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). If you want real searing heat for your meat, this it is! July is National Grilling Month, and that’s a special time for ThermoWorks because we love grilling! J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats notes though that there’s rarely a need for such extreme temperatures; the 225°F to 600°F range of a gas grill neatly covers most grillers’ needs. 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. Is there an experiment or observation you’d like to see us do with our high-heat probes? The main thing that differentiates these two types of grills is the fuel that they run on, obviously. 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. Charcoal gives you smoke flavor! But be mindful of how hot your coals are getting. 3. 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. But with beef like that, be sure your indirect heat is nice and gentle. (Fire is usually in the range of 1200°F [649°C].) Temperature Range A charcoal grill can operate from extremely low to searing (+1200° F) temperatures. 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. 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. As for the air, I’m not actually sure! You can see the cyclical nature of the thermostat turning on and off in the initial section. Charcoal grills typically cook up to 500F. Gas grills are more expensive! 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. Take a look at the data: You can see the intense heat of the charcoal in this graph. It produces flavorful smoke that adds flavor to … This may delay your serving time and have a negative effect on your party. Best Charcoal Grill: Our Test Kitchen recommends the Weber’s Original Kettle Charcoal Grill ($109) for its durability and temperature control. You’ll need to pour the coals, place in the wood, light the fire, and then stoke the fire. In the past, I'd tune it all out. The one problem with charcoal grills is that they do take quite a while to heat up. Best gas grills of 2020: Weber, Char-Broil and more grills we love From backyard burgers to top-notch tailgates, these gas grills deliver seriously delicious meals. Charcoal grillers take a certain pride in their ability to get the fire started and tend to it properly while they cook. Getting a top-of-the-line gas grill can be quite an investment. Charcoal vs. gas grill: which is hotter? Does the diameter of the kettle grill impact temperatures? 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. Wood pellet cooking and charcoal grilling have a lot of differences. 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 major reason to go charcoal. Charcoal grill pros and cons; Gas grill pros and cons; Charcoal vs gas grill comparison table; Understanding the Pros and Cons of Charcoal vs Gas Grill. Egg shape or kettle? Charcoal Grill Vs Gas Grill. So simple, turn on and light (or hit ignitior button if it has one..most do now). Other folks want convenience and spontaneity. But the relative temperatures across the grill surfaces are still relevant and instructive. Typically, the strongest pellet smokers are limited to a range of about 500°F. Charcoal grills are often a little smaller, but no less popular! Gas vs. Charcoal Grill: Things You Need to Know When Buying a Grill. Charcoal vs. gas grill and beyond: Your guide to different types of grills . Gas grills have a similar responsiveness as gas charbroilers, and these grills are often equipped with a thermometer to monitor the temperature inside the grill for more precise cooking. That’s great, but some of you out there want a grill that can reach a higher temperature than 400° to 500° Fahrenheit. Charcoal Pros Typically, charcoal grills reach a higher temperature than gas grills. Can I use leave-in probes while grilling? 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. I hope that helps! The Cost of Charcoal vs. Gas Grills. The kettle type and ceramic egg (kamado) type lead the charcoal pack, with dozens of variations on those two themes. A bag of charcoal can easily be chucked into the car and taken to the park or beach. 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). We set up the diffuser plate for this cook, as one would for indirect cooking, with the lid closed. Gas barbecues blaze less than charcoal barbecues because their temperatures are lower. 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. 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. 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. The ease of dial-controlled temperature is an appealing feature for many cooks. Charcoal vs. Gas Grill: The Breakdown Charcoal Grill Pros. 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. Pros of charcoal grills: Typically, charcoal grills reach a higher temperature than gas grills. We’re here to make that investment a little bit easier. Here’s everything you need to know about the differences between pellet grills and charcoal grills. Though a relative newcomer to the American grilling scene, these ceramic eggs have acquired a devoted following. While you can control temperature easier on a gas grill, it’s hard to get the low heat you need for long, slow cooking. It’s also much easier to control the temperature with a propane grill. Charcoal burns hotter than gas. With any charcoal, the lighter fluid completely volatilizes in a few minutes. Charcoal Vs Gas Grill: A Great Video Comparison You can dial the amount of propane being used up or down depending on what temperature you want to use. It's easy to achieve your ideal grilling temperature, even with charcoal. Charcoal vs. gas grill: which is hotter? The temp in our cook trails off a bit there because we’d expended a lot of fuel with the lid off. It’s dirty. Meathead settles the argument of Charcoal Grills vs. Gas Grills once and for all. 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! However, charcoal is a more expensive fuel and may cost more in the long run. Size. These are general principles that will hopefully help you become a master of your own grill. I've used gas (propane) for the last 15 years. Many purists claim that the flavor imparted from charcoal is the only way to grill. By contrast, a gas grill’s burners are an excellent source of evenly controlled heat. 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). As we have established, charcoal grills are better at reaching those high temperatures, and controlling the temperature can be more of a struggle. Pre-heat time - Gas grills heat up quickly because you only need to turn on the switch for the burners to ignite. 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. ‘With charcoal grills you can cook directly but often you can also use them like an oven to slow cook. Charcoal vs Gas Grill Debate: 7 Points to Consider . 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. Because of their … 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. The temperature curve for this cooker was exceptionally flat, and right in the perfect range for grill-roasting. if so then the volumetric change is proportionally greater than the change in coal surface. Are they really that different? According to some die-hard barbecue fans, the only way to grill is with charcoal. Control: You can control the temperature of a gas grill. One of the biggest features of a gas grill is its ability to moderate the temperature that your meat is cooked at. A propane or gas grill definitely heats up much faster than a charcoal grill. 