All of us are familiar with life’s most famous and timeless debates: The Beatles vs. The Stones, mustard vs. ketchup, a charcoal vs. a gas grill.

Those on either side may say that they all come down to a matter of taste. When it comes to cooking on grills, however, the considerations are a bit more complex than that.

This part of the gas versus charcoal controversy is relatively straightforward. Gas grills, in general, cost more to buy, but recoup that cost quickly via reduced fuel costs. The cost of cooking a meal with propane is less than one-tenth of the cost of using lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes. If your home uses natural gas, then you can further reduce cooking cost by having your new gas grill’s regulator adjusted for hooking up to a natural gas line.

Gas grills win hands-down in terms of the time to prepare an outdoor meal compared to charcoal. Fire-up time is less than five minutes compared to the 30 to 40 minutes required for charcoal to obtain an even glow. With a gas grill, you have finer control over cooking heat, whereas with charcoal, fiddling with hot coals, air vents or grill height is required to produce the perfect temperature zone. For some cooks, however, that fiddling is a plus. It is an essential ingredient of their craft’s “secret sauce.”

Here is where the drippings hit the fire, literally. BBQ gurus will tell all within earshot that gas grilled meat can never achieve the elusive, smoky, spicy, natural taste of a charcoal-grilled steak. They may be partially right. Actually, most grilled flavor comes not from the charcoal but from the fat, proteins and sugars vaporizing as they drip onto the heat source, regardless of whether it is hot coals or a gas grill’s vapor bar.

If you are a purist when it comes to the taste of your outdoor grilled food and think that charcoal is the only way to go, be advised that lump charcoal is your best fuel choice. It does cost more and burns down more quickly, but it lights faster, burns hotter and does not contain any additives.

To achieve a true smoky flavor with a gas grill, you can place fruit wood chips in a small aluminum pie pan and set it on the grill. As it heats, it will bathe your food in the same kind of smoky flavor produced by wood charcoal.

Alternative fuel and cooking designs in modern grills are also available. Black Olive grills, available at Nordic, utilize economic wood pellets. Their unique design and appearance is a great conversation starter. Their grills employ an exclusive insulated ceramic shell to trap heat. Consistent temperatures without hotspots are obtained via convection circulation within the shell. They are ready for cooking even more quickly than gas grills.

If you want to avoid the gas versus charcoal debate entirely, you could invest in an outdoor grill that does both. Side-by-side charcoal and gas grills are available. Whichever fuel you ultimately prefer, however, you will not regret buying a high quality grill that yields decades of service.

Stainless steel outer cases and enclosed storage shelves and drawers are good signs that you are looking at a grill made to last. Such features provide a convenient way to store you grilling tools and accessories out of sight too. Make sure that your new grill’s width is large enough for BBQ parties. Typically, a 42-inch grill is large enough to keep the hungriest crowd at bay. Plan to get an easy-to-use, durable grill and taking plenty of time to experiment with new grilling recipes all summer long.

Visit our showroom or call to talk with one of our BBQ experts today.

Charcoal for cooking photo credit to under cc 2.0
Sesame chicken kebabs photo credit to George Ruiz under cc 2.0

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