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Cast Iron vs Stainless Steel: Which Is Better For Cooking on A Kamado Grill?

Cast Iron vs Stainless Steel: Which Is Better For Cooking on A Kamado Grill?

Cast Iron vs Stainless Steel: Which Is Better For Cooking on A Kamado Grill? Or do you prefer different grates at different times? What are the advantages and disadvantages of different grate materials? Let’s compare cast iron vs stainless steel to see if you should pick a clear winner.

This article explains the difference between stainless steel grating gratings and cast iron, describes how to properly clean and maintain them, and you’ll also learn in which situations each material is preferable.

Cast iron vs. Stainless Steel 101

Cast Iron

Cast iron has been used as a cooking surface for thousands of years. However, pure iron is relatively soft. You can cut it open with a knife and some elbow grease.

According to the explanation, cast iron has carbon added, which makes it very hard and durable, but it can also be brittle.

There are several different varieties of cast iron grills:

Uncoated cast iron is black and porous, with a slightly rough texture.

Some cast iron grates may be enamel-coated. This type has a smooth finish and can be of any color.

If a cast iron grate is not enamel, it will still be porous. As it absorbs oils and fats from the food you cook, it becomes flavored. The oil fills the pores and gives cast iron its non-stick properties. This material does not contain any added chemicals that can be transferred to your food.

Cast iron grates with an enamel coating will have better non-stick properties than uncoated cast iron. However, if you lower the grate, the coating may crack.

Over time, scrubbing and scraping enamel-coated grates hard can cause them to develop fine-line cracks. This does not happen with uncoated cast iron.

Stainless Steel

First, know that just because it’s silver, doesn’t mean the grate is made of stainless steel.

Some grates are just plain steel plated and are one of the cheapest. The regular steel and plated versions simply don’t last very long when exposed to the heat of the grill and abusive tool use and cleaning. Over time, the surface can get chipped and chipped, causing it to rust and cause food to stick.

However, real stainless steel has a smoother surface and is very resistant to blocking. Corrosion also takes longer than normal steel and therefore lasts longer.

However, it is a myth that stainless steel is completely corrosion resistant. It does corrode and break down with age, although it can last many, many years.

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Cast Iron Grates?


Maintain good heat – Cast iron cooking combines the benefits of cast iron skillet stovetop cooking and outdoor grilling. You’ll get a nice sear where the grate touches the meat, and you’ll get a nice heat transfer. This can help you cook your food thoroughly when your charcoal starts to run out.

Direct Heat Transfer – Food that touches the surface of the grate will cook well. This is ideal for foods that only need to be cooked for a short time but benefit from a deeper outer layer.

Lasts for decades — with proper maintenance, your cast iron grill grates may never need replacing.


Heavy – Cast iron grates are very heavy. This makes them difficult to remove to move around the charcoal below them. You may need a special tool to lift and replace the grill on the grill.

Rapid Rust – Uncoated cast iron grates will rust quickly when exposed to the elements. Even if the grate is inside your grill, it will oxidize in wet weather. If you won’t be using it for a while, bring it indoors.

Clean harder – You must take the extra step of seasoning your grate regularly to maintain a smooth finish.

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Stainless Steel Grates?


Fast Heat – You don’t have to spend a lot of time preheating your grill before putting food in.

Resistant to Corrosion — Compared to cast iron, you can leave stainless steel grates on the grill longer without worrying about rusting.

Easy to maintain – You don’t need extra maintenance and cleaning of the stainless steel grill grates.


Don’t keep warm very well – stainless steel cools down quickly. Once you remove the heat source, it cannot maintain the proper cooking temperature.

Low quality grates don’t last long – you pay for what you get. Inexpensive stainless steel is generally not durable.

Over time, they lose their non-stick properties—the more you use stainless steel grates, the rougher they get.

Will sag and warp – Stainless steel grills will warp over time, providing an uneven grilling surface.

Which Should You Buy? Well, What Are You Cooking?

When shopping for a new grill, it’s probably most important to consider the type of food you typically cook.

