Grilling with charcoal vs grilling with gas

publickmanApril 5, 2013

How many of you grill with charcoal?

How many with gas?

How many of you use both?

Anyone use a Big Green Egg

I have a gas grill outside, but I use it only during power outtages. Otherwise I use a mixture of mesquite charcoal and mesquite hardwood, both of which burn at a very high temperature. I control the heat by opening and closing air vents, and if I close them completely, the fire goes out. We have two Weber charcoal grills (one large and one small), but have been considering getting a big green egg, or something similar. We would have to go to Culver City to get one, but that's only four miles. I'm also considering a Kamodo Joe grill, which might be a bit less expensive. I'm not sure we really need anything this large for just the two of us, and we already have a separate smoker, which we use as much as the charcoal grills. I think we'll have to go to the store to check it out to see whether we need it or not.


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We have both a charcoal and a gas grill. We use the gas grill more frequently for convenience, but DH prefers charcoal for anything special. We always grill our lamb over charcoal. To me it has better flavor and is worth the extra hassle. I don't think we have a problem with the fire going out, but we never close the vents on the charcoal grill completely unless we're finished cooking.

We also have a smoker, but that is completely different because it's low heat cooking.

There are lots of ardent big green egg fans. I don't see the great advantage, but i probably don't pay much attention. We're happy with what we already have.

I believe Costco has big green egg or Kamodo grills, I've seen them there. It may vary from one region to another, since I never saw them in New England.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 7:27PM
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For 25 years I grilled year round on an old classic large CharBroil charcoal unit. It had the heavy cast iron grates both for the food and the charcoal (usually just bricquets). When we moved, we bought a gas grill. To be honest, I can't really tell the difference except for the convenience, of course. When grilling with indirect heat, I would usually add some fat or low quality meat on the heat with either unit for flavor.

I just saw the Egg at a North Carolina COSTCO.

This post was edited by chas045 on Fri, Apr 5, 13 at 19:40

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 7:38PM
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I use charcoal. I have used gas before, didn't like it.

My grill is cheap, but it works fine. It takes a few seconds to get a blast furnace hot charcoal fire going with a variable speed leave blower.

I think the difference of a Big Green Egg type grill is that it can grill and it can grill and bake effectively (to 800 F).


Here is a link that might be useful: Blow

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 8:00PM
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All I've got is gas. As I see it, it's just another way of subjecting food to heat. Without solid fuel or at least smoker chips, I don't think much more is to be expected. I do use it a lot though.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 8:10PM
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FOAS, look into a-maze-n tube smoker, Amazon or youtube.

You may be able to do smoking with your grill.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 8:19PM
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We have a small cheap gas grill. I can't tell the difference between food that I burn black on charcoal and that I burn black over gas. Elery does grill well, but I still don't see a discernible flavor difference between the two methods. The real difference is that I can turn gas on and not have to plan ahead long enough to heat the coals, so it's less time consuming to completely reduce a piece of good beef to a burnt offering with the gas grill.

Elery really wants a Big Green Egg, I think. The sales people wax eloquent, of course, but keep telling him about baking bread, how well it retains heat, etc. I think Jessica's husband has a Big Green Egg.



    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 8:32PM
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We got a cheap gas one last year to try and we love it for its convenience. Poor husband has even been out in the dark with a torch strapped to his forhead in freezing conditions just to get the rib of beef just right! We use it much more than we ever used the charcoal one. We don't have a brilliant climate here except for a few precious weeks in the summer so spending less time freezing our arrises off in the garden is a good thing:-) :-) :-)

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 3:13AM
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I've used real charcoal, charcoal briquettes, gas, electric and wood. Each has their pros and cons. Using real charcoal is great but a bigger hassle than briquettes but availability is far better. I enjoyed playing with the coals but as I aged I wanted more convenience and turning a knob and pushing a button to apply heat to food was advantageous. Electric grills are easier yet. When camping, there's nothing like cooking over an open fire, but the camp stove becomes a valued cheat as you get older too.

I find it ironic how many people literally scream that you MUST have a gas stove, but how many of them scream as loudly that you can't use a gas grill! LOL But then they seldom realize the difference between charcoal and briquettes.

