I don't have a gas grill. Do I want one? What does one do with one?
April 14, 2020 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Inspired by this AskMe. If you have a gas grill: what do you do with it? I already have a charcoal barbeque for cooking outside and a gas stove for cooking inside and a camping stove for camping (if we're ever allowed to do that again). Is there something delicious and fun I could be doing if I had a gas grill? We are omnivores. None of us are particularly into recreational cooking, but we do like eating burgers outside in the summer.

It will have to be stored outside year 'round. I live near Seattle, so the outdoor cooking season is pretty long.
posted by The corpse in the library to Food & Drink (32 answers total)
 
I have a gas grill rather than charcoal just because it's a lot easier to use. Charcoal produces better results for many foods, but I would use a charcoal grill less often because of the extra work and time involved.
posted by jkent at 10:37 AM on April 14, 2020 [6 favorites]


I would look at the reviews carefully. Many gas grills (mine included) don’t get hot enough to properly sear a steak. I think it goes to the contradiction inherent in “barbecue grill.” Barbecuing is one thing and grilling is another. Mine does neither well.
posted by sjswitzer at 10:40 AM on April 14, 2020


Especially in the summer, the gas grill is the easiest way to get cooking done every day. It doesn't heat up the kitchen, it doesn't take as long as charcoal to get going. Everything from veggie skewers to burgers to fish (filets or whole), foil packets of sliced potatoes or veg, or put the pizza stone on it and have pizza during the season when I wouldn't dream of turning on a 500 degree oven.
posted by dr. boludo at 10:40 AM on April 14, 2020 [6 favorites]


I had a gas grill. The advantages over charcoal (quicker to heat up, easier to control temperature) are clear. But I nevertheless gave it away after two summers, and now have a charcoal grill again. It's mostly about the taste of the food for me.
posted by pipeski at 10:42 AM on April 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


There are three main positives for the gas grill. Foremost is that you don't have to wait for the charcoal to start, so you can be cooking earlier. Second, there is no ash to clean out and dispose of. Third, you turn it off and it starts cooling down immediately and you can walk away.

I don't normally get home until 5:30, and the kids are starving by then, so an additional 15-30 minutes of startup time on top of heating up the grill itself is a no-go on weekdays but the gas grill doesn't have that problem so we can have whatever is quick to grill.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 10:43 AM on April 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


I have a gas grill, and would never consider switching. Ease of use, ability to control temperature easily, cleanliness, healthier cooking, etc. all make it a winner. And it sure as hell does sear a steak.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:43 AM on April 14, 2020 [3 favorites]


I normally have both a gas grill and charcoal one. The charcoal is somewhat portable so that is used for bbqs at parks and the like and also makes a good backup when I run out of gas. My gas gill had broken down over time so when I moved back to my house I decided not to bring the gas one with me as I'd be getting a new one anyway. Still haven't gotten around to getting the new one and its been almost 2 years. That's more because the backyard was unusable last summer and that we're planning on putting in a gas line for the bbq than any revealed preference for charcoal grills.

I imagine that you can get better results on a charcoal grill but things are easier every step of the way on a gas grill.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:55 AM on April 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


I have both. I use the charcoal when I have time because I think it tastes better and I personally find it more fun. I use the gas when I'm in a rush and/or I need more space than the charcoal grill gives me (e.g. if we're having a bunch of people over; I might do burgers on the charcoal and hot dogs on the gas).

For my purposes if I had to choose only one, I would without a doubt choose charcoal, but if you have the space and budget for both, it's definitely a nice convenience. And I absolutely understand and respect why many people choose to go gas-only.
posted by primethyme at 10:55 AM on April 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


I grew up with a gas grill. Even during hurricane season when the power went out for days my mom would still be able to go out and cook our meals (with my dad shielding her with a tarp!) on the grill in the unyielding rain.

I have no personal experience using a gas grill but it was a pretty integral (and actually life saving?) part of my eating life.
posted by phunniemee at 10:57 AM on April 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


Gas is all about the convenience for me and the space - we don't have a lot of patio space for multiple grills, or I'd have a gas grill and a smoker :)
posted by iamabot at 11:08 AM on April 14, 2020


I use ours all the time. We have a smoker, Big green egg and a gas grill. The first two are my husbands territory. The gas grill starts up quickly and most things cook fairly quickly. I have a big basket thing i throw vegetables and set on one side of the grill and put the meat on the other. Easy

The only conditions i dont use it in - if its really windy the flame will go out.
posted by domino at 11:08 AM on April 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


I use gas because the supplies I need on hand (propane) are easier to stock in and store than charcoal. I have a year-round grilling season and am in earthquake country (with an electric stove) so wanted a backup plan that I could use without power and limited transportation, and then also so I can cook outside in the hot season. I deliberately got a grill with a side burner for emergency purposes plus a critical function: searing the shit out of things without setting off the smoke alarm.

