Cast iron grill grates have started to replace stainless steel and chrome-plated grids throughout the grill industry. This trend is due to several important properties of cast iron, including its ability to absorb an enormous amount of heat energy.
Of course, cast iron also has some properties that you need to be mindful of. Things like thickness, seasoning layers, and protective porcelain coating can all influence performance as well as overall lifespan. The kind of grill and burner elements they are paired with also play a major role in the underlying value.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the benefits of cast iron grates and the gas grills that heat them. This will include looking at material selections and engineering to find the best gas grill with cast iron grate for your deck.
Best For A Small Deck: Royal Gourmet 2-Burner Patio Propane Gas Grill
Folding side shelves and a pedestal base help reduce the physical presence of this grill when it’s not in use.
Best 5-Burner: Megamaster 720-0982 Propane Gas Grill
A giant grill with massive side tables and the grid space to cook for a crowd of people.
Best With Side Burner: Char-Broil Performance 475 4-Burner Liquid Propane Gas Grill
A side burner lets you stay grill-side for making side dishes, this grill also has the space to cook for a large number of people.
Best Portable: Weber 51040001 Q1200 Liquid Propane Grill
Weber’s hallmark reputation for quality infused into a portable grill with the heat to maximize the potential of it’s cast iron grill grates.
Best Heavy Duty: Char-Griller E3001 Grillin' Pro 40,800-BTU Gas Grill
Heavy-duty steel construction paired with high BTU ratings to properly preheat the cast iron, with the added bonus of a built-in side burner.
5 Best Gas Grills With Cast Iron Grates In 2020
- 1: Best For A Small Deck: Royal Gourmet 2-Burner Patio Propane Gas Grill
- 2: Best 5-Burner Gas Grill With Cast Iron Grates: Megamaster 720-0982 Propane Gas Grill
- 3: With Side Burner And Cast Iron Grill Grates: Char-Broil Performance 475 4-Burner Liquid Propane Gas Grill
- 4: Best Portable: Weber 51040001 Q1200 Liquid Propane Grill
- 5: Best Heavy Duty: Char-Griller E3001 Grillin' Pro 40,800-BTU Gas Grill
1: Best For A Small Deck: Royal Gourmet 2-Burner Patio Propane Gas Grill
If you have a deck or patio with limited space, then chances are you’re looking for a gas grill with a small footprint and features like the folding shelves you see with the Royal Gourmet 2-Burner Patio Propane Gas Grill.
It’s set up on a narrow, yet-stable pedestal base with a small seasoning rack and a bottle opener. The deep lid has a thermometer built-in, there’s also more than enough vertical space to accommodate tall dishes like the ever-popular beer can chicken.
It houses a pair of independently controlled stainless steel propane burners. Each is rated to produce a hot 12,000 BTUs each. They are protected by porcelain coated heat tents which help to distribute the heat evenly.
The 310 square inch cast iron grill grates are also coated in a protective layer of nonstick porcelain. This makes it easy to release even lean cuts of meat without them sticking. While the cast iron itself is still robust enough to soak up a lot of heat to do things like perfectly sear steaks and chops. There’s also a porcelain coated wire warming rack.
The small pedestal base and folding side shelves make the Royal Gourmet 2-Burner Patio one of the best gas grills with cast iron grill grates for a small deck.
What We Liked
- Folding Side Shelves – Being able to fold them down to minimize the overall footprint of the grill, yet they also lock firmly into place.
- The Porcelain Coating – On both the heat tents and the cast iron grill grates. It helps make for easy cleanup and prevents the meat from sticking.
What We Don’t Like
- The Seasoning Rack – The seasoning rack and bottle opener are both perfectly positioned to bang you in the knee when you least expect it.
- Small Casters – The four locking casters on the bottom don’t roll very easily over deck boards or a rough patio surface.
2: Best 5-Burner Gas Grill With Cast Iron Grill Grates: Megamaster 720-0982 Propane Gas Grill
A large family with a love of grilled meat often needs a large gas grill with up to five burners and large cast iron grill grates to make sure everyone gets their fill.
You this in spades with the Megamaster 720-0982 5-Burner Propane Gas Grill, with over-sized large side shelves.
Each stainless steel burner element is independently controlled and lit by an electronic ignition system. This makes it easy to create two if not three different temperature zones.
All five are rated to produce up to 10,000 BTUs per hour for a total of 50,000. All this heat energy is evenly distributed across the 474 square inches porcelain-coated, cast iron grill grates, by a series of heat tents. Each of them also has a porcelain coating for easy cleanup and corrosion resistance.
The Megamaster 720-0982 5-Burner Propane Gas Grill is installed into a sturdy cart base with two large wheels. There’s even a lower shelf that ties everything together while offering storage and a cut-out slot to secure a 20-pound liquid propane tank.
The enormous side shelves and large grill grates help make the Megamaster 720-0982 one of the best 5-burner gas grills with cast-iron grates.
What We Liked
- Overall Size – The 474 square inch primary grill grate and the 182 square inch warming rack give you a lot of outdoor cooking real estate.
