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Charcoal Grill vs. Gas Grill

The debate over charcoal and gas grills is an ongoing battle when choosing a grill. Some enthusiasts claim that the charcoal grill is the only way to go, while others believe that the simplicity of a gas model overpowers all else. Consider the advantages and limitations of both types of grills, and decide for yourself which one is best for you.

Charcoal Grill

Gas Grill

Fuel Cost

Less affordableMore affordable

Temperatures

Higher, but not easily changedLower, but adjustable

Pre-heat Time

15 to 30 minutes2 to 5 minutes

Cleanup

More difficult to cleanEasier to clean

Accessories

Few add-ons and accessoriesMany add-ons and accessories

Flavor

Better smoky flavorLess pronounced grill flavor

*Refer to grill buying guide for more information


Charcoal Grills

Advantages of Charcoal Grills

  • Price - Because there are fewer parts and mechanisms with gas grills, the upfront cost tends to be lower.
  • Charcoal Flavor - Many avid grillers will swear that the flavor of charcoal offers a unique taste for cooked meats and vegetables.
  • High temperatures - When you use a charcoal grill, you'll find that the charcoal can produce higher temperatures than a gas grill, sometimes up to 800 or 900 degrees Fahrenheit.

Limitations of Charcoal Grills

  • Fuel cost - Over time, the cost of charcoal can be more costly than liquid propane or natural gas.
  • Pre-heat time - With a charcoal grill, you'll have to wait for the coals to pre-heat the grill before it's ready to use.
  • Limited temperature control - Without a switch to manage the level of heat output, it's more difficult to control the temperature of the grill.
  • Extensive cleanup - With charcoal and the resulting ashes, it can be tedious to clean a charcoal grill.
  • Few accessories - Charcoal grills have fewer choices for add-ons and other accessories, though you can sometimes find accessories for smoking food and rotisserie cooking.
 
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Gas Grills

Advantages of Gas Grills

  • Fuel cost - Natural gas and liquid propane will cost less charcoal over the lifespan of your grill.
  • Pre-heat time - Gas grills heat up quickly because you only need to turn on the switch for the burners to ignite.
  • Precise temperature control - Because gas grills have control dials that can lower or raise the heat output, you have the ability to control the temperature of your grill.
  • Limited cleanup - When you're finished grilling, you only need to clean the grill grates most of the time.
  • Many accessories - With gas grills, you have more options for add-ons and features like sear burners, side burners, rotisseries, smokers and more.

Limitations of Gas Grills

  • Higher price - Gas grills have more features and gadgets, so the upfront price is more expensive than a charcoal grill.
  • Less grilled flavor - A gas grill does not produce that charcoal flavor that many grill fanatics love, but you can purchase wood planks and other accessories to add flavor.
  • Low temperatures - Although a gas grill has an adjustable temperature, it cannot reach the overall maximum temperatures that a charcoal temperature can without an added sear burner.
 
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