Why Stainless Steel Is Better Than Non-stick For Grilling


I mentioned in the grilled potatoes post that stainless steel is better than non-stick for grilling. This is why.

I forgot to bring the pan in from the grill after it had cooled. It was two days later when I realized it was still out there. Uh-oh. Well, lets give it a quick rinse to see if anything comes off.

Nope. Okay, time for the Brillo™ pad.

It doesn’t have to be Brillo™, but that does have to be steel wool. Not some synthetic fiber thing. Sure enough, it starts cutting through right away.

And in no time at all, good as new.

The discoloration on the right half is actually from extreme heat. If you’ve ever seen the way chrome pipes on a motorcycle change color right next to the engine, that’s what’s going on here. No food stains, no rust, nothing. And that’s three years of abuse on that pan.

I used a non-stick pan about three times before I had to throw it out. The only thing that didn’t stick to that pan was the finish. Never again on my grill.


  1. Pro chefs avoid stainless like a plague. Stainless is one of the poorest conductors of heat. Maybe this patch will be cooked through, while the adjacent patch will be undercooked. Iron is the best. Properly treated (primed, to be precise) and iron will clean up in a jiff.

  2. If I were cooking on a stovetop I’d agree with you that iron is better. However if you look closely, you’ll see that this pan is extremely thin, perforated, and used on a grill. It doesn’t cook by transferring heat through the metal. It cooks by allowing flame directly through the holes. And for that it works great.

    As for what pro chefs use, I don’t want to dispute your experience, since I don’t know how much you have. All I’ll say is that I’ve seen a lot more steel and aluminum in the kitchens I’ve been in than I’ve seen iron.

    Since you use the term “primed” instead of “seasoned” I’m guessing you may not be from the U.S.? Maybe where you’re from they “avoid stainless like a plague.” I’d love to hear more about that.

    • Sorry for replying to such an old post. I’d like to add that steel works with induction stoves just about as well as iron. I’ve never had a heat distribution problem using a stainless steel pan on an induction stove. Except that one time someone bought me some cheap “stainless steel” stuff that was actually just aluminum and nickle with a smidgen of iron it to make it technically a steel. Those did not work well on any stove. Ever.

      Anyway, I totally agree here, I don’t actually use nonstick anything. Cast iron only on my stove unless all I’m doing is boiling water. A well cared for cast iron pan is just as nonstick if not more so than any teflon pan, takes a lot more abuse, and is easier to keep properly clean. But for a grill, as long as you’re letting the flames through and the metal isn’t toxic like copper, nearly anything will do. I mean heck, you ever seen an iron skewer? I haven’t.

      Just found your blog and love it!

      • Ooh, an iron skewer would be such a bad idea. It would be too hot to handle … except wait a minute. It would help cook the food on it from the inside at the same time. Hmm … where could I find something skewer-shaped and made out of iron?

  3. Now you’re talking. I’m with you. No finished surfaces. I teach people in classes that all pans are nonstick if they’re clean, properly preheated so the molecules in the pan start bumping up against each other and provided you add a bit of fat to the food. Yes fat. It tastes good, it’s good for you, and it keeps any pan from sticking.

    Love the reference to motorcycles. Spoken like a man with a lot of interests. bravo.


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