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Drip Pans protect and keep ceramics clean in kamado grills

What you need to know about drip pans in kamado grills:

When it comes to accessories, drip pans are one item we’ve played with a bunch. Here are some things we’ve learned, probably more than you want to know!

Round pans are a great match for the round ceramic grills. They are used to catch drippings and protect the ceramics, especially the heat deflectors. We do not recommend using them as a heat deflector.

On a side note, We have found from the 20 years of doing this, that most folks do not think about protecting ceramic heat deflectors. We were the same starting out. Truth be told, ceramic heat deflectors are probably the second most abused component in kamado grills, right behind the thick fire box/bowl. On the bottom side, the poor ceramic deflectors get pummeled with wide ranges and concentrations of heat. Topside, they absorb any fluid that hits them, especially moisture laden drippings from big juicy meats. Inside the deflector, heat meets fluid, creating steam/evaporation which in turn stressses the ceramics. Next thing you know, the ceramic deflector plate breaks. A drip pan is great protection for ceramic heat deflectors.

Back on topic, for materials, there is variety. Cast iron is heavy but it requires seasoning and added care. Aluminum is light weight, won't rust but is reactive to acids. BBQ sauces are heavily acidic. Another note on aluminum, it melts around 1200°F and we've measured temperatures inside the lump in excess of 1875°F. So, yes, you can melt aluminum pans in kamado grills. Stainless Steel is popular for pans and melts around 2500°F. So, no chance of melting it. Two additional pluses, stainless is rust resistant and is nonreactive to acids, so good to go with bbq sauces. We use our 10" and 12" stainless pans when making sauce laden brisket burnt ends.

There are several coatings, mostly nonstick, available today. Some have questionable uses in high heat situations. So, our philosophy is simple: Except porcelain products, we don’t use coated pans in our ceramic grills. It’s the easiest way to avoid confusion and uncertainty. We stay clear of Pyrex brand products too. We read the Dos and Don'ts on Pyrex’s site and concluded it’s not for us. Some pans use tin or tin-on-steel. We don’t use tin as it requires seasoning and added care. There is aluminized steel, steel with a very thin coating of aluminum for protection. We have no experience with aluminized steel cookware, so we can’t comment, other than aluminum can melt in kamado grills.

The depth of a pan is a bit trickier. You can find pans in numerous depths, ranging from a thin rolled edge to 3" deep. So how do you pick the proper depth? Well, that’s a personal decision but here are a couple of indicators that may help you decide.

  • Short pans have the least amount of impact on air circulation. So pick the shortest pan you feel comfortable using.
  • Realize even though your ceramic grill is built level, it may not be sitting level. Remember, liquids sit level to the Earth and not your grill.
  • When using liquids, you may need extra depth. Good time to point out, we do not recommend adding liquids to a drip pan in kamado grills. This method comes from the steel stick burners where heat and moisture are continually pushed out of the pit. Ceramics do a great job holding moisture, so by adding more moisture, you can limit the formation of that sought after bark everyone likes.
  • Whatever drippings are caught by the pan, some, if not most, of the watery fluids will evaporate. What is generally left at cook's end is rendered fat.
  • Deep pans can be too wide for foil rolls, not enough foil to push up the sides. End result, foil leaks and the pan is a messy clean up.  

We recently tried tapered pans and like them. Heck, we finally figured out the pan’s diameter is only critical at the rim. Plus, a tapered pan increases foil coverage. The smaller bottom requires less foil.

When using any pan, we recommend lining the inside of the pan with foil. Not only does it make clean up easier, a little excess foil length along the edges can help extend the pan’s coverage. Just spread the foil up and out to increase coverage. No need to completely foil the bottom side of the pan.

At CGS, we prefer and offer very economical stainless pans. The pans are 200 grade stainless, nonmagnetic, can withstand high temperatures and will not melt in kamado grills. The top edge on the drip pans is rolled smooth. The pan sides are tapered. The only real drawback to the stainless pan is the pan's shiny finish will heat tarnish. Not a big deal given they are dedicated drip pans. We still foil with aluminum as it makes clean up easier.

Pan Size vs. Cook Size: We are somewhat a purest when it comes to pans. Simply said, we try to match the pan to the size and shape of whatever we’re cooking. We figure this gives the best chance to maintain consistent and uniform temperatures across the grid and food. So, big cook = big pan, little cook = little pan.

Grills with 18" - 22" Cooking Grids "Large”:
When it comes to grabbing a round pan, we typically grab a 14" or 16" diameter pan. For cooks above the fire box/bowl or fire ring, the 14" is good for small cooks and the 16" is good for multiple or big meat cooks. A 16" round pan is about the biggest pan that will fit inside the Large Adjustable Rig, Large Woo, Large Big Green Egg's ConvEGGtor (platesetter) and Classic Joe Divide & Conquer. For low & slow cooks on the Spider, refer to the Drip Pan pages for specific recommendations.

Grills with 23" or Larger Cooking Grids "XL": 
The pan we really like for the XL EGG and Kamado Joe Big Joe is the 18" round pan. It matches well with the Adjustable Rigs, Woos and Spiders for the XL Big Green EGG and Kamado Joe Big Joes. The 18" pan is also a perfect match for the Big Joe Divide and Conquer, our 18" Ceramic Heat Deflector Stones and Big Green EGG's XL convEGGtor. The drip pan provides great coverage with minimal interference on air circulation.

Grills with Cooking Grids under 18":
These are just like the “Large” and “XL” pans, just not as big. Because of variation in use and grill size, we suggest checking the Drip Pan Product Pages for specific recommendations on sizes.
 
We realize that specialty cooks may require special pans, but for the majority of kamado cooks, our stainless drip pans will serve you well.