A flat top grill is an incredibly versatile piece of cooking equipment. However, you may notice grease and food debris caked on the grill surface after even just a few uses. This article will look at how to clean a flat top grill and provide instructions specific to stainless steel and chrome flat top grills.
When discussing the appropriate cleaning method for your grill, there are several things to consider. One is the material used for the cooking surface. For example, different routine cleaning methods work best for stainless steel, cast iron, and chrome flat top grills.
When considering how to clean a flat top grill, it is also important to differentiate between routine cleaning and deep cleaning. Routine cleaning is what you do right after using it. However, after multiple uses, you need to perform a deep clean to keep your grill in optimal working condition.
Related: Here are the best flat top grills.
Your cooking equipment needs to be properly maintained to keep the grill working well. When it comes to how to clean flat top grill cooking surfaces, you will need the following materials:
- Griddle or grill scraper – This will remove caked-on residue or burnt food particles
- Vegetable oil or another cooking oil of your choice
- Cleaning agent – Be sure your selection works for the type of cooking surface on your grill (cast iron, stainless steel, etc.)
- Dishcloths or rags
- Warm water
- A few paper towels
- Optional: grill bricks, grill cleaners, a wire brush, cleaning options such as soda water, vinegar, lemons, onions, or baking soda
How to Clean a Stainless Steel Flat Top Grill
Step 1: Heat Up the Grill
To begin cleaning your stainless steel flat top grill, heat the grill up to 300 – 350 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help loosen up any caked-on material and make it easier to remove and clean.
Step 2: Scrape Off the Residue
Once the grill is hot, use the griddle scraper to clean the surface. Aim to get as much food debris and grease off the grill as possible. Be careful because the surface will be hot. Do not be afraid to put some elbow grease into this cleaning process step as you scrub the grill.
Step 3: Add Warm Water or the Cleaner of Your Choice
Now it is time to add warm water to the grill. This will help any grease built up on the cooking surface boil off. Leftover grease is not easily removed with just the griddle scraper, so the water will help loosen it up.
Be cautious of the steam that will come out when you pour the water on the hot grill. You don’t want to get burned. It is also essential that you use warm water. If you use cold water, you could warp or crack your grill.
You can use just plain water to get the grill clean, or you can opt for another cleaning method.
Vinegar is a cheap and readily available option. To use it, mix equal parts of water and vinegar into a spray bottle and spray a generous amount of the mixture onto the grill.
Use a cleaning grill brush to mix the water and vinegar into the caked-on grease and grime. Once you are done, rinse the grill and wipe it with a clean towel. If necessary, you can repeat this process to tackle more difficult areas.
Alternative Cleaner Options
If the smell of vinegar is off-putting, you can opt for a grill cleaner instead. To use this option, just turn the grill on medium or high, add the grill cleaner, brush the surface with a grill brush, and drain it with a squeegee or a grill scraper. Once you have rinsed the surface, wipe it dry with a clean towel.
A grill brick is another cleaning option available. As the name implies, this is a scrubber that resembles a brick. To use it, place the brick on the flat top grill, place a cloth on the brick, and then scrub the surface by moving the brick back and forth.
You can also use lemon juice to prepare a cleaning solution if you have lemon juice on hand. Mix equal water and lemon juice parts into a spray bottle and spray the solution onto the flat top griddle. Use a brush to spread the juice and water and watch as a black paste forms. Rinse off the grill, wipe it with a towel, and repeat the process if necessary to ensure you have a clean grill.
Finally, one last option is an onion. Slice a white or sweet onion in half and use it to scrub the grill before it has fully cooled down. Onions are naturally astringent, so they will absorb the food drippings and work to clear up food debris leftover.
Discard the onion piece afterward. Note that this cleaning method will season your grill with a savory flavor, which may impact how you prepare the next food. For example, the onion flavor may not affect meats too much, but if you use your grill to prepare something like pancakes next, the flavor combination may not be well-suited.
There are so many options available to clean your flat top grill. Pick one to try and see which one you like best.
Step 4: Rinse and Wipe
Once the grill has cooled a bit but is still warm, rinse it off and wipe it down with a damp cloth or a wet sponge. This will allow you to remove the food and grease particles scraped off thus far.
Step 5: Clean the Grease Tray
As you are cleaning your flat top grill, do not forget to clean the grease tray and the grill top. The tray can be cleaned with warm, soapy water. If it is removable, you can place it in your sink with dish soap to clean it well. If the tray is not removable, pour warm water in the tray and then scrub it with a sponge or rag.
Step 6: Apply Stainless Steel Cleaner
You are now ready to add a cleaner after cleaning the cooking surface and the grease tray. Use a rag to apply stainless steel cleaner to your flat top grill.
Step 7: Dry the Surface
After applying the cleaner, be sure to dry the surface thoroughly and wipe it down with a clean rag. Again, the grill must be completely dry to avoid rusting.
