a basic 4-burner barbecue with a smoker box on the grill. From our barbecue test results, I knew the Weber would have no trouble delivering consistent temperature on the grill, but I wanted to assess if people found the chicken tastier if it had been cooked over coals. The debate of Charcoal vs. Gas has been going on for decades and there’s a reason the answer isn’t finite…it’s because BOTH have their pros and cons. From large patio-style models to smaller portable models, our latest test includes a barbecue to suit most people. The brisket on the Weber was the first to reach the right internal temperature, which isn’t desirable as faster cooking can mean tougher meat. Best Charcoal Grill: Our Test Kitchen recommends the Weber’s Original Kettle Charcoal Grill ($109) for its durability and temperature control. Pellet Grill vs. Charcoal Grill. However, a downside is some gas barbecues have hot spots – but once you know where they are, you can adjust your cooking technique accordingly. As described above, charcoal smoke contains a compound that adds up flavor to the food. Deciding on a grilling option completely depends on your taste buds, but when you are a cooking enthusiast, you should know the … Or if you in a hurry you could chuck some burger patties on the gas grill and be eating 5 minutes later. Watch here to determine whether you can taste the difference here! Another thing to consider is how you plan to grill. This means you can cook food for longer at lower temperatures, or more food at higher heat, all without adding more fuel. After the brisket was done, I turned the heat back up on the Weber and the Broil King and covered the grill area with wings (half were lemon-pepper-flavoured and the rest were covered in barbecue sauce). With our cookbook, it's always BBQ season. It kept its temperature well enough that it’d work if you were cooking lots of food. While many people are familiar with charcoal grills, it’s worth noting that charcoal grills come in … Unfortunately sometimes you have to pick one. Once again, our annual barbecue test shows Weber makes exceptional outdoor cooking systems. “While it looks good, it’s not an indicator of quality or even smoke. Charcoal can keep a constant temperature for a long time. On the Broil King and the Weber, I also cooked 2 different flavours of chicken wings. Weber's $109 original kettle-style grill continues to stand the test of time as the best grill for cooking with charcoal. Since you can't dial down the heat of white-hot coals, it's a good strategy to leave empty spaces on the lower grill grate (areas without briquettes). Barbecue on a medium heat. The Broil King Keg is my pick of the 3 for smoking meat or long, slow cooking. In meat-loving circles, few topics get argued more intensely or more often than charcoal vs. gas grills.Stumble onto any barbecue or carnivore-centric message board, and you’re sure to bump heads with any number of gas-fiends and charcoal-fanatics.The problem – as with most of these debates – is that one isn’t actually better than the other. To decide what kind of grill is right for you, consider where the grill is going to sit. The beast of a smoker he usually uses weighs a few tonnes and uses an indirect method to slowly cook meat. A smoker box is an enclosed metal box lined with woodchips. Gas smoke produces no flavor at all because it’s simple and it’s composed of only two things: water and carbon dioxide. It was simpler to use than I expected. And charcoal, of course, is made from wood. Charcoal mixed with woodchips is how you get the traditional barbecue flavour. This was mostly due to the meat from the Keg retaining a overly smoky flavour. I also roped in a group of friends, and another of co-workers. The Keg, loaned by RetailLinks, is a type of barbecue I had never used before. As a general rule, the more convenient a grill is the less smoke flavor it produces. These heat much faster and have the convenience of a general cooking appliance. For charcoal vs. gas grills, many say it is the flavor you get when grilling on that open flame, and it very well could be even though tests have shown that there truly is no difference in taste. As for the blind taste test, the average person wouldn't tell the difference between my tri-tip on charcoal or my tri-tip on gas with wood chips. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (the longer the better). I just don't like how it cooks steak with the lid down. Coals give an uneven heat across the grill and temperature is harder to change. Gas Grill The smoke from a gas grill is less compared to the smoke coming from a charcoal grill. Add wings. Many folks report that burgers and hot dogs are just more flavorful coming off a charcoal grill. Oh, and of course no politics or celebrity gossip! Hopefully I can help you make an informed choice of your own by pointing out the benefits and drawbacks of both, starting with gas. Emergency Grilling: For When the Power Goes Out, The 6 Best Grills You Can Buy at Walmart in 2020, The 10 Best Grilling Cookbooks to Read in 2020, Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Grill, The 6 Best