Getting out into the fresh air with grill tongs in hand to prepare a great meal over an open flame is an experience many people enjoy, but the grill’s hot temperatures—and the tendency of smaller foods to fall into the fire—often limit which foods can be cooked on a grill. However, a grill mat solves this problem by providing a flat surface on which food can be prepared at up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit without sticking to or falling through the grill’s grates.
Grill mats should be used to expand your grilling options, not to change your current grill routine altogether. Steaks can and should still be tossed onto grill grates and prepared over an open flame, but laying a grill mat next to the sizzling steaks will allow you to sauté some mushrooms, onions, and other veggies to round out the meal. The best grill mats listed below will allow home chefs to experiment with cooking their favorite foods in a new way: in the open air, on the grill.
- BEST OVERALL: Aoocan Grill Mat
- RUNNER UP: LOOCH Grill Mat Set of 6
- BEST HEAVY DUTY: Kona Best BBQ Grill Mat
- BEST LARGE CAPACITY: Kona XL Best Grill Mat
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Grill Mats
Before buying a new set of grill mats there are a few things shoppers should think about, including the size of the mats, the size of the grill, the grill mats’ construction and thickness, and the maximum temperature the grill mats can withstand.
To ensure that the grill mats you buy are the appropriate size, measure the grill before you go shopping. The shape of the grill isn’t all that important, but it’s important to measure the width and depth of the grill grates and calculate the total area of the cooking surface. Once these figures are calculated, look for a grill mat that doesn’t completely cover the grates. It’s best to leave two to three inches of space between the edge of the mat and the side of the grill.
Keep in mind that grill mats can be cut to size fairly easily, so if a product is off by an inch or two, it can be customized at home for the perfect fit. However, to avoid wasting a significant portion of the grill mat material, look for products that come as close as possible to the size you need. If you have a round grill, you may need to trim the edges from a square mat.
Grill mats are excellent grilling tools that make it easy to grill soft foods like vegetables, eggs, and bacon. This heat-resistant grilling tool is made by combining fiberglass cloth and polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE. Fiberglass cloth is an insulating material that doesn’t conduct heat well, but once it’s coated in varying amounts of PTFE it can be used on the grill.
PTFE is a synthetic polymer used to coat nonstick cookware; for instance, Teflon cookware is actually a brand name of PTFE. This coating gives the mat its nonstick capabilities and makes it easier to clean than sticky, messy grill grates. PTFE is approved for use by the FDA at temperatures under 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher temperatures could cause the mat to melt, releasing irritating fumes and potentially ruining the food.
The thickness of the grill mat affects the way food on the mat is cooked. Grill mats with a very thin profile will heat up quickly. However, thin mats are also susceptible to being burned, and they degrade more quickly than thicker grill mats.
Thick grill mats have the opposite problem—they take a longer time to transfer heat to the food. Heat isn’t always distributed evenly across the surface of thicker mats, which results in food being cooked unevenly. Grill mats with a thickness of about 0.25 millimeters are recommended. They are the best balance of optimal heat distribution and low probability of the mat being damaged.
Most grill mats’ maximum recommended temperatures are roughly the same, and there’s a simple reason for that: grill mats are made of similar materials with slight variations in size, thickness, and functionality. A typical fiberglass grill mat with a coating of PTFE is recommended for grilling at temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Beyond this point the mat may begin to degrade, contaminating food and producing unpleasant odors.
Some grill mat manufacturers, however, claim that their mats can withstand temperatures up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. This may be true—mats that are a little bit thicker or have a double coating of PTFE might withstand temperatures of up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Based on the materials used to make grill mats, however, the FDA has determined that these mats should not be used at temperatures higher than 500 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a good idea to follow the experts’ advice on this one.
Our Top Picks
The products below were chosen based on quality, price, and the shopping considerations mentioned above. Check out this list to discover some of the best grill mats to expand the menu for your next barbecue.
Aoocan’s grill mats can be used for a variety of cooking purposes, including baking, microwaving, or grilling on a gas, charcoal, or electric grill. What’s more, home chefs don’t need to coat the mats in oils or sprays to keep foods from sticking to them. They are designed out of the box for nonstick convenience and ease. This set comes with five 15.75-inch by 13-inch PTFE-coated fiberglass grill mats that can be used up to 100 times each.
