Choosing The Right Type Of Grill
Ultimately, with so many options on the market, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Choosing the grill for your needs will depend on what you’re cooking, the convenience you’re after, your budget and even where you live.
If you’re on a tight budget, infrared is out immediately. Charcoal is more expensive to use over time since the briquettes have to be replaced with each use. Electric or gas are your best budget options for long-term use and entry level pricing. And they’re the most hassle-free with least amount of cleanup.
For flavor, charcoal and pellet grills are generally accepted as the better options, but they will require more maintenance and higher running costs. Plus, you’ll need time for your grill to get hot enough to start cooking. With a pellet grill, you’re basically getting a two-in-one deal for a grill and smoker.
No matter which grill you choose, it’s always a great excuse to grab your favorite six-pack, a giant slab of meat and invite a bunch of friends over to “test things out.”
And How To Choose The Right Grill For Your Home
Gas versus charcoal. Every year there are dozens of articles on the same subject. Gas is so convenient! Charcoal gives you smoke flavor! Gas grills are more expensive! Charcoal doesn’t cook as long! Yadda yadda yadda. In the past, I’d tune it all out. I had only enough space and money for one grill, and that was a charcoal-fueled Weber kettle. The decision was already made for me, not that I would have had it any other way.
I understand where the charcoal snobs are coming from. Really, I do. I used to be one. I was one of those folks who swore up and down that I’d never get a gas grill. That I might as well be cooking indoors if I started cooking on gas. That the price of a gas grill compared to a charcoal grill made it an absolute no-brainer.
It must have been my destiny to eventually fall to the dark side, because I have fallen, and I’ve fallen hard. With a new yard and a little bit more space now that I’ve moved out to the suburbs, earlier this summer I finally did the unthinkable and got myself a gas grill. With the blessing of our friends at AmazingRibs.com, I took the advice of our own Guide to the Best Gas Grills and picked up a Broil King Baron.
Let’s get down to brass tacks.
Heat Management: The Lids Ain’t The Same
One thing that folks who cook regularly on both gas and charcoal may notice: Optimal lid configuration for cooking differs depending on the heat source. With a charcoal grill, closing the lid will cut oxygen flow, effectively stifling the flame and lowering your heat flux, while leaving it open will maximize oxygen flow to your fuel and thus get it to burn hotter. With a gas grill, the exact opposite happens: Closing the lid will not affect the rate at which your gas flame burns, but it will prevent excess heat from escaping into the atmosphere, making the grill hotter. For this reason, gas grills with stainless steel construction and internal heat deflectors also work more efficiently than single-walled grills with aluminum construction.
This makes a big difference when you’re trying to sear a piece of meat. For the best sear on a charcoal grill, after preheating, remove the lid and let the coals really get going before you place your meat over them. With a gas grill, close the cover and let the air and grill bars get ripping hot until just before you add your meat.
Beyond cosmetics, why does this matter ? With more areas exposed to high heat, you get more browning and crusting on a charcoal grill, which in turn leads to better flavor and texture. However, some modern gas grills do have “infrared” cooking zones, which are designed to behave more like a coal grill’s radiant heat. Your mileage on their effectiveness will vary by brand.
Long story short:
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What Food Is Charcoal Best For
Charcoal shines if you do a lot of searing, and prefer that deep, smoky flavor.
Youve probably heard that charcoal just tastes better. But how much truth is behind that?
Good Housekeeping magazine did a blind taste test in 1998. They found that taste testers could not tell the difference between burger patties cooked on gas and charcoal
But when it came to thicker cuts of meat such as steaks which required longer cooking times, the difference in taste became apparent.
If you are prepared to invest a little more time into your cooking, do a lot of searing or even think you might want to try using your grill as a smoker, then charcoal is right for you.
Temperature Control And Management
Learning to manage the temperature of charcoal grills takes time and involves arranging the pieces of fuel, tweaking vents to control airflow, and a few other variables.
But youll still need to learn the cool and hot zones on your model, the best configuration of temperature settings across all burners, and be comfortable with adjusting the gas flow.
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Whats The Fight About
As you would expect, the main difference between gas and charcoal grills is the fuel used.
But what are the actual differences for you as a home griller?
Heres a basic run down:
As you can see, gas grills have some nice perks:
- Gas grills are quick and easy to use, just twist the knob to ignite and change temperature
- You can find a gas grill to suit most budgets
- Higher end grills come with enough features you wont need to step foot in your kitchen again.
Charcoal, on the other hand, requires a little bit more technique to light your charcoal and maintain your desired temperature.
