From charcoal to gas to wood pellet grills, I've built and tested BBQs of all types and form factors, including some of the best portable BBQs on the market.
Which is why I consider myself at least a little bit expert in BBQs and the noble art of outdoor grilling, roasting, searing, smoking and baking.
And, with the proliferation and wide availability of gas BBQs on the market, I thought I would offer my opinion on this type of barbecue so that I can maybe aid a purchasing decision for these outdoor hosting summer months.
Here's my honest opinion on if gas BBQs are worth it, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses.
So, are gas BBQs worth it, then?
The simple answer here is absolutely. Gas grills, no matter the size, have a range of great benefits that I feel will suit a lot of potential buyers down to the ground.
Firstly, gas BBQs are the quickest type of barbecue to get to a cooking position. With their fuel source coming directly out of a gas canister, with the flow literally being able to be turned off and on with a simple toggle, you can have lit flames in your gas grill in seconds and be up to cooking temperature in under 10 minutes.
This speed makes gas BBQs incredibly convenient for impromptu barbecues, and especially so if you've been smart and cleaned your grill after its last use. You literally wheel the gas BBQ out, turn on the gas and get cooking.
Compare that 15-minutes-to-cooking speed to charcoal, for example, and you'll have to likely triple or quadruple that timing, as the coals need to catch and then burn down to white and grey before food can really start to be cooked. I typically allow 45-minutes to an hour for a large charcoal BBQ to get cooking ready.
Gas BBQs also offer excellent fuel value, with a good sized gas canister lasting years and years before needing to be refuelled. Compared to buying bags of charcoals or wood pellets, gas has them beat in value, and especially if you've already got the gas canister, which is a large part of the initial cost.
From a cooking point of view, large gas grills tend to come loaded with multiple burners meaning that you can very evenly grill a lot of food, too. You get a more balanced heat across the grill most often as a result.
Finally, gas BBQs are great in terms of portability. Buy a portable gas BBQ, such as the Weber Traveler and you can be quickly up and grilling anywhere, be that on a camp site in a park or round at your friend's house.
But gas grills do come with some downsides, too
Firstly, gas BBQs do tend to cost more than charcoal grills, even if they typically ring in lower than wood pellet grills. And once you've bought your gas grill you do then have to have a gas canister to use to fuel it.
As mentioned above, a good size gas canister (13kg or larger) will power your grill for years once bought, but it is an extra expenditure out of the gate that will be in advance of just buying a bag or charcoal or wood pellets.
A full 13kg propane patio gas bottle is retailing for around £85 right now in the UK and over $120 in the USA, so factor this in to your upfront outlay.
In addition, despite gas grill technology coming on a lot in recent years, gas is not the best fuel to use if you want to smoke or roast produce in your BBQ like brisket, whole birds and chunky pieces of meat in general.
Gas grills lean towards direct heat cooking methods, such as grilling or searing, and if you're most content to cook burgers, sausages and steaks by grilling then gas grills are fantastic. But I would say that wood pellet and charcoal BBQs are better smokers, and the former notably better in terms of roasting.
Can gas grills smoke and roast? Absolutely. I'm just saying that, from my experience, they're not as good at it as charcoal or wood pellet BBQs, which offer enhanced indirect cooking potential.
It's down to what you want or need, then
So, in my opinion, I'd say gas BBQs are absolutely worth the investment for those who want to primarily grill produce and prize convenience, speed and fuel value highly.
However, for those who like to smoke, roast or bake foods in a BBQ, then charcoal or gas barbecues are likely a smarter buy.
Here's a secret, though, there are actually BBQs on the market that are hybrids, being both gas and coal barbecues in one, such as the Char-Broil Gas2Coal 210 Hybrid. Check them out if you fancy a bit of both.