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Charcoal vs. Gas vs. Electric Outdoor Grills

Barbequing is one of summertime’s greatest pleasures, which plays a crucial role in many backyard get-togethers, family gatherings and birthday parties. If you don’t own a barbeque, but want to add one to your backyard or patio, it’s important to know how the different types of barbeque grills compare – gas grill vs. electric, electric vs. charcoal, etc. Each type has its own distinct benefits, and recently, the alternatives to charcoal-based barbequing have grown in popularity due to the convenience and health benefits they offer. In fact, some housing units forbid grilling within 20 metres of the premises because charcoal barbeques can release carcinogenic emissions. However, if you’re cooking on your own property, charcoal barbequing won’t be an issue, and you might actually prefer the flavour and experience of it. So the question remains – What type of grill is most suitable for you?

The Basics: Charcoal, Gas and Electric Grills

When someone mentions a grill, probably the first thing that comes to your mind is a traditional charcoal outdoor grills. Up until recently, charcoal was the most popular option for grilling, but lately, electric and gas-powered barbeque grills have become more commonly used.

Charcoal Grills

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If you prioritize flavour, charcoal is probably the best option for you. Grilling with charcoal provides that classic smoky, charbroiled taste that gives meat its unforgettable flavour. However, that comes at a price – since charcoal emits smoke, it also emits carcinogenic compounds in the air and food. Additionally, grilling with charcoal requires adequate space, since it creates a lot of smoke and immense heat, causing trouble if you’re doing it near a multi-family home or other people. Furthermore, cooking on charcoal requires more time than cooking on electricity or gas, simply because you need time to light the coals and stoke them until they reach the desired temperature, which can take up to 30 minutes. And once you start grilling, you can’t turn it off – you’ll need to tend to the coals until you’re done cooking and the briquettes have cooled off. Lastly, charcoal grills are the most affordable out of the three types. Depending on whether you’ll opt for a freestanding or built-in model, you should expect to pay somewhere from $100 up to a few hundred dollars.

Gas Grills

In the past several years, gas has seen a great spike in popularity as it offers many benefits that charcoal grills don’t. It provides that smoky, strong flavour that charcoal grills do, but also the convenience of electric grills. Powered by propane or natural gas, gas grills produce strong, hot flames that sear meat. Moreover, they may come with add-ons that make them even more attractive, such as smoker boxes, side burners, rotisserie setups, etc. Additionally, gas grills provide greater temperature control. Just like charcoal grills, you’ll need plenty of room for a gas-powered grill, as these emit a lot of heat and might not be allowed within certain distances of some condominiums or apartments. Due to the fact that they require a natural gas or propane tank hooked up, they are less portable than other grills and require more space. Natural gas models are usually safer than propane models because they don’t require an external hookup, but instead can be hooked up to your home’s natural gas line. Lastly, they’re easy to start and don’t need any time to heat up like charcoal grills.

Electric Grills

Electric grills are the least traditional out of all three types, but they’ve become very popular in the past few years simply because they provide an easily accessible, healthy way to grill. Unlike charcoal and gas, electric grills only need a power outlet to work – you just plug them and they heat up in a matter of minutes. You have more choice when it comes to choosing the size of the grill – from a serving-for-one, personal sizes countertop models, to large outdoor setups suitable for get-togethers and parties. The only downside to electric grills is that they don’t provide the smoky flavour that other types of grills provide, so they aren’t as appealing to some people. Electric grills are the most expensive out of all three types.

Which Grill Provides the Best Taste?

Obviously, taste is a matter of personal preference, but most people would agree that charcoal grills provide the best taste, due to the fact that charcoal creates a smoky flavour that other types of grills can’t replicate. Some gas grills come close, but they still taste different than charcoal. However, electric grills produce a “healthier” taste, and they don’t use unsustainable gas fuels that are harmful to the environment. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preferences and priorities. If you’re looking for convenience and ease of use – electric and gas grills are your best bet. If you’re after the original smoky flavour, then go for a charcoal model.