charcoal vs gas grill taste test

Of course, charcoal grilling requires more time and attention than gas, from building and lighting the briquettes to waiting for the coals to get hot to managing the flame. For the smoker box, I positioned it at one end of the gas barbecue, with all 4 burners on their lowest settings. But lets assume that there is a taste difference, identify where the differences comes from, and how to address them: The smoke from charcoal. As the researchers state, charcoal devices emit pollutants. “Our brisket is just salted and then we cook it for 8-10 hours. Combine in a bowl until fully mixed. With gas, of course, you have a finer degree of temperature control. When you notice this happening, wrap the meat in tinfoil and put it back in. It’s a side effect of humidity inside the barbecue. Get it free when you sign up for our newsletter. Derrick Riches is a grilling and barbecue expert. Want more stuff like this? It's great to have you! Charcoal vs Gas Grill Taste Test. The only way to counter this would be to put a water tray in the bottom first, then arrange the coals around that. Get the best viral videos, news, and facts to change your life right to your inbox! Neither of these barbecues are cheap. From large patio-style models to smaller portable models, our latest test includes a barbecue to suit most people. It would be helpful to add that information so it's more obvious. Having the both vents open as little as possible was the best way to maintain temperature. For years the charcoal grill was the standard for the home cooking grilling aficionado. Pellet Grill vs. Charcoal Grill. In meat-loving circles, few topics get argued more intensely or more often than charcoal vs. gas grills.Stumble onto any barbecue or carnivore-centric message board, and you’re sure to bump heads with any number of gas-fiends and charcoal-fanatics.The problem – as with most of these debates – is that one isn’t actually better than the other. “Just use an oven!”. While you can control temperature easier on a gas grill, it’s hard to get the low heat you need for long, slow cooking. However, charcoal is a more expensive fuel and may cost more in the long run. The gas grill couldn't match charcoal's heat, and when I saw smoke start to emanate from the gas grill, I just kept thinking how that would have been great wood smoke flavor with charcoal. On each of these, I slow-cooked a brisket. You can simulate this by using a smoker box on your gas grill, which is what we tried in our experiment. As for the blind taste test, the average person wouldn't tell the difference between my tri-tip on charcoal or my tri-tip on gas with wood chips. Best Charcoal Grill: Our Test Kitchen recommends the Weber’s Original Kettle Charcoal Grill ($109) for its durability and temperature control. Toss the wings through the seasoning until well coated. Because the mechanisms are more complex, gas grills tend to be more expensive than comparable charcoal grills, assembly of new gas grills is more complex that charcoal grills, and there are more parts to break and be replaced. There is also a lot of personal preference involved, both with taste, ease of use, and cost of both the grill and the fuel (charcoal or gas). If you are going to be cooking larger items, particularly items that benefit from slow roasting and you want a deep smoke flavor, charcoal is the only way to go. Add wings. Another thing to consider is how you plan to grill. Whether or not charcoal tastes different/better is actually a bit of a debate. Many folks report that burgers and hot dogs are just more flavorful coming off a charcoal grill. It had a gas burning flame inside of it that was used as the heat source. Both recipes are for a kilogram of wings. Coals give an uneven heat across the grill and temperature is harder to change. To assess how different tastes are imparted by different barbecuing techniques, I cooked on 3 systems and then served the results to groups of tasters. The box can handle direct heat to get the woodchips smoking, but then you should switch to the burners that aren’t beneath the box (and adjust the temperature as necessary). These heat much faster and have the convenience of a general cooking appliance. “Don’t read too much into the smoke ring,” Aaron said, referencing the dark pink band at the edge of a slice of smoked meat. Since you can't dial down the heat of white-hot coals, it's a good strategy to leave empty spaces on the lower grill grate (areas without briquettes). Everyone then said which version they preferred. Charcoal: A favorite of grill masters everywhere. The debate of Charcoal vs. Gas has been going on for decades and there’s a reason the answer isn’t finite…it’s because BOTH have their pros and cons. Charcoal mixed