Cast iron heats up slower than stainless steel, but once it gets hot, it transfers heat evenly and holds up well. You’ll get clear, professional grill marks on cuts of meat. In other words, you will impress your friends.

Are grill marks your criteria for judging the perfect steak? It really depends on your preference. Some say that roast marks are not a perfect indicator.

The part of the grate that touches the meat is cooked directly. The area will turn dark brown or black. This darkening of the meat produces a delicious crust due to the Maillard reaction, so it doesn’t just look, it actually improves the taste.

However, the thick grid blocks radiant heat. Radiant heat also provides an even, rich crust on a steak.

Thick cuts of meat work well on cast iron and stainless steel. Chicken is easy to grill on any kind of grate.

However, if you are roasting a thinner, more delicate cut, you may need direct contact with the cooking surface to give it more flavor. Otherwise, the meat will be cooked long before it has time to form a delicious crust. You have to choose between well-grilled dry meat or fully cooked meat that is a bit bland on the outside.


Therefore, thin stainless steel grate is not the way to thinly dice fish and chicken.

Direct contact with the meat is not enough. Also, when you try to flip the fillet, it may get stuck between the grills.


What if you roast a lot of vegetables and substitutes on the grill?

Pizza does well on a stainless steel grate with narrow bars. The same goes for chunky vegetables, like mushroom caps.

However, if you’re grilling smaller veggies, you may want to go back to a cast iron grate. Wide, flat strips will better hold the vegetable pieces in place without letting them fall off. They also have more contact with food, creating caramel that adds incredible flavor to sometimes bland vegetables.

Cleaning The Different Grates

Whether you have stainless steel or cast iron grates, you should clean them immediately after use.

Getting rid of hot grease and food particles will help them maintain a smooth surface. It also prevents grease build-up and unpleasant fumes that can affect your next meal.

Once you’ve pulled the meat off the grill and the grate is still hot, brush them with a high-quality brush. This will move the food off the surface and the heat will help remove most of the residue.

If you don’t care for your grill the way it should, deposits can build up on the grate.

Maintaining Stainless Steel Grates

Line the grill with a piece of aluminum while it is still hot. This concentrates the heat on the surface of the grate, burning off the residue. After the grill has cooled slightly, remove the foil and scrub with a nylon brush.

To deep clean stainless steel grates, remove them from the grill and place them in the kitchen sink.

Sprinkle baking soda over the entire grate. Spray or drizzle white vinegar over the baking soda. After foaming, scrape with a wire brush. Steel wool will remove particularly stubborn residues.

Rinse the grate with water. Let it dry before putting it back on the grill.

Taking care of your cast iron grate

A cast iron grate with good maintenance and regular cleaning should last for decades.

After the heat from the grill has burned off any remaining food, scrub the grill with a wire brush. Coat their entire surface with an oil with a high smoke point and allow to dry.

If your cast iron grate is rusted or new, you may need to season it more thoroughly. Remove the grill from the grill and preheat it to 400 or 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Off the grill, wipe any rusted areas with steel wool. Put the grate on a preheated grill and lightly grease them with oil, really only the thinnest thin coating is needed. Turn off the heat and let them cool.

Repeating this process several times will help seal the porous finish.

In Conclusion

One of the worst things you can do is buy a poor quality grate. During use, they are exposed to drastic temperature changes and a lot of heat and moisture. Inexpensive grates will warp, lose their non-stick properties and corrode more easily than premium grates.

Cast iron is nearly indestructible, but can rust if left outside for too long without proper maintenance. It is possible to reverse this problem and restore the corroded cast iron to its original splendor. If you ditch cast iron, it’s tedious to get into every space.

Stainless steel is more durable when exposed to sunlight, moisture and heat. If you don’t protect your grill or live in a particularly humid area, you may prefer a stainless steel grate over a cast iron one.

So in the battle of stainless steel grille vs cast iron, who is the winner? Well, not a clear one. so…

If your friends try to advise you on the best grill, remind them that it’s a personal preference. There is no clear winner in this battle.