Propane Delivery Services of 2020. Gas grills can be fueled by natural gas or propane. To assess how different tastes are imparted by different barbecuing techniques, I cooked on 3 systems and then served the results to groups of tasters. Electric grills produce no flare-ups and are safer in smaller areas. “It’s great for quick stuff or even if you want to do something like a roast chicken in it.”, We did have a laugh over the official recipes online for things like hot cross buns made in a Weber. Place wings in a bowl. Toss the wings through the seasoning until well coated. Charcoal and gas grills are the most common grills that you can choose for your cooking needs and this article highlights the pros and cons of charcoal vs gas grills. The debate over charcoal versus gas can get heated, and adding newer electric grills in to the mix only fuels the fire. A Weber barbecue efficiently circulates heat inside the dome, acting like an outdoor oven. Finally, there is the issue of cost. That’s perfectly cooked,” he said. It soon became clear the charcoal barbecue was the favourite, while the smoker box came second. However, a windy day can disrupt gas burners set low and you need to make sure you don’t run out of fuel. Charcoal: A favorite of grill masters everywhere. The smoker box required the least amount of attention as it’s a set-and-forget method. With all the disadvantages of charcoal grilling, a lot of homeowners still prefer it over the gas grill. “Don’t read too much into the smoke ring,” Aaron said, referencing the dark pink band at the edge of a slice of smoked meat. Grill masters’ favorite debate—charcoal vs. gas—will never have a clear winner from a culinary perspective. I made 2 seasonings for the wings in our taste experiment, 1 sauce-heavy version and 1 that that wouldn’t be as sticky on the grill. This is the same thing as a propane grill - since no flavor is imparted from the propane flame it's essentially just a outdoor oven. Get the best viral videos, news, and facts to change your life right to your inbox! Electric grills typically are the cheapest to operate, and you never have run out to the store for more fuel. But how does a Weber stack up against other barbecuing techniques? Charcoal Grill On the other hand, charcoal smoke is a bit more complex. All food was blind-tasted, with one group sampling it hot and the other trying the leftovers cold. Karl Engel, head chef of award winning BBQ team Pigcasso (http://on.fb.me/135gETN), discusses the pros and cons of gas and charcoal grills. Two reasons: low heat and smoke. I've been a propane griller for years and now I use charcoal not for the taste, but because frankly, I like to play with fire. I’m truly sorry to those of you charcoal fans to tell you this, but a lot of taste difference is in the way you season or grill … You can simulate this by using a smoker box on your gas grill, which is what we tried in our experiment. Newsletter. We've done the research so you don't have to. While these barbecues can’t be faulted for their technical abilities, you could be wondering if there’s any difference between a sausage cooked on a Weber or in an oven. Want more stuff like this? This sauce will make a mess of your grill, so be prepared to have to clean it. They cook things easily and evenly, and its popular Q-series barbecues are small enough to fit on an apartment balcony. This makeshift smoker didn’t work as the chips never really started smoking (In retrospect, I felt I needed to keep the chips dry and use a more direct heat on them). Douglas Anderson, right, cooks on a gas grill, while Lefty Nash uses charcoal, in a 2007 faceoff. The Weber, loaned to us by Wellington BBQ & Fire, required lots of work to act as a smoker. It's great to have you! Cover meat in rub, wrap in cling film, and refrigerate overnight. However, the group was split between the 2 systems for the hot wings, with the lemon pepper on charcoal and barbecue on the Weber coming out on top. When you notice this happening, wrap the meat in tinfoil and put it back in. As a friend of mine once said: “It’s so easy cooking on the Weber, it’s just boring.”. In fact, many electric grills add virtually nothing to the taste of foods. It was even easy to clean, despite the barbecue wings sticking to it like glue. Want to cook a bunch of steaks at a picnic? You should be able to cut a strip [roughly a centimetre thick] and rest it over your finger and it just breaks. Charcoal has long been the favorite of the backyard grill masters for the taste that it adds to food. This site uses cookies to help us understand how visitors engage with our website. Each type of barbecue harnesses fire in a different way, and that changes how you cook with it. On each of these, I slow-cooked a brisket. How you grill matters. The question to ask yourself is, do you want a fast and easy meal, or are you looking for something more? First, let’s talk about the charcoal. The charcoal grilled steak had a distinct smoke flavor. Once I got the coals to the right temperature, I scattered woodchips over the top and added the meat to the grill. to find out how JavaScript is