As a rule of thumb, you'll want to create a bed of coals that extends 3” over on each side of the food you will be cooking. Natural gas versus propane gas grill cooking temperatures often give off the same levels of temperature reach as the chart above but are often quickly attained than a charcoal grill. Charcoal vs. Gas Grill Debate . Charcoal is also more portable than gas grills. This thermal image of the smoker shows that there are hotspots, just like in any other cooker. You can also see that while the smoker does reach the 450°F (232°C) needed for a sear, it takes about 15 minutes to get there from the smoking temperature. For example, the highest temperature a gas grill gives ranges between 450 °F – 500 °F which implies the fast cook. Since charcoal grills do not have temperature dials to raise or lower temp, it is important to learn how to set up a 2-zone fire which helps you regulate heat by moving meat from the hot to the not so hot zone, and learn how to control the energy of the fire by closing off the oxygen intake vents. Since a lot of what we’re talking about here is radiant heat, if the grate is the same distance from the layer of coals and the layer of coals is the same thickness, then we’d expect the temperature at the surface to be the same. It's easy to achieve your ideal grilling temperature, even with charcoal. But if they don’t increase the height with the diameter, then I’d expect no change in air temp at all, as the increase in air volume would be proportional to the increase in coals. The right side (away from the pellet box) ran hotter than the left side which is right by the pellet box. By contrast, a gas grill’s burners are an excellent source of evenly controlled heat. Cooking Time: A charcoal grill takes more time to preheat. I appreciate how you said that gas grills, because of their variety in shape and size, are great for barbecuing for large groups of people. Charcoal grills start-up process: Charcoal grills aren't ready for cooking until the charcoal briquettes are lit and burning hot (which takes about 20 minutes). The temperature curve for this cooker was exceptionally flat, and right in the perfect range for grill-roasting. Great post! In an egg cooker, guide the cable over the legs of the diffuser, in a kettle approach the food from the side opposite your stack of coals. 1. It's best to pick a grill that you like using. The one problem with charcoal grills is that they do take quite a while to heat up. Charcoal can keep a constant temperature for a long time. The real reason to buy a charcoal grill is that charcoal can get hotter than standard gas grills, and heat is what you need to get steaks and lamb crisp on the outside and red or pink on the inside. Yes! We’ve heard it every way possible. You can cut off the gas for an emergency cool off too. You can see in the graph above that the grill surface on the hot side remains hot enough to sear food throughout the cook, while the air just above the surface does not. Charcoal vs Gas Grill Debate: 7 Points to Consider . A charcoal grill can lay up to 900°F on the surface of a lot of steaks at once. Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to charcoal and gas grilling. She owns a small business in which she creates various handmade home decor pieces and novelties that showcase the beauty and humor in everyday life. Best Charcoal Grill: Our Test Kitchen recommends the Weber’s Original Kettle Charcoal Grill ($109) for its durability and temperature control. Taste of Home is America's #1 cooking magazine. Effects are almost immediate. To learn about the heat profiles of each grill type, we used high-heat probes at grill level and two inches above grill level, taking data for each cooking environment. We think you probably do too, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have questions about it, and this post is going to try to answer some of them. Charcoal doesn't cook as long! Charcoal grills typically cook up to 500F. (For more on caring for your probes in high-heat environments, see our post about probe safety.). But most only go up to 500°F. Takes longer than gas grill. On one side, a grill uses direct heat to prepare the meal, whereas, a smoker uses indirect heat to cook food. In the past, I'd tune it all out. The temp in our cook trails off a bit there because we’d expended a lot of fuel with the lid off. But you’ll need to learn the cool and hot zones on your model, the best configuration of temperature settings across all burners, and be comfortable with adjusting the gas flow. Is there a correct choice for whipping up amazing grilling recipes? The transitions on our Pro-Series® probes are rated to 644°F (340°C), and, though the thermal imaging we used only goes up to 626°F (330°C), the heat sources we encountered were well hotter than that. As with anything you can find as many bells and whistles as you’d like but there are always great deals on sturdy gas grills that should last you a very long time. A major reason to go charcoal. The real reason to buy a charcoal grill is that charcoal can get hotter than standard gas grills, and heat is what you need to get steaks and lamb crisp on the outside and red or pink on the inside. A day! Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube. I want to cook a blend of Kobe/angus beef which needs low heat to melt the fat. To answer these questions, we didn’t go to manufacturer’s websites, we got out our trusty high-temp ceramic type-K probes with the extended range fro -58 to 2200°F (-50 to 1204°C) and our Thermadata® loggers and started taking data. “With charcoal, I have zero temperature control and when the flames get too hot or too high, it literally burns all the food. Gas grillers love convenience and control. Frequently Asked Questions People ask a lot of questions regarding charcoal vs. propane grill, and let’s answer some of the most frequent ones below. Any thoughts. Modern gas grills, usually propane, have push-button starters, and temperature dials just like your indoor oven. But the relative temperatures across the grill surfaces are still relevant and instructive. Some models offer maximum temperatures of 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. You can see the cyclical nature of the thermostat turning on and off in the initial section. Here’s everything you need to know about the differences between pellet grills and charcoal grills. Charcoal grills give that unmistakable flame-grilled taste with or without searing. But perhaps the most interesting feature here is the effect that the legs of the diffuser have on the temperature profile. Below, we’ll discuss some of the thermal characteristics of these grills, but we will not be going into specifics on grill brands or models. And the portability of the smaller grill is a must for grillers on the go. July is National Grilling Month, and that’s a special time for ThermoWorks because we love grilling! Charcoal grills are known for flare-ups caused when fat from the food drips on the hot coals. Below we’ve compiled a thermal profile for several types of grills and a smoker so that you can better understand what to expect from—and how to set up—your grill this summer! In contrast, a propane gas grill heats up easily; sometimes just 10 minutes are enough to preheat it, and it holds that temperature. For success with a charcoal grill, prior planning is paramount. With any charcoal, the lighter fluid completely volatilizes in a few minutes. Charcoal vs. gas grill and beyond: Your guide to different types of grills . That might lead to a slightly decreased temperature. Pros of charcoal grills: Typically, charcoal grills reach a higher temperature than gas grills. Don’t be a wimp. 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 use a lot of coals or if the coals are raised close to the cooking surface, they can cook as hot as 700F. Probes were placed over the flame and in the “cool” zone. 3. Though a relative newcomer to the American grilling scene, these ceramic eggs have acquired a devoted following. 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 models are often expensive. It’s easy to transport and it is easily customizable. While they can crank up the heat in excess of 450°F, they can’t usually hit the high temperatures that charcoal can, and often struggle to break 500°F. Charcoal grills can take more time to maintain and clean than the gas grill making the propane one more convenient and a better choice. This is no problem for a kettle grill filled with red-hot charcoals as it can reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit. One of the biggest features of a gas grill is its ability to moderate the temperature that your meat is cooked at. Remember, wood pellet grills allow you to set a temperature to cook your food. Rather than guessing which to use at your next cookout, we’ve rounded up the pros and cons of charcoal and gas grills so you can make a well-informed decision for what will be the tastiest choice of the summer. Charcoal Vs Gas Grill: A Great Video Comparison Gas grills are generally more expensive than electric or charcoal; charcoal being the cheapest. Which type of grill is the best? But only by 15-20 minutes of warm-up time. Many purists claim that the flavor imparted from charcoal is the only way to grill. My husband and I just moved into our new home, and we’re looking for a way to cook food for a housewarming party we want to throw once we get completely moved in. Does the diameter of the kettle grill impact temperatures? For example, the highest temperature a gas grill gives ranges between 450 °F – 500 °F which implies the fast cook. There’s no denying how convenient gas grills are in terms of start-up and temperature control, but that ease comes with a price. Hi-Temp Flexible Ceramic Fiber-Insulated Probe, Does the reverse seat work for ground beef. It takes a while to get the temperature up, so you will need some good prep time before you can actually start grilling the meat. But with a charcoal grill, you