Propane or Charcoal: Choosing the Right Types of Grills to Buy

In Grilling Basics by marketninjas

The BBQ has been a backyard favorite since the year 1540—and maybe even earlier if you consider how long our ancestors have been cooking meat over an open flame for thousands of years!

But, that might not mean anything to you if you don’t have your own grill yet. One of the first and most difficult steps in the buying process is trying to decide whether you should get a propane or charcoal grill. 

And there’s no easy answer.  There are typically massive divides in the purists who will cook with nothing but charcoal with the other camp being the efficient lovers of simple conveniently seared meat.

We’ve put together this guide to help you figure out the right types of grills for your barbecuing needs.

So keep reading below and we’ll uncover and unpack both sides to help you make a decision that’s right for you.  

The Age-Old Question: Is a Propane or Charcoal Grill Better?

The propane vs charcoal grilling debate has avid supporters on both sides. But it’s difficult to say one is without-a-doubt better than the other. Propane and charcoal grills have their own sets of pros and cons.

Once you understand these pros and cons, the right grill for you will depend on your personal preference.   That preference is typically crafted by factors such as:

  • Convenience
  • Cost
  • Availability of patio/porch space
  • The types of meats and/or vegetables you like to eat
  • How many people you typically grill for

With those factors in mind when selecting a grill, let’s take a closer look at the differences in grill types.

The Pros and Cons of Propane Grilling

Propane grills are easy to start, use, and clean when you’re done cooking. They can hold a steady temperature, and they give you control over how hot and high you want the flame.

You can also find a lot of accessories that let you expand your grilling station. For example, you can buy storage drawers or spice racks. And to clean everything, you just have to wipe it down.  For simple tips on how to clean a gas or propane grill check out our article here.

Ok, so if propane grills are so easy to use and you’re able to dive into amazing meats and grilled veggies in a matter of minutes why doesn’t everyone use them?

Well, as the purists will tell you, propane grills don’t give you the same smokey flavor as charcoal grills. Instead, your food will have just a small touch of smokey flavor but still be just as delicious as if you pulled it right off of the campfire!

The Pros and Cons of Charcoal Grilling

Charcoal grills can get a lot hotter than propane grills. This allows them to create a caramelized layer over your meet, vegetables, and other foods. It also locks in that smokey flavor.  For more in-depth guidance on how to grill with charcoal, check out our article here.

While you can’t control the heat level the same way you can with a propane grill, you can move the coals around as you cook. This means you can put more heat in certain areas of the grill. You cook something over high heat then move it to lower heat to finish.

Charcoal grills are also the cheapest type of grill you can buy, and it’s easy to transport.

BUT…

These grills are a lot messier than propane grills. You’ll have to spend extra time cleaning them when you’re done eating.  For some simple steps on how to clean a charcoal grill check out our article here.

Charcoal grills are also more difficult to light, and it can take a while for them to reach the desired temperature. The cooking process will take longer too, so you have to have more time in your schedule.

So Which Grill Is Better?

It all comes down to your personal preference.

Are you looking for something you can take with you when you go camping or spend an afternoon at the beach? A charcoal grill might be the better choice for you?

Do you want a grill that’ll allow you to cook quick and easy BBQ? You should stick with a propane grill.

Propane grills are also better for beginners. Although charcoal grills give your food a nice, smokey flavor, it’s easy to overdo it. If you already have some experience grilling, try your hand at charcoal.

Featured Grill

Fuego F21C-H Element Hinged Propane Gas Grill

• Upgraded 22,000 BTU/hr. dual zone burner system
• 500F in just 5 minutes
• Compact 21″ x 21″ footprint, perfect for the small patio/balcony.
• 346 sq. in. cast iron grilling grate

How to Choose the Right Grill to Buy

Once you decide what type of grill you want, you have to make sure you’re buying a good one.

Cheap isn’t always the best route to take. A low price tag might make it seem like you’re saving money, but it also means you’re getting a lower quality product.

Instead of buying the cheapest grill you can find, make sure you look for some of these features.

Fuego F21C-H Element Hinged Propane Gas Grill

When you’re shopping for a propane grill, you’ll want to keep a few pointers in mind.

First of all, you have to consider the size, A big grill might look impressive, but if you aren’t planning to cook large meals, it might not be a good match for your lifestyle.

You should also look for a grill with full coverage flame tamers. This will help your meat cook evenly and protect your burners from grease.

Speaking of burners, make sure they’re good quality. If you’re buying a large grill, find one that has different cooking “zones” that allow you to adjust different burners to different levels.

Not sure where to start looking?

Check out these top-rated propane grills first:

  • Weber Spirit II E-310 LP Outdoor Gas Grill
  • Blackstone Professional Grade Grill Griddle BBQ
  • Char-Broil Performance 475 4-Burner Liquid Propane Gas Grill

These three grills include some of the best features you should be looking for.

The Best Charcoal Grills

Again, the first thing you need to think about when buying a charcoal grill is the size. But the lid is one of the most important considerations.

The lid of your charcoal grill will help you control the temperature. A lid that doesn’t fit well will slow down your cooking process. Make sure the grill you buy comes with a tight lid.

Here are a few top-rated charcoal grills to start off your search:

  • Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Black
  • Weber Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill
  • Royal Gourmet BBQ Charcoal Grill with Offset Smoker, 30”

You should also think about shape. A bullet or barrel grill is better at cooking large pieces of meat. A kettle grill is suitable for meats that have short cook times.

How to Choose the Right Types of Grills for Your BBQing Needs

There isn’t a right or wrong when it comes to buying different types of grills. Instead, do some research and pick the grill that will best suit your BBQing needs.

Depending on your preference, this might mean you should try a propane grill or bring a little adventure to your life with a charcoal grill.

Is this grill going to be your first one?

Make sure you click here to take a look at some of our grilling basics tips.

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