Many clients come to our Algarve store and ask the same question: Which is better, stainless steel cooking grates or cast iron cooking grates?
Well, it depends.
For some meals and circumstances, you are better off with stainless steel cooking grate, but in others, you will do best with cast iron.
Can’t make up your mind yet?
We got you covered.
In this piece, we will go through all the characteristics of each one to help you decide what will work best for you.
How do They Differ: Basic Points
Whether you are looking for a new grill or want to upgrade your existing one, you must know the differences between the two most common. For starters, stainless steel and cast iron are two different materials (although, technically, they are both alloys of iron and carbon) that distribute heat differently.
Stainless Steel Cooking Grates
First of all, you should know that not everything that looks like stainless steel really is. Regular steel and plated grills will not last too long-the surface will become nicked over time.
Always make sure that you pick the best quality stainless steel cooking grill. In case you need help, contact us, and one of our outdoor living specialists will advise you on the best decision!
🥇 Stainless steel cooking grills are durable and capable of withstanding harsh outdoor weather. They are among the most affordable options.
The material offers the advantage of being generally light, which allows for more comfortable transportation. Being lightweight, it allows for heat to build up quickly, and it retains heat well.
These grates usually have three forms:
- Rod. The most common type, is in the form of a tube and vertically runs across the top.
- Cast. This one is more consistent than the rod form and retains heat better.
- Hexagonal. Also known as diamond, it is made of chromium-nickel steel, making it the best at distributing heat.
When oxygen and moisture rest on this grate, rust can quickly form. This will eventually cause deterioration. However, it is pretty manageable and easy to clean. Check our guide on how to clean your gas grill.
These types of grates are better at handling fluctuating temperatures and are more resilient to the outdoors. Most of them come with a non-stick coating, which will eventually wear off after several uses. You might also notice some discolouration over time, but this will not affect food quality.
#BBQTip A high-quality stainless steel cooking grate is your option if you are looking for a low-maintenance and long-lasting grate.
Cast Iron Cooking Grates
The cast-iron cooking grates are good at maintaining heat for a more extended time. Its enamel covering with its glossy finish makes them more appealing. They are heavy duty and not too portable.
🥇 These grates are pretty heavy thanks to their higher iron content and, as such, are super durable. If taken good care of, these bad boys can last for decades. Now, they do require some maintenance to be kept in optimum condition.
Use this type of grate if you want to sear your meat and give it some attractive grill marks on it. Thanks to its ability to retain heat for a longer period, you get juicy and colourful meat.
With a cast iron cooking grate, you get a high temperature, and food is cooked in less time. The surface does not require a non-stick spray, and it creates this beautiful dark layer on your meat.
The enamel covering or porcelain finish will wear over time, and it will begin to rust. If you let corrosion progress, it might damage the grate and cook over it may bring about some health concerns. This is why maintaining cast irons is quite a challenge.
#BBQTip If you will store your grate for a long time, it is a good idea to check regularly for rust. Be careful when you pull it out to the backyard since dropping one will get you a cracked or broken one. These grates require better care than other types of grill grates.
Do you like that sizzling and love the dark sear marks on your steaks? Then this is the one grate that you should get.
Pros and Cons of Stainless Steel Cooking Grates
- Greater resistance to rust and corrosion.
- Highly resilient to changes in temperature.
- Easy to clean; you can even wash them in your kitchen sink.
- They are significantly lighter than cast iron.
- Easy to transport.
- Low maintenance.
- They offer effective heat contact.
- They might lose their non-stick coating over time.
- Do not retain heat for too long.
- With time, they may warp, which creates an uneven cooking surface.
Pros and Cons of Cast Iron Cooking Grates
- Hold heat pretty well for a longer period.
- Food cooks fast.
- They can last for many years, even decades.
- Food does not stick to it if you season the crate properly.
- Heavy duty.
- Not too portable.
- They are not as resistant to rust and corrosion.
- Require high maintenance.
- It takes more time to clean.
So, is Stainless Steel better? Or is it Cast Iron?
The answer to this question lies in response to “what are you cooking?” This is the most important thing to think about when buying a new cooking grate.
A cast-iron does not heat as fast as stainless steel, but, once hot, it transfers heat more evenly. Your steaks and chops will have that beautiful dark coat and impressive grill lines on them.
Some might argue that these sear marks are no indication of quality cooking. But the dark layer is crusty and improves the taste of the meat.
Now, do you usually grill fish or thinner cuts of meat such as chicken slices? You are better off with a stainless steel grate. This is because these grates offer better heat contact to retain the best flavour from seasonings.
Do you want the Best Grilling Experience? Try our Products
As you have seen, both stainless steel cooking grates and cast iron cooking grates offer significant benefits. Stainless steel ones are easy to handle and clean and are more resistant to corrosion. On the other hand, cast iron retains more heat and has better non-stick properties.
Struggling between the two? You can still get both and use the one that is better suited to your Algarve culinary needs of the day.
✅ Check out our extensive listings of quality cooking grates and equipment. We have everything you need and at super affordable prices. Contact us today or visit us at our showroom in Almancil for the best cooking grates. Also, if you are looking to buy a new grill in 2021, check this guide on the Best Gas Grills to Buy in 2021 Recommended by our Specialists.