Since propane grills were introduced in the late 1960s, backyard cooks have furiously debated the benefits of gas vs charcoal.
Gas is considered more convenient and in many cases, it’s more affordable as a fuel. Despite this, charcoal is just as popular today as ever.
People love the experience and process of cooking over charcoal.
Of course, the wonderful smoky flavor also helps strengthen the argument.
Before you buy your next grill, consider charcoal as one of the best options.
Here are the pros and cons of a charcoal grill so that you can make an informed decision.
The Pros of a Charcoal Grill
There are many benefits to owning a charcoal grill.
Versatility, convenience, and impressive cooking performance are just some of the reasons that people prefer using solid fuel.
Let’s take a look at the most important benefits of a charcoal grill…
- Charcoal produces more heat: This is the strongest argument in favor of charcoal, and it’s one that is impossible to ignore. The average charcoal grill can get to around 500 degrees F with the hood down. Some designs produce temperatures up to 700 degrees F. Most gas grills don’t even come close to this. The ones that do use several high-performance commercial burners and infrared heating zones. They’re also much more expensive.
- Charcoal produces more flavor: This one is hotly debated, but there’s science on the side of charcoal. When juices drip from meats and other ingredients, they are vaporized on the hot coals. The vapors condense on the food and help create an outer sear. Some infuse the inside of the food. Charcoal vaporizes these juices more effectively because it burns hotter. Gas grills use vaporizer bars that don’t get as hot and they aren’t as efficient. The rich smoky flavor that charcoal enthusiasts talk about isn’t a myth. You can enjoy it with your own charcoal grill.
- Charcoal grills are inexpensive: Grill designs are simpler when using charcoal. They have fewer parts and are less complex. This makes them less costly to produce and cheaper to buy. Charcoal grills will last longer because there are fewer points of failure. You’ll spend less and enjoy a longer return on your investment.
- Fuel is less expensive: In most regions, charcoal is inexpensive and can be purchased at most stores. Charcoal can be stored in a dry place for longer than a gas canister. For many families, charcoal is simply more convenient.
The Cons of a Charcoal Grill
For heat, flavor, and convenience, charcoal easily competes with gas, and in some cases comes out on top.
Of course, charcoal grills aren’t quite perfect, and there are some downsides to consider too.
- Starting the grill: It’s not quite as easy to start a charcoal grill as it is a gas model. You can make things easier with a chimney starter, like this Stainless Steel Chimney Starter from Weber.
- Controlling heat: It’s quite intuitive to maintain a charcoal grill once it’s fired up, but controlling heat takes some learning. Opening vents increases the intensity of the heat, and closing them can bring temperatures down. Charcoal doesn’t quite have the precision control of gas.
- Topping up: You’ll need to add more coals to the firebox for longer cooking sessions. With a gas grill, a full canister can last for weeks even with regular grilling.
- Safety: Charcoal grills aren’t quite as safe as gas, so it’s important to use them away from combustible building materials, children, and pets. Gas is much easier to shut off when compared to solid burning fuel.
Despite some downsides, charcoal is still compelling for many households. Overall, the pros outweigh the cons.
Choose the Best Grill for Your Needs
Ready to make your investment?
Now you understand the pros and cons of a charcoal grill, you’ll be able to choose an outdoor cooking appliance that is perfect for your needs.
Take a look at three of the best charcoal grills today to get an idea of what you could buy:
- The original Weber Kettle is a time-proven classic. Modern innovations allow for safer grilling with a convenient ash disposal system.
- The Char-Griller Kamado Grill is an innovative option that offers excellent heat performance for thorough cooking.
- For something larger that takes care of smoking too, consider the Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker. It’s large enough for holidays and special events with family and friends.