It’s official. Americans are divided over one of the most important debates our country has yet to face: Is charcoal better or is propane better for our grilling needs? Well, as the debate rages on, let’s hear from the experts.
Experts estimate that up to 75% of Americans use gas grills when they cook outdoors. Their main argument for using propane over charcoal is its ease of use. Gas grills can be used anytime of year and have built-in thermal controls and thermometers. This means it only takes a simple glance at the number on the meter to know how hot your grill is and if it’s ready or not. With the simple flip of a switch the gas grill is ready in seconds and allows you to cook meat, chicken, vegetables, and whatever else you desire to grill all at the same time with multiple burners allowing for different temperature on different parts of the grill. Clean up is a snap too. While you eat dinner the propane grill cools off and detachable parts can be washed right in the kitchen sink.
Downsides to the propane grill include the expense and possible, although unlikely, danger. Because gas can explode causing bad burns and/or even death, each piece of a propane grill is carefully inspected before it is sold. Unfortunately, this drives up the cost. While propane refills are cheap and easy to get at almost any hardware shop or grocery store, always check for cracks or any sign of fowl play before using.
Despite its primitive nature, any diehard charcoal user will tell you that grilling over a hot bed of charcoal the only way to go. Proponents argue that this hands-on method not only allows the cook to celebrate in a ritual practiced since the beginning of man, but also brings an undeniably satisfying taste to the food that gas grills just can’t compete with. Furthermore, greater temperature ranges are achievable with charcoal grills when coals are arranged in different patterns; thus, allowing the food to have that smoky flavor we all crave in the summertime. Additionally, the different types of charcoal allow for different flavorings of the food.
However, just like propane, charcoal has its disadvantages as well. Charcoal burns long and hot and once the fire in the grill is on, it takes hours to cool off. Set up and clean up are more complicated as well and can often be extremely messy.
And the winner is…
Unfortunately, there is no clear winner. Some swear that the mouthwatering smoky flavor of charcoal is all you need for the perfect grilled meal. Others, however, report that propane is the most simple and efficient way to produce a perfect meal, time after time. Consider your level of cooking expertise as well as different grilling recipes while making your choice. Enjoy!