A heated debate: what should you go for, a charcoal or gas barbecue?

Deal editor31
Posted 11th May
Since the dawn of man, we have been charbroiling our food. Some of us are better at it than others, but out of two options — charcoal or gas — which is better? Aesthetics shouldn’t really come into it, but it always will. And is ease of use equally as important as taste?

Charcoal has the benefits of a smoky flavour and is more accomplished, but often falls foul of the weather and is prone to burning the produce on the grill. Whereas gas is much easier, provides a more rounded cooking experience, but ultimately lacks the flavour of a fire pit.

Let’s go through both options, give some examples, and where to get all the essentials for each. Then, you might have more inclination to one or the other — no judgement.



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Gas

By far the easier of the two, cooking with a gas barbecue is more akin to grilling food inside the house. And that is where its appeal lies — you don’t need to wait for coals to get hot or get ashy, you just quickly cook the meat on the grill and then eat.

As a general rule of thumb, the more convenient a bbq is, the less smoke it produces. So a gas barbecue is the clear winner in that.

Gas barbecues are better for year-round sunny climates, because you don’t have to wait to cook. Get home from work, whack a few chicken breasts and a bit of prepared veg and you have a healthy meal in minutes, not possible with charcoal.

Be aware though, that you need to pay a hefty deposit on a gas bottle (I recently paid £50 just for the deposit) and they are quite heavy depending on the size. Check out the Calor website for stockists or rock up at your local garage and hope for the best.

There are loads of gas barbecues out there and they tend to be more expensive than their traditional counterparts. Here are a few examples on site at the moment, from smaller ones to larger ones which will probably sit outside year-round.



Calor Gas Cal

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amazon.co.uk/Cal…F4K

Using the smallest possible space, Calor Gas Cal is a grill-hotplate-gas ring combination from Calor Gas. Good for camping too, this reversible cast iron grill plate sits atop the actual gas canister. I mean you’re not gonna get a big family’s worth of food on there but it is a very clever use of space.

Only £39.98 including delivery.



Argos Home 4 Burner Gas BBQ

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argos.co.uk/pro…663

Cracking price for a four burner gas barbecue, with a hob gas ring too. This will cook for lots of people, you can keep things warm in the lid rack, and it is fairly light too so easily rollable to the shed. Admittedly, the gas might run out more quickly with five separate burners going at once, but you can use individual burners too.

£123.95 including delivery.



Spear & Jackson 2 Burner Gas BBQ

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jdwilliams.co.uk/sho…106

A cheap(ish) two burner gas barbecue is just what you need for easy al fresco dinners this summer. Compact but big enough to cook enough food for a family, this BBQ is portable, fast and affordable.

£79.00 including delivery using the code DEL30.





Charcoal

Is there something about the taste of perfectly cooked animal flesh that drags us back to our ancestral roots? Huddled around a fire telling stories and eating tender strips of meat… or is that just me.

Charcoal barbecues are hard to light, harder to keep going, and if you are a novice, you’ll more often than not end up with burnt-to-a-cinder chicken drumsticks. Yet they are fairly cheap, last a long time, and charcoal is in plentiful supply (most of the time). When they get going they are really satisfying and provide the smokiest flavour.

When starting your charcoal BBQ, try not to use lighter fluid or firelighters, these are for house fires and will add a taste of petrol to the food. Instead use wood kindling or use a charcoal chimney. These are fairly cheap and mean you can start the coals with just a few bits of newspaper — these things:

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gooutdoors.co.uk/159…919



Argos Home 43cm Kettle Charcoal BBQ

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argos.co.uk/pro…618

Ideal for a small family, this small and cheap BBQ will cook for about 4-6 people. Just load the charcoal in the bottom, set it alight and wait for around 30 minutes until the coals are ready. Then get your bangers on to sizzle up a storm.

£28.95 delivered from Argos.



Wilko American Charcoal Grill

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wilko.com/wil…742

A beast of a grill, this is a real barbecue that you can cook for a party on. The door on front makes it very easy to add coals mid cook, which you can’t do with a kettle-style BBQ. It has a temperature gauge in the lid, allowing you to get the perfect temperature — slow cook to searing heat.

£105 including delivery from Wilko



Tramontina Stainless Steel Barrel BBQ Grill


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appliancesdirect.co.uk/p/2…cue

Compact but great charcoal BBQ here from Tramontina — a stainless steel barrel that gets very hot and quickly. These barrel-types allow decent airflow through the bottom which stokes the coals nicely.

A bargain at £52.98 including delivery.



Outsunny Portable Charcoal BBQ Smoker Combo

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manomano.co.uk/p/o…588

A smoker drum-style barbecue has the best of both worlds — you can use it as a direct heated barbecue grill or as a smoker. Smoking produce means it cooks slowly, with wood chips mixed into the hot coals. It produced great flavours, but you need to be patient.

