At Heatlie Barbecues, we offer both mild steel and stainless steel barbecue plates for our Island Gourmet Elites and BBQs. Both materials have their pros and cons, and making a choice isn't always straight forward. This guide serves to help you differentiate between the two types and help you make the best choice when purchasing your new Heatlie BBQ.
BBQ Hotplate Materials
Firstly, it is worth noting that both the mild steel and stainless steel BBQ hotplates are food-safe and will aid you in entertaining your friends and family for decades. The common misconception that either type of metal will 'leech' into your food is incorrect. There is no transfer of chemicals or metallic particles into your food.
If you notice a black flaky substance that is sticking to your food, this is purely dried up seasoning that is baked onto your plate. To reduce this, give your plate a scrape and re-season.
Heatlie does not apply any paint or chemical coating to the surface of the plates. We do apply a food safe lanolin oil to protect the plate from rust during transport. This will need to be washed off before use.
The hotplate that we recommend in most cases is mild steel, otherwise known as carbon steel, as it is the best for conducting heat evenly and provides the best surface for cooking. The heat conduction quality of the hotplate allows it to respond quickly to changes made to the temperature controls. This will allow you to be in control at all times.
Due to it's superior heat retention abilities, it also allows for a more gas-efficient cook, with no need to blast your burners on high at all times. After a few minutes of preheating on high, you can drop your burners to low and coast off the incredible heat retention that mild steel offers. This is especially true for 10mm plates, less so for 5mm.
Mild steel will spread it's heat across the entire plate, leaving you with a fully discoloured plate. This is good and what you want to aspire to. The below images show a perfectly seasoned mild steel plate, with an even, slick black coating across the entire plate. It will take you several cooks to get to this point from brand new.
One of the main benefits of the mild steel manufacturing process is the toughness of the material. Hotplates made of mild steel can withstand a lot of pressure and use, providing you with tasty results for decades. This costs less than the stainless steel option and produces better results. Overall, if you’re after a high level of cooking satisfaction then this is the option for you.
The stainless steel that we use to manufacture our BBQ hot plates is different to the stainless steel that you would find in your sinks and kitchen appliances. The type we use, 3CR12, is the most suitable type of stainless steel for cooking, but looks and feels nothing like 304 or 316 SS. Despite being the best of the stainless steels, it still doesn't compare to mild steel when it comes to heat retention and even spread. You will notice this visibly as you start to cook. The plate will discolour in two large streaks over the burners, with much less obvious discolouration elsewhere. This indicates where the heat is concentrating. We recommend using this to your advantage by cooking food that needs high heat in these areas, and using the surrounding areas for a less intense cook.
3CR12 is also not rust proof and can corrode if not cared for and seasoned regularly.
Similar to the mild steel option, stainless steel is equally tough and will become your favourite cooking companion if you maintain it well. To maintain the hotplate, simply scrape down after use (and remember to season it after cleaning).
We offer two thicknesses for hot plates – 5mm and 10mm. Each size has a different purpose. The 5mm is sufficient for home cooking, however if you plan on having the BBQ turned on for longer periods of time, for intense commercial cooking purposes, we do recommend the 10mm thickness.
Which BBQ Hotplate Should I Choose?
Whilst we do recommend the mild steel hotplate as the best option, we can guarantee you will have an enjoyable experience with whatever you choose. It all depends on your personal cooking and cleaning preferences.