» Charcoal or gas?
The charcoal versus gas debate has roared on for years – and will doubtless continue to do so for a good while yet.
Charcoal grillers take a certain pride in their ability to get the fire started and tend to it properly while they cook. Gas grillers, on the other hand, like having a perfect fire at the push of a button and appreciate the precision temperature adjustments gas grills can provide.
Taste tests have shown there’s no significant flavour difference either way, so here we take a look at the pros and cons of both gas and charcoal barbecues, to help you decide which one’s right for you.
Pros of Gas
Instant heat - makes gas BBQs quick and easy to set up. No waiting around, just turn it on 10 minutes before you start cooking, for best results.
Controllable heat -gas heat remains constant, and can be turned down when you want, giving you confidence the food is properly cooked
Versatility - whether side burners for sauces, or a rotisserie for roasting meats, your gas BBQ can do anything.
BBQ flavour comes from food juices hitting a hot surface, whether coals or lava rock, so your gas BBQ gives as good a flavour as the traditional charcoal.
Wood smoking was previously a point for charcoal BBQs, but smoker boxes make wood smoking as easy for gas as charcoal.
Easy cleaning is another advantage of gas BBQs. No hot, dirty ashes to clean. Instead, drip trays collect the mess. Turn the heat up for 10 minutes to burn off any juices, and scrape off with a wire brush.
Cost effective fuel – One Calor gas cylinder provides enough fuel for up to 8 hours at maximum setting.
Cons of Gas
The initial cost of gas BBQs can be more expensive than charcoal BBQs, however, there is a wide price range to choose from.
For techniques such as smoking, extra equipment must be bought.
Pros of Charcoal
Easy wood smoking has always been charcoal’s advantage over gas, although now it is easy with gas too.
Natural BBQ flavour – charcoal BBQs are well known for that delicious BBQ flavour, although it’s not limited to charcoal only!
Initial cost – Charcoal BBQs can be very cheap to buy, depending of course on the model.
Cons of Charcoal
Slow heat – charcoal BBQs take about 40 minutes to heat up – meaning spur of the moment BBQs are not an option!
Timing - you must cook when the coals are at their hottest, otherwise you will have missed your chance.
The heat is not controllable . Charcoal BBQs will cool down of their own accord, meaning you may have to start again from scratch.
Fuel costs can be high to maintain throughout the BBQ season.
Hard to clean – hot ash can be hard to clean. You must clean the grate, brush the ashes out and scrub off cooked on foods.