How to get your grill ready for the outdoor season

As the temperature starts to rise, it’s time to prepare your outdoor space for some seasonal relaxation. This is, of course, about showing off culinary skills on the porch, patio or backyard for guests. During the winter, your grill is likely hibernating, so you need to tune it up until it’s ready for heavy use from spring to fall. Even if you keep the grill on in the cold, now is a great time for a thorough cleaning before the official outdoor dining season begins. There are a few tips and tricks that will make the job easier.

Disassemble, rub, reassemble

Weber's first pellet grill has the potential to be a backyard powerhouse, but the smart features need to work.Weber's first pellet grill has the potential to be a backyard powerhouse, but the smart features need to work.

Billy Steele/Engadget

A good rule of thumb for cleaning anything you haven’t used in a while is to take it apart as much as you feel comfortable and wipe it down thoroughly. For grills, this means removing the grates and any grates or burner covers – basically, you can remove anything that isn’t a heating element. This gives you a chance to inspect your gas grill’s burners or pellet model’s burner pan for any unsightly wear and tear. If these components are worn or excessively rusted, most companies offer replacements that you can easily replace with a few basic tools.

Once all the pieces are removed, start cleaning the excess debris from all over the interior, using a little cleaner if necessary. for a gas grill, which probably means getting everything out of the grease trap. On top of it pellet grillyou’ll want to clean the oil duct and rub it into the catch box, but you’ll also need to vacuum the inside. shop vac – as you do after every few hours of use. And while you’re at it, go ahead and empty out those old pellets that have been sitting around since Labor Day. Fuel sitting on the grill for months won’t give you the best results when it comes time to cook, so you might as well start fresh.

Thankfully, pellet grill companies have made easy cleaning a key part of their designs. Weber’s Smoke Fire inside is a set of metal rods that can be quickly removed to expose the bottom of the camera. This is also a design feature of the company’s gas grills. Simply vacuum or remove debris from the oil channel. The catch pan, where all the debris ends up, is also easy to access from the front of the grill, and you can remove the aluminum liner and replace it with a new one in seconds.

Traeger’s latest pellet grills also redesigned to improve cleanliness. Most notably, grease and ash are collected in the same “keg” that can be easily removed from the front of the grill. The company also allows for quick removal of all internal components, albeit larger than what you’ll find on the SmokeFire. Finally, Traeger moved the pellet hole to the front the new Timberline and Demiragacmaking it more convenient to change wood species or empty old stock.

You’ll want to remove as many leftovers from your grill as possible for several reasons. First, this stuff is old, and a lot of build-up over time can hinder cooking performance and affect taste. The last thing you want is stale food or burning oil under an expensive pan. Second, in the case of pellet grills, improper cleaning of grease and dust can be dangerous. Oil fires are easy to start at heating temperatures, and if you have enough pellet dust on the bottom of your grill, it can actually catch fire or explode. That’s why companies tell you to vacuum it after every few hours of use.

Weber's first pellet grill has the potential to be a backyard powerhouse, but the smart features need to work.Weber's first pellet grill has the potential to be a backyard powerhouse, but the smart features need to work.

All of this dust, grease, and debris must be cleaned before you fire up the grill again. (Billy Steele/Engadget)

You may want to get an all-natural grill cleaner to really clean the surfaces. There are a lot of options out there, and it may take some time to find one you like. I usually use it Traeger formula I found that the pellets were readily available where I bought them and it cut well through sticky mud. You’ll want an all-natural grill cleaner over a regular household product because it’s safe to use on surfaces that will touch your food. They are also safe to use on the exterior of your grill without damaging chrome, stainless steel or any other materials.

Spray it in and give it a few minutes to work. Clean it all up and go back over any super dirty spots as needed. The same goes for bars, rods, and any other pieces you remove. I like to put these in a yard waste garbage bag (they’re bigger than kitchen bags) so that all the stuff I’m scraping or cleaning up doesn’t end up all over my deck. You can use shop towels if you want to recycle, or paper towels if you don’t, but just know that whatever you choose will be covered in nasty black grime so you won’t want to throw them in the washing machine when you’re done. Pre-rinsing in a bucket or sink is essential to ensure you don’t pass your grill on to business casuals.