- Once you know how to keep your charcoal grill at the right temperature, however, these grills are made for searing, and will reach high temperatures with ease
- Youll need to do a bit more work to clean and maintain a charcoal grill
- In return you get mouth watering, authentic tasting food every time, without the need for expensive extras
Now you know what the gist of the argument is about, read on to learn whats fact and whats fiction in the charcoal vs gas debate.
Related It doesnt have to be one or the other! Check out our guide to the best gas charcoal combo grills.
Charcoal Vs Gas Grill Also Known As The Great Debate Our Simple Pros And Cons List Will Help You Decide Which Grill Is Best For Your Family
Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to charcoal and gas grilling. Which type of grill is the best? Is there a correct choice for whipping up amazing grilling recipes? Rather than guessing which to use at your next cookout, weve rounded up the pros and cons of charcoal and gas grills so you can make a well-informed decision for what will be the tastiest choice of the summer.
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Benefits Of Using A Charcoal Grill
Here is why people love charcoal grill:
- When you are grilling the meat at low temperature, the smoke, aroma, and flavor enters the food and make it super tasty.
- The charcoal grills come with wheels and allow them to lift easily. The portability helps to make your camping tour enjoyable with grilled food.
- The charcoal grill comes with a simple mechanism that makes it easy to maintain.
- This grill is affordable and long-lasting. You can use the grill for long years.
Notes: If you are convinced with the benefits of a charcoal grill and want to have one, then check this article about the best charcoal grill under 200 dollars.
Pros Of Charcoal Grills
- Higher temperatures: Charcoal grills typically reach higher temperatures than gas grills and allow you to achieve those distinctive sear marks on your meat.
- Smokey flavor: The high heat produces that succulent, smokey flavor, and any drippings from meat or veggies that fall onto the coals turn into ultra-flavorful steam that is transferred back into your food.
- A more affordable option: Charcoal grills are more affordable compared to most gas grills. Charcoal grills start around $40, whereas most freestanding gas grills start around $200 to $300.
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Impact On Final Flavor
Words used to describe the flavor imparted by charcoal: smoky, rich, earthy.
Words used to describe the flavor imparted by propane: There are none. Propane is naturally odorless which has an additive that does have an odor to alert users to leaks. By contrast, being made from wood, charcoal has a suite of aromatics.
What people like about charcoal is that the rich, meaty taste of a steak is given an added depth of flavor from the smoke.
Propane can only give you a cooked version of the meats flavor. For Joshua Bousel of SeriousEats, the sight of smoke coming from a gas grill only reminded him of the smokey flavor that couldve been, if only it had been a charcoal grill. Seasoning will have to provide any additional flavor you may want to have.
Charcoal Barbecue Prices And Brands
Charcoal barbecues are generally cheaper to buy than gas, but there are still some that can set you back more than £1,000. Our expert barbecue reviews will tell you if a pricey charcoal grill is worth investing in.
As with gas barbecues, a more expensive charcoal model is likely to have more features such as air vents, hoods, warming racks, wheels and adjustable grill heights.
Charcoal barbecues are generally cheaper to buy than gas, but there are still some out there that can set you back more than £1,000.
Weve asked consumers to tell us about the brands theyve bought barbecues from, how satisfied they are with their purchase and about the faults theyve experienced when using their barbecues. Head to ourbarbecue brands guidefor our verdict on brands such as Weber, Outback and Aldi.
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Charcoal Or Gas This Is The Healthier Way To Grill
Settling an age-old debate once and for all.
It’s the question amateur grill masters will argue over until the end of time: Charcoal or gas?
Among flavor buffs, charcoal is the unmistakable victor. You won’t get that smoky sear from any gas grill. For cleaner folks, gas is the way to go. Clean-up time is niland you’re much less likely to burn the neighborhood down. Then, there are proponents and opponents, split along equal lines, on matters of size, price, maintenance, portability, environmental footprint, cooking time, crispiness The list goes on.
But what about healthiness?
The indisputable answercharcoal fans, you may want to sit downis gas.
Here’s the bad news. Both HCAs and PAHs are believed to increase your risk of developing cancerand it’s not just some fringe research. The scientific community is in consensus on this one. Studies in Cancer Science, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, the American Journal of Epidemiology, Genes and Environment, and Diet, Nutrition, and Cancernot to mention a holistic review by the National Cancer Institutehave linked HCAs and PAHs to breast, colon, skin, lung, prostate, rectal, and pancreatic cancer cells.
Still, if you’re inclined to get your grill on this summer, your best bet is to invest in a closed-flame gas grill. Oh, and if you’re looking for something to cook on it, don’t miss the 15 Best Steak Marinade Recipes on the Planet.
