For those who’ve spent their BBQ’ing days working with charcoal and brisquette-style outdoor cooking, going to a gas grill for the first may either come with apprehension or a big sigh of relief. Depending on the perspective, gas grill-cooking comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. So understanding these differences is important to using the tool more effectively with food preparation.
Gas grills either work with a natural gas line feed hardwired into an outdoor grill/oven, or they operate with a propane gas tank that has to be refilled on a regular basis. In either case, the heating element in the grill is fueled by flammable gas started with a pilot light once the gas flow is opened up.
The first benefit of gas cooking has to do with the flame distribution. Because these grills use a long, perforated pipe for the gas to escape through, the lit flame is evenly distributed underneath the grill. This allows for even cooking and a smaller number of hot spots on the cooking surface.
Additionally, gas grills are very easy to start when the equipment is clean. With a pilot light or ignition start, the gas catches fire immediately and spreads across all the open gas exit points, significantly cutting down the preparation time necessary to start a BBQ. This feature makes it very easy to start a BBQ even when it may be cold or windy outside.
Finally, cooking temperature generally stays fairly even in gas grills, allowing finer control of the food-cooking process versus the fluctuation that frequently occurs with charcoal cooking.
Gas grills are usually not compatible with smoking techniques or flavored cooking using herbs or flavor-enhancers burning below the grille. So for those who want a mesquite smoke flavor to their steaks, they’re out of luck.
A gas-fueled system is also not usually compatible with portable cooking needs. While a propane-fueled BBQ could technically be moved to a different location, the size of the unit can make it quite a hassle and impossible without some kind of a truck for transportation. Any kind of a grill using a natural gas line is permanently fixed in its installed location and cannot be moved.
Gas grills also require regular cleaning maintenance of the gas flues. Because these fuel lines underneath the cooking grill itself use very small holes, they can clog up easily with burnt food material and grease. When this happens, the system loses the ability to produce an even flame, reducing the heating capacity of the grill and overall performance. As a result, grills fueled with gas have to be cleaned out thoroughly every two months to keep the system working correctly.
Gas grill-cooking as well as regular charcoal cooking will both have their dedicated fans, but in and of itself a gas grill can be a very convenient backyard appliance to have, especially during the summer evenings when outdoor cooking is popular. Before long, most owners tend to acquire a taste for BBQ cooking and even use their gas grilles regularly during the winter as well.