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Are You Cooking with Gas or Charcoal?

gas or charcoal grill choiceThis weekend was the first time that I broke the grill to have a cookout.  My wife and I ended up having a small cookout with friends and family on Saturday and the weather couldn’t have been nicer.  Spring is the time of the year when we all get our grills out and start firing up the meat in order to enjoy those nightly cookouts.  I am a big fan of grilling.  I have done it for years and it is something that I really enjoy.  So, in light of the festivities of this weekend, I figured I would ask my readers a simple question about their preference.

Gas or Charcoal?

As I have indicated,  I have grilled for years.  I cook all varieties of meat and vegetables and I take pride in the product that comes off the grill.  That being said, I have a very strict preference for my grill.  I am a charcoal fan!  I have grilled on gas grills and charcoal, but the best grill for the taste comes from a simple charcoal grill.  There is nothing better than a juicy steak coming off a hot Weber charcoal grill.  That is what I love about the Spring and Summer.  That said, I see the pros and cons with using a charcoal grill and a gas grill.  Here are a few that I can think of.

Charcoal Pros:

  • Taste
  • The ability to slow cook (especially for BBQ)

Charcoal Cons:

  • Time to prepare for cooking
  • The environmental cost of creating charcoal
  • Cost of charcoal

Gas Pros:

  • Time convenience
  • Cost of Gas
  • Availability of grills

Gas Cons:

  • Lack of taste
  • No true ability to slow cook

Now, you might look at this quick list and say “Gas looks like a clear winner.”  While I would say that is true, my biggest factor is taste.  If I am going to take the time to grill anything, I need to taste to be top-notch.  You can add all of the flavoring chips to a gas grill, but you will never compare to the test coming from a charcoal grill.

I may be someone that pulls cost analysis into everything that I do and cooking is one of them.  If I was going to go by pure cost, then I would easily pull for a gas grill.  It is easier to use and the fuel is cheaper, but that is not the only thing that I include in a cost analysis.  I also include the ability to prepare a costly piece of meat.  If I am going to go out and purchase an expensive cut of meat, I want it to be cooked just the way I like it and charcoal is my choice.  I will gladly spend more money to use charcoal and my classic Weber grill any day of the grilling season.

So readers, are you cooking on gas or charcoal?  Let me know which type of grill you have or wish to have?

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About the Author Grayson Bell

I'm a business owner, blogger, father, and husband. I used credit cards too much and found myself in over $75,000 in debt ($50,000 in just credit cards). I paid it off, started this blog, and my financial life has changed. I now talk about fighting debt and growing wealth here. I run a WordPress maintenance and support company, along with another blog, Eyes on the Dollar, which is another great personal finance blog.

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70 comments
Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank says April 22

I have a gas and a charcoal and while the gas is a lot easier to use the charcoal gets used far more frequently.
To be fair our charcoal BBQ is actually a Texas smoker and it smokes the meat over about a 6 hour time frame. It is possibly the best thing I have ever tasted.

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    Grayson says April 22

    Texas smokers are awesome. That is something that is on my wish list.

    Reply
DC @ Young Adult Money says April 22

I don’t have a grill, but I plan on buying a charcoal grill this summer. I do like it better than gas, though gas grills seem to be more convenient than charcoal.

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    Grayson says April 22

    It is all about convenience versus taste. I wish I could have two, but that would be expensive. Good luck finding one you like DC.

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John S @ Frugal Rules says April 22

Oh…I thought we were friends Grayson. 😉 I am a big fan of gas myself. I totally understand about liking the taste of using charcoal and would tend to agree. That said, I love to grill at just about anytime I want to. I have commonly been known to be out grilling when it’s raining or snowing, which isn’t something I can generally do with charcoal. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. 🙂

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    Grayson says April 22

    Haha, sorry to hear that grilling has ruined our friendship John! 😉 I like both, but my preference is to cook with charcoal. Gas is convenient, but I will cook with my charcoal grill when it is ice cold outside. Rain does mess with it, but I probably wouldn’t grill with gas either.

