When it comes to grills, the great debate can be summed up in three words – Gas or Charcoal? This flame war has been going on for ages. Words have been exchanged between the purists (lovers of charcoals) and the “evolutionists” (the fans of gas) but the answer still remains the same – it depends.
No doubt, there are probably thousands of grillers angrily yelling their outrage reading that answer. Of course, charcoal is better. Flavor is everything. But gas allows you more accurate temperature control which we all know is extremely essential to good cooking. But, but, but. We believe that this is a battle that no side will ever win. There are positives and negatives for each type of grill. Plus, there are a lot of factors that need to be considered. This is why we decided to break it down for those who remain undecided. Using this input, you should be able to figure out which one will be the tastiest choice for you.
So, let’s start with flavor. Which one produces better food flavor? In this, charcoal is unparalleled. Yes, gas grills can produce delicious food. There’s no doubt about that. But when it comes to smokey flavor, only charcoal can deliver. According to the BBQ experts, smoke produced by charcoal has a broader range of flavor molecules because you’re burning complex molecules that make up charcoal which includes cellulose and lignin. Gas, on the other hand, does not have this complex structure. Of course, you can always place wood on your gas grill to produce that smokey flavor. Yes, it is delicious but the flavor is usually milder and more bacon-like.
Burgers. It’s a staple for any backyard chef. In the battle between gas and charcoal, which does burgers better? Even with the short cook time, burgers grilled over charcoal fire has the best flavor. In fact, when it comes to red meats, it’s the charcoal grill all the way, regardless of the model. Charcoal grills just burn hotter than gas grills (except those with infrared burners, of course), cooking your meat crispy on the outside and juicy pink on the inside. Just ask anyone who’s done side-by-side testing of both kinds of grills. Gas grills, on the other hand, are best for cooking almost all birds, fish, vegetables, bread, and pizza.
What about safety? Carcinogens? Which grill is better all around for our health? Ok, there is no question that playing with fire is dangerous, whether you’re using a gas grill or a charcoal one. However, the risk is higher with charcoal grills. Sparks can fly out, burning coal can fall through the vents, flare-ups can happen, etc. With gas grills, you can put out the fire just by turning the knob (though there have been instances of gas grills exploding). With a charcoal grill, you better be sure you have water or a fire extinguisher on hand for emergencies. How about carcinogens then? In this, gas grills win again. When fat drips onto the coal, it creates a delicious smokey flavor. However, that smoke also contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs. When that smoke penetrates your meats, those chemicals do the same. Also, grilling meat at high temperatures can create heterocyclic amines or HCAs. However, gas grills are much easier to control temperature-wise. Charcoal grills, not so much. Now, according to studies, very high amounts of these two chemicals have been found to cause cancer in animals. It hasn’t been proven whether or not the same can be said for human consumption. But if you want to take precautions, gas grill is the way to go.
How about maintenance? Well, it’s still gas grills that take the prize. Cleanup is way easier with a gas grill. There’s no ash that you need to clean up. Grease dripping have already been vaporized by the flame tamers. The only thing you need to worry about is scraping or washing off any carbon and grease buildups. And you only need to clean that every few months. Charcoal, on the other hand, is messy, messy, messy. You can’t just turn it off and put it away. You’ll need to put out the fire, take out the ash, then start scrubbing. To keep clean up at a minimum, invest on a grill that comes with an easy-to-pull-out ash tray.
When is charcoal better than gas and vice versa? Well, as we’ve already mentioned, red meats are better cooked in a charcoal grill while fish, veggies, and bird meat are great with gas. But food isn’t the only consideration. Charcoal is best if you have time to spare. It takes time to get your grill started, get it to heat up, and maintain the right temperature. Plus, if you overshoot the temperature, you can’t lower it rapidly. Controlling temperature can be difficult as well; you need to keep an eye on your burning charcoal, giving it enough oxygen, and adding more fuel to the fire when needed. To get superior results, you need to make sure you set your grill up properly AND practice, practice, practice. But if you want convenience and ease of use, then gas grills are a much better option. It’s easy to start and get to the right temperature. It can hold your desired temperature but still allows you to raise it or lower it rapidly if necessary. A lot of gas grills also have the option to add rotisserie kits while charcoal grills do not. You get lots of other accessories as well. Moreover, gas grills allow you to set-it-and-forget-it. Charcoal grills rarely do.
Last, but not the least, let’s talk price. Gas grills are generally more expensive compared to charcoal models due to the complexity of its mechanisms and components. Plus, some features like infrared burners add to the cost. Assembly is also usually more difficult as a result. In short, charcoal grills are the more budget-friendly option. That being said, gas grills have a wide range of prices. You can definitely find one that will fit your budget.
