Charcoal vs Gas Grill: Key Differences Explained – Smoke Gears 2024

Charcoal vs Gas Grill – Key Differences Explained

The debate between gas and charcoal grills is age-old. They both have their perks, and neither trumps the other.

However, people do have their preferences, and some have quite a few strong opinions about their favorite type. Not me though, I'm here to provide arguments for both sides.

So, below, we are going to compare charcoal vs gas grill feature by feature. If you are interested, then read on to know more about the differences between them. 


Key Differences: Gas Grill vs Charcoal Grill

• Flavor

This is where most people rank the charcoal grill on top. Indeed, the charcoal grill does give the food you're cooking a unique flavor. The so-called "smoky" flavor is why it is trendy with many people. This cannot be achieved by other methods and is a signature flavor imparted by the charcoal grill.

The gas grill, however, runs on propane. And obviously, the propane does not interact with the food at all and burns away at the flame. So there is no extra flavor added. However, some people do see this as a good thing. Yes, some people dislike the smoky flavor. So, to each their own.

• Price

Here, the charcoal grill wins, hands down. That's because a basic charcoal set is exceptionally cheap. You can even make your very own DIY charcoal grill with a refrigerator rack, charcoal, and a tripod. Even the pricey ones aren't all that expensive, and you can easily afford one.

Gas-powered grills are more expensive. It is a medium-tier investment, and the fanciest ones can be very costly. While it is more expensive than the charcoal grill, it isn't really beyond the reach of an average person.

You can get a good one for a relatively lower price, and it will give you excellent performance for quite a while too.

• Ease of Use

The coal grill set is more challenging to use as you have to set it up, get the exhaust right, and load the fuel. It can take up to an hour to get things going, and if you're new to all this, it might take even longer than that. You have to be familiar with the different parts; otherwise, it'll lead to a faulty setup. 

On the other hand, the gas grill set is elementary to set up and use. First off, no setup needed. You start with it. As for the use, depending on the type, you either have to turn a valve or push a button. And, you also have the option to alter the intensity of the fire.

• Heat Control

The gas grill set gets this one because controlling the heat on a charcoal grill is very difficult. You have to shovel stuff in and out and wait for the effects of taking place. They don't immediately appear. Furthermore, it might be too late by the time you have scooped out enough charcoal for the heat to go down.

With the gas grill, control is a piece of cake. Just use the valve and alternate the gas output. Effects are almost immediate. So, you go back and forth very quickly and get precisely the temperature you need for the food to cook correctly. You can cut off the gas for an emergency cool off too.

• Fuel Use and Availability

The fuel for the charcoal grill is charcoal, but you can use coal too, or wood or other things. However, it takes a lot of fuel to make a dish. The process is inefficient, and a lot of heat escapes out into the air. Depending on the size and capacity of your grill setup, you might need to refuel after only an hour of work.

The gas grill gets the point in this department because the propane burning is very efficient, and most of the heat is used for cooking the food. And you need not worry about refueling at all since you get a continuous flow of gas coming to fuel the fire. It is also suitable for extensive grilling.

• Maintenance 

Again the gas grill wins this one. All you have to do is clean up the occasional soot off the grill set. That is all there is to it. There aren't any stains or anything that are likely to form anywhere. And you don't even have to clean that frequently either.

With the charcoal set, however, there's more to it than just some scrubbing. You have to clean out the ashes, wash, and then dry it. There is a whole lot of soot everywhere, and it is often a big mess. Also, it is like cleaning a dirty chimney. Grimy, dusty and outright nasty. It needs to be done quite often as well.

gas grill vs charcoal grill

• Safety

The coal set loses, yet again, because the open fire and the lack of control make it quite a fire hazard. If you have anything flammable nearby, I suggest getting that out of the way before you begin your grilling. You could even overdo it with the charcoal and create a smokescreen that might hurt your eyes and lungs.

Gas grills are much safer. The fire is often smaller and more concentrated. This means fewer things are prone to get ignited. You can have full control of the flame too as you can turn the valve to switch it off whenever you need to. There aren't any sooty chemicals coming out of this flame either.

Advantages and disadvantages of Charcoal Grills:


  • Imparts a unique flavor to food
  • Cheaper
  • Can produce good heat and can sear
  • Good as a DIY set


  • Can be a mess
  • Not suited for quick meals
  • Can be a safety hazard

Read more: How to convert natural gas grill?

Advantages and disadvantages of Gas Grills:


  • Fast startup
  • Easy use
  • Continuous usage
  • Does not emit harmful gases or soot


  • More expensive
  • Produces less heat, cannot sear
  • Potential gas leaks can occur


The gas and charcoal grills both have their advantages and drawbacks. What you prefer depends on the type of user you are. For example, a camper might prefer a gas grill, and a stay-at-home mom might use a charcoal one. It is all on you. Align your needs to the pros and cons of these and then decide. Good luck.

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Theresa Lori

Hi, I'm Theresa. My passion for grilling delicacy gradually built during the time I was living with my parents. My family members especially my mother was a great fan of grilled dishes to and from the love of food. I started preparing smoked food with my mom. This bonding helped me to know more and more about to smoke, grill what always I share on So, in two words you can call me a BBQ lover.

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