grilling fans, no rivalry burns hotter.
rivalries last forever — think Coke vs. Pepsi or Apple vs. Windows
— and, now, gas grills vs. charcoal grills.
We asked some
seasoned grilling experts to weigh in on this searing question as the
spring/summer grilling season arrives.
Gas grills bring
owner of Quality Grill Service in Indianapolis, says grills powered by
gas or propane turn on faster and offer more options and control than
comparable charcoal grills.
get your food on the grill in 10 minutes, you don’t have to keep
adding coals, and you can moderate your heat," he says. "You
can cook a steak, fish, chicken and veggies at the same time on a gas
grill. Someone who’s really savvy with a grill and wants to do
things like smoking meat might gravitate to a charcoal grill, but the
gas grill offers more options to cook quickly and conveniently."
the flavor competition
Nelson, who primarily works on gas grills, says many grillers swear by
the intangible element that charcoal adds to the barbecue experience.
using smoke-heat, so your meats are going to have a little more
flavor," he says. "The gas grill industry has some really
neat designs to mimic the smoky feel, and a seasoned grill brings some
of that flavor, but you can never fully mimic what charcoal-smoked
meat will taste like."
sales associate at the All American Grill Store in Jacksonville, Fla.,
says the two types draw in different fandoms, especially given the
do-it-yourself, wing-it-on-the-fly creativity charcoal offers.
like the ease of use and not having to tinker," he says.
"Diehard charcoal fans know they’ll get a different flavor. A
lot of people who like to work with their hands or tinker tend to lean
toward the charcoal."
Check the fuel
Nelson says gas
grills consume less fuel and thus cost less. At a cost of about $20
per refill, a single propane tank will last for more than 20 grillings,
he says. "You’re looking at less than a dollar per cooking to
feed your whole family," Nelson says. "A bag of charcoal
runs between $6 and $10, and it can only be used once.
points out that modern, ceramic charcoal grills cook with more than
just the blackened charcoal briquettes most people recognize from
years of outdoor entertaining. "Lump" charcoal offers a
high-heat, all-natural format.
hickory or oak, with no accelerants," he says. "You get a
better taste from it, and it tends to last longer, because unlike
charcoal briquettes, you can relight it next time." He says a
20-pound bag costs about $24.
Look for the
No matter which
kind of grill you purchase, pay close attention to the warranty to
ensure many years of happy barbecues.
buy a grill for a couple of hundred bucks at a big-box store, but it’ll
be junk in three years," Nelson says. "The good companies
like Weber or Broilmaster offer strong warranties so this will be the
last grill you ever buy. You’ll be spending around $800 or $900 for
a portable Weber grill, but the 25-year warranty makes it the best
value for your dollar."
people can pay as little as a few hundred dollars for a charcoal
grill, but he advises customers to go with a name brand with a solid
warranty, which tends to cost between $800 and $1,200.
attention to the thickness of the stainless steel and the extent to
which the company backs the warranty," he says.