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Charcoal vs Gas vs Electric Grill: Which is Best?

Published by: Chef Matty Riedel • Updated: December 29, 2023

Are you ready to unlock the sizzling secrets of outdoor grilling? It’s time to settle the ultimate debate: Charcoal, Gas, or Electric Grill—which reigns supreme? Prepare for a fiery showdown as we dive into the heart of each grill’s personality, uncover its benefits, and help you discover your grilling soulmate. But beware, time is of the essence! The smoky aroma, the mouthwatering flavours, and the sizzling satisfaction await. So, grab your apron, ignite your curiosity, and embark on a journey to determine the grilling champion. This is not just a decision; it’s an opportunity to unleash your inner grilling virtuoso. The grill battle awaits—let the flames ignite your excitement!

Charcoal vs Gas vs Electric Grill: Which is Best?

1. Charcoal Grills

There’s an undeniable allure to charcoal grilling that has captured the hearts of grilling enthusiasts for generations. The distinct smoky flavour, unparalleled heat capabilities, and versatility of charcoal grills make them a timeless choice for those seeking an authentic grilling experience. The smoky aroma wafting through the air as the flames dance with charcoal creates an enchanting atmosphere that transports you to a culinary paradise. Whether searing a thick, juicy steak or slow-roasting tender ribs, the smoky essence infused into your food by a charcoal grill elevates every bite to a new level of satisfaction.

However, it’s important to be aware of the trade-offs that come with the charcoal grilling experience. The traditional appeal of charcoal grills means a longer prep time as you patiently wait for the coals to reach their optimum temperature. And let’s not forget about the cleanup—disposing of ash and cleaning the grill grates require time and effort. Yet, for many charcoal grill enthusiasts, these considerations are worth it for the authenticity, flavour, and undeniable connection to the roots of grilling.


Distinct Flavor: Charcoal grills are renowned for their ability to infuse food with a rich, smoky flavour that other grilling methods cannot replicate.

High Heat Capability: Charcoal grills can reach higher temperatures than others, allowing for better searing, creating tantalising grill marks, and achieving that perfect char.

Versatility: Charcoal grills offer a range of cooking techniques, including direct grilling, indirect grilling, and smoking, providing versatility to experiment with different flavours and cooking styles.

Authentic Experience: Charcoal grilling embraces the essence of traditional outdoor cooking, offering a nostalgic and engaging experience that connects you with the art of grilling.

Portability: The Charcoal grill is usually very portable. They are lightweight, with legs that either are removed or folded down and often come with a carry bag. The charcoal that you purchase is easily transported. The only issue is you need to wait for the coals and the BBQ to cool down before packing up and taking them home. You must also sensibly dispose of the used coals to ensure you don’t start a fire.

Cost-Effective: Charcoal grills are generally more affordable upfront than gas grills, making them a budget-friendly option for those passionate about grilling.


Longer Prep Time: Charcoal grills require a longer preheating time than other grills, typically 20-30 minutes, which can be a drawback if you need more time or want quick meals.

Maintenance and Cleanup: Cleaning and maintaining a charcoal grill can be more labour-intensive, requiring regular ash disposal, cleaning the grill grates, and managing charcoal and wood chunks for optimal performance.

Charcoal Grills Are For You If …

If you’re a traditionalist who loves the smokey taste of charcoal-cooked food, then a charcoal grill is what you should choose.

… And Our Favourite Charcoal Grill Is …

Weber Compact Kettle Weber Compact Kettle

The Weber Compact Kettle is a classic charcoal grill perfect for backyard barbecues and outdoor cooking. This grill features a porcelain-enamelled bowl and lid to retain heat and resist rust and corrosion. It also has a one-touch cleaning system that makes it easy to clean up after your cookout.`

With no gas or electric components to worry about, it's easy to use and maintain. It's also portable and great for camping or cooking outside. Another pro is its affordability, as it's priced lower than many other grills on the market.

