BBQ Battle: Charcoal vs Gas Grill

Need a new grill? Gas and charcoal are unquestioningly the most popular types of grills currently on the market. But which kind is better? We’ve pitted them against each other and distilled the most important information you should know. Here are the pros and cons of a charcoal vs gas grill. (By the way, if you’re just starting your search, you should definitely read our article on 5 things you must know before buying a grill.)

Gas Grills: More Features, Cook Faster, & Easy Clean Up

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Gas grills are considered the best of the best for many reasons. Less pre-heating time means more time with the family. More features (like rotisserie kits, multiple burners, and infrared burners) allow you to cook more of the foods you want (anything from vegetables to red meat) quickly and effectively. And if your neighborhood allows you access to natural gas, you never have to worry about running out of fuel. The drawbacks: they’re more expensive up-front and you cannot achieve the same smoked BBQ flavor in your seared meat as charcoal grills.

Specs

  • Fuel: liquid propane (sold in tanks) or natural gas (via your local utility provider)
  • Lighting Mechanism: built-in electronic ignition or by match
  • Pre-heating Time: 15 minutes, on average
  • Temperature Range: 250 – 600 degrees (up to 700 on infrared burners)
  • Recommended Grilling Grate: porcelain coated steel, stainless steel, or iron

Pros

  • Less pre-heating time: more time with the family
  • Easier to clean than charcoal grills (clean gas grills approx. once a month)
  • More available features & add-ons (rotisserie kits, multiple burners, infrared burners, smokers, etc.)
  • Adjustable temperature, best for veggies, pizza, fish, as well as meat
  • Optional infrared burners on select units: even faster cooking & ability to sear meat
  • Optional multiple burners: cook more food & multiple dishes simultaneously
  • If available, natural gas line (NG): gas never “runs out” in the middle of a cook out

Cons

  • Little or no smoky flavor (unless you get a smoker)
    • some gas grills have or allow you to add smokers, which direct flavorful smoke upward into the meat
  • More expensive
  • If necessary, liquid propane (LP):
    • sold in tanks
    • could run out in the middle of cooking
    • more expensive

If you want the versatility and convenience that gas grills have to offer, your decision should be a no brainer. But if you love smoky red meat, consider a charcoal grill.

Charcoal Grills: Sear Tasty Red Meat With Smoked Flavor

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Any meat lovers out there? Charcoal grills are more difficult to clean, have fewer add-ons, and require more pre-heating time on average. But these units will infuse your meat with the mouthwatering smoky flavor you expect from BBQ. And they are generally more space efficient and wallet friendly!

Specs

  • Fuel: charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal (a.k.a. natural hardwood)
  • Lighting Mechanism: lighter fluid (most common) or electronic gas ignition (on some newer models)
  • Pre-heating Time: 25-45 minutes
  • Temperature Range: 250 – 700 degrees, on average
  • Recommended Grilling Grate: porcelain coated steel, plated steel

Pros

  • Stronger barbecue / smoked flavor
  • Achieve higher temperatures than gas grills
    • Exception: infrared burners on gas grills
  • More affordable up-front
  • Best for searing meats, especially red meat

Cons

  • Requires extra clean up (clean the ashes after every use)
  • More pre-heating time on average
    • depends on size of grill & number of briquettes
  • Fewer optional add-ons in general
  • Cannot easily control temperature without adjustable grates (on select units)

And the winner is …

Both, of course. It just depends on what you are looking for. Gas grills tend to be larger and pricier up-front (though fuel is generally less expensive in the long run), have more features, and the ability to grill fish, veggies, and meals for the whole family all while saving you time and effort. They also have optional smokers, which can add some smoky flavor to your meat. But if you love smoky BBQ meat, consider charcoal. Charcoal grills tend to be smaller and less expensive up-front (though fuel is generally pricier in the long run), have fewer features, and the ability to grill to smoky perfection. Of course, if you have the space in your budget, get both and reap all of the delicious benefits that summer BBQs have to offer.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment here, ask us directly on Twitter, or get in touch with us on Facebook.

 

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