Gas vs Charcoal Grilling - Which is Better?

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In summary: It's just hot air.Charcoal tastes better, but gas is easier.In summary, both methods have their pros and cons, but I personally prefer charcoal because it adds flavor.
  • #1
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Which is the better grilling method?


I personally prefer charcoal much more than eating gas grilled food.
 
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  • #2
You're going to get a zillion responses about how unhealthy one or the other or both is.

But charcoal adds flavour.
 
  • #3
DaveC426913 said:
You're going to get a zillion responses about how unhealthy one or the other or both is.

But charcoal adds flavour.

BAH, what doesn't cause cancer? Charcoal >> gas IMO
 
  • #4
Charcoal tastes better, but gas is easier.
 
  • #5
Both! Use a charcoal grill, and get the briquets going with a propane torch (mine is 500,000 BTU), so you don't have to taste the residue from lighter fluid. For quick and dirty, or large groups, the Char-Broil gas grill is the way to go. For smaller get-togethers or for smoking salmon, turkey, etc, the stacking modular charcoal-fired Brinkman smoker is the boss. I bought it at LL Bean at least 25 years ago, and though I've had to replace a few pans, it's still going strong.
 
  • #6
turbo-1 said:
Both! Use a charcoal grill, and get the briquets going with a propane torch (mine is 500,000 BTU), so you don't have to taste the residue from lighter fluid. For quick and dirty, or large groups, the Char-Broil gas grill is the way to go. For smaller get-togethers or for smoking salmon, turkey, etc, the stacking modular charcoal-fired Brinkman smoker is the boss. I bought it at LL Bean at least 25 years ago, and though I've had to replace a few pans, it's still going strong.

Lighter fluid? Never ever ever use lighter fluid. You need one of these.

weber-charcoal-chimeney.jpg
You can have your coals lit in 10-15 min. with that pup. It makes it 20x's easier. No lighter fluid necessary.

You should also use all natural charcoals rather than that compressed stuff like kingsford. It burns much hotter.
 
  • #7
My BBQ can do either one. Usually, I use charcoal. I often add a few wood chips (hickory, apple, mesquite, etc.) as well, for extra smoke flavor.

But sometimes it doesn't make sense to use charcoal, like if I'm cooking something wrapped in foil...it's not going to benefit from smoke. In those cases, I switch to gas.
 
  • #8
I recommend propane, and propane accessories I tell you whhat.
 
  • #9
WhoWee said:
Charcoal tastes better, but gas is easier.
Hmm... you can eat charcoal with your fingers, but how do you eat gas?
 
  • #10
gravenewworld said:
Lighter fluid? Never ever ever use lighter fluid. You need one of these.

weber-charcoal-chimeney.jpg



You can have your coals lit in 10-15 min. with that pup. It makes it 20x's easier. No lighter fluid necessary.

You should also use all natural charcoals rather than that compressed stuff like kingsford. It burns much hotter.

I have one of those...IT WORKS GREAT!
 
  • #11
gravenewworld said:
Lighter fluid? Never ever ever use lighter fluid. You need one of these.

weber-charcoal-chimeney.jpg



You can have your coals lit in 10-15 min. with that pup. It makes it 20x's easier. No lighter fluid necessary.

You should also use all natural charcoals rather than that compressed stuff like kingsford. It burns much hotter.
I hear you. I made these "starters" from open-ended coffee cans with can-opener air-holes in the early/mid 60s. My first Boy Scout merit badge was for cooking, and I spent a lot of time schooling my fellow scouts in how to gather fuel, start fires, keep fires graduated (some parts hot, some parts cooler) for cooking lots of stuff, and generally make some meals that other kids could stand to eat.
 
  • #12
russ_watters said:
Hmm... you can eat charcoal with your fingers, but how do you eat gas?

Veerry carefully

On topic though, I have a patio BBQ with both gas and a wood or charcoal fire box ...every time I cook with wood (the next day after it cools) my Lab puppy pulls out charred pieces of wood and eats them. The first time he drug a piece into the family room...wasn't pretty.
 
