Things must be hotting up as I’ve received a number of enquiries about what is the best fuel for your BBQ?
The question “What is the best fuel for your bbq” is often limited to a discussion about charcoal v gas, but it’s more than that. So, I’d like to get the gas debate out of the way first so that I can get on to the real topic of BBQ fuel. I have to declare some bias, as all of Rotigrill’s products use charcoal. However, here goes on gas. I don’t call gas powered outdoor cooking thingies, BBQ’s. They are grills (and with the lid down, ovens) and you can get the same results from the grill or oven in your kitchen. It all depends on how you pre-prep your food. My view is that a BBQ is where food is cooked over and open fire – not an open flame. However, when it is warm and the sun is shining, why not grill outdoors, gas thingies serve a quick and easy purpose.
So, we are talking about BBQ fuel. What do I know? I have spent the last 10 years experimenting with BBQ’s, designing BBQ’s and using BBQ’s. In that time I have used just about every different type of fuel there is. Because people asked for my advice, so I decided to find out for myself.
First bit of advice. Natural is best. Once you start to add things to natural fuel, something changes.
Take briquettes for example. They are processed and contain chemicals. They look pretty and that’s because they come out of a mould. The chemicals in them mean that they are slow to start burning, but when they do, they burn out very quickly. Clever marketing as you will use more briquettes than natural charcoal. Plus, you sometimes get a chemical smell during cooking and I think that affects the taste of food.
Then we get fuel blocks, compacted wood and all sorts of fuel “gizmo’s”. They come and go on the market. For me, there are only two options: real wood or lumpwood charcoal (which is slow roasted wood).
Wood or Charcoal
Wooden logs are the age old method of cooking outdoors and they produce a wonderful smell. So if you like that wood, smoky taste on your food, then wooden logs are for you.
Lumpwood charcoal comes in many forms. My advice is to find good quality restaurant grade charcoal from a wholesaler or specialist outlet. Many restaurants use this in things like Balti ovens. It is practically smokeless and doesn’t spit (much). It takes a little while to get going, but you will have an even and long lasted burn during cooking.
The Green Debate
In terms of the green debate, it’s up to you. Imported hard wood charcoal is hard to justify for some people – and I get that. However, there are local producers in the UK, who use sustainable woods for their raw material. You will pay more for it and it tends to burn a bit quicker than hard wood, so you will use a bit more, however the choice is yours.