Choosing A Grill: Charcoal Grill vs. Gas Grill, & How to Find Your Perfect Match


The grill is the heart of any grillers’ grilling set up (I mean, obviously, right?!). But with so many options out there, it’s hard to know what is the best grill to buy. What are the differences between a charcoal grill vs gas grill? Figuring out how to choose a gas grill or how to choose a charcoal grill can be so overwhelming! Maybe you are looking for a gas grill fit for hosting backyard barbeques or a charcoal grill to achieve that built-in smoky char flavor or maybe you are on the hunt for the best portable charcoal grill for your cozy apartment patio. It can be a hard decision.

Luckily, we’ve done the research for you. We’re here to help you identify what is the best grill to buy for you!

This post walks you through everything you need to know, from the differences between getting a charcoal grill vs. gas grill, what to look for in terms of quality of construction, things to think about in terms of your available grilling space & ultimately how to choose which grill is the best option for you (with investment & budget-friendly options included!).

Jess of Plays Well with Butter standing next to her gas grill while grilling kebabs

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Can’t wait to hit the grill? Be sure to check out Let’s Grill, Girls!, a grilling series here on PWWB created to help you grill more confidently & deliciously all summer long!

Charcoal Grills vs. Gas Grills

In the world of grilling, there’s much debate surrounding the pros & cons of a charcoal grill vs. gas grill. Which is better? The truth is both are great in their own way. Determining what is the best grill to buy (charcoal grill vs. gas grill) all depends on what you’re looking for, & there are plenty of things to consider between the two when deciding which grill to choose.

Let’s start with charcoal grills. They are a classic choice. Charcoal run on charcoal briquettes or natural lump charcoal. They tend to be a little less expensive & have more modest functions but they get the job done. Diehard grillers swear by charcoal grilling for the flavor that is achieved by using charcoal.

While charcoal grills may take a bit longer to prep or light, they have the ability to get very hot & the smoke they produce from the charcoal adds an extra layer of smoky-charred goodness to whatever you’re grilling. They also tend to be smaller making them great for any space – whether you are grilling in a spacious backyard or cozy apartment.

Next, let’s consider gas grills. In my opinion, gas grills are perfect for beginners. With less variables than charcoal, gas grills are typically more approachable. While gas grills tend to be a bit more expensive, many models have built-in temperature gauges & lighting functions (no fuss!). Most importantly, they deliver really consistent heat, & they are easy to control & manage. When compared to charcoal grills, gas grills will heat up quickly & can be the perfect companion for weeknight cooking!

Gas grills are fueled by gas propane tanks that can be found & easily refilled at most local convenience or hardware stores. They can come in a range of sizes, but tend to be larger compared to a charcoal grill.

Quality of Construction

The quality of your grill is SO important! A great grill will have solid construction (wobbly grills = no bueno!), feature trusty materials, plus you want a grill that will retain its heat evenly & well.

When choosing a gas grill, look for features like multiple burners (hello 2-zone grilling method!). For charcoal grills, you’ll want to keep a lookout for a dual-damper system, which helps you maintaining optimal airflow as you grill.

Whether you’re ready to invest in a more expensive grill or you’re trying to find the perfect budget-friendly option, you’ll want to make sure that what you are purchasing is high-quality and built for function!

The Size of Your Grilling Space

Where will you be grilling? How much space do you have? How many people will you typically be grilling for?

These are all important questions to ask to help envision your space & how you’ll be using your new grill.

It’s important to be realistic with what you are working with. If you have some space & picture yourself hosting tons of barbeques, look into a larger grill so you can grill up lots of food at once. If you are renting, be sure to check if there are local laws regarding the type of grill (or potential size limitations) that you can have in your space.

Once you’ve taken a bit of time to think, it’s time to shop! Lucky for you, I’ve done some research about what is the best grill to buy, landing on what I think are the best choices for gas or charcoal grills, including options for every budget. Whether you’re wondering how to choose a gas grill, how to choose a charcoal grill, or what’s the best portable charcoal grill, we have options for you. Read on & find your perfect match!

How to Choose a Gas Grill – The Best Investment

If you’re wondering how to choose a gas grill or what is the best grill to buy, look no further than the Weber Genesis II, the tried & true gas grill we use here at the PWWB House.

We own & love the Weber Genesis II. I am the first to admit, the only reason I initially wanted it was because of its stunning copper finish (…typical! It does come in both black & stainless steel finishes, too.). After grilling on our Weber Genesis II for the past 5 summers, I really couldn’t love it more.

The Weber Genesis II gas grill with 3 burners and sear station open while grilling steak & veggie kebabs

Reasons to love the Weber Genesis II:

  • It has 3 powerful burners that heat up quickly and evenly- perfect for weeknight cooking!
  • The grates are made from enameled cast iron, which retains heat very well & is very easy to care for.
  • Its ‘sear station’ is a burner dedicated to high temperatures, which is great for adding that addictive grilled char to foods quickly.
  • Its construction is seriously sturdy! The Weber Genesis II is very easy to move & can handle it without worry that it’ll tip over (or fall apart!).
  • Plus, it comes with an awesome warranty! All Weber grills come with a 5-year warranty, so long as you register your grill.

