May 18, 2024

Charcoal vs Wood Grilling: Which Method is Best?

Grilling experts often debate the merits of charcoal versus wood grilling, but which one is best, really? Here, I’d like to explore both approaches to help you decide which might be best for your next asado. Keep on reading and fire up that grill! Understanding Argentine Asado If you’ve been reading my blog, by now, […]

Daniela Solis

May 18, 2024

Grilling experts often debate the merits of charcoal versus wood grilling, but which one is best, really? Here, I’d like to explore both approaches to help you decide which might be best for your next asado. Keep on reading and fire up that grill!

Understanding Argentine Asado

If you’ve been reading my blog, by now, you probably know that Argentine asado is more than just a barbecue. Instead, it’s a big part of Argentine culture and identity. 

Imagine a gathering of friends and family, a parrilla filled with different cuts of meats and vegetables, with people chatting and laughing while they drink great Malbec wine.

charcoal vs wood

That is Asado: the go-to method for celebrating holidays, weekends, and any excuse to get together. 

Popular meat cuts in Argentine Asado

Argentines are serious about their meat, with some of the most popular cuts including:

  • Ribeye (Ojo de Bife): Known for its marbling and tenderness.
  • Short Ribs (Tira de Asado): cooked slowly to melt-in-your-mouth perfection.
  • Brisket (Vacio): A flavorful cut that’s juicy and delicious.
  • Sausages (Chorizo and Morcilla): No asado is complete without them. 

The meats are seasoned simply with salt and sometimes lemon, allowing the natural flavors to shine through. Accompaniments often include salads and grilled vegetables, among other options. 

Wood Grilling

Wood grilling is the “true” method for an authentic Argentine asado. It uses natural wood logs that burn down to create embers, which provide a consistent “humid” heat source and impart a smoky flavor to the meat. 

charcoal vs wood grilling

Common types of wood used in Argentina to start your fire include quebracho, mesquite, and eucalyptus. 

Advantages

  • Incredible flavor: Wood grilling’s primary advantage is the incredible flavor it imparts to the meat, which charcoal simply can’t match.
  • Tradition: Argentine asado is traditionally prepared using wood, connecting you to the cultural roots of the Gaucho style.
  • Aromatics: Different woods produce distinct aromas and flavors. 

Disadvantages

  • Skill and Patience: Wood grilling requires more skill and patience than charcoal. You need to manage the fire carefully, ensuring the wood burns down to the right stage of embers before cooking.
  • Preparation Time: It takes longer to get the fire ready for cooking, as the wood needs to burn down to hot coals.

Charcoal Grilling

Charcoal grilling is a popular and convenient alternative to wood grilling. Obviously 😂, it uses charcoal, which you can find in 2 presentations: lump charcoal and briquettes. 

While lump charcoal is made from pure wood and burns hotter and cleaner, briquettes are made from compressed charcoal dust mixed with additives to help them burn consistently.

Advantages

  • Consistent Heat: Charcoal provides a steady, consistent heat source, making it easier to control the cooking temperature.
  • Convenience: Charcoal is readily available and quicker to ignite than wood.
  • Ease of Use: It requires less skill to maintain the right cooking temperature with charcoal.

Disadvantages

  • Flavor: While charcoal can still give your meat a great flavor, it might not be as good as wood.
  • Less Authentic: For Argentine asado purists, charcoal grilling is not as authentic as the wood method. 

Charcoal vs Wood: Which One Is Better for Beginners?

In my opinion, charcoal grilling is generally the easier option. It’s simpler to manage, as it lights quickly and burns evenly. This means that, within 15-20 minutes, your parrilla argentina might be ready to start putting food on it.  Plus, you can easily adjust the temperature by adding more coals. 

Wood grilling, however, takes longer. You need to allow the wood to burn down to hot coals, which can take 45 minutes to an hour. Also, charcoal is widely available and generally more affordable than high-quality grilling wood. 

Light Up Your Fire 

All in all, while wood grilling can provide superior flavor and a more authentic Argentine asado experience, it requires more skill, patience, and experience to master. If you’re just starting out, charcoal will help you build confidence and competence in grilling. Either way, I hope you have a great time experimenting with your parrilla!

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Charcoal vs Wood Grilling: Which Method is Best?
Article Name
Charcoal vs Wood Grilling: Which Method is Best?
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If you're wondering what method is best when comparing charcoal vs wood grilling, today I bring you the answer. Enjoy your Argentine asado!
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Argentine Asado

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:data: What's in it for You Every Month on Saturday?
  • Exclusive Recipes: Mouth-watering dishes that'll make your BBQ the talk of the town.
  • Expert Tips: From choosing the right cuts to mastering the "Asado" grill, I've got you covered.
  • Community Stories: Join a passionate community of grillers sharing tips, stories, and more!
:regalo: Special Bonus: Sign up now and get a FREE guide: "5 Secrets to Perfect Asado Every Time"
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