When our caveman ancestors discovered fire, it was a source of light, warmth, and cooking. And when the barbecue became a staple in the American Dream, charcoal was the preferred fuel choice for classic and amateur grillers. The experience of tending to the flame and maintaining the perfect temperature was rewarded with a delicious, smoky piece of meat.
In the 1950s, the younger sibling of the charcoal grill, the gas grill, entered the market. Then the “grate debate” began on which type of grill was the superior grill. And after decades of discussing the pros and cons of each, there’s a tentative answer: the gas grill.
But before you click away from this site, the gas grill isn’t superior because it makes better food, but because it fits better in our busy lifestyles and expectations. Here’s where a gas grill like Char-Broil propane gas grills have the advantage over a charcoal grill and where it may miss the mark for pro-charcoal grillers:
Time It Takes to Heat Up
- Gas grill: within 10 minutes
- Charcoal grill: time to light up the charcoal + 15-20 minutes to heat up to the right temperature
Winner: Gas grill – however, gas grills can’t reach the same temperatures as charcoal grills
- Gas grill: more expensive upfront at around $30, but cheaper in the long run
- Charcoal grill: cheaper for occasional grilling with about six quarts of briquettes of coal costing around $4.30
Winner: Depends on how often you use your grill
- Gas grill: takes more time and attaching the propane tank makes it more complicated
- Charcoal grill: light it and go
Winner: Charcoal grill
Grill Price Range
Gas grill: $129-$1000+
Charcoal grill: $15 for one-time use grills, $140-$300 for basic grills, and over $1000 for premium grills
Winner: Depends on how often you use it. For regular use, both average prices of the grills are within the same range.
Clean Up Methods
Gas grill: turn on the grill until the smoke stops and then brush the grate
Charcoal grill: remove the charcoal grill to clean ashes and must brush it after every use
Winner: Gas grill
Gas grill: better for more delicate foods like fish and vegetables and prepares them faster, but cannot sear meat like a charcoal grill
Charcoal grill: better at high-heat searing for classic barbecue meats (steak and burgers) and gives food the delicious smoky flavor, though some gas grills have smoke boxes to get the same smoky taste
Winner: Depends on what you’re eating and how long you have to cook. Charcoal grills slow-cook the meat whereas gas grills can cook within a few minutes.
The Grill Verdict
It really depends. Gas grills, like Char-Broil grills, sales surpass charcoal grill sales with 60% of grill users owning them. But the reality is that it’s not because gas grills are better than charcoal, it’s because they’re much more convenient and efficient. The smoky taste that sets charcoal grills apart takes a long time to achieve, which is no problem if you have the time to tend to it.