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People who love barbecuing take it very seriously. One of the biggest questions that plague the barbecue community is this: should people oil their grill or leave it un-oiled?
There is no wrong answer when it comes to oiling your barbecue. You can either oil it or not, that is completely up to you and either choice is fine and will not damage your grill. However, if you do oil it there is a proper way to do so that will ensure the best process and the best-tasting food too.
Oiling your grill can be an important part of the BBQ process but it also requires thorough cleaning too.
Should I Oil my BBQ Grill?
Why has the question of oiling a grill become so conflicted and challenged over the years? It has become a lightning rod of controversy. Many people say you should oil your BBQ grill before making food and then many others say you should not. Thankfully, it is strictly a matter of taste and preference so we will discuss why both sides stick to their guns and let you make up your mind. The benefits and drawbacks on both sides can speak for themselves.
Why would you oil your BBQ grill? The reason is simple: many people say oiling the grill prevents food from sticking to it. That seems like reason enough to do it, right? But some say that is detrimental to the taste of your food and a waste of time. But if you do want to oil your grill and are confident it will not affect the taste of whatever you are cooking up, how is that done?
How to Oil your BBQ Grill
Are you oiling the grill when it is hot or cold? You just have to choose which method you want to go with. Luckily oiling a grill when it is hot or cold is just as easy with only a couple of steps.
When the Grill is Hot:
Simply dip a wadded-up paper towel into high-heat cooking oil (olive oil, peanut oil, Canola oil). Do not soak the towel too much. You do not want it dripping wet.
After that, use an oven mitt or tons and carefully rub the oiled towel up and down the grill grate, specifically in the areas that will be touching your food. That’s it, the whole process is done.
When the Grill is Cold:
This method is a bit easier. Instead of using a paper towel, you will simply spray or apply the oil to the BBQ grill, make sure you do not dose the grill or leave it dripping wet. You do not need a lot of oil to get the job done.
Once you have applied what you need, light the grill and that will burn off excess oil. Expect some smoke as it burns off and do not be alarmed.
Now that you know how to oil your grill, the question returns: should you? Since there are two different trains of thought on the matter, the ultimate choice will be yours.
You Should Oil Your Grill
Those who say you should oil your barbecue grill argue that oiling the grill before use is the best way to prevent food from sticking to it. That makes a lot of sense because we have all seen perfectly good meals totally ruined and mangled by a sticky grill. You can lose entire pieces of meat this way and it is an ugly and frustrating process.
Why does this happen? That is because metal grill grates are made with tiny imperfections that oftentimes you can’t even see. There are numerous scratches, valleys, ridges, and pits that need lubrication, or else they will just cling to meat or vegetables like velcro.
Meat only makes matters worse because the temperature of the meat is going to be vastly lower than the temperature of the grill grates. When the hot grill meets the cold meat, they two create a bond that sometimes feels impossible to successfully pull apart. This is why you see so many ravaged steaks and hamburgers. An unlubricated grill can lead to a huge, meaty mess that is a chore to clean.
People see oiling the grill grates as an easy and simple way to make sure your meal ends up exactly as you imagined. With such a straightforward method to do so, if you decide you want to grill your grates it will not take long at all.
You Should Not Oil Your Grill
Those who are opposed to oiling the BBQ grill say that doing it is just a major waste of time that takes away from the taste of the meat.
They point out the fact that the oil that you apply to the grill burns off almost instantly when you heat it. If that is the case, all it does is create smoke or mess with the aroma and taste of your food. The smell of burnt oil is not the most enticing.
However, if you try to throw the meat onto the grill before the oil can truly burn off, then it will seep into the meat and you will get the added flavor of oil in every bit. Again, that is not very appealing.
Many grill experts believe that all you achieve when oiling a grill is altering the flavor. They say that it messes with the taste and that grills are favored because of the wonderful personality and taste they bring out of meat. Why mess with that, they argue.
There are other methods to prevent the meat from sticking to the grill, some say. Instead of lubricating the grill in oil, why not put the oil directly on the meat? Just take the piece of meat you are going to grill and pat it down with some light oil. If you want more flavor, why not use mayonnaise instead? This way you do not have to douse the grill in oil and the meat will not stick to the grill and not be too affected by the taste of the oil.
A lot of people oil their grills especially when they are cooking fish because fish is a lump of notoriously sticky meat that almost always makes a mess. But there are ways around that too without oiling your grill. You can use a fish basket, for example. These devices allow you to place the fish in a skinny metal contraption that keeps the fish cooked and the meat intact.
There are many other grill products on the market that do not require you to oil your grill if you decide that isn’t the road you want to take.
Keep Your Grill Clean
Whether you are or are not oiling your barbecue grill, you must keep it clean. A messy grill is perhaps one of the worst ways to affect the taste of your food and just make it harder to thoroughly cook meat and other snacks.
You should focus most of your attention on the grill grate itself, especially if you choose not to oil it because pieces of meat will become detached and stuck onto the grate.
You need to be careful and detailed when cleaning the BBQ grill because this is the space that food directly touches.
If you have not already, buy a high-quality grill brush because that will come in handy and can be used often. Heat up the barbecue and let the high heat hit the grate. Once the grill has been exposed to the flames for about five minutes, most of the excess food that has stuck around should burn off. That is when you will take the grill brush you purchased and scour the grill.
You may think the perfect time to do this is right after you finish your barbecue and you still have some gas in your tank to tidy things up. There might be some houseguests who are even offering to help you scrub down your grill. That is actually the wrong answer. Let your BBQ sit for a few days. In fact, it is best to clean your grill right before your next barbecue, not after it. The blackness you find on your grill after a meal will actually help protect it during cooking. It may look a little gross but it is helpful so you shouldn’t scrub it away until you are really ready to cook again.
Like a cast iron skillet, some people preach that your barbecue should look a little dirty at times. It shouldn’t be spotless and clean. This retains flavor and helps the BBQ work better. Too many people see a blackened barbecue and immediately jump up to clean it. Don’t! Let it sit and stew in its juices a bit. Fight the urge to clean the interior at every chance you get. You will be thankful in the long run when your meat and food is tasting rich and juicy and homemade.