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. Home Test Kitchen Cooking with Gear & Gadgets. You can do this by increasing the number of briquettes in the cooking device and opening up the air vents to increase circulation within the grill. If you want high, high heat, charcoal is the way to go. People likely have their own opinion on how to barbeque and what type of grill achieves the best result. They hover in the 200°F (93°C) range. To see how the actual heat of these grills performed, we heated our natural-gas grill to high heat on the left side, leaving the right side turned off as if we were preparing for a reverse sear or two-stage cooking. Just use the valve and alternate the gas output. Kaila Harmon is a California native who has a deep passion for writing that has been with her from a young age. Keeping the lid on is much more energy efficient, as you get higher temps for far longer! Charcoal vs. Gas grills. Gas vs. Charcoal. G, We also use the same weight and brand of lump charcoal (4.4 pounds or 2 kg), often from the same bag. So, you go back and forth very quickly and get precisely the temperature you need for the food to cook correctly. 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. Every year there are dozens of articles on the same subject. Taste of Home is America's #1 cooking magazine. We also used a thermal imaging camera to help us understand the environments better. Grilling is a major part of food culture in America, but the war between charcoal vs gas grills fanatics has raged for years. People often think of gas grills as automatically being more expensive than charcoal grills, but that is simply not true. 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. Charcoal? We’ll have to look for a gas barbecue so we can efficiently cook lots of delicious food for our guests to enjoy. You can also start adding other things to fire, like wood to create smoke. However, the cyclical on-off evens out at that temperature. Hi-Temp Flexible Ceramic Fiber-Insulated Probe, Does the reverse seat work for ground beef. Charcoal provides that rich, smoky flavor that, even with an attached smoker box, gas just can’t meet. A person might argue that the per-hour fuel cost in the gas grill is much higher than the charcoal one. Charcoal grills typically cook up to 500F. We kind of discussed it this Grilling Hamburgers post. The grill grate in this grill was 3.5″ above the surface of the single layer of coals. Charcoal purists rave about the taste. The Basic Thing to Consider. Charcoal is also more portable than gas grills. 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. … Sadly, that camera only has a heat range up to 626°F (330°C), so we couldn’t really show the full range of temperatures in many of the grills. This is no problem for a kettle grill filled with red-hot charcoals as it can reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit. Please check out our disclosure policy for more details. Effects are almost immediate. Our probes 3.5″ above the charcoal bed had much higher temperatures than those only 2″ above the gas elements themselves. 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. Most grills can be broken into two major families: those that are fueled by gas of some kind (natural gas or propane), or those that are fueled by charcoal. Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to charcoal and gas grilling. This is not, strictly speaking, a grill, but rather a smoker with grill-like characteristics. Charcoal grills take longer to preheat and it is not very easy to change the temperature quickly. Charcoal burns hotter than gas. 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. I’ll leave that up to you to decide. 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. With the lid off, temperatures become subject to breezes and the chunky nature of the fuel itself. A gas grill claws back time for you with every use. (We are aware that these grills can achieve much higher temperatures without the diffuser plate!) Unless you use a torch or electric starter, charcoal grills take time to light. 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. Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. We also ran it at searing temp with the lid open to see if what the temperatures would be like at the surface and 2″ above it. Using leave-in probes while grilling calls for caution and care. Charcoal grills use coal for fuel while gas grills use either propane or natural gas as fuel. Interestingly, the sensor at the surface of the grill was cooler than that 2″ above the surface. The maximum temperature of a gas grill depends on the model you buy. Most types don’t even reach that temperature. We started a single layer of coals and distributed them across the charcoal grate, then put probes at grate level and 2″ above. 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. HOW TO CONTROL TEMPERATURE ON A CHARCOAL GRILL. Our probes 3.5″ above the charcoal bed had much higher temperatures than those only 2″ above the gas elements themselves. 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. They are famous for steady heat, due to their thick ceramic walls. It can get hotter than standard gas grills. 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. Great post! The best models are often expensive. Don’t be a wimp. 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. Higher Temperature. A grill has to reach a temperature of at least 600 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve a nice sear on your meat. Deciding how much charcoal to use is more of a “by feel” kind of thing. 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. Electric grills typically are the cheapest to operate, and you never have run out to the store for more fuel. Use gloves or tongs. 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. Charcoal fires can reach up to 800°F. A grill has to reach a temperature of at least 600 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve a nice sear on your meat. On a gas grill, keep the thermometer away from the hot side. For example, the highest temperature a gas grill gives ranges between 450 °F – 500 °F which implies the fast cook. Gas grills can come in all shapes and sizes, and for that reason are great for cooking for large groups. Charcoal grills are cheaper to purchase. If you are cooking over indirect heat, you can carefully use probes. Any thoughts. 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. 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. This thermal image of the smoker shows that there are hotspots, just like in any other cooker. Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. But most only go up to 500°F. We try to run temperature tests on all the grills simultaneously. 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! We hope that this data can be of use to you. 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. We’ve heard it every way possible. If you want high, high heat, charcoal is the way to go. That might lead to a slightly decreased temperature. Your mileage may vary significantly depending on make and model and how you have it set up. With proper use and maintenance (more on that later), you aren’t likely to run into many problems.