How to Choose Between Charcoal and Propane

It’s an age-old debate that can get pretty heated between the two schools of grilling. Serious grillers have their preference. It’s like asking a tech-guru if they prefer Apple or Samsung. To them, there is a definitive answer and many reasons to support it. But is there really a right or wrong answer? As it turns out, yes there is – and it all depends on what you’re cooking. Here is all you need to know about choosing a charcoal or gas grill.



Charcoal grilling requires more prep and thereforelonger cook times than using propane. Since charcoal grills have minimaltemperature control, so it takes practice and attention to get just right. However, charcoal heats to a higher temperature, approximately 700F, which is great for taste and flavor.

If you like a crisp to your meats and vegetables, charcoal is the way to go. The closer you can raise the coals to the food, the better the grill does. Getting the heat close cooks the inside and the outside to perfect temperatures. Plus, charcoal gives food a smoky flavor, like old fashioned southern barbeque, that many people prefer. It produces more smoke than gas grills from the fat drippings that find their way to the hot coals.  In fact, many people use their charcoal grill as a smoker for longer cooking foods like ribs and brisket.

The cost of charcoal grills also makes them more appealing. A Weber Original Kettle charcoal grill costs around $99.00 at your local hardware store, while a bag of briquettes or lump charcoal costs $5.00 – $15.00. These costs are significantly lower than purchasing a gas grill, propane tank, and propane refills.

If you’re looking for a cost effective way to grill food with a great smoky flavor and you don’t mind some extra preparation and cleanup, then a charcoal grill is the way to go.


The ease and convenience of propane is what attracts many people to this method of grilling. The difficult thing about gas grills is working with the cool and hot spots that arise. Depending on the weather conditions, the temperature can get extra hot or too cold. Plus, you can’t adjust the heat to be closer to the food. Gas grills don’t get as hot as charcoal grills, so the crispy texture mentioned above is hard to obtain. On the plus side, you don’t have to wait as long to enjoy your meals.

Gas grilling is good for fast-cooking foods, like fish, burgers, or hot dogs. Since it only takes 5-10 minutes to fire up this type of grill, it’s the better option for week-night dinners. Some experts claim that gas grills create more steam than smoke, which helps keeps meat moist. The flavor is described to be more similar to bacon, rather than barbeque. Not to mention, you don’t have the leftover ashes to clean up after dinner.

Gas grills often have more expenses upfront and in accessories. A well-equipped and long-lasting grill costs $300.00 – $600.00. Plus, there are replacement parts like hoses, burners, and converters in case of a malfunction. Don’t forget the cost of propane, which is about $40.00 initially and then $25.00 for each refill.

If you want convenient, quick, and controlled grilling and don’t mind paying a premium for delicious, moist meats, gas grilling is the right choice for you.