used on Consumer. Gas grills do produce flare-ups and need to be away from any structure to avoid those pesky house fires. Of course, charcoal grilling requires more time and attention than gas, from building and lighting the briquettes to waiting for the coals to get hot to managing the flame. Many people root for one or the other, but like most things in life, there is a spectrum. The other element, smoke, is more obvious. If you want to come home from work and throw a couple of steaks or chicken breasts on the grill with virtually no hassle, then an electric or gas unit might be what you are looking for. An electric grill is the easiest to use but doesn't have that real fire flavor, while hardwood charcoal fires give you the best flavor but can be the hardest to deal with. For each BBQ, I used a digital thermometer to monitor the meat and ensure it was at the right temperature internally at each stage. That is why it tastes better than gas grilling. Then again, the counter-argument is ‘for taste charcoal is best'. The Weber shone for the wings, with a clear majority preferring them when cold. Hardcore grillers and barbecue cooks treat this style of cooking much more like a hobby than just a way to cook a meal. Charcoal vs Gas Grill Taste Test. Charcoal is a more temperamental fuel. In fact, its instructions say to leave the lid down during cooking to make sure the food’s cooked properly. The idea that the charcoal grill has some kind of magical flavour power is a myth. Fire, in some form, is what every barbecue uses to cook and what gives barbecued food its unique flavour. This is a basic barbecue sauce. The Weber may be “boring” but it performs exceptionally well. And I like to see what's cooking. For each barbecue, I used soaked apple, hickory and mesquite woodchips (soaking woodchips means they smoulder instead of burn, and each wood type gives a different flavour). It was difficult keeping the barbecue’s temperature low enough using the ring, so I had to constantly monitor the single burner to keep the heat under 150°C. BBQ Taste Test Between Charcoal vs Gas: Here is an interesting viral video from Pitmaster X! Gas gives an easily controlled flame. As opposed to the gas grill that only needs a quick scrub with a brush, a charcoal grill has to be emptied of its used ashes before it can be scrubbed. Simon Plant / The Image Bank / Getty Images. The authentic smoky, off-the-fire taste of grilled foods is strongest with the original heat source: wood. Another reason is the charcoal burns a lot hotter than a gas grill can. The meat sits above the chips on a rack. Gas vs Charcoal Grill: Contrasts and Comparisons. The answer is flavour. But my friends who take grilling as serious as I … On the other hand, if you like to relax on a weekend and have some drinks or socialize while you fine-tune your fire or slow-roast a chicken, charcoal gives you a lot more to work with. Meanwhile, an electric smoker is definitely the safest and the smartest device. Derrick Riches is a grilling and barbecue expert. Of course, charcoal really isn't that complicated and with practice can be just a reliable as using a gas grill. While you can control temperature easier on a gas grill, it’s hard to get the low heat you need for long, slow cooking. through this article and the main one on the BBQs it was almost impossible to tell which BBQs are gas and which are charcoal. The next group, who tried the brisket cold the next day, had a wider range of opinions, with the smoker box being slightly more favoured over the charcoal Keg. So why would anyone ever cook with it? The bottom vent let air flow in, and the top vent let air, and smoke, out. Sorry, you need to have JavaScript enabled to use our website. To serve as my expert judge, I brought in Aaron Wagstaff, chef at Kāpiti restaurant Salt & Wood Collective, known for its American-style, smoked barbecue food. Charcoal gives a feel of the traditional, typical flavor that comes from wood chips, whereas a propane gas grill imparts a bacon-like taste. The only way to counter this would be to put a water tray in the bottom first, then arrange the coals around that. “Stall” is when the internal temperature of the meat stops rising. a basic 4-burner barbecue with a smoker box on the grill. If the taste is important to you, go for the charcoal grill but if you are strapped for time, you should go for a gas grill. Your mileage may vary significantly depending on make and model and how you have it set up. There is also a lot of personal preference involved, both with taste, ease of use, and cost of both the grill and the fuel (charcoal or gas). On the subject of taste, in a study conducted a while back participants were presented with hamburgers and steak cooked on gas and charcoal units. You can get a really tasty piece with no ring and a piece with a thick ring without even using smoke.”, Despite preferring the brisket from the other 2 systems, Aaron still praised the Weber. The Weber has 2 burners: a ring around the edge of the grill and a single burner through the centre. For years the charcoal grill was the standard for the home cooking