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 , 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.

Gas Grills

Pros

  • 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 clean.

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Charcoal Barbecues

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

 

 

About BBQGrillingGuide.com
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!