Choose charcoal or go for gas?
When it comes to barbecues, that age old argument about the best type of fuel to use just keeps flaring up.
There are advocates for both sides although more and more people these days seem to be going for the gas option – mainly because it’s quicker. It can have its drawbacks too of course in that it’s easier to start an unwanted fire with a gas barbecue.
Pro-charcoal barbecue users always testify to a more ‘authentic’ taste from coals. But make sure you’re not starving prior to starting the grill as a charcoal-fired version really does take time to start up.
Of course, the above two aren’t the only types of fuel you can use on a barbecue. There are always electric barbecues or pellet grills. But gas and charcoal are certainly the main types of fuel used. If you’re thinking of updating your barbecue or even purchasing one for the first time, then we’ve simplified the pros and cons of using both gas and charcoal as a fuel.
Convenience of gas barbecues
No doubt about it, if it’s time that’s your main concern then you want to opt for a gas grill where you’ll be able to cook in around ten minutes of switching it on. Charcoal, on the other hand, can take up to 45 minutes to heat up to a decent cooking temperature. It can also take a bit of messing around to get the charcoal to light whereas with propane or gas all you’re doing is really flicking a switch.
Another convenience aspect with gas grilling is the temperature regulation aspect which just doesn’t apply to charcoal unless you’re prepared to spend a lot of time moving the grill up and down. Air vents can also help regulate the temperature with charcoal but not to the same extent. As a result guests are far less likely for to end up with burnt offerings when you’re using gas.
There’s also the clearing up afterwards to think about. With charcoal you have to find somewhere to store those ashes. Having said that some modern charcoal grills come with a one-touch cleaning system and ash remover which makes the job far simpler and less messy.
Taste of charcoal barbecues
This is subjective really but on the whole charcoal barbecues tend to get a better press than grill versions in this regard. Charcoal tends to imbue food with a smoky flavour from the coals and you get that crispiness with it too. Meanwhile sizzling fat juices will infuse your steak, sausage etc.
Food also looks better all round when cooked on charcoal barbecue. The whole ‘lit ember cosiness’ looks good and adds to the ‘camp fire’ atmosphere.
Location either barbecue
If you’ve a small garden then you want to get a gas grill. They tend to be smaller in size than charcoal versions. However, if you do opt for the smaller gas grill make sure it’s not near anything flammable as there’s a much higher risk of setting fire to your home than with a charcoal grill which can be lit with an electric starter.
If you’re planning on using the barbecue for a picnic in the woods or park or even to take to the beach then you’re looking for a portable version and these tend to be gas fuelled.
Cost goes to charcoal barbecues
In terms of hardware ie buying the barbecue in the first place, you’ll fork out more for a gas grill. However ongoing costs of charcoal will work out more expensive in the long-run. Then again, if you do get a gas grill and it sets fire to your garden shed, that’s going to cost a lot more, especially if your insurance was up for renewal and you hadn’t gotten round to it…