Grill mats are a relatively new phenomenon; a mat to put inside your grill on top of the grates. What could you possibly need something like this for? I received some questions on it like “are they worth it?” and “what is the best?”; so I figured a grill mat review was in order.
About 6 months ago, I purchased a Phat Mat meshed grill mat from Amazon with my own money. I was not gifted or paid to post this review. I made this purchase because I wanted to smoke some vegetables, and I didn’t want them falling through the grates.
How does this compare to similar products?
You’ll see that there are mainly two types of grill mats. Meshed and non-meshed. I have personal experience but no reviews written on the non-meshed products, but I really do not approve of the non-porous mats.
The non-porous mats claim to help against flare ups, but I actually found them to be worse. The liquid/fat will build up on the mat and then eventually find it’s way over the edge. This created a much larger flare up situation that ultimately burned the mat.
The non-porous mats also tend to warp and wrinkle over time. There is a Kona mat that boasts that it is thicker and doesn’t do this like the other mats, but I have yet to try it out.
Enter The Phat Mat
I purchased the Phat Mat from Amazon. As someone that likes to spend inordinate amounts of time researching things, I discovered that these mesh mats are generally all the same… basic twine coated in PTFE (Teflon) manufactured as cheap as possible.
The Phat Mat offers the grill mat in many sizes. The size pictured here is ~19″ x 11″. This is the perfect size for most grill/smoker depths. They are one of the few that offer them this large, which is really handy for vegetables or wings that can fall through the cracks.
The 19″ x 11″ is also the perfect size for a rack of ribs…
The construction consists of a basic twine/string net that has been dipped into a standard food grade high temp PTFE bath. In a few instances, I can still see areas of the twine/string that have not been fully coated.
The PTFE acts as a protector of the twine/string from heat as well as a non-stick feature. The inconsistencies of the coating have not degraded the performance as far as I can tell, but I can’t say it impresses me.
The edges consist of a folded over covering (tape?) to protect the ends. I have found that these are generally more difficult to clean than the actual mesh area; they are not the same PTFE material.
Go ahead and pop in the dishwasher; no problem. They also just as easily clean up under a brush or sponge.
I would advise against using a pot scrubbing type sponge. The mats are not super high quality products, so best to avoid things that could scour the existing minimal coating. So far these have held up for months simply using the dishwasher or brushing.
I have used this mat at a few dozen times on the smoker, and 3 times on the grill.
These mats are phenomenal on the smoker. I’m willing to bet I could get a least a few hundred more uses out of these on the smoker. I can shuffle the mats around, or move large quantities of food across the cook surface with ease, and remove items just by lifting up on the mat!
The convenience they offer for larger items like pork butts is minimal, but the smaller items are where this thing really shines. They work amazing for small things like wings, vegetables, or rolled items like smoked chicken thighs.
My review for these on the grill is not so glowing; these mats are “okay” on the grill. And when I say okay, I really mean just okay. If you are using a gas grill, this thing is decent on medium/low and below. You must keep the grill temp on medium-low or low or it will burn. Don’t expect to do any searing on these mats.
If you are using a charcoal grill, it would be best to keep this thing on indirect heat or else it’ll burn.
Grill Mat Review Conclusion
Not recommended for the grill.
Definitely recommended for the smoker.
Indirect heat only.
You’ll see a lot of reviews where people either love these things, or totally bash them. With a product like this that can have so much variability in the user experience (ie gas/charcoal grill, direct/indirect heat, flare ups, low/high BTU ratings, etc) it really comes down how you use it.
I would expect a majority of the reviewers who gave the mats a bad review likely thought they could put the mat on a high heat grill as normal.
With that said… Do not put these over intense direct heat and do not put on a fire. They will disappoint. If you are looking to do that, invest in some high quality stainless screens like these or a grill basket. These flexible mats are awesome in the smoker, especially for holding and removing vegetables and other small items.
I do not know which are the best without likely buying hundreds of dollars worth of mats and making a giant science experiment out of it, but I do know the majority are pretty much all the same with a different label on them.
I would recommend these mats.