The season is slowly changing, and it’s bringing us closer to Spring and Summer. And you know what that means: weekend backyard barbecue with family and friends. It’s the best way to enjoy your meals, and outdoor cooking adds fun to the meal preparation.
For barbecue connoisseurs, there is a long-standing debate on which is better: charcoal grill or gas grill. It’s like the endless debate of which comes first Chicken or Eggs or which is better Mac or PC. Grilling purists are Team Charcoal Grill because, for them, nothing beats the smoky taste of charcoal. Team Grill, on the other hand, argues that gas grills are more convenient.
Both can surely cook meals properly, but they also have their differences. To enlighten you on the charcoal vs. gas grill, we made this article you. We made it a point to be as objective as possible by enumerating its unique features. We also list down a short review of the top three products for each.
Types of Grill Cooking
There are three types of grill cooking, which both our charcoal and gas grill can do. Let us take a look at them and see which of the two can cater to all of these.
a. High heat direct radiation cooking. In this type of grilling, the food is placed directly on top of the heat source and is used for cooking food like steaks. It does not use a lid over the meat.
b. Indirect heat convection roasting. You use this type of grilling when cooking food like whole chicken and roasts. Here the heat source on the side and the food is cooked through the warm air that is circulating because the lid is closed.
c. Indirect heat smoke roasting. This cooking is done with the lid closed and letting the warm airflow with heavy smoke flavor cook the food through convection.
Charcoal vs. Gas Grill: Their Difference
The main difference between charcoal and gas grill is obvious; the type of fuel they use. Charcoal grills use coal as fuel, while gas grills have gas either in liquid propane or natural gas to run on. When deciding which of the two types of grills you should buy, the first thing you have to know is your accessibility to the fuel. It will be useless to buy a charcoal grill when you don’t have coal in your area, right?
For gas grills, you need to make sure that you can get refills for your propane tank in case you run out of gas. It can be frustrating to run out of fuel when you are in the middle of cooking, too, and you have to get it from miles away.
In the first round of our charcoal vs. gas grill debate, the grill is a winner because you can have ready access to fuel. But it’s too early to declare the winner. Let us now proceed to the features of each before we make the buying decision.
Grilling purists refer to charcoal grills as the best because they add flavor to the meat while grilling. Smoke is a by-product of combustion, and there is a big difference between the smoke you’ll get between a gas grill and a charcoal grill.
There is a bit of chemistry behind this. Charcoal makes more smoke than gas; thus, meats have better taste and flavor. This is because of the complex organic molecules like lignin and cellulose that burn more in charcoal. Gas, on the other hand, has a simple molecule, and when combusted, it cannot produce flavor. Instead, it only produces carbon dioxide and water.
In charcoal grills, you can get a lot of smoke when the coal is properly heated, and the fat that drips from the meat falls into the burning coal. The flavor comes from the vapor that condenses into the meat while it is being cooked on your grates.
Another feature of a charcoal grill is you can get as much heat as you want to cook your food. It is easy to do this; all you have to do is to increase the amount of coal and to open the vents so that a lot of air will circulate the grill.
Some grills can’t produce enough heat to cook tough meats, and only a charcoal grill can cook them properly due to its ability to produce a lot of heat. Other grills have heat control features where you can quickly raise and lower the temperature to cook your food.
Charcoal grills can also have its limitations. Here are some of them that you should consider.
- It does not have a control knob. You cannot regulate the cooking temperatures in charcoal grills. If you are not an expert in grilling, you can end up with overcooked or charred meat.
- They are not portable. Charcoal grills are bulky and heavy; it is challenging to move it around. Bringing it to your outdoor activities can be a challenge.
- There is a lot of cleaning up you need to do afterward. You will have a lot of ash to dispose of when you’re done. Some models may have an ashtray to collect them, but for those models that don’t have it, prepare yourself for a lot of cleaning.
- Top 7 Best Charcoal Grills Under 100
- 10 Best Charcoal Grills Under 200
- Top 7 Best Charcoal Grills Under 300
- 4 Best Charcoal Grills Under 500
Gas grills are more convenient than charcoal grills. Due to the presence of a control knob and temperature gauge, you can monitor the cooking temperature and then adjust them accordingly according to your cooking needs.
Compared to the charcoal grill where you need a kindle and matches, you can quickly start the gas grill with just a flip of a button, and you are good to go. In charcoal grills, you have to wait for the coal to fire up before you can start cooking.
Another advantage of the gas grill over a charcoal grill is it is usually portable and light and easy to move around. They are easy to clean too, but you have to maintain it from grease and carbon buildup. However, it also has limitations that you might want to consider.
- You cannot get the smoky flavor on your meals. We discussed this thoroughly above.
- The best models are often expensive. Getting a top-of-the-line gas grill can be quite an investment.
Charcoal vs. Gas Grill: The Breakdown
- It can get hotter than standard gas grills. Hot enough to cook tough meats.
- It produces flavorful smoke that adds flavor to the meat.
- Higher risk of fire. You need to have water or a fire extinguisher nearby, just in case.
- It takes longer to get to the desired temperature.
- You cannot control the temperature.
- There is a lot of clean up to do after cooking.
- It offers control and convenience.
- The temperature control lets you manage your cooking with the different heat zones.
- It is easy to clean with no ash and drips.
