Capable of caramelizing burgers in a flash, crisping bacon to perfection, cooking the perfect egg, and charring all our favorite veg, flat top grills are one of the most versatile cooking appliances on the planet. However, being that they can accommodate so many of our favorite foods, they don’t half get dirty!
Needless to say, food mess and cooking appliances should never go hand in hand, so before you cook your next delicious grilled meal, you’ll have to give your flat top grill a thorough cleaning, but before you dive in, you should know that there’s a knack to it.
In this guide, I’m going to be taking you through the process of deep cleaning your flat top grill the right way, so you can get back to what’s really important… cooking mouth-watering meals!
Deep Cleaning A Flat Top Grill: A Step-By-Step Guide
Before we jump into the guide, let’s quickly establish what you’ll need to get that flat top of yours squeaky clean.
- A grill brush & scraper
- Some grill screens
- A griddle pad holder
- Specialized flat top cleaner
- Warm water
- Paper towels
If you’d rather buy all these bits and bobs as a set, I’d recommend checking out this comprehensive grill cleaning kit.
Step 1 – Get In There Before It Cools
When deep cleaning your flat top grill, you have to make a decision… do you want an easy job or a safe job? If you like to live dangerously (and lazily), don’t wait until your flat top grill has cooled.
Having worked for 10 years as a chef, I can tell you from first-hand experience that it’s much easier to remove all that crud when the grill is hot (or at least warm).
However, this of course does mean you have to be extremely careful, as no shortcut is worth burning your hands, which, incidentally, is another thing I have plenty of experience in.
If you’d rather not risk it, wait for your grill to cool down completely. You’ll have to put in more elbow juice, but you’ll be safe.
Step 2 – Get Scrapin’
Use your grill scraper to remove all the large bits of debris. The grill I used to work with had a dipped frame around the perimeter, so I would just push it all into there and then collect it with some paper towels after the fact.
If you don’t have a frame, you’ll have to push it onto another surface. It can be tempting to brush it all onto the floor, but remember that all that debris is mighty oily and can pose a serious slip hazard.
Should you be having trouble getting rid of the large debris, pour a little bit of soapy water on the problem area, then try again. No luck? Now’s the time to break out the specialized flat top cleaner.
Step 3 – Get Scrubbin’
Next, grab your grill brush, dip it in hot water, then go hell for leather on the residual tarnishing on the grill. If the grill is still hot, be careful not to get your fingers too close to the brush, as that water on it is going to boil as soon as it hits the surface, sending steam into the air.
As the residue after scraping will be primarily grease, you may want to scrub and wipe in little sections so it doesn’t re-adhere to the metal. For particularly tough jobs, a combination of grill screen and oil works better than a grill brush and water.
Step 4 – Wipe Up What You Can
Anything that didn’t get wiped up in the last step should be cleaned away now. You may want to use some more hot water to loosen up the very last of the tarnish, but again, be wary of steam.
Step 5 – Clean Backsplash & The Drip Tray
No grill deep clean is complete until the backsplash and drip tray are sparkling, so, give the backsplash a once over with your brush or screen, then remove the drip tray slowly (You don’t want to spill any grease), take it to the nearest sink, drain it, then give it a scrub with hot soapy water.
Step 6 – Oil It
To finish things off, pour a little puddle of vegetable oil onto your flat top then use paper towels to spread it over the surface to protect against rust while it’s out of use.
How Frequently Should I Clean My Flat Top Grill?
You should clean your flat top grill after each use as the residual food can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria that can potentially make you very ill. It helps to think of your flat top grill as a plate.
Would you eat off a used one with tons of dried, smelly old food stuck to it? No, right? At least I hope that’s what your answer was.
In light of this, a good once over after every grilling session is a hygiene essential, but having said that, if you’re doing a mammoth cooking session during which you’ll be using the flat top grill repeatedly, you can keep the deep clean until you’re finished for the day.
Should I Season My Flat Top Grill?
Much like pans, flat top grills are far easier to keep clean if they’re sufficiently seasoned. Here’s how it’s done!
- Clean up — Your surface must be clean before seasoning.
- Heat it up — Fire up all the burners and wait for about 10–15 minutes.
- Oil the flat top — Pour out a little bit of high smoke point oil (I use vegetable oil), then use a paper towel and long utensil to spread the oil across the entire surface.
- Wait for smoke — It shouldn’t be long before you notice the oil starts to smoke.
- Turn off the burners — When the oil stops smoking, turn off your burners.
- Repeat the process — I’d recommend doing this 4 more times to get a sufficient protective layer down.
- Wipe down — After the fourth round, wait for the flat top to cool then wipe it down with some paper towels and cooking oil.
There you have it — Cleaning a flat top grill can be a grueling process if left to the last minute, but by striking when the iron’s grill’s hot, right after you finish cooking, it’s actually a very easy task.
If you couldn’t wait to eat your delicious food, and your grill is cool by the time you’re ready to clean it, simply fire it up again for 5 minutes or so before you get going.