There seems to be a long-standing debate about whether charcoal or gas grills produce better tasting food. The answer is hard to determine and may come down to personal preference and some of these details.
Charcoal vs. Gas Grill Debate
When asked, people will likely have their own opinion on how to barbeque and what type of grill achieves the best result. There is also a lot of personal preference involved, both with taste, ease of use, and cost of both the grill and the fuel (charcoal or gas). If you have a grill that you don't enjoy using, you aren't going to grill much and probably won't invest the time and energy in cooking good food.
Gas Grill Benefits
A major benefit of a gas grill is time. You don't have to wait for the charcoal to ignite and get to the desired temperature. A gas grill is extremely convenient. Turn it on, set it the temperature you want, and get ready to grill. In addition to convenience, gas grills are usually easier to clean up and gas is less expensive than charcoal.
Gas Grill Drawbacks
Gas grills tend to be more expensive than charcoal grills. They are often bigger, heavier, and harder to move around. Even with a propane tank, a gas grill is often very big, heavy, and clunky and not good for tailgates or camping. Food cooked on a gas grill often produces less smoke, which could impact the smoky taste of your food.
Benefits of a Charcoal Grill
The major benefits of a charcoal grill are that they tend to be much less expensive and much more portable than a gas grill. The charcoal fire can get much hotter and the risk of flare-ups is much less. Some people also prefer the taste of food cooked over charcoal.
Drawbacks of a Charcoal Grill
A charcoal grill requires a lot more tending to and work to establish a fire. Since there is no temperature dial, it's up to the griller to create temperature zones on the grill. The grilling process often takes longer to set up, keep going, and also produces a bigger mess than a gas grill. While the lure of the charcoal grill smoke can be appealing, you have to be ready to put in the work for a good grilling experience.
Make Sure It's Good Smoke
Even with a charcoal grill, you need to make sure that the smoke you are getting from the charcoal is good smoke. Commercial charcoals with special additives for easy lighting and cheap charcoal made from a little sawdust and a lot of glue don't exactly have the best flavor producing smoke. Use good charcoal or mix your charcoal with chunks of good hardwood. Another option is to buy lump charcoal that is actually made from real pieces of wood and not just sawdust.
No matter what type of grill you use, a few simple tips will help make sure your food tastes good. Always keep your grill clean after every use. The buildup of ash, burned up grease, and other gunk will cause the smoke produced to leave a strange flavor on foods. Regular cleaning should be a standard part of your grilling routine. Your grill and your guests will thank you for it.