Ask a group of grilling enthusiasts whether they prefer gas or charcoal-powered cookers and you’d best grab a drink and settle in, because there’s sure to be a debate. People are passionate about the equipment they use to barbecue, and for good reason. The type of grill you choose can affect everything from timing to flavor to cleanup.
Here’s what you should know about your grill options before you go shopping.
Pros and Cons of Charcoal Grills
Charcoal grilling has been popular for decades, largely because it offers higher temps for beautifully seared steaks and kabobs. Charcoal also gives off a smoky aroma and taste thanks to the cycle of fat and juices dripping onto the hot coals, vaporizing, then steaming the food cooking up above.
Gas grills also tend to be more affordable, but there are two potential drawbacks: prep and cleanup. It can take longer to fire up a charcoal grill, and you’ll need to scrape your grill grates and clean out charcoal ash regularly.
Pros and Cons of Gas Grills
Gas grills are easier to power up — most models have push-button starts that allow you to get grilling in minutes. You can usually dial in your heat level, too, for more precise cooking.
There’s some evidence that gas grilling is better for you and the environment. That lovely smoke-kissed flavor you get from charcoal may not be so good for your health, and gas grilling carries less of a carbon footprint.
On the con side, gas grilling can be considerably more expensive. You’ll likely pay more for the grill itself, and the propane needed to run it can be costly.