How Do I Choose Between a Gas or Charcoal Grill?

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Posted 05/10/21 7:45am by Prim

Grill season is approaching fast. The hot debate is whether to go for gas or charcoal. BBQ purists will always claim that charcoal is unbeatable. However, with over 90 percent of steakhouses in the US using gas to grill their meat, it’s hard to ignore the merits of gas.

If you’re looking to purchase a new grill this year and don’t know which type of fuel power to go for, let us settle it for you.

What’s So Great About Charcoal?

There’s plenty to love about charcoal. First and foremost, there’s the smoky, rich flavor that you cannot replicate with a gas grill. When the meat heats up, it drips its fat onto the coals. This transforms into smoky steam, infusing the meat with that mouthwatering grill flavor.

To get a great sear when cooking your meat, you need the heat of 600+ Fahrenheit. Since charcoal typically reaches 700 Fahrenheit, you can be sure to sear your meat to perfection every time.

Lastly, charcoal grills are a lot cheaper than their gas counterparts. This makes them a fabulous option for those on limited budgets.

What’s Not So Great About Charcoal?

While the charcoal grill itself is cheap to buy, the cost of constantly purchasing charcoal bags can add up. Since a bag usually lasts around three grilling sessions, this can work out to be expensive for a keen griller. It would also be wise to consider the mess charcoal leaves behind. If you’re not hot on cleaning up after cooking on a grill, charcoal may not be the option for you.

Lastly, patience is a virtue, particularly with charcoal. You’ve got to wait for those coals to get very hot. This usually takes around 40 mins from first lighting the grill.

What’s So Great About Gas?

Gas grills will give you almost instantaneous heat. And you can control the heat with precision using temperature dials. This means that you can cook more fragile foods, such as fish and vegetables, far more easily than with charcoal. And you won’t be at risk of overpowering food with a smoky, charcoal flavor when you’re using gas.

Using gas is the more eco-conscious choice. It only has around a third of the carbon footprint of charcoal. It’s also more healthy overall since gas-grilled meat contains fewer carcinogens than charcoal charred meat.

What’s Not So Great About Gas?

Dealing with bottled gas will always present a hazard. To prevent and keep safe from explosions, you must grill at least 10 feet from the house and ensure the grill doesn’t build up with grease. Gas grills are also heavier and more cumbersome to move. Lastly, gas grills are by far pricier than charcoal grills, which is not such great news for the budget-conscious.

What Do You Like To Grill?

To make a choice between gas or charcoal easier, think about what you like to cook. Some foods are better suited to charcoal while others will cook better over gas. If you know you’re going to be grilling a lot of the same foods, you can use this information to determine what’s best for you overall.

Charcoal grills are best for:

  • Brisket and burnt ends
  • Steak of all types
  • Burgers
  • Sausages
  • Chicken on the bone with skin
  • Ribs
  • Larger vegetables, such as peppers or portabello mushrooms

You can also wrap potatoes in foil and place them among the hot charcoals. This creates a delicious flavor and might sway some toward a charcoal grill.

Gas grills are best for:

  • Fish – filets or whole
  • Shrimp
  • Burgers 
  • Sausages
  • Chicken and turkey breast
  • Thin cuts of meat like pork and lamb
  • More delicate vegetables like asparagus and zucchini
  • Halloumi cheese

Of course, you can grill all of these foods on both gas and charcoal. However, charcoal is excellent for bigger cuts of meat or meat with bone and skin because you can look forward to that gorgeous smoky taste. Since the temperature can be controlled, gas is superior when it comes to handling more delicate cuts of meat and vegetables.

By examining the pros and cons of both types of grill, you should be able to determine which is best for your preferences and your budget. With summer just around the corner, you can expect to see lots of great discounts on both gas and charcoal grills.

The range of choices on the market can be overwhelming. If you can at least decide whether you want gas or charcoal, this will significantly narrow down the options for you and make it easier to choose.

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