There is a flaming back and forth around a certain fussy subject that has the world of BBQ enthusiasts caught in a grill o’ war. The enviable title of best BBQ fuel, for better or for worse, has been up for grabs for a while. Like all tenaciously long-standing rivalries, the merits and handicaps of the gas or charcoal BBQ conundrum are hotly debated. This rivalry runs deep like the Capulets and Montagues of Romeo and Juliet. Imagine the charcoal vs. gas dichotomy permeating Shakespeare’s great work where two star-crossed lovers defy the will of their gas BBQ and charcoal BBQ purist families. Terrific entertainment all around (hopefully without the tragic poison-filled finale) but we at Big K are here to make the peace.
What is best? Gas or charcoal BBQ?
The plumes of the old gas or coal BBQ debate are thick. Most BBQ purists would say that “old is gold” in the debate of charcoal vs. gas BBQ. The basic principles of grilling meat over a wood fire have remained constant through millennia. And much like a fine 19th century Bordeaux wine, the primal act of charring meat has matured over time, evolving into its own sophisticated art form.
Any self-respecting BBQ enthusiast knows that it takes a certain amount of passion, hard work, skill and persistence to master cooking on a charcoal BBQ grill. The persistence of going old school is a trade off for that immaculate and beloved smoky flavour. This taste sensation is pretty much impossible to replicate in any other medium of grilling meat. Even for the most neutral grill freak at Big K, charcoal is the real McCoy of the grill game. In a rhetorical nutshell, charcoal musters up a far superior flavour profile in every BBQ dish, so this is the reason why such an old-school grilling philosophy has stuck around (albeit with some cosmetic changes) for a few thousand years. If you want to get down to the meat and bones of charcoal BBQ, you can check out our informative blog on the subject to flex your BBQ muscles like a pro.
However, history, tradition and the inherently primeval are concepts that don’t necessarily resonate with everyone. Convenience and ease-of-use is at the top of the agenda for the people of generation scroll, and BBQ grills are no exception. Despite our super quick and user friendly instant light charcoal, options, as well as disposable BBQ products many of today’s swipe-friendly, tweet tweaking, bitcoin busting generation wouldn’t want to take much of a chance taking on a fiery blitz with charcoal, unless it’s on a mobile phone game called “BBQ Wars.”
Enter the gas BBQ grill. It’s heat in the flick of a switch. It’s the simple clean up without the dust-up. It’s the 3 C’s of gas BBQ: convenience, convenience, and convenience.
It’s a showdown of showdowns in the BBQ world. Charcoal vs. gas is as grand a battle royale as it gets in the BBQ debate. But as we said before, we’re here to make the peace, not get into a BBQ bust up. Put on your learning caps because we’re going to take you on a helpful, step-by-step Big K breakdown of charcoal BBQ and gas BBQ.
Advantages of Charcoal BBQ
- Flavour is king when cooking on a charcoal BBQ grill. You will get flavour profiles of apple wood, white Quebracho, Marabu and coconut shell to name a few. The distinct flavour of food cooked on a charcoal BBQ grill comes from what the coals do to the food drippings of fat, marinades and sauce. When grilling with direct heat, the drippings hit the hot coals and vaporize back towards your food, creating a symbiotic flavour-enhancing loop to give you a good dose of deliciously smoky, lip-smacking wholesomeness. The chemical compounds guaiacol and syringol in the smoke envelop the meat’s surface and slowly permeate into the flesh, creating a new fusion of compounds within the meat’s protein composition. It doesn’t come with test tubes or petri dishes, but grilling is its own science.
- Since charcoal grills have less components, switches, and mechanisms, they can sell for as low as £20.00. If you’re strapped for some moolah but still want to enjoy some char-grilled meat on the cheap, a charcoal BBQ is your best bet. Also a bag of charcoal can be significantly less expensive than propane. Big K’s all natural Lumpwood charcoal is made to make BBQ’s a flavour fest, and it’s the perfect charcoal to give your meats an unbeatable taste to rack up some street cred with your guests. We also have a selection of instant light charcoal and disposable charcoal options for maintaining top-drawer flavour while grilling on the go.
- Searing hot temperatures up to 600 degrees Celsius can be reached with ease in a charcoal BBQ grill. Want to heat it up some more? Just chuck more hot coals into the mix and presto! Your heat is going places!
- Charcoal grills come in all shapes and sizes with a variety of gadgets and gizmos. However most grills are super basic and super easy to use. Essentially they are lightweight portable structures that are easy to move around. . Plus there are countless foldaway portable options out there too, such as our BBQ Croc Easy grills Essentially you can grill at home, in the garden or on the go – any time and in pretty much any place.
- Robocop, eat your heart out. Charcoal puts out infrared heat and it seals moisture inside of meats. It doesn’t disturb the moisture barrier of meat – meaning that food gets cooked without drying out. Infrared heat has been shown to result in 35% less moisture loss, compared to other types of heat transfer.
- Big K charcoal is available anytime online at bigkproducts.co.uk, or you’ll find us in many grocery stores and supermarkets in the UK. Basically our quality charcoal is waaaay easier to pick up than gas.
