How to Clean a Flat Top Grill – Tips, Tricks, and What to NEVER Do!

flat top grill with grease on top

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Wondering how to clean a flat top grill? Whether you have a Camp Chef or a Blackstone griddle at home, these cleaning tips will work for you!

Cleaning a flat top grill is way easier than washing a sink load of dishes… that’s probably one of the reasons I prefer to cook outside on my Camp Chef griddle rather than inside where I’ll have an entire kitchen to clean.

Yup, cooking on the Camp Chef flat top grill is like the ultimate “one pan dinner”. I’ve even cooked an entire pork chop dinner on my flat top, with sweet potatoes, green beans with country ham, and caramelized onions with apples. Be sure to check out that video on my YouTube channel – it was a winner!

But if you’re not used to cooking on your flat top griddle at home, then you may be wondering, What’s the best way to clean a flat top grill? And you may be intimidated just thinking about the cleaning and maintenance of a griddle. But it’s actually quite easy! Whether you have a Camp Chef Flat Top Grill like I do, or a Blackstone, these cleaning tips and methods will work for you!

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Tools for Cleaning Your Flat Top Grill or Griddle

Other methods may teach that you need a bunch of fancy tools and specialized grill cleaning chemicals to clean your griddle, but you only really need these three items. Even the most stuck-on food will come off with the right cleaning method and these simple tools that you probably already have in your arsenal:

Bench Scraper

This is the number one MUST HAVE item for cleaning your Camp Chef or Blackstone Flat Top Grill without damaging the surface. A bench scraper is basically just a large flat piece of metal with a plastic handle grip on one end and a slightly angled edge on the other end.

Just as the name suggests, you use it to “scrape” the surface of your flat top, usually towards you in the direction of the grease trough.

The great thing about a bench scraper is that it’s metal, so you can really put pressure on it to help remove stuck-on food or sticky residue from the surface of your grill. A plastic spatula or scraper will probably have too much give and bend under pressure, which makes it difficult to remove certain foods from your flat top. However, you have to be extra careful to use the bench scraper correctly so that you don’t damage the steel surface of your grill… Check the bottom of this post for what NOT to do with your bench scraper!

Paper Towels or Dish Rag

I use a combination of both paper towels and a dish rag. I have one rag that is designated as my “Camp Chef rag” and I only use it on my griddle. Most of the time, however, I just stick with plain old paper towels for drying and seasoning the flat top.

Your Favorite Seasoning Oil

I usually use this avocado oil, because it’s my preferred seasoning oil due to its high smoke point, mild flavor, and versatility in a variety of cooking methods. But you can use any oil to add a thin coat of seasoning to your flat top grill after you’re done cleaning it.

You can visit this post for an in-depth look at The Best Oils for Seasoning Cast Iron – Any of these oils would work well for your steel flat top grill or griddle also!

avocado oil, vegetable oil, olive oil, and crisco with cast iron pans

How to Clean Your Flat Top Grill or Griddle

Step 1: Clean as you go.

Cleaning your grill to a smooth shiny finish actually starts WHILE you’re still cooking, and as a former military and restaurant chef, I am a firm believer in the “Clean as you go” technique.

When you notice that the surface of your flat top is beginning to hold food and residue while you’re cooking, simply use your bench scraper to scrape it down into the grease trough. Removing the residue while it’s still hot, especially when cooking homemade sauces or dishes with a higher sugar content like teriyaki chicken, will make it much easier to clean the flat top grill later.

Step 2: When your food is almost done cooking, turn off the heat.

You may think it’s odd to turn off your flat top burners before your food is completely done cooking, but the surface of your griddle should hold plenty of residual heat to carryover cook your meal until it’s done. When my food is about 95% done, I simply turn off the burners and move the food over to one side of the grill while I scrape down the area that I was using to cook.

If you were to keep the burners on until your food was completely done cooking and then you took your meal off the grill, then the leftover juices from whatever you were cooking would start to burn on, making the flat top more difficult to clean.

Turning off the heat just a few minutes before your food is done, doesn’t allow the grill to overcook the “fond” (or browned bits stuck to the cooking surface), grease, or food particles leftover on the grill’s surface. The surface cools down just a bit and food is less likely to stick to it.