grilling aficionado. It’s clean, quick, efficient, and also better for the environment. It is very hard to tell how much heat a gas grill will deliver because the manufacturers only tell you BTU, British Thermal Units, used. It teaches you everything that you need to know about these popular grills. Get it free when you sign up for our newsletter. Even with a grill covered in chicken wings, there was no need to worry that some were burning while others were raw. To get the smoke flavour, I placed woodchips in a tinfoil roasting dish, covered the dish with a rack, and then placed the brisket on top. Brisket is a cheap cut of meat that needs cooking for a long time over a low heat to break down tough connective tissue (exactly how long depends on the size of the meat, but usually at least 6 hours). “Plus, lighting charcoal is a huge pain in the ass.” Dan Zuccarello, the executive food editor of nooks at America’s Test Kitchen, sums it up perfectly. The one simple thing you need to know is that choosing the best fuel type—charcoal, gas, or electric—for you is primarily a matter of taste and convenience. Some people add a slather of mustard and vinegar to the meat before coating. This was to see what the difference was (if any) between a gas grill and charcoal and if you could replicate the flavours of charcoal on a gas barbecue. The box can handle direct heat to get the woodchips smoking, but then you should switch to the burners that aren’t beneath the box (and adjust the temperature as necessary). Now that you know charcoal vs gas grill pros and cons, it is likely for you to decide to purchase both types of grills. The results of our experiment showed the barbecue you should get depends on how you like to cook and your taste buds. While the Broil King Keg was able to cook the chicken at a constant temperature that required less monitoring, the Weber did the job faster, with tastier results. Gas ones primarily run on either liquid propane (LP) or natural gas while charcoal grills use coal as fuel. Gas flames don’t give off smoke and any barbecue flavour comes from charring the meat instead. As you move to electric units, there is very little of this flavor left. I decided to see how food prepared on the Weber stacked up against more “traditional” barbecuing techniques. He researched in the US, where barbecuing is an art form. ... What people like about charcoal is that the rich, meaty taste of a steak is given an added depth of flavor from the smoke. While the Keg 5000 retails for $1800 – so you’d need to be pretty keen on your barbecuing for that, especially as a half-decent 4-burner gas barbecue could set you back about $500, with a smoker box an extra $50 or so. The Weber fits in the back of your car and can be fired up quickly. A smoker box is great for smoking fish or chicken but also does well with darker meats. This makes Webers practically idiot-proof. Quite naturally, gas vs charcoal smoker is more environment-friendly. Charcoal, Gas, or Electric Grill: Which Is Best? Alas, most gas grill lids do not seal well, so a lot of the smoke is lost and more wood is needed than on a tighter grill. Cover liberally with oil and toss again. No one could tell the difference between the charcoal or gas when it came to the hamburgers, but they could tell the difference with the steak. Thanks, you're now signed up. Gas grills are generally more expensive than electric or charcoal; charcoal being the cheapest. Charcoal vs. Gas Grill Debate People likely have their own opinion on how to barbeque and what type of grill achieves the best result. The double-walled Keg kept everything at a mostly constant temperature. But when you ask health experts, the answer is clear: Gas grilling wither either propane or natural gas is healthier than charcoal for your body and the environment. Both recipes are for a kilogram of wings. I had to adjust the vents only a few times to ensure the heat stayed consistent. This adds another layer of flavour, but it can be tricky getting the right balance. It has a broader flavor range of tasty flavor molecules. If you are going to be cooking larger items, particularly items that benefit from slow roasting and you want a deep smoke flavor, charcoal is the only way to go. It’s a tautology, but any food cooked on a barbecue should taste like it’s been barbecued: slightly smoky and a little charred, not just grilled. He has written two cookbooks. He complimented the bark (the charred exterior of the meat) on the smoker box brisket and liked the flavour and texture of the Keg’s brisket. A downside was the Keg’s shape, which meant the coals were directly beneath the meat. “Just use an oven!”