- Copious Use Of Porcelain – Porcelain coating is very popular for protecting cast iron grill grates and making them easy to clean. The fact that you also find it on the heat tents and the warming rack also adds to the long-term value of this 5-burner gas grill.
- The Oversized Side Shelves – This grill gives you more than enough space to hold large serving and prep trays.
- Thickness Of The Cast Iron – Measuring in at 7mm, the cast iron grill grates have the ability to absorb a large amount of heat energy to give steaks and chops a perfect sear. It also helps maximize the heat potential of the 10,000 BTU burner elements.
What We Don’t Like
- No Side Burner – A lot of 4 and 5-burner gas grills have at least one side burner built into a side shelf to let you prepare side dishes without having to run back and forth to the kitchen.
- No Handles For Moving – This large grill weighs in just under 70-pounds. If you want to use the two wheels in the cart to move it, you have to hold onto a shelf instead of some type of sturdy handle.
3: Best With Side Burner: Char-Broil Performance 475 4-Burner Cart Liquid Propane Gas Grill
A side burner built into your gas grill lets you do things like boil water, saute vegetables and heat up side dishes without having to run back into the kitchen.
As an industry leader Char-Broil understands the value of a tastefully disguised side burner, and pairs it with three stainless steel burner elements in their Performance 475 gas grill.
Each of the three stainless steel burner elements is linked to a push-button ignition system and has its own independent controls. The three in the firebox are rated to produce up to 9,000 BTUs per hour.
The flush-mounted side burner is rated for 10,000 BTUs per hour which is more than enough heat to boil water for corn on the cob or sautéing vegetables for fajitas.
Over the top of these burners, elements is a series of stainless steel heat tents that vaporize drippings for added aroma and flavor. They also protect the flame ports from clogging. Any drippings that do make it past the heat tents and burners are deposited in the large porcelain-coated drippings tray.
The cast iron grill grates are coated in a protective layer of nonstick porcelain. Not only does this make them easy to clean, but it also means you can soak them in soapy water if they ever do get gunky with grease and caramelized marinades. The 175 square inch warming rack is also very large for a grill this size. It “Swings Away” when you open the lid.
The thoughtful engineering and robust use of quality materials make the Char-Broil Performance 475 one of the best gas grills with a side burner and cast iron grill grates.
What We Liked
- The Side Burner – Rated to produce up to 10,000 BTUs per hour and flush-mounted in the side shelf to tastefully disguise it when not in use.
- The Use Of Porcelain – You see it on the grill grates, the inside lining of the firebox and even the drippings tray. This makes cleanup easy, and also gives the interior some added visual appeal.
- The Large Warming Rack – 175 square inches is very large for a grill this size, and lets you hold over a large amount of food.
- The Large Grease Pan – Can handle things like excess marinade that runs off the meat without overflowing.
What We Don’t Like
- The Warming Rack – The swing-away warming rack can sometimes get in the way.
- Stainless Steel Heat Tents – They’re one of the few things in the firebox that don’t have some sort of protective coating of nonstick porcelain.
4: Best Portable: Weber 51040001 Q1200 Liquid Propane Grill
When you invest in a portable gas grill, you want it to have the kind of quality in materials and engineering to last for years.
It would also be nice if it could pull double duty on your deck as your daily griller. Answering this niche is the Weber Q1200 portable gas grill.
The body of the grill is made from cast aluminum and is supported by a glass-reinforced nylon frame.
There are also two folding side tables that make it easy to transport yet have enough space to hold serving and prep platters.
Weber also offers an accessory cart stand that you can attach the Weber Q1200 to let it live on your deck at home.
The cast aluminum firebox houses an 8,500 BTU stainless steel propane burner element which is ignited by Weber’s “Easy Start” electronic ignition system. The Q1200 is comes set up for a 1-pound propane cylinder. Though if you prefer Weber does sell an accessory hose with a regulator for running it off a larger liquid propane tank.
The lower portion of the cast aluminum firebox is shaped to divert drippings directly toward a small opening at the bottom. Any runoff or greasy drippings are neatly deposited in the removable aluminum drippings pan.
The Weber Q1200 has robust cast iron grill grates that offer up to 189 square inches of grilling space. They have a protective nonstick porcelain coating which helps release meat easily and makes scraping a breeze.
With its superior warranty, materials, and design the Weber Q1200 is the best overall portable gas grill with cast iron grill grates.
What We Liked
- Cast Aluminum Construction – The cast aluminum body and the glass-reinforced nylon frame save on weight yet don’t compromise structural integrity.
- Porcelain Coating – The nonstick porcelain coating makes for easy cleanup.
- The Warranty Protection – With five years of coverage, the Weber Q1200 has one of the best warranty plans in of any portable gas grill. It’s also a statement by the manufacturer about the care put into engineering this grill.
What We Don’t Like
- Flimsy Dripping Pan – The drippings pan is removable but made from somewhat flimsy. If you kink one of the sides accidentally it can get jammed in the slot.
- Small Side Tables – Both side tables barely hold an average dinner plate, you have to make a conscious effort not to bump them.
