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Dirty Grill Shame

Don't blame the grill...

Don’t blame the grill, blame the griller.

My YouTube video for Rotisserie Prime Rib Roasts is getting a lot of play this summer. As a side effect, two people asked me essentially the same question last week. Here’s a mashup of the two questions:

I was going to buy a Weber Summit until I saw the burn marks on your grill lid in the video. Is that permanent? Can it be cleaned? Is there another grill you’d recommend?

My poor, abused, workhorse grill. I’ve used it hard since 2007, and I’ve neglected it. Those aren’t burn marks. Those are soot stains. I grill multiple times a week, year round – almost every day in the summer, and every chance I get during our cold Ohio winters.1

I don’t keep up with cleaning, especially on the outside.2 The grill works just fine – as long as I give the inside a good cleaning every year. When it’s not in use, I keep the cover on, to protect it from the elements. So, I only really look at the stains when I’m about to grill. I think to myself “I really should clean my grill…some other time, when I don’t have to get dinner on the table…” and promptly forget about it.

Those soot stains have zero effect on cooking – that’s why I haven’t worried about it. I feel like I let my grill down. It’s being judged because of *my* lack of cleaning. I hope you’re happy, you, you…grill shamers. I’m going to try to clean it – I’m worried I waited too long, and it is burned on – but I won’t have time until I get back from a vacation, probably in August. And so the cycle continues. As usual, I’m overbooked, and cleaning the outside of the grill is the first thing to get skipped, because it doesn’t affect the grill performance.

Update: As a test, I cleaned a small section with a magic eraser, just to make sure I could. It took a couple of minutes of scrubbing – like I said, it’s long overdue – but the cleaned area looks brand new. 3

Dirty Grill Shame-1020217

Scrubbed on the right…needs scrubbing everywhere else.

Disclaimer, before I get to the next section: I am a huge Weber fan, and have been for years. Almost every grill I’ve purchased is a Weber, and the couple of times I didn’t buy the Weber, I regretted it, and wound up switching. I am also writing guest posts for the Weber blog. I am not being paid for this post – they have no idea it’s coming. Now that I’m done disclaiming…

Recommend the a grill other than a Summit? Never. It is solid as a rock, still going strong after eight years. 4 Would I like a new grill? Sure. 5 But I’m not going to buy one while this grill is doing so well. 6 Knowing what I now know about my cleaning habits and the need to clean stainless steel 7, when my Summit goes to that great grill graveyard in the sky, I’m buying the lower-maintenance porcelain enameled model. Same grill, different lid material that hides the soot better. But if that model wasn’t available, I’d buy the stainless in a heartbeat.

In other words – stop being so mean to my baby!

Dirty Grill Shame-1020187

(And, as a reminder – you DO need to clean the inside of your grill at least once a year. I should do it every six months, with how often I grill out – but that’s another thing I keep putting off. Again, shame on me.)

What do you think?

Questions? Lectures about basic cleanliness? (Mom, is that you? Sorry, mom, I haven’t changed…) Leave them in the comments section below.

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Filed under: Ramblings


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Cary Hill says

    As always, I really enjoyed your post. I don’t have a stainless grill for the same reason you just discussed. Everyone I know that does, has the same problem. When I bought my Capt n Cook 10 years ago, I chose the porcelain lid which makes cleaning a snap. My family has used Lestoil for many years as a great all around cleaner. I keep a diluted solution in a spray bottle. I spray the entire surface, let it soak for a minute and all the grease wipes right off.

  2. Terry says

    Hey, don’t feel bad, My Genesis S-330 looks the same. Mine is about due for a cleaning inside and out. Thanks for the tip on the Magic Eraser…

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