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Choosing Gas or Charcoal for your Portable Grill

Charcoal vs Propane portable GrillIf you ask my father, he would confidently tell you that a “real” portable grill uses charcoal. But even he, like many expert BBQers, has turned in the coals in trade for a tank in his later years, but I’m sure if you asked him, he’d probably make up some lame excuse as to why he switched to gas. I, on the other hand, have always preferred using a propane powered portable grill. I have never used charcoal, and even though I grew up with my father piling a bunch of briquets and watching them slowly smolder into life, it was just never something that appealed to me. You will find many opinions on the subject of using gas or propane versus charcoal. You many already have your own opinion as you read this. Don’t worry, I’m not writing today to tell you that gas is the best for a portable grill, but rather to help you decide for yourself which is best for you!


Gas Portable Grill

  • Extremely easy to start and heat up, and adjust the temperature as needed with less risk to overcooking your food
  • Clean, very little cleanup, and the propane tanks are much easier to store
  • Much better for rainy days – the gas portable grill doesn’t mind a bit of water
  • Many models come with more than one burner, so you can cook different foods at different temperatures on the same portable grill.

Charcoal Portable Grill

  • Much different flavor – some really prefer the taste – I can’t say it’s not good!
  • Variety: Briquets can come in different smoke flavors, such as hickory and mesquite, or you can add wood chips to attain different flavors
  • Different temperatures or cooking styles can be achieved by using different amounts of briquets in different formations
  • When you’re running low on heat, just add more briquets!



Gas Portable Grill

  • If you run out of propane, it could cost you your meal
  • Has more parts, therefore more chances to break down
  • Very few options for smoke flavoring beyond artificial flavors and cedar planks, which can easily catch on fire
  • Lines to the propane tank can break, making it a serious safety hazard if they aren’t checked regularly for cracks.
  • Can be far more expensive to buy.

Charcoal Portable Grill

  • Briquets are messy – can leave black smudges everywhere, and ashes need to be disposed of
  • While it’s easy to heat your portable grill up, it’s harder to cool it down when you need to – think overcooking
  • While easy-light versions of briquets are available, making warm-up time faster, you will still need 10-15 minutes before your grill is ready
  • If your briquets get wet, you’re not using your portable Grill!


Which fuel is better for your Portable Grill?

As you can see, both propane and charcoal have their strengths and weaknesses. Quite frankly, I believe it all comes down to personal preference. On one side, you have the convenience and cleanliness of a propane portable grill. On the other side, you have the flavor and control of a charcoal grill. For me, the decision is instantly made when it comes to the mess. Then again, I don’t have a back yard – I might change my mind if I didn’t have to drag a bag of ash through my apartment to get rid of it. But then again, the convenience of a gas portable grill seems to be that much more appealing to me. Feel free to read my portable gas grill buyer’s guide. You can also browse for charcoal and propane grills at Amazon. Really, I don’t think there is a better choice – it’s all about personal preference! You are the only one who can decide which style of portable grill is right for you.

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