The question of which is better between charcoal and gas grills has been on for as long as anyone can imagine. For those who are considering going the grilling route for the very first time, or if you happen to be thinking about finally making that switch from gas to charcoal and vice-versa.
When it comes to popularity, gas grills have taken over from charcoal grills. However, charcoal grills are till preferred by some people because of the thrills and excitement that come with having to light up a charcoal grill.
There are a couple of things to be put into consideration before you can arrive at the decision of whether to go for a gas grill or simply opt for a charcoal grill.
Before delving into the question of which is more suitable between a gas grill and a charcoal grill, it is necessary to have an understanding of what grills are used for. This in return will help your decision making process.
Types of cooking grills are used for
• Smoked roasting with indirect heat
When it comes to this type of roasting, the lid is usually closed when there is an airflow of warm convection that is heavy. It also produces a hardwood smoke that is highly flavored.
• Direct radiation cooking with high heat
This describes a mode of cooking in which the food is placed directly on the source of heat and usually has no cover over the meat.
• Convection roasting with indirect heat
This type of cooking is used for foods like roast and whole chickens. Here, the source of heat is off to the side and food is being cooked by the circulation of warm air while the lid is closed.
Pros and Cons of Charcoal Grill
Several reasons exist as to why anyone would consider going for a charcoal grill. While some might go for its awesome flavor, some might opt for it simply because of the thrill that comes with cooking with a charcoal grill.
• It gets hotter
Most lovers of charcoal grills are passionate about it because charcoal can get way hotter than a gas grill in the absence of an infrared burner. It is no news that in order to get your lamb chops and steaks to be as crisp as you want on the outside, heat is required in the right amount. Now this doesn’t apply to the outside alone, it also keeps them either red or pink on the inside.
• Stronger smoke flavors
Before charcoal is fully lit, it usually emits smoke flavors that is stronger. This smoke flavor in return has more impact on the food the longer it cooks. Whenever the charcoal is fully lit and has some ashes all over, used for not too long cooks like burgers, it doesn’t emit a lot of smoke. This however doesn’t change the fact that having that nice flavor that comes with the smoke is just pure bliss!!!
• Fast cooking
When making use of a lot of coals or in a situation where you have the charcoal raised really close to the surface of the cooking pan itself, it can result in really fast cooking as high as 800°F or even higher. In cases like this, you can always make use of brick in order to bring the charcoal grate higher and closer to the meat. The end result of this is usually a very tasty meal. Some charcoal grills come with cranks that allows you to easily raise or lower the charcoal bed to any level of your choice.
• Charcoal grills are affordable and also portable
For those who look forward to grilling while going camping, some charcoal grills come in very affordable and portable forms. It doesn’t end there; it also allows you to grill quite a number of burgers. Even with the more expensive charcoal grills, it is still quite cost effective and also mobile when compared with most of the gas grill options available.
• Quite difficult to clean
Charcoal grills can get really messy and this poses a lot of difficulty when it is time to clean it up. After every use on a charcoal grill, there might always be need to clean up the ashes and grease left behind. The work does not end there, once it gets breezy, you are left with ashes spread across your patio.
• Charcoal grill might require a charcoal chimney
A charcoal chimney is a metallic cylinder that comes in a hollow form and has a grate inside it with handles. To make use of it, you have to fill it with charcoal, place it right on top of your charcoal grill and finally make use of a newspaper or any other light cube in order to make your charcoal hot.
Once this is done, the hot coals are then transferred to the charcoal grill and cooking begins. While a charcoal chimney might not be so expensive to purchase, it is an extra burden all the same.
• Charcoal grills might be illegal in some apartments
Not all apartments permit the use of charcoal grills, it might be illegal depending on the apartment and the rules governing such apartment. This is mainly due to the act that charcoal grills emit a lot of heat, it cannot be easily turned on and of anytime, and the fact that the ashes from the coal can be blown around when it is breezy. It is advisable to confirm whether or not charcoal grills are acceptable in apartments before buying one.
Pros and Cons of Gas Grills
Gas grills offers its users with a whole lot of convenience and control, this why many will go for it without thinking twice or even batting an eyelid. For middle and low priced gas grills, it burns at a temperature of about 500°F. The gas grills that are costlier and come with a double layered hood can burn at a temperature of as high as 900°F.
• Temperature can be controlled
Gas grill carries out a great job when it comes to regulating temperature although this doesn’t make it perfect. Once you can get a hold on how to properly regulate your gas grill, you’ll realize how easy it is to manage. For gas grills that come with more than one burner, it allows for even more space to carry out your cooking. With burners like this, the hottest zone can be used for foods like meat while the one that burns at a medium temperature can be used for vegetables. As for the heater with the lowest temperature mode, it can be used for already finished foods.
• It can be easily cleaned up
Gas drills unlike charcoal grills do not face the problems that come with having ashes buildup and as a result are easier to clean. Howbeit, gas grills can have buildups from grease and carbon beneath the burners. These buildups would need proper cleaning as at when due. If the grease is left unattended to, it is very easy for it to catch fire and a fire like this one cannot be easily put out with a fire extinguisher.
Asides the carbon and grease buildups, spiders can also build their webs in the tubes and this also should be cleaned regularly. When compared with the charcoal grill, the gas grill has a pretty easy and less stressful cleaning process.