- You can add accessories like rotisserie kits, side burners, side tables, organizing shelves, and many more.
- Safer than charcoal grill as there are no sparks that can escape.
- The cooked meats have no added smoked flavor.
- More expensive than the charcoal grill as the mechanisms are more complicated.
Top 3 Charcoal Grills
1. Weber Original Kettle Premium 22-Inch Grill
The Weber Kettle Grill is a classic. Its design is already 70 years old, and aside from a couple of additions, it has not changed much. It can cook up to 13 burgers simultaneously and is equipped with a built-in thermometer on the lid. It allows you to monitor the grill’s temperature so that you won’t have flare-ups and undercooked meats. It is very easy to add coal or reposition the embers because it has a hinged grate making fire management well under control.
Cleaning is easy, too, because it is equipped with a one-touch cleaning system that has a high capacity ash catcher, no need to worry about collecting the ash after grilling. This grill is durable and can last long because the lid and the bowl are made from a combination of porcelain and enamel that will not rust or peel and can retain heat.
2. Oklahoma Joe’s 19402088 Rambler Portable Charcoal Grill
This is a heavy-duty tabletop charcoal grill that is made from sturdy steel and with cast-iron grates. Just by the sound of it, you know that this grill is another must-have for grill enthusiasts. The grates make the perfect sear that you are looking for, and with the height-adjustable charcoal grill, you can cook in high or low heat without a fuzz.
What makes it great for cooking is the large air dampers that enable accurate airflow control. Clean-up after cooking is easy because it has a removable ash pan. The lid handle is equipped with a rubber grip that is easy to handle and does not get hot. Plus, the temperature gauge glows in the dark. Overall, it’s a convenient charcoal grill that is portable and easy to bring along.
3. Tacklife Charcoal Grill
The Tacklife Charcoal Grill has unique temperature control, and heat retains design. It has a built-in thermometer on top of its grill that allows you to monitor the baking temperature when you keep the lid closed. The dampers are strategically located on the side of the furnace body to control the temperature inside and regulate the degree of the burning of the coals.
The galvanized cooking grate made from steel allows for consistent grilling heat, which makes the grilled food juicy and perfectly cooked. This portable grill has ample cooking space, and there is a storage shelf and two layers of grids to contain cooking and cooked foods. The Tacklife Charcoal Grill is sturdy, too, as the bowl and cover are made with steel and porcelain glaze. It is rust-resistant and does not crack or peel.
Top 3 Gas Grills
1. Char-Broil Performance 300 2-Burner Propane Gas Grill
Char-Broil has many excellent gas grills, and this model does not disappoint. First of all, it has an ideal cooking area of 300 square inches and with a swing-away warming rack. The two burners have individual temperature controls, and each of them has a heat output of 12,000 BTU. Its cooking grates are made from porcelain-coated cast iron, and they are not only durable but capable of retaining heat for that perfect sear on the grilled food.
The lid is made from stainless steel, rust-free, durable, and does not peel. Cooking is easy even with the lid closed as it has a lid-mounted temperature gauge that allows easy heat management. Firing up the grill has never been easy, for it has an electronic ignition for reliable and fast startups. You can also move this grill quite conveniently with the four casters at its feet.
2. Blackstone 1554 Flat Top 4-Burner Propane Gas Grill
With Blackstone 1554 Station 4-Burner Propane Gas Grill, you will be a pro because it has a commercial-grade design that you can bring into your backyard. The flat-top grill has 720 inches of grilling area, which is perfect if you want to cook the perfect ribs. It has two side shelves and a bottom shelf to store your grilling paraphernalia and a decent prep area.
The grill can reach the maximum temperature you need, thanks to the 15,000 BTU burners that work independently. You can choose between high to low temperature using the knob control. It is easy to assemble and transport, which makes it an ideal gas grill for your family picnics.
3. Weber 46110001 Spirit E-210 LP Gas Grill
For people who don’t have the luxury of a large yard but want a decent gas grill, this Weber 46110001 Spirit E-210 LP Gas Grill is a perfect choice. It has a small 2-burner grill and a fold-down side table that will take up less space but still provide the owner with a full-sized grill experience. The two burners are powered by 13,250 BTUs in its tubular burners made from stainless steel. The cooking space is decent at 450 square inches, a portion of it for warming the food.
This gas grill is durable as the body is made from porcelain enameled steel and cast iron. The grates are porcelain-coated cast iron. Its built-in thermometer and propane gauge let you monitor both while cooking.
Which One Should You Buy?
Most people are confused about which of the two is better: charcoal or gas grill. The choice really will depend on your preference. If you want convenience, then go for the gas grill. But if you are all-fashioned and value the classic flavors of grilled food, the charcoal grill will be best for you.
For the charcoal grill, we recommend the Weber Original Kettle Charcoal Grill. Nothing beats the classic, and this tried and tested charcoal grill definitely delivers.
Among the gas grills we have reviewed, you should try the Char-Broil Performance 300 2-Burner Propane Gas Grill. It has all perfect marks for quality, value for money, sturdiness, and maneuverability among the grill fans.
- Types of Grill Cooking
- Charcoal vs. Gas Grill: Their Difference
- Charcoal vs. Gas Grill: The Breakdown
- Top 3 Charcoal Grills
- Top 3 Gas Grills
- Which One Should You Buy?