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How To Stop Food From Sticking To Your Grill

food stuck to grill

Grillaholics, we’ve all been there before.  You’ve spent hours meticulously marinating chicken wings in a new recipe that’s guaranteed to be a flavorful masterpiece.  As you get those drummies and flatties ready for the grill, you’re already convinced that these may be the best wings you’ve ever prepared.  You place them on your grill excitedly.

But then, disaster strikes.  As you go to flip over the first wing, you feel something you absolutely shouldn’t: resistance.  You try and counter it, but your grill is fighting back like a momma bear desperately protecting her cubs.  You wonder to yourself “Did I accidentally use super glue in my marinade?”

You wrestle with the grill for a while, but when you finally manage to free the chicken wing from the clutches of the grill, your heart sinks as the perfectly seasoned skin is viciously ripped from your wing.  Your sweet and spicy marinade, the one that had you so excited just moments ago, has betrayed you.  That delicious sauce burned and adhered to the grill, and now you’re left with a flavorless, boring chicken wing.  You pray that this tragedy only affected the first wing you flipped, but to your horror, every wing meets the same unfortunate fate.

The grill giveth, and the grill taketh away.

As Grillaholics, we know that food sticking to the grill can be one of the most depressing and disappointing parts of the grilling experience.  Whether it’s chicken, fish, burgers, vegetables, or whatever you’re grilling, losing any of your perfectly prepared food to the grill is one of the hardest losses a Grillaholics can go through.

It shouldn’t be a loss you ever have to go through.  That’s why we’ve come up with a list of three Grillaholics approved strategies that can you can use to make sure that the grill never steals even the smallest piece of meat from you again.


Before we get into our specific strategies for preventing food from sticking to your grill, we have a few grilling tips that will help give you the best chance of having a nonstick grilling surface.

Tip 1: Keep your grill clean!

Barbecue sauce is awesome.  It adds delicious flavor to everything that it touches.  Unfortunately, one of the things that it touches very frequently are your grill grates.  Sauce drips off of your meat and onto your grates, where it chars, burns, and sticks.  This charring creates an uneven grilling surface, which increases the chances that future food will stick to the grill.

Because of this, it is essential to keep your grilling surface as clean and smooth as possible.  Either before or after grilling, make sure to run your grill brush across your grill grates a few times.  For best cleaning results, do this while the grill is hot!

grill brush

Tip 2: Hot temperatures work best!

Not only do hot temperatures allow you to clean your grill more effectively, they also make it easier to prevent your barbecue from sticking to the grill.  Higher grill temperatures result in hotter grill grill grates, which sears your food and stops it from sticking.

Obviously this tip doesn’t work for everything you grill, especially tough meats that need to be grilled at a low temperature for a long time in order to become tender and juicy.  For those grilling projects, other methods will be necessary to prevent sticking.

barbecue sticking to grill

Tip 3: Don’t flip too early!

Have you ever noticed that the second side of the chicken breast never seems to stick? That’s because the longer food cooks, the less likely it is to stick.  Because of this, make sure that you’ve sufficiently cooked the first side of your food before flipping it over if you don’t want it to stick and tear. 

burgers stick to grill


Strategy 1: Oiling Your Grill

Similar to the way that you oil a pan before cooking anything that has the potential to stick indoors, one of the strategies for making a grill non-stick is to apply oil to the grates before cooking.

The method is simple. Start by filling a bowl with vegetable oil.  Next, wad up a paper towel, and firmly grab it with a pair of tongs.  Dip the paper towel into the vegetable oil.  Make sure to let all of the excess oil drip off of the paper towel BEFORE applying it to the grill, or you may end up losing some of the hair off of your knuckles.  Then, apply the oil saturated paper towel to the grill grates until the cooking area is lightly shining.  Let the grill heat up, and the oil will cook onto the grates, giving you a nonstick cooking surface.

IMPORTANT: Unless you’re trying to make a homemade flamethrower, never try and use nonstick cooking spray on your grill grates.

oil grill

Strategy 2: Oiling Your Food

While similar to the logic of our first strategy, this second strategy tasks you with applying oil onto the food that you are grilling itself rather than onto the grill grates.  While both strategies essentially work the same, many will argue that the first strategy applies more oil to the grill grates than necessary, thus creating more of a mess to clean up before your next grilling session.  This method keeps the oil restricted to only the area where the food will be grilling.

Before applying your oil to food, specifically meat, make sure to pat the food completely dry.  Water and oil don't mix (according to science I guess), and so if there is any moisture on your food, the oil will not be applied to that area.  You’ll also want to take care when choosing an oil to apply to your meat.  We recommend corn oil, which is better equipped to withstand the high temperatures associated with grilling. 

oil meat

Strategy 3: Using Grilling Accessories

A final strategy that requires no preparation and is guaranteed to work every time is to use nonstick grilling accessories. Our personal favorite grilling accessory to prevent food from sticking to grill grates is known as a grill mat.

Grill mats are typically made of heat resistant, heavy duty PTFE, and can be placed directly on top of heated grill grates.  Grill mats provide a 100% nonstick surface to grill on, while simultaneously keeping the grill grates underneath clean.

grill mat




We know that having your food stick to the grill and ruined can be one of the most disheartening grilling experiences, but we hope that our tips and strategies make those experiences a thing of the past. Let us know which of these strategies you like the best by connecting with us on Facebook, and as always, cheers to being a Grillaholic.


Dennis gallagher on July 15 2017 at 12:44PM

Like the grill mat,i dont use a gtill brush anymore since we had pieces of the bristle come off on our food ,i use a grill pad instead cheap at wallmart.
I use peanut oil high ignition if i cook a lean piece of meat that might stick,i sear it in a pan with a bit of oil then slow cook on the grill till tender,that way it wont for ribs ,i season them brush a little sauce,wrap in foil grill a bit ,unwrap an finish on low ,sauce about 10 mins before done

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