Step 3: Use the bench scraper to scrape food debris and residue into the grease trough.

Immediately after you’re done cooking, use your bench scraper to scrape the surface of the grill, directing all of the leftover residue into the grease trough.

If you notice that you have a lot of larger pieces of food debris, use the side of your spatula to scoop them up against the side wall of the flat top, and then just throw them in the trash. Larger pieces of food will block the drain to the grease trap, and your grease trough could overflow onto your deck.

using a spatula to clean a flat top grill

Step 4: Use a paper towel or rag to wipe down the surface of the flat top grill while it is still warm.

Once the majority of the leftover grease and food is off your griddle, take a few paper towels or a rag and wipe down the surface. Wipe down all areas of the flat top griddle, including the inside and outside of the sidewalls and the grease trough area. This does two things: 1) it helps to dry off the grill so that it doesn’t rust, and 2) it distributes the residual grease or oil onto the flat top which helps to protect and season it.

Step 5: Apply a thin layer of seasoning to your clean flat top grill.

At this point your flat top grill should be clean, and it’s time to move on to the seasoning. After each cook and clean, I re-season my griddle by simply squirting a bit of avocado oil on the surface and rubbing it in with a paper towel. Then, I turn 2 of the 4 burners on to medium and allow the surface to heat up so that the seasoning cures.

This extra step helps to protect your Camp Chef or Blackstone grill and prevents rust. It also helps to keep the cooking surface non-stick, similarly to seasoning a cast iron skillet.

What to do if your griddle surface is already cooled

If you went to bed without cleaning your griddle, a big NO NO, then the process looks a little different. Allowing food, sauces, and sugary residues to cool down on your grill surface makes it much more difficult to clean, just like dried-on splattered spaghetti sauce in your microwave is much more difficult to clean versus wiping it down immediately.

Simply turn your flat top grill on low and allow it to heat up. The heat helps to release the stuck on food and makes cleaning your Camp Chef or Blackstone grill easier. Then, simply use your bench scraper and follow along with Steps 3-5 above.

What to NEVER do when cleaning your Camp Chef or Blackstone Griddle

A bench scraper is your best friend when it comes to a shiny, clean flat top surface, but it can also turn into your worst enemy if used incorrectly.

NEVER use the bench scraper back and forth in a cutting-like motion. You should also make sure that the entire edge of the scraper makes contact with the griddle surface at the same time. Using the bench scraper tool improperly can cause serious damage to the griddle surface.

Here’s an illustration of how to properly use the bench scraper:

using a bench scraper on a flat top griddle

Also, be sure to NOT use any scouring pads or stainless steel wool on your flat top, as the harshness of those pads can remove the seasoning on your grill.

FAQs about Cleaning Your Camp Chef or Blackstone Griddle

Can I use soap to clean my griddle?

You should NOT use soap to clean your grill surface because the soap can remove the seasoning from your grill top, making it less nonstick.

How often should I clean my flat top griddle?

There are two types of cleaning methods for your griddle: deep cleaning and routine cleaning. The routine cleaning is what I outlined in this post.

You should do a routine cleaning for your home griddle every single time that you cook with it. That includes scraping off excess food and residue, wiping it dry with a paper towel or rag, and applying a thin coat of oil to reason. If you do proper routine cleaning, then you shouldn’t need to do a deep cleaning very frequently, if at all. In fact, I have cooked on my flat top consistently for a year, and I have not had to deep clean it yet.

Can I use ice to clean my flat top grill?

NO! You may have heard others recommend putting ice on the hot flat top to create steam and help release food, but DON’T DO IT with your residential flat top griddle! This method is more common with commercial grills, but even then, I wouldn’t recommend it. Shocking the hot surface of your grill like that can cause it to warp and crack.

Want an instructional video for how to clean a flat top grill? You can watch me clean my Camp Chef Flat Top Grill on my YouTube channel!

And be sure to leave me a comment down below if you have any questions!

Want to Watch Me Cook?

Click here to visit The Charcoal King on YouTube! Watch me cook some of my favorite charcoal grill, flat top grill, and cast iron recipes, and get helpful tips for how to use and care for your cooking equipment!

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