible natural flavor.


Iron is a metal found in cast iron and stainless steel. You may also find other metals or elements, but they primarily constitute iron ore. Cast iron and stainless steel are significantly different from the non-iron metals or elements used.

However, the minimum composition of the cast iron alloy is 2 percent, whereas the maximum piece of stainless steel is 1.2%, and the minimum chromium composition of 10.5 percent. 

In contrast to stainless steel, cast iron contains a higher percentage of carbon, but cast iron does not contain any chromium, a stainless steel component.

Food Types

The stainless steel grate’s rods are typically thinner than the cast iron grate’s. It means that stainless steel grates are ideal for thick and wide pieces of beef, chicken, and seafood; large vegetables and fruits; and other large items.

It is because the meal is too huge to pass through the grate. Cooking thinner meals is still possible, but it necessitates the assistance of an adult.

As a bonus, the rods are so thin that they won’t prevent the flow of radiant heat from the fire below. 

However, the meal will not have more noticeable grill marks because the rods are so thin. Furthermore, cast iron may better transport the heat than stainless steel.

Both thick and thin foods are ideal for cast iron grates. Cast iron grating has thicker and wider rods than stainless steel grating. Because of this, food cannot easily pass through them.

Cast iron produces more noticeable grill marks on food because of its superior ability to retain heat. As a result, it will have excellent taste.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Stainless steel grates are easier to clean than cast iron grates.

When you’re done cooking, make an effort to clean your steel grate right away. Please remove any remaining bits of food from the grill by scrubbing them with your grill brush.

You’ll need to take good care of your stainless steel grill grates if you want them to last.

But maintaining cast iron grill grates is a challenge. 

Rust can build up over time, but it can be prevented by constantly monitoring the surface for signs of rust. It is time-consuming to clean them with several methods, including soaking or scrubbing with some elbow grease. 

Additionally, seasoning the grate is required both before and after each use.

Stainless Steel Grill Grates

Stainless steel cooking grates have several advantages over cast iron grates, such as better rust and corrosion resistance. Rust and corrosion affect both cast iron and stainless steel. 

Rust comprises three chemicals: iron, oxygen, and water. Because of the presence of chromium, stainless steel grates last longer and are less susceptible to rust and corrosion.

It is also easier to clean a stainless steel grate. 

You can easily clean them with a grill brush because they have a smoother finish than cast iron grates. If you remove them from the grill or smoker, you may clean grill grates in the kitchen sink. 

Compared to cast iron grates, stainless steel grates are much lighter. Because they are lightweight, they are easy to move around.

Cast iron grill grates are more expensive than stainless steel grill grates. You can get a stainless steel grate to save money on your grill or smoker grate.


  • Heats up quickly
  • Resistant to rust
  • Easy to clean and maintenance
  • Lightweight


  • Ineffective at retaining heat
  • Possible discoloration

Last update on 2024-04-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Cast Iron Grill Grates

Cast iron cooking grates provide better heat retention than stainless steel cooking grates. Having warmed up, they’ll retain their heat, allowing you to cook excellent steaks and other foods. 

Stainless steel grates are just as good at retaining heat like cast iron grates, but their particular composition makes them less effective.

A cast iron cooking grate can last for years or decades if properly cleaned and maintained. In most cases, cast iron grates are more durable than their stainless steel counterparts of the same size. The grate will serve you for a long time if you clean it every time you use it.

Cooking using cast iron is less likely to result in food sticking to the grate than cooking with stainless steel. Cast iron grates should keep your food from sticking to them with a nonstick coating. You may season the cast iron grate to naturally nonstick, even if it doesn’t have a nonstick coating. 

It does not need spraying salt and pepper on the grill. Seasoning is applying several coats of oil to a cooking grate to make it nonstick. 

The semi-porous surface of the grate will allow the oil to soak in, creating a nonstick surface. Repeat the seasoning process for those who find the cast iron grate begins to stick.


  • Better heat retention
  • Heavy-duty
  • Nonstick surface
  • Durable


  • Heats up slowly
  • It might rust

Last update on 2024-04-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How to Avoid Food Sticking to Grill Grates

Whether you prefer stainless steel or cast iron grill grates, one of the main problems is keeping food from sticking to them. There are a few things you can do to avoid it.

Keep the Grill Grates Clean

Carbon residue forms when your grate isn’t properly cleaned. This residue adheres to the surface of your freshly prepared food, creating a gummy coating between it and the grate. 

Keeping your grate clean will keep food from sticking, and your grate will also be more durable.

Oil the Food Before Cooking

Pat the meat dry with a paper towel and then brush it with oil.

The oil covers the tiny cracks and holes in the food and the grates as you lay the oiled meat down, creating a relatively smoother texture. The cool food decreases the temperature of the grates, preventing the burnt oil residue from sticking to the meal. 

However, you should use a high-smoke-point oil. The majority of refined cooking oils will work.

Pre-cook the Foods

Have you ever noticed that when you flip a pork chop over, the second side often doesn’t stick? 

One reason is that the temperature of the top surface of the meat is rising, while the relatively cool underside has lowered the temperature of the cooking grates.

You might want to buy a grill basket for fish and vegetables to help you.


Stainless steel grill grates are lighter and more resistant to rust. They heat up quickly but struggle to retain that heat. 

Cast iron grill grates cook food faster, distribute heat efficiently, and provide beautiful grill marks. However, for them to last, you must maintain them regularly.

Overall, comparing stainless steel grill grates vs cast iron grill grates comes down to what you’re cooking and your preferences.