Both gas and charcoal are the top-most choice when it comes to buying a grill that you would want to have in your backyard. They have their fair share of benefits and difficulties, which is why most people get torn as to what to choose between the two. You might be included in one of them. In this article, we will help you make a final verdict when it comes to picking between gas vs charcoal grill!
We understand that choosing between gas vs charcoal grill can be overwhelming. After all, they deliver the same results, right? Not really. Even though they use the same cooking method, the end products they produce are not the same. If you ask some people, “Are charcoal grills better than gas grills?” you won’t probably have a conclusive answer since preference when it comes to grilled food may come to play. Luckily, you can still choose a side based on what you and your family prefer when it comes to your grilled meat. With that, let’s get started.
Grilling: A Brief History
Before we talk about what works best, let us look back on how grilling came to be. Who knows, our ancestors and probably history itself can help you decide on what would work best for you.
Archaeologists claimed that grilling started shortly after the early men discovered how to create a fire approximately 500,000 years ago. They found that by putting a piece of meat that they got after hunting game on an open flame, the food becomes tastier and tender, making it easier to chew. The hot temperatures of the newly-cooked meat also helped keep them warmer and fuller during cold nights.
This practice actually continues today even though there are a lot of grilling units in the market. Camping and hiking trips use grilling as their primary cooking methods because it is more comfortable and more convenient. Not to mention that they do not need high-end equipment to keep their stomachs full.
The use of metal grates, or at least a device that resembles it, can be traced back to the Arawak tribe of Hispaniola. Historians discovered that the tribesmen created a frame of sticks, called barbacoa, and place it on top of the open flame along with their meat of choice. Spanish conquerors who visited their village grew fascinated with this technology and eventually stole the idea.
The invention of grilling units started in the post-war era when Iron Works introduced the first char-broil barbecue grill in 1949. The company soon inspired others to make their own version to meet the growing demand, as the cooking method slowly became a popular item among American households at the time.
What was created first between gas vs charcoal grill?
If you look at history, you can surely deduct that charcoal is the first one to be invented. After all, you cannot really expect the cavemen to be able to find gas as a fuel source in a forest, desert, or any of the habitat they encountered.
The first charcoal briquettes that emerged in history was in 1897. Ellsworth B. A. Zwoyer created a design for it and patented it. Unfortunately, most people attribute this product to Kingsford Products Company since they made it more available to the public, giving them the final credit instead of the original inventor.
Gas grills came in the picture thanks to Arkansas Louisiana Gas Company. To further encourage households to buy gas, William G. Wepfer and Melton Lancaster, employees of the company, purchased a charcoal grill and redesigned it to run on propane. Families soon found out that between gas vs charcoal grill, the former is more convenient to use, making it a quick fan favorite.
Now that we know a thing or two about how gas vs charcoal grill came to be let us discuss the features, benefits, and problems you might encounter if you buy one.
Gas Grill: The Convenient Substitute
This type of grill can run either via propane or natural gas. While units can vary depending on whose manufacturer it is, the general procedure on how to switch it on and use it is the same.
The gas can come from the gas tank or line, whichever setup you use. After being released from the source, the gas goes through a pressure regulator, then to a device that separates the gas equally to the burners. It then goes to the venturi tubes where it will mix with oxygen to create the flame and spew it out to the burner ports. Depending on the unit, the burners may have barriers that help distribute the heat on top of the grates.
Basically, you switch it in the same manner you do so when you use your own gas-powered stoves at him. You turn the knob that controls the fire, wait for the grill to heat up, then voila! You can now flip burgers and grill meat in no time.
- The primary reason why gas grills came into popularity is the convenience it brings to the owner.Whether you are a first-time grilling person or an experience one, you can operate a gas grill.
- It offers quicker cooking times. In a span of thirty minutes, you can already serve tons of grilled food for your family and guests.
- It is safer to use.You can control the flame just by twisting and turning a knob, making it an excellent alternative for apartment dwellers who have to abide to fire prevention laws.
- It is easier to clean. More so if you bought a unit that is primarily made of stainless steel.