Now that you know the strengths and weaknesses of both types of grills, it’s time to do some one-on-one comparisons.
Weber 44010001 Spirit II E-210 2-Burner Liquid Propane Grill vs Weber 15301001 Performer Charcoal Grill
- Your purchase includes One Weber Spirit II E-210 2-Burner Liquid Propane Grill in Black color
- Grill dimensions: Lid Open - 57"H x 48"W x 26"D. Lid Closed - 44.5"H x 48"W x 27"D. Each cooking grate is 10.16” x 17.5", for a combined measurement of approximately 20.32" x 17.5"
- Propane gas grill works with Standard 20 lb LP tank.
- Features: Porcelain-enameled, cast-iron cooking grates, porcelain-enameled lid, iGrill 3 compatible (accessory sold separately), Built-in lid thermometer, Fold-down left side table, Open cart design, Fuel gauge, Stainless steel heat deflector, Panel frame
- Two burner grill is built to fit small spaces, and packed with features such as the powerful GS4 grilling system
- 3D interactive assembly instructions for this product are available through the free BILT app.
- Sales Rank is50
- Department:Lawn & Patio
Our Summary Score: 9.7 points
- The powerful performance and convenient features of the Performer charcoal grill is your excuse to ignite the coals every day. Prep food on the work table, hang grilling accessories from the tool hooks, and then clean up with ease—but only after you’ve taken every last bite of your perfectly grilled meal.
- Dimensions - Lid Closed: 43.5"H x 42"W x 29"D | Total cooking area: 363 sq. inch
- Holds up to 13 burgers made with a Weber burger press (sold separately)
- Slide the lid into the Tuck-Away lid holder on the side of the grill to avoid placing it on the ground
- Cooking grate is compatible with GBS inserts and is hinged for easily adding charcoal while grilling
- Tool hooks for hanging grilling tools, such as a spatula and tongs.Aluminized steel One-Touch cleaning system
- Built-in lid thermometer displays the internal temperature of your grill
- 3D interactive assembly instructions for this product are available through the free BILT app.
Our second battle is between the Traeger Lil Tex Elite 22 Pellet Grill and Smoker and the Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill. The Traeger grill may be called “Lil” but it can bring in the heat. It has an output of 20,000 BTUs with a hopper capacity of up to 18 pounds. The Digital Elite Controller allows you to set it and forget it. As easy as that. Within 4 minutes or less, the grill is going to be piping hot, ready to bake, broil, braise, roast, and grill your favorite meals. The temperature range is from 180 degrees to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooking surface measures 418 square inches which is enough to feed a mid-sized group. The cold rolled powder coated steel construction ensures that your grill will be cooking for a long time. Now, the Performer Deluxe 22-inch Charcoal Grill from Weber is much like it’s original kettle model, only with upgraded features. It comes with the Gourmet BBQ Cooking System that features a hinged plated steel grate that has a removable round center where you can place inserts like a pizza stone, wok, or griddle. The grill comes with a cart that has a large working surface along with tool hooks. The nylon lid handle features a heat shield to protect your hands as well as a tuck away lid holder to keep both your hands free while you cook your food. You also get the electronic Touch-N-Go gas ignition system, an aluminized steel One-Touch cleaning system, a removable LCD cook timer, and a built-in lid thermometer. Everything you love about the kettle plus some excellent additional features. Both grills are excellent choices, rich with features that any serious griller will love. But there’s really only one choice we can go with – the Weber. It still ranks number 1 for quality, ease of use, and cook performance.
