Gas Grill vs Charcoal Grill

Gas Grill vs charcoal grill – Chicken or egg?

What do you prefer, charcoal or a gas grill?

ZAR freestand bbc

A Gas Grill. Photo by, PIXNIO

There are numerous discussions and heated debates among BBQ gurus about the gas grill vs charcoal grill topic. This debate will continue for as long as there will be BBQ enthusiasts on this planet.

Today, I would like to highlight this matter by summarizing the main points about what had been said by the BBQ gurus out there, and my own thoughts on the topic, too.

Many of the online BBQ purists will provide long scientific explanations on this topic. That is all good and well. I understand that it should be explained in such a way that all facts are laid on the grill describing the scientific technicalities of grills and grilling in detail.



BBQ specialists, Meathead Goldwyn and the like, who are studying the finer specifics of grilling and grills are experts in the field of grilling, and I absolutely give them credit for it.

We learn a lot from these gurus, but it can take hours to read through all the scientific explanations on what is actually better, charcoal or a gas grill, which is perfectly okay for those who want to know the specifics in finer details.

It is important to learn the ins and outs of BBQ grills, but in so many cases, most of us are merely wanting to have barbecues with our friends and family and some aren’t bothered by the scientific facts of grills.

We just want to barbecue!

Barbecue lovers, like myself, are not always interested in the scientific facts, we just want to barbecue. So, my point is, if you want to read up on ALL the scientific facts of why charcoal is better than gas or vice versa, then these blog sites where the BBQ gurus are explaining everything in absolute detail, will be a good read for you.

Today, I will provide you with a short and easy review on this matter without all the scientific jargon. The way I see it, and so many of my BBQ friends, too. Then you can decide whether you want to use a charcoal or a gas grill, or maybe both!



Gas vs charcoal…

This comparison, gas grill vs charcoal grill, is my unbiased impression in a very easy format by simply listing the pros and cons of both.

BBQ terms glossary…

But first, I want to give you the definitions, a simple Google explanation, of some BBQ terms that might be useful if you are a beginner or not so familiar with barbecue terms:



*Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) / Propane,
Is used for fuel heating our homes, to cook with, to fuel vehicles, for hot water, or for grilling food.

*Charcoal,
Is carbon or man-made char and it is produced by slowly heating wood in the absence of oxygen, half burned wood.

*Searing,
Is the process where you cook, for example, steak, on high heat until the surface is caramelized.

*Smoking,
Is flavoring or slow cooking meat by using the smoke of smoldering wood or charcoal.

*A chimney,
Is a tool that you use in starting charcoal to start coals fast and easy.

*Rotisserie,
Is a cooking appliance with a rotating spit for roasting or barbecuing meat.

Now, to summarize our topic…gas grill vs charcoal grill.
The PROS and the CONS

Charcoal Grills

  • You have the open fire providing a great socializing atmosphere and ambiance.
  • You surely get an intense smoky flavor to your grilled food.
  • Coals create direct intense heat, which is good for searing steak or lamb chops, that crispiness is tasteful.
  • Charcoal grills are generally less expensive than gas grills.
  • Charcoal is easily portable to a picnic spot or beach.

  • You need to light the coals with a type of starter (lighter fluid or a chimney).
  • It is not easy to control the heat and flames on a charcoal grill. This takes practice.
  • The coals must be added if you have plenty of meat to grill and you run low on heat.
  • Grease on the grill grates and ash must be cleaned after barbecuing.
  • Charcoal grilling is Not as convenient as gas grilling.
  • Charcoal requires more time and attention to prepare.
  • It could be difficult to control the temperate while grilling and you must remove or add coals to get it right. This takes practice, too.
  • Dripping of fat can cause flare-ups which can be difficult to control and it can burn the food. A water spray bottle is always handy to keep small flare-ups under control.
  • Coals can cause sparks around the grill and that can be a risk of fire.
  • Coals are dirty to handle.
  • Few charcoal grills have rotisserie sets.

Gas Grills

  • Gas provides even and consistent heat.
  • Gas can be easily turned on and controlled by just turning a knob.
  • Propane gas can fuel very long, around 20 hours.
  • Very little grease to clean and NO ash cleaning
  • Grilling is not messy. It is quick. No messing with charcoal and waiting for the coals to be ready for grilling. It is convenient.
  • The cooking zone is easy to clean.
  • Most gas grills come with rotisserie sets.

  • Gas grills are more expensive than charcoal grills.
  • Gas/propane is more expensive too and is linked to the price of petroleum.
  • A Gas grill does not allow direct heat for searing meat like steak.
  • Gas grills can get grease build up under the burners that must be scraped from time to time.
  • Gas components like gas jets and valves can clog.
  • Gas grilling does not provide that smoky flavor to food.
  • Gas can be dangerous as it is explosive.
  • Assembling of new gas grills can be more difficult than charcoal grills.
  • Gas grills have more parts than can break.

**These were the main points I thought well to share. I am sure there are many more pros and cons you could add here.


An interesting fact:

Gas grills sales have increased significantly over the last 20 years and now more gas grills are sold than charcoal grills.

BBQ gurus will recommend having both, a gas grill and a charcoal grill. Some BBQ purists prefer to grill some kinds of food on gas and other foods on charcoal.

So, it looks like charcoal grills are related to tastiness whereas gas is related to convenience. It all depends on your preference at the end.

What to buy? Gas or charcoal, or both?

The choice is yours!


I’ll go for a charcoal grill,

and I prefer charcoal or real firewood for my barbecues.

In my case, it all depends on where I will be barbecuing. If I would barbecue in South Africa, I prefer using local firewood or good quality briquettes, which are available everywhere in South Africa.

On the other hand, if I am in the Philippines, where I am most of the time, then I would use natural lump charcoal as this is more accessible than briquettes or firewood at local markets.

Also, charcoal grills are cheaper and the charcoal smoke gives a better flavor and aroma to the meat you grill. I also think charcoal burns far hotter and it is better for grilling steak.

This applies to firewood or natural lump charcoal as well; therefore, I prefer using any kind of charcoal for my barbecue. Grilling with charcoal can be messy, but it is easy and fun if you know what you are doing.

It is easy to work with charcoal grills as they are less complex than gas grills. The ash can be removed with no fuss, and the grills can be cleaned easily.



To sum up…

I think any barbecue enthusiast will agree with me that a cheerful social gathering around an outdoor charcoal grill while searing a good quality juicy steak, is always a perfect experience. This, in my culture, is the best way to kill a few hours on a hot summer’s day.

I am one of those people who ONLY use charcoal. I just looove to barbecue with coals. I enjoy sitting next to a fire pit or charcoal grill, listening to the crackling burning wood, when I use hardwood, or enjoying the deep red color of the burning charcoal briquettes while having a drink or two, or more.

That, to me, is a real barbecue experience!



I favor the tastiness and the smoky flavor of charcoal grilled meat! That is the way I grew up around the grill, a charcoal grill.

Like many South Africans BBQ enthusiasts would say, “If you cannot grill on a charcoal grill, then it is not a real barbecue.”


Final thought…

There you have it! You can make up your own mind on this gas grill vs charcoal grill debate, and decide whether you will go with gas or charcoal.

Enjoy your next barbecue, charcoal or a gas grill, whatever you prefer!

Please leave a comment in the box below, if you have any thoughts about this gas grill vs charcoal grill debate.

Cheers,
Jacob