Electric Grills vs Gas-powered Grills vs Charcoal Grills
Charcoal grills and gas-powered units are the traditional grill types. Electric grills lean more towards the modern but they have become quite popular in recent years. Electric grills are widely reputed for being the healthiest and easiest to use of all grill types. Here is how they compare against gas and charcoal grills.
Ease of use: Electric grills are well known for their ease of use. When grilling with a charcoal grill, you can’t turn the unit on and off at will like you would with an electric grill. You can only tend to the coals till your steak is done. Gas grills give you greater control overheat as you can turn the flame on and off or even reduce the intensity of the flame without turning it off. But when it comes to ease of use, it is the electric grills that truly wins. All you need is a working power outlet to plug your unit in or an extension cord. The grill heats up in minutes and you don’t need to spend time to get the flames going or tending the coals to keep it on.
Portability: Electric grills come in a wide range of sizes. Most of them are built for indoor use and are small enough to fit on your countertop but there are also large outdoor grills powered by electricity which are suitable for your cookouts and outdoor get-togethers. Gas grills tend to be the largest of all three options. While there are portable options for this as well, most gas grills need to be hooked up to a natural gas line or a propane tank which limits their portability. For electric grills, a similar limitation to portability is access to a power outlet which can make them difficult or even impossible to use in some scenarios.
Cost-effective: Although, there are some very expensive units out there, electric grills are mid-line as far as costs go. Gas grills are typically the most expensive and charcoal grills are usually the cheapest. When considering costs, you have to factor in the operating costs as well. While charcoal grills are cheap to buy, you will have to continually spend money on fuel which makes them costly to use in the long run. Gas grills are fueled by propane and natural gas. While this is a cheaper fuel source compared to coal, they are mostly more expensive than electricity. This point is debatable, however, depending on where you live. If the cost of electricity is cheaper than gas in your location then, by all means, electric grills are your best bet. You are also unlikely to run out of electricity right in the middle of a cookout.
Taste: Although taste is mostly a matter of individual preference, it is the most commonly raised argument against electric grills. Barbecue enthusiasts seem to agree that charcoal grills are the best as far as taste goes. Foods cooked with charcoal grills end up with a classic smoky flavor that is difficult (if not impossible) to recreate with an electric grill. Gas grills are your next best alternative but ultimately, charcoal grills win as far as taste goes. Of course, some people find using artificial liquid smoke on their food a suitable alternative that’s good enough for them.
Which Grill is Healthier? On the other end of the spectrum is the issue of healthy taste which is one of the strongest points in support of electric grills. Going electric is considered the healthiest way to prepare your outdoor meals. Unlike charcoal, you don’t breathe in smoke while cooking and you also don’t end up with carcinogens in your food. Gas fuels are also considered unsafe for the environment. So if health is a primary concern for you, then an electric grill would be your best option compared to the others.
Safety : One of the major drawbacks of cooking over an open flame (with charcoal and gas grills) is safety. There is a higher risk of fire incidents and burns when you cook this way. For gas and charcoal powered grills, you need a lot of room to cook and a lot of heat is emitted. This is why you are not permitted to use these types of grills within a certain distance of your apartment depending on the regulations in your area. Electric grills on the other hand can be used indoors and have certain safety features to make them even less dangerous to use.
How to Choose the Best Electric Grill
To get the best experience cooking with your electric grill, you need a unit that is just right for you. This is not merely about going for a popular brand or a grill with loads of features but one with just the features you need. Here are some top considerations in choosing the best electric grill.
While electric grills are generally more budget-friendly compared to gas grills, they may still cost you a few hundred dollars. Generally, you can find good quality electric grills between $100 to $450. The high-end grills offer more features and they have an immense heating capacity. They tend to be larger and can handle large-scale and heavy-duty grilling needs. Some of them even have several settings and pre-set menus for cooking various dishes and may come with additional cooking accessories, cookbooks, and other cooking aids.
However, if you don’t do a lot of grilling, buying an electric grill in this price range is like overkill. Instead, something in the $100 to $250 price range would be just right. Although they may be missing the extra bells and whistles they still serve your needs well and will be quite durable as well.
Expect no surprises if you are buying any electric grill cheaper than $100. You are unlikely to get anything more than the barest minimum and you will be very lucky if you can find anything sturdy enough for long term use in that price range. It’s worth a try though if that’s what you can afford as there some pretty quality options here as well. We recommend a higher budget though.
There are two vital questions to ask as far as electric grill sizing is concerned. What will I be cooking on this grill and how many people will I be cooking for? Electric grills are not exactly popular for being large and spacious especially when you compare them to gas and charcoal grills. They are mostly used for indoor cooking for small families and some may serve small outdoor gatherings as well. If all you want to cook is hotdogs, burgers, grilled cheese, or steak for a small family of three or four, you’ll find some really excellent choices out there. You might need to dig a little deeper if your cooking needs include turkeys and briskets for a large outdoor event. But you may still be able to find a few good electric grills. Of course, usage and storage space is likely to become major issues once you go for a larger-sized unit.
- Quality Construction
Traditional charcoal grills are known for their heavy-duty stainless-steel construction which contributes to their reputation of rugged durability. Electric grills, on the other hand, are made from various materials which include aluminum and cast iron. Some manufacturers may further coat their units with protective layers of porcelain-enamel or ceramic to further improve the durability of the unit. You should pay attention to the construction material, rust resistance, and how well the entire unit fits together in making your decision.
- Temperature Control
A major factor that determines the ease-of-use of electric grills is the temperature controls. While most units are simply plug-and-use appliance, the level of control over how much heat the unit produces vary from one model to the other. Some electric grills only allow you to switch between pre-set temperatures for different food types. Others give you greater control over a wider temperature range and may even include indicators that let you know the exact temperature of the grill. Of course, not everyone likes to meddle, but if having greater control is a major consideration for you, then you should look into this.
- Cleaning Ease
Electric grills are built mostly for indoor use which means being able to clean them after each use is important. Cleaning may also prolong the useful life of your grill. How easy to clean your unit will depend on the material use and the presence of features such as the presence of a drip pan and draining system to catch grease, non-stick grates, easily accessible trays, and removable parts. These features ensure hassle-free cleanup of your unit after use. You may also want to consider how dishwasher friendly your grill is. Usually, the manufacturer will specify if the parts are dishwasher safe and which ones you have to clean by hand. Double-check on this just to be sure.
Since electric grills are designed for use in closed personal spaces, they need to have some safety features built into them. A good electric grill should be built in a way that the exterior does not get searing hot to avoid burns. You also want a safety switch or auto-shut-off feature that turns the unit off if it ever gets too hot or a power surge occurs. Check these safety features as they are important in preventing fire-hazard and keeping users safe during use.
you should look for a grill that can deliver the needed heat reliably without running your electricity bills too high. This depends on the wattage rating of your electric grill. Still, you should bear in mind that the lower the wattage, the less your food will taste like a traditional barbecue. We recommend you look for units with a wattage of between 1000 to 1500 watts. Smaller units may offer you less wattage, but they may not get hot enough to brown your food as desired.
You can find the best grill options at GrillsArena.