Question: Gas vs Charcoal Grill? If you prefer convenience over quality of food any time you want, then go ahead and purchase a gas grill! We primarily recommend gas grills for people who live in apartments.
- Between the gas vs charcoal grill, the former is relatively more expensive. A decent one can already set you back at $200. On top of the purchasing price, you also need to buy gas to operate it.
- The flavor of the gas-grilled meat may not be the same as that of an authentic wood- or charcoal-grilled one. The distinct smokey taste is most likely absent.
- They are more difficult to transport around because of the tank that goes with it.
Question: Gas vs Charcoal Grill? If you are on a tight budget, a gas grill may be too pricey for you. This is not recommended for grilled meat “purists” or those people who are looking for an authentic smokey flavor in their grilled products.
Just like other appliances, using a gas grill can bring some issues that you may not know how to solve. Here are some of them.
Problem: Little to no flame
Solution: The problem may come from the regulator (the circular metal you twist at the gas tank) itself. To fix this, turn the regulator off, remove the gas line from the tank and the grill, wait for a minute or two, then gently reconnect it. If the problem persists, you may have to replace your regulator.
Problem: Yellow flames
Solution: The connection may have clogs at some point. Check the venturi tubes and the burners for any obstructions from soot or dirt. The tubes may be misaligned as well. Before checking, clean all the affected first, then twist open the knob until it reaches the furthest temperature it can muster.
Problem: Tons of smoke during grilling
Solution: Between gas vs charcoal grill, people who live in apartments often choose gas grills because it produces grilled food without setting the fire alarm. So once your grill starts emitting smoke, there is undoubtedly a problem, most likely brought by grease building up in it. Clean the grill thoroughly first then try preheating it for fifteen minutes or so to remove the stubborn ones.
Problem: Uneven Heat in some parts of the grill
Solution: The cause may be clogged burners as well. Some fat drippings may end up entering the burner ports and solidify over time. To remove them, clean the burners thoroughly with a wire brush. Make sure that the brush you use would not strip off the burner’s metal coating.
Additional Maintenance Tips
To prevent any minor accidents and ensure that your grilled food would remain topnotch all the time, always check your gas line for any leaks. If the gas tank needs immediate replacement, go and purchase a new one immediately.
Charcoal Grill: The Grilling OG
Grilling purists basically worship the charcoal grill because it offers something close to the natural smokey flavor they have always wanted in their grilled meat. Not to mention that the challenge and adventure of taming an unpredictable flame make the cooking method a fun and enjoyable experience to the whole family!
Charcoal grills are pretty straightforward regarding usage. Most units have a basin-like shape with metal grates on top, and depending on the model, they may come with a lid. You put the charcoal in the basin, preheat them for thirty minutes or so before finally starting the grilling process.
- It is far cheaper to use. You can buy charcoal grills for as low as $20 in any camping goods store. The heat source, charcoal, is inexpensive, too. A $5 worth of the black stuff can already last for a day or so of eating.
- It is easier to lug around. Because charcoal grills do not need tanks to make them work, you can easily stash it in the trunk of your car or carry it in your arms as you go hiking.
- It offers hotter temperatures than the gas grill. With constant practice, you can stoke the fires from the charcoal to as high as 700 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that you can give your meat that searing look authentic grilled food usually have. Not to mention that your food gets cooked faster.
- You get the authentic grilled, smokey flavor. This is probably the most significant benefit charcoal grills have over gas grills. You can thank the smoke from the charcoal for the savory taste.
Question: Gas vs Charcoal Grill? If you are more of an outdoor type who likes grilled food anytime, anywhere, then charcoal grills are the best option for you.
- You cannot use it indoors. Charcoals produce tons of smoke, which can cause suffocation among household members when used inside the confines of your home. Use it only during backyard grilling.
- It can be illegal in most neighborhoods. Stoking a fire from the charcoal needs a sheer amount of patience and concentration. Sometimes, most grilling people lose it and leave them on its own. Charcoal grills are one of the most notorious causes of fires in neighborhoods, which is why most of them ban it altogether.
