Charcoal Vs Gas Grill: Cost, Safety, And Taste Explained

charcoal vs gas grill

Not sure which type to choose? With so many different kinds of grills out there I can’t really blame you.

Both charcoal and gas grills are awesome in their own respective ways.

To learn more about charcoal vs gas grill differences, just read more.

I’ve made this thorough guide to not only explain the pros and cons of these two grill types but also make your decision about purchasing the right type of grill for you much easier.

Some of us grillers love starting a fire from scratch and cooking slowly for hours while others just want their burger done fast and without any mess.

You’ll soon find out which type of griller are you and what type of grill suits you the most.

Cooking is a great bonding activity for every person. Grilling, on the other hand, is the best way of cooking as this technique cooks the food in a much more flavorful way.

It’s also a great excuse to get out of the house.

Your grilling depends on the type of grill you use.

Grills vary from pellet, electric, and even wood-burning grills. Did you know that among all grill kinds, charcoal and gas grills are the most widely used? They are also more valuable and efficient than other types of grills.

Flavor and convenience usually go hand in hand.

If you aim at the most convenient grill then the flavor should be the least of your concern. For instance, if you choose an electric grill, then it won’t guarantee the best grilling experience.

On the other hand, charcoal grills give the best smoky flavored food but it is difficult to work with.

Let’s see the differences between charcoal and gas grills so you will be able to decide which one to buy.

Quick Summary

I know some of you folks don’t like long boring text and want a short answer. Here it is:

Charcoal Grill Gas Grill
Fuel Source Charcoal Propane or Natural gas
Smokey taste
Safety* Safer Less safe
Health Issues Tend to produce more carcinogens Tend to produce fewer carcinogens
Enviromental Impact Worse Better
Temperature Can reach high temperature with ease Struggles
Maintenace Cost Cheap Expensive
Fuel Cost Expensive Cheap
Grill Cost Cheap Expensive
Temperature Control Hard Easy
Additional Features Few, if any Many
Indoor Use , but not always
Cooking time More Less

Before We Get Started…

Read on and also watch this short video, so you will know all the differences between these two grills.

3 Grilling Methods

Do you know the three cooking types involving grills? Let me break them down for you.

1. Indirect Heat Convection Roasting

In this method, the heating source is off and food cooks with the warm air circulating within the closed lid.

This applies to foods like whole chicken and ribs.

2. Indirect Heat Roasting With The Lid Closed

This cooking method involves the warm convection airflow with charcoal smoke for that charcoal taste.

3. High Radiation Cooking

This is a technique where you place the food (like steaks) directly above the heat source.

Here, there is no lid covering the food.

What Is The Difference In Taste?

Grilling involves searing.

Searing is the process of browsing surfaces of the meat.

If done correctly, the caramelization and Maillard reaction creates rich, sweet, and savory compounds on the surface.

searing steaks on charcoal grill

Did you know that gas grills provide a dark all-over sear which can only be achieved by high heat? Restaurant gas boilers typically heat from 80°F to 1200°F, whereas the backyard grills can deliver up to about 500°F.

Charcoal grills can deliver up to 900°F on the grilling surface, unlike gas grills that have narrow sear burners and can only sear one or two steaks at a time.

This is convenient for a loner or a couple but not for a large number of people e.g. weddings and graduation parties.

Charcoal provides smoke. Smoke is a sapid by-product of combustion.

The smoke from charcoal and burning gases are different.

Charcoal makes more smoke than gas, with a broader range of taste, since it burns complex organic molecules among them lignin and cellulose.

Gas, on the other hand, is simply a molecule and when fully combusted, produces no flavor.

Charcoal vs Gas Grill

Why use Gas Grills?

cooking on gas grill

According to statistics, about 2/3 of US grillers use gas grills.

These are the main benefits:

Better Control And Convenience

Gas grills offer a wide range of control and are easier to start.

It may only take 8 to 15 minutes before you start cooking.

They hold a steady temperature and also you can control it with ease and can be configured for multi-zone and indirect cooking.

Temperature Control

These grills provide a wide range of temperatures.

A 3 grill burner uses a hot zone for meat, a moderate zone for vegetables, and a low zone for finished goods.

The heating element above the burner prevents flare-ups (up to a point).

Easy To Clean

Cleaning is tiresome for most people.

For a gas grill, it is easy since there is no ash and most of the grease and oil drips into a separate container.

These are the drawbacks:

Environmental Impact

Propane is a petrochemical by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining.

This is harmful to the environment because it affects the Ozone layer. Propane also negatively affects the respiratory system.

Despite this, it’s still friendlier to the environment than charcoal.


Even though the gas grill is convenient, it isn’t safer since it uses propane which is highly flammable and in case of leakage explosive.

Why Use Charcoal Grills?

cooking on charcoal grill

A charcoal grill is perfect for tasteful and smokey-flavored food.

Let’s take a look at these benefits:

Small Cost

Charcoal grills are way cheaper compared to gas grills.

They are a great choice for low and medium-income earners since they serve the same purpose as the gas grill.

Higher Temperature

These grills provide high heat which is ideal for roasting and searing.

Produces A Unique Flavor

Charcoal is rich in lignin and cellulose components. These components provide a dark color and a smoky flavor.

Just like gas grills, charcoal grills have their own certain limitations. These include:

Heat Control

It is difficult to control the heat.

If you don’t watch your food, it can be burnt easily.

Health Risks

Charcoal is dirty to handle. Lighting up also takes some time. This may produce flare-ups which when bonded with the food are risky for your health.

Also if the charcoal in the grill burns out, you need to add more and by doing so if the charcoal doesn’t get enough oxygen may deposit soot on your food.

Gas Vs Charcoal Grill Cookoff

Check out this video to see what’s it like to cook on both gas and charcoal grill.

Now You Know The Differences

Now that you know the main differences between charcoal vs gas grills, the decision of which one to get will be much easier.

In short, if the taste is important to you, go for a charcoal grill. But if you value convenience, you should pick a gas grill.

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charcoal vs gas grill

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About Mario 148 Articles
I am the owner of Kitchen Guru Ideas. I've set up this site so I can share my kitchen tips and hacks that have been passed on to me from my parents and grandparents and show you how a wonderful experience cooking is and not just a way to save money. Even in this hectic lifestyle, there is time to prepare and most important enjoy a home-cooked meal.

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