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May 13, 2008 10:38 AM

Perforated or mesh grill pans for bbq that are easy to clean?

I think last night may be the last time we are going to want to use the oven to roast vegetables. I am looking at something like this:

or this:

to grill things like cauliflower florets, fingerling potatoes.

I have a square Charcoal Companion non-stick perforated grill pan, but it is a pain in the neck to clean. And I have a feeling that the Williams-Somoma mesh pan is going to be even harder to clean, which means I wouldn't want to use it very often. Any owners of it out there?

I normally roast vegetables in the oven in heay duty jelly roll pans, highest temp about 425. Maybe I should just dedicate one of these to grilling? We have both charcoal and gas grills.

Thanks for any thoughts you may have on this.

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  1. If you're talking about getting something as clean as say, your shiny stainless steel frying pan, I don't believe anything will be easy. I just wire-bruth grills; the heat will kill any bacteria.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mpalmer6c

      I was thinking more of a comparison to the clean up of jelly roll pans I use for roasting vegetables in the oven (Chicago Metallic pretty heavy duty dark colored metal version). Tho as I said earlier, the max heat in the oven is probably 425, maybe 450. These pans are fairly easy to deglaze/clean up. I'm assuming that in the charcoal grill (and perhaps in the gas grill), temps will go above that, and that contributes to the harder to clean aspect(?).

      Maybe you're right that I will need to think of clean up for the bbq grill pan the way we do the grill grates (same as your method).

      1. re: souvenir

        Aha. I looked at your links and I'm thinking of something completely different. I was thinking of a "grill topper" (took me an hour to find what they're called). It's a fairly large piece of metal with holes in it, not mesh. It would take more work than I wanna do to thoroughly clean it in the sink, and it would be messy without a laundry tub I got it at the Barbecue Store, if you're curious (just $16). It wire-brushes fine, and of course holds things that might fall through a grill. Might be worth considering. Whatever, enjoy!

        1. re: mpalmer6c

          Thanks for the pointer to the Barbecue Store, and the key words "grill topper"! There are a number of possibilities there.

          The one I currently have that is a pain to clean is similar to one of the grill toppers listed there (wok grill topper - porcelain). I will start wire brushing it, rather than trying to clean it in the sink. I also like some of the flatter options they have.

          Thanks again!

    2. I just spotted this in the WS catalog and wanted it immediately.

      It says it's it's dishwasher safe.

      Here's a larger (taller) version with a lid:

      18 Replies
      1. re: MSK

        I've been wanting that one with the lid, too, and stop myself because of the cost and fear of cleaning it. Anyone have any experience with it yet?

        1. re: MSK

          Has anyone else purchased one of these?

          I put it off and when I finally decided to go for it, they were practically sold out at our local store. I bought the last of the small ones and ordered the larger one online but it is backordered.

          So now I'm in a rental house and trying to use it. It may be the caliber of the gas grill (low btus's?) or the fact that I'm trying to cook Yukon Golds but it seems to take forever and the taste is not all that different. (I even tried pre-boiling the potatoes).

          I'm curious as to others' successes and failures and whether I should cancel the second one.

          1. re: MSK

            MSK- I'm checking back to see if you've used your W-S mesh grill pan much since your purchase last year. I ended up with this pan:


            and it's worked out pretty well, but I am still drawn to that mesh design. I read through the reviews on the W-S site for the mesh skillet (which is what I think you purchased?), and some have had issues with the handle.

            Now this year W-S has a larger, rectangular shape which I think might be better for my purposes (larger surface area):

            Would really appreciate hearing more about your (or anyone else's) experiences with the mesh pan(s). -sou

            1. re: souvenir

              Gotta love this new my chow sort feature.

              I wound up getting both the small and large as the latter was on clearance at the end of the season.

              I do like and use them both a lot.

              Looking at the new version I would recommend the purchase. The mesh works very well and has stayed in good shape. I'm conflicted because the design with the handle has it's pluses and minuses. It is existence is kind of awkward and often must actually fit IN the BBQ. Depending on the size of your grill the whole pan may not totally fit.

              When you try and close the lid, you have to either close it around the handle or close the lid on the section that connects the handle to the pan which often tilts the pan off the grill surface (does that make sense?).

              On the other hand, i love holding the handle and shaking the ingredients to stir (especially with the pan that has the lid) like you would with a saute pan on a cooktop.

              hope that's helpful.

              1. re: MSK

                Thanks much for your quick response. I get what you are saying and will re-measure the interior dimensions of both our gas and charcoal grills before heading over to W-S.

                Given your description, and how I think I'll be using it, I think I'd be better off with the rectangular one without the long handles, and using long tongs or other utensils to stir the ingredients.

