Gas, Propane or Charcoal Grill – Which is Better?

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With summer in full swing, there’s nothing better than spending time outside with family and friends. Cooking is a great way to bring everyone together, and nothing says cooking like grilling. Hamburgers, hotdogs, steaks, ribs, and chicken are some tasty eats that we can smell for miles. Firing up the grill with the ones you love is the iconic moment of summer fun. But there’s one debate that needs further consideration. Gas, propane, or charcoal grill?

Read below to find out how they compare and which one suits you best for your lifestyle.

Barbecue grill bbq on propane gas grill steaks bratwurst sausages meat meal

Gas Grills – Advantages & Disadvantages

The bulk of grills sold today are gas, and they have a lot of perks with just a few downfalls.

Pros, Cons, and Other Things to know: 

  • Convenience – A quick turn of the knob and a spark ignites the grill. They also preheat quickly instead of waiting for coals to heat up. Gas grills are also great at holding temperatures with different zones. A direct line prevents you from running out of fuel and going to the store to get more propane or charcoals. Hands down, they are the most convenient of the three.
  • Set-up –  Installing a natural gas line can require a permit and a licensed plumber to install pipes or valves.
  • Cost – The initial cost of a gas grill is more expensive, but they are less expensive to operate. The price tag to install a natural gas line running to your house can be quite high.  Parts to natural gas grills may need to be replaced, making them more costly than charcoal grills.
  • Accessories – There are many add-on functions with natural gas grills, including lights, storage drawers, and side burners to keep your food warm. You can become a grill master to everyone in the neighborhood.
  • Cleaning –  You won’t have to worry about cleaning ash, but gas grills suffer from grease and carbon buildup. The grill will need a thorough cleaning every couple of months. Use a power washer and some heavy-duty degreasers and cleaners get the job done.
  • Safety – Gas is explosive, and you need to use extra precaution with these grills. Always ensure there are no leaks, and that the grill is a good distance away from your house. Keep your grill clean to prevent grease fires.
  • Portability – Natural gas grills are in a fixed position and not ideal if you like to cook in other locations besides your home.
  • Taste – Gas grills are not the best choice if you want that charred and smoky taste that you get with charcoal.
  • Efficiency -You can make the most out of your time with a gas grill. With some easy tips, your grill can put out high-quality foods quickly.
  • Environment – Natural gas burns the cleanest of the three options.

Propane Grills – Advantages & Disadvantages

Propane grills run in the same family as gas grills, but there are some main differences.

Pros, Cons, and Other Things to know:

  • Mobility – The power source to start the grill is always a propane tank. Tanks are free to move, and you can move your grill in the backyard or another location. It’s an ideal option if you like to tailgate, go to the beach, or enjoy camping or other outdoor activities. Tanks come in various sizes for convenience.
  • Set Up – You won’t need to worry about installing a gas line. The only thing you’ll need is a tank of propane to start grilling.
  • Price – The set-up cost is less than natural gas, but you can expect to pay more for propane grills versus natural gas in the long run. Tanks (especially smaller ones) add up compared to a bag of charcoal or your natural gas line. The constant refilling of propane tanks adds up over time.
  • Refueling – You’ll have to monitor the amount of propane in your tanks continually. Check the tank before starting to cook, or keep an extra tank nearby (especially if you’re throwing a party). On the positive, propane tanks are straightforward to find. Almost every supermarket or gas station has them in stock, or you may have someone that comes and replaces them for you.
  • Efficiency – Propane grills actually contain more energy than natural gas, and you can cook your favorite BBQ dishes with ease.

Flame Fire Empty Hot Barbecue Charcoal Grill With Glowing Coals

Charcoal Grills – Advantages & Disadvantages

Charcoal grills are for true, die-hard barbecue fans to give your food a rich and smoky flavor.

Pros, Cons, and Other Things to know: 

  • Flavor – It can be hard to mimic the same taste on a gas or propane grill that you can on a charcoal grill. The drippings from your food fall on the coals and steam back into the food. This process creates a unique flavor that isn’t replicated on other grills.
  • Heat – Coals can generally produce higher heat than gas and propane. Higher heat is better for searing and cooking meats with a crisp exterior and a warm, juicy interior. The coals produce a lot more smoke that also leaves your food with that irresistible taste.
  • Safety – There’s a greater risk of fire from charcoal grills. Sparks can escape more easily compared to turning a knob that extinguishes a flame on a gas or propane grill.
  • Temperature Control – Charcoal grills are more challenging to control the temperature, and you cannot turn them up and down quickly. The grill loses heat, and more coals need to be added. It will take practice and patience to grill effectively on a charcoal grill.
  • Cooking Time – It also takes a while to heat your coals to begin grilling. You’ll need to heat the coals in advance if you’re throwing a party. It can also be more difficult to cook fruits and vegetables on charcoal grills. But, nothing signals a party like the smoke coming from a charcoal grill.
  • Cleaning – The cleanup of charcoal grills is inconvenient. All the ashes of a charcoal grill need to be emptied before you can clean it.

The Bottom Line…

Choosing a grill is challenging, especially if you are a beginner. Opt for a gas or propane grill if ease of use is most important to you. If taste is most important, choose a charcoal grill. All three have different benefits, and if your budget allows, you may opt for more than one type.

Either way, make a list of the things you need and choose a grill (or grills) that are best for your budget and lifestyle. Cheers to family, friends, fun, and food!