Propane, Charcoal, or Smoker? A Backyard Cookout Guide

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Summer is all about backyard barbecues, campfire cookouts, juicy steaks (or tofu dogs), and that incomparable smoky flavor that comes from outdoor grilling. But with so many different types of barbecues and cookers to choose from, how do you decide? We’ve taken the three most popular methods—propane barbecues, charcoal grills, and electric smokers—and outlined the pros and cons of each option so that you can choose the best model for you. 

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Propane Barbecue Basics

Those big, shiny, state-of-the-art barbecues covered in knobs and buttons are propane barbecues. As you can expect from fancier appliances, they’re a bit pricier than your standard charcoal grill, but the quality and efficiency are incredible. For starters, it’s much easier to control and monitor the temperature, so steaks, burgers, and veggie skewers will be grilled to perfection. It also produces more steam, which results in tender, juicier meat. 

Propane barbecues heat up pretty quickly, usually in about ten minutes, so there’s much less time spent waiting around for the flames to get going. The tray at the bottom is easy to remove and clean, and you won’t run the risk of having a hot charcoal ember catching a breeze and burning you. So, if you’re willing to shell out the extra cash for a fancy grill, you’ll be mighty pleased with all the advantages! 

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Charcoal Grilling

There’s something so timeless about a classic charcoal grill, and the smoky flavor is out of this world. They’re smaller, simpler, and much less expensive than a propane grill, so if you don’t plan on using it frequently, this is a great option. They can be a bit trickier to clean, so take care to thoroughly clean it between uses to prevent bacteria from building up.

It’s best to avoid using a charcoal grill on windy days to prevent embers from popping out and singeing you. You can also set your grill up in a spot with shelter from the wind, perhaps near your garage or fence. Since they take a bit more time to heat up, make sure you set it up early on in the evening so that you don’t end up with hungry, cranky dinner guests! 

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Electric Smokers

The latest trend for amazing summer cookouts is the electric smoker! There are endless benefits to opting for a smoker: they’re compact, cost-efficient, and they combine the smoky flavor of a charcoal grill with the efficiency and temperature control of a propane barbecue! 

Our Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is just over one foot tall, so it’s easy to take with you to the lake. It has two inner grills and a lid thermometer so you can easily keep an eye on the heat levels. While you can’t cook a massive steak feast for ten people at once like you can with a big propane grill, this small cooker is great for family dinners. 

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Ready to kick off summer 2020 with everything you need for a perfect patio and outdoor dining area? Alsip Home & Nursery is stocked with the latest grills, equipment, and patio furniture, all available for purchase on our web store! We have curbside pickup and delivery options available, whichever you’d prefer.