Since people have grilled and tailgated they have always used some variation of wood or charcoal to heat and stoke the flames. How these flames got there has changed since the 1950s when the propane / gas grill was invented and sold. Ever since then the “laws of grilling” debate has carried on; propane vs charcoal, which is better.
You typically have some sort of BBQ or grilling “purist” that believes only charcoal or wood is acceptable vs a more modern approach to grilling, as many gas grills come with fancier components on the side of the grilling surface for breads or veggies. Comparatively a typical charcoal grill is just a pit of some kind with metal racks above where you place the meat or other intended target of the flame.
There are some advantages to both and we believe as long as you are taking advantage of nice weather and are enjoying time cooking for your friends and family, how you prepare your food is simply a detail. First you have to start out with a good product to cook; if it’s meat you are after than look no further than our meat and seafood department and our butcher, Chuck.
Once you have your choice meats here are some pros and cons of each variation of grilling:
Pros: grilling with gas is usually cheaper than grilling with charcoal and it is typically easier to cleanup as well. There is also a benefit to some of the accessories that often come with gas grills, as mentioned above there are spots for heating up bread, or handling veggies separately, if they aren’t going to be grilled. Besides convenience many cooks enjoy the steam given off from the gas grill instead of a heavy smoke often found with wood or charcoal briquettes, this steam can help add moisture back into the meat.
Cons: The most obvious cons are that usually gas grills are very heavy and very difficult to travel with making tailgating very difficult and any kind of camping difficult. There are certainly smaller options and more portable ways to propane grill, but it is near impossible to match the portability of a charcoal grill which are often smaller and lighter. Another con is the flavor is very different, which some could view as a pro. Charcoal grills impart a smoky quality that is difficult to replicate when using propane. So if your audience prefers smoky flavor in their grilled food, propane will probably not be a great option.
Pros: Easily transportable, and often considered safer since you aren’t dealing with as much of a combustible as pumping gas into an area and lighting it. By cleverly shifting the coals around you can control the heat on your surface area easier and keep different parts of the grill hotter than others which can come in handy when grilling different items. Finally charcoal grills are also typically much cheaper since again they are simply just a hollow sphere.
Cons: The most obvious con is the cleanup is a major hassle. Dealing with burned down charcoal and ashes is never fun at a tailgate and you have to be careful not to get ash in your food. If you have a longer cooking session you’ll have to keep adding charcoal and keep monitoring the heat to make sure it doesn’t die down, where as a propane grill you can keep nice even heat the entire time, for longer periods of time. Finally, not having some of those additions for bread and veggies and more can be a real disadvantage when cooking for lots of people. You can really miss out on some extras that can really put the meal over the top.
The best part of summer (grilling season) is spending time with friends and family and just enjoying each other’s company. Whether you prefer propane or charcoal, as long as you are enjoying the time safely spent grilling and eating, it’s worth it and methodology is just individual preference.