. It would be helpful to add that information so it's more obvious. In the following sections, we take a close look at some of the key factors in buying and using a grill, and how they apply to the choice of using charcoal or gas as a fuel. In a perfect world, you could own a gas and a charcoal grill. Conclusion. With gas, of course, you have a finer degree of temperature control. “Our brisket is just salted and then we cook it for 8-10 hours. For the smoker box, I positioned it at one end of the gas barbecue, with all 4 burners on their lowest settings. Visit enable-javascript.com Many purists claim that the flavor imparted from charcoal is the only way to grill. On each of these, I slow-cooked a brisket. You can buy one from most hardware stores for less than $50. Add lemon-pepper (more if you like it really lemony) and garlic. When you had plenty of time to spare you would fire up some charcoal and sear steaks over the blazing heat. It’s easy to make: just combine all the ingredients in a bowl. On the Broil King and the Weber, I also cooked 2 different flavours of chicken wings. When you are talking about grilling, the biggest debate probably is gas vs. charcoal? Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Having the both vents open as little as possible was the best way to maintain temperature. What’s about your health? You can use charcoal in the backyard and the gas grill inside the kitchen. I had a gas oven in an old apartment that I lived in. The Weber Q’s base barbecue is $1010 and Weber-branded accessories are pricey. The result should slice easily but not disintegrate. All the meat was free-range and supplied by Island Bay Butchery. Whether or not charcoal tastes different/better is actually a bit of a debate. A charcoal grill can lay up to 900°F on the surface of a lot of steaks at once. The debate over charcoal versus gas can get heated, and adding newer electric grills in to the mix only fuels the fire. It’s a side effect of humidity inside the barbecue. The Keg had the most noticeable “stall”. However, charcoal is a more expensive fuel and may cost more in the long run. Neither of these barbecues are cheap. Combine in a bowl until fully mixed. Salt & Wood chef Aaron Wagstaff knows what makes a good piece of smoked meat. The first group tried the brisket hot, after it had rested for 15 minutes. If I'm cooking for myself or my family, a gas grill is absolutely good enough (Have a Genisis e-310). If you don't want to spend a lot of money up front, then charcoal might be the answer. Because natural gas comes from your home hookup and requires no additional tank, it's much cheaper and more convenient than using standard portable propane tanks. Grilling fuel How easily you can access these fuel is the first thing that will determine the type of grill that you can get as there is no use getting a charcoal grill if coal is not readily available in your area. Because the mechanisms are more complex, gas grills tend to be more expensive than comparable charcoal grills, assembly of new gas grills is more complex that charcoal grills, and there are more parts to break and be replaced. It cheats a little by using tomato sauce and liquid smoke, but this is my “quickly thrown together sauce that always works”. Other Issues. Everyone then said which version they preferred. This means it’s simple to make changes to temperature. • The best gas barbecues put to the test by Xanthe Clay. Cannot get the same good result I get on a lid up barbecue, or in a pan. But lets assume that there is a taste difference, identify where the differences comes from, and how to address them: The smoke from charcoal. On the flip side, it’s not good for simple barbecuing. It did this so well, the ashes were warm the next morning when I cleaned them up. By using Consumer NZ, you accept our use of cookies. It had a gas burning flame inside of it that was used as the heat source. Mucking about with charcoal is a chore when all you want to do is grill some sausages. A major reason to go charcoal. I also agree, with more gas grills produced, the taste cooked with gas grills are also getting better that you can almost not tell if it’s from charcoal or gas grill. The final temperature of the meat should be well-done (about 90℃). Beyond that, a few other factors can help you make the right decision. This was to see what the difference was (if any) between a gas grill and charcoal and if you could replicate the flavours of charcoal on a gas barbecue. Or visit our Technical support page However, the simplicity of flipping a switch and grilling can't be beaten. Be sure to follow these grill cleaning tips, too. CO and CO2 gases are not the most dangerous. We experimented with 3 barbecues, including a Weber, to assess how different techniques impart different tastes. As the researchers state, charcoal devices emit pollutants. The one simple thing you need to know is that choosing the best fuel type—charcoal, gas, or electric—for you is primarily a matter of taste and convenience. to learn how to enable JavaScript for your browser. The gas grill couldn't match charcoal's heat, and when I saw smoke start to emanate from the gas grill, I just kept thinking how that would have been great wood smoke flavor with charcoal. A small patio or covered area is not the place for a large charcoal grill, due to the heavy smoke during startup and the likelihood flare-ups during cooking. Which Grill is Better for Steak? The dry rub I put on each brisket is a basic recipe that’s not too spicy but adds a nice flavour.
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