Barbecue season is up and running, so if you haven’t joined in yet, now is the time to get involved and make the most of the summer sunshine.
If you are without a BBQ, or have just pulled out a rather shabby looking husk of a grill from the shed, it may be time to get set up with a proper barbecue. Which immediately leads to the age old question of charcoal or gas? Not to mention portable barbecues too.
So with this in mind, here’s a brief run down of the pros and cons of each to help you decide what’s best for you, plus a look at the convenient world of portable BBQs too.
Pros • Easy to clean • You can control the heat • At the push of a button it’s on and ready to cook • With several grills or burners, you can cook different foods at different temperatures at the same time.
Cons • Can cost more to buy than charcoal BBQs • Full size model can’t double up as a portable barbecue • It doesn’t naturally smoke • Replacement gas can be harder to get hold of when you run out
Using a gas barbecue is really simple and pretty much hassle-free, which means that you get more time to hang out with friends and family if you are having a party or play with the kids. Also, if you’re a a traditionalist and you miss the smoky flavour of a charcoal grill, you can always buy a barbecue smoker as an add-on accessory instead.
Pros • Natural, smoky flavour • More fun as it is more hands-on and involving than gas • You can smoke food such as fish with charcoal • Cheaper than gas BBQs • Replacement charcoal is easy to buy
Cons • It can take a while to get going (between 30-40 minutes to heat to 180-200 degrees Celsius) • You can’t control the temperature, so at first it will be too hot and then you have with a window of opportunity to cook at the right temperature before the coals start to cool • They can also be difficult to clean
So a charcoal barbecue may take a bit longer to set up and tidy away but with a long summer evening ahead you can always just sit back, relax, open a bottle of wine and look forward to some real smoky BBQ flavour.
Portable BBQs Having a small portable barbecue means freedom to out on the patio, balcony, park or beach whenever you want. You can take one on camping trips, picnics or even to festivals where you will be the envy of your fellow campers who will all be vowing to bring one next year after seeing you eat so well.
You still have to make the decision between gas or charcoal as you would with a normal BBQ. A portable gas barbecue means you don’t have to take coal with you, which also means you don’t have to spend lots of time tidying up afterwards, while others get to enjoy the precious sunshine hours. Portable charcoal BBQs are, however, cheaper and easier to source and are available as permanent and disposable options. In both cases it is very important to make sure you give the coals time to cool and then properly dispose of them as to avoid any potential fires.
The only downside with portable barbecues is that you can’t pack them up until they have cooled down, but this is easily catered for with a bit of forward thinking and planning. They are designed for convenience and day trips but probably won’t suit large parties and regular use.
So, if you’re a bit of a barbecue enthusiast it is probably best to get a sturdy, permanent barbecue to keep in the garden for parties and a portable barbecue as well for everywhere else – but whether it’s gas or charcoal is up to you!
By Robert John
Thanks for the Great article Robert!