Barbecue season in swing, grill advantages vary

With summer grilling season around the corner, selecting which type of grill to use or buy should take into account flavor desired, cost and efficiency of use.

With the summer grilling season around the corner, the following is a listing of pros and cons associated with charcoal and gas grills as well as smokers.

Charcoal

When it comes to charcoal grills, there are a few advantages. The first is ease of use. Charcoal grills are also often easier to transport and easier to assemble if you are planning to take your grill on the road.

Additionally, charcoal grills tend to impart more flavor from their smoke than a gas grill does from propane, resulting in a unique flavor when cooking large cuts of meat like steak, turkey and chicken, Meathead Goldwyn, a chef and website publisher, said.

According to Goldwyn, charcoal grilling can sometimes be more efficient, depending on the desired cooking method like searing. If grilling steak for a group of people, charcoal may be best.

“Most sear burners are narrow and can only sear one or two steaks at a time, perfect if you’re an empty nester. But if you’re hosting the graduation party, you will want more real estate. A charcoal grill can lay up to 900°F on the surface of a lot of steaks at once; a major reason to go charcoal,” Goldwyn wrote in his article “Charcoal Grill vs. Gas Grill Throwdown: Let’s settle this once and for all.”

Gas

Gas grills, on the other hand, are ideal for those looking for something easy to use or for those who may not have time to wait for charcoal, states Lauren Naru from TastesofHome.com.

Lighting charcoal and reaching temperatures using a charcoal grill also require a bit more skill. The ease of gas grills, Naru said, make them ideal for families grilling at home.

Typically easier to clean, gas grills also heat up quickly and come in a variety of sizes with a plethora of features.

Gas grills, however, are a long-term investment, Naru added, as gas grills are typically more expensive to purchase than their charcoal-using counterparts.

Smoker

Enthusiasts looking for something that results in a bold, smokey flavor may find a smoker more interesting for their barbecuing needs. Smoking, however, is a more time-consuming cooking method than grilling as smoking utilizes circulating heat. Food preparation can take anywhere from hours to days in the smoker.

“The slow-cooker version of a grill, smokers cook foods at lower temperatures over longer periods of time,” Naru said. “Smokers are now becoming more common for at-home enthusiasts. Because of their size, smokers are also good for grillers looking to cook larger cuts of meat at one time.”

Smokers can be fueled in a variety of ways using sources like charcoal or wood chips. Each creates a unique opportunity for varying flavors. Smokers, depending on the size and heat source preferred such as charcoal, propane or electricity, vary in cost.

Northwest Editor Sean Roberts can be reached at sean.roberts@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6606.

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