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Charcoal vs. Gas Grill: What’s the Difference?

charcoal vs gas

Do you want to try something different at this year’s BBQ party? What about changing your traditional grilling style? If you have been grilling up your meat on a charcoal grill, this time, try the gas grill for innovation or vice versa.

Charcoal and gas BBQ grills give different flavors to your meat. That’s why you may have seen grilling enthusiasts fighting over which grill is better at every party.

Evaluating the pros and cons of each grill will also help you make the right purchase decision. After all, BBQ grills are expensive and one-time investments that go a long way. So, Team Charcoal or Team Gas? Let’s pick our side!

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Overview of a Charcoal Grill

flaming charcoal on an open grill outdoors
Image By: Jaco Pretorius, Unsplash

Charcoal grills have been the most popular for decades. Many people also call them “open fire grills” since they require charcoal briquettes for cooking.

Charcoal grills are primarily used in outdoor events, especially camping and late-night parties. If you’re planning to serve lots of people, you’d need to stock up on charcoal bags since it burns quickly.

These grills work on a constant coal-balancing phenomenon. That means as a tong-bearer, you’ll play with the amount of charcoal to adjust the heat in the grill. If the temperature is too hot, remove a few. Otherwise, add more to heat the grill or adjust the placement of each coal. That’s the only way to maintain a specific temperature on the grill.


The charcoal grills offer BBQ enthusiasts incredibly high temperatures that are rare with other options. Since they use coals for cooking the meat, they add just the right taste, juiciness, and flavor to your meat.

If you love to cook at high temperatures, the grill will hit you right at the spot. You can easily reach 600°F to 700°F on your charcoal grill.


The charcoal grill gives a smoky flavor to the meat that all charcoal grill enthusiasts love. The high heat generates more juice in the meat. When the juice falls on the burning charcoal, it produces smoke that cooks the meat in the most flavorful way.

charcoal grill
Image By: AVN Photo Lab, Shutterstock

Versatile Range

The charcoal grill comes in a versatile range of shapes, models, sizes, and models to suit every BBQ enthusiast’s budget and choice. So, whether you’re just starting your BBQ journey or are an experienced griller, you can easily find a charcoal grill for your requirements.

Cooking Style

While some people like to cook on direct heat, others prefer indirect flames. Charcoal grills offer both cooking styles simultaneously, called the dual-zone setup. You can easily manage to cook in direct and indirect heat, depending on the type of meat.

  • Offer a higher temperature than conventional grills
  • Gives the classic smoky flavor
  • Budget-friendly
  • Versatile cooking
  • May take longer to heat up
  • The cost of charcoal can be higher
  • Complicated clean-up process

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Overview of a Gas Grill

gas grill
Image Credit: Arina P Habich, Shutterstock

Evident from its name, a gas grill cooks food using gas. Some models use liquid propane gas supplied by a tank placed right up the grill. Other grills may also use fuel directly from your kitchen’s gas line.

People love gas grills because they’re super easy to use and heat up within a few minutes. So, you can throw off your meat on the flame and turn the gas off when you’re done. Unlike charcoal grills, gas grills don’t require waiting for the coals to cool down to wind up your BBQ session.

Adjusting the heat on a gas grill is also quite manageable. You can bring the heat up or down with a knob. However, since no charcoal is involved, you won’t get the iconic, smoky BBQ flavor that charcoal grills give.


Gas grills offer high temperatures, which can be easily adjustable depending on the user’s needs. It ranges between 400°F to 550°F.

You’ll be delighted to know that gas grills only take 10 minutes to reach the perfect cooking temperature. This means you can instantly toss your buns and meat on the grill after turning on the flame.


As discussed, you can’t have the mouth-watering smoky flavor with gas grills. Yet, the resulting meat is full of flavors and equally juicy.


Gas grills are super easy to use. You don’t have to balance the charcoal on every side of the grill. Instead, you just turn on the flame, put on the meat, and enjoy an evenly cooked meal, even in heavy winds.

Moreover, you can also determine the right cooking style and temperature for different types of products. For example, if you’re just grilling the buns, you’d know the appropriate settings for it. Similarly, you won’t have trouble setting the temperature for different steaks.

gas grill
Image Credit: rein schoondorp, Pixabay


A gas grill comes with various accessories to enhance your BBQ experience. For instance, you’ll have side burners and a smoke box. The former will help you prepare different types of sauces or toast bread and buns. The latter will allow you to integrate that smoky flavor into your meat, as with charcoal grills.

If you’re looking for different grilling perks, a gas grill will be your ideal option. You can toast, roast, and prepare sauces for your meat all at once!

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Heats up quickly
  • Easy temperature control
  • Versatile
  • Assembling the grill can be complicated and time-consuming
  • May pose safety risks

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Charcoal vs. Gas BBQ Grill: What Are the Differences?

The debate over charcoal versus gas BBQ grills is never-ending. While many love the smokiness of charcoal grills, others prefer having the convenience of gas grills.

