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Gas vs. Charcoal

Cost, Flavor and Convenience

A Twin Eagle Grill

Courtesy of Weber Grills

A high performance gas grill, like the one pictured, allows for fast and efficient cooking.

Conversations about outdoor cooking usually start with the grill. But that conversation can quickly turn into a debate when figuring out what type of grill to use: gas or charcoal.

While barbecue and grilling fanatics can argue over this for hours, casual grillers should be able to make a selection based on the following factors:

Cost:

  • Basic charcoal grills can be had for anywhere from $50 to $200, while higher end ones usually won't exceed $500.

  • You would be hard pressed to find a regular-size gas grill for less than $200, and gas grills with lots of features can hit the five-figure mark.


Flavor:

  • Many chefs believe that charcoal grills provide better flavor, due to the smoky aroma that saturates food courtesy of the charcoals. Charcoal is even available in specific flavors, like mesquite.

  • On the other hand, the gas in gas grills does not impart flavor. On gas grills, food juices can drip between the grates, burn off, and then release smoke, which may provide minimal flavor.


Convenience and Ease of Use:

  • Gas grills heat up considerably faster than their charcoal counterparts, and their heat can be regulated through the turn of a knob.

  • The heat produced by charcoal grills cannot be controlled easily, which means you have to be an extremely attentive griller and watch for temperature fluctuations.

  • Starting your fire on a charcoal grill is a somewhat laborious process, as it involves placing and replacing charcoals to ensure a steady supply of heat. Some gas grills, on the other hand, can start with a push of a button.


Weber Grill's 18th Annual GrillWatch survey found that 67 percent of grill owners have a gas grill. However, the study also showed that 50 percent of all grill owners have a charcoal grill. If you have the space and the money for one of each, you can use one or the other when the situation calls for it.

 

 

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