OK, I’ll admit it. I’ve been living under a rock. That’s the only explanation as to why I’m just now learning about BBQ grilling mats! I’m behind the learning curve on these handy, dandy grill must-haves, so I’ve been doing some research and recently purchased my own grill mats.
Grilling mats have been around for almost a decade. Today’s grilling mat is a lightweight, flexible sheet that is placed directly on top of a grill’s grates. Made from a fiberglass material, grill mats are coated with PTFE, or polytetrafluoroethylene, a resin that makes the mats nonstick. PTFE also helps make the mat flame retardant, so it can be used on gas, charcoal, and electric grills. Some grilling mats can even be used in a smoker. Mats are also BPA-free.
Why use a grilling mat? Well, my biggest reason for using a grill mat is that I can easily grill vegetables, fish, and even eggs on the mat. (Try making a fried egg on a grill grate. Ugh!) Soft foods like the ones mentioned often crumble or fall apart when cooked directly on the grill grates. Then food bits fall between the grates to the bottom of the grill, making a mess. The grilling mat allows these foods to be cooked on the grill, all the while staying in one piece. Bonus: The grilling mat keeps the grates and bottom of the grill free from messy food spills.
What about meat?
Yes, you can cook steaks, chops, hamburgers, and chicken on a grill mat, as well as other meats. The cooking time may take just a little bit longer, but you’ll still see those great grill marks—something that really surprised me! The taste is just like grilling without a mat, too. I also like that any meat marinade remains on the food rather than dripping onto the grill bottom.
Additional BBQ grilling mat benefits
- BBQ grilling mats are so easy to pack, and they take up very little space in our RV.
- Our grill grates stay cleaner. When hosting a group of RV friends, we no longer rush to thoroughly clean the messy grill grates. Instead, we simply wipe off the grill mat and call it good. (Some grilling mats are even dishwasher safe.)
- Ever use a public grill, like in a state park? I always wonder what may have been cooked on the grill before we came along. A grill mat acts as a barrier to whatever “leftovers” are seared onto the public grill.
- My husband likes our grill mat because it all but eliminates those sometimes-nasty flare-ups that happen when meat fats slip between the grill grates onto the flames below.
- Grill mats are so versatile. We easily make pancakes and eggs for breakfast on our mat. Cleanup is so easy, we’re ready for the day in no time! I’m eager to try grilling stir fry, pizza, and more.
- No more struggling with aluminum foil. No soaking and scrubbing metal pans. No need to pack along a heavy griddle, either!
- Grilling mats are reusable and can last a long time.
- Using a grilling mat means we use less or even no fat. Bonus: fewer calories, too!
- It seems to me that our food cooks more evenly when using the grill mat. The technology built into the mat disperses the heat throughout and that makes grilling easier.
- Grilling mats can be used inside the RV, too. Although I haven’t tried it yet, friends have cut grill mats to fit on the bottom of the RV oven, positioned underneath the stove burners, and even placed on top of the RV’s microwave glass to catch drips and splatters. Some bakers use the mats to line their baking pans, while others place a grill mat on their table or countertop as a trivet to prevent heat damage to those surfaces.
- Manufacturers warn grill mat users not to use metal utensils on the mat. Just like your no-stick pots and pans, a grill mat can be easily scratched or otherwise damaged by metal. Use wood or silicone utensils instead.
- When cleaning the mat, do not use an ultra-stiff or metal brush. A soft brush, nylon-wrapped sponge, or soapy dish cloth should do the trick.
- Check the grill mat’s temperature recommendations. Many mats say to keep grill temps under 500 degrees. Other mats should not be placed over a direct flame, according to their manufacturers.
- Stacking grilling mats or folding them onto themselves is not recommended. Always use as directed.
- Never place a grill mat directly on an open campfire. Because it’s difficult to control the fire’s temperature you may accidentally overheat the mat and destroy it.
- Use caution when storing the grill mats. Friction can scratch the mat’s surface and shorten the mat’s longevity. I “sandwich” our grilling mat between two dish towels to protect it as we travel. When parked, the mat stays right inside our propane grill.
How to choose a BBQ grilling mat
- Measure your grill’s cooking surface carefully before purchasing a mat. Be aware of the mat’s thickness, too. A cheaper, very thin cooking mat may heat too fast, causing your food to dry out. Using a very thick mat may mean that your cooking time is significantly extended.
- Consider the shape of your BBQ grill, too. Buy a mat that’s the same shape for a perfect fit. Or purchase a mat that can be custom-cut to fit.
- Think about the temperatures at which you usually grill your foods. Buy a grill mat rated to withstand well below your general grilling temperature.