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Girl Meets Debt says April 22

I’m with you on this one Grayson – nothing beats the taste of a charcoal grill! I love BBQ season, everything tastes better on the grill. 🙂

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    Grayson says April 22

    You are right, everything does taste better on the grill!

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Holly@ClubThrifty says April 22

We have a gas grill. I miss my charcoal grill. It made everything taste awesome!

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    Grayson says April 22

    Well, if you miss it, then go get one. There is no harm in having two!

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Michelle says April 22

We use charcoal at our house. Love it! 🙂

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Alan @escapingmydebt says April 22

I used to own a gas grill and completely agree with everything you said above. During a wind storm it blew over and got damaged so we replaced it with a charcoal grill. Again I agree with everything you mentioned above. For us it is the taste that keeps us coming back to the charcoal but there are times where I do miss the gas grill for the convenience of cooking quickly, like after work one night.

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    Grayson says April 22

    Gas is very convenient, but charcoal blows gas out of the water when it comes to taste.

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AverageJoe says April 22

I’m all about the gas grill although I completely agree, dude: charcoal wins. Here’s my argument for gas: I can fire that baby up and be cooking in minutes. Because it doesn’t get incredibly cold here (mid twenties is about the lowest) I can grill outside nearly year round. That means I eat at home more often because of the time savings. Eating at home equals money saved, which is something I love.

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    Grayson says April 22

    I am with you Joe on your argument. I have been thinking about getting another grill that is gas for those limited time occasions. I still eat at home, but just don’t grill as much due to the time it takes. Gas wins hands down when it comes to convenience.

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Sicorra @TacklingOurDebt says April 22

Over the years I’ve used both gas and charcoal BBQs. Gas seems to be easier to maintain but charcoal does taste better. But I read a few years ago that charcoal isn’t good for us. But then what is these days…

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    Grayson says April 22

    Yeah, charcoal is not good for us to grill on. It has a lot of carcinogens that are bad for us, but everything is bad for us as you indicated.

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Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says April 22

Charcoal definitely tastes the best, but will confess that we have a gas grill. We tore out the grass in our backyard (tiny, tiny) and turned into an extended patio a few years ago, We went with gas for ease but agree convenience came was a cost – not as great taste!

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    Grayson says April 22

    There is nothing wrong with that Shannon. At least you are grilling, so that is the most important thing.

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Jacob @ iHeartBudgets says April 22

Gas, because I’m a newb and time is important to me. That being said, I have a small Weber charcoal, and just need a new grate for it, and you bet your bottom dollar that I’m going to fire it up this season. Flavor is the MOST important thing, even over time 🙂

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    Grayson says April 22

    Well, if time is important, then you made the right choice. Charcoal grilling is an art and many people mess it up because they don’t control the heat. Enjoy grilling this season Jacob.

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Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide says April 22

I am of the belief that grilling is a man’s job. My man doesn’t grill, so we don’t have grilled food!

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    Grayson says April 22

    Well, might be time to teach him some grilling tactics. That is some really good food!

    Reply
Rajni Prakash says April 22

In my part of the world everyone using Gas for cooking! Though it’s high price here but we don’t have any other options for cooking. Having tough time but really going through!!

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    Grayson says April 22

    Well, if you don’t have any other means, then gas would be the best fit!

    Reply
Brian @ Luke1428 says April 22

I love charcoal Grayson! That is all I’ve ever used. However, I always find myself looking at the GIANT gas grills stores have on display – with the multiple levels and side burners. Seems like you could cook a lot more product on those if you were entertaining a large group. With my charcoal grill I would have to cook in rounds so not everything would be ready at the same time. Also, charcoal sometimes doesn’t do so well if there is a lot of moisture in the air. Am I talking myself into a gas grill here?

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    Grayson says April 22

    I think you are talking yourself into a gas grill. There is nothing wrong with that. While it is easy to find large gas grills, I have seen some slick large charcoal grills that would allow you to cook for anyone you wanted to.