• Wide range of accessories
Gas grills come with a variety of accessories that make cooking more fun and easy. Some gas grills are built with side burners that allow the luxury of keeping dishes warm and also allow for cooking side dishes. With some gas grillers, you can get bottle openers, night lights, side tables and a lot more.
Cooking with a gas grill produces a different taste than when it is being cooked with a charcoal grill. With charcoal grill, you get a wide range of tasty flavor on the meal being cooked which doesn’t come with a gas grill. Furthermore, smoking on a gas grill doesn’t come easy. Although few tricks exist to add a smoky flavor to the food, it still requires some extra efforts.
Although when compared to other grill types, gas grill isn’t less durable; it however comes with some body parts that require regular replacement. Some of the common parts that need replacement often are the burners and gas liners. In a situation where the grill is not well taken care of, these two might have need for replacement very often. Gas grills have more complex designs than charcoal grills and this makes maintenance more tedious.
• Limited mobility
For families that make use of charcoal grills, it is easy for them to take their seats around the grill on cold days. This is however not the case for those who make use of gas grill as it doesn’t generate as much heat as charcoal. Furthermore, gas grills are usually fixed in a single spot which makes it quite tedious or even impossible to move outdoor or to another position.
The delicate nature of gas means it requires minimal exposure as opposed charcoal grills. Proper caution needs to be put in place when making use of gas grill so as to avoid explosion.
• Gas grills are more expensive
Not everyone can afford the cost that comes with owning a gas grill. The technicality involved in the construction of a gas grill makes it more expensive that the regular charcoal grill. As a result of this, people working with a pretty tight budget will rather go for a charcoal grill than the gas grill.
Difference Between Gas and Charcoal Grills
Smoke is known to be a byproduct of combustion, both gas and charcoal emit smoke. The smoke emitted by these two however is in no way the same. Unlike gas, charcoal emits more smoke and as a result has a wider range of flavor molecules that are tasty. This is because it burns complex organic molecules.
Gas on the other hand is a simple molecule. When it combusts fully, it does not produce any flavor. All it produces are carbon dioxide and water. Smoke can be created when you add some wood to the fuel. Most of the gas grills come with metallic plates that cover the flame jets. They also aid protection of the burners and help in absorbing heat and radiating it. However, the food is not exposed to the flame directly.
• Impact on the environment
Charcoal is produced from the sawdust which is found at sawmills, this sawdust would be wasted if not converted into the production of charcoal. Gas on the other hand contains propane, a petrochemical that is being extracted from wells. While charcoal produces visible smoke, gas doesn’t. However, this isn’t to say that gas grill does not produce smoke; it produces invisible gases and smoke. As for charcoal, it produces white smoke, this occurs most especially during ignition.
Due to the complexity that comes with its makeup, gas grill tends to be more expensive than the regular charcoal grill. Assembling a gas grill from scratch will cost way more than building a new charcoal grill. That isn’t all, gas grills have far more parts to be broken and replaced than a charcoal grill and this makes it even more expensive.
When it comes to the cost of fuel, comparison between these two can be quite difficult. This is because the cost of propane fluctuates with the price of petroleum while charcoal is usually on sale most especially when it is spring.
Safety is of utmost importance when deciding between gas and charcoal grill. It is no news that gas is explosive, and in a situation where it is not properly handled, the end result can be really dangerous. A gas explosion can lead to severe burns and in worst cases, even death. With some grills, it is difficult to avoid flameouts caused by the wind and not only that, knowing which of the grills is more susceptible to the wind is quite unpredictable.
However, when it comes to gas and charcoal grills, gas is slightly safer to use. Reason is because gas holds down the object way better and as a result, hot objects have little or no means of escape.
Gas Grill or Charcoal Grill?
After examining the various pros and cons attached to both grill types, the question of which amongst the two is preferable still remains. If money isn’t a challenge, most people will simply opt for both options. On the other hand, when left with a choice of just one, it is best to go for which one suits your taste more.
When it comes to the real deal in grilling, charcoal grill is the most suitable option. With charcoal grill, more heat is being produced which in return cooks your food even faster. If you are in need of a grill that will cook at a really high temperature, look no further as the charcoal grill is exactly what you are looking for.
On the down side however, charcoal grill comes with more work as it needs to be heated up so as to provide your cooking with the appropriate amount of temperature required. Mastering the art of charcoal grilling requires a lot of practice and also patience.
Despite the stress attached to it, the results are usually so worth it. Eventually, you are left with some good food with awesome charcoal flavor.
Gas grill on the other hand is the easiest when it comes to setting up. With just the push of a button, your gas is all set up without any further stress. In addition to the ease of set up, gas grills come with a temperature regulating control on each of the burners. The good thing about this temperature control is the fact that you can carry out your cooking with different temperatures across the burners.
Gas grills however do not offer the smoke flavored luxury that comes with the charcoal grill; however, there are ways to add the smoky flavor to your food. In order to do this, you can always add some wood to the lava rocks in the gas grills just to give your dishes the flavor you so desire.
The cons of the charcoal grill work perfectly as the pros of the gas grill.
For those who are more concerned about how the food tastes, the charcoal grill is the best option as it offers a variety of awesome tastes that will leave you longing for more. If on the other hand, ease of use is the most important thing you are considering, then your best bet would be a gas grill.
Gas grills are easier to use when compared to charcoal grills and doesn’t stress you with the amount of time it requires to set up a charcoal grill. Advancement in technology has made it easy to have both in one. You might as well want to opt the one that provide a combination of both options.