Gas vs. Charcoal: What Grills Perfect Steak?

There’s nothing quite like a thick, juicy steak delivered hot off the grill. Grilling the perfect steak is something of a fine art that requires a great deal of attention to detail. There’s a lot of discussion as to whether gas or charcoal is better, which is why it is important to know the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The Importance of Searing

Searing a steak causes chemical reactions such as caramelization that bring out the flavor of your meat. When seared properly, the surface will be evenly browned with a slightly crunchy outside. Charcoal grills often provide better searing than gas grills because more direct infrared heat is produced.

Some gas grills also have special sear burners that provide nearly the same effect you could achieve through charcoal. These burners are normally large enough for only one or two steaks, meaning they may not be practical when cooking for a large crowd.

Smoky Flavor

Perhaps you prefer your steaks to have a somewhat smoky flavor, in which case you probably cook with charcoal. Charcoal grills produce smoke as food drippings hit the hot surface, producing vapors that then condensate on top of the meat. On gas grills, burners are typically covered with lava rock or metal plates, which absorb heat and result in less smoke.

Although charcoal can add flavor, using the wrong briquettes could actually cause your steak to have a chemical taste. That’s because some brands have additives such as borax or sodium nitrate. To ensure the quality of your steaks, choose a lump charcoal made from charred wood that has no additives whatsoever.

Cost

Initially, a gas grill will cost more to purchase than a charcoal grill. Even so, your initial investment will pay off over time in the way of lower fuel costs. Charcoal costs more than propane, so you will eventually spend a great deal more if you regularly cook with briquettes. If you are planning a very large get-together, you might find that the cost of charcoal alone will set you back a pretty penny.

Convenience

A major disadvantage to cooking with charcoal is the amount of time it takes to heat up the grill. Gas grills on the other hand can be heated very quickly, making them ideal for preparing dinner after a hard day’s work. They are also bulkier and more difficult to transport than charcoal models. This can be a problem if you would like to take your grill with you to the beach or a family reunion, because most gas units do not fit easily into the trunk of a car.

It’s possible to grill a tender, delicious steak using either charcoal or gas. The one you choose will largely depend on your personal tastes as well as your lifestyle and budget. There may be times when you prefer charcoal and other occasions when you opt for gas. So long as you choose the right cut of meat, marinate it sufficiently, and carefully regulate your temperature, you should have a mouth-watering steak regardless of the type of grill you choose.

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