For me, grills are not for steaks; sous vide is for steaks, plus a comal or cast iron skillet on the grill's side burner to sear it off at the end. The cooking advantage of gas is easy and fast temperature control, which makes it particularly good for slightly delicate things: chicken, vegetables, fish, even fruit. It seems like the classic rectangular gas grill is more likely than some charcoal grills to have an upper shelf, which in the summer when I'm avoiding cooking inside I use cast iron fajita plates there to cook things that would fall through, and/or silicone baking molds for oven-type items.

The gas grill is also just a lot cleaner. It's windy here and ash management can be a pain. I appreciate that barring an actual cylinder failure I can shut off all open flame in a moment if there's a problem and it will cool pretty quickly.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:22 AM on April 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


As others have said: gas is just easier than charcoal, start to finish. While charcoal probably gives you better taste/results, you’re probably not going to fire up a pile of charcoal and babysit it after an 8-hour workday. Get a decent cover for your grill if it’s outside year round.
posted by gnutron at 11:24 AM on April 14, 2020


As everyone has been saying, gas gets you ease, consistency and speed, at a cost of flavor and sometimes quality (you cannot get a gas grill to the same temperatures as charcoal). One of the main reasons we have one is because we live in Wisconsin where winters can be brutal. It is right outside the back door and I can run out and sart it for pre-heat (20 seconds) run out to drop burgers on (another 30 seconds), flip them 8 minutes later (30 seconds) and collect them when they are done all without getting frostbitten. Nothing like grilled food in the winter.
posted by rtimmel at 11:29 AM on April 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


Gas grill is for weeknight cooking all summer long and weekend cooking in the winter when you don’t want to babysit the charcoal grill in freezing temperatures. Ours lives outside (with a cover) year round in Minnesota. D
posted by padraigin at 11:30 AM on April 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


I've had crappy gas grills in the past and they'd fall apart after a couple of seasons. Switched to a Weber 220Q and I think I've had it for over a decade now and it works great. Work got a Weber BabyQ last Winter as a Uline freeby and... it's not so good.

Gas (propane - if you have a natural gas line, even better, but propane is good for emergencies) grills are really convenient. 5 minutes to get to temp, for steaks I do a 2 minute sear, flip, 2, flip, 2, flip, 2 at 325'F.

Quartered bell peppers (kosher salt, garlic powder) done in 2, flip, 2. Zucchini slices (~1.5" - 2" thick) the same.

Chicken skewers (either satay or pesto/ sundried tomatoes) in about the same timeframe as steak. Same with pork chops.

Butterflied chicken breasts with blackening rub, 2 minutes on a side and done.

Now that I have a covered balcony, I've grilled through the winter (did need to get a floodlamp for light).

*edit: all cooking times with cover down - you can't really cook uncovered on a gas grill.
posted by porpoise at 11:35 AM on April 14, 2020


Just noticed you are near Seattle. Since you don;'t have to worry about real foul weather, maybe consider using the money for the gas grill (gas grills are either short-lived or expensive, or both) and look at a Big Green Egg or one of its less expensive knock-offs.
posted by rtimmel at 11:39 AM on April 14, 2020


I like cooking on my coal grill or over open fire during summer, but my siblings gave me a gas grill, and it is very useful when they are here, because of everything people said upthread. We always use it for Christmas, when we need to cook a lot more than the kitchen can deal with, and that wouldn't be possible with the coal grill, given that it almost always either snowing or raining at Christmas. Come to think of it, maybe my siblings were tired of me ordering half of Christmas dinner in from the charcuterie.
posted by mumimor at 11:44 AM on April 14, 2020


If you use your charcoal grill often and like it, there's no real reason to switch. I had a charcoal grill for a long time and only switched because I got a gas grill as a wedding present. I do find it much easier to cook on weeknights with gas; that's been covered upthread already, but the general idea is that gas is a lot less hassle.

I don't use my gas grill any differently than I used my charcoal grill. In part, that's because I have a pretty boring palate: I'm mostly grilling burgers, chicken breasts, pork chops, and the occasional steak, nothing fancy.

One thing that's been helpful for me is that, at both my current house and my previous apartment, I only lived a block away from somewhere that sold replacement propane tanks. That's pretty important, because it really sucks to start some burgers and then, when you go to flip them, realize that you're out of gas. My mom keeps an extra tank on hand for this reason. I know there are ways to monitor how much gas you have left, but it still ends up happening, so this is something you should consider.

That's another thing to consider: there's a psychological transaction cost to having to always buy more charcoal that's not there with a huge propane tank. I don't have to plan ahead for when I want to grill. With charcoal, I have to make sure that I have a bag of charcoal, lighter fluid, matches, etc. If I don't, well, no grilling until I go to the store. I guess it kind of ties into the ease of use argument in favor of gas.

