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Sara Hansen

Charcoal vs Gas Grilling: The Pros & Cons

With the weather starting to warm up in many parts of the country right now, you may be looking to do more outdoor cooking. And for many people, this also means buying a new grill. But, with the variety of grills and types of smokers available, you may be wondering what type may be the best fit for you.

We’ve previously covered pellet vs charcoal grills/smokers, so in this article, we’re breaking down another popular comparison: charcoal vs gas grilling. Both have their pros and cons, and choosing the right one for you will depend on what you want out of your grilling experience.


The Pros and Cons of Charcoal Grilling:


There's nothing quite like the taste and smell of food cooked over charcoal. Charcoal grilling is great for searing meat and imparting a smoky flavor that's hard to replicate with a gas grill. The smoky flavor is the result of the briquettes burning and the smoke that is created when fat and juices from the food drip onto the hot coals. 

Charcoal grills are also fairly easy to use overall. The charcoal can be lit with a lighter or with a chimney starter. They are also relatively inexpensive and easy to find at most hardware stores. Finally, charcoal grills also tend to be smaller and more compact than gas grills, making them great for small spaces.


Charcoal grilling does require more time and effort than gas grilling, both on startup and during the cooking process. You'll need to wait for the coals to heat up and be ready to cook on, and you'll need to monitor and control the temperature carefully to ensure even cooking. Since you are dealing with a natural flame, charcoal grills can be difficult to regulate the temperature, making it hard (especially for “newbie” grillers) to get the right cooking temperature and maintain it. 

After you are done grilling, you’ll then need to wait longer for a charcoal grill to cool down compared to a gas grill. Finally, charcoal grills can be messier and require more cleaning than gas grills since they require the cleanup and disposal of ashes.


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The Pros and Cons of Gas Grilling:


Gas grills are a great option for those who want an easier and more convenient grilling experience. With the push of a button, your grill is ready to go, and you can control the cooking temperature with precision. This is especially convenient when cooking with a two-zone grill setup.

Gas grills also heat up much faster than charcoal grills, so you don’t have to wait as long for the grill to be ready to cook. They are also easy to clean and relatively low-maintenance. Gas grills are a great choice for those who want to grill without much hassle.


On the other hand, gas grills don't impart the same smoky flavor to your food that charcoal grills do. Of course, you can add wood chips to a gas grill to get a smokier flavor, but it's still not the same as cooking over charcoal. Additionally, depending on the specific gas grill, it may not get as hot as a charcoal grill, which can affect the searing and caramelization of your food.

Also, a gas grill is usually more expensive than a charcoal grill and they require more initial effort to set up properly. They also require the use of a propane tank, which can be a hassle to store and transport. In addition to the initial cost of the propane tank itself, gas grills also require more frequent maintenance, including refilling (or replacing) the propane tank periodically.


Charcoal Grills Are Best For: 

  • More experienced grillers who enjoy the process of lighting the charcoal and managing the temperature.
  • Those who prefer the smoky flavor associated with charcoal grilling.
  • Those who want or need a more portable grilling option.
  • Those who are looking for a more economical type of grill.
  • Those who are looking for a more traditional grilling experience. (Those who think that unless you’re grilling with charcoal or wood, it isn’t real barbecue.)


Gas Grills Are Best For:

  • Those who want precise temperature control easily.
  • Those who are short on time and want a quick grilling experience.
  • Those who don't want or need to have the distinctive smoky flavor of a charcoal grill.
  • Those who want to more easily cook for large groups of people.
  • Those who don't want to deal with the mess of ash and embers.


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Between Charcoal or Gas Grill, Which One Should You Choose?

Ultimately, the decision between charcoal vs gas grilling will come down to personal preference. If you value flavor above all else (specifically the classic smoky flavor) and don't mind putting in a bit of extra time and effort, charcoal grilling is the way to go. On the other hand, if you want convenience and ease of use, gas grilling is the better choice.

As you can see above, both types of grilling have their pros and cons. It's up to you to decide which one is right for you and your grilling needs. Whatever you choose, be sure to have fun and enjoy your grilling experience!

Can you think of some other pros or cons to add to either charcoal or gas grilling? Leave a comment below. We want to hear all about it!



Whether you end up with a charcoal or gas grill (or a pellet grill or smoker), enhance your outdoor cooking skills with the virtual Championship Backyard BBQ Classes available exclusively here at BBQ Champs Academy. In these classes, the competition-winning Grillmasters and Pitmasters will teach you 20 different delicious recipes plus share valuable insider tips. With these classes, you can master your grill or smoker in no time! Don't miss out on this opportunity to elevate your outdoor cooking and become a true grillmaster with BBQ Champs Academy.

Be sure to also subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel. Stay informed on the latest competition barbecue news and receive insider information straight from the pros!

Sara Hansen

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2 comments on “Charcoal vs Gas Grilling: The Pros & Cons”

  1. That was an informative comparison, Sara! Both charcoal and gas are great grilling options and the choice depends on one's preference. Nevertheless, preparing the grills properly before adding meat is the key to getting perfect results. In charcoal grilling, one should pick the right kind of charcoal, preheat a cleaned grill to 425-450°F set it up for indirect heat and add wood chips for a smokier flavor. In gas grilling, one must preheat a cleaned grill to 350-400°F before cooking and lightly grease its surface before adding meat.

    1. Thanks for checking out our blog Joseph and I'm glad you found it helpful! And yes, preheating both types of grills is definitely essential. Thanks for your added input!

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