                Thanks again- really helpful to hear about your experiences with the pans.

                1. re: souvenir

                  How troublesome did it end up to clean these mesh grill pans from Williams-Sonoma?

                  I'm kind of torn whether to get that mesh grill pan style or more of a grill grid, like this from Weber:


                  The grill grid seems like it'd be easier to clean, but I wonder how flavorful food would get using that vs. using a mesh pan. Wouldn't the sheet of metal in the grill grid block the smoky flavor from permeating the ingredients? I know the grill grid has tiny holes, but the mesh grill pan seems like it'd be exposed to more heat and smoke.

                  1. re: hobbess

                    I have that one from Weber that you linked to... it turned out to be tough to clean after just a few times and I had to track down Dawn Power Dissolver to get it fairly clean. We grill several times a week when we are both home, so we became unhappy pretty quickly with the cleaning issue.

                    I also purchased one of the mesh grill pans from W-S, and my SO didn't want to use it. He thought the cleaning issues with it would be even more of a pain. Reading through reviews on the W-S site, some people said it was a pain to clean; others said it was no big deal in the dishwasher. After my own experiences, I just found that hard to believe. Or maybe we have different standards. After a few months, I ended up returning it because in the meantime, we have a solution that we both like.

                    One of our friends gave us several disposable aluminum shallow pans with holes in them. They were by Handi-Foil, a line called BBQ Basics. There were two shapes: grill baskets (with higher sides) and grill trays (kind of shaped like a jelly roll pan). They are meant to be used a few times and then tossed. They were available at a local supermarket for awhile and of course because they were useful, they were discontinued. They looked like these:
                    but with holes placed throughout the bottom of the pans.

                    So we decided to improvise. We bought foil hotel pans that look like these (in both half-size and full size):
                    and poke holes in them ourselves. Plenty of grill smoke and flavor travels through them to the ingredients.

                    They can be bought in multi-packs so that they drop in price to about 20-30 cents apiece. Depending on what we put in them, they can be used one to three times and then recycled.

                    Hope you find our experiences helpful to you, -sou

                    1. re: souvenir

                      With regards to cleaning the mesh pan from W-S and that sheet from Weber, is the cleaning problem more of an aesthetic issue- at that high heat, wouldn't it kill off any bacteria?

                      If you had to choose, which one did you like more- the WS mesh pan or the Weber sheet? It sounds like the WS mesh pan turned out to be even harder to clean.

                      And, did you just use a knife to poke those holes through those foil hotel pans?

                      1. re: hobbess

                        Re: the cleanliness of the flat Weber grill pan-
                        It may be more of an aesthetic issue than a bacteria issue. With stainless steel, when the surface has a blackish sticky surface, I don't like it. I just don't feel the same way about stainless steel that I do about cast iron. I don't want to put it in a cabinet like that. I treat the foil pans differently. The foil pans are left out inside the cooled off grill, and only used a couple of times before tossing.

                        I can't answer about how hard it is to clean the W-S mesh grill pan. I purchased it, but we never used it. You can read through the reviews to see the varying opinions about how hard or easy it is to clean:

                        For those who have said it is easy to clean, I'd be curious to know how often they use their grill pans, what they cook in them, how much char they develop.

                        We usually are tossing various vegetables in olive oil, seasoning them with sea salt and cracked pepper and grilling them until they develop nicely charred parts. Sometimes spices like various curry blends or chile blends are also used, but mostly it's olive oil, salt and pepper.

                        I've used other non-disposable grill pans earlier, and in all cases, after a lot of use, they would get harder and harder to get what I would consider clean. So for us, the foil pans are a great solution. We tend to poke holes in them with whatever is handy: inexpensive scissors and knives, large forks, chop sticks. I'm sure I'm missing an implement or two, but you get the idea.

                        1. re: souvenir

                          Thanks for the reply. I've read through the WS reviews, and like you said, they're scattered all over the map- some said they cleaned easily while others complained how difficult it was to clean. Adding to the confusion, you had some people who were commenting after using it only one time- would they still be happy with it after a couple of months? Was that why some people said they were hard to clean, and others didn't have that problem?

                          When I first read your comment, I thought that you had also bought and used the WS grill pan too so here was my chance to get a side by side comparison.

                          1. re: hobbess

                            I had a similar reaction when reading through the reviews. I would really like to hear from people who have one and have used it something like fifty times.

                            1. re: souvenir

                              Years after my original post..........still use it........still love it.......looks great!

                              1. re: MSK

                                It's great to hear from someone who has one (two?) and uses it! Do you have any sort of rough estimate of how many times you've used it. What kinds of things do you cook in it and how do you clean it?

