Choosing Between a Gas and Charcoal Grill: 10 Factors to Consider

I love grilling. Most of America loves it too, with regional barbecues all over the country. America?s love affair with barbecue and grilling is so rooted in us, it flows in our veins.

With current modernities, we now have a choice between gas and charcoal grill. Each has a great advantage over the other. Which one do you pick?

In this guide, we?ll give you 10 factors you should consider when picking between charcoal or gas. It can save you money and stop you from any buyer?s remorse.

1. BBQ Grilling Temperature

BBQ grilling temperature is one of the best factors to consider when you?re picking the right grill. Depending on what you want to grill, you would need to have higher grilling temperatures. This will help in giving you the superior barbecue flavors that you and your family would love.

When grilling, you would need to have as much as 600 F to have proper grill marks on your meats. You can achieve this even with a low-end charcoal grill. Many designs, like basic kettle grills, can even reach as much as 700 F.

While gas grills can reach the same temperature, you can expect them to be in high-end products. For the average griller who likes cooking smaller, thinner cuts of meat, gas grills are great. If you?re like many who enjoy thick slabs of barbecue, your best bet is a charcoal grill.

2. Budget

Let?s admit it. Whenever we?re buying for something, the average joe like you and me consider our budgets. Depending on your budget, you would want to pick the best for your range.

Charcoal grills have a tendency to be lower cost than gas grills. There are not many modern technologies that charcoal grills use. They depend on their design, so the materials and the cost can go lower.

Many decent charcoal grills will come at around $40 – $70. More medium-end charcoal grills with the bells and whistles would set you back $150. Gas grills will be more expensive.

Gas grills rely on its safety and efficiency technology to harness the power of propane. It needs better technology and craftsmanship than a charcoal grill. Expect yourself to invest around $80 for lower-end gas grills and up to $400 for a mid-range unit.

3. Fuel Costs

Together with the budget, it?s best to consider the long-term fuel costs for your grill. Many people who do grilling will not think about fuel, but it?s crucial. Depending on what you pick, you could end up costing yourself five times more in fuel cost.

Gas grills can be a good pick for efficiency. Propane can last you up to 25 sessions, depending on your use. Charcoal grills can use at least 6 lbs of charcoal every session, which makes a 20 lb bag good for 3 uses.

4. Barbecue Flavors

When people ask us if there?s a difference in flavor for charcoal and gas grills, the answer is yes. There is a flavor difference when you pick one over the other. Your choice, however, depends on the flavors you want.

How so? When searing meats, there?s something we call the Maillard Reaction. Any meathead worth their salt you meet will know this ? and that?s not a joke.

The Maillard reaction is a chemical change that occurs when sugars and proteins sear. When you get this, you will get deeper, richer flavors from your meats. Searing your meat creates a rich, savory taste that we barbecue lovers enjoy.

Charcoal grills, because they?re ultra-hot, can achieve Maillard reactions. This creates that smoky, crunchy sear on the outside of your barbecue. Gas, however, takes the cake.

Mid-range to high-end gas grills can create a concentrated heat at around 800 F to 1200 F. This will give you an even, consistent sear across your steaks and meats. This is the reason many restaurants go for a gas grill in their kitchen.

5. Consistency

If you like grilling on the weekends or on special occasions, you want to have a consistent output. For beginners without enough experience grilling, a gas grill can hand you solid results. Gas grills will have a consistent output of heat every time, so you get the same product day in, day out.

Charcoal can be a pain if you?re looking for consistency. There are too many factors if you want to have a consistent output. Sure, many veteran grillers can do proper adjustments, but not the average joe.

For people who want consistency in their grills, gas is a good starting point. Once you?re confident in your skills or would want to learn controlling coals, charcoal grills are for you.

6. Time Constraints

Not all people have the time or luxury to do leisure grilling. I know you don?t have the time to slave over a hot grill the entire afternoon, so you have options.

Gas grills are easy to start and can reach cooking temperatures fast. Many gas-type grills only need a single press on the ignition. Set the temperature you want with a dial and give it around 10 minutes to reach your desired heat.

Charcoal grills can take up your time. On average, you would need at least 20 minutes to reach your desired temperature. This doesn?t take into account lighting up the charcoal briquettes, which is another story.

You would also need to supervise charcoal grills when lighting them up. This is to make sure there?s an even spread of embers across the entire charcoal bed.

7. Food You Are Cooking

Depending on your dish, gas and charcoal grills have their own advantages.

Some people will pick gas over charcoal grills and vice versa. Some, however, choose to get both and use one over the other for some dishes.

Gas grills are marvelous cooking devices that are super convenient and practical. They?re perfect for cooking fish, roasting veggies, or making quick and easy grilled items like sausages. If you?re at home and would want to keep smoke out of your home, gas grills are great.

For enthusiasts who are trying low and slow traditional barbecue, gas grills can also be a great pick.

Charcoal grills are awesome for people who like high-quality meats and big haunches. Even the more expensive gas grills will have a problem grilling top-shelf, high-marbling meats. Charcoal can facilitate the right reactions with its delicious searing.

8. Living Conditions and Local Rules

Depending on where you live, you want to give careful consideration to the grill you choose. Some people who live in apartments cannot take advantage of charcoal grills. These units will trigger every smoke alarm within the apartment and can cause a huge problem.

If you?re in such living conditions, an indoor gas grill is the right pick for you. Many gas grills will have very little smoke. All you would need is a gas stove chimney and you should be good to go.

For people who have a nice backyard, a charcoal grill can be a wonderful touch. It can process more meat with the same temperature and give that wonderful, smoky aroma. For people who love barbecue, these enhance the eating experience much further.

Consider the local rules and regulations about grilling in your living area. People who live in more urban environments will not have the means to use charcoal. Suburban locales will have the right environments that allow the use of charcoal grills.

Can you do some grilling at home and your background? Or do you need to go to a nearby park to use charcoal? For the sake of expediency, a gas grill can give you quick results without the smoke.

9. Space and Safety

If you?re an at-home griller like many of us, space and safety can go hand in hand with barbecue. When deciding the right grill for your family, consider the space where your grill will sit.

A small patio or terrace will not be able to accommodate a charcoal grill. You need enough space to operate and move around. The big stack of smoke that you create when starting up your charcoal grill can be a problem.

Gas grills can be a better option if you?re lacking in space. They are also safer if you?re afraid of potential fire hazards in your home. Flare-ups still happen but not as much with gas.

10. Portability

Portability is another pick that you want to consider for your charcoal and gas grill. For people who like the outdoors, you want the ability to transport your grill without trouble.

Charcoal grills are great picks for portability. They?re ultra-light and has no complicated systems that can break from transportation. Your fuel, charcoal briquettes, comes in easy to move bags.

Gas grills are more finicky. It?s dangerous to move an entire gas grill since it can warp or puncture. A damaged hose or punctured pipe can be super dangerous for you.

Picking Between Gas and Charcoal Grill

Choosing between gas and charcoal grill is not a matter of competition anymore. People should pick their grills according to their needs. Factor in a few of the considerations in your next decision to see which type of grill is right for you.

If you?re looking for authentic flavors in your food, I can help you cook smarter. Take a look at Intentional Flavor.

Intentional Flavor wants to offer you the best choices for all your food needs. We?ll help you find the right cooking equipment you need for your home.

Let?s go on a journey of delicious flavors.

Check out Intentional Flavor and savor the wonders of smart cooking in your own home.

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