5: Best Heavy Duty Gas Grill With Cast Iron Grates: Char-Griller E3001 Grillin' Pro 40,800-BTU
Cast iron has a reputation for being strong and able to absorb tremendous amounts of heat.
This also means that cast-iron grates need a heavy-duty grill that can make the most out of their performance. The Char-Griller E3001 Grillin’ Pro answers this call admirably.
The firebox, lid, side shelves, and frame are all made from heavy-duty steel. They support a pair of stainless steel propane burners that are rated to produce up to 14,400 BTUs of consistent flame.
This is a tremendous amount of heat energy that can be absorbed by the 438 square inch cast iron grill grates. There’s also a large 192 square inch warming rack.
The Char-Griller E3001 Grillin’ Pro also has a 12,000 BTU side burner tucked discreetly into one of the side shelves. The tall lid has a thermometer built into the face as well as two exhaust ports. This makes it easy to improvise this grill as a smoker for things like tall pork shoulders, whole turkeys or beer can chicken.
With its robust steel construction and high BTU rating, the Char-Griller E3001 Grillin’ Pro is the best heavy-duty cast grill with cast-iron grates for the money.
What We Liked
- BTU Rating – At a grand total of 48,800 BTUs this grill can really heat up the cast iron grill grates for a near steakhouse quality sear.
- The Side Burner – It’s discreetly tucked away into one of the shelves. It lets you make your side dishes at the grill without running back and forth to the kitchen.
What We Don’t Like
- The Weight – No effort was made to save weight, which means the Char-Griller E3001 Grillin’ Pro weighs nearly 90-pounds.
How Did We Choose Which Grills To Review?
When it comes to cast iron grill grates one of the most important characteristics you need is a grill capable of producing the BTUs needed to heat the metal up to its full potential. Right off the bat, we kept an eye out for above-average BTU ratings for the size of the grill in question. For anything other than portable grills, 9,000 BTUs should be the floor for a grill with cast iron grill grates.
Next, we looked for gas grills that had protective nonstick porcelain coatings on the cast iron grates. Not only does this help meat release easily and reduce scraping, but it also protects the cast iron from corrosion. Even if something like excess marinade gets stuck on the grates, you can simply soak them in warm soapy water, and the porcelain will protect them from rusting.
With these two important criteria in mind, we tried to keep an eye out for other components you would expect to see in a quality gas grill. This included things like side tables, side burners, a sturdy cart base, or the ability to transport a portable grill without too much effort.
With larger gas grills, we tried to look for independent controls. This lets you create more than one heat zone, which is a nice option if you want to grill over two different temperatures. Say one medium-low for bone-in chicken breasts or stuffed pork chops and another for searing off steaks or hot dogs.
How We Tested
We tried to apply the kind of food science principles you see in a lot of professional test kitchens to make sure that the gas grills we were featuring had the right characteristics for their chosen niche. This included using similar cuts of meat like bone-in chicken, inexpensive steaks and natural casing hot dogs on each grill.
This helped level the playing field with some baseline comparisons. It also helped see which grills had the heat-producing characteristics necessary to make impressive and flavorful grid marks.
Can You Still Use Cast Iron Grates On A Grill With A Low BTU Rating?
Cast iron offers superior heat absorption over any other metal. So, even a gas grill burner with a lowly 5,000 BTU rating can potentially heat it up enough to make a nice sear. The problem is the amount of time it takes to properly preheat.
Can A Warming Rack Be Made From Cast Iron?
Technically you can use cast iron for a warming rack, though most manufacturers don’t. It tends to continue to absorb heat energy which can lead to overcooked meat. Cast iron in the warming rack would also add to the overall weight and cost.
Is Cast Iron Good For Slow And Low Grilling?
Cast iron has the ability to absorb an enormous amount of heat. Given enough time, even a low flame can heat cast-iron grates up to the point where they will start marking off and searing meat. If you wanted to improvise one of the grills on this list as a smoker, you should be okay if the cooking session is under an hour long.
If you need to smoke for longer than that, you might want to consider placing a pan of water under the meat. Water is also a good heat sink and will reduce the amount of heat transferred to the nearby cast iron. It also adds a little steam to the equation.
Are Cast Iron Grill Grates Without Porcelain Good?
They will have the same heat retention characteristics. Though bare metal cast iron is incredibly sticky, and you will constantly have to grease the grates to keep from tearing the meat when you flip it. Bare cast iron also needs to be “Seasoned” with a constant glaze of oil or cured hydrocarbons from room-temperature stable oils.
This adds a lot more work to maintain them, and if you get it wrong just once, chances are good you’ll be dealing with a long-term rusting problem. For these reasons alone, we left grills with bare cast iron grates off our list.
The heat absorption characteristics of cast iron make it increasingly popular for grill grates. Just a decade ago you rarely saw them, and if you did they were usually bare and required frequent, tedious seasoning. With the advent of porcelain coating techniques in grill manufacturing, cast iron is enjoying a renaissance as a grating material that provides a superior sear.
With the aforementioned grills, we tried to keep in mind the niche each one was meant to cater to. Then double-check to make sure the burner elements had the heat potential to let the cast iron grill grates show what they can really do.