It’s time to answer that age old question that we all have to ask ourselves at some point: which is better…a charcoal or gas grill?
Of course everyone has their own opinion when it comes to which kind of grill they prefer, and sometimes those opinions can get very loud and even violent. But choosing your side in the charcoal vs gas debate is like choosing between beer and wine, a promotion and a vacation, or Kate Upton and Mila Kunis. It’s really just a matter of preference, and if you ask me there is no wrong choice.
Personally, I have one of each. I grill a lot and having both a gas grill and a charcoal grill gives me the best of both worlds. Most of the time I use my Weber Genesis gas grill…it works great, is super-easy to use, and cleanup is a breeze. But sometimes I’m in the mood for the flavor you can only get from charcoal, so I whip out my Weber charcoal grill and go to town!
Of course most people are perfectly happy with just one grill so you just need to decide which kind you prefer. Both gas and charcoal grills have their advantages and it pays to be familiar with them all before choosing a grill for yourself.
Why We Love Charcoal Grills
Flavor. There’s just something about a charcoal grill…it really gives your meat an extra boost of flavor that you can’t get with a gas grill, particularly when you add flavored wood chips like apple, mesquite, or hickory. Of course, you can use wood chips with a gas grill too with a smoker box or some plain old aluminum foil. The smoker box holds the wood chips while they smolder and produce smoke without getting ashes everywhere.
Portability. Gas grills are big, heavy, and tough to move even if they do have wheels, so they’re best left in one place. They take up a lot of space and they certainly can’t be tossed in the back of your car and taken to the big game for tailgating. Charcoal grills, on the other hand, are generally lightweight and easy to transport.
Price. Expect to lay out more money upfront when purchasing a gas grill…charcoal is definitely cheaper when it comes to initial cost. Charcoal briquettes will cost more than propane tanks refills over time though. Gas grills are generally more complex and have more parts that can break over time so in the long run charcoal grills end up being the less expensive option.
Why We Love Gas Grills
Convenience. Charcoal grills require plenty of time to prepare because it takes some time to get the charcoal going before you’re ready to cook. But with a gas grill you can be ready to cook in just a few minutes. That’s a big plus if you grill a lot during the week. Who wants to deal with the hassle of charcoal after working all day?
Control. Cooking with charcoal takes a bit of practice to master, but almost anyone can maintain the proper temperature on a gas grill by adjusting the knobs. Multi-burner grills also make it easy to set up different temperature zones on the grill’s surface.
Less Mess. Gas grills are a piece of cake to clean. When you finish cooking, just blast the heat on high for a few minutes and then scrap off all the mess. Charcoal grills tend to get messy and you have to get rid of all the ashes or coals.
Which to Buy?
As I said, I have both a gas grill and a charcoal grill. I use my gas grill more often because of the convenience and easy cleanup. But when I have time to prepare and cook at a more leisurely pace I like to whip out the charcoal.
Whichever option you choose, make sure you buy good quality. Stay away from the no-name brands in the seasonal aisle of the department store. They’re usually flimsy and won’t hold up as long as a good brand name grill. Buy a quality grill and take good care of it and you’ll have it for many years.