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Gas grills and a possibly silly question

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I live on the second floor, without a deck, so if I'm going to grill, I have to run up and down the steps to the street level to start the grill, take food down the stairs on trays, stand in the rain sometimes, etc. It's not a very effective set-up and I have only successfully grilled on my weber charcoal grill a couple of times. For me, it's a lot of work with only reasonably successful results, i.e. the food is good but not that much better than what I can make in my kitchen, although it is nice not to heat up the kitchen.

If I get a gas grill, will it change my life for the better? And here's the silly question; if you want a smoky flavor with a gas grill, can't you just put twigs or sticks onto the gas flame and set them on fire for the smoky flavor? Even when I've grilled with charcoal, I've picked fresh sage and other herbs and put them on the coals for the flavor. Can't I do the same with a gas grill?

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  1. No, a gas grill will not change your life for the better! All it will do is require you to fill propane tanks instead of buying bags of charcoal briquetts. The only advantages are a gas grill will preheat a little faster than a charcoal grill, a tank of propane will likely last longer than a bag of charcoal, the learning curve may be shorter, and you give the economy a boost because they cost more. It isn't going to make the food taste better, it isn't going to save you any steps (well it could eliminate one trip up and down if you use a chimny starter for your coals), and you will still be out in the rain.

    If you want a smokey flavor with a gass grill you can buy a smoker box, it's just what it sounds like, and fill it with small wood chips that you can buy where you bought the smoker box. Any big box store has these as would a grilling specialty store. This is far better than covering the gas grill with twigs. You want the chips to smolder, not just burn up. Even with charcoal, you would get better flavor if you have a way to get the wood chips or herbs to smolder without direct contact with the coals, unless of course you are using a smoker, in which case you use large wood chunks that do go directly on the coals. These take much longer to burn and tend to smolder like logs in a fire, imparting that hickory flavor.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mikie

      "The only advantages are a gas grill will preheat a little faster than a charcoal grill, a tank of propane will likely last longer than a bag of charcoal, the learning curve may be shorter, and you give the economy a boost because they cost more. It isn't going to make the food taste better, it isn't going to save you any steps (well it could eliminate one trip up and down if you use a chimny starter for your coals), and you will still be out in the rain."
      _______
      I say this as a longtime charcoal user who doesn't even have a gas grill of his own - gas does make lighting and preheating quicker and easier, as well as eliminating a big step from cleanup. I'm pretty sure that's why most gas grill people choose to forgo charcoal. Not necessarily enough reason to make me personally go buy a gas grill, but they are valid upsides.

      1. re: cowboyardee

        Yep, pretty much the reason I have a gas grill. I also have a Weber Smokey Mountain for those times I really want the true BBQ experience. But if I'm jsut throwing on a burger or brotz or even a chicken breast, the gas grill is quicker and easier. I use it year round, a lot more in the summer when you really don't want to heat up the kitchen. My son has both and although I believe he prefers the Weber Kettle to the Weber gas grill, he uses both in a fashion similar to what I do.

        Probably the biggest reason I don't use charcoal more often is buying the charcoal. My new grill can be converted from propane tank to natural gas, the kit came with it. That's my plan for the near future, then I don't have to worry about running out of propane either.

    2. by second floor i take it your in an apartment building?

      you will still have to run downstairs and cook the food...and most fire codes u will probably have u moving the grill even farther...some of them wont let u even store it near the building (in case of gas leaks)...i would check that first before u go investing in a grill

      and gas or charcoal have advantages and disadvantages that have been and will be endlessly debated/argued about on CH and elsewhere...

      i dont think it will make your life better as u say...
      just different....

      1. Get a Cameron stove top smoker. They are designed for indoor use and give food a lovely smoky flavor. They have a variety of smoking chips to use in it too.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Candy

          I have a Caneron and wondered if I could ask you a question. I don't mean to hijack the thread. I have never used mine indoors, as I am afraid of the house smelling too smokey. Does this smoker really keep the smoke odor inside, or does it dissipate into the room? I have seen chefs use this on television, which is why I bought it, but no one would care if a television studio smelled smokey. I just don't want my house to smell like a smoking pit for days afterware. I've just been placing mine on my outdoor gas grill. Thanks.

          1. re: RGC1982

            It does not smoke up the house, it is designed not to. It is really meant for indoor use.

            1. re: Candy

              Don't forget you can also smoke things in a wok. There are instructions in many Chinese cookbooks. The 80's favorite Tea Smoked Duck that was so delicious was smoked in a wok