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Gas vs. Charcoal Grill: Things You Need to Know When Buying a Grill

By UJJBARAN October 21, 2021

There’s nothing like coming home after a long day and firing up the grill to make a delicious meal. Everyone has their own opinion about how to barbecue and what types of grills to use to achieve the best results. While there’s no right way to fire up your food, there are some pros and cons of using either a gas or a charcoal grill.

At the end of the day, if something you buy doesn’t meet your needs and expectations, you’re not going to use it. If you don’t use it, you’ve wasted your money. So, before you visit your local hardware or home store, here are a few things you should consider when purchasing your next patio partner.

Benefits to Using a Gas Grill

One of the biggest benefits of a gas grill is that you don’t have to wait on the charcoal to ignite. Many people who use gas enjoy it for the convenience. They can simply come home, turn it on and they’re ready to go. Along with the ease of using a gas grill, here are some other benefits you can expect from your purchase:

  • Gas fuel tends to be cheaper than charcoal.
  • It can be easier to clean up than charcoal.
  • You can hook your gas grill up to the gas line in your home for endless cooking fuel.
  • Some gas grills come with accessories such as side burners or smoke boxes. Using a smoke box can help you get a charcoal flavor from using a gas grill.
  • When cooking, gas grills give off steam, which some cooks say adds moisture to any meat you’re preparing.

Gas grills are simple and easy to use. As long as you make sure to turn off the gas after use, they can make cooking pretty easy. Some gas grills are designed to use gas fuel as well as charcoal, so you can switch between the two. Keep in mind these grills tend to be expensive. Word of caution, if they aren’t expensive, they may not be good at handling different types of fuel.

Even with all of the benefits gas grills offer, there are some undesirable aspects as well.

Drawbacks to Using a Gas Grill

One of the main drawbacks to using a gas grill is that they tend to be more expensive than charcoal grills. They also have a few other things going against them:

  • If your grill is hooked up to your gas line, it yields limited mobility.
  • They can be difficult to move around with the heavy tanks.
  • Uncontrolled flare-ups can create a fire hazard.
  • Gas doesn’t burn as hot as charcoal.

If you enjoy grilling out while camping or visiting your local park, you may not be able to bring your gas grill along. It can be a bit of a hassle to move around.

Benefits of Using Charcoal Grills

One of the biggest benefits of using a charcoal grill is that they’re significantly less expensive than gas grills. Most of the time, you can pick up a small charcoal grill for about $20 at the hardware store. Aside from cost, here are a few more benefits to purchasing a charcoal grill:

  • When heated, the coals provide the heat for cooking and generally don’t flare up like open flame gas grills. (This doesn’t mean they’re safer, though.) If you want to be safe while grilling, check out these safety tips.
  • Charcoal grills are generally more portable than gas grills.
  • Charcoal burns hotter than gas.
  • Since you can’t dial down the heat, you can leave areas without briquettes to control the temperature. This allows you to sear your protein and then allow it to finish cooking in the cooler areas.
  • Many people also prefer the smoke flavor a charcoal grill provides.

Drawbacks to Using Charcoal Grills

Despite all these wonderful things, the one major setback for most people is waiting for the coals to heat up. Even if you have one of those fancy chimney starters, it can still take 15–20 minutes for the coals to reach the proper temperature. Here are a few more negative aspects:

  • Charcoal is messy and requires much more clean up afterward.
  • Ashes can get in your food.
  • You’ll have to add more charcoal for longer cooking sessions.
  • These grills don’t come with many additional features.
  • Depending if you use self-ignite charcoal or charcoal fluid to start a fire, it can give off an unpleasant petrochemical smell. This smell can seep into the taste of your food.

I own both a gas and charcoal grill; however, more often than not, I end up using my gas grill out of ease and convenience. I’ll break out the charcoal grill if I happen to have some extra time on my hands.

While I certainly can’t settle the debate about whether a gas grill is superior to a charcoal grill, you do have a few things to think about before you go out and buy either. Make sure you select the best option for you and your family.

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