Choosing a Barbecue – Gas or Charcoal?

Charcoal BBQ from John Lewis

Weber compact barbecue from John Lewis

It’s that time of year again, when the days are getting warmer, the evenings are getting longer, and we long for those lazy afternoons where we can enjoy time out in the garden in the company of family and friends, with a cool drink in hand and the scent of burgers and chicken wings smoking away on the barbecue.

But when it comes to choosing an outdoor grill, should you choose the traditional charcoal, or invest in a gas barbecue? Here are some things you might want to consider in choosing your barbecue.

Barbecue Cost

You can easily pick up a small charcoal barbecue for very little, with the disposable ‘instant’ barbecues costing around £8.00, or a small kettle style from around £20.00. If you just want to throw the occasional summer party without forking out, these are ideal.

Gas barbecues do cost more, at around £50.00 at the lower end of the scale, up to over £3,000.00 for an all singing all dancing model, but the fuel tends to be cheaper, so a gas barbecue might be an option if you plan on entertaining outdoors on a more regular basis.

Barbecue Size

No doubt your choice of barbecue will in part be determined by the space you have available. If you have limited space, you might think about choosing something which can easily be stored away when not in use.

Many of the freestanding grills have wheels on the stand, and some can be removed from the stand with the aid of a screwdriver when not in use. Otherwise, you could consider one of the many ‘bucket’ type grills available very cheaply, which are also ideal for impromptu camping trips or festivals.

If you have the space, you can choose something which can be left in situ throughout the year.

Generally, even the smaller gas grills tend to be larger than their charcoal brothers, but both can be covered with a specialist barbecue cover, available almost anywhere you can buy a barbecue.

Another thing to bear in mind is where you will store the fuel. Charcoal will need to be stored in a dry place, and remember to store away gas canisters during the winter months to avoid damage.

Barbecue Ease of Use

Unlike the traditional charcoal barbecue, which needs time to get to temperature, a gas barbecue is set to go the instant you ignite it, and the temperature can be regulated very easily.

However, food cooked on a gas grill does not have that well known smoky barbecue taste – although this can be achieved, you will need to buy additional equipment in order to do this.

If you’re willing to compromise on that though, the gas grill can be much more versatile, and can cook more types of food without too much complication, and many models have the option of keeping food warm whilst you cook other items.

Cleaning Your Barbecue

Without argument, the worst thing about having a barbecue is cleaning the thing afterwards. A charcoal barbecue must be cleaned properly in order to keep it in good working order.

It helps to give the grill rack a good coat of cooking oil before you start, to avoid so much waste sticking to it, but giving it a good soaking and scrubbing it down with a stiff wire brush is an absolute must to keep everything in good working order.

However, a gas barbecue is much cleaner to use, and requires only minimal effort after each use. Providing you wipe it down and keep it protected when not in use, you should encounter no problems at all.

Written by Tereasa Easton

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