Overall, the Weber Compact Kettle is an excellent choice for outdoor cooking for anyone who wants a classic charcoal grill. Its simplicity, affordability, and portability make it popular among grillers of all skill levels.

  • Simple to use and maintain
  • Portable and easy to transport
  • Affordable price point
  • Retains heat well for even cooking
  • One-touch cleaning system for easy cleanup
  • Some flimsy parts
  • Very low
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2. Gas Grills

When it comes to convenience and efficiency, gas grills take the crown. With their quick start-up time and consistent heat output, gas grills provide a hassle-free grilling experience for both seasoned grill masters and beginners alike. Say goodbye to waiting for the charcoal to heat up or dealing with the inconsistent temperature of a wood fire. With the simple push of a button, gas grills ignite instantly, allowing you to focus on what truly matters: crafting delicious and perfectly cooked meals.

One of the key advantages of gas grills is their precise temperature control. Most gas grills come equipped with multiple burners, allowing you to adjust the heat levels in different zones of the grill. Whether searing a juicy steak on high heat or slow-roasting a delicate piece of salmon on low heat, gas grills offer the versatility to accommodate various cooking styles. This level of control allows for more precise cooking and reduces the risk of scorching or undercooking your food.

It’s important to note that gas grills require a steady supply of either propane or natural gas, depending on your grill type. This means you’ll need access to a gas line or have propane tanks on hand. However, for those who value convenience and enjoy the benefits of instant heat and easy temperature control, the need for a gas supply is a minor consideration.


Quick Start-Up Time: Gas grills ignite instantly with the push of a button, allowing you to start cooking without any waiting time.

Precise Temperature Control: Gas grills typically come with multiple burners, enabling you to adjust the heat levels in different zones of the grill. This allows for more precise cooking, reducing the risk of undercooking or overcooking your food.

High Heat Capability: Gas grills can reach high temperatures, allowing for efficient and quick cooking. Some high-end gas grills can even reach temperatures above 700 degrees Fahrenheit, making them suitable for searing steaks and other high-heat cooking techniques.

Convenience: Gas grills offer convenience in terms of ease of use and maintenance. They require less cleaning and care than other grill types, such as charcoal grills.

Portability: The Gas version is the most portable. You can choose a smaller, more portable version connected to a small gas bottle and take it anywhere. There is no need for electricity and no danger of fires.

Versatility: Gas grills are versatile and can accommodate various cooking styles, from direct grilling to indirect grilling, making them suitable for a wide range of recipes and dishes


Dependency on Gas Supply: Gas grills require either a propane or natural gas supply, which means you need access to a gas line or have propane tanks available. This can be a consideration if you need a gas supply readily available.

Lack of Smoky Flavor: Gas grills don’t provide the same smoky flavour as charcoal or wood grills. However, you can enhance the flavour by using smoker boxes or grilling accessories that create smoke while cooking.

Gas Grills Are For You If …

A gas grill is perfect for you if you’re a no-fuss person who likes precision and wants to get things done fast and accurately.

And Our Favourite Gas Grill Is …

CosmoGrill 4+1 Gas Burner CosmoGrill 4+1 Gas Burner
  • The CosmoGrill 4+1 Gas Burner Garden Grill BBQ Barbecue is the perfect outdoor cooking appliance for those who love entertaining and cooking for large groups.
  • With four stainless steel burners and a side burner, you can easily cook various meats and vegetables with different requirements simultaneously. 
  • The burners are individually adjustable and ignited via Piezo ignition, giving you more control over your cooking experience.
  • The built-in thermostat ensures that you cook to perfection, while the clever V-shaped flame tamers protect the burners from grease, improving the performance and longevity of the barbecue. 

