Kitchen

Flame Wars: Gas Grills versus Charcoal Barbecue

Flame Wars: Gas Grills versus Charcoal Barbecue

Everyone loves the taste of barbecue food, but within this seemingly peaceful American tradition wages an eternal debate. Barbecue aficionados will always argue over which is better: charcoal or gas. In fact, if you have a barbecue firmly placed in the heart of your backyard or patio then you’ve already made a decision for yourself.

And although most people are opting for gas options these days,especially the Weber e320, there is still a select group of charcoal diehards who will never turn over to the “dark side”. No matter how hard you try to convince them, they will never opt for a gas barbecue that they would probably deem less “real”. And on the other side of the coin, gas users will always wonder why charcoal users don’t just get with the times and switch over to a barbecue that is so much more practical.

What’s all the fuss about anyways? Isn’t barbecue food the same any way you cook it? Here are both sides of the argument:

Why gas is better: quite simply, gas is so much easier to use. You don’t have to wait up to 25 minutes for the coals to turn gray (that’s when they’re ready), and you have complete control over the temperature within the grill itself. There is less chance of burning and you don’t have to deal with all those messy ashes when the cooking process is complete.

Gas grills are generally outfitted with more features (temperature control, grated levels, and different grilling sections) that allow you to vary your barbecue repertoire in addition to offering a larger cooking surface to work with. A good gas grill can be a powerhouse in your backyard that will help you to cook for large groups of people with relative ease. Numbers don’t lie and the fact is more people are buying gas grills these days than ever.

Why charcoal is better: no matter how good a gas device is, it can never compare to the taste that you get when using charcoal. This is the type of barbecue that you grew up with, and if it was good enough for your father and his father, then it is certainly good enough for you and your family. No matter how hard you try, you can never replicate the authentic taste using good old-fashioned charcoals versus a modern gas device.

Yes, it might be a little bit more challenging to tame the flames and there is certainly an increased chance of flare-ups. But it’s nothing any good barbecue king can’t handle, and an expert griller should welcome the challenge. Things are already too easy in the modern kitchen, and what a charcoal grill lacks in minor convenience, it certainly makes up for in the flavor department.

Still can’t decide? It seems to come down to a battle between ease-of-use and flavour. To make things easier (or possibly harder), here are two brief overviews of great grills in each category.

The Char Broil T480 Four-Burner 48000 BTU Gas Grill

This is a prime example of why people love a nice big gas grill to serve as the centerpiece of their summer meals. Ignition is quick and easy, and you will have access to four stainless steel burners that will generate enough heat to cook your chosen cuts of meat masterfully. But make no mistake, this is not a monster that simply generates power since it adds a touch of finesse to its game as well.

There is ample room for you to cook a variety of foods ranging from vegetables to seafood, and of course you’ll be able to bring popular favorites like burgers and steaks to perfection. You will also appreciate the varied levels in addition to the warming rack that can be used strategically when preparing food for large groups of people. It also has a good rate of fuel consumption and usually comes in at under the $300 range, making it a smart selection for a full-time family barbecue.

The Meco Series 4100 Model Utility Charcoal Grill

There are charcoal grills that are certainly more expensive and fancier than this model, but this is the type of barbecue that people grew up with. We’ve literally had one of these Meco Series grills sitting in our backyard for nearly a decade. You don’t get any elaborate side burners or heat delivery systems. The cooking space certainly isn’t larger than its more powerful gas counterpart. But what you do get is a good old-fashioned barbecue that does the job each and every time.

The coals load easily in the main bowl, and there are well-placed vents that allow for a degree of variability in cooking temperatures. And when you seal the heavy lid, you effectively create a wonderful barbecue oven that will infuse smoky flavor into whatever you have on the grill. This is the perfect model to pack in the back of your SUV and bring along for camping adventures or trips to the beach. Best of all, you can find this model for under $75.

In the end, the situation seems to mimic a David and Goliath scenario. On the one hand, you have gas grills that have more features and power at their disposal. On the other hand, you have charcoal which is commonly underestimated by many people who are used to the convenience associated with modern cooking.

Both have their strengths and weaknesses, and on any given day one might be able to out-cook the other. But of course it all depends on the person in charge of the overall barbecue and how they are able to incorporate their own personality and skills into the experience. Ultimately, the true winner is whoever gets to partake in the scrumptious food that comes off any barbecue grill, whether it is gas or charcoal.

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