must monitor the temperature constantly. Factoring the overall cost of charcoal vs gas grills is probably more involved than you would like, so we’ll stick with the basics. While gas grills won’t create that trademark charcoal char, they can still cook meats to browned perfection without producing some of the chemicals released by burning charcoal. With so many delicious grilling recipes to cook up this summer, you can’t go wrong either way. ‘With charcoal grills you can cook directly but often you can also use them like an oven to slow cook. People likely have their own opinion on how to barbeque and what type of grill achieves the best result. But be mindful of how hot your coals are getting. here’s the difference between propane and natural gas, Provolone-Stuffed Pork Chops with Tarragon Vinaigrette, How to Make the Best Rugelach Cookies for the Holidays, 64 Low-Carb Recipes You’ll Want to Grill All Summer Long, Do Not Sell My Personal Information – CA Residents. It’s also much easier to control the temperature with a propane grill. If you want high, high heat, charcoal is the way to go. Good question! You can get a $25 charcoal grill to start and perfect your craft. #Heating/Cooking Temperature:-The most important factor which makes cooking possible with smokers and grills is the temperature. Other folks want convenience and spontaneity. The most popularly priced propane or gas grills are $129 to $299, while grills with more features will run between $800 and $1,500 and well beyond. Charcoal grills take longer to preheat and it is not very easy to change the temperature quickly. There is, ultimately, no best grill for everything: it all depends on what you want to cook, how you want to cook it, and how involved with that cooking you want to be. The plate under the grate acts as a diffuser for both heat and smoke in this case, but if your cable were to droop down below the grate, it could be exposed to much higher, possible destructive temperatures. Because of their … Gas smokers are simple, too, but they are subject to the same performance woes as gas grills: broken connections, leaky hoses, malfunctioning ignitors, and rusty or clogged burner tubes. Keeping the shortest possible distance from where the probe enters the cooker to the food is helpful: if you string the wire a long distance across the cooker, it’s more likely to sag and come in contact with hot elements of the cooker. Lump charcoal is just an advertising gimmick to induce you to pay more for a cheaper product. Deciding how much charcoal to use is more of a “by feel” kind of thing. If you want real searing heat for your meat, this it is! Determine What You’re Grilling. Our probes 3.5″ above the charcoal bed had much higher temperatures than those only 2″ above the gas elements themselves. For gas barbecues you don't need to adjust the position of the grill, because the temperature is set with adjustable knobs. HOW TO CONTROL TEMPERATURE ON A CHARCOAL GRILL. While different models will vary in terms of heat output, your average gas grill can easily hit the 600-degree mark in just a few minutes. But with beef like that, be sure your indirect heat is nice and gentle. Hot enough to cook tough meats. We’re here to make that investment a little bit easier. If you are cooking over indirect heat, you can carefully use probes. Egg shape or kettle? These are general principles that will hopefully help you become a master of your own grill. The data shows that the reputation for consistency is well earned. Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. Earlier this summer, I finally did the unthinkable and got myself a gas grill. Typically, the strongest pellet smokers are limited to a range of about 500°F. The diffuser legs create a shield against the scorching heat of the charcoal, which means that if you are careful, you can use a leave-in probe with this cooker! Are they really that different? Restaurant gas boilers typically heat to 80 F to 1200 F, whereas the backyard grills can deliver up to 500 F. Charcoal grills can deliver up to 900 F on the grilling surface at once, unlike gas grills that have a narrow sear burner and can only sear one or two steaks at a time. The charcoal versus gas debate has roared on for years – and will doubtless continue to do so for a good while yet. However, the cyclical on-off evens out at that temperature. G, Unless you use a torch or electric starter, charcoal grills take time to light. Precise temperature control - Because gas grills have control dials that can lower or raise the heat output, you have the ability to control the temperature of your grill. Still, the edge has to go to charcoal for its pure simplicity. You can also start adding other things to fire, like wood to create smoke. Best Gas Grill: Our Test Kitchen staff recommend the Weber Genesis II E-335 Gas Grill ($950) for its durability and top-of-the-line cooking power. They are famous for steady heat, due to their thick ceramic walls. Natural gas versus propane gas grill