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An Onion is The Best Way to Season GrillGrates

An Onion is The Best Way to Season GrillGrates

We love it when customers  (in this case a Chef) share grate ideas, techniques and cooks with us.   Chef James related how he seasoned his new GrillGrates with a halved onion.  He also shared the science behind it which makes grate sense.

In the past we’ve suggested using canola oil, or grape seed oil- any high temperature oil.  But as Chef James points out polymerized oils are only stable to about 500°F before they carbonize and break down. Early on we learned seasoning with olive oil was not ideal because it has a low smoke point.   So, what makes seasoning GrillGrate with an onion better?

Onions (and all alliums) contain many sulfur compounds which is why you cry when cutting them.  These compounds when heated react with bare metal to form a hard, non-stick sulfide layer.  This sulfide layer is rock hard to 1000°F.

You’ll want grill gloves or long-handled tongs to hold the onion.

  1. Get the grill and new GrillGrates screaming hot.
  2. Rub the onion vigorously along the raised rails- much like a scrub brush. You want some aggressive pressure.
  3. Go over the rails several times and be rewarded with a dark layer on the rails that will deliver non-stick grilling and easier release of grill debris and carbon.

Thanks Chef James Neissa!  We appreciate you taking the time to share this with us.

GrillGrate. Eat Well.

– Brad


  1. Thanks for the idea!

  2. I purchased my grill grates recently and seasoned them with avocado oil as you recommended. I then grilled hamburgers (80/20 fat ratio) on several occasions following your suggestion to initially use fatter meat to further season the grills each time applying a light amount of avocado oil. Are you recommending that they be seasoned again with an onion? If yes, do I have to clean the grill grates before seasoning with an onion or can I just season with an onion in their current condition?

    Thank you.

    • It’s really just the tops of the rails we are concentrating on. Lightly scrape the rails to remove any existing debris and then give the onion method a shot.

  3. Can you season the reverse/griddle side the same way? Is it as effective?

    • We have not tried it on the Griddle but do not see any reason why it wouldn’t work. We would love some feedback

      • It works just fine on the reverse side. Highly recommended.

  4. wish I knew this when I got my GrillGrates a few years back. Wonder if this would help at this point on well-seasoned grillgrates?

  5. HOW hot is SCREAMING hot?

  6. Is this procedure with the onion a now and then process, or is it supposed to be done after every grilling?

  7. The onion method is spot on. I’ve had my grates for a year, grilled periodically through the winter, but have them a good clean last weekend and rubbed them with the onion. I also have two grates flipped over and I seasoned the flat side the same way. Nice smokeless finish and salmon burgers came off clean.

  8. i just got another set of grillgrates and i will give this a try but i have a hard time believing it will work, although ive been doing this to steel and steel woks, cast iron pans, and griddles for decades. the problem is that i’m pretty sure that aluminum sulfide decomposes into aluminum oxide and hydrogen sulfide gas in water. plus, you are already have anodized aluminum = aluminum oxide, which is hard enough to use as sandpaper.

    • It sounds like you know your science a bit better than us. Trust us, it works! Please let us know your feedback Jim.

    • It really, really works. Mine were ready to go straight away after going though the process as directed. Would do it exactly the same way again.

  9. Just go my GrillGrates for my pellet pit in today going to try . Should be same process? Also are my grates usable on a Blackstone griddle?

  10. Learned this from the famous wok shop in San Francisco years ago. It works!

  11. Would cast iron conditioner work?

  12. Any type of onion? The picture looks like a yellow or Vidalia…thanks!

  13. On a Black Stone Griddle, do you season with oil first and finish up with the onion or do you do onion only?

    • Try onion only at first and see how that works. Don’t forget to gt the griddle hot first and place the GrillGrates on once it has gotten to max temp. The GG’s will heat up much quicker

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