  • #13
We used to have an electric "element" thing that fit in the bottom of an elongated pan for starting charcoal. This was something we had way back when I was a wee little kid, and I have not seen such a thing since then, but it was by far the easiest way to start charcoal. Of course, it wasn't so useful if you were out camping or such, but for the backyard bbq, it worked well.

I prefer the taste of food cooked over charcoal, and have a charcoal grill for the times when I can take the time for getting it heated, but most of the time I use the propane grill because it's faster.
 
  • #14
For steaks I use a combination of about ~ 50% freshly cut and properly sized oak, and 50% charcoal, by volume.

In my experience, propane doesn't produce enough heat. I think there may be two aspects of this. Firstly, apparently many propane BBQs are underpowered.

...The most common drawback to propane grills isn’t inherent in this type, but comes from selecting the wrong model. Many propane models are simply too underpowered to do the job of cooking more than a hot dog or hamburger. To cook a large chicken piece or a regular (much less a thick) steak, you need significant heat. Some smaller propane models simply can’t supply it...
http://bbqright.com/natural-gas-vs-propane-vs-charcoal/natural-gas-vs-propane-vs-charcoal/ [Broken]

There is also the issue of how the heat is distributed. I've come to suspect that most propane BBQs don't produce as much energy per unit area [effective cooking area] as compared to what is possible with charcoal [and wood]. But I guess it could be that I've just never used a properly designed propane BBQ. There was one gourmet BBQ chef that I saw some years ago who seemed to confirm my perception of this when he said that nothing beats charcoal for steaks [within the context that you can never have too much heat]. Chicken is another story.
 
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  • #15
I have one of the cheapest propane grills available, since I bought it when I moved to the townhouse where I didn't know how trustworthy the area was for things left out on the back deck, which anyone could have walked down and taken something from. It's certainly not underpowered. If anything, it's a bit overpowered and things tend to burn even on the lowest setting. But, it's small and doesn't have those lava rock things to distribute the heat. I guess if you put the same burner into a larger grill, or add lava rocks between the flame and food, it would diffuse the heat and make it under powered.
 
  • #16
Ivan Seeking said:
For steaks I use a combination of about ~ 50% freshly cut and properly sized oak, and 50% charcoal, by volume.

In my experience, propane doesn't produce enough heat. I think there may be two aspects of this. Firstly, apparently many propane BBQs are underpowered.


http://bbqright.com/natural-gas-vs-propane-vs-charcoal/natural-gas-vs-propane-vs-charcoal/ [Broken]

There is also the issue of how the heat is distributed. I've come to suspect that most propane BBQs don't produce as much energy per unit area [effective cooking area] as compared to what is possible with charcoal [and wood]. But I guess it could be that I've just never used a properly designed propane BBQ. There was one gourmet BBQ chef that I saw some years ago who seemed to confirm my perception of this when he said that nothing beats charcoal for steaks [within the context that you can never have too much heat]. Chicken is another story.


Heat distribution in many large commercial grills is achieved by positioning the burners under long pieces of angle iron. The flame heats the metal, is evenly distributed and the effect of grease dripping on the metal surface and burning away adds more flavor. It is ideal for cooking chicken on a lower heat as well (original design for El Pollo Loco grill).

other designs featue the same basic design with ceramic/lava rocks over the metal baffles.
 
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  • #17
WhoWee said:
Heat distribution in many large commercial grills is achieved by positioning the burners under long pieces of angle iron. The flame heats the metal, is evenly distributed and the effect of grease dripping on the metal surface and burning away adds more flavor. It is ideal for cooking chicken on a lower heat as well (original design for El Pollo Loco grill).

other designs featue the same basic design with ceramic/lava rocks over the metal baffles.

I remembered this post by Monique

Monique said:
Yesterday evening I saw a program about food, part of it was a guy visiting a club serving the best steak in town. Apparently the best way to eat steak is to let 'to die' for 12 weeks (they used the dutch word "besterven", not sure how to translate it), that is three months! :bugeye: they then seered it in a 1900 fahrenheit oven, 1000 celcius.
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=717907&highlight=steak#post717907

It sounded like they used a 1900 deg F uniform heat source, which would be inline with what the chef said.
 
