Many people are getting ready to kick off grilling season by purchasing a new grill. The first decision isn’t what to grill or barbecue, but instead whether to buy a charcoal or gas grill. Here is some help from an experienced grillmaster to help you decide whether charcoal or a gas grill is best for your grilling or barbecuing needs. You will need to consider cost, what you will use your grill for, and convenience.
How much are you planning on spending on your new grill? As a general rule charcoal grills are cheap than gas grills. Yet, at some point, this does change. If you are buying a very large smoker you might end up paying more for a charcoal grill than you would for a gas grill. Yet, for the large majority of average grillers, the charcoal will be your least expensive of the two choices. You can find a reasonable kettle charcoal grill for just over $20. Meanwhile for most gas grills, even a small one you will be looking at $75 or more. Those that are large enough to cook a meal for a family are usually at least $100 and that is if you are lucky enough to find a great sale.
Honestly, this is probably the most important question for you to answer when purchasing a grill. If you purchase the wrong one just to save money on a cheap grill you will probably end up buying a replacement quicker than you planned. In the end, your grill will cost you more that way than if you considered how you use a grill first.
If you are just grilling quick-cooking foods on the grill such as hamburgers, hot dogs, boneless chicken breasts, and fish, then you might do well with a gas grill. Keep in mind a charcoal grill can take 15-20 minutes to get the coals up to temperature which might not be worth it if you are cooking these fast cooking pieces of meat. Yet, if you want the true “barbecue flavor” from the smoke in your meat you should go with the charcoal grill. No matter what anyone tells you, a gas grill can not truly replicate the smoke flavor from charcoal.
If you are looking to slow cook your meat, also more commonly referred to as barbecuing, then you have to go with a charcoal grill. This infuses your meat with that smoke flavor and cooks in a traditional manner. As an experienced grillmaster I have to say that cooking on a gas grill just feels like taking the stove outside to me, it doesn’t have that “barbecuing feel” to it. In a pinch you can slow cook your meat on a gas grill, but if so I highly recommend getting smoker chips to add more of a smoked flavor to the meat you are grilling.
Time is money to many of us. With many families having both parents working these days many people want their dinner prepared fast. This is something that a charcoal grill will not do for you. Remember it is at least ten minutes for charcoal to get to temperature when using a charcoal grill and sometimes it takes up to 20 minutes depending on the outdoor conditions. With a gas grill all you have to do is flip a switch and it’s on just like your oven inside your house.
As far as fuel goes, you will usually have to purchase charcoal more often than you will for gas. Gas grills used to be inconvenient to refill because you actually had to go somewhere and get your tank refilled. These days owners of gas grills can just tank their propane tank to a retail store and exchange it for a new one. That makes gas much more convenient.
Gas grills also offer another source of convenience, that is the cleanup. All you have to do with a gas grill is clean the grates. With a charcoal grill, you have to wait for the coals to cool down and usually turn to ash and then dispose of the ash and remainder of the coals.
Overall gas grills are very popular today with the large advantage they provide inconvenience. Of course, that extra convenience means extra cost. A charcoal grill will still draw the traditional barbecuers and grillmasters though that have the time to wait. They tend to believe then when barbecuing “good things come to those that wait”. The choice is yours, but this guide should help you choose the right grill for you, either charcoal or gas, based on your personal grilling preferences.