But again, if you use your charcoal grill and like it, I don't really see a reason to switch.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:50 AM on April 14, 2020


We have a gas grill at our house and our camp and we grill every day from, well, now until the end of September.

I honestly don't know anyone with a charcoal grill, maybe it is a regional thing, maybe it's my bias because people have them but wind up cooking on their gas grill when company is over because it's easier?

Honestly can't imagine cooking in the summer without a grill. But it sounds like you are doing just fine with charcoal.
posted by pintapicasso at 12:10 PM on April 14, 2020


We used to have an outdoor gas grill hooked to the house gas line, so no tanks. We used it 12 months a year.

Because it could run for very long periods we used to do a lot of roasts and chicken at low heat with a motorized rotisserie attachment (like this one) that plugged into an outlet.
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:16 PM on April 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


I do steak and pizza on mine. Also just because it is so much easier than charcoal.

If you love your charcoal, spend the money instead and get a smoker. I prefer electric because sausage, ribs, chicken, vegetables, and brisket is just amazing, and it's easy. You just go out every once in a while to check the wood chips and water. But you can get ones that are for charcoal as well and for regular grilling.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:07 PM on April 14, 2020


I live in the NYC area. I have a gas grill. I differ with your opinion of the outdoor cooking season. It is year round. Even in my cabin in the Adirondacks, I have lit a gas grill with the outside temperature being -8F and still had a great grilled steak and shrimp. Easy to use, quick to heat up, easy to clean, ear round cooking. Charcoal may taste better, but I do not know.

I have two tanks. Never have I run out. I fill the empty one right away and there is always gas.
posted by AugustWest at 1:16 PM on April 14, 2020


I have a good Weber grill and like it but not love it compared to using a cast iron grill pan on my range. The key is to have a high cfm hood to suck out all of the smoke or forget it. Our hood is 1200 com and there is no smoke at all. Otherwise the grill is better for keeping smoke out of the house. Gas grilling adds no flavor or heat so it’s more about air quality in the house.
posted by waving at 2:53 PM on April 14, 2020


Like someone said upthread, if you have the space and budget, why not both? I used to have a gas grill when I lived very close to work, and I could come home for lunch and grill a chicken breast. It was nice.

What I used it for most, though, was burning the crud off my charcoal grill grates. It was really good at that.
posted by Shohn at 2:57 PM on April 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


I will put in a plug for a gas griddle to supplement a charcoal grill. Allows outdoor cooking without completely overlapping the domain of your existing grill. With a big rolled steel cooktop, it excels at searing, but can also do moderate heat like pancakes, scrambled eggs, and certain forms of omelets. (Pancakes or french toast for a crowd in one or two batches are a revelation.) Almost identical care to carbon steel pans.

Nice thin chicken breasts (butterflied and/or paillard) cook in no time, burgers are amazing (smashed and griddled are better than grill IMO), vegetables pick up great color, and of course, fried rice is a cinch. You can get *so much* onto a single layer, like it's a huge pan.

If you want to took something that requires a pan outdoors, no problem-- conductive heat.
posted by supercres at 4:48 PM on April 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


Gas basically makes grilling possible on a weekday or on short notice. I don't have a gas grill because the use case isn't important to me (I'm OK with the whole charcoal production number) but I've got friends with kids who love the instant startup and relative lack of mess. It really depends on your priorities. I've never encountered a gas grill, even one with a "sear" burner, that gave me the results I can get searing a steak over charcoal and then shifting it to indirect heat to hit the internal temperature I want. But what's important to me might not be as important to you.
posted by fedward at 6:33 PM on April 14, 2020


Sent you memail.
posted by Gorgik at 9:47 PM on April 14, 2020


I switched back to charcoal after not really finding a good use for a gas grill. Your workflow may be different, but I never found the results of had to be different than just using my kitchen. We didn't care too much about heating the kitchen up in the summer for instance, so it wasn't a real incentive, and when I would use it I missed charcoal.
posted by Carillon at 11:00 PM on April 14, 2020


Get a nice Weber. Keep a charcoal hibachi if you desire that experience.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 7:23 AM on April 15, 2020


We used a propane grill (inherited from my mom) for years. Dealing with the canisters was -- for us -- more of a pain than a bag of charcoal. We didn't use it a lot, and when it gave up the ghost -- I tried grilling in the rain and the cold rainwater hit the glass front when I lifted the lid and shattered on the steaks -- didn't replace it. We find a chimney starter and the all-metal Weber from a big box store to be sufficient for the no-more-than-weekly grilling we do.
posted by JawnBigboote at 7:41 AM on April 15, 2020


One perk for our grill is it’s a backup plan if the power goes out. We are adjacent to a state park and many above-ground opportunities for a tree to take out a power line, especially with the upsurge in stronger storms. We are feeding two adolescents so the camp stove doesn’t easily cover the quantity of cooked food being sought.
posted by childofTethys at 10:45 AM on April 15, 2020 [1 favorite]


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