You might think that folks who grill as much as we do aren't going to make silly mistakes. Well, you would be wrong about that. One of those silly mistakes is usually forgetting to clean the griddle. A friend of ours shared that one time, not only did the griddle not get cleaned, the last thing he cooked was whole Golden Pompano fish. If you get a chance to cook some fresh, wild-caught pompano whole on the griddle, do it. Just make sure you use some Bearded Butcher Blend Seasoning and don't forget to clean and season the griddle when you are done.
We understand that sometimes you get wrapped up in the family barbecue, and sometimes there isn't one particular person in charge of the food, but you always want to make sure someone cleans and seasons the griddle when you are done. Otherwise, you're going to have to put in some work the next time you plan on cooking.
Why Do I Need To Clean My Flat Top Grill?
Unfortunately, it was about a month before the griddle was used again after cooking the fish. The plus side was that the fish oils prevented rust, and the weather was too cold for maggots, but the smell was none too pleasant, either. Imagine tossing a thick, tender ribeye on that smell. Or, try to picture a batch of sweet, fluffy pancakes with a slightly burned fish skin flavor.
Every time you cook on a griddle, it needs to be cleaned. Otherwise, you're cooking other bits of food into your food. Sometimes, the little bits of leftover food particles can even cause food poisoning. We're going to go over everything that you'll need to make sure your griddle is always ready for action.
Not only did the leftover fish look and smell terrible, we used lots of fresh lemon juice. Lemon juice is acidic and can eat through the layer of seasoning on the griddle surface. Tomatoes will also cause blistering, peeling, and cracking on the griddle surface.
Tools for Cleaning Your Flat Top Grill or Griddle
There is only one solution to a dirty griddle – arm up with some tools and get to cleaning. Grab a heavy-duty griddle scraper (which is actually a repurposed dough knife), a grill stone, our trusty heat-resistant gloves, and some cooking oil. You shouldn't need soap or a chemical grill cleaner. Don't forget paper towels. We like to use low-lint types that are for automotive use like these, but any type will work.
If it's been a while and you need to tackle any peeling and flaking, you'll want to have some power tools on standby. If the damage from whatever you cooked last has created an uneven surface, you are going to need to strip the old seasoning off and start over.
A wire wheel on an electric drill or angle grinder works well for this. You can also use a palm sander, sanding blocks, steel wool, and most other abrasives.
How To Clean A Flat Top Grill – Routine Cleaning
- The first step to cleaning off your flat-top grill is to turn it on and let the cooking surface get very hot. A very hot grill helps to release the food debris from the grill seasoning.
- Use your scraper to remove as much of the leftover food residue as possible, but try not to gouge into the finish.
- With the griddle surface still hot, slowly pour warm water onto the grill. It will quickly evaporate, so use your scraper to remove as much of the grease buildup and fat that comes up.
- Shut off the burners and propane to allow the griddle to cool for about half an hour.
- Put a small amount of oil (1-3 tablespoons) on the griddle and use a few paper towels to coat the entire surface.
- Use a grill brick to scrape clean any remaining gunk – it also removes flaking and peeling.
- Wipe the clean flat-top grill with a very thin layer of cooking oil.
EXTRA TIP: You'll want to wipe off the excess oil because it can create sticky messes the next time it gets hot. Before using it again, you should also give the surface a coat of seasoning.
How To Clean A Flat Top Grill – Deep Clean
After cleaning any gross leftovers from the griddle, it might be pretty clear the seasoning has taken a beating and needs a do-over.
One of the best qualities of griddles like Blackstone flat-top grills is the practically indestructible griddle material. Ours is cold rolled steel, but you will also find stainless steel flat-top grills and cast iron flat-top grills. Fortunately, the deep cleaning process is largely the same for most flat top grills, but don't use abrasives like a grill brick on stainless steel. Use specially-designed scrub pads to deep clean stainless steel.
- Really attack the cooking surface with the scraper. Use warm water to help loosen built-up gunk, but don't use dish soap or chemical cleaners. A stiff grill brush works well for lifting the seasoning.
- Once as much of the coating as possible is removed from the cooking surface, it's time for final cleaning. Let the griddle cool before the next step.
- Use a sanding wheel on a drill or a sanding pad on an angle grinder to clean the entire cooking surface. It's a messy, time-consuming process, but when you are done, you will have a pristine flat top grill surface.
- Re-season your griddle.
EXTRA TIP: You're going to want safety goggles for the sanding step. And clothes you don't mind getting dirty.
Cleaning a Rusted Flat Top Grill
Rust is ugly, unsightly, and unappealing, but usually isn't harmful. Cleaning a rusty outdoor grill is simple. Start with the routine cleaning methods. If the rust remains, we have some additional tips.
How To Keep Your Flat Top Grill Clean
Our main takeaway: clean the griddle before putting it away. We know it sucks to do chores with a healthy food coma coming on, but the few minutes you'll spend will save you hours in the long run (then you won't even need all those deep-cleaning tips we just gave you).
Here are our helpful tips for keeping your griddle in tip-top shape:
- Scrape the surface thoroughly immediately after removing the food. This prevents food debris from getting stuck when the griddle is completely cool. Stubborn food debris sticking to the griddle indicates improper seasoning.
- Wipe down the surface with cooking oil before and after each use. Don't forget to regularly wipe down the side tables, lid, and stand while you are at it. Regularly wiping down the grill keeps it clean.
- Apply a thin coat of cooking oil or seasoning oil before you start cooking. Spending just a few minutes seasoning regularly will help keep the finish in good shape.
- Buy and use an appropriate cover. Most griddles don't come with one and designs like the Camp Chef and Blackstone griddles don't have a lid. A cover will keep dirt, dust, and many bugs out of your griddle.
What NOT to Do
- It is pretty difficult to damage a flat-top grill's cooking surface, but it can be done. One of the worst things people do when cleaning is to use cold water on a hot griddle. The temperature difference can cause steel griddles to warp and it can crack cast iron designs. Always use hot water to avoid damage to the cooking surface.
- Another common mistake is grabbing a can of oven cleaner to speed up the process. This stuff is harmful and should be used as infrequently as possible. Harsh chemicals can contaminate a grill's surface and can ruin the flavor of even the most delicious food.
- Never just "burn off" leftover food from a griddle. Even at the highest possible temperature, you won't remove all of the residue and you risk damaging the grill surface.
- Pay special attention to cleaning up after cooking acidic foods. Warm water and a wet sponge are good tools to use after cooking acidic foods, followed by a thin layer of oil.
- Don't leave streaks of oil, puddles, or ridges. When the oil reheats, it will become sticky and gummy. It can cause food to stick and damage the grill surface.
- Don't forget to dump the grease tray. Disposable tray liners are your friend.
The Bearded Butchers are dedicated to providing as much information as we possibly can to help you understand how to best process and prepare meats of all kinds. To help you, we maintain a blog and YouTube channel with lots of free, high-quality information. The Bearded Butchers and Beardedbutchers.com are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means that The Bearded Butchers may receive a commission if you click on a link above and make a purchase on Amazon.com.