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11 Jul 2017
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Charcoal and Gas Grills Compared

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Posted By Gretchen T.

Gas grills are on a lot of people's minds lately. This is understandable after enduring a long hard winter of cold, snow, and no barbecue picnics or cook outs. Spring is right around the corner so, if you're like many other people, you are starting to think about grilling steaks, kabobs, and other culinary delights on the bbq. As they say, "put another shrimp on the bar-b!" This article takes a look at some of the differences and considerations between using regular charcoal grills and gas grills.

Given that the season is upon us for firing up the grill, it is only natural to take inventory of what you have to see if it suits your needs best. You might have a small hibachi grill or a regular charcoal grill. These work fine, but gas grills offer some conveniences to consider as well. The smaller charcoal grills are great for just a couple people, but fall woefully short if you need to cook for more than just a few people. Larger units solve this problem, but you still have to deal with the danger, expense, and smell of lighter fluid, not to mention the forever wait while the charcoal heats up enough to cook on. The gas grills heat immediately and are available in all sizes, including king size with multiple levels and even heating surfaces for side dishes.

Gas grills go a long way to solving the problems of using a regular charcoal grill. They heat almost immediately with just the turn of a knob, and a push of a button. Viola! Instant heat right when you are ready to cook. The main down side many people have with gas grills is not so much that they have any negatives inherent to them per se, but that they don't give you quite the same flavor as you get with regular charcoal briquets. Some people don't really notice this at all, but some do tend to. Not a big deal, but something worth mentioning if you are finicky about such things.

Modern gas grills are safe to use with just some basic common sense. The propane tanks they use have a valve that turns the gas on and off, and the grill itself has separate valves for regulating the heat to the different burners. You don't have to worry about the gas if you just remember to follow the manufacturer's safety instructions when it comes time to light it. Don't, for example, turn on the gas valves while you go looking for the lighter stick or matches. That would be bad. Basically, you want to light the gas quickly after turning on the gas. Many gas grills come equipped with an igniter switch that makes lighting them even easier. With these you just turn on the gas and click the switch to light the burners. Couldn't be simpler.

So are gas grills the absolute best choice? Well, for some they are. For others they might not be. It depends on what you value most. One way to see it is as a choice between flavor and speed. Though I have to say, some people do have some pretty good luck getting all the flavor they want from a gas grill with the right smoke chips, and seasonings. Both options are better than nothing at all and I think the differences between them are actually pretty insignificant. Propane and bags of charcoal cost nearly the same. it comes down to personal preference. I cast my vote on the side of the convenience and speed you get from gas grills.

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