£130.99 including delivery.





There you have it, gas is consistent but you can’t really get that smokey wood flavour of a charcoal BBQ when the juices drip onto the coals. Whereas charcoal is difficult to do well, but has a high heat that allows you to cook larger joints and you can place produce straight onto the coals — potatoes, corn on the cob, onions (in foil).

Personally, I think gas is better just because we only get a certain amount of sunny days in the UK and I don’t want to waste time by faffing around with coals. That said, it often feels like a cheat not getting your hands dirty. I just don’t know anymore.

Check out more deals on barbecues here: hotukdeals.com/tag…ill

And of course, deals on food for the BBQ here: hotukdeals.com/tag…bbq

Grab a beer too, why not: hotukdeals.com/tag…eer



What are your thoughts on the matter? Keep it clean please...
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Charcoal or it’s just an external gas hob.
Charcoal every time.

I can remember years ago going to a relative's BBQ party to show off their 'new' gas BBQ. They had to spray everything with that "flavour" coating to give it the charcoal taste!
If you going to use gas you may as well just use your kitchen cooker
Can't be bothered with the faff of charcoal and yes I do have artificial grass
31 Comments
Gas BBQ with Lava rocks in the bottom, The lava rocks take the dripping fat and provide an essence of that charcoal smokeyness as they heat up.
Charcoal every time.

I can remember years ago going to a relative's BBQ party to show off their 'new' gas BBQ. They had to spray everything with that "flavour" coating to give it the charcoal taste!
Charcoal or it’s just an external gas hob.
Charcoal best. Gas and lava rocks second best, gas no lava rocks not worth the effort.
Edited by: "OBH6UK" 11th May
What is this charbroilling you speak of?
OBH6UK11/05/2020 12:41

Charcoal best. Gas and lava rocks second best, gas no lava rocks not …Charcoal best. Gas and lava rocks second best, gas no lava rocks not worth the effort.


But it isn't an effort, that is surely the point?
dufflecoat_moon_turkey11/05/2020 12:43

What is this charbroilling you speak of?


It's just another word for grill to be honest.
Edited by: "Akira_Cat" 11th May
Charcoal any day all day and you will be saying: This isn't just fuud....
And and, you will be saying to yourself: My cooking is always a success
If you going to use gas you may as well just use your kitchen cooker
No one's posted King of the Hill yet?

youtube.com/wat…OaQ

Charcoal to me is better but there is certainly a convincing argument to be made that half the flavour of charcoal is just the food being burnt. I'm sure at somepoint everyone's experienced a bbq with sausages that are black on the outside and pink on the inside because someone failed to manage the heat properly.
abigsmurf11/05/2020 13:44

No one's posted King of the Hill …No one's posted King of the Hill yet?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSzncxYqOaQCharcoal to me is better but there is certainly a convincing argument to be made that half the flavour of charcoal is just the food being burnt. I'm sure at somepoint everyone's experienced a bbq with sausages that are black on the outside and pink on the inside because someone failed to manage the heat properly.


It ain't BBQ if it ain't burnt.
I agree with a few others, if it isn't charcoal then it isn't a bbq in my opinion

As for not burning stuff on gas, you'd be surprised. If someone is a novice they are just as likely to burn food on gas too. Granted, turn the heat down and not so bad, but still, a little care and common sense is needed.

Most meat is best cooked from room temperature, if you can't light a coal bbq in the time between taking meat out the fridge and resting to room temp then there's certainly a reason to stick to gas, you won't get the full benefit of a proper bbq.
Edited by: "a666andy" 11th May
Charcoal for me too.

A gas barbecue is just lazy, a bit like getting artificial grass because you can't be ****ed mowing the lawn every few weeks.
spoo11/05/2020 14:08

Charcoal for me too.A gas barbecue is just lazy, a bit like getting …Charcoal for me too.A gas barbecue is just lazy, a bit like getting artificial grass because you can't be ****ed mowing the lawn every few weeks.


Laziness does come into it, obviously, but I think ease of use is the overriding factor.
Edited by: "Akira_Cat" 11th May
Can't be bothered with the faff of charcoal and yes I do have artificial grass
In Australia, they love a gas barbie. Might be due to fire safety, no open coals and all that.
I have both gas bbq (lava rocks) and kettle charcoal.
The taste (imo) is negligible between either. Charcoal better/easier for slow cooking whilst gas is easier for grilling as you can move the food to warming racks whilst still having maximum cooking area. Gas far more controllable too. Found charcoal to be expensive/wasteful if I just want a couple of steaks or burgers but I've bought some quality grade lumpwood that I can "reuse".

I can have food cooked and eaten on gas in the time the charcoal is ready for use.
Horses for courses.
The gas bbqs with metal deflector/flavoursizers seem to me to be like a frying pan (in laws have one)
Edited by: "u664541" 11th May
I've had Charcoal BBq's in the past, prefer Gas for the convenience and speed. Each to their own i suppose
ArcadeAssassin11/05/2020 12:26

Charcoal or it’s just an external gas hob.


