What barbecue should I buy: Gas vs. Charcoal BBQ and Which is Better for You?

Barbecuing on the portable BBQ with corn on the grill and burgers about to be flipped.

Barbecuing on a holiday, when you’ve got all the time in the world is easy. You can take your time setting up your artisan barbecue with the hardwood charcoal, light it via your chimney starter and then cook on your charcoal grill for the whole family for hours. 

But what about when it is just before Christmas, the temperatures already reaching 30 degrees C and all you want to do is have your mates around, drink a beer and chuck a steak or some ribs on the barbecue and all that when coming back from work at 6 pm and the kids need to be in bed by 7 pm. This is where the gas grill shines. Read on for a comparison between the two types of barbecues. 

Making the choice between a gas BBQ and a charcoal grill is not an easy one and can spark a heated debate among your grill expert friends and family. Both options have their clear followers, each swearing by the benefits of their chosen method. In this guide, we'll dive deep into "What barbecue should I buy: Gas vs. Charcoal barbecue and Which is Better for You?." We'll explore the nuances of each grilling approach, weigh their pros and cons, and provide you with the insights you need to make an informed decision for your next barbecue adventure or product purchase.

Gas BBQ vs. Charcoal barbecue - Which is Better for Your Outdoor Cooking

The Gas BBQ Advantage

We might be a little biased anyway (at last our portable STOV BBQ runs on gas), but there are very good reasons why gas BBQs have gained huge popularity. Here are some of the most compelling reasons. 

Convenience, efficiency and quick heat-up time

One of the standout features of gas BBQs is their convenience. With just a push of a button (or with a lighter), you can have your grill up and running in minutes. No need to deal with messy charcoal or long waiting times. Gas grills are usually ready and heated up within minutes. Depending on what kind of barbecue you choose, you will find portable grills for easy transport that are great for picnics, the outdoor trip or for camping with the family. Additionally, you can find compact ones that are great for bbqing on the balcony.

Temperature Control

Most gas BBQs offer precise temperature control. You can easily adjust the heat to your liking, making them ideal for cooking delicate items like fish or for searing a thick steak to perfection. Especially if you are using a wireless thermometer, being able to regulate the heat can make your steak even better. Some barbecues have a lid which can be helpful if you are cooking thicker steaks or ribs where you want to control the heat over a longer period.


One of the big advantages is that you can say goodbye to ash cleanup. Gas BBQs produce minimal mess (and also smoke!) compared to their charcoal grill counterparts. Especially if you live in a unit or want to barbecue in a park, gas has a clear advantage here. Also don't forget when you are camping especially in a National Park, check local regulations and make sure to dispose charcoal that does not smoulder anymore at all.

Cooking on the a portable gas bbq in the outdoors

The Charcoal BBQ advantages

Even for us charcoal BBQs, on the other hand, have their unique charm and a clear place in the barbecue world:

Flavor Enhancement: Rich and smoky flavour

Charcoal grilling imparts a distinctive smoky taste to your food that many find irresistible. This is due to the burning of the grease on the coals. The high heat from charcoal creates a beautiful sear and enhances the taste of your food. 

Versatility and high heat for searing

Charcoal grills can reach higher temperatures than gas grills, making them also excellent for cooking pizzas (use a pizza stone and a lid) and achieving that classic wood-fired taste. Additionally, you can use wood chips or chunks with charcoal for a different layer of flavor. With the high heat, a thick tomahawk steak cooked with indirect heat and then seared over direct heat over coals can be an almost unbeatable taste. 

Traditional appeal

For some, charcoal grilling is a bit of a tradition and a ritual. The process of lighting the charcoal, waiting for it to reach the perfect temperature, and tending to the grill is seen as a ritual that adds to the overall experience. Who could disagree with this? It is almost like setting up the fire at camp. 

Two steaks searing on the charcoal barbecue


The verdict

So, which is the ultimate choice for your BBQ adventures? It ultimately depends on your personal priorities and when and where you plan on using your BBQ. If you value convenience, precision, and easy cleanup, a gas grill may be your top pick especially if you like going on trips, a portable grill is the right one for you. On the other hand, if you crave that nice smoky flavor, enjoy high-temperature searing, and want to keep costs down (charcoal can be cheap and easy to get), charcoal grills are the way to go. Whichever path you choose, don’t forget to have fun, enjoy the food and your company. STOV is here to answer any of your questions via our Contact us form or if you want to delve in deeper into the portable gas BBQ world, check out our STOV BBQ. We liked this article in Wired from many years ago that takes a more scientific approach to this debate. 

Happy cooking from STOV!

Barbecuing on the STOV BBQ. A portable grill that is cooking two burgers, corn and jalapeños.


Are gas BBQs more expensive than charcoal BBQs?

Not necessarily. While the initial cost of a gas BBQ might be higher, the low operating costs and often longer lifespan can make them more cost-effective in the long run.

Which is better for a beginner griller?

Gas BBQs are generally more beginner-friendly due to their ease of use and temperature control leading to great results. The option to have a portable one can also be an advantage for beginners due to their versatility. However, many beginners find the learning curve of charcoal grilling to be part of the fun.

Are there environmental concerns with either option?

Charcoal grilling can release more carbon emissions, making gas grills a more environmentally friendly choice. However, using sustainable charcoal options can mitigate this issue.

Which is the healthier option?

Both gas and charcoal grilling can be healthy if you choose lean cuts of meat and grill vegetables. However, with proper temperature control, gas grilling may reduce the formation of potentially harmful compounds.

Is a charcoal BBQ better than gas?

It depends on your personal preference. Both types of barbecue grills have their advantages. Gas is for convenience if you live in a unit or want to grill in a park (or national park!) and charcoal grills are great for traditional bbqing and very high heat for searing. 

Is steak better on a charcoal or gas grill?

That depends on how you like your steak. Both BBQs can cook your steak well. If you prefer a seared crust, go for charcoal, but if you want to cook your steak to precision, you can use gas. 

What are the advantages of a charcoal grill?

As mentioned above if you crave that authentic smoky flavor, enjoy high-temperature searing, and want to keep costs down (with affordable charcoal), charcoal grills are the way to go. Read our article above to find out more.