Although there are almost as many different types of BBQ grill as there are days in the year, perhaps the most fundamental question in buying a BBQ is whether to go for charcoal or gas. Today this choice is both easier and more complicated than it was even five years ago, when the choice of grills was quite limited and the market was dominated by charcoal, with gas grills mainly being quite expensive. Now there’s probably more gas grills around than charcoal and the cost has come down dramatically.
So, to gas or not to gas what’s the answer, well simply there isn’t an easy one. Originally most people entered the market by way of a simple charcoal grill, but now with gas grills costing under £50, this has all changed, so is it gas or charcoal, or even both?
BBQ purists would argue that you can only really get that true BBQ taste from charcoal as charcoal adds flavour and depth to food, whereas gas simply cooks. Certainly, charcoal imparts a smoky style, which can be enhanced by the addition of wet wood chips or herb branches.
However, whilst charcoal adds flavour, for some lighting charcoal can be a tricky business. For even expert grillers there remains the set-up time; and you can also control the heat by varying the depth of charcoal across the grill from thin/low to thick/hot. The addition of a natural charcoal lighter, such as coconut gels also helps, and you can now even get coconut charcoal.
On the other hand, modern gas grills are now so much easier and user-friendly and are perfect for both impromptu, or ‘after-work Barbi’s as well as for more sophisticated alfresco eating and outdoor dinner parties. They also get up to cooking speed quicker and are so much more controllable, especially the multi-burner grills, or those with a hood or smoker attachment.
Many gas grills now come with a rotisserie, hobs, griddle plates, or woks, as well and warming plates. Certainly, unless you’re only going to BBQ very occasionally, it pays to have a hooded, multi-burner grill, with a minimum of 3 burners. Gas grills with lava-rock beds are perfect as you can even get a charcoal smoke effect by throwing wet on wood chips or herb branches. Even gas canisters have changed with either lightweight see through styles or those with gauges to ensure you don’t run out of gas.