What kind of gas hob do you have because mine doesn't have a grill above it to cook on where the naked flame can cook the food. Gas bbq taste just like a charcoal bbq if you think any different it's because you're telling yourself that. If you did a blind test you wouldn't taste a difference.
Gas barbie all the way. You don't spend hours lighting it and waiting for the coals to get warm enough. You can be cooking in a minute with a gas barbie. And taste difference is minimal.
Edited by: "MonkeyMan90" 11th May
Charcoal & spread the ash on your plants.
Why not electric!
MonkeyMan9011/05/2020 16:52

What kind of gas hob do you have because mine doesn't have a grill above …What kind of gas hob do you have because mine doesn't have a grill above it to cook on where the naked flame can cook the food. Gas bbq taste just like a charcoal bbq if you think any different it's because you're telling yourself that. If you did a blind test you wouldn't taste a difference.


MonkeyMan9011/05/2020 16:53

Gas barbie all the way. You don't spend hours lighting it and waiting for …Gas barbie all the way. You don't spend hours lighting it and waiting for the coals to get warm enough. You can be cooking in a minute with a gas barbie. And taste difference is minimal.



The fact your main point is that you can cook with a gas BBQ quicker and that the taste between the two is minimal means you have never had a proper charcoal BBQ session in your life.

Cooking is an art form and taking the time to prepare the cooking process and source the correct meat etc is all part of the process and the joy of outdoor cooking. As someone who will happily spend an hour or so before guests arrive setting up a BBQ and preparing the meat before hand, and also from experiencing proper pit BBQs in Texas where they cook the meat for days I politely suggest you try and experience meat from something other than a supermarket or McDonalds and that you are also simply wrong in your assessment that the taste difference is minimal.
ArcadeAssassin11/05/2020 17:46

The fact your main point is that you can cook with a gas BBQ quicker and …The fact your main point is that you can cook with a gas BBQ quicker and that the taste between the two is minimal means you have never had a proper charcoal BBQ session in your life. Cooking is an art form and taking the time to prepare the cooking process and source the correct meat etc is all part of the process and the joy of outdoor cooking. As someone who will happily spend an hour or so before guests arrive setting up a BBQ and preparing the meat before hand, and also from experiencing proper pit BBQs in Texas where they cook the meat for days I politely suggest you try and experience meat from something other than a supermarket or McDonalds and that you are also simply wrong in your assessment that the taste difference is minimal.


The fact you haven't even understood what I wrote means you need a lesson in listening. I commented how quick it was to light a barbie. Nobody mentioned preparation of food before hand.

It doesn't matter which barbie you use the food prep is going to be the same length.
Edited by: "MonkeyMan90" 11th May
MonkeyMan9011/05/2020 17:57

The fact you haven't even understood what I wrote means you need a lesson …The fact you haven't even understood what I wrote means you need a lesson in listening. I commented how quick it was to light a barbie. Nobody mentioned preparation of food before hand. It doesn't matter which barbie you use the food prep is going to be the same length.


Fair enough, we shall agree to disagree. But do try and have a proper charcoal BBQ experience at least once in your lifetime and I’m sure you’ll change your mind regarding the taste.
ArcadeAssassin11/05/2020 18:03

Fair enough, we shall agree to disagree. But do try and have a proper …Fair enough, we shall agree to disagree. But do try and have a proper charcoal BBQ experience at least once in your lifetime and I’m sure you’ll change your mind regarding the taste.


I've had one. Hence why I commented on the post. I couldn't comment which is better if I've only had 1.
Whats the point of having a BBQ if your using gas? May as well use the oven in the kitchen.

Charcoal 100%
Charcoal definitely!
(or braai wood as we use!)
ArcadeAssassin11/05/2020 17:46

The fact your main point is that you can cook with a gas BBQ quicker and …The fact your main point is that you can cook with a gas BBQ quicker and that the taste between the two is minimal means you have never had a proper charcoal BBQ session in your life. Cooking is an art form and taking the time to prepare the cooking process and source the correct meat etc is all part of the process and the joy of outdoor cooking. As someone who will happily spend an hour or so before guests arrive setting up a BBQ and preparing the meat before hand, and also from experiencing proper pit BBQs in Texas where they cook the meat for days I politely suggest you try and experience meat from something other than a supermarket or McDonalds and that you are also simply wrong in your assessment that the taste difference is minimal.


Your assumption that they have only eaten supermarket meat or McDonald’s is quite rude, however politely you suggest it.
40801194-EQSGb.jpgJust sayin'...
Hope this thread is still open! What are your thoughts on combi bbq's?? Just about to purchase one at Argos £225.
Thought it might be betterto have the convenience of gas.....but the option to charcoal too?
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