Gas or charcoal?

I'm about to purchase a new grill, and want to ask the experts. Which is best: charcoal or gas?
If it makes a difference, we mainly cook steaks, burgers, veggies, nothing fancy.



  • 16 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I have grilled most of what you mentioned above on my gas grill with very good results.

    Cheryl C.
  • We have both (I grill all year long) and I use the gas most frequently because it is so much quicker to get started. Charcoal has to burn a while to be ready to start cooking. Charcoal is a lazy weekend only grill for me. One or the other - gas grill.
  • I agree. Both are essential. I have a big 40 year old grill made out of a pipeline pipe, made for my dad, that I use charcoal in. Can't beat it for slow-grilling chicken halves and smoking ribs away from direct heat. The gas grill is essential for lazy-cooking, not having to worry about the fire dying out over time, and it's easier to move around, essential for steaks, burgers, chops, vegetables, fish, and beer-butt chicken. A smoker is also essential, I think, for special, all day projects. And I think you also have to have a small, inexpensive portable for road trips, one with a screw in adapter for little propane bottles. Wal-mart has them. Works great for fishing, camping, just riding, or things that just pop up unexpectedly. You cannot have enough grills! Whatever you decide, get a double burner, double knob if it's gas or one big enough to put the meat off to the side of the heat if it's charcoal.

    Disclaimer: This message is not intended to offend or attack. It is posted as personal opinion. If you find yourself offended or uncomfortable, email me and let me know why.
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 07-11-05 AT 07:18AM (CST)[/font][br][br]I have both and believe that the most important thing is to not go cheap. Get a good quality grill that will last the abuse that you will inflict on it over time.

    For charcoal, you want a good size grill so that if you want to cook over indirect heat (for chicken, ribs, etc., you can move your coals to the edges and still have enough room to cook in the middle. I do not think that you can beat a Weber for charcoal grills.

    For gas, go with stainless steel for the body of the grill. Stainless will not rust and will let you enjoy grilling for many years to come. I also recommend getting a grill with at least two burners (again in order to use the grill for indirect heat), mine has three. For your cooking surface, go with cast iron, it seasons like the skillet and will cook food more evenly. Also, go with the ceramic or cast iron (enamel coated) element. These will not rust and will give you worry free performance for many years. Don't get sucked into all the extras, get a qaulity grill that will do what you want it to do. If you want to add a side burner, rotisserie, or a smake box to the grill, it adds to the cost. Stay with getting the grill that meets your needs and then look for one that will last.

    If you like cooking outdoors, I agree with the Don, get a smoker. Do not get a gas smoker because it defeats the purpose. Stay away from a water smoker because they are small and do not hold their heat. It is best to have one made to your liking, any metal shop can make one for you. Keep your fire box to the side, make sure you can adjust the damper to control the temperature and that you can regulate the amount of smoke that you use.

    Good luck and let us know what you ultimately purchase!
  • Along those lines, seems the first trinket to play out is always the 'push lighter'. Those things last about a year. Next to go are those trendy side burners that seem a waste of time anyway. I remember my first grill many years ago was some sort of yellow sheet-metal and had a nice big glass viewing window in the front. Cool! After using it twice, it was forever too smoked up and tinted to see through the glass. So, the word is caution regarding bells and whistles.

    I've donated a smoker to the office that I use on the patio here frequently. It's a plain big-belly barrell about 4 feet long and two in diameter with a smokestack with adjustable flue. Off to the side, there's a smaller round barrell welded to the big one with a smoke passage hole between the two. The smaller one is where you build the fire to smoke on the larger one. Or, the smaller one also has a nice cast iron rack if I want to grill something over direct heat. The little firebox has a nice adjustable side-damper. There's even a heavy metal clip welded underneath that is perfect for a bean can with the top off to catch grease. These can cost from $199 to a thousand, but are really the most universal of all for smoking and light grilling.