- It is more difficult to clean. Once burned, charcoal transforms from a solid black heap to a sticky, icky soot that settles on the grates and the basin walls. It might take a while to eradicate them all.
Question: Gas vs Charcoal Grill? If you live in an apartment complex, then you might have to check the rules first before getting one. Also, between gas vs charcoal grill, the latter is more tedious to clean.
The issues you may encounter when using the charcoal grill most likely lies on the charcoal itself. Here are some problems you can get from the black stuff.
Problem: Difficulty in igniting
Solution: There are a lot of reasons why your charcoal may not ignite properly. It could be the type of charcoal you are using. Hardwood charcoals are more challenging to flare and tend to because it has more surface area and moisture. You might get tempted to use briquettes or lighter fluid to hasten the process, but be careful: doing so would not give you the authentic grilled flavor you want. Not to mention that it can be hazardous to your health thanks to the chemicals manufacturers add to make them easier to ignite. There is nothing you can do here except exercise patience and endurance. Also, use chimney starters. They help distribute the heat evenly when placed at the bottom of the coals.
It may also be because you do not clean the grill as soon as you finish using it. The soot buildup can clog the apparatus which can affect the quality of the meat in your next grilling session. You know what to do with this one.
Problem: Using excessive amounts of charcoal
Solution: Yes, charcoal is cheap, but do remember that it is a non-renewable resource. And in time, the numbers can accumulate. To know how long a pack of charcoal lasts, check the label (most manufacturers provide one) for any details related to it, or ask the seller of the product.
Problem: Uneven heating
Solution: Yes, it is waaaaay more manageable to keep the charcoal pieces in the middle so that the temperatures can rise immediately. However, this can result in uneven cooking temps and times. Distribute the coals evenly on all sides, and just be patient and wait for the flames to spread.
Differences between Gas vs Charcoal Grill
Now that we have discussed each type separately, it is time to create a comparison using the following criteria.
|Gas Grill||Charcoal Grill|
|Authentic Searing Aesthetic|
With such a fast-paced world, most if not all of us prefer goods and services that can deliver their promise quickly. But at what cost?
In the case of gas vs charcoal grill debate (or even if you join the other types of grills in the mix), you have to remember that the quicker the food gets grilled, the less likely you will get the authentic smokey flavor you want with any grilled food. In this case, a gas grill can definitely give you a quick fix of grilled meat. It only takes about 15 minutes to preheat a gas grill, then 15 or so more to cook the food depending on how thick the cut is. It is also easier to control the temperature and the flame strength with gas grills. Even new grilling persons can benefit from the convenience the gas grill brings. However, do not expect that you would get that sought-after taste most people look for in food items they grill.
Charcoal grill, on the other hand, takes time AND patience. The shortest time it would take for you to preheat a charcoal grill is 45 minutes. The flames can become unpredictable depending on the wind speed at the backyard (since you cannot use a charcoal grill indoors because of the fumes).
Question: Gas vs Charcoal Grill? Gas grills can give you the grilled meat you want without waiting for too long. In this case, are charcoal grills better than gas grills? No.
Authentic Searing Aesthetic
There is a specific criterion your grilled meat has to meet before you can consider it an authentic grilled food. One factor you would have to look at is the result of searing to the meat, particularly steaks.
Searing happens when the surface of the meat undergoes browning caused by the Maillard reaction and caramelization. The resulting flavor is a perfect balance of sweet and savory taste especially at the skin, plus a crunchy, chewy crust.
Thanks to the fact that charcoal grills produce heat a few times higher than that of gas grills, the former can deliver the most beautiful and natural searing look on a steak.
Ordinary gas grills, meanwhile, cannot produce the same level and quality of searing that a charcoal grill can give. That is if you buy a cheap one. Some gas grills have accessories such as sear burners that can deliver the same results. They raise the temperature of a gas grill to as much as 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, making the grilling time shorter AND sweeter. This is the reason why most steakhouses and restaurants use gas grills instead of charcoal grills (apart from other factors such as building codes).
However, this particular feature comes at a price. Only pricey gas grills can deliver the searing look that charcoal grills naturally give. If you are willing to pay just to get the sweet and savory flavor you crave, then by all means.
