Don’t Bother Cleaning Your BBQ Pit

When it comes to barbecuing, there’s hardly anything we won’t try to get the best results. We’ll happily use soda or root beer to elevate pulled pork and build up a collection of various woods and charcoals to get the precise flavor we’re after. One thing we’re a little more hesitant about? Not cleaning the barbecue pit. While it does seem unhygienic, some pitmasters swear it’s the secret to better-tasting barbecue.

To maintain your grill, it’s recommended to tidy it up after each use. This certainly applies to the grates, but some people let the grease, which they call seasoning, in their barbecue pits develop over time. The argument is that the accumulation of grease, juices, and crumbs impact the taste of the smoke that’s carried up to the meat you’re barbecuing above, making it more flavorful. It’s true that barbecued meat on a seasoned grill is slightly more delicious than meat prepared on a clean grill, but the difference isn’t enough to risk the hazardous method.

Your barbecue pit doesn’t need to be completely spotless, but it doesn’t need to be filthy, either. Grease left lying around can be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. An excess amount of it also has the potential to cause fires. If there are large grease splatters after one or two uses, scrape them out. After around seven uses, you’ll need to clean the grill thoroughly. This way, you’ll reap the benefits of a well-seasoned grill without any risks.

Season your grill grates instead

Barbecue grill with flames

Endless layers of grease in the barbecue pit shouldn’t be considered a positive thing, but that doesn’t mean that every part of the grill shouldn’t be seasoned, either. Although the names are the same, the process for seasoning the grates is very different. It still needs to be cleaned, but non-abrasively, the way you would season a cast iron pan.

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Gently remove any debris with a grill brush before wiping down the surface with a neutral, high-smoke point oil. Just like with a pan, turn the grill on to high heat and let it sit for about 30 minutes. A good number of grill grates are made from cast iron, so the seasoning process will ultimately result in a nonstick surface with great heat retention that gives food a better sear, giving you more flavorful barbecue.

If you’re still tempted to let your grill get filthy in the name of good, smoky barbecue, just know that there are other methods. Using the absolute best types of wood for smoking and grilling will give you the flavor you want without any of the risks. Rather than not cleaning your grill and risking your scallops tasting like the rack of ribs from last night, opt for wood chips such as hickory and mesquite to give your barbecue an intense, smoky taste.

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