Propane vs Charcoal Grill 

The conversation of propane vs charcoal grill has been going on for years. Every year more articles are published about this matter. This makes the debate of propane vs charcoal grill one of the most popular ones in the market. We have also done our part to include some parts in the conversation so that you can understand it a bit better. If you are new to the grilling world then you would need a detailed description about it. Take a look. 

Charcoal vs Gas Grill

The debate is also known as the Great Debate because so many people are invested in it. Everyone has their own opinion and they want to express it. First we are going to take a look at the pros and cons of the charcoal and gas list. The only thing that we need to do is to make sure that we understand our cooking needs and cooking method so that we can make the right choice. 

Charcoal Grills

There are some people that say that grilling without any charcoal is no grilling at all. The hardcore grillers will tell you that you are not grilling if you are using gas and they are avid fans of charcoal grills. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of the charcoal grill. 

Pros

  • It is said that the charcoal grill can reach a higher temperature than the gas grill. The general gas grills are set to reach a temperature of 600 degrees Fahrenheit that can give a good sear to the food but there are kettle grills that run on charcoal that reaches a temperature of 700 degrees Fahrenheit. There are gas grills that can reach above that temperature but they are very rare and are present in the pricier range.
  • They are very cheap. A basic charcoal grill can come to you under some dollars. If you want to buy a decent charcoal grill, you can get it under 100 dollars. This is a great way to ensure the budget of the purchase.
  • There is a fact that food on the charcoal grill tastes much better than the food on a gas grill. It is undeniable. That rich smoky flavor that you get from the charcoal is one of a kind. The juices dropping from the food can turn into smoke and add more flavor to the food. You need to taste the charcoal grilled food to understand how delicious it is.

Cons 

  • Charcoal grills need time to heat up. You have to spare 20 to 30 minutes to heat up the charcoal grill to your desired temperature. On the other hand the gas grill can heat up instantly.
  • Charcoal does burn easily than gas so you are going to have extra cost on fuel.
  • The cleaning process of the charcoal grill is a bit tiresome. It takes time and you need to do the work. Gas grills do not need much time for the cleaning up.

Gas Grills

There is no denying that the gas grills are very easy to use. They save a lot of time for the user and they do a good enough job. They are also rendered by the grilling community as the beginners grill because they are so convenient to use. There are two sides of the coin so they also come with their set of pros and cons. Let's take a look at them. 

Pros 

  • Gas grills are said to be better for the environment as well as for you given the scientific fact that it contains lesser carcinogens compared to char-kissed charcoal-grilled meats. In case of the environment the gas grills have a carbon footprint which is about one-third of charcoal grills’ carbon footprint.
  • It can preheat very quickly unlike the charcoal grill. This means that you will not waste any time on the cooking process. It is also much easier to control the temperature of the grill. The turning of the valves will do the job for you. This is much easier than controlling the temperature of the charcoals.
  • You can cook different kinds of food on the gas grills. It is very versatile in nature.

Cons 

  • There is the need to assemble the gas grill which is going to take some time. Sometimes the instructions for the assembly process is not that good and you will be confused and frustrated about it. It's better to go with a brand that gives proper instructions in the manual.
  • It is difficult to carry a tank around for grilling. Travel propane grills are made for the purpose of camping but it is still dangerous.
  • You have to be very safe when it comes to gas grill. You need to check for any leaks and be aware of your environment.

Gas vs. Charcoal Head To Head

Now we are going to take a look at the head to head comparison of the gas and charcoal grill. We are sure that you are going to get a clearer view of the major difference between the two types of grills. We have taken the points and then we have decided which one is better out of the two. Let's take a look at that without wasting any more time. 

Price 

The price of a charcoal grill is always going to be lesser than that of a gas grill. You can buy a basic Weber kettle grill for a price of 120 dollars or you can go for the one with 170 dollars. It comes with all the bells and whistles that you would want in a grill. There are many kinds of charcoal grills out there but all of them are very cheap and affordable. 

