Thicker than most, these non-stick mats last longer, protecting grills and ovens from drips and grease. Easy cleanup and dishwasher-safe. Withstands up to 600 degrees.
Some owners report problems with flareups on edges.
These nonstick mats are a great way to extend the life of a barbecue. Easy cleanup and dishwasher-safe. Built to handle up to 500 degrees. Lifetime warranty.
Not ideal for searing or charring.
These affordable mats are easy to clean and durable, featuring a quality, nonstick-coated fabric. Suitable for outdoor grilling and oven baking. Lifetime warranty.
Some owners say charring steak is difficult.
The mats are thin enough to produce desired grill marks, but sturdy enough to stand up to 500 degrees. Good for indoor or outdoor use. Easy to clean and dishwasher safe.
Some owners complain about durability.
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Nothing beats the taste of steak, chicken, or vegetables served hot off the grill. But it’s easy to forget — or ignore — the grease and grime that can build up over time, ruining parts of your grill, not to mention the meat you’re cooking. With a good grill mat, you can eliminate much of the mess that comes with grilling. When it’s time to cook, all you have to do is lay the mat over the grill and place your food on top. Rather than dripping onto the grate and below, natural juices, marinades and sauces stay on the mat, infusing your food with extra flavor.
Instead of having to scrub the grill while everyone else is relaxing inside, all you have to do is wash off the mat and tuck it away till the next time you grill. But grill mats offer more than just easy cleaning. They make your barbecue more versatile, allowing you to cook vegetables, eggs, shrimp, and other small items that would ordinarily fall between the grates. Fish and other delicate foods that normally flake apart on the bars cook beautifully on a grill mat. Thinner mats even allow those signature grill marks to cook through.
A good grill mats will change your life — or at least your summer. But not all grill mats are created equal. Read on to learn what you should look for in a grill mat and which one’s best for you.
Most grill mats can be used on any type of grill. You don’t need a different mat for gas, charcoal or infrared grills. As long as you stay within the manufacturer’s temperature recommendations, you can even use a grill mat in the oven. Many grill mats have a temperature limit of 500°F. A few thicker models can handle temperatures of 600°. Anything above that temperature, however, risks breaking down the polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE, in the mat.
Many grill mats are made from heavy-duty fabric coated in PTFE — a synthetic polymer used in non-stick cookware. These mats are typically dark in color, obscuring the grill residue with which they come into contact.
Some grill mats have copper threads woven into the fabric. These mats are typically also coated with PTFE, but copper conducts and helps to redistribute heat for more even cooking better than fabric alone.
If you have “hot spots” in your grill, copper grill mats are the way to go — so long as you don’t mind the fact that they show dirt and wear down faster than non-copper grill mats.
Grill mats can increase the amount of time it takes to cook your food. Make sure to allow extra time if you’re cooking for a crowd.
Grill mats typically offer the same features for preventing grease and grime from accumulating on your grill. The key differences to consider are thickness and shape.
Thickness: Grill mats range in thickness from 0.22mm to 0.39mm. While thicker grill mats tend to last longer and are therefore considered higher quality, they’re not for everyone. Thinner mats allow more heat to pass to the meat at the contact points where the mat rests on the grates, creating the coveted, traditional striped pattern on your grilled food.
Shape: Most grill mats are rectangular, but some are round to fit kettle-style grills or oval to fit portable grills. Don’t worry if you can’t find one that fits your grill perfectly — many mats can be cut to size. Just check before ordering to make sure that cutting the mat won’t compromise its integrity.
If you plan to grill both meat and vegetables for the same meal, consider using more than one mat. This will cut down on the risk of food poisoning that stems from contaminating veggies with juices from the raw meat.
You won’t have to break the bank to buy a grill mat. Still, it’s important to get your money’s worth with a well-made product that can literally take the heat.
Inexpensive: The cheapest grill mats cost less than $5, with multi-packs costing more. Mats in this price range may be 0.25mm thick or less, with a heat tolerance as low as 300°F. These mats may work for the casual griller, but those who grill often or entertain regularly should consider paying more.
Mid-range: At a cost of around $10 to $15 for a pack of two or more, mats in this range can be either fully fabric or made with copper thread — and, in both instances, coated with PTFE. They usually have a heat resistance of at least 500°F and may be durable enough to survive a full grilling season. They may or may not be thin enough to allow grill marks.
Expensive: High-quality grill mats cost around $20 for a pack of two. They can be made of fabric or copper thread with PTFE and measure in the 0.35-39mm range — thick enough to leave minimal char marks on your food. These mats are typically able to withstand heat between 500 to 600°F. Some manufacturers of mats in this price range claim they can be used up to 1,000 times.
Be sure to double check the washing recommendations on your grill mat. Some mats are fully dishwasher safe, some can only be placed on the top rack, and some must be washed by hand.
Don’t use abrasive products to clean your grill mat. They can scratch the surface and cause it to break down prematurely.
Don’t use cooking sprays on grill mats. It can make them more difficult to clean.
Most grill tools have metal tips, so be sure to use them gently to avoid damaging your mat’s PTFE coating. Rubber tipped tools that are able to withstand the heat may be a better choice.
If too much grease or juice pools on the mat, tip it off the side into the grill, away from the burners. It will still cause less mess than grilling without the mat.
Make sure your grill mat is at least 7 inches away from the flames.
If the idea of food cooking in grease turns you off, consider the PhatMat mesh grill mat. Its mesh design allows grease to drain through. Just like a solid mat, the mesh design lets you grill small items like shrimp, grape tomatoes, and mushrooms without them falling into the fire. But it lets grease through, too, so you might have to clean the grill by hand, albeit a little less frequently.
If you have a kettle grill, you may want to join the masses who are using Grillaholics round grill mats. Just like the rectangular mats, these 15” round mats are made from fabric and coated with PFTE. Carefully measure the size of your grill to ensure that these mats don’t cut off too much air flow.
Q: How can I know if my grill is staying in a safe temperature range for my grill mats?
A: This can be a little tricky. You can’t use a standard grill lid thermometer because it won’t accurately measure temperatures at the level of the grill grate. You’ll need to use a grill surface thermometer or a non-contact infrared thermometer to get an accurate temperature reading at the level where the grill mat rests.
Q: Should I clean my grill before using a grill mat?
A: Definitely! At least before the first time you use a mat, it’s best to remove any grease and grime. Flare-ups from past barbecues can send flames shooting up to the grill grates, increasing the surface temperature to more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. That kind of temperature spike can damage your mat where it comes into contact with the flame or the grate. Flare-ups can’t be totally eliminated, but decreasing them will prolong the life of your mat.
Q: Are there any foods I shouldn’t cook on a grill mat?
A: Foods with a high fat content, such as bacon and some hamburgers, should be monitored for pooling grease. Some customers have no problem with grilling high-fat food, but others report that pooling grease causes flare-ups — and occasionally catches fire — damaging the mats.
Q: How often should I replace my grill mats?
A: There are no strict guidelines. Mats are meant to be reusable. This is one of their selling points. Some manufacturers claim that their mats can be re-used hundreds of times. If you start noticing that your mat is damaged, especially on the cooking surface (as opposed to the corners), it’s probably time to get a new mat.
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