You don’t need much in terms of tools. I have tried it grill robot claims to do the job for you, but I’ve found it more efficient to stick to the basics. Honestly, it doesn’t take that long to figure it out. It’s a good idea to have it wire brush specifically for grates that you don’t use to clean anything else. After all, it will touch the same surfaces you put food on. I recommend another, smaller wire brush – ones that look like big toothbrushes – for cleaning burners on a gas grill. If you see that the flame does not burn in one of the holes, you can use it to clear the path. Finally, plastic is the way to go for scraper, anything else and you risk scratching the surfaces of your grill. Of course, any damage will be inside, but it still doesn’t feel good to destroy your previous investment.

Check for updates before the first cook

Traeger WiFire softwareTraeger WiFire software


Likes it if you have a smart grill Traeger, Weber or for another company, you may want to plug it in and check for software updates before your first grilling session. Chances are you haven’t baked much since last fall, which means companies have had months to push updates to their devices. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than spending an hour slicing and seasoning a brisket only to walk outside to start the grill and it immediately goes into the refinishing process. This can significantly increase the total cooking time, depending on the volume of software additions and the strength of the WiFi.

Fortunately, checking for updates is quick and easy. All you need to do is fire up your grill and open the company’s app on your phone. The mobile app will let you know if a download is ready for your model, and it’s usually pretty noticeable. If you don’t see a pop-up alert right away, you can check the settings menu to make sure. Sometimes for smaller updates, a company may not beat you to the update. However, running a new firmware is always a safe bet and will keep your grill running at its best when it comes time to cook.

Clean after every use, for a good time every time

Traeger Ironwood 650Traeger Ironwood 650

Billy Steele/Engadget

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t follow my own advice here, but it’s nice to have goals. I’ll also be the first to tell you that every time I smoke Boston Butt or some other super fatty cut of meat, I wish I’d at least cleaned up quickly after eating. Not only does a build-up of grease ignite very quickly, but once it cools and hardens, it is more difficult to clean. Ditto for the sauce or cheese left over on your grill after a chicken or burger. It’s best to attack these things while the grill is still hot but cooled from the cook.

You don’t have to pull out the shop vacuum or empty the oil pan every time for your pellet grill. But you’ll want to make sure that the products are away from the main cooking area for safety and that any burning won’t affect the taste of your food. A few cups of hot water can clean the grease runoff, while the wire brush I mentioned is best for grills. It also doesn’t hurt to lightly wipe with a natural cleaner so it’s all ready when you want to cook again.

New grills coming soon

A number of grill companies have already announced their product lineups for 2024. If you’re looking for some new gear for the summer, some of it is already available and others will be arriving in the next few weeks. Recteq announced powerful grill group In October, all are Wi-Fi connected pellet models. The company also updated its family of “regular” pellets when it released the SmokeStone 600 griddle and the dual-chamber DualFire 1000.

Weber also extended his hand for 2024. Back to CES, the company has revealed Searwood, a redesigned pellet grill that will replace the SmokeFire in North America. Part of the Searwood’s feature set is a special mode that allows you to use the grill with the lid open for things like searing and grilling. Weber also debuted a new gas hob, the Slate, which features a custom-designed cooking surface and digital temperature gauge that the company promises won’t rust. Plus, there’s a new premium Summit smart gas grill with a giant touchscreen color display and a top-mounted infrared broiler. The smart features here help with everything from gas flow to individual burners, fuel supply monitoring and dialing the cooking process. All new Weber grills are scheduled to arrive this spring.

We haven’t heard much from Traeger this year, and there’s a good chance the company won’t have any new grills in 2024. Timberline has undergone a major overhaul in 2022 and brought some latest features including touchscreen, Demiraga In 2023. Never say never, but if you’re looking for another brand new Traeger grill, you might be waiting a few months.

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