with woodchips is how you get the traditional barbecue flavour. As you move to electric units, there is very little of this flavor left. The Weber has 2 burners: a ring around the edge of the grill and a single burner through the centre. Alas, most gas grill lids do not seal well, so a lot of the smoke is lost and more wood is needed than on a tighter grill. The bottom vent let air flow in, and the top vent let air, and smoke, out. Beyond that, a few other factors can help you make the right decision. Or if you in a hurry you could chuck some burger patties on the gas grill and be eating 5 minutes later. By using Consumer NZ, you accept our use of cookies. It’s easy to make: just combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Which Grill is Better for Steak? Gas vs Charcoal Grill: Contrasts and Comparisons. While the Broil King Keg was able to cook the chicken at a constant temperature that required less monitoring, the Weber did the job faster, with tastier results. I had a gas oven in an old apartment that I lived in. To get the smoke flavour, I placed woodchips in a tinfoil roasting dish, covered the dish with a rack, and then placed the brisket on top. The Weber, loaned to us by Wellington BBQ & Fire, required lots of work to act as a smoker. Or visit our Technical support page Charcoal, Gas, or Electric Grill: Which Is Best? On each of these, I slow-cooked a brisket. The one simple thing you need to know is that choosing the best fuel type—charcoal, gas, or electric—for you is primarily a matter of taste and convenience. Charcoal gives a feel of the traditional, typical flavor that comes from wood chips, whereas a propane gas grill imparts a bacon-like taste. Gas flames don’t give off smoke and any barbecue flavour comes from charring the meat instead. I made 2 seasonings for the wings in our taste experiment, 1 sauce-heavy version and 1 that that wouldn’t be as sticky on the grill. On the Broil King and the Weber, I also cooked 2 different flavours of chicken wings. This is a basic barbecue sauce. The dry rub I put on each brisket is a basic recipe that’s not too spicy but adds a nice flavour. I had to adjust the vents only a few times to ensure the heat stayed consistent. Now that you know charcoal vs gas grill pros and cons, it is likely for you to decide to purchase both types of grills. CO and CO2 gases are not the most dangerous. The Weber may be “boring” but it performs exceptionally well. Electric grills produce no flare-ups and are safer in smaller areas. On the flip side, it’s not good for simple barbecuing. Two reasons: low heat and smoke. Place wings in a bowl. While many people are familiar with charcoal grills, it’s worth noting that charcoal grills come in … to learn how to enable JavaScript for your browser. The other element, smoke, is more obvious. Charcoal is a more temperamental fuel. From our barbecue test results, I knew the Weber would have no trouble delivering consistent temperature on the grill, but I wanted to assess if people found the chicken tastier if it had been cooked over coals. The question to ask yourself is, do you want a fast and easy meal, or are you looking for something more? to find out how JavaScript is used on Consumer. He has written two cookbooks. When you are talking about grilling, the biggest debate probably is gas vs. charcoal? However, a windy day can disrupt gas burners set low and you need to make sure you don’t run out of fuel. The answer is flavour. The debate over charcoal versus gas can get heated, and adding newer electric grills in to the mix only fuels the fire. He researched in the US, where barbecuing is an art form. It did this so well, the ashes were warm the next morning when I cleaned them up. This site uses cookies to help us understand how visitors engage with our website. The next group, who tried the brisket cold the next day, had a wider range of opinions, with the smoker box being slightly more favoured over the charcoal Keg. The result should slice easily but not disintegrate. through this article and the main one on the BBQs it was almost impossible to tell which BBQs are gas and which are charcoal. All food was blind-tasted, with one group sampling it hot and the other trying the leftovers cold. We experimented with 3 barbecues, including a Weber, to assess how different techniques impart different tastes. No one could tell the difference between the charcoal or gas when it came to the hamburgers, but they could tell the difference with the steak. Charcoal and gas grills are the most common grills that you can choose for your cooking needs and this article highlights the pros and cons of charcoal vs gas grills. It was simpler to use than I expected. Charcoal can keep a constant temperature for a long time. Simon