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jane savers @ solving the money puzzle says April 22

I would argue that you can slow cook with gas. Turn one of the burners on and put the food over the burner that is turned off and leave the lid down. Perfect for roast chicken or roast beef and it doesn’t heat the house up in the summer. It does make the neighbour dogs crazy.

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    Grayson says April 22

    Gas is not known for slow cooking. Yes, you can slow cook on a gas grill, but it is much easier to do it on a charcoal grill and you can keep it going for days. Doing that on gas would be difficult unless you had multiple gas tanks.

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Canadianbudgetbinder says April 22

There is no denying that the taste of meat on a charcoal grill is amazing and you can’t compare it to a gas grill. We use a gas grill and it works for us although we have thought of getting the charcoal grill as well.

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    Grayson says April 22

    I am thinking about going with both Mr. CBB. That would mean I could grill all year long no matter how much time I had.

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Laurie says April 22

And here I sit watching the snow fall outside my window. :-). We do have a gas grill, for convenience, but charcoal is the clear winner for taste. We’re right there with you on that one, Grayson. Glad you got to enjoy a nice BBQ this weekend. 🙂

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    Grayson says April 22

    Still snowing? We only saw one small snowfall this year, but that is normal where I am. Gas is the most convenient, so I can understand.

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Pauline says April 22

smells like spring! we cook with firewood, on a homemade grill. Just like the Flintstones 🙂 Gas is for inside the house, I guess we’d go with charcoal otherwise.

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    Grayson says April 22

    I cook on applewood sometimes and it creates an amazing product on any grill.

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Justin says April 22

I honestly don’t have a grill yet. I love the flavor of charcoal, reminds me of my grandfather’s burgers. However, gas is just so much easier.

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    Grayson says April 22

    I am with you on these points Justin. I hope you are able to get a grill soon.

    Reply
KK @ Student Debt Survivor says April 22

Neither 🙁 We don’t have a yard. One of my favorite parts of visiting my folks is using their gas grill and making a fire in the fire pit.

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CF says April 22

We have a gas BBQ and I love it! I enjoy it when OTHER people cook me food on a charcoal grill, but I’ve never had much luck with them!

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    Grayson says April 22

    Sorry you haven’t had much luck, but glad you enjoy grilling.

    Reply
KC @ genxfinance says April 23

Nothing makes a good BBQ than a good ol’ charcoal process. It takes a while but when you’ve eaten that homemade secret recipe of yours, worth it.

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Jose says April 23

I use both! I have a split grill that is gas on one side for speed and convenience and charcoal on the other for those nice cuts of meat that would be sacrilege to cook on gas 🙂

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    Grayson says April 23

    Now that is what I am talking about. I would love a split grill. Where did you get it from Jose?

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Travis @debtchronicles says April 23

Major Charcoal lover here! I can see the convenience of a gas grill, and in a perfect world I would (will some day) have both. Gas for the convenience of quick cooks like burgers and brats and seafood (where the charcoal flavor add is minimal) and charcoal for things like steaks and for my smoker which I use to make ribs, pulled pork, brisket and chicken. BTW, if you use your time wisely, you don’t have to wait for the coals at all. I have one of those electric coil starters ($10 at most hardware stores) – they plug in, you put them under your pile of coals (or in my case I put it inside my charcoal chimney). Start the coals when you start your food prep, and by the time you’re ready to put the food on, the grill is ready to roll!

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    Grayson says April 23

    Never thought about a electric coil starter. Nice idea Travis. Might have to go to the hardware store this weekend!

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Money Beagle says April 23

We cook primarily with gas. I think it’s not so much a lack of taste as you don’t get the enhanced taste that you can get from charcoal. Your post almost makes it sound like gas strips the taste, which it doesn’t (if cooked properly). If you grill good meat or veggies and season them correctly, you’ll still get great tastes.

My issue with charcoal is just not being good at cooking with it. The typical black on the outside and raw on the inside was my luck every time.