The mats are 0.25 millimeters thick, can withstand temperatures of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and are appropriate for cooking everything from bacon and eggs to fish and vegetables without burning them. After grilling, the mats can be washed by hand and they’re good to go for another meal.
This set of six nonstick grill mats from LOOCH is made with premium PTFE-coated fiberglass that can be used on grills up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, making them a great option for gas, charcoal, and electric grills.
Each mat measures 15.75 inches by 13 inches and can be reused many times. It can be cut to a custom size and shape if it’s needed for a round grill or smaller rectangular grill. The grill mats are 0.25 millimeters thick and can be cleaned in the top shelf of the dishwasher.
Kona’s grill mats are durable and designed to withstand the scratches, jabs, and slices that can be caused by metal utensils. Though the FDA recommends that grill mats be used at temperatures of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, Kona’s heavy-duty grill mats can withstand up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit without damage.
Even at 500 degrees, these grill mats are a terrific accessory for home chefs who want to grill flavorful meals with all the trimmings, without worrying about smaller ingredients falling through grill grates. Each mat measures 16 inches by 13 inches and is 0.39-millimeter thick, allowing it to be reused up to 1,000 times per side.
Owners of extra-large grills shouldn’t have to purchase more than one grill mat to adequately cover their cooking area. At 25 inches wide and 17 inches deep, Kona’s extra-large grill mat easily covers oversize grills. If it is just a bit too big, it can easily be trimmed with a pair of scissors and a steady hand. This grill mat isn’t just large, it’s also durable.
The Kona mat is 0.39 millimeters thick, PFOA-free, and can be used to grill juicy steaks, smoke tender chicken, and sauté thin vegetables with over 1,000 uses per side.
The Advantages of Owning the Best Grill Mats
Post-meal cleanup is one of the least enjoyable aspects of grilling, but a grill mat makes this task a lot easier. A grill mat sits on top of the grill grates, protecting them from the fat, oil, sauces, and other liquids that typically stick to the grates before falling into the grill and filling up the grease trap. The grill mat eliminates the need to clean the grates, the inside of the grill, the grease trap, or having to use a grill brush at all. Instead, you just have to hand wash a single flat mat.
Grill mats are great for packing away with camping gear or taking to the park for a family barbecue. Because a grill mat covers grill grates, you can use public grills safely and feel confident that your cooking surface is sanitary.
Having a grill mat is also beneficial in expanding your culinary repertoire. Many foods that chefs commonly cook on the stove or in the oven can be prepared on the grill. The foods’ flavor and consistency is very different on the grill—it’s like experiencing a whole new meal and not settling for the same old dish.
- Cleaning up is much easier when oils, sauces, and other liquids are collected on a grill mat rather than splashed on grill grates.
- Take a grill mat to the park or a campsite to ensure your cooking surface on public grills is sanitary.
- With a grill mat, there are many foods that can be prepared on the grill that would otherwise fall through the grates, introducing a great new way to enjoy some old favorites.
FAQs About Grill Mats
If you still have unanswered questions about grill mats, read on for more information about these versatile grilling tools.
Q. Are grill mats healthy to use?
Grill mats are completely safe when they’re used with barbecue gloves, plastic or rubber grilling utensils, and when the grill is at the appropriate temperature. Similar to Teflon frying pans, the protective materials used in grill mats won’t break down unless the mat is exposed to temperatures that exceed 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Q. What size grill mat do I need?
Measure the width and depth of the grill and choose a grill mat size that will leave a perimeter of 2 to 3 inches per side between the edge of the grill mat and the sides of the grill.
Q. When should I place the grill mat on my grill?
It depends on the type of grill. Gas grills heat up slowly and evenly, so a grill mat can be placed on the grill when it is lit.
However, charcoal and wood-burning grills often produce high-temperature fluctuations that are initially difficult to control. For this reason, it’s better to place the grill mat on the grill after the coals have reached an ember.