Should You Buy a Gas Grill or Barbecue?

gas grill

Often this is one of the first questions people ask when they buy a grill. Should I get a gas grill or barbecue or a charcoal one? There is no right answer for everyone, it depends on what you are looking for and how you plan to use it. There are some differences though.

If you want to learn more about the pros and cons of a charcoal grill, see our charcoal grill page.

Advantages to a Gas Grill or Barbecue:

  • Easy - A gas grill is easy because it is fast and easy to light. No more fiddling with messy charcoal and charcoal starters or lighter fluid. A gas grill or barbecue turns on instantly, gets hot fast and turns off quickly when you are done cooking. It is made even easier if you have a natural gas grill so you don't have to worry about buying more fuel.
  • Quick - Charcoal takes a while to light and get hot. Wood takes even longer in a fire pit to get to the point that its ready to cook on. Turn a gas barbecue on and you are ready to cook in minutes. Clean up is easy too. Just turn it off and clean the grill grate. No scooping ashes!
  • gas grill or barbecue

  • Features - Many gas grills have options that are not typically available on a charcoal grill. Examples are side burners for skillet or pot cooking right next to your grill (as picture on the grill above). Other features include built in motorized rotisseries (as seen in the grill to the right) for rotisserie cooking and infrared burners (see below).
  • Natural Gas Option - Most new gas barbecues are made in natural gas grill versions. Others can be converted pretty easily. This allows you to plug in to your home gas line and never run out of gas again! Natural gas is cheaper and burns cleaner than propane. This is a big bonus to many people shopping for a grill!
  • Infrared Burners - A new option that is showing up on many fancy gas grills is an infrared burner in addition to the gas burners. This heat source supplies high, intense direct heat for quick searing of meats while sealing all those delicious juices!

Disadvantages to a Gas Grill or Barbecue:

  • No Wood Smoke Flavor - Your gas grill or barbecue does not burn wood or charcoal so there is no wood smoke produced. This flavorful smoke is what many people love most about grilled foods cooked on a charcoal grill or firewood fire pit. However, wood chip smoke boxes can be added to your gas or natural gas grill to supply wood smoke flavors to your cooking. This is a pretty good substitute and adequate for most people's taste.
  • Running Out of Propane - A propane gas grill or barbecue has a propane tank that supplies the gas fuel. These need to be purchased or re-filled at regular intervals. While a whole tank lasts quite a while, people always worry about their gas running out in the middle of their barbecue party. And they are heavy and a pain to lug around when you do run out. This is not a problem with a natural gas grill because you have a permanent supply of natural gas from the gas company! Unless of course the gas company goes out of business in 50 years!

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