Other features include:

  • A full-length warming rack which keeps food warm once it's cooked.
  • A convenient side table to place plates, cutlery, or ingredients.
  • A spacious bottom shelf.
  • Two castor wheels which make transportation around the garden easy.
  • A sleek black finish adds a touch of elegance.
  • Four stainless steel burners and a side burner
  • Built-in thermostat and V-shaped flame tamers
  • Full-length warming rack and convenient side table
  • Spacious storage area for keeping accessories organised
  • Sleek black finish and durable construction for long-lasting use
  • Assembly can be time-consuming and complicated
  • This barbecue may not heat as quickly as some other models
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3. Electric Grill

Electric grills offer a unique grilling experience that combines convenience and versatility. Unlike their gas and charcoal counterparts, electric grills do not require fuel or an open flame to cook your favourite dishes. Instead, they rely on electricity to generate heat. This makes them a safe and practical option for indoor and outdoor use. Whether you’re grilling on your balcony or in your kitchen, electric grills allow you to enjoy the flavours of summer all year round.

One of the key advantages of electric grills is their ease of use. With the flip of a switch, electric grills heat up quickly and are ready to cook quickly. They also offer precise temperature control, allowing you to adjust the heat to your desired level and maintain a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process. Additionally, electric grills are generally compact in design, making them ideal for those with limited outdoor space or for apartment dwellers who want to grill without the restrictions of an open flame.

Another convenience of electric grills is their straightforward cleaning process. Unlike charcoal and gas grills that require ash disposal or messy grease management, electric grills typically feature removable grill plates that are easy to clean. Some models even have dishwasher-safe parts, saving you time and effort in maintaining your grill. However, it’s important to note that electric grills require a nearby power source, so you’ll need access to an electrical outlet or extension cord.


Ease of Use: Electric grills are simple to operate with the flip of a switch. They heat up quickly and are ready to cook in no time, making them convenient for both seasoned grillers and beginners.

Indoor/Outdoor Versatility: Electric grills can be used indoors and outdoors, allowing you to enjoy grilling all year round, regardless of the weather or living space limitations.

Compact Design: Electric grills are generally compact and lightweight, which makes them ideal for those with limited outdoor space, such as apartment balconies or small patios.

Precise Temperature Control: Electric grills offer precise temperature control, allowing you to adjust the heat level and maintain a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process. This enables you to achieve accurate and evenly cooked meals.

Portability: The electric grills are the least portable, not because of size or their ability to pack down, but due to the need for a power outlet. You won’t find many power outlets in local parks or the countryside.

Easy Cleaning: Cleaning electric grills is hassle-free, as most models feature removable grill plates that are easy to clean. Some models even have dishwasher-safe parts, making the cleanup process quick and convenient.


Requirement for a Power Source: Electric grills require a nearby power source, such as an electrical outlet or an extension cord. This may limit their portability and use in certain outdoor locations without access to electricity.

Potential Heat Intensity Limitations: Electric grills may have limitations in reaching high heat intensities compared to gas or charcoal grills. This could affect certain cooking techniques that require very high temperatures, such as achieving a perfect sear on a steak.

Electric Grills Are For You If …

If you’re the sort of person who values convenience, simplicity, and versatility, an electric grill is a great choice.

And Our Favourite Electric Grill Is …

Ninja Woodfire Electric Outdoor BBQ Grill, Smoker & Air Fryer Ninja Woodfire Electric Outdoor BBQ Grill, Smoker & Air Fryer
  • A NEW WAY TO COOK OUTDOORS: All-in-one electric BBQ grill, smoker and air fryer with authentic woodfire flavours. Amazon Exclusive red model with Smart Cook Digital Cooking Probe & 5 kebab skewers
  • 7 OUTDOOR COOKING FUNCTIONS: Grill, Smoke, Air Fry, Roast, Bake, Reheat, Dehydrate. Fits 8 burgers, 16 sausages or 2 racks of ribs. Digital Cooking Probe monitors food temperature as it cooks.
  • WOODFIRE TECHNOLOGY: Integrated smoker box burns 100% real wood pellets for natural woodfire flavours. 2 ways to smoke, low & slow smoking for tender results or quickly add smoky flavours to any food.
  • WEATHER RESISTANT TO GRILL ANYWHERE: Perfect for gardens, patios, balconies, camping and other outdoor spaces. Built with the Great British Weather in mind. Water resistant to rating IPX4.
  • INCLUDES: Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill (UK Plug) 5 Skewers, Digital Cooking Probe, Pellet Starter Pack (All-Purpose & Robust Blend), Pellet Scoop, Crisper Basket, Recipe Guide. Colour: Red/Black
Both Amazon and Ninja Kitchen usually have free next day delivery to mainland UK.
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Why We Love The Ninja BBQ!

