Which do you buy, a gas grill or charcoal grill? This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to buying a grill. Gas vs charcoal grills is an age-old debate between chefs, and novice cooks alike for quite a long time. In this article, we aim at pointing out the pros and cons of each of these grills and make you the judge of this debate. One thing is for sure, there is a taste difference between food cooked on a gas and charcoal grill. So, deciding which grill to buy greatly depends on your taste buds. Price is also another factor that comes into play when choosing between these two grills. Well in this article, you’d get to find out all you need to know about these two grills.
Gas vs. Charcoal Grills
Gas grills are a type of grill that uses gas, and they are known for being one of the easiest types of grills to use. Simply hook up your gas grill to a propane tank or a natural gas line and you’re good to start grilling. Another beauty of gas grills is that it is easy to light and takes less than 10 minutes to heat up. And when you are done grilling, you can simply turn off the gas, and you don’t have to wait for hours for it to cool down. Cleaning a gas grill after every grilling session should be such a hassle because when gas burns it doesn’t leave any residual ash or soot.
Additionally, gas grills are super easy to control. All gas grills come with a knob you can use to turn the heat up or down. Getting a gas grill with multiple burners gives you the flexibility to create different heating zones to increase your cooking option. In other words, you can use a gas grill with multiple burners to cook vegetables and grill steak at the same time. Some more expensive gas grill comes with a searing burner, which you can use to sear your meat.
Charcoal grills are a cheaper option of grills to buy perhaps because it is more difficult to use. Nevertheless, a lot of people have commended charcoal grills to have grilled the best food they have had. The reason people love charcoal grills could be because charcoal grills produce more direct infrared heat than gas grills, or simply because charcoal grills produce real smoke from the charcoal. While the best gas grill might set you back thousands of dollars, the best charcoal grill cost only a few hundreds of dollars.
What you might not enjoy about charcoal grills is that it is not so convenient to use. Using a charcoal grill is pretty difficult as said earlier, from lighting the charcoal to regulating the temperature. It can take you more than 30 minutes to light a charcoal grill and get it burning. And unlike gas grills that you can easily regulate the temperature by simply using a knob, you have to use air dampers to control the amount of air the charcoal grill is getting to regulate the temperature.
Pros and Cons of Gas and Charcoal Grills
Benefits of Gas Grills
Easy to Light
One of the standout features of a gas grill is that it is super easy to light. Most gas grills come with a battery-powered or AC powered igniter you can use to light up the grill. Manufacturers usually attach this igniter to the knob or the grill or a separate button you can press to produce a spark or shot flame. When the spark or flame is combined with the jet of gas oozing out, it lights up the grill making it super easy to light.
Easy to Clean
Another benefit of getting a gas grill is that it is super easy to clean. Unlike charcoal that burns with ash and soot residue, gas burns with no waste product. As such, after every grilling session, all you would be cleaning are the grease spot and juice from the food you grilled. And with the grease tray that comes with most gas grills along with the flame tamers protecting the gas tubes, you only need a few minutes to clean the grill after using it.
Easy Temperature Control
Since gas grills use knobs, controlling the temperature is quite easy and simple. As such, with a gas grill, you can easily adjust the grilling temperature at any point in the grilling session to cook with difficult recipes that require precise cooking temperature. The best part is that you can cook your food at a constant temperature with a gas grill without worrying about fluctuation. Temperature control is a critical part of a grilling experience. So, ensure the knobs of your gas grill are fully functional before you start grilling.
Affordable Source of Fuel
When it comes to cost, gas grills save you a lot of cash you would have spent on fuel. Other grills are characterized as low cost, although later becomes a problem due to the high cost of fuel. On the flip side, gas grills are cheaper in the long run because gas is cheap. To even save you more money, some gas grills are dual-fueled, meaning you can use it with a propane gas tank or hook it up with the gas line at home for endless cooking fuel.
Loads of Accessories
Lastly, gas grills come with loads of accessories that make your grilling experience amazing. For example, some gas grills come with a side burner, which allows you to prepare side dishes and sauce while you cook on the main grill. Another interesting feature that you can find in a gas grill is the rotisserie and searing station which lets you roast whole chicken on your grill with ease. Other accessories like LED lights, temperature gauge, shelves, and side tables with bottle openers and hooks all come in handy.
Cons of Gas Grills
While we said one of the benefits of a gas grill is that they save you money in the long run, on the flip side, they are very expensive to purchase. A good quality gas grill will set you back thousands of dollars. While you can get a gas grill for a few hundred dollars, there is a high possibility it wouldn’t last long or heat up well.