                                Thanks! -sou

                                1. re: souvenir

                                  I probably use it (them) weekly as I live in an area that we can grill all year round. I use it mainly for roasting vegetables and potatoes. I tend to use the larger of the 2 more since we are a family of 5 and often have extra bodies at the dinner table. It also has a lid which makes it easier to shake and toss the ingredients. I have a pretty large grill (36" built in).

                                  I just use a scrubby to get off any baked on mess. When it appears greasy, I give it a run in the dishwasher.

                                  Every summer, we rent a house for a number of weeks in the mountains that has a BBQ and a relatively well stocked kitchen. I do choose to bring a few items from home to add luxury to our cooking experiences:
                                  my own chef's knife, my espresso machine, my Blend Tech blender, my microwave rice cooker......................... and this mesh pan.

                                  1. re: MSK

                                    Hmmm.... thanks for your reply!

                                    Since they are on sale at this time of year, and the one with the lid has a removable handle now, I may reconsider and pick one up.

                                    On the other hand, the foil pans do a great job and I don't have to be concerned about maintenance.

                                    We'll see how low a sale price I run into...

                                    1. re: souvenir

                                      They're about 33% off; the sale is the reason why I re-opened this thread.

                                      So, the WS grill mesh pan and the Weber grill grid are basically the same price.

                      2. re: souvenir

                        Where did you find these multi-packs that cost 20-30 cents a piece? Could you find these at a retail store? I think I've seen something similar to the link, but I think I remember them costing much more than that.

          2. I have one that has sides about 3" high, sort of the shape of a saucier, and it has holes about 3/8" all over the bottom. It is SS. To clean I just put it in to soak with a little ammonia and it cleans up easily and looks nice. I like the high sides (it also has two handles) so that I can shake things while they are grilling and not worry about them ending up in the fire. It is "no name." Got it at World Market.

            1 Reply
            1. re: tim irvine

              Anybody ever tried a piastra, an italian granite slab, you place on the grill? It seems like its the same thing as the Weber grill grid I mentioned earlier, albeit without the holes. Although, I don't see the grill can impart those smokey flavors without any holes in it.

              I was skimming Mario Batali's grill cookbook, and he seemed very big on it. Not surprisingly, he also strongly recommended his own brand.

            2. I've been using the WS grill pan with the lid and removable handle, and I love it. The mesh means that more of the food is actually exposed to the flame/direct heat (instead of frying against the sheet metal of a pan), and the removable handle stays cool (and allows the pan to fit inside a closed grill) but lets you toss the grill items easily. Cleanup hasn't been an issue; as long as you don't need it to be shiny silver, it's a snap - just scrub for a moment with a scouring pad to get anything crusted off, then rinse. It'll stay blackened, since that's what happens to steel over propane heat, but it's sanitary and doesn't look bad. Overall, very happy with it. I used it for shrimp last night and they were perfect - lightly charred on the outside and still tender on the inside. It's also great for veggies (like sliced onions and peppers to go with a nice hanger steak).

              2 Replies
              1. re: monopod

                Thanks. I appreciate you detailing your experiences with your pan. .Discoloration doesn't bother me. What bothered me was a kind of sticky build up that I experienced on the items I tried that got harder and harder to clean. Here are the ones I have tried:

                Charcoal Companion Porcelain-Coated Grilling Grid

                Weber Style 6435 Professional Grade Grill Pan

                This one took a while longer, but with frequent use within a couple of months, the non-stick surface diminished and the hard to clean areas grew.
                Copper Nonstick Grill Skillet with Removable Soft-Grip Handle

                It also happens on the foil pans. We just don't care because we recycle them after two, three, four, five uses, depending on what we are grilling and how many times in a week we are around to grill.

                Maybe it is because we toss vegetables in olive oil, salt and pepper and then cook them to get some nicely charred parts.

                I was enough of an optimist to think perhaps the grill mesh might be different than the other flatter surfaces I've tried. The roast shape mesh grill pan I purchased was ~$40 plus tax and looked to take up a lot of space on the grill. My SO had concerns, and the reviews on the W-S site weren't convincing that the pan would be good for several years for hundreds of uses. For me now, it's worth maybe a ~$25 experiment if the pan with lid goes on sale down to that price. It is currently $35 plus tax and shipping. I'll report back if I ever go for it and use it.

                1. re: souvenir

                  Right away, I can tell you part of the problem is that the heat of the grill is too high for non-stick and that's probably why you had that sticky buildup. In a kitchen, you're not supposed to cook something non-stick on full blast even though most people do.

                  And, do you have to grill it with EVOO? Couldn't you use grill with a neutral oil that's got a higher smoking point that EVOO, and then add the EVOO at the end after you've grilled it?