Why each method of grilling is best
Why each method of grilling is best for the types of foods you like to prepareThe charcoal versus gas debate is one that has been around since grilling began. Maybe not that long, but the argument as to which is better is one that has existed for many, many years.
Charcoal purists argue that this type of fuel and outdoor cooking is best, whereas gas fans believe this variety has the advantage. You might just have to see for yourself which method of grilling is better, but here's a look at why each may be best for you.
Charcoal is typically less expensive than its gas counterparts of propane or natural gas. Charcoal cooking equipment takes up less space and doesn't really have as many of the gadgets or hi-tech accessories that the gas versions have. However, if you're looking for a cost-effective way to cook al fresco, charcoal simply can't be beat.
You can likely find a high-quality charcoal grill for less than $100. You probably won't be as lucky with a gas one, however. Gas cookers typically have more gadgets and equipment than charcoal, and the price reflects that.
If you're looking for a smaller, more compact version of a charcoal grill, you can find them for even less money. Hibachi-style or mini-grills are often no more than $50, and some are cheaper, depending on the style and size you are looking for.
Gas barbeques typically cost a few hundred to a few thousand dollars; however, the gas used to run these is a bit more cost-effective than charcoal. Filling up your gas tank may cost more than a bag of charcoal, but you will likely need to buy many bags of charcoal before your tank is empty. When you add up the cost of all those bags, you'll probably find that they are more expensive than a tank of gas.
One advantage of cooking with charcoal is that it typically has more flavor than using gas. The charcoal imparts a smokey flavor that you usually can't find with gas. The flavor comes from the charcoal. You can also buy certain types of charcoal or specialty woods to give your food a signature taste.
You can use mesquite charcoal to impart that distinct flavor that is delicious. You can even buy charcoal that is made from trees in Hawaii that is often used in luaus. If you really want to take things up a notch, you can purchase charcoal that is made from orange trees. This delightful charcoal actually adds a hint of citrus to your food. Hardwood charcoal adds a smokey flavor to food that is simply divine.
If you use a gas grill you do have some flavor options. You can add hardwood chips to the vessel in which you are cooking the food, which can give it a smoky taste. Barbeque planks can also infuse your food with a smoky taste.
If coming home from a long day of working and clicking a button is your idea of starting a fire, a natural gas or propane gas grill is for you. You really can't beat the simplicity of this type of outdoor cooking method. Gas -- if you have a full propane tank or active connection to a gas line -- allows you to start cooking your food immediately.
Charcoal, on the other hand, take longer to both start and cook your food than gas. You'll need to light the charcoal, which can take some time, depending on the method you use. Then you have to allow the flame to burn out before you can put your food on the grate. Once you use the charcoal, you have to throw it away – you cannot reuse it.
Because you can't use the charcoal more than once, you have to empty the old charcoal before you can use the new charcoal, which can take some time. Having to use new charcoal each time also adds to the amount of money you need to spend with this method.
Whatever method of cooking outdoors you decide to use depends on your preference. However, you'll likely find that cooking outside, using either gas or charcoal, makes your food taste just that much better.
About.com: Charcoal Vs. Gas