When you read any BBQ grills review site or study any BBQ recipe you’ll quickly become aware of the fierce ongoing debate about which are best – charcoal grills or propane gas grills. The fact of the matter is that there’s not a simple and straightforward answer to the question:

“What should I buy a charcoal or a gas grill?”

The choice you make will be determined as much by your lifestyle as by your taste buds. If you are a busy guy with a family there’s no doubting the convenience of a propane gas grill. You can make a snap decision to cook outdoors and be cooking on your gas BBQ grill in next to no time. On the other hand if barbecues are more your lifestyle choice you may regard a gas grill as a desecration of the noble art of barbecuing.

How to Make a Choice – Charcoal Grill or Propane Grill

Here’s a list of points to consider when trying working out what’s the best type of barbecue grill for you:

Cooking Heat

Charcoal grills cook hotter. High temperatures are a benefit for quickly searing steak and other joints of meat. It’s generally agreed that rapid searing preserves the flavor of the cooked meat.

Fuel Options

Charcoal grills can burn a variety of different fuels, all of which affect the flavor of the finished product. It’s also easier to make smoke in a charcoal BBQ providing you with the option to use different types of wood chips to produce different flavors.

Control of Cooking Process

Grills using charcoal (whatever the type) as a fuel are more difficult to control whereas propane gas on a good quality BBQ enables precise control of gas flow and hence temperature. It’s easy to achieve exactly the right grill temperature for the particular food (meat, fish, and veg) that you want to cook. With propane gas you can also use recipes which require long cooking periods much more easily because you don’t have to replenish the fuel whilst cooking.


This is where gas grills come into their own. Most offer push-button lighting and can provide the right cooking temperature in a matter of minutes. You don’t have to find, stack and light the charcoal and then work on the glowing coals to achieve the temperature you want. And when you’ve finished you don’t have to clean the grill every time. Just brush the grill grate with a wire brush before you next use it.


All types of BBQ grill need good cleaning for hygienic reasons and regular maintenance to ensure that they will last more than a couple of years, but gas grills score hands-down in this area. Charcoal grill manufacturers recognize this, and a lot of the charcoal grill innovations in recent years have been in the area of maintenance and cleaning.

Ask the BBQ Masters

Ask any BBQ master and he or she will tell you that there really isn’t a choice. If you want the best flavor and the best results charcoal is the only option. BBQ masters don’t mind the inconvenience of charcoal and they spend a lot of time perfecting the art of grilling and barbecuing over glowing coals. However most of us don’t come into this category and the fact of the matter is that almost 65% of BBQ grill users choose propane gas barbecue grills.

It’s not unusually however for an enthusiastic BBQ’er (not a BBQ master) to own both types of grill, choosing between them on the basis of the recipe, the occasion and the available cooking time.

Which Grill to Choose – Some Buying Tips

And so while you pondering which way to go, here are some tips to help when buying either charcoal grills or propane gas grills:

Charcoal Grill

Look for:

  • Tight-fitting lid – good for indirect (food not directly under the flame) grilling
  • Good air control with vents on the top and bottom of the grilling container – varying airflow varies temperature
  • Grill grate with a hinge so that extra charcoal can be added during the cooking process
  • Sturdy construction – charcoal grills are subject to more wear and tear than gas grills

Gas Grill

Look for:

  • Models with two independently controlled burners – this will give you two heat zones for direct and indirect grilling
  • An easy to empty and clean drip pan
  • A side-burner for cooking sauces etc.
  • On both types of grill look for side-tables, rotisseries and built-in thermometers.

Carry Out Some Research Before You Buy Your Grill

Whichever type of grill you choose to go for, buy from a manufacturer with a good reputation and one that offers guarantees and can supply spare parts. Use an internet site like Amazon to get good reviews on the top BBQ grills. Amazon is also a good place to go for barbecue grill sale offers.