Gas and Charcoal Grill Combo

Charcoal or gas? Settling the great grill debate.
August 10, 2019 – 06:33 am

Advantage: Charcoal Grill

Operating Cost

Gas grills run on either natural gas or propane canisters. A 20-lb. Worthington Steel Propane Gas Tank will set you back $29.97 (with free shipping, a low by $5), but you'll have to get it filled up at your local Home Depot, Lowe's, Costco, or the like. A good rule of thumb to calculate your propane usage is to relate one hour of continuous cooking time to each pound the canister holds. Therefore, after the initial canister purchase (which we figure should be factored into the grill cost), cooking gas will cost about $1 per hour of grilling.

Meanwhile, the chimney starter in a charcoal grill can hold up to six quarts of bricks; six quarts of sustainably sourced charcoal costs about $1.70 per cookout, while briquettes cost roughly $3.35. For charcoal grills, we'll also factor in lighter fluid. A 64-oz. bottle of Kingsford Lighter Fluid ($6.32 with free in-store pickup, a low by $3) will get things started.

Advantage: Gas Grill


Purists insist that you can't get the same flavor on a gas grill that you can with charcoal, particularly when you add flavored wood chips like mesquite, apple, and hickory. As such, this Western Wood Chips Variety Pack ( ) should get your tastebuds going. And indeed, nothing will caramelize a fine cut of steak or chicken like a charcoal grill using natural wood lump charcoal.

But there's ample evidence that with hamburgers and hot dogs, a gas grill does its job well enough that most folks can't determine the difference in grilling. What's more, it takes some experience to learn how to tame a charcoal grill just right, whereas finding the right temperature on a gas grill is as simple as dialing up a knob.

Advantage: Charcoal Grill


Lugging a gas grill to a park or beach cookout is going to be a headache, unless you have a big minivan and some able hands to help. That said, lots of folks like cooking in their backyard or back deck, and it's far less likely that some thief (presumably a hungry one) will walk off with your lovely gas grill if it's a pain to move. But for ball games and rooftop cookouts the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe Charcoal Grill ($29.99 in-store, a low by $8) is an ideal portable choice.

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