There's definitely an advantage to gas/electric if you're going to be cooking a long time but if you know what you're doing and like to putz with it, coal and/or briquettes will get the job done. Most people start their grill, cook a few burgers and hot dogs, maybe an occasional steak and are done. Often when we're using a grill it's an all day thing.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 5:37AM
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We have an electric smoker that we love for its convenience and ease of use. As for the amount of time required outside to use a charcoal grill instead of gas - that is a non-issue here, as the temperatures are always pleasant enough to spend the time outside anyway. We don't cook outside when it rains, although we have smoked food outside on days that it rained, since even the rain is barely noticeable. We've done a lot to make our back yard as beautiful and comfortable as possible, and I hope to put in some lighting this summer so that in the winter we can extend the hours we spend back there. I'm not sure if I should try to find someone who specializes in landscape lighting or just hire an electrician to install outdoor outlets for me, plus a flood light to light the fountain at night. I want to get some kind of lighting in the pergola, and I'll probably ask questions on the California gardening forum.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 11:49AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

We use our charcoal grill year round....including for many "low and slow " specialties. We just have a decent sized Weber, a coal chimney, and a couple of side baskets for indirect cooking. It barely takes fifteen minutes to get a stackfull of coals hot and hardly any tending to maintain a temperature, even if cooking a six hour shoulder for pulled pork.

No one has mentioned charcoal brands, but we use Kingsford Competition style briquettes.....they don't have that awful chemical smell. Never use charcoal starter. They burn hot and last for a long time.

We'll never revert to using a gas grill. :-)

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 7:51PM
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I have a gas grill, and use it occasionally in the summer. If we are having a party and I don't want to heat up the kitchen, then I can hang out outside with a cold beverage tending the food and chatting. It has a side burner and three burners under the grates, so I can do a number of things at once.

But not very well . . . I don't find it a very good way to cook. Why? Because it is a "jack of all trades, master of none" sort of device. For applying very high heat to sear, brown, and crust, a cast iron pan, the oven broiler, or heaped up charcoal in the white-hot phase do a much better job; the gas grill doesn't get nearly as hot. For slow indirect heat to finish, the oven does a better job; the gas grill has less even heat distribution and poorer temperature control. For a smoky grill flavor, real wood charcoal is a lot better than wood chips in a gas-heated plate.

I strongly prefer grilling over wood charcoal, I don't have such a grill, but when the passion rises, I set a cooking rack over my fire pit and have at it using big logs.

Someday I'll buy a Hibachi so that I can grill a small meal with charcoal without wasting a lot of fuel.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 10:01PM
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Lars, you have a beautiful yard. As a designer obviously you realize how important lighting is as a component of the overall aesthetics. I am not so sure how many people in these forums have the aptitude to visualize and empathize the end result which you have in your mind.

That said, I think you can get good ideas on various technical aspects of landscape outdoor lighting.

You are lucky that today LED lights are much advanced. They offer great design possibilities. They are small, bright and last forever. The low power requirement makes it practical for solar panels. They used to be of less than 1 watt power, now you can get 100 watt LEDs. A 20 Watt LED can light up your garden. I made a 20 watt cordless light which last the whole evening on one charge.

Most fountains are lit from inside the water, not from spot lights shining on them. LED lights are even better because optically they are close to a point source, which gives the water more sparkle. LED light can be low voltage powered, making it not dangerous to operate near water. They also make LED lights which are programmable to change colors, making it lotâÂÂs of fun for special events. I made one for a punch bowl for a party. It was a blast!


Here is a link that might be useful: Rainbow fountain

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 10:01PM
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Dcarch - I followed the link you posted above half expecting it would link me to a former thread on leaf blowers/hair dryers.

It took me to your YouTube video on the leaf blower. And while I was there I noticed your Shuck a Corn video has almost 18,000 views. Who knew?

I prefer gas for the convenience. I am currently shopping around for a new grill.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 10:31PM
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Gas. It's convenient, inexpensive, fast. Mine isn't very convenient to use (being two stories downstairs) so I generally use it only when it's 90 degrees in my kitchen and I can't bear the thought of turning my stove on, let alone my oven or broiler!

Easier for us to go out if we want wood-burning grilled or oven dishes like pizza, BBQ, porchetta, etc.

My DH doesn't like smoked food. I do, but he'll only tolerate it in very small amounts, unless it's bacon, lol. We were at a restaurant in Berkeley about a month ago that did a surprisingly fine flatbread called "Bacon Three Ways": it used thick dice of boar, lamb, and pork bacon; onion soubise, spinach, smoked egg, and maple gastrique (a fancy name for a thin wash of maple syrup, more like a glaze).

