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Gas versus Charcoal Grills

It’s an age-old question. When it comes to barbecuing, which kind of grill produces the best results? Proponents of each kind of grilling will argue the advantages of their preferred type of outdoor cooking until their blue in the face.  While it’s true that many individuals choose their preferred type of grill for the flavor it produces, others opt for their grills for other reasons. Truly, both gas and charcoal grills have their advantages and disadvantages and one may fit your budget or lifestyle better than the other. Here are a few comparisons:

Price

For many, this is a major consideration. Small charcoal grills can be purchased for as low as about $30. The average price of a standard size charcoal grill that can accommodate several hamburgers and a fairly sizeable rack of ribs averages about $80-$100, sometimes higher. Gas grills come in a wide variety of prices as well. Prices sometimes start as low as $99 but the average gas grill with basic features like two or three central burners and perhaps a side burner cost about $250-$400. Those with stainless still bodies are more expensive then grills with cast aluminum bodies. If you want to really impress the neighbors, you can spend as much as $2,500 for an enormous deluxe grill with warming drawers and other perks.

Ease of Set Up

If you’re looking for something you can set up in a hurry, opt for the charcoal grill, which will take no more than about 30 minutes to put together. The gas variety can take hours, depending on your ingenuity. However, stores that sell them generally offer to put them together for you if you have enough space in your vehicle to cart them home after their assembled.

Preparation before Cooking

Cooking over charcoal requires a little preparation as the coals must be lit and then heated to the desired cooking temperature before placing the food on the grill. This usually takes at least 20 minutes but can take longer depending on a variety of factors. So, if you’re looking for a quick and convenient way to make your favorite barbecued recipe, this isn’t the way to go.  Gas grills, on the other hand, require just a push of a button and about 10 minutes to reach cooking temperature.

Taste

By far, taste is the clincher for most charcoal grill aficionados. With the charcoal type, you’ll get that guaranteed smoky flavor that many love and aren’t willing to give up, even for convenience. Following some simple instructions will also allow you to use that charcoal grill as a smoker, providing even more options for a great meal cooked outdoors. Proponents of charcoal grills note that the smoky flavor provided by cooking over charcoal is simply too overwhelming for some foods. They prefer the subtle flavor that is the result of gas grilling, especially for foods like fish, chicken, or vegetables. But while you can’t put different aromatic smoking woods directly into your gas grill, you can purchase a smoke box, which allows gas grill users to achieve some of that smoky flavor.

Clean Up

Cleaning up after cooking on a gas grill usually happens the next time you use your barbecue. Simply turn the heat on high (or on the preheat setting) and scrape off any stuck on residue left on the grates from the last meal. With a charcoal grill, users need to remove and dispose of the ashes after each use and should brush off the grates as well.

Maintenance

Because the gas grill has a number of mechanical parts, it’s easier for things to go wrong. Also, owners need to be diligent about checking the gas connections and lines for safety purposes, keeping the propane tank filled, and replacing the flavor briquettes when necessary. The grill should always be covered to prevent damage caused by the weather, including rusting. There aren’t many parts to worry about on a charcoal grill. If the grill is used often, it may be necessary to eventually replace the grates.  


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