I feel like there are two kinds of people in this world those that only cook with charcoal and those with kids. See, I was a charcoal snob for years. If anyone used a gas grill I would say, “Why not just wheel the stove out onto the deck?” Then I had children. I remember holding my infant son in my arms, feeding him a bottle in the kitchen, while looking at my cold, lifeless grill on the deck. Before the birth of my first child (of which I have 4 now), it was nothing for me to go home after work and smoke a slab of ribs. I use the high heat method (300-350 degrees) and can have a mean slab of ribs in 2 hours or so. After I had kids, I had no time for weeknight grilling, or at least not very often. I was like an addict going through withdrawal. I would smell the smoke from someone else’s grill and get all twitchy and agitated. Then I got my first gas grill and it was like the weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders. I could grill again during the week! I didn’t have to wait till the weekend which was also booking up as my children got older and had events and games and practices. The gas grill allowed me to get my fix, but alas, I needed two grills, one for the weekend and one for during the week. I know that’s not practical for some of you for one reason or another.
That’s where the Gas 2 Coal grill will come in handy. It’s a gas grill that can be converted to charcoal in seconds and it uses the same cooking chamber for both. All you have to do is put the patented charcoal tray over the top of the burners and pour in the charcoal. And the best part? You can use the gas burners to light the charcoal! See that tray below the red panel in the picture above and this one:
Simply remove the three cast iron grill grates, slide in the tray, load with charcoal, put the grill grates back on and hit the gas. When the coals get hot, grill. Here’s a nice prime grade steak I cooked hot and fast and I mean hot and fast:
The coals are less than an inch below the steak! That’s fantastic!
And of course the resulting wonderful flavor crust:
It’s practically caveman grilling. For those not familiar with caveman grilling, it’s getting a pile of charcoal really, really hot, blowing away the ash and carefully putting the meat right on the coals. Can you say char? Most people who have never done this worry about it being gritty from soot and ash (it’s not gritty), but with this, there is the scantest of space between the steak and the coals that it is almost the same thing without the meat actually touching the charcoal. It’s so hot, I don’t recommend going for cross hatch grill marks. Rotate the steak every few seconds to get a nice even brown char because it will actually burn before the steak gets the grill marks if left in the same spot too long and by too long, I mean a few seconds. None of this is a bad thing. That kind of heat can do amazing things to a good steak.
What about low and slow on the Gas 2 Coal grill? That’s a bit of a challenge. A gas grill has a lot of gaps and holes in it and thus heat leaks out rather quickly. Indirect grilling (a pile of coals on one side and the meat on the other) works better on a grill designed to seal up tight. This one doesn’t so it will require adding coals a lot more often because the added oxygen will cause the charcoal to burn faster. Between the gaps and the lid being raised to add charcoal, it will take a lot longer to do low and slow, but hey, it’s called low and slow.
Here are some ribs I did on the grill using one of the Char-Broil Rib Racks:
And here they are just about done:
Ribs ready to slice:
One beautiful thing about the design is the three, removable, cast iron grill grates:
They’re phenomenal for getting great grill marks, but also one can be left out where the coals go and a bigger pile can be built and also it makes it much easier to add charcoal to the fire. It took about twice as long as I normally grill ribs, but I go high heat, so it’s not as bad as most would think. I’m guessing that plugging some of the holes with tin foil would help a great deal with this issue.
In other words, it’s possible to do low and slow, it just takes some extra time and TLC. I know a lot of pitmasters who love to dote over the grill, adjusting vents, repositioning meat and adding fuel or smoke wood. They love all the little details they have to pay attention to. It keeps them stuck right by the grill outside rather inside working on mundane projects and chores.
Now let’s get to the gas part of this combination grill. First off, it’s got a whopping 40,000 BTU’s, which means wicked high heat and those gorgeous grill marks we all want.
The Gas 2 Coal grill is also good in terms of flare ups. It doesn’t eliminate flare ups, as there are quite a few with this grill, but they don’t last very long. For example. These are mushrooms I dunked in garlic infused olive oil (which makes for a great appetizer) and had on the top rack. The oil dripped on the fire and you can see the latter half of a quick flare up:
And I mean a quick flare up. I think I had to take 30 pics to get three that I could use in this post because they disappeared so fast. Here’s is a picture of a flare up from five steaks dripping on the fire:
Looks like I’m about to burn my steaks. Nope. The flare up was gone in a matter of seconds. I love the flames kissing the meat and then disappearing before they do any damage. This isn’t like blasting them with a blow torch. This is hitting them with a lick of fire and then poof! The flames are gone. It’s sort of the best of both worlds. I get the flame action I love, but I don’t have to keep repositioning the meat around to keep it from burning.
This bad boy, and its 40,000 BTU’s, heats up fast. I wanted to grill those steaks in the above picture for the inaugural cook in this grill and turned all three burners to high and watched the clock to see how fast it got to temp. In less than five minutes I was over 500 degrees!
Just for another gratuitous steak pic, here are a couple of those steaks off to the side letting the blue cheese crumbles melt:
Two great features of this grill are the side burner, which was perfect for this seafood butter boil I did on it to go along with those steaks:
And the upper rack. Every grill needs an upper rack. Most gas grills do and now some charcoal grills are starting to incorporate an upper rack. I want one on every grill. Makes a great place to park steaks for people that want theirs more done so they don’t burn:
All in all, the Char-Broil Gas 2 Coal grill is an extremely versatile grill.
- The obvious pro is being able to use both charcoal and gas without cutting the cook surface in half.
- I love the flare ups being cut short so I get that lovely flame action but no scorching.
- I love being able to do cave man steaks with little risk of any ash getting on the steak.
- Being able to light the charcoal with the push of a button.
- Doing low and slow is not set it and forget it. It requires a good amount of attention and extra cooking time.
- The wheels aren’t all that strong:
On the side of my house, between my garage and my back deck, I have a few steps down that are about 4 inches. I didn’t have anyone to help me lift it down those few steps so I just pulled it along and let it drop down each step as slow as I could. Well, this wheel cracked on the inside. As long as you don’t take it off-roading, you should be fine. Wheeling it around the deck or driveway will be a non issue. And Char-Broil customer support was more than happy to send me another one.
As always if you have questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below or send me an email.
Full disclosure, Char-Broil compensated me for this review.