Plant / The Image Bank / Getty Images. The brisket on the Weber was the first to reach the right internal temperature, which isn’t desirable as faster cooking can mean tougher meat. Mucking about with charcoal is a chore when all you want to do is grill some sausages. While these barbecues can’t be faulted for their technical abilities, you could be wondering if there’s any difference between a sausage cooked on a Weber or in an oven. Grill masters’ favorite debate—charcoal vs. gas—will never have a clear winner from a culinary perspective. This makes Webers practically idiot-proof. If you want to come home from work and throw a couple of steaks or chicken breasts on the grill with virtually no hassle, then an electric or gas unit might be what you are looking for. Visit Another reason is the charcoal burns a lot hotter than a gas grill can. To serve as my expert judge, I brought in Aaron Wagstaff, chef at Kāpiti restaurant Salt & Wood Collective, known for its American-style, smoked barbecue food. Other Issues. Charcoal Grill On the other hand, charcoal smoke is a bit more complex. Charcoal has long been the favorite of the backyard grill masters for the taste that it adds to food. In a perfect world, you could own a gas and a charcoal grill. Douglas Anderson, right, cooks on a gas grill, while Lefty Nash uses charcoal, in a 2007 faceoff. A downside was the Keg’s shape, which meant the coals were directly beneath the meat. Each type of barbecue harnesses fire in a different way, and that changes how you cook with it. Newsletter. I also agree, with more gas grills produced, the taste cooked with gas grills are also getting better that you can almost not tell if it’s from charcoal or gas grill. “It’s great for quick stuff or even if you want to do something like a roast chicken in it.”, We did have a laugh over the official recipes online for things like hot cross buns made in a Weber. This means it’s simple to make changes to temperature. However, a downside is some gas barbecues have hot spots – but once you know where they are, you can adjust your cooking technique accordingly. Salt & Wood chef Aaron Wagstaff knows what makes a good piece of smoked meat. The Weber Q’s base barbecue is $1010 and Weber-branded accessories are pricey. If the taste is important to you, go for the charcoal grill but if you are strapped for time, you should go for a gas grill. The Keg had the most noticeable “stall”. On the Broil King and the Weber, I also cooked 2 different flavours of chicken wings. a basic 4-burner barbecue with a smoker box on the grill. Gas Grill The smoke from a gas grill is less compared to the smoke coming from a charcoal grill. As described above, charcoal smoke contains a compound that adds up flavor to the food. Karl Engel, head chef of award winning BBQ team Pigcasso (, discusses the pros and cons of gas and charcoal grills. Brisket is a cheap cut of meat that needs cooking for a long time over a low heat to break down tough connective tissue (exactly how long depends on the size of the meat, but usually at least 6 hours). The Weber fits in the back of your car and can be fired up quickly. In fact, its instructions say to leave the lid down during cooking to make sure the food’s cooked properly. It cheats a little by using tomato sauce and liquid smoke, but this is my “quickly thrown together sauce that always works”. This was mostly due to the meat from the Keg retaining a overly smoky flavour. Charcoal vs. Gas Grill Debate People likely have their own opinion on how to barbeque and what type of grill achieves the best result. BBQ Taste Test Between Charcoal vs Gas: Here is an interesting viral video from Pitmaster X! It’s clean, quick, efficient, and also better for the environment. Grilling fuel How easily you can access these fuel is the first thing that will determine the type of grill that you can get as there is no use getting a charcoal grill if coal is not readily available in your area. It kept its temperature well enough that it’d work if you were cooking lots of food. To decide what kind of grill is right for you, consider where the grill is going to sit. The charcoal grilled steak had a distinct smoke flavor. Deciding on a grilling option completely depends on your taste buds, but when you are a cooking enthusiast, you should know the … Cover meat in rub, wrap in cling film, and refrigerate overnight. This means you can cook food for longer at lower temperatures, or more food at higher heat, all without adding more fuel. I also roped in a group of friends, and another of co-workers. Sorry, you need to have JavaScript enabled to use our website. In fact, many electric grills add virtually nothing to the taste of foods. It was difficult keeping the barbecue’s temperature low enough