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I am going to buy a BBQ and I am torn between a cast iron BBQ and a stainless steel BBQ. What are the advantages and downsides of each?

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Are you specifically asking about cast iron grates vs. stainless steel grates? – jalbee Jul 18 '12 at 0:16
What kind of grilling/BBQing are you interesting in doing? Searing steaks and/or smoking ribs for 4-hours? – john3103 Jul 23 '14 at 16:24

Assuming you are talking about different types of grill grates:

Choosing Grill Grates

In general, cast-iron gives you better heat retention (flip-side: slower preheating) and better non-stick behavior if well seasoned. However maintenance with cast-iron can be a bit of a hassle. You have to develop and maintain seasoning and also take precautions against rust.

Stainless steel does not rust and is easier to maintain, however it is less non-stick and won't give you the same grill marks that you get with cast-iron.

Ceramic coated cast-iron is supposed to be a good compromise, however, I really hated the ones I had as they were very hard to clean and the coating eventually cracked, rusted AND chipped off.

tl;dr - If you are willing to put in the maintenance, cast-iron is generally the superior choice. If you aren't, go for high quality stainless steel grates (like these) -- you won't be missing all that much.

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See also the answer to a similar question I had regarding a choice between porcelain and stainless steel:

Stainless vs Enameled Porcelain Grates?

(I went with stainless and have been happy with the performance)

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