Gas grills have a lot more going on so they are generally going to cost more than the charcoal grills. This is not much in the grilling world but when we are comparing it to charcoal grills, they are definitely much high priced. There are 99 dollar options that you can buy but remember that those grills will last you for only one season. They are not meant for long term use. You should not choose them if you plan to become a regular griller and enjoy a meal with your friends and family every time. It is smart to invest in a good gas grill. There are many options out there that can provide you with a good service if you pay a bit more. It looks like charcoal grills won this one. 

Flavor 

When you are comparing the flavor of a charcoal and gas grill then it goes without a doubt that the flavor of the food cooked on the charcoal grill is going to be much higher than the flavor of the food cooked on the gas grill. The common sense is that if you are using hardwood or lump charcoal for the grilling then the food gets infused with much more smoky flavor than in a gas grill. 

Gas burns clean so the by-products that you get from the gas grill is water vapor and carbon dioxide. Charcoal produces a whole host of other molecules. They land on the food and add to the flavor of the food. Another fact that makes the charcaol grilled food so much better is that they have drippings that drips on the charcoal and proteins burn up to create the new aromatic compounds. This happens to add to the flavor. You can also see this happening in the gas grills but we have to say that it is much more prominent in the charcoal grill. 

There is another way that we need to look at things. When you are dealing with fast cooking food like steaks, burgers, pork chops, fish, or vegetables, you will find no difference between the food cooked on the charcoal and the gas grill. The difference is noticeable when it comes to long period of cooking using indirect heat. This is mostly prominent in cooking foods like ribs, brisket or any other kind of barbecue. 

Smoking

Smoking is a great way to cook delicious meat. It take a long time to smoke a piece properly but it is all worth it in the end. Smoking works in a fascinating way. When the wood shoulders, it release a number of water-soluble compounds. These enter the environment with the water vapor. These vapor particles moves and comes in contact with the cold surface of the meat. This leads to condensation and teeny-tiny droplets of water are formed on the surface of the food. Remember that these water droplets are packed with intense flavor. The water will evaporate and it will leave the intense flavor behind. Isn't it a fascinating process? 

Steps to be Follow

The process leaves a dark, brownish residue on the food. If you want to smoke on a charcoal grill then you can toss a few pieces of wood in the charcoal. If you want to smoke on a gas grill then you need to do some work. The wood needs to be wrapped in aluminum foil and placed close to the flame. For the food to be smoker properly, you need to make sure that the food is getting the smoke. The smoke should not escape the chamber. There should be enough open source so that the wood can burn properly. The major difference between the two grills comes out in this aspect. 

You can close the vents on the charcoal grill and then put on the lid to create an environment for smoking for a short term. This is because you are cutting off all the oxygen supply to the charcoal. It will slowly die down. You need to keep it a tiny bit open so that you can smoke for a longer period of time. The gas grill does not seal very well. This is due to the design of the gas grill. It is a safety process so we can not argue about it. 

This is due to the fact that a gas grill is always spitting out gas in smal amounts. If you close up the grill tightly with no room for the gas to escape then it can lead to an explosion. It can be difficult to get those intense smoky flavor on the gas grill. Looks like we have to give the point to charcoal grills. 

Temperature Extremes

The maximum and minimum temperatures of a grill is very important when it comes to comparing two kinds of grills. We will not be surprised to say that coal beats gas grills in both the extremes. The temperature of the charcaol grill can be easily managed. You can go as high as you want by adding in more charcaol. Don't forget that charcoal can produce so much heat that it was able to power the engine of a train. They have great potential and if you use the right amount of charcaol then you can also get your desired temperature of the grill. It can be a bit hard to understand about the measurements at first but the more you practice the better you will get at it. 

Charcoal is much hotter than gas. There are limits set to the gas grill which you can not extend. You have to work within the confines. Charcoal can go so high that it can sear the heat in a matter of minutes. It also wins when it comes to minimum temperature as they can burn very low. Even when you place your gas grill in the lowest setting, it is going to create a lot more energy than the lowest temperature that a charcoal grill can emit without burning out. Charcoal grills wins this round too. 