It is on the pricier end of the spectrum, but if taken care of well, the Weber Genesis II will last a long time. If you’re in a position where you have a decent amount of space for a grill & are comfortable investing in a grill you can have for the next 10+ years, I highly recommend it!

Side note: Want your grill to last & be ready for you each grilling season? Check out this tutorial walking you through how to clean & deep clean your grill.

Gas Grills – Best Options on a Budget

After scouring the internet for a great gas grill that fits any budget, you can’t go wrong with the Char-Broil Classic 360. While I do not personally own this grill, it has the functionality you want in a gas grill & countless rave reviews, especially considering its reasonable price tag.

With 3 burners, this grill has enough space & power to cook for a crowd, but its overall size is perfect for small spaces like a small patio off your house or apartment. (As I was researching, I couldn’t help but think, “gosh I wish I knew about this grill when we were renters!”)

Reasons to love the Char-Broil Classic 360:

  • Its lid is made from porcelain-coated steel, which helps it stand up to any weather conditions.
  • Its grates are porcelain-coated, which prevents sticking & makes them super easy to care for.
  • At its small size, the fact that it still has three burners is a huge win, especially when you need to use 2-zone grilling.

If you’re looking for a great starter gas grill, this is the one for you!

Charcoal Grills – How to Choose a Charcoal Grill

While I think grilling with gas is 1000% suitable for most everyday grilling needs, there’s a reason why serious grillers live & die by charcoal: it has the ability to get very hot, & its smoke adds an extra layer of addictively smoky-charred goodness to whatever you’re grilling.

Some added bonuses: charcoal grills are very budget-friendly & are great for any sized space, whether you’re grilling in a spacious backyard or a cozy apartment patio. Here are a few solid options to consider when you’re thinking about how to choose a charcoal grill.

Charcoal Grills – Best Investment

We own & love the classic Weber 741001 Original Kettle 22″, which just so happens to be one of the most highly regarded charcoal grilling options out there. At 22” it doesn’t take up too much space, but still, it’s large enough for almost anything you could think to throw on the grill. It’s also designed for optimal airflow, so your grill will hold its temperature really well.

Reasons to love the Weber 741001 Original Kettle Charcoal Grill:

  • It has high-quality construction, plus comes with a 10-year warranty on the bowl & lid.
  • It has an easy one-touch cleaning damper on the bottom for draining charcoal ash.
  • It’s so iconic! it’s been around ever since Weber was founded (for good reason!).

Charcoal Grills – Best for Budget

Before buying our 22-inch kettle grill, the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-inch Portable Grill was our go-to charcoal grill ever since Chris & I first shared an apartment. It’s essentially the little brother to the Weber 741001 Original Kettle 22”. It has the same dual-damper system (which helps avoid disasters like the first time I tried to cook steaks for Chris’ birthday!). It is the very best portable charcoal grill I know of!

These tailgate-sized grills are perfect for apartment dwelling (or tailgates, obviously!!). You can store your grill inside when you’re not using it, then easily move it outside once it’s time to fire it up.

Reasons to love the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-inch Portable Grill – the BEST portable charcoal grill!

  • Its dual-damper & charcoal grate provides excellent airflow, especially for a small grill. 
  • Convenient size! at 14”, it is big enough to grill for a few people but can easily be stored away when not in use. It’s also super easy to transport – you can throw it in the car for a trip to your favorite summer spot or ballpark! It is seriously the best portable charcoal grill you can find.
  • & just like the other Webers, you get a 10-year warranty on the bowl & lid.

Wrapping Up!

When it comes to deciding what is the best grill to buy, first decide between a charcoal grill vs. a gas grill, next think about the features you want in a grill, and look for good quality of construction. Lastly, think about your space & dream up where you’ll be storing & how you’ll be using your grill.

I hope that these picks help make your choice a bit easier. Whether you decide charcoal grill vs. gas grill – you really can’t go wrong!

Weber Genesis II gas grill with lid closed sitting outside on a deck

Ready to Hit the Grill?

If this all still feels new to you, I encourage you to head over to this Grilling 101 post, where we dive into all the grilling basics – everything from how to light your grill to how to clean your grill.

All this talk about grilling have you feelin’ ready to hit the grill? Me too! Be sure to check out this post for my 13 go-to marinades you need this grilling season. At our house, a good marinade is at the heart of grilling season. I’m positive these marinades will be on repeat at your house this summer! For even more grilled goodness, be sure to check out all of our Grilling & Smoking recipes.

& lastly! Be sure to give @playswellwithbutter a follow on Instagram – I’ll be teaching you how to grill up some goodness all summer long, & we have so much fun on Instagram!

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Thank you so much for reading & supporting Plays Well With Butter. This post includes affiliate links for products I truly love & use on the reg in my own home. All opinions are always my own! Should you make a purchase using one of these links, PWWB will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps me continue to bring you great original & free content.

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How to choose a new gas or charcoal grill graphic with text overlay for Pinterest.

Let us know in the comments if you love grilling on a gas grill or charcoal grill? & why? We love hearing from you!!!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.


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