Question: Gas vs Charcoal Grill? Charcoal grills, even the cheapest one, can give you that searing look that makes any steak so good to the palate. To get the same results with a gas grill, you have to buy an expensive unit. So are charcoal grills better than gas grills? Regarding this category, that is a searing YES.
Concerning taste, most people would not be able to distinguish the difference in meats that are grilled using gas vs charcoal grills. That is until you use steak.
In a study conducted a few years ago, scientists made participants eat two types of steak. Not one of them knows which one is cooked with a gas grill and a charcoal grill. The results? Charcoal grilled-steak has the more distinct smokey flavor that authentic grilled meats supposed to have, making it the clear winner when it comes to real grilled taste. The reason is that the steak takes longer to cook. That means it has more time to absorb the moisture, flavor, and other components from the charcoal and woodchucks.
Still, do remember that flavor is subjective. A gas grill can become a good choice if your family does not really give importance to finding that perfect smokey flavor.
Question: Gas vs Charcoal Grill? Charcoal grills can give you the authentic smokey flavor distinct among grilled meats. Gas grills cannot do that no matter how sophisticated and expensive the unit is. In this round, are charcoal grills better than gas grills? Yes, they are.
Regarding the space they can occupy, both gas grills and charcoal grills have units that vary in sizes. But in general, charcoal grills take up less space than the gas grill. For one, the latter requires a gas tank and a gas line to be able to operate well. This minor inconvenience also makes the gas grill more difficult to transport and move around. If you plan to buy a gas grill, you have to find your unit a permanent space in your kitchen or backyard.
Charcoal grills do not have this problem. They are so portable that you can even bring it on a camping trip. In any outdoor activity, any luggage weight counts. Thankfully, the charcoal grill is small and light enough to be carried around anytime and anywhere you wish. The charcoal is not that much of a heavyweight, too.
Question: Gas vs Charcoal Grill? For this category, charcoal grills definitely win. It is small, light, and convenient to store in any small space. That is if you buy a portable version. Of course, some charcoal grills units are kind of bigger which makes them difficult to carry around.
Steps when Buying a Grill
Now that you know the criteria, it is time to look for the unit that is suitable for you and your family’s needs. To ensure that you get the right one, follow these steps carefully.
1. Set a budget and stick to it.
Yes, having a backyard grill would increase your chance of being the neighborhood’s favorite Sunday hangout place. But that does not mean you have to spend a lot just to look cool. You can be one while still being practical with your purchase.
There is a lot of gas vs charcoal grills available in the market today, and they can overwhelm even the most experienced shopper. To help narrow down the list, set a price range using the information we provided above. Pick a minimum and maximum amount you are willing to pay for a grill and stick to it. Do not fall prey to marketing tactics manufacturers do to persuade you to buy their most expensive models.
2. Pick between gas vs charcoal grill.
Now, you must decide: should you get the gas grill or the charcoal grill? Which one would work better at your household’s current setup? Where would you store it? Can you provide the fuel source immediately in case you want grilled meat for weekday dinners? Choose a side.
3. Check the grills’ overall quality.
Is the steel rust-proof and easy to clean? How long would it last? Can the material withstand long hours of grilling and high temperatures? For this, you might have to refer to the product specifications. Manufacturers must provide one.
Consumers love buying products made from stainless steel because it is more comfortable and more convenient to clean. That does not mean, however, that those that d not have stainless steel as the foundation of their frame is of low quality. In this case, make sure that the surface of the unit has a special coating that can withstand extreme elements.
4. Look for warranties.
Some manufacturers may end up producing a unit that falls short in their standard, and you might end up buying that poor, unfortunate machine. To ensure that you are covered in this case, look for a brand that offers the best warranty and value for your money. Some manufacturers provide at least five years of warranty, which covers free maintenance service and replacement of parts.
When it comes to choosing what is best between gas vs charcoal grill, the decision still falls on what your family prefers when it comes to grilled food. Every family is different. But one thing we are sure of is that you will definitely find the right unit that can suit your needs. To get there, just keep these tips and info handy.