Charcoal vs gas grill, which is better? Follow us as we examine the top five pros and cons in this article!
It’s no secret that the US is a nation that loves its backyard cooking. In fact, 75% of adults here (Source) own a grill, so it clearly is a popular activity. From Fourth of July barbecues to tailgating at a football game, there’s nothing that screams patriotism quite like burning a burger or a steak on your outdoor burner.
You could be one of these adults looking for an upgrade or a member of the 25% who doesn’t own a grill and has realized that you should. Either way, you’ve definitely asked the age-old question: gas or charcoal?
Here, we’re going to help you answer that by comparing the pros and cons of a charcoal vs gas grill. So keep on reading for some insight as to which is best for you!
A factor to consider in buying anything is convenience. After all, no one likes to be having difficulties with something when they could be off eating and watching the game with friends and family. That’s why you have to consider whether gas grills or charcoal grills are more convenient first and foremost.
While charcoal grills are usually smaller, gas grills don’t take the same amount of time or energy to start up. Instead of having to feed charcoal into the grate, you can just put the meat on the grill and turn a knob to start heating it up.
Gas grills are also much easier to clean than charcoal ones. You can just wipe them off without having to worry about getting little coal bits out of the grate. So when convenience is considered, a gas grill wins hands-down.
1-0, in favor of gas, but the game’s still just kicking off!
When people go to a barbecue, one of the biggest draws (aside from the company, of course) is that smoky meat flavor that you can only get off a grill. Even though a gas grill might be more convenient, don’t feel too set on it yet. That smoky flavor comes from the charcoal you’re grilling your meat over.
When you grill on a charcoal grill, your food picks up the flavor of the burning coals. That’s what gives it that token smoky BBQ flavor you know and love. A gas grill just can’t compete when it comes to authenticity of flavor.
Charcoal’s catching up and the score is 1-1. What comes next!?
You might think that charcoal has it in the bag after reading that, but speed is also a practical factor in choosing a grill. Especially if you’re cooking for a lot of people, you don’t want to be stuck reigniting the flame over… and over… and over… and over.
The bad news is that you’d definitely be stuck doing this with a charcoal grill. A gas grill is much faster. All you have to do it put down more meat when you finish cooking what’s on the grill, maybe occasionally scraping the residue off.
2-1. Gas is in the lead again? What a close game…
One of the reasons that gas grills are so fast, though, is because they’re huge. Because of their size, gas grills can be hard to lug around, making it hard to have barbecues in other venues. This means tailgating’s probably out unless you get one of those fancy tiny grills.
Charcoal grills are much smaller. This means that they’re easily portable and can be put in the trunk of a car or carried into someone else’s yard or park. This will definitely be a factor to consider if you want to have pre-game parties, so charcoal definitely has the pro here.
We feel obligated to note, though, that even though gas grills are less portable, charcoal grills will require you to carry around… charcoal. Which can, admittedly, get heavy. Still, charcoal wins this round because it’s easier to make two trips to get a grill and a bag of charcoal than to enlist all your friends to cart a gas grill around.
2-2. We’re still tied! Let’s see where the last inning takes us.
We’ve already talked about how charcoal grills have a more authentic, smoky flavor, so you might just be thinking that they win in the taste category hands-down. You might be thinking, great! Decision made! Charcoal wins 3-2!
Well, you’ll be sad to know that this section is actually… a tie.
See, while charcoal grills give a heavenly smoky flavor to ribs, steak, or chicken, a gas grill will do just as well (Source) at cooking things like burgers, hot dogs, and fish. These things don’t need to be seared too highly and heating them up on a gas grill gives them the right flavor… and saves time.
This means that whether gas or charcoal wins in the flavor category just depends on what you want to cook. If you’re a red meat lover, then yes, charcoal is probably for you. But for backyard burgers or a post-fishing meal? Gas will do the trick.
2.5-2.5. It’s a tie, and there won’t be overtime!
Decide on Charcoal vs Gas Grill
The question of whether a charcoal vs gas grill is better is one that people have been arguing about for decades. That’s because as much as you try to get an objective answer, there just isn’t one.
Charcoal grills and gas grills each have their own pros and cons. We do hope, though, that this article has at least given you an idea of which might be best for you based on what you value in a grill!
Now that you know some of the pros and cons of charcoal and gas, check out our tips on how to make the best ribs on your new grill. Your taste buds won’t regret it.