  • #18
Ivan Seeking said:
I remembered this post by Monique


https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=717907&highlight=steak#post717907

It sounded like they used a 1900 deg F uniform heat source, which would be inline with what the chef said.

I bet what Monique was referring to is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dried_beef" [Broken] It's paradise, for those who love really good beef. But good luck trying to buy it at your local grocery store.
 
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  • #19
lisab said:
I bet what Monique was referring to is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dried_beef" [Broken] It's paradise, for those who love really good beef. But good luck trying to buy it at your local grocery store.
Yeah, my "meat connection" that gets me restaurant overstock are all specially dry aged. The meat is so tender, it is almost falling apart before you cook it.

YUMMY!

And I prefer charcoal if I am grilling. Evo and containers of compressed gas + fire are not a good idea.
 
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  • #20
I find that gas grills burn food more often than charcoal grills especially with thick cuts of steak/beef/pork/chicken because you have to turn them up to get the meat cooked all the way through. The flame in a gas grill is contanstly in contact with the meat when you have it turned up resulting in burned food. Charcoal you don't have to worry about this. You get more intense heat with little flame which yields less burned food.
 
  • #21
gravenewworld said:
I find that gas grills burn food more often than charcoal grills especially with thick cuts of steak/beef/pork/chicken because you have to turn them up to get the meat cooked all the way through. The flame in a gas grill is contanstly in contact with the meat when you have it turned up resulting in burned food. Charcoal you don't have to worry about this. You get more intense heat with little flame which yields less burned food.

Your first mistake is trying to cook meat all the way through. :biggrin:
 
  • #22
Moonbear said:
Your first mistake is trying to cook meat all the way through. :biggrin:
Yep! Bring a thick steak to room temperature or warmer before cooking it, sear it well on both sides, and throw it on my plate. I'll be happy. If it isn't rare in the middle, it's over-done.
 
  • #23
Gravenewworld, that is a good point about the flame. I can run the grill as hot as I want, but if I allow a flame to start, it's all toast.

According to this site, charcoal burns at temps well beyond 1000C.
http://www.personal.rdg.ac.uk/~scsharip/Charcoal.htm

Propane burns at almost 2000C. Monique's reference claimed that they cooked the meat at 1900 F, or about 1000C. So maybe 1000C is the ideal temp for steaks.

At this point I tend to think that the problem with the typical propane BBQ is that if not underpowered, the heat is concentrated in the flame, rather than being distributed as it is in commercial appliances.
 
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  • #24
Anybody remember hearing about this in the 1990's?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBLr_XrooLs

Disclaimer: Liquid oxygen is extremely dangerous.
 

1. What are the main differences between gas and charcoal grilling?

The main difference between gas and charcoal grilling is the source of heat. Gas grills use propane or natural gas to produce heat, while charcoal grills use charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal. This results in differences in cooking time, flavor, and temperature control.

2. Which type of grilling produces more flavor?

Charcoal grilling is often preferred for its ability to produce a smoky flavor in the food. Charcoal briquettes and lump charcoal release natural compounds called lignin when burned, which add a distinct flavor to the food. However, some people prefer the cleaner taste of gas grilling.

3. Is one type of grilling healthier than the other?

Both gas and charcoal grilling are considered safe and healthy methods of cooking. However, some studies suggest that grilling with charcoal may produce more harmful chemicals, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). These can be reduced by using lean meats and trimming excess fat.

4. Which type of grilling is more convenient?

Gas grills are generally seen as more convenient than charcoal grills. They require less prep time and are easier to clean up. With a gas grill, you can simply turn a knob to adjust the temperature, while charcoal grills require more effort to control the heat.

5. How do the costs compare between gas and charcoal grilling?

Gas grills are typically more expensive to purchase than charcoal grills, but they can be more cost-effective in the long run. Charcoal briquettes and propane tanks need to be replaced regularly, while natural gas grills can be connected to a gas line in your home. However, the cost of fuel may vary depending on your location and frequency of grilling.

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