Napoleon TQ285X-BL Portable Propane Grill with Cart vs Napoleon NK22CK-L-1 Charcoal Kettle Grill
- 2 burner portable grill with up to 12,000 BTUs
- Total cooking area: 285 sq. In
- Dual stainless steel burners for direct and indirect grilling
- Porcelain zed cast iron wave cooking grids for consistent, even heat
- Superior wind proof design holds the heat in
The next match is between two Napoleon grills. Napoleon is Canada’s answer to America’s Weber. That alone should tell you how good these two grills are. But since there can be only one winner, let’s break it down. The Napoleon Charcoal Kettle Grill is a lot like the Weber model we all know and love. It features a heavy gauge black porcelain lid and bowl, a hinged steel charcoal grate, and a powder-coated cart with two wheels. The diameter of this grill is 22.5 inches which means it offers 365 square inches of cooking space, similar to that of the Weber Original Kettle. There are two dampers that you can use for temperature control. One is on the lid and the other is at the bottom, connected to the removable ash catcher. But what makes this unique from the Weber model is the presence of a heat diffuser that is shaped much like a flying saucer and a fourth leg (the Weber model only has 3). The fourth leg adds stability while the heat diffuser is for even heat distribution. The construction is solid and so is its performance. But does is it better than the Napoleon TravelQ 285X? No, it isn’t. This portable gas grill is hands down the better option for many reasons. First, it is undoubtedly one of the best portable grills in the market. The solid construction of the grill and cart ensures that it can go on many adventures with you. It features two stainless steel burners with an output of 12,000 BTUs and are independently controlled, increasing the grill’s versatility. The cooking space is not as large with only 285 square inches. But who needs all that extra space when you’re traveling? Plus, that’s already big enough to fit around 20 hamburgers in one go. The cart features all-terrain wheels for easy maneuverability. It folds down quickly and can be set up just as easily with a quick lift and pull. The cart can be hung on the wall when not in use. There are two side shelves as well as tool holders and a towel holder. Other features include porcelain coated cast iron WAVE cooking grids (always a plus), a windscreen to protect your fire, and an ACCU-PROBE temperature gauge. Everything you needed to grill at home and on-the-go is here. Why wouldn’t you pick that?
Char-Broil 463377319 Performance Stainless Steel 4-Burner Cart Style Gas Grill vs Royal Gourmet BBQ Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker
- Sales Rank is42
- Department:Lawn & Patio
Our Summary Score: 9.0 points
- Power Source: Propane/ liquid petroleum gas. The propane tank is not included.
- Exclusive Stainless Steel finish for increased style and durability
- Reliable electric ignition to fire up your grill and 10, 000 BTU side burner
- Porcelain-coated grease pan is durable and can be removed for easy cleaning
- Stainless Steel burners emit flame from the top to allow for even cooking
- Porcelain coated cast-iron grates are rust-resistant and made to last
- Sales Rank is21
- Department:Lawn & Patio
Our Summary Score: 8.7 points
- 811 Square Inches: Includes 443 sq. in. porcelain-enameled steel wire cooking grates, 184 sq. in. chrome-plated warming rack and 184 sq. in. offset smoker.
- Tasty Smoke Flavors: The offset smoker is firmly attached to grill to ensure good circulation of heat and smoke. Easy to open side door to add charcoal and remove ashes; air vent stokes fire instantly.
- Adjustable Pan: 2-level height-adjustable charcoal pan creates better heat control and holds up to 4.4 lbs. of coal.
- Temperature Monitor: Lid-mounted thermometer gauge helps check and monitor the cooking temperature and you can cook with great confidence.
- Ample Space: Front and side tables offer workspace for seasonings and grilling tools. The bottom shelf provides extra storage space and holds up to only 20 lb. accessories when they are evenly distributed.
Let’s end the comparison battle with two big ones – the Royal Gourmet BBQ Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker and the Char-Broil Performance Stainless Steel 4-Burner Cart Style Gas Grill. Now, the Royal Gourmet Grill is, in our opinion, a good combination of two things we love to do with charcoal – grill and smoke meats. The main grill features a barrel design while the smoker is a side firebox. The grill has a total of 800 square inches of cooking space – 438 square inches in the main chamber, 183 square inches in the side firebox, and 179 square inches from the swing-away warming rack. The porcelain enamel cooking grates are durable and can easily hot heat. The main cooking chamber features an adjustable charcoal pan as well as two adjustable dampers for temperature control. The front and side of the grill features shelves for extra prep space. There are also tool hooks and a bottom wire rack for storing grill accessories, and wheels for maneuverability. But despite our love for all things charcoal, we ended up choosing the Char-Broil gas grill for reasons. First, this is a gas grill that’s been built to last. It features stainless steel burners and heat tents, porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grates, and stainless steel construction. Second, it has enough cooking space to match the needs of a medium-sized family. Yes, the Royal Gourmet model is larger but this is more efficient. There’s no learning curve to using this grill; no smoke stack and dampers that you’ll need to adjust to get the perfect temp. With the Char-Broil grill, all you need to do is turn the knob on, set the temp, and viola! The cooking surface isn’t anything to scoff at either. It comes with 425 square inches of cooking space, 150 square inches from the swing-away warming rack, and an extra side burner that’s lidded with an output of 10,000 BTUs. It’ll be easy enough to cook an entire meal at one go with this much space and burners. The stainless steel side shelves add ample work space, the removable grease tray and pan makes cleanup simple and easy, and the two 7-inch heels make it easy to maneuver the grill around. Obviously, if you want to make the budget-friendly choice, the charcoal grill is the less expensive one. But if you want value for money, then you need to go for the gas grill instead.