The best thing about this electric BBQ with a smoker is its versatility and ease of use. It comes with seven pre-set functions, including grill, smoke, air fry, and roast, which allow you to cook a wide variety of dishes with just one grill.  Read our in-depth review here.

The digital probe takes the guesswork out of cooking times, making it easy to prepare meals perfectly. The “smoke” setting adds a smoky flavour to your food without a traditional charcoal smoker. With its features and accessories, this electric grill is a modern take on the traditional barbecue and will impress your family and friends.

Charcoal vs Gas vs Electric: Comparing The Three Options

Grilling enthusiasts typically turn to one of three grill types: charcoal, gas, or electric. Each type of grill has its unique advantages and disadvantages. In the following comparison, we will discuss key factors that differentiate these three grill types to help you decide which one is right for you.


One of the major differences between grilling with charcoal, gas, or electric grills is the flavour of your food. Charcoal grills provide a smoky flavour that many grillers crave, as charcoal imparts a unique flavour to the food. Gas and electric grills do not produce smoke and may not provide as much depth of flavour as charcoal grills.


Gas and electric grills are convenient for ease of use and start-up time. They both offer quick and easy start-up that does not require long wait time, unlike charcoal grills, which need time to ignite the charcoal. Temperature control capabilities may vary among grill models. Still, gas and electric grills typically offer more precise temperature control than charcoal grills.


man tending to a charcoal bbq

All three grill types offer great versatility in cooking methods and techniques. Charcoal grills are ideal for direct or indirect grilling, smoking, and baking. Meanwhile, gas grills are suitable for direct and indirect grilling, and some models with additional burners can be used for roasting, braising, and even smoking. Lastly, electric grills can be used for indirect grilling, roasting, and smoking and are adept at maintaining consistent temperatures.


The cost of each grill type varies widely. It depends on the initial investment, fuel costs, and maintenance expenses. Charcoal grills tend to be the most affordable option, while gas grills can range from mid-range to high-end, and electric grills are more expensive than gas grills.

For more information on the pros and cons of the different fuel types, click here.

Outdoor vs Indoor Use

While all three grill types can be used outdoors, only electric grills are suitable for indoor use. Gas and charcoal grills are not recommended for indoor use as they produce toxic fumes that can be dangerous if inhaled in an enclosed space.

sausages and hamburgers on a gas grill

In conclusion, choosing the right grill type depends on your preferences and needs. Charcoal grills provide a smoky flavour but require more preparation time to light the briquettes. Gas grills are convenient and offer precise temperature control, making them versatile for various cooking methods and techniques. Electric grills lean toward the expensive end of the spectrum. Still, they are compact, easy to use, and versatile enough for different cooking techniques. 

When choosing a grill type, consider these factors and weigh the pros and cons of each to make the best selection for your lifestyle.

Summing Up

Are you ready to ignite the fire and take your grilling game to the next level? So the choice of charcoal vs gas vs electric grills is yours. 

Whether you crave the smoky flavours of a charcoal grill, the convenience and precision of a gas grill, or the versatility and indoor/outdoor capabilities of an electric grill, it’s time to make a decision that will tantalise your taste buds and impress your friends and family. 

Don’t wait any longer – choose the grill that suits your style, unleash your creativity, and turn every gathering into a sizzling sensation. The grill master within awaits!   

Chef and Restaurant Owner Matty Riedel
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