The Pros and Cons of Grilling With Charcoal
There always seems to be a passionate debate over type of
grill is better. Some people swear that there's nothing better
than grilling with charcoal,
while others boldly state that a gas grill is undoubtedly the
way to go. We've used both types of grills, and they each
have their pros and cons. Now obviously our choice is charcoal,
since this is what the BBQ Grilling Guide
is all about, but there are advantages to gas grills too.
- Convenience. There's no denying that it's much easier and
faster to get the grill set up for cooking. Just turn a valve and
push a button and voila! Easy, quick heat. Great for families that
grill a lot, or for busy people who don't want to spend the time
firing up a charcoal grill.
- Easier temperature regulation. Just use the temperature
controls on the BBQ to precisely set whatever temperature you
want to grill at. And if you have a unit with multiple grill areas,
you can even set different temperatures for each zone. That makes
cooking a variety of foods much easier and much more convenient
(there's that word again!).
- Easier for novices. It is much easier to learn to grill
on a gas grill, then to experiment with the "art" of
cooking on a charcoal grill.
- Less mess to clean. Just turn up the heat after you're
done to burn off any residue. Then it's easy to brush off or wipe
- Year-round use. Since gas grills are so easy to start
up and don't require a lot of hovering to get the right temperature,
they're also ideal for outdoor cookouts even when the weather isn't
quite so nice.
- Gas grills have lots of parts and bits that can break down.
Parts need to be properly maintained and cleaned so that they continue
to function well. Break-downs and replacements can be pricey!
- Cost. Sure, there are expensive charcoal BBQs, but
generally speaking, gas grills cost more.
- The taste (yum!). Many people will agree that there's
nothing quite like the taste of food cooked over the coals.
- Cost. A good charcoal grill is a much more affordable
alternative to a good gas grill.
- Cooking versatility. A good charcoal BBQ can sear at
very high temperatures, as well as lend itself to slow-cooking
at low temperatures, especially wonderful for smoking.
- Starting up the grill takes longer. Lighting up the
charcoal can easily take 20-30 minutes to get it going the way
you like. Even though there are tools to help cut down on the
time, you still won't have the convenience and speed of starting
up a gas grill. To make it easier and faster to light up,
though, choose natural lump
charcoal as your grilling charcoal.
- Temperature control is trickier. There tends to be a
lot of hovering over the barbecue, fooling with vents and trying
to get the grill set to the right temperature. Inexperienced
grillers will find it much more difficult, and even experienced
grillers won't have an easy time setting up different temperature
zones (like can be easily done on a multi-area gas grill).
- Messy, messy, messy. Ashes need to be disposed of and
grates need regularly cleaning. The
Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill
does have an ash-catcher to make clean-up a lot
more pleasant and much faster... but generally, clean-up on a
charcoal grill is going to be messy.
- Safety. Open flames and flare-ups can present a
potential danger, especially to young children and to pets.
- Year-round use only for hearty souls. Yes, technically
you can use your charcoal grill all year if you want... but when
you live in a winter climate like we do, it's a lot less fun to be
standing outside in the screaming sub-zero winds, hovering over
the charcoal and repeatedly checking the temperature.
So why did we ultimately end up as fans of grilling with charcoal?
The taste. It is a bit more hassle, but we love the food. Our choice
is to use the Big Green Egg
(essentially a charcoal kamado cooker), although we are also still
fans of the Weber
Charcoal Grills. You can find more BBQ tips
on our site including BBQ ideas for get-togethers
with friends and family.
This website offers tips on how to BBQ
as well as
some of our favorite barbecue recipes
. We barbecue with a charcoal grill
in an outdoor kamado-style cooker called The Big Green Egg
We love food and we love the grill, and hope you enjoy our recipes!