The charcoal vs gas grill debate is one of the most classic discussions in the culinary world. While hardcore grill purists swear by charcoal, some cooks also recognize the ease and convenience of using gas grills. So which type of grill is best for your backyard barbecue cookout? It depends on what you need and prefer. Each type has its own grill pros and cons. Here are seven points to consider when choosing between charcoal or gas grills.
Charcoal vs Gas Grill Debate: 7 Points to Consider
1. Determine What You’re Grilling
An important factor to consider when choosing between a charcoal or gas grill is the food you’ll be grilling. Charcoal grills are known for flare-ups caused when fat from the food drips on the hot coals. That said, fatty cuts of beef like the flap steak, porterhouse, and t-bone cook better over gas than coals.
Stick to the gas grill when you’re cooking thin fillets of fish or chicken with a side of onions and peppers. For barbecue grill recipes that use thicker and leaner cuts of protein as well as root vegetables, use your charcoal grills. With thinner and more delicate proteins and vegetables, it’s best to stick to a gas grill.
2. Consider How Much Time You Have to Grill
Do you have the whole Sunday to smoke a whole rack of ribs, or is it a Wednesday night and you need to get dinner on the table in under an hour? When you’re under time pressure, gas grills outshine charcoal grills. All you need to do to start up a gas grill is to open its propane valve and switch on the burner. Once the cooking temperature is up, you can use it within 10 to 15 minutes.
The same can’t be said for charcoal grills. For starters, lighting up the coals can be challenging. You’ll likely need to buy another gadget like a chimney starter to get things going. And when your coals begin to burn, you’ll need to wait at least 20 to 30 minutes more until the heat stays at a stable temperature.
Tip: If you’re cooking for quick meals, go for gas grills. However, if you have time and patience, charcoal grills are for you.
3. Get That Distinct Smokey Flavor
Smoke is what gives grilled food that distinct smokey weekend barbecue flavor. The burning charcoal produces way more smoke than combusting gas. Since charcoal is an organic material, it releases more complex flavor molecules as it burns.
Tip: When you grill with smoke from organic materials such as charcoal and wood, you’ll impart more smokey flavor on your grilled food.
4. Determine the Temperature You’ll Be Cooking at
Charcoal grills generally burn at hotter temperatures compared to gas grills. If you attentively tend to the coals, you can get them to burn between 700°F to 900°F. These temperatures are perfect for getting a great sear on your food. With backyard gas grills, the heat can only go up to a temperature between 400°F to 500°F which can make it hard for you to get a perfect sear on your steak.
5. Think About the Grill’s Maintenance
What’s great about a charcoal grill is it’s a low-maintenance cooking device. Charcoal grills often built quite simply. They have very little added wires or built-in gadgets that need extra attention. Other than regular cleaning schedule, all you need to do is remember to replace your charcoal grill’s grates once every two years.
Gas grills, on the other hand, come with a lot of extra features such as gas connections, grates, and other things. They need to be checked and cleaned regularly.
6. Think About Grill Cleanup
Gas grills are usually easier to clean compared to charcoal grills. For one, there’s no ash to sweep up when you use a gas grill. Many gas grills have built-in mechanisms that vaporize food drippings, so they don’t build-up around the burners.
Charcoal grills, on the other hand, produce more smoke, so they also end up producing a lot of soot. That means it can make the task of cleaning your grill a lot harder.
7. Consider How Much a Grill Costs
When it comes to price, charcoal grills will likely win the charcoal vs gas grill battle. Charcoal grills available on the market today are generally cheaper than most commercial gas grills. You can get a basic charcoal grill for roughly $30 while low-end gas grills start at around $100. If you’re on a tight budget, charcoal grills are the best fit for you.
You also have to consider the price of your grill’s fuel. The charcoal is more expensive than propane. You can get more barbecue cookout sessions out of a single 5-gallon propane tank attached to a gas grill compared to lighting-up 40 to 50 coal briquettes on a charcoal grill.
Tip: Try to strike a balance between your immediate expenses and future investments when making the choice between buying a charcoal or gas grill.
Do you want to know how to start your charcoal grill using a chimney starter? Watch this video below by Munchies to learn more:
When it comes to the charcoal vs gas grill debate, there seems to be no clear winner. The choice between a charcoal or gas grill ultimately depends on your preference. Let these pointers serve as a guide to help you decide which type of backyard grill to get. Remember, getting a grill that best suits your preferences can help make a backyard barbecue cookout a success!
Do you prefer a charcoal or a gas grill? Let us know by writing in the comments section below!