Step 8: Re-season the Grill
After cleaning your stainless steel flat top grill, you will need to re-season it before preparing food on it again. Seasoning the grill makes it nonstick and helps prevent rust.
Add a small amount of vegetable oil to a warm grill. This can be peanut oil, canola oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, etc. The specific type is not as important. The main thing is that it is some type of vegetable oil.
Use a towel to spread the oil around the grill. If there is any excess oil, push it into the grease tray.
Next, turn the heat up to high. Once you see smoke, turn off the grill. Your flat top grill will now be re-seasoned.
If you do not want to mess with the oil, there are pre-made options available that you can buy to re-season the grill. Some even look like sticks of deodorant that you rub on the grill. However, the thin layer of oil will work just as well.
How to Clean a Chrome Flat Top Grill
For chrome grills, it is important to use the correct type of cleaners. For example, do not use abrasive cleaners on a chrome flat top grill or griddle surface.
Step 1: Heat Up the Grill
To begin cleaning your chrome flat top grill, heat it up to 300 – 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Scrape Off the Residue
Once the grill is hot, use the griddle scraper to clean the surface. Aim to get as much of the food debris and grease off the grill as possible. Be careful because the surface will be hot.
Step 3: Add Warm Water
Now it is time to add warm water to the grill. This will help any grease built up on the cooking surface boil off. Leftover grease is not easily removed with just the griddle scraper, so the water will help it loosen up.
Be cautious of the steam produced when you pour the water on the hot grill so that you do not get burned. It is also essential that you use warm water. If you use cold water, you could warp or crack your grill.
Step 4: Use a Griddle Brush
Scrub the grill with a griddle brush. This will be less abrasive and better suited for the chrome cooktop. Keep adding water and scrubbing with the brush until the entire surface is clean.
Step 5: Dry the Surface
After cleaning, let the grill cool down. Then, dry the surface with a rag to remove any remaining liquid.
Step 6: Apply a Polish
Once the surface is dried, apply a polish. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure the polish is food safe and non-abrasive.
Step 7: Wipe the Surface
Next, wipe the surface clean with a dry rag or cloth. Finally, ensure all the food safe polish is removed from the grill before cooking on it again.
How to Deep Clean a Flat Top Grill
In addition to cleaning your flat top grill after each use, you will also need to deep clean it occasionally. This is a more thorough cleaning that will help keep your flat top grill in great condition. After deep cleaning, you will need to re-season your grill before using it again.
Step 1: Scrape the Surface
After each use, clean your grill well. Scrape the surface to remove food residue and grease when the grill is cooled. You can scrape the grill using a metal spatula or a griddle scraper.
Step 2: Add Water
Spray water onto the cooled grill so that you can remove even more debris and food particles.
Step 3: Remove the Food and Grease Debris
Use a paper towel to remove the particles that you scraped off. Wipe the entire surface down to remove any water, debris, or residue.
Step 4: Oil the Surface
Add cooking oil or cooking spray to apply a thin layer over the cooking surface. This will protect against rust and maintain the non-stick cooking surface provided by the seasoning of the grill.
Most flat top grills can be seasoned with a thin coat of cooking oil such as vegetable oil.
Flat Top Grill FAQ
How to tell if your flat top grill needs cleaning
You will know that your grill needs cleaning if your food prepared on the grill tastes different than expected, the color of the food is different than you typically see, or there is grease or residue visible on the grill.
How do you remove rust from a flat top grill?
Warm up the grill to loosen up the rust, then allow it to cool down. First, scrape as much of the rust off the surface as you can. Then, add vinegar, coke, or lemon juice to the surface to break down the rust.
Let the liquid sit for several hours or overnight to give it time for the acidic liquid to break down the rust so that it can be easily removed. Next, scrub the surface to remove any remaining rust spots, then rinse and wipe the flat top grill down.
How do you clean a dirty flat top grill?
There are numerous ways to clean a dirty flat top grill. The simplest is to scrape off the food and grease debris after each use. If there is still residue on the grill, add some water to help remove more food from the grill. If you need even more to help clean the flat top grill, you can use lemon juice or vinegar to help break up the food buildup.
There are other cleaning methods, including a grill brick or the steam method.
How do you clean a cast iron flat top grill?
Cast iron grills require special cleaning. You want to avoid strong abrasives, harsh chemicals, and detergents. Instead, use water and a sponge to clean the surface safely. Set the grill to a low temperature, scrape the surface, add water, use a brush to scrub the surface, and then wipe it dry. Be sure to season it immediately to avoid rust.
Can you clean a flat top grill with baking soda?
Yes, you can clean stubborn spots off the flat top grill using baking soda. To do so, create a paste using baking soda and warm water. Add the paste to the difficult to clean spots and allow it to sit for several hours. This will help loosen burnt-on grease or even rust spots. Be sure to rinse it off completely before using your grill again to prepare food.