Could a robotic grill cleaner be the answer to your grill-cleaning woes?
Published July 1, 2015. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 16: Peri Peri Chicken and Fattoush
Wouldn’t it be nice if a tool would clean your grill for you? The Grillbot aims to do just that: It’s a battery-operated robot with three rotating metal brush bristles for supposed hands-free cleaning of charcoal or gas grill grates. You place the Grillbot on your grill; press a button to set its cleaning cycle for 10, 20, or 30 minutes; shut the grill lid; and, in theory, come back later to a perfectly clean grate. We tried each of the Grillbot’s three cycles on both charcoal and gas grills, putting the robot to the test against everyday and heavy-duty grill-cleaning jobs.
While its 10-minute cycle was enough to clean up after a few steaks or pork cutlets, the Grillbot failed miserably at tougher cleaning jobs. It barely made a dent in residue from burnt chicken or stuck-on glazes, even after two 30-minute cycles.
We quickly learned that a grill brush is the faster and less fussy option. Why? You can apply pressure to the brush and remove tough grime in seconds. Since the Grillbot weighs only 3.5 pounds, it relies on long rounds of lightweight brushing instead of pressure to get grit off the grate—but no amount of ultralight scrubbing is enough to combat tough or thick residue. We also like to heat the grill before scrubbing with a grill brush, which helps loosen food. The Grillbot can only be used on a grill cooled to below 250 degrees (automatic temperature sensors turn the robot off if it gets too hot).
Finally, cleaning the Grillbot was frustrating: While its bristles are dishwasher-safe, we pinched our fingers and covered our hands in grime trying to remove the bristles from the base. Worst of all, one bristle broke in the dishwasher, rendering our Grillbot ineffective after just six uses. We’ll stick with our favorite grill brush.
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