    Disclaimer: This message is not intended to offend or attack. It is posted as personal opinion. If you find yourself offended or uncomfortable, email me and let me know why.
  • At home we usually grill out side several times a week year round and use the gas grill about 99% of the time. From my years of helping with Boy Scouts, we use both charcoal and gas. To meet their cooking requirements the boys must build fires and cook on wood they find, charcoal and gas cookers. Without exception, the Scouts and the adults look forward to the meals with gas cooking... much less clean up, ability to immediately start and stop the fire and better control of the heat.
    Having said all that, very few dishes are as good as those cooked in a dutch oven buried in hot charcoals.
    Enjoy your grill what ever you decide...
  • Thanks for all the great input. I can see that I should have both. Right now I am leaning toward gong to a fabrication shop and have one built either with a barrel or box design with attached fire box and buying a small gas grill for when I don't have time for the charcoal/wood.

  • One last comment. Take a look at the heavy ones Sams stocks with sidebox. Some of these are super heavy and made to last and economical. If there's a shop in the area that would and could make you one like that cheaper that's fine. But often shops don't have the expertise to factor in the engineering to make it roll and balance properly and the supports for the grates are an extra burden for some shops. The biggest factor for me might be that you can't drop into a shop like that and buy replacement parts. Home Depot has tons of replacement parts for most rigs. Keep us posted and I hope I get downwind of the Texas air when you fire it up.

    Disclaimer: This message is not intended to offend or attack. It is posted as personal opinion. If you find yourself offended or uncomfortable, email me and let me know why.
  • My husband swears by charcoal, and we've been using the Weber at least twice a week since the first of June. He says the extra flavor is worth whatever extra effort may be perceived. From my experience, a charcoal grill isn't any harder to maintain than gas, though it may be quite a bit more dirty. Gas grills seem more convenient time-wise, but you don't get that great additional wood-smoke flavor. >>Don't anybody chime in with the old "You mean lighter fluid flavor!" - if you know what you're doing, you don't get the lighter fluid taste.<< And MatchLight (can I state a personal brand preference on the Forum?!) really reduces the amount of time needed to charcoal grill.

    On a tangent: Do any of you have friends that have trouble distinguishing between barbequeing and grilling? It seems a common misconception in mid-Missouri.
  • If you really want to have a hell of a lot of fun on a project for home, take a basic welding course if you don't already know how to stick weld. Then, lay-out your design of the ultimate grill. Go to a fab shop and have them cut your panels and components from heavy gauge metal (if you know how to heli-arc and have acces to that equipment then you can build it out of stainless which will look nicer and last forever).

    I built an awesome grill (dual use gas and charcoal) out of an old 55 barrel drum and an old cast iron boiler. It is still in use by 1st Battalion, 504 Parachute Infantry Regiment soldiers in their common area at Fort Bragg. The only specialty tools I used was an acetylene torch and stick welder.

  • Try to find Cowboy briquettes, they are real wood and do not need lighter fluid, so they do not leave that addeed "flavor" you get when you "douse" the coals.
  • Nobody has mentioned ice cold beer. None of this will work without that.

    Disclaimer: This message is not intended to offend or attack. It is posted as personal opinion. If you find yourself offended or uncomfortable, email me and let me know why.
  • Granted there aren't many of us; but, there are still a few (at least in my family) that do not drink any alcoholic beverages.. so how 'bout maybe just a big glass or better yet a gallon jug of home made sweet iced tea?
  • ... or Country Time® Lemonade, or cherry Kool-Aid®!

    (If I'm gonna do "sweet," it's gotta be super-sweet. Otherwise, just give me a wedge of lemon in my iced tead.)
  • Am I being 'dissed'? I'll have you know that I am learning to grill at work without a beer, thank you very much.

    Disclaimer: This message is not intended to offend or attack. It is posted as personal opinion. If you find yourself offended or uncomfortable, email me and let me know why.
  • Well.... you know the ole saying, "If the Shoe Fits" ... you didn't buy it at Wal-Mart.
    Hope everyone has a great grilling weekend
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