Another major problem with using gas grills is the problem of flare-ups. Oil can promote flame when it gets to a certain temperature. Because of the nature of a gas grill grease management system, oil drippings from the grates can easily catch fire before getting to the grease tray, which causes flare-ups.
Difficult to Move Around
After hooking up a gas grill to a propane tank adds to the weight making it not so easy to move around easily. Additionally, if you hook up your gas grill to the natural gas line at home, it reduces its mobility a great deal. More so, gas is dangerous to handle as such, requiring minimal exposure.
Takes Away the Flavor
Finally, when grilling on a gas grill, don’t expect to get that original smoke flavor like a charcoal grill. Even with the smokebox put in place by some gas grill manufacturers, hardly is any smoke produced to give your food that rich smoke flavor. However, in terms of the texture of your food, you can pretty much get the same texture a charcoal grill can produce with a gas grill.
Benefits of Charcoal Grills
One of the standout features of a charcoal grill is that it produces fewer flare-ups. As we explained earlier, flare-ups occur due to excess fat, oily marinades, or sauces. But one reason you wouldn’t get many flare-ups with a charcoal grill is that the charcoal absorbs any oily drippings. However, don’t get this twisted, flare-ups can still occur on a charcoal grill. The only difference is that it is less likely to occur on a charcoal grill than it is on a gas grill.
Charcoal grills are super portable. Most charcoal grills are moveable, and because of the use of briquette and charcoal, they are never restricted to one spot. Moreover, because of the heat emitted from a charcoal grill, it makes a perfect spot for family and friends to chat around to get some warmth. Furthermore, a charcoal grill makes a perfect option for camping, tailgating, or outdoor activities in general. This is because apart from charcoal and briquette, you can also use dry wood as a source of fuel in a charcoal grill.
Another interesting fact about the charcoal grill is that they are way more affordable than a gas grill. You can get the best charcoal smoker/grill for only a few hundred dollars, but the best gas grill would set you back thousands of dollars.
If what you desire is a grill that produces high enough heat to cook your meat, then a charcoal grill is definitely what you are looking for. While a charcoal grill does not offer the same convenience as a gas grill, the dry, white-hot heat of the charcoal will sear meat quicker than a gas grill. Thanks to the high enough heat from a charcoal grill, you can get that caramelized, crusty exterior on your meat and vegetables.
Rich Smoke Flavor
Let’s face it, the main reason why a charcoal grill stands out the most is because of its iconic rich smoke flavor it adds to food. Nothing hits our taste buds quite like the smoke flavor of grilled meat or vegetable, making it somewhat unique.
Cons of Charcoal Grills
Messy to Clean Up
Charcoal burns to produce ash and soot which can be pretty messy to clean up. To even make things more frustrating, after grilling with a charcoal grill, you also have to wait for about 24-48 hours for the ember to properly cool down before disposing of the ash and cleaning up your grill.
Hard to Use Ignite
Igniting a charcoal grill is another factor that makes a charcoal grill not so convenient to use. While you can easily use a petrochemical liquid to light up the briquette or charcoal, it can affect the flavor and taste of your food. While using an igniter is safer, it can take several minutes to get the charcoal lit and burning.
Temperature Control is Pretty Difficult
Another setback of using a charcoal grill is in controlling the temperature. Unlike gas grills that you can easily use a knob to regulate the temperature, with a charcoal grill, you need to use air dampers to regulate the inlet and outlet of air, since fire needs oxygen to burn. This can be quite difficult because, without any dial or guide, you are only second-guessing the amount of air that is needed to reduce or increase the amount of heat to a certain degree.
Doesn’t Come with Many Features
While a gas grill comes with a lot of interesting features that make the whole grilling experience fun, charcoal grills are pretty simple and don’t come with many features. The most common feature you can expect from a charcoal grill is a good quality grate, a temperature gauge, and a side table with hooks and a bottle opener.
Which One is Best for Grilling?
Ultimately, the determination of the best grill comes down to the consideration of practicality, flavor, cost, and convenience. From this article, you can see that no one grill comes best in all these features. Nevertheless, you can achieve a great grilling experience and grilled food over either a gas or charcoal grill. And we must add that the best type of grill for grilling all comes down to what each individual considers a deal-breaker and a deal maker. If you are among the group of people that consider cost and flavor a deal maker, then a charcoal grill would be best for you. Additionally, if you are among the group of people that consider practicality and convenience as a deal maker, then a gas grill is best for you.
To sum things up, while we can’t settle this debate of which is best, gas vs charcoal grills, you do have a few things to think about before you buy either. In either case, make sure you buy the best option that suits you and your family’s needs. Because the truth is that there is no one best grill. Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below if you have any questions or requests.