The charcoal vs gas grill debate is one of the most classic discussions in the culinary world. While hardcore grill purists swear by charcoal, some cooks also recognize the ease and convenience of using gas grills. So which type of grill is best for your backyard barbecue cookout? It depends on what you need and prefer. Each type has its own grill pros and cons. Here are seven points to consider when choosing between charcoal or gas grills.
Charcoal vs Gas Grill Debate: 7 Points to Consider
1. Determine What You’re Grilling
An important factor to consider when choosing between a charcoal or gas grill is the food you'll be grilling. Charcoal grills are known for flare-ups caused when fat from the food drips on the hot coals. That said, fatty cuts of beef like the flap steak, porterhouse, and t-bone cook better over gas than coals.
Stick to the gas grill when you're cooking thin fillets of fish or chicken with a side of onions and peppers. For barbecue grill recipes that use thicker and leaner cuts of protein as well as root vegetables, use your charcoal grill. With thinner and more delicate proteins and vegetables, it's best to stick to a gas grill.
2. Consider How Much Time You Have to Grill
Do you have the whole Sunday to smoke a rack of ribs, or is it a Wednesday night and you need to get dinner on the table in under an hour? When you're under a time crunch, gas grills outshine charcoal grills. To start up a gas grill, all you need to do is open its propane valve and switch on the burner. Once the cooking temperature is up, you can use it within 10-15 minutes.
The same can't be said for charcoal grills. For starters, lighting up the coals can be challenging. You'll likely need to buy another gadget like a chimney starter to get things going. And when your coals begin to burn, you need to wait at least 20-30 minutes more until the heat stays at a stable temperature.
Tip: If you're cooking for quick meals, go for gas grills. However, if you have time and patience, charcoal grills are for you.
3. Get That Distinct Smokey Flavor
Smoke is what gives grilled food that distinct smokey weekend barbecue flavor. The burning charcoal produces way more smoke than combusting gas. Since charcoal is an organic material, it releases more complex flavor molecules as it burns.
Tip: When you grill with smoke from organic materials such as charcoal and wood, you'll impart more smokey flavor into your grilled food.
4. Determine the Temperature You’ll Be Cooking at
Charcoal grills generally burn at hotter temperatures compared to gas grills. If you attentively tend to the coals, you can get them to burn between 700°F to 900°F. These temperatures are perfect for getting a great sear on your food. With backyard gas grills, the heat can only go up to a temperature between 400°F to 500°F which can make it hard for you to get a perfect sear on your steak.