Flavor Difference: Gas, Charcoal or Wood Pellet Grilling
Ask 10 backyard grillers what’s the best way to cook a steak, and you’ll likely hear 10 very different answers. Many see charcoal as the tried-and-true method that’ll never be bested, others swear by the convenience of their gas grill, and some have fallen in love with the fiery romance of wood pellets.
We don’t judge! At Snake River Farms, we’re used to following our own path, regardless of how the pack runs. So we won’t tell you the best way to cook your American Wagyu beef — we leave that to chefs like Hugh Acheson who know their way around a cast iron skillet. But we’ll break down the differences between grilling methods so you can decide for yourself which one lights your fire.
GAS: HEAT ON DEMAND
We live in a demanding age. With the flip of a switch or the click of an icon, we get instant light, energy or entertainment. It’s no wonder, then, that many home chefs prefer gas grills for the convenience of heat on demand. Pellet grills afford similarly instant gratification with the added bonus of fans that keep heat circulating for precision temp control. Note that any so-called “weird” flavor imparted by a gas grill generally indicates a problem with the air-gas mix or another performance factor of the grill itself, as cooking gas is odorless and flavorless.
WOOD PELLETS AND CHARCOAL: FLAVOR FIRST
Speaking of flavor, grilling over high-quality lump charcoal or wood pellets produce some of the most flavorful results possible. That’s because these two fuels burn hot and clean, searing in the juicy awesomeness of meat. Additionally, you can choose different types of wood pellets to level up the delectable nuances. Fruit woods like cherry or apple can emphasize subtle sweet notes in Kurobuta pork, whereas more common choices like hickory or mesquite bring out all the savory complexities of American Wagyu Gold grade steaks.
CHARCOAL: THE FAST AND FURIOUS
Did we mention that charcoal cooks hot and clean? It may take a few minutes longer to let those fiery flames burn down to glowing red embers, but charcoal is the go-to grilling choice of the majority of home grillers for a reason. When you cook a steak quickly in a very hot environment, you sear the outside of the meat while sealing in the juicy goodness.
Modern living is all about multitasking. Whether you’re downloading songs while sending emails, listening to podcasts during a road trip or tossing a football to the kids while the grill heats up, we’re all accustomed to doing more than one thing at a time. Some of the best grills also multitask! With a little skill and prep, you can use your charcoal or wood pellet grill to smoke, braise, roast and more. That versatility makes an investment in a top-quality grill a smart way to treat your family to a variety of Snake River Farms meals.
SRF PRO PICKS
- Wood pellets: Traeger reinvented home grilling some 30 years ago with their Original Wood-Fired Grill. Consistent results have kept them at the top of the grill game, and their variety of wood pellets and grill size offerings makes them really sizzle.
- Charcoal: When it comes to charcoal, we’re Eggheads. With thick ceramic walls and a gasketed lid, Big Green Egg grills make temp control a breeze for switching between a fast, hot sear and a low, slow smoke.
- Yakitori: This traditional Japanese meal consists of small cubes of beef or pork on metal or wooden skewers that are grilled slowly over charcoal. Tabletop grills from YAK get your whole crew in on the act of grilling, rather than separating the cook from the crowd.