To make the right choice, the only thing you can do is check how they both differ. Here are a few differences between both types of grills:


Professional BBQ lovers believe that the easier to use a grill is, the less smokiness it gives off. The gas grills are the most convenient, but that’s the reason they lack that classic smoky BBQ flavor.

On the other hand, charcoal grills are more difficult to manage and use. For instance, you must maintain the balance of coals in the grill to ensure that the meat is cooked from every side. Also, you must pay attention to the amount of coal in the grill.

So, ask yourself, “Do I need an easy meal or a flavorful dinner?” If your answer is the former, go for the gas grill. If you want flavor no matter what, charcoal grills are the way to go. With dedication and effort, you’ll find comfort with charcoal grills one day!

man cooking in gas griller
Image Credit: RossHelen, Shutterstock


BBQ is loved for the authentic off-the-fire and smoky taste that usual stoves don’t offer. This flavor comes from wood, and charcoal is made from it. That’s why only the charcoal grills give the real authentic taste to the meat.

Contrastingly, when you consider the gas grills, you don’t get the real woody taste in your meat. It makes sense since there are no coals involved in the cooking process. However, as stated above, many gas grills now come with smoke boxes, enabling you to add that smoky flavor to your meals. But, of course, it won’t be as authentic as the charcoal grills.

In some cases, you may not be able to detect the difference in meals cooked on both types of grills. That’s especially applicable to hamburgers. But you can easily find the difference when you taste steaks cooked on both grills. The charcoal one will have a strong smoky flavor, and the gas one won’t. Also, the charcoal-cooked steak will be slowly roasted and, hence, will be juicier than its counterpart.


To buy the right grill, you must measure the space you want to install it on. Charcoal grills are usually large but come in various sizes and models. The same applies to gas grills. Generally, a small area isn’t ideal for a large gas or charcoal grill because of safety issues.

Both grills produce flare-ups, which aren’t ideal for humans and pets to inhale. While charcoal generates heavy smoke, the gas produces high flames. Both need to be placed away from home structures, preferably in an open area.

Grilling Style

Gas grills heat up faster, allowing you to grill multiple steaks, chickens, and buns right after coming home from work. They also offer an effortless grilling style with little to no hassle.

On the other hand, charcoal grills are not for everyday grilling or cooking. They take lots of time to heat up, grill the meat slowly, and require a lengthy clean-up. So, if you plan to relax on the weekend and enjoy a couple of drinks, you can invest your time in setting up the charcoal grill.

Simply put, charcoal grills require more work than gas grills.

heating charcoal
Image Credit: Grillette, Pixabay


The last factor to weigh between charcoal and gas BBQ grills is the price. Gas grills are more modern than traditional charcoal gas. However, the former also comes with multiple grilling options and convenience, making them more expensive than charcoal grills.

If you want a budget-friendly option, the charcoal grill would be the right option. But it’s not as cheap as you think. The cost of charcoal will add up and give you a higher cost in the long term.

On the other hand, gas grills operate on natural or propane gas. Since you can use natural gas in your home’s kitchen, it’s a cheaper option in terms of fuel costs. At the end of the day, the total cost of your grill will depend on how much you use it and what features you want.

To have more features, you shouldn’t hesitate to invest in gas grills. But if your focus is solely on that classic smoky taste, don’t look anywhere else than the charcoal grills. Both models are good investments!

Charcoal vs. Gas BBQ Grill: Which Is Better?

In this charcoal versus gas BBQ grill comparison, we discussed the pros and cons of each model. It depends on the user to decide what works best for their taste, requirements, lifestyle, and family members.

While gas grills offer comfort and quick meal preparations, charcoal grills offer the authentic smoky flavor worth all the effort you put in. Both types of grills give flavorful and mouth-watering results. So, no matter what you choose, you won’t go wrong either way.

Grill cleaning
Image Credit: Alexey Stiop, Shutterstock

Charcoal vs. Gas Grills: When to Use Them

Still can’t figure out which grill is right for you? We have made it easier for you with this chart:

Charcoal Grill
  • Slow-cooking
  • At big parties, weekends, or special occasions
  • Traditional cooking
  • Smoky flavored meat
  • Basic BBQ grilling
Gas Grill
  • Quick and easy cooking
  • For everyday grilling
  • Modern-style cooking
  • Flavorful meat
  • Versatile BBQ grilling

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Hopefully, in this charcoal vs gas BBQ grill comparison, you may have chosen your side by now. Both grills have pros and cons, including different heat-up times, cooking styles, flavors, highest temperatures, usage, and clean-up requirements.

While gas grills are easier to use and clean, charcoal grills give an authentic, smoky flavor that we all love. Their total costs, including fuel consumption, also round up close. So, it all comes down to your preferences.

Want convenience? Go for gas grills. Need smoky and juicy meat? Choose charcoal grills without thinking twice!

Featured Image Credit: (L) Piqsels | (R) tab62, Shutterstock


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