The smoked hard-boiled egg crumbles on top won raves from everyone, even DH. One of the rare times he's said he would order a smoked dish again.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 11:31PM
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We went to a couple of barbeque places today and ending up buying the extra large Big Green Egg, and I think we will be very happy with it. Kevin thinks it will be great for parties, and now it will be even easier for us to cook for a crowd. Since we now have three charcoal grills, we can use separate grills for separate dishes which will make it easier for us to make multiple dishes at once, even if they require different temperatures. We also have the electric smoker, and I have to say that we get a more intense smoke flavor from that than we do from the charcoal - or at least it permeates the meat more. For smoking chilies, only the charcoal will do the job the way I want it. The BGE that we bought also has a pizza stone and can be used for grilling pizza - something that I've been wanting to do since first visiting the pizza making forum.

We bought some outdoor lights for our pergola, and I think they will provide way more light than we required, but at least we can lower the wattage when we want to. I haven't bought anything for lighting the fountain yet because I want to have that installed by an electrician on an exterior wall of the house. I'm hoping to light much of the back yard that way and have it on a dimmer. I don't really want underwater lights in my fountain at this point but will talk with the electrician about that. I'm thinking that I will get my yard lit in stages and start off with getting some outdoor outlets installed at strategic points so that lights could be hooked up later.

We went out for dinner this evening because I wanted sushi! We haven't assembled the Big Green Egg yet.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 12:32AM
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Lars - I will be looking forward to hearing about things made in the extra large Green Egg.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 1:03AM
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I have a fire pit and an electric grill. I use wood chips on the electric grill. Someday I will figure out a way to make it a solar powered grill.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 12:31AM
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"----Someday I will figure out a way to make it a solar powered grill."

Go to the town dump, and see if you can find an older projection type of large screen TV set. There is a thin piece of plastic in front of the screen you can salvage. The screen is known as "Fresnel" lens. If you put the screen in a picture frame, you will have a very powerful solar grill.

Go to youtube and search "solar grills", ""Fresnel furnace" etc.

I have one. Great fun to cook burgers and hot dogs with kids.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 7:38AM
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couldn't let this pass without passing on a little trivia. Fresnel lenses (pronounced fruh-NELL) were originally used in lighthouses to redirect the point source of light (from a fire) into a horizontal beam. If you think about it, a fire radiates light in all directions and isn't particularly efficient for a ship on the sea--the ship would only see the light rays emanating horizontally. By capturing a lot of the non-horizontal light rays and directing those horizontally, it made the lighthouse far more visible than a lighthouse without such a device.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fresnel lens

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 10:03AM
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Lars, everyone I know who has a Big Green Egg loves it. Can't wait to hear about what you grill with it.

I decided to try and teach myself to grill last year on our Weber charcoal. I decided grilling was way more trouble than it's worth, at least on a charcoal grill. I used Stubbs briquettes and a chimney starter. I don't know what I did wrong but it took almost an hour to get warmed up and then I seemed to have hot spots so the food cooked very unevenly. Just talked to DH yesterday about getting a gas grill.


    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 10:29AM
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Arley, it's amazing you can find those large Fresnel lens for free. You can really grill food with one with sunlight. The only thing you need is a pair of sunglasses. It's very bright. It is so much fun to have it going for a BBQ party. It is also great to get young kids interested in science and cooking.

For you folks who read labels when you shop, you can get credit card size Fresnel magnifying glass to read those fine prints. It take no room in your wallet.


My solar BBQ grill

This post was edited by dcarch on Tue, Apr 9, 13 at 11:41

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 11:13AM
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Right now I am set up with a gas grill. This will be the first full summer to use it, and I am excited. I've got a Weber grill I read about online. The main reason is convenience. It is really fast and easy to get from cooking to eating. This is the biggest plus with all the kids running around. I have some friend's whose husbands use the big green egg, and I'll say the results are always fantastic. I don't really know the process of using one. As for me though, I'll be stick with my gas grill for now. I love the idea of a solar grill.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 4:04PM
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I forgot to mention the Hibachi and I also had a "Smokey Joe" (Mini Weber) kettle. I liked both. Especially the Hibachi. I used it on the apartment deck a lot. However with all the fires from incompetents most buildings (around here) banned them, and rightly so. But I took it tailgating, camping, to the cabin and picnics. The "Joe" was bigger, clumsier but had the advantage of the cover and still using a lot less briquettes than the larger kettles. They were still fun to use now and then when I wanted to play with matches but the gas got more and more convenient and for the small things when I only wanted a burger or two, maybe a baked potato, I'd just use the Nesco or the little convection oven.

Outdoor cooking is enjoyable. Although to me, most cooking is enjoyable.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 5:02AM
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