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    Grayson says April 23

    I wasn’t trying to say that gas strips the taste, but charcoal enhances it. Technically, when you cook, if you do it right, you need very little seasoning. Many people have issues with having the heat too high when they cook, but that is just an easy fix when you use the vents to control the heat and flames.

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Marissa @ Thirtysixmonths says April 23

Charcoal all the time. Food just tastes better!

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Catherine says April 23

We bbq year round- snow be damned. Though we have a propane bbq I love charcoal. My husbands uncle is crazy into BBqing/smoking etc. He has all the gear so we get spoiled once in a while with homemade smoked bacon and stuff.

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    Grayson says April 23

    Oh, homemade smoked bacon. I don’t even know if I can concentrate now. Thanks Catherine!

    Reply
Kim@Eyesonthedollar says April 23

I love charcoal, but we use gas most of the time for the time it saves. Instant gratification, I know. We do take our little charcoal grill when we go camping and those are hands down the best hamburgers ever.

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    Grayson says April 24

    We are always about instant gratification right Kim! Charcoal grilling when camping is awesome.

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Michelle says April 23

This weekend it snowed. Thanks for rubbing this in.

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    Grayson says April 24

    Sorry, I don’t see much snow where I live, so grilling can be done nice and early.

    Reply
Budget and the Beach says April 24

I have a gas grill, which I still don’t use nearly enough! Most of the time I end up grilling some stuff like chicken on my small George Foreman grill. 🙂

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    Grayson says April 24

    The good old George Foreman. I love that grill as well and it makes it easy when you can’t grill outside.

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Leesa says April 25

We have both (multiples of both, actually) but use the gas grill far more frequently. That’s simply because it’s a quick and easy way to cook without heating up the house – or smoking up the house if we’re blackening something. If we used charcoal all the time we wouldn’t be able to eat off the grill a few times a week – we just simply don’t have that much time.
That said, we use charcoal in the smoker (of course), but that’s an all-day production and we tend to smoke a ton all at once and freeze the rest (big fans of freezing pulled pork in 1lb portions, there’s so much you can do with it).

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    Grayson says April 25

    You have to use charcoal in a smoker or some great wood depending on the burn time. I wish I had both, maybe for my birthday!

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Kyle | Rather-Be-Shopping.com says April 26

Love it, great post. I have both a gas and charcoal grill, but use the gas much more because of convenience alone. I would disagree with you that you can’t slow cook on a gas grill. I have 3 burners and can slow cook by using indirect heat. You just turn on the front and back burner and place the chicken, tri-tip, whatever, in the center of the grill. Getting hungry now…

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    Grayson says April 28

    Thanks Kyle. Gas is not known for its great slow cooking ability. Yes, you can slow cook on a gas grill, but you can’t do it like a charcoal grill. I can slow cook for 20 hours on a charcoal grill without having to deal with swapping tanks. If you stop the heat when swapping tanks, then you risk messing up the meat. I don’t have to stop the heat with charcoal. I just have to add a few more pieces.

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Anonymous says April 28

I have a gas grill, which I still don’t use nearly enough! Most of the time I end up grilling some stuff like chicken on my small George Foreman grill.

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    Grayson says April 28

    I enjoy the george foreman at times as well depending on my situation. Thanks for your feedback.

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Amy Turner says May 16

Gas grills are very convenient to use but I don’t use mine for same reasons as yours. If I have the time, I cook with my charcoal grill, that’s it. I have the patience of a saint to do all the preps because nothing beats the taste.

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    Grayson says May 17

    You are so right Amy. Nothing beats the taste and I can wait.

    Reply
Susanna | Credit Card Approval Center says May 18

Had a gas line run for our gas grill and we love the convenience. No buying charcoal.. no running out of propane.. just turn it on and grill for as long as you like (or until the wine runs out). We use our gas grill year ’round.. less messes in my kitchen 🙂

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    Grayson says May 18

    Now, that is how you do it. I think that is a pretty good way to make sure you never run out of gas.

    Reply
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