Disadvantages of Charcoal BBQ
- Anyone can fire up a charcoal BBQ with relative ease, however the best burns and BBQs come with practice and experience. To master the art takes time, patience and dedication. So you have to be prepared to sweat out hours of grinding over the grill before you develop a clairvoyant-esque awareness of the charcoal and its ways to elevate yourself to the pedestal of BBQing perfection. Even so, we at Big K encourage everyone to try their hand at BBQing with charcoal, because every time you break out your briquettes, you are getting closer to becoming a true sensei of the art of charcoal grilling.
- To BBQ is an amazingly tactile and visceral experience however It’s going to get messy! A proper cleanup after every cookout is key to keep your charcoal BBQ grill in tip top shape. Do not pour water over the hot coals to douse the heat because the rapid change in temperature and moisture could ruin your charcoal BBQ grill. Close the lid and choke the hot coals overnight and discard the ashes into a garbage bag for disposal.
- If you blaze up a BBQ then it is a commitment of sorts. You can’t just chuck a load of food on the grill, then go and catch up on the latest YouTube influencer shenanigans. Charcoal BBQ requires the devoted attention of the cook. From managing surges in heat to cooking meat safely and thoroughly, the steps to cooking on charcoal BBQ will keep you glued to the grill. Spending a little less time socializing and more time managing the cookoff is part and parcel of the charcoal BBQ experience.
- Safety first! As charcoal can reach temperatures up to 600 degrees Celsius, you need to be extra careful when cooking on a charcoal grill. A minor tip over by a passing toddler, an unexpected flare up, or your whiskey drink accidently spilling into the coals could spell disaster. So be vigilant and keep a fire extinguisher close by, just in case.
Advantages of Gas BBQ
- Gas BBQ grills are known for their convenience. Crank the gas valve, push the ignition button and turn the gas on – voila! You have a perfectly functional grill that can be used by anyone. However you won’t have quite the same traditional flavours associated with charcoal.
- Gas BBQ grills heat up quickly. Controlling the heat is as easy as turning a dial.
- Gas BBQ grills are easier to clean. Simply rub a metal brush on the grate before and after use and you have a clean gas BBQ grill. You could also clean the aluminum plate that covers the burners which is below the grate, but this is not necessary after every use.
- If you’re a first-timer or a fledgling BBQ sophomore with limited experience, gas BBQ gives more control over your cook. Delicate foods such as seafood, vegetables and fruits can be cooked on a gas BBQ grill with ease. It takes seconds to turn up the heat or lower the flames to ensure tricky-to-cook food could be cooked to perfection over a gas BBQ.
Disadvantages of Gas BBQ
- Gas BBQ machines can get expensive. You could end up paying over £200 for a decent grill and over £800 to £1500 for a top range gas BBQ grill. Convenience comes at a cost.
- Limited mobility. If your gas BBQ grill is hooked up to your gas line or to a tank, this could be heavy to carry around and limit your location options.
- There is more wear and tear and in a gas BBQ machine – the burners could get damaged by rust, fat drippings, and oil. The burner pipe vents could get rusted or damaged and even fused together making it burn more gas. This would create inefficiency creating more heat than you dial on your heat regulator.
- Repair expenses of a gas BBQ grill will be high. There are many parts and components in a gas BBQ grill that are prone to wear and tear. The burners could get damaged / clogged due to rust, fat drippings, and neglect when not in use. Cooking grease could seep into the heat regulators as they are used a lot while cooking, and replacing these parts won’t be very light on your wallet.
- Safety first! Gas is highly combustible. There is always a silent, invisible threat that could be dangerous when trying to ignite the gas grill manually. If the ignition button on the grill goes bust, you will have to light the Gas BBQ manually with a lighter. This could be very dangerous, especially on a windy day, as gas could continue to course through the jets and pool in the lower chamber because it is heavier than air. This could cause an explosion upon ignition, so being wary will be in everyone’s best interest.
Great debates are great debates because either side of the discussion comes with ample ammo to keep the fire burning on their end. Rather than pointing out puritanical preferences, we’ve given you the information to help you decide which method fits your fancy. But if you asked us our opinion, minus the gallant neutrality we’ve demonstrated throughout this piece, we’d have to go with charcoal because we’re sticklers for that good ol’ smoky flavour of old-fashioned, flame-grilled deliciousness.
If you want to learn more about mastering the art of charcoal grilling, we at Big K know a thing or two on how to help you level up your grill game. Our one-stop charcoal guide and charcoal BBQ breakdown will get you in top shape to earn your charcoal BBQ grill stripes in no time!
And if you’re convinced that charcoal is the benchmark for a good BBQ, we at Big K have a range of quality charcoal for every griller and every skill level, from the 365 pros to the casual Saturday sizzlers and even total noobs. So whether you’re a professional, home chef or a mild dabbler, we’ve got your BBQ back.
So if someone asks you what’s the best – charcoal BBQ or gas BBQ? You have all the meaty bits of BBQ grill wisdom to present an answer that will automatically elevate you to the status of a grilling guru.