Gas, Wood, Charcoal or Smoker: Which Grill Is Best?
So, the holiday season is here, and you need a new grill. The only problem is you’re not sure which type of grill to buy. You can choose from gas or charcoal — or even a wood grill or smoker if you’re feeling fancy. Whether you’re buying a grill for yourself or as a holiday surprise for someone else, here’s what you need to know before you buy.
Gas or Charcoal?
Let’s say you’ve decided to stick with one of the two basic grills: gas or charcoal. How do you choose between them? What are the perks of each one, and what are the drawbacks?
Gas Grill Pros and Cons
The gas grill’s strongest point is its simplicity: It’s incredibly easy to use (Check out these gas grills!). In fact, it’s not much different than cooking on your stove inside — especially if you have a gas stove. It’s also easy to clean, and it starts up quickly. Just turn the burner on, wait about 10 minutes, and you’re ready to roll. There are also lots of add-on features available for gas grills, such as rotisserie cookers and pizza ovens.
However, there are some cons to gas grills as well. The biggest complaint is the lack of flavor. Gas grills just can’t provide that smoky, straight-off-the-grill taste like charcoal can. They’re also harder to assemble. You’ll spend a couple of hours putting your new gas grill together; whereas, a charcoal grill takes half an hour or less to put together. Plus, they’re usually more expensive than charcoal when you’re looking at comparable models. Still, it’s worth noting that many steakhouses use gas grills for their steaks (Check out this article to see how to cook different cuts of steak). They like the quick, even cooking that gas offers, and some models get hot enough for perfect sear marks.
Charcoal Grill Pros and Cons
Obviously, the biggest pro is that charcoal grills provide the classic BBQ flavor. However, it comes with a price because charcoal grills are much more difficult to master than gas grills. Still, with a little practice, you can easily become an expert, even if you’re a novice now.
Charcoal grills also take longer to heat up — roughly 20 minutes, including the time it takes to pour your charcoal and light it. However, many grillers learn to use their charcoal grills as smokers, too, which is a nifty trick that can’t be pulled off on a gas grill. Of course, charcoal grills are also cheaper upfront than gas ones, and they can be set up in a jiffy. The downside is that you’ll spend all that time you saved later, cleaning the grates after the grill’s cooled back down.
The Bottom Line
Still confused? If you still can’t decide, try looking for a two-in-one version. They do exist, though they usually come with less grilling space and fewer features. Still, it’s a good option to consider if you truly can’t make up your mind.
Feeling Fancy? How ‘Bout Wood or a Smoker?
If you really love the idea of using a traditional BBQing technique, why not try a wood grill or smoker? These grills are a little harder to find than charcoal or gas grills, but they give food so much flavor that it’s worth the extra effort. Here are a few things to note about these types of grills.
Wood grills are typically seen as being for “advanced” grilling (Check out these grills and smokers!). If you want to impress your friends at the next BBQ, learn to master the wood grill.
They also give food wonderful flavor, especially when you use wood from fruit trees. Applewood-smoked meat just can’t be beaten for flavor. These grills don’t use any chemicals; they’re completely natural. Both charcoal and gas have synthetic chemicals included, but wood grills just use … wood.
Wood grills are a little more hands-on than charcoal or gas, which is why most grilling enthusiasts love them. Have you ever poked a stick at a campfire and marveled at the entertainment value? Well, wood grilling is a lot like that, except you get to eat steak when you’re done.
On the downside, wood grills typically take longer to use than other types of grills. They’re also usually more expensive, and they’re somewhat hard to find.
Smokers are really in a class by themselves; most people don’t even consider them grills (Check out these smokers!). However, they’re certainly worth mentioning. Smokers are the best BBQs you can use for smoky, tender meat that falls off the bone or for cooking bacon or ham.
While it’s true that you can use a charcoal grill for smoking, it’s not an exact science, and your results may be less than ideal when you’re done. Smokers are typically much better at holding a steady temperature, and they’re fairly hands-off when it comes to cooking. You can set your smoker up in the morning, and only come back to check on it throughout the day. Some people even set it up before bed and don’t check on it until the next morning! However, smoking your food obviously takes much longer than any other cooking method, so that’s something to keep in mind.
If you’re buying your first grill (or the first grill for someone on your Christmas list), it’s best to stick with one of the classics: either charcoal or gas. If you’re buying for a grill enthusiast who already owns a typical grill, it’s time to step up to a wood grill or smoker. Whichever one you choose, you won’t be disappointed. Once you’ve decided on a grill, you can find the best accessories at Grillaholics. Now, it’s time to take advantage of those Black Friday sales and get grilling!