Charcoal Grills: Pros And Cons
Why people love charcoal grills. Charcoal purists are passionate and border on rabid. They who would never ever never no how no way own a gas grill.
But as we have seen, from a taste standpoint, they do have a point. The best reasons to buy a charcoal grill is that charcoal can get hotter than standard gas grills without infrared burners, and heat is what you need to get steaks and lamb chops crisp on the outside while keeping them red or pink on the inside. In addition, charcoal, especially before it is fully lit, emits stronger smoke flavors that impact food more the longer it cooks. When fully lit and ashed over, and for short cooks like steaks and burgers, there isnt a lot of smoke. But that smoke flavor is still soooooo gooooood.
If you use a lot of coals or if the coals are raised close to the cooking surface, they can blast food with up to 800°F or more. When I get my hands on top quality lamb or beef, I use bricks to raise the charcoal grate on my Weber Kettle close to the meat, pile the coals deep, and the result looks and tastes as good as anything you can get at a white tablecloth steakhouse. My favorite charcoal grills, the Hasty Bakes, have a crank that let you raise and lower the charcoal bed, perfect for searing.
Yes, it is the flavor, but for me, a lot of the fun is the ritual and the thrill of playing with fire.
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Gas And Charcoal Grills Go Head To Head
Ease of use
- Gas Starting the grill is fast, temperature control is simple and cleanup is as hassle free.
- Charcoal More labor intensive when it comes to cleaning and maintaining the grill, and reaching and maintaining temperature is going to take some practice and a little bit of know how.
Temperature Control & Range
- Gas Controlling the temperature of a gas grill is as easy as adjusting some dials. There is a little more involved if you plan on using the 2 zone method but all that requires is a couple of dry runs with a good thermometer to experiment with your settings.
- Gas Does fall down when it comes to temperature range. While higher end grills are capable of reaching temperatures high enough and low enough to smoke, cheaper gas grills will not give you this flexibility.
- Charcoal Charcoal will reach temperatures required for searing, and can be kept low enough to smoke. You should be able to do this with just about any charcoal grill you buy, but you will need to learn a little bit about how to maintain the temperature.
Otherwise, there are some air pollution concerns to consider when burning charcoal. A study conducted in 2012 found that the use of charcoal grills can increase air pollution up to 2.6 times normal levels.
Reason We Love Charcoal Grills
If you are someone who absolutely loves that rich, smokey flavor in their barbecues, then charcoal grills are indispensable for you. Charcoal grills offer you unmatched authenticity alongside extreme ease of usage. Charcoal grills also cook extremely healthy delicacies. While cooking on charcoal grills, the fats on meats drip away from the meat rather than soak into it. Hence, when comparing it to alternatives such as cooking on pans or skillets, charcoal grills are better options any day.
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Should You Get A Gas Grill Or A Charcoal Grill
Trying to select between gas and charcoal grills is not a simple process. It really boils down to personal preference for most people. The smoky flavor and quick sear of charcoal grilled food may be preferable for you. Or you may appreciate the precise temperature control and lack of mess found with a gas grill.
If you dont have a personal preference, think about how youll use the grill. For those who want portability in a grill above all else, a small charcoal grill can be taken anywhere. Propane grills are harder to take to a tailgate party.
If you need a huge cooking surface to handle big barbecue parties, the propane gas grill is a far better selection. And if that big group is hungry now and hates to wait, the gas grill allows you to start cooking immediately, which means youll be eating in less time, too.
Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Is A Charcoal Grill Better Than A Gas Grill
When determining which is the better grill, its ultimately a draw. The clear winner is the grill that fits your lifestyle. Are you a steak fanatic? Charcoal is probably the way to go. Are you more inclined to prepare fish and vegetables? Then your best bet might be a gas grill. Beyond the types of food you prefer, consider the frequency of use and your desire for convenience. If you are struggling to decide, you can always have both with a hybrid or a well-appointed outdoor kitchen. Then you can decide between gas and charcoal on a nightly basis.
Dont fret too much if youre still undecided. There are things that each type of grill does equally well, such as burgers and hot dogs. No matter what kind of grill you bring home, its safe to say that it will greatly enhance your outdoor living space. In the end, the answer to the question of gas grill vs. charcoal grill which is better comes down to a matter of choice and the factors that are most important to you, such as cost, available space, type of grilling method you favor and your budget. Enjoy exploring the plethora of possibilities with grills, smokers and accessories. You’re sure to find the right match for your needs.
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