It’s Grill and Smoker Spring Cleaning Time

Nothing says spring like the first scent of somebody firing up the grill or smoker in your neighborhood after a long harsh winter! That means it’s time to apply some spring cleaning to your outdoor cooking gear. Chances are your grill or smoker has been covered up, with a tarp and/or snow, for a few months and now’s the time to perform some general cleaning and a quick maintenance check.

First | The difference between a grill and a smoker: A grill can use charcoal, pellets, gas, wood, or other sources of heat. They are generally used for direct heat grilling but can be used for offset grilling as well. Grills are designed mostly for tossing on some burgers or steaks and serving in a few minutes. A smoker, on the other hand, is often has two chambers with one being a smoke chamber and the other an offset firebox. However; bullet style smokers are popular as well. Smokers are for slow smoking – lower heat – longer cook times for barbecue. Don’t worry – I know people often refer to their grills as barbecues. The point is – your outdoor cooking equipment needs to be cleaned and maintained!

Knocking the bugs off! A good cleaning, using cleaners recommended for your grill or smoker, does more than just remove built up grease and debris. The removal of bugs is also a plus. Ants, roaches, spiders, and more love grills. There’s nothing wrong with removing creepy-crawlers and spider webs before grilling out for spring. That’s better than a swarm of bugs dying on top of your steaks the first time you grill for the year.

Lava Rocks, ceramics, and grill grates: Lava rocks can become filled with dirt, grease, and drippings which can often cause some “off” tasting flavors with your grilled foods. Spring is a great time to grab a bag of new lava rocks and replace old ones if you use them with your grill. Usage really dictates how often you should change lava rocks out. If your grill uses ceramic pieces then spring is also a great time to check them for damage. Replace any broken or damaged pieces. Don’t forget your grill grates. As you clean them to check for rust, broken bars, and debris.

Grease Catch, Drip Pans, Inside: A great time to clean out the inside of the grill is when you have everything taken out such as the grates. Check and clean all grease catches and drip pans. Remove any debris and loose materials.

Gas Grills: Visually check gas lines, valves, fittings, and burners. Replace any damaged, dry rotted or broken pieces. Most gas grills on the market today have replacement parts readily available at most home centers and hardware stores. Damaged burners will cause hot spots, uneven cooking, and can be dangerous.

Even if you don’t need to replace any broken parts or damaged pieces on your grill or smoker it’s always a great idea to perform a general cleaning and maintenance check. Tighten a few bolts, wipe things down, clean what you can, and replace what needs to be replaced. Lastly, be sure to fire things up to burn off any residue from cleaners you may have used before grilling up a meal!


Kent’s Easy Cola BBQ Sauce

-2 cups ketchup
-1/2 cup cola – not diet
-1/2 cup mustard
-1/2 cup water
-1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
-2 tablespoons light brown sugar
-Salt and pepper to taste
-1 tablespoon chopped onion
-1 tablespoon lemon juice
-1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce or steak sauce

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook for ten minutes. Chill before serving.

About Kent Whitaker

Kent "The Deck Chef" Whitaker is a culinary writer and cookbook author. He’s the former winner of the Food Network / Emeril Live Barbecue Contest and recipient of the American Authors Association’s Gold Medal for a culinary title. Check him out on twitter - @thekentwhitaker

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