Grilling Showdown: Gas vs. Charcoal

If you’re in the market for a grill, your first, and probably biggest, decision is going to be whether to go with gas or charcoal. Each has its own benefits and shortcomings. Knowing what each offers can help you make the right choice based on your cooking needs.


Most grill-aficionados prefer charcoal. There is a natural, smoky taste that many believe can only be achieved by using a charcoal grill. The other benefit to a consumer-grade charcoal grill is that it will easily exceed the top temperature of gas grills. This is something that any serious meat-eater will want to take into consideration, as high heat is needed to sear a steak. While neither type of grill is extremely dangerous on its own, charcoal grills do present more of a fire hazard. It’s possible sparks and embers could escape the grill while you’re cooking, so be careful. Affordability is another advantage of charcoal grills. Gas grills tend to include more complex setups and are therefore more expensive.


If you want convenience then a gas grill is the one for you. They typically heat up faster and are much easier to light than their charcoal counterparts. In addition to the quick start-up time, gas grills also offer superior temperature control. While you’ll need a thermometer for a charcoal grill, a gas grill has adjustable heat settings, so you can be confident you won’t scorch something. However, these temperatures can be a bit off during different weather conditions, so it won’t hurt to have a thermometer handy just in case.

Gas grills also tend to leave less of a mess. Since fewer items will be burned, there will be less ash in the grate and the dripping grease is typically vaporized when cooking with a gas grill. There are also more gadgets on the market for use with gas grills than with charcoal grills.

So, the choice is yours. Typically, people prefer charcoal grills for red meats and agree that gas grills are good for almost anything you’d want to cook. If you’re a newbie to grilling, your best bet will be an easy-to-use grill. However, consider a charcoal grill if you want to be a grilling guru. Before buying a grill, make sure to think through your goals first.