cooking temperatures often give off the same levels of temperature reach as the chart above but are often quickly attained than a charcoal grill. The Basic Thing to Consider. An interesting side note to this is that some people reported that gas is far superior to charcoal if you tend to use lots of sticky BBQ sauce because the temperature control is so much easier and results in less burned sauce. Wood pellet cooking and charcoal grilling have a lot of differences. One of the reasons that gas grills are so fast, though, is because they’re huge. Gas devotees will tell you that this produces a flavour just as fine as charcoal, but then it does not explain why people make a great deal of money supplying packs that you just burn on a gas barbecue to try to create a far more “woody” flavour. As for temperature ranges, gas grills can go as low as 225°F and as hot as 600+°F. A propane or gas grill definitely heats up much faster than a charcoal grill. Charcoal burns hotter than gas. Generally, charcoal smokers are able to deliver higher temperature compared to pellet grills. We hope that this data can be of use to you. Pre-heat time - Gas grills heat up quickly because you only need to turn on the switch for the burners to ignite. For example, does a single layer of coals on a 14″ Smokey Joe have the same temperature profile as a 22″ kettle (all other variables being equal)? The internet is full of questions about cooking with gas grills, and it might be because gas grills are the first grill that many—though not all!—people use. Gas - It has a smaller range of temperatures compared to charcoal grills, most of them reach temperatures of up to 500-550 degrees F. Plenty of cheaper models won’t be able to reach temperatures high enough for searing. I’m all for natural, that’s why I don’t use a gas grill. BBQ Battle: Gas vs Charcoal Price Range Gas. I’ll leave that up to you to decide. Charcoal grills are also less expensive than gas grills, though the cost of charcoal will add up over the years. Other benefits of cooking with a gas grill are minimal cleanup and maintenance, reduced risk of starting a larger fire, and a smaller environmental impact than burning charcoal. We’ve heard it every way possible. An important factor to consider when choosing between a charcoal or gas grill is the food you’ll be grilling. If you don't want to spend a lot of money up front, then charcoal might be the answer. It produces flavorful smoke that adds flavor to … Charcoal grills are often a little smaller, but no less popular! if so then the volumetric change is proportionally greater than the change in coal surface. As we have established, charcoal grills are better at reaching those high temperatures, and controlling the temperature can be more of a struggle. This is most likely because of the convection currents within the cooker, carrying the hotter air up around the sides of the diffuser, making the air hotter higher up than at grill level. It’s an age-old debate amongst grilling enthusiasts around the country, with some swearing you can’t be the authentic taste from a charcoal grill, while others believe that a gas grill is much more convenient and easier to use. A grill has to reach a temperature of at least 600 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve a nice sear on your meat. Your mileage may vary significantly depending on make and model and how you have it set up. People often think of gas grills as automatically being more expensive than charcoal grills, but that is simply not true. You can also set wood pellet grills to 225°F. The kettle type and ceramic egg (kamado) type lead the charcoal pack, with dozens of variations on those two themes. Temperature matters, and we’re here to help you get the thermal knowledge that you need to make your cooking as good as it can be. Grilling is a major part of food culture in America, but the war between charcoal vs gas grills fanatics has raged for years. Higher Temperature. Pellet Grill vs. Charcoal Grill. Before owning her small business, she obtained a Yoga Teacher Certificate and has taught both yoga and meditation off and on throughout the past ten years. In contrast, a propane gas grill heats up easily; sometimes just 10 minutes are enough to preheat it, and it holds that temperature. Thanks for the tip. It’s an age-old debate amongst grilling enthusiasts around the country, with some swearing you can’t be the authentic taste from a charcoal grill, while others believe that a gas grill is much more convenient and easier to use. If you want high, high heat, charcoal is the way to go. However, they are able to maintain a steady temperature for a long time. Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. In fact, that approached the range that many wood-fired pizza ovens burn at, and is why grilled pizzas work so well on a kettle grill. A gas grill allows them to instantly “fire it up” anytime and get down to cooking. Fuel cost - Natural gas and liquid propane will cost less charcoal over the lifespan of your grill. The main thing that differentiates these two types of grills is the fuel that they run on, obviously. So simple, turn on and light (or hit ignitior button if it has one..most do now). To see how well that might work, we set one to 250°F (121°C) on the controller with the lid closed, then turned the heat to “high,” which the display said was 450°F (232°C). When the lid is closed, the ambient temperature for the grill-roasting side jumps into the 325–400°F (163–204°C) range, great for two-stage cooking and cooking things more slowly than over the hot fire of the direct-cooking side. From temperature ranges to fuel costs, there’s a lot to consider. Moving the coals to one side and recording the temperature data on the other side shows a perfect grill-roasting temperature around 350°F (177°C). A person might argue that the per-hour fuel cost in the gas grill is much higher than the charcoal one. Can I use leave-in probes while grilling? Charcoal grills typically cook up to 500F. Interestingly, the sensor at the surface of the grill was cooler than that 2″ above the surface. On the other hand, a charcoal grill can take up to 15 or 20 minutes to get to your desired cooking temperature. Gas vs. Charcoal. We set up the diffuser plate for this cook, as one would for indirect cooking, with the lid closed. The ease of dial-controlled temperature is an appealing feature for many cooks. Charcoal can get much hotter than a gas grill and you want that high heat to get your steaks and burgers charred and crispy on the outside with the pink color and juiciness you love on the inside. But we shouldn’t take it to ludicrous extremes. Charcoal fires can reach up to 800°F. Charcoal and gas grills each have their pro and cons, but only you can decide which would be best for your family and lifestyle. A typical 22″ brand name charcoal grill will run you around $100. We started a single layer of coals and distributed them across the charcoal grate, then put probes at grate level and 2″ above. With the lid off, temperatures become subject to breezes and the chunky nature of the fuel itself. 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. Even with the lid closed, the two-zone cooking differential is still apparent in the thermal image: The kettle is the most iconic grill in America and with good reason. In increasing the diameter, do they also increase the height of the dome? However, charcoal is a more expensive fuel and may cost more in the long run. Charcoal vs. Gas grills. While many people are familiar with charcoal grills, it’s worth noting that charcoal grills come in … Make sure they don’t cross any direct-heat zones and try to keep them from laying across grill grates, which can conduct the energy to them far more efficiently than air. Aside from charcoal and gas grills, there are other types of grills, such as grill-smoker combo, electric, pellet, and infrared burners.Whatever selection you have, the primary considerations are the types of cooking you prefer, or your food requires. This means you can cook food for longer at lower temperatures, or more food at higher heat, all without adding more fuel. Our probes 3.5″ above the charcoal bed had much higher temperatures than those only 2″ above the gas elements themselves. Touché. According to some die-hard barbecue fans, the only way to grill is with charcoal. 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. We’ll have to look for a gas barbecue so we can efficiently cook lots of delicious food for our guests to enjoy. Most types don’t even reach that temperature. Learn more about how to use a charcoal grill. Electric grills typically are the cheapest to operate, and you never have run out to the store for more fuel. One can top that disadvantage by seeing the fact that a gas grill can reach the cooking temperature almost instantly. Just use the valve and alternate the gas output. Charcoal grills are cheaper to purchase. Two-stage cooking using the cool side will only work with the lid closed, as the 110°F (49°C) that you can get with the lid open is not sufficient to cook anything at all. Gas vs. Charcoal Grill: Things You Need to Know When Buying a Grill. This is not, strictly speaking, a grill, but rather a smoker with grill-like characteristics. Take the diffuser out, though, and your probe wires are likely to get fried! Charcoal? While controlling the temperature of a gas grill is easier, if you get a good enough gas grill you will still be capable of grilling at temperatures that give a good sear (and potentially a higher cancer risk), so grilling with gas is not completely off the hook. Temperature Range A charcoal grill can operate from extremely low to searing (+1200° F) temperatures. If you make sure your probe cable lies along the path created by the diffuser, it can be safe from the extreme temps that otherwise would short-out its components. Can I use leave-in probes while grilling? Take a look at the data: You can see the intense heat of the charcoal in this graph.