The great grilling debate:  charcoal or gas…


For most grill-meisters, there is no compromising; you are either in one camp or the other. Let’s look at the pros-cons of this debate.

Gas Grilling

Pros: Gas-fired grilling has the clear benefit of extreme convenience. Simply turn a knob, and say hello to your highly adjustable heat source. Gas grills are fueled by liquid propane stored in refillable tanks. There’s no messing with briquettes, no stacking, no lighting, no smelly starter fluid. And once dinner is over, there’s no ashy mess to clean up. Return the switch to off, rub a metal brush over the grate and clean-up time is over.

Cons: Gas doesn’t impart much flavor to grilled foods. Some models are slow to preheat, so food can take longer to cook. Gas grills are a much larger investment.

Charcoal Grilling

Pros: Charcoal grilling has one benefit that stands out above all others: smoke flavor. The dry, white-hot heat of charcoal sears meat quickly, creating a crusty, caramelized exterior and smoky flavor. Charcoal grills are also less expensive than gas grills, though the cost of charcoal will add up over the years.

Cons: Charcoal grilling requires more time and attention than gas, from building and lighting the briquettes to waiting for the coals to get hot to managing the flame. Ashes and grease must be cleaned up.

The Verdict

Ultimately, any determination of what’s best comes down to considerations of convenience, cost, flavor, and practicality. Great grilling can be had over either gas or charcoal flames.