When it comes to grilling, some of us swear by the smoky flavor of charcoal. Others like the quick convenience of firing up a gas grill. Now there are hybrid grills designed to keep both camps happy. Consumer Reports just tested two.
The $300 Charbroil Gas2Coal looks like a regular gas grill until you slide in a tray for charcoal. It’s a convenient design because you can use the gas burner to ignite the charcoal. But because it has only one cooking surface, you can cook only with gas or charcoal—not both at the same time.
The $500 Dyna-Glo is basically two grills in one, so you can cook both ways simultaneously. But that means each cooking surface is relatively small.
Consumer Reports ran temperature tests using thermocouples at different spots along the grills’ surface and found they got hotter in gas mode, which is important for searing a nice piece of meat. They didn’t get quite as hot in the charcoal mode, and after thirty minutes the charcoal started to drop in temperature.
Then Consumer Reports asked its expert taste testers to compare burgers cooked on a charcoal grill with burgers cooked on a gas grill. A few of the panelists noted some grilled flavor, and several picked up a smoky note in the charcoal burgers. But overall, the testers agreed that there’s probably little difference in taste when the burgers are served on a bun with toppings.
While these results may not convince charcoal loyalists, at least there’s a way to please them at your next barbecue. Both the Dyna-Glow and Charbroil use standard propane tanks and have coated cast-iron grates and electronic igniters. The Charbroil also has a side burner.
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