Heat Management : Lid Configuration

There is one thing that regular grillers have notices about the lid configuration of the gas and charcoal grills. Yes, they can cause a difference and they can change the cooking process. When it comes to charcoal grills, if you close the lid then you will prevent much oxygen into the grill and the charcoal will run low. If you open the lid then it is going to run high. It is the opposite for gas grills. Closing the grill will not affect the temperature and you get to trap the heat inside the grill. 

This needs to be noted since it affects how you cook. For example if you are trying to sear meat on the charcoal grill then you need to keep the lid open and if you are trying it on a gas grill then you have to cover the surface. There is another side effect that you need to be aware of. When it comes to charcoal grill you can get the most intense heat via radiation and convection. The grill bars do not do any job other than keeping the food in place and leaving some grill marks. In a gas grill, the heat that cooks your food comes from the heat of the grill grates. There is little to no infrared or convection heat going on in a gas grill.

This means that when you cook a food on coal, it is going to brown more evenly. The parts between the grill grates is going to brown much more and become more crispy than the parts that are in direct contact with the grill grates. The opposite of this happens in the case of the gas grill. The heavy grill marks comes from the grills and the places in between the grill grates is not going to be that brown. It will be relatively pale. It is so interesting to note the difference between the two. Charcoal grills provide much better flavor and texture to the food because of this so we are going to say that they won in this category too. 

Temperature Control

It can be really difficult to control the temperature of the charcoal grill. Many users still struggle with temperature control when it comes to charcoal grills. You know that it takes a lot of time and practice to master this skill and this makes charcoal grills much more unlikely for beginners. Charcoal briquettes can be consistent but stacking them can be a problem. Lump hardwood is very inconsistent so we are not very keen on using it. They have large pieces that can burn for some time and then there are small pieces that will burn out really fast without any use. The dust can dampen the flame. 

Then these is the vents that you need to manually control in order to control the temperature of the grill. You have to understand that the environment in which you are cooking is also going to affect the charcoal grill. You have to aware of the weather conditions. The minute movement of the vents can cause an increase or decrease in the temperature of the grill. That's all that there is to it. If you want to invest some time into learning this skill then go for it. It will take time but you will be rewarded with this useful skill that not many people can do. 

Gas grills do not have any problem with temperature control. You can just set the temperature of the grill and it is going to stay there until your gas goes out. All you need to do is to set the temperature and place the food on the grill. This is why gas grills are considered to be the best for the users. You can easily manage the grill by controlling the temperature. It does not take a genius to work on a gas grill. Finally gas grills win a point in this competition. 

Fire-Up and Cool-Down Time

It takes time to start a charcoal grill. You have to set time aside to light the charcoal and then allow it to reach the temperature that you want. Once you have lit the charcoal, you are going to be on a timer to cook the food. You also have to so the calculation of adding more fuel in case you are cooking for a long time. Turning the gas grill on is no hassle. You just need to turn the valve or push the button. It takes a few minutes to preheat the grill but that's the extent of it. You can start to cook food on the grill immediately. 

It is also easy to put off the gas grill. Just turn it off and the flames go out. In case of the charcoal grill, you need to suffocate the coal so that it goes out. It can take some time to completely go off. This is generally done by closing all the vents and lids of the charcoal grill. We have to say that when it comes to ease, the gas grill surely takes the cake. 

Clean Up

If you have ever used a charcoal grill then you know that it can be a hassle to clean. The ash that is left behind by the charcoal can get everywhere and cover your entire backyard with black soot. It can be bothersome to clean. Gas grills are much easier to clean and they do not take so much time. The gas grills wins another point. 

Conclusion 

That's the end of the article. In simple words, if you are looking for an easy to use grill then you should go for the gas grill. If you want to have the authentic grilling experience where you have to work to get the food then you should go for the charcoal grill. It is also a fact that the food cooked on the charcoal grill is going to taste much better. You can pick the one that suits you the most. We think that it is an objective matter that is best left in the hands of the user. Thank you so much for giving this article a read. Make sure you have a fun time grilling the food. Have fun!