using the ring, so I had to constantly monitor the single burner to keep the heat under 150°C. The Broil King Keg is my pick of the 3 for smoking meat or long, slow cooking. First, let’s talk about the charcoal. ... What people like about charcoal is that the rich, meaty taste of a steak is given an added depth of flavor from the smoke. It soon became clear the charcoal barbecue was the favourite, while the smoker box came second. Many people root for one or the other, but like most things in life, there is a spectrum. That is why it tastes better than gas grilling. A smoker box is great for smoking fish or chicken but also does well with darker meats. Quite naturally, gas vs charcoal smoker is more environment-friendly. As a general rule, the more convenient a grill is the less smoke flavor it produces. It teaches you everything that you need to know about these popular grills. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. But when you ask health experts, the answer is clear: Gas grilling wither either propane or natural gas is healthier than charcoal for your body and the environment. Conclusion. Once again, our annual barbecue test shows Weber makes exceptional outdoor cooking systems. Because natural gas comes from your home hookup and requires no additional tank, it's much cheaper and more convenient than using standard portable propane tanks. However, the simplicity of flipping a switch and grilling can't be beaten. Even with a grill covered in chicken wings, there was no need to worry that some were burning while others were raw. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (the longer the better). Be sure to follow these grill cleaning tips, too. Cover liberally with oil and toss again. Oh, and of course no politics or celebrity gossip! And I like to see what's cooking. The Keg, loaned by RetailLinks, is a type of barbecue I had never used before. A major reason to go charcoal. a basic 4-burner barbecue with a smoker box on the grill. “Stall” is when the internal temperature of the meat stops rising. You should be able to cut a strip [roughly a centimetre thick] and rest it over your finger and it just breaks. The smoker box required the least amount of attention as it’s a set-and-forget method. The beast of a smoker he usually uses weighs a few tonnes and uses an indirect method to slowly cook meat. While the Keg 5000 retails for $1800 – so you’d need to be pretty keen on your barbecuing for that, especially as a half-decent 4-burner gas barbecue could set you back about $500, with a smoker box an extra $50 or so. Gas smoke produces no flavor at all because it’s simple and it’s composed of only two things: water and carbon dioxide. After the brisket was done, I turned the heat back up on the Weber and the Broil King and covered the grill area with wings (half were lemon-pepper-flavoured and the rest were covered in barbecue sauce). Electric grills typically are the cheapest to operate, and you never have run out to the store for more fuel. The results of our experiment showed the barbecue you should get depends on how you like to cook and your taste buds. Hopefully I can help you make an informed choice of your own by pointing out the benefits and drawbacks of both, starting with gas. The meat sits above the chips on a rack. Hardcore grillers and barbecue cooks treat this style of cooking much more like a hobby than just a way to cook a meal. If you don't want to spend a lot of money up front, then charcoal might be the answer. All the meat was free-range and supplied by Island Bay Butchery. But my friends who take grilling as serious as I … A small patio or covered area is not the place for a large charcoal grill, due to the heavy smoke during startup and the likelihood flare-ups during cooking. It was even easy to clean, despite the barbecue wings sticking to it like glue. It has a broader flavor range of tasty flavor molecules. As opposed to the gas grill that only needs a quick scrub with a brush, a charcoal grill has to be emptied of its used ashes before it can be scrubbed. This adds another layer of flavour, but it can be tricky getting the right balance. That’s perfectly cooked,” he said. For each barbecue, I used soaked apple, hickory and mesquite woodchips (soaking woodchips means they smoulder instead of burn, and each wood type gives a different flavour). Gas ones primarily run on either liquid propane (LP) or natural gas while charcoal grills use coal as fuel. Thanks, you're now signed up. Gas grills do produce flare-ups and need to be away from any structure to avoid those pesky house fires. Meanwhile, an electric smoker is definitely the safest and the smartest device. Weber's $109 original kettle-style grill continues to stand the test of time as the best grill