Are you ready to join your neighbors in their backyard grilling clubs? Unofficial or not, you up your game when you have a grill, both in the flavor category and entertainment capabilities.
If you’re ready to take the plunge and buy your own grill, then you’ve got a decision to make. Cooking with charcoal vs gas is a big choice—one that a little helpful comparison will help you make.
Here are the chief differences between the two, along with some pros and cons to give you an idea of which grill is best for you.
Grilling With Charcoal
Using a charcoal grill gives you a different taste than cooking with gas. The flavor is more traditional, with a smoky hint that tastes a little like fire. If you like to get your smoke essence from a real fire, rather than a bottle, charcoal may be the best choice for you.
Most charcoal and gas grills both have a hood or a lid. You can cook meat with the lid closed to trap in heat and smoke, which cooks using convection instead of direct searing.
Charcoal grills can usually reach higher temperatures than gas grills can. They’re also better at distributing the heat, so you can cook more meat at a time.
If you’re searing a steak on a gas grill, you’re limited to the narrow space over the heating elements to get a good sear. That’s fine if you’re only cooking a few steaks at a time, but it’s no way to host a party.
Grilling With Gas
As you cook the meat on a charcoal grill, the fats and other drippings fall into the fire. They’re vaporized as they hit the flames, flavoring the meat as it cooks.
Gas grills don’t have an open flame like that. Instead, a metal or ceramic plate covers the flames, catching any drippings. Therefore, the meat doesn’t have the same flavor.
You’ll get a more recognizable flavor, similar to how it would taste if you fry it inside the house or cook it in the oven.
At the same time, gas grills make it easier to regulate the heat. If you want to know exactly how hot something is, then a gas grill is the choice for you. Most have knobs like your oven in the house, with temperature increments anywhere from every 15º to 25º.
Charcoal grills mean guesswork about when the coals are ready, as well as how often to stoke the fire, add fuel, and take the meat off the fire because it’s done cooking. Like any activity, with practice it becomes easier. Yet if you’re looking to do a great job from the beginning without a training period, gas may be a better choice.
Outside Cooking With Charcoal vs Gas
If you’re talking about gas vs charcoal, flavor isn’t the only consideration. You also have to think about convenience. With a gas grill, you can turn it on and it will be ready to cook in just a few minutes.
Charcoal grills have to be started 30-45 minutes before you want to put the meat on. The fire has to burn up and then reach a glowing bed of coals for optimal cooking. If you don’t wait long enough, the meat can end up tasting like lighter fluid, or else it will take forever to cook without the built-up heat of a coal bed.
You’ll also find more accessories or cooking tools with gas grills. Usually, there are features like a stove burner or a top rack. These give you more cooking options, like a place to put meat that’s done cooking if you still want to keep it hot.
In the summer, it can be nice to keep all the heat from cooking dinner outside the house so your AC doesn’t have to work extra hard. The stove burners on a gas grill mean that you can cook a side dish to round out the meal without heating up the house.
Something Different: Wood Pellets
If you’re looking for an even smokier flavor, you may want to consider a wood pellet grill. These grills have a hopper where you feed wood pellets in. You can grill with them, but you can also smoke meat this way because you don’t have to lift the lid to add fuel.
This Z Grills review can help you determine whether this brand and method of grilling are the best for your family. It’s a more affordable brand, set into motion with an Indiegogo campaign that sought an alternative to Traeger. Now the brand is well-established and reliable.
Other Differences Between Grills
Making the decision to buy a charcoal grill vs gas grill is often about the price. Most charcoal grills are cheaper, by a significant margin.
If you’re looking for the most affordable grill, a small charcoal grill and the fuel to run it will fit much better in your budget. Fuel for gas grills costs more, too, so it’s a more expensive option all around.
Be sure to check different companies’ warranties for comparison. If you’re going to spend a big chunk of money, you want to be sure the company will help you out if something goes wrong. Find out how long the warranty lasts and what it covers, and compare to see which is best.
Compare grill capacity, as well as overall price for the features. You may find a grill that fits your budget better than another, but it doesn’t have the same range of cooking capabilities.
Be sure to factor in the ease of cleanup. With a charcoal grill, you have to remove the ashes before you clean the grill so it takes longer and it’s a lot messier. Gas grills can take a quick brushing.
Your Best Grill Life
Your summer and fall cooking is about to heat up as you consider cooking with charcoal vs gas. The features above like price, flavor, precision, and cleanup will affect your decision.
No matter which choice makes more sense for your lifestyle and taste, you’ll love your outdoor cooking haven and the new recipes you can prepare.
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