Grills: Charcoal vs. Electric vs. Gas

One of the first things Christopher and I bought when we finally moved into our home was a grill. We weren’t allowed to have them at the apartment community we had previously lived at so the idea of grilling on the back porch was very exciting! We couldn’t wait to get a grill, get some tools, throw some steaks on the fire, and enjoy our new yard. However, getting the grill turned out to be more of a hassle than we predicted. There are just too many options!

Did we go with a charcoal grill? Nothing beats the flavor of a burger cooked on a charcoal grill, but we are novices when it comes to grilling and the prospect of an open flame without much control seemed a little scary.

Did we go with a gas grill? Bigger, sleeker, and more features than a charcoal grill, a gas grill seemed like a great option, but who wants to constantly refill those tanks all the time?

Or did we go with an electric grill? Gas grills and electric grills are very similar, but we had just bought the house and we weren’t sure if there was even a plug on the back side of the house to plug the grill into.

There are so many things to consider when it comes to choosing a grill type. In the end every type has pros and cons, you just need to pic the one that works best for you, your family, your home, and your life. Here’s a list of the different grill types, the pros and cons of each one, and a recommendation based on online reviews on the best grill of each type:

Charcoal Grill

Pros: 

  • Price. Charcoal grills are typically the cheapest option. You can get a charcoal grill from your local home improvement store for as low as $50 in some cases!
  • Flavor. These grills allow you to infuse your food with a smokey flavor that many people want when grilling.

 

Cons:

  • Cleanup! Charcoal grills are messy! You have to replace the coals every few hours or so, not to mention all the ashes from the used up coals. Add that to all the grease that builds up on the grate and it could turn into a very time consuming cleanup after you’re done grilling.
  • Sometime uncontrollable flames. With charcoal grills you can’t control the heat of the flames or how large (or small) the flames get. You can buy lighter fluid and other fire starting products to make your flames get larger, but with that comes the danger!

 

Recommendation:

Wirecutter posted a very helpful article in which they tried to find the best charcoal grill. What they came up with was the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill 22″.

It’s a little of the expensive side for a charcoal grill at $149, but higher price means better quality and ultimately, better food!

Gas Grill

Pros: 

  • Cleanup is a breeze! With no messy coals to deal with, the only thing you need to clean with gas grills in the grate the food is on. If you want to cut even that cleaning up, you can cook on top of aluminum foil on your grill!
  • Control. Unlike with charcoal grills, gas grills are easy to control when it comes to heat levels and size of the flames. This makes it very easy to cook your food perfect and even.

Cons:

  • PRICE! Gas grills are much more expensive than charcoal. A good one can set you back about $250.
  • Flavor. Where the charcoal grill shines, the gas grill falls a little short. Can you achieve amazing flavors on a gas grill? Absolutely! But you won’t get the same deep, smokey, rich flavor you would on a charcoal grill.

Recommendation: 

Full disclosure, this is the grill we ended up purchasing. After weighing the pros and cons, we decided that this would be the best choice for our home. I just couldn’t get past the uncontrollable flames of the charcoal grill! We bought this:

RevoAce 4-Burner LP Gas Grill with Side Burner

This grill is phenominal! At $172 it’s on the lower side of the cost for gas grills, so that’s a plus. Also, it’s lasted us the past 3 years with no signs of slowing down. It’s got almost 5 stars on Amazon so you can’t really go wrong with this grill!

 

Electric Grill

Pros:

  • Versatility. You can take an electric grill anywhere you go – even inside! There are also very few restrictions on electric grills so even those who live in apartment communities can have electric grills most of the time!
  • Easy cleanup. Just wipe the cook top down and you’re good to go!
  • No extra products needed. Charcoal grills need coal, lighter fluid, starter, etc. Gas grills need propane. Electric grills don’t need anything but a plug to plug the cord into.

Cons:

  • Heat/Time. Electric grills take a minute to heat up, and even then can’t get as hot as a gas or charcoal grill would get to.
  • Flavor. That’s right! If you’re looking for some deep, rich, amazing grill flavor, the charcoal grill really is the only way to go! You can still get some delicious flavors on an electric grill though, especially if you cook your food low and slow!

 

Recommendation: 

The Spruce Eats has a great article on the best electric grills you can buy on Amazon! Read it here. That being said, of their recommendations, I think that the George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Grill is the way to go!

At $80, you really can’t beat the price! And the versatility is amazing. Rain ruining your grilling plans? Take your same grill inside without the worry!


In the end, we ended up purchasing a gas grill for our home. With summer coming up, I plan on cooking outside exclusively for the next few months. Guess I better stock up on propane!

– Jonathan

 

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