for cooking with charcoal. “Plus, lighting charcoal is a huge pain in the ass.” Dan Zuccarello, the executive food editor of nooks at America’s Test Kitchen, sums it up perfectly. The Weber shone for the wings, with a clear majority preferring them when cold. The debate over charcoal versus gas can get heated, and adding newer electric grills in to the mix only fuels the fire. The double-walled Keg kept everything at a mostly constant temperature. I've been a propane griller for years and now I use charcoal not for the taste, but because frankly, I like to play with fire. So why would anyone ever cook with it? For charcoal vs. gas grills, many say it is the flavor you get when grilling on that open flame, and it very well could be even though tests have shown that there truly is no difference in taste. They cook things easily and evenly, and its popular Q-series barbecues are small enough to fit on an apartment balcony. You can get a really tasty piece with no ring and a piece with a thick ring without even using smoke.”, Despite preferring the brisket from the other 2 systems, Aaron still praised the Weber. I’m truly sorry to those of you charcoal fans to tell you this, but a lot of taste difference is in the way you season or grill … Gas grills are generally more expensive than electric or charcoal; charcoal being the cheapest. Some people add a slather of mustard and vinegar to the meat before coating. This sauce will make a mess of your grill, so be prepared to have to clean it. Unfortunately sometimes you have to pick one. An electric grill is the easiest to use but doesn't have that real fire flavor, while hardwood charcoal fires give you the best flavor but can be the hardest to deal with. It’s a tautology, but any food cooked on a barbecue should taste like it’s been barbecued: slightly smoky and a little charred, not just grilled. For each BBQ, I used a digital thermometer to monitor the meat and ensure it was at the right temperature internally at each stage. With our cookbook, it's always BBQ season. Watch here to determine whether you can taste the difference here! With all the disadvantages of charcoal grilling, a lot of homeowners still prefer it over the gas grill. We've done the research so you don't have to. Gas grills can be fueled by natural gas or propane. On the other hand, if you like to relax on a weekend and have some drinks or socialize while you fine-tune your fire or slow-roast a chicken, charcoal gives you a lot more to work with. A charcoal grill can lay up to 900°F on the surface of a lot of steaks at once. And charcoal, of course, is made from wood. He complimented the bark (the charred exterior of the meat) on the smoker box brisket and liked the flavour and texture of the Keg’s brisket. It is very hard to tell how much heat a gas grill will deliver because the manufacturers only tell you BTU, British Thermal Units, used. • The best gas barbecues put to the test by Xanthe Clay. Finally, there is the issue of cost. The first group tried the brisket hot, after it had rested for 15 minutes. However, the group was split between the 2 systems for the hot wings, with the lemon pepper on charcoal and barbecue on the Weber coming out on top. This was to see what the difference was (if any) between a gas grill and charcoal and if you could replicate the flavours of charcoal on a gas barbecue. Add lemon-pepper (more if you like it really lemony) and garlic. But how does a Weber stack up against other barbecuing techniques? In the following sections, we take a close look at some of the key factors in buying and using a grill, and how they apply to the choice of using charcoal or gas as a fuel. I decided to see how food prepared on the Weber stacked up against more “traditional” barbecuing techniques. I just don't like how it cooks steak with the lid down. Then again, the counter-argument is ‘for taste charcoal is best'. A smoker box is an enclosed metal box lined with woodchips. Of course, charcoal really isn't that complicated and with practice can be just a reliable as using a gas grill. This makeshift smoker didn’t work as the chips never really started smoking (In retrospect, I felt I needed to keep the chips dry and use a more direct heat on them). The one simple thing you need to know is that choosing the best fuel type—charcoal, gas, or electric—for you is primarily a matter of taste and convenience. “While it looks good, it’s not an indicator of quality or even smoke. The authentic smoky, off-the-fire taste of grilled foods is strongest with the original heat source: wood. On the subject of taste, in a study conducted a while back participants were presented with hamburgers and steak cooked on gas and charcoal units.

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