Gas vs Charcoal BBQs: Which to Choose

If you’re shopping for a BBQ you might be wondering: should you buy a gas or charcoal BBQ?

It’s a tough question to answer and while we can’t tell you what to buy, we can help you weigh up the pros and cons of each option. Read on to decide which type of barbecue is best for your home. 

 

Gas vs Charcoal BBQs: Price

There’s a clear winner when it comes to the price of BBQs. Charcoal BBQs are generally much cheaper than gas BBQs - however if you’re shopping at the higher end of the market they can cost a few hundred pounds or more.

This may be because they’re made by a top brand, from higher-quality materials (or both), but bear in mind that all a charcoal BBQ needs to do is hold some charcoal and mount a grill. This means there’s a ceiling to what you can spend, at which point it’s unlikely you’re getting a better product. That said, it's still worth investing in a quality charcoal BBQ, if only because it should outlast a cheap model.

On that note, you can get charcoal BBQs for as little as £5. However while that BBQ might be functional, it’s highly unlikely to be durable. If you’re in the market for a good quality charcoal BBQ that’s built to last, then we recommend looking at models from around £100 upwards.

So what about the price of gas BBQs?

The cheapest gas BBQs come in at just over £100 but you’re really going to want to spend upwards of £500 to get a good-quality gas barbecue.

Winner: Charcoal

 

Gas vs Charcoal BBQs: Running Costs

So a charcoal BBQ won’t cost you as much to buy as a gas BBQ, but it will cost you more to use. Typically, a charcoal BBQ is going to set you back about £2 per use. You’re going to want just over 2kg of charcoal if you’re cooking for about 6 people.

A gas BBQ will cost you less than a pound to use each time; probably somewhere in the region of 70p. Over the course of a summer, depending on how much you use your barbecue, this can make a big difference.

If you like to cook al fresco at every opportunity, then a gas BBQ is 100% more cost efficient. If you were to use your gas BBQ for 90 days in the summer, then you would spend about £120 less than if you had a charcoal barbecue. Over a few years, that pays for itself.

If you only barbecue every couple of weeks or so, a charcoal BBQ is probably more cost efficient for you. 

Winner: Gas

 

Gas vs Charcoal BBQs: Ease of Use

You might be thinking to yourself: charcoal BBQs are cheaper to buy and are only noticeably cheaper to run if you don’t barbecue every day of summer (which most people don’t), so why buy a gas BBQ? Well, when it comes to actual usability, there’s a clear winner.

A gas BBQ will heat up quicker, cook more evenly and offer far better temperature control than charcoal models; especially as charcoal BBQs essentially have no temperature control (better models have vents that can be used to adjust temperature, but this is only moderately effective).

A top-quality gas BBQ is also going to have more features, like this Landman Gas Barbecue. This model comes with a griddle, hotplate, warming rack, flame tamers, a firebowl, integrated thermometer, removable grease tray, a side burner, and an infrared back burner. On top of that, a gas BBQ is much, much easier to clean after each use. When it comes to ease of use, there’s no contest.

Winner: Gas

 

Gas vs Charcoal BBQs: Taste

This is often where the battle between gas and charcoal barbecues is won and lost for some people. Ultimately, everything boils down to taste when it comes to a barbecue, right? And with some public opinion turning against charcoal BBQs, let’s take a closer look at the debate.

The folk over at Wired have broken down the science of why charcoal grilling tastes better than gas. People typically think it’s because the charcoal gives the grilled meat that authentic, smoky flavour, but it isn’t. Because charcoal briquettes are pure carbon, they burn pretty hot. As it heats the meat, fat and juices and will drip off of it and onto the charcoal. The charcoal then vaporises these drippings which rise back onto the grilled meat. Don’t let it drip too much though, as this also creates smoke and too much smoke will ruin your meat. However that is why, according to science, charcoal BBQs produce tastier meat than gas BBQs.

That said, do not rule out the gas BBQ just yet. First of all, the authentic smokiness of a barbecue is only as important as you want it to be. If you’re more about the fun and novelty of cooking and eating outside, a gas BBQ will still produce delicious food, and it’ll be easier to cook with too. It will just lack that true smokey taste.

For thin cuts of meat and many vegetables, the lack of smokiness from a gas BBQ is barely noticeable. If you’re a bit of a barbecue novice as well, then it’s much easier to ruin your meat on a charcoal grill than it is a gas barbecue.

So, whilst science has given us an answer, there still is a fair amount of subjectivity at play.

Winner: Charcoal

 

In our garden section you’ll find our full range of barbecues as well as garden bistro sets, lighting, sheds, water features, pots, planters and so much more. Shop online at Oldrids & Downtown or visit us in store at our Grantham garden centre.