Is it Cheaper to Grill with Propane or Charcoal?

In this article, we will discuss if it is cheaper to grill with the use of propane or charcoal. When grilling with propane or charcoal, people would consider factors like flavor, features, cooking time, and temperature control. All of these factors contribute to the whole grilling experience. However, a lot of people are also wondering if propane or charcoal grill is cost-effective. Which is your best choice when it comes to price? Let us find out the answer below.

Is it cheaper to grill with propane or charcoal? As compared to a charcoal grill, a propane grill may cost more. However, propane is cheaper to use than charcoal. Depending on how much you cook, a 15 lbs propane bottle can last up to 20 nights of cooking, while 15 lbs of charcoal can only last up to 3 cooking. Hence, propane can save money in the long run as it can last longer than charcoal.

Is a charcoal grill expensive? How much does a propane grill cost? Is charcoal cheaper than propane? How long does charcoal last? These are some of the questions that we will discuss. Read the rest of the article below for more tips and information.

Is it cheaper to grill with propane or charcoal
Image by biggi219 from Pixabay

Propane vs. Charcoal: Which is Cheaper?

It is recommended that when purchasing a grill, one should not only focus on the initial purchase price, but also the operating and maintenance costs. The initial purchase price of a charcoal grill is less expensive as compared to a propane grill. But will it still be cheaper in the long run? Below are the things that you need to consider when thinking about purchasing a propane or charcoal grill.

Purchase Price

In general, the initial purchase price of charcoal grills is cheaper. The basic charcoal grills are available for as little as 30 dollars, while high-end charcoal grills can cost as much as 2,000 dollars. In contrast, the initial purchase price of propane grills is more expensive. The smallest two-burner versions of propane grills usually start at around 125 dollars for the low-end models. The price of four-burner models typically starts at around 200 dollars, while high-end ones can cost from 1,000 dollars or more.

Fuel Costs

Another thing that you need to consider when purchasing a grill is the fuel cost. Assuming that you are using 40 charcoal briquettes per barbecue, a charcoal barbecue can cost around 2.50 dollars every cookout. On the other hand, a gallon of propane can last up to three cookouts on average use. Hence, a 5-gallon tank can last for 15 cookouts. In the long run, you can be able to save on your budget if you use a propane grill.

Maintenance Costs

When it comes to maintenance, charcoal grills are easy to maintain. Just make sure that you replace the grill grates every one or two years especially for lower-end models. On the other hand, propane grills require more maintenance. If you do not have a direct connection to your home gas line, you need to constantly refill the propane tank. Aside from that, you also have to maintain the gas connections and lines, grates, as well as igniter. Furthermore, you should keep the igniter collection box, burners, and drip tray clean.

Is a Charcoal Grill Expensive?

A charcoal grill is an affordable type of grill. It can be purchased for as little as 20 dollars, while the high-end models can cost over 2,000 dollars. Take note that different factors affect the prices of the charcoal grill and one of them is durability. The least expensive grills are simply not built to last as compared to expensive models.

How Much Does a Propane Grill Cost?

The average cost of a propane gas grill that can be used for backyard BBQ is around 100 to 400 dollars. Usually, the grills around this price range are made of cast aluminum, but can also have some parts of lower quality stainless steel. The price of propane grills depends on their durability, features, size, and heat temperature.

How Long Does a Charcoal Grill Last?

How long a charcoal grill can last will have to depend on the maintenance and care that it receives. Moreover, the material that it is made from will affect how long it can last. If you are taking good care of your grill, it can last for a long time.

Charcoal and Propane Grills Price Comparison

Below, we will compare the price of charcoal and propane grills according to fuel cost and price range. You need to take note of both factors when purchasing a grill because it can affect how much you spend on the grill every time you are using it.

Charcoal Grill

Fuel Cost

Usually, the price of charcoal is 1.50 dollars per cooking session. Take note that the cost will vary depending on the type and brand of charcoal that is used. Briquette charcoal can cost an average price of 3 to 3.50 dollars every cooking session. On the other hand, the natural lump has an average price of 1.50 to 1.75 dollars per cooking session.

Price Range

The price of charcoal grills depends on their model, features, and size. Tailgating style grills can cost as low as 29 dollars, while standard charcoal grills can cost between 75 to 150 dollars. High-end charcoal grills can cost between 1,000 to 2,000 dollars.

Propane Grills

Fuel Cost

The price of propane is usually 1 dollar per hour. The fuel cost for a propane grill is around 1 dollar to operate for an hour depending on propane gas prices. You can also use more affordable natural gas, but you need to install a connection to your home gas line.

Price Range

Simple models of propane grills can range between 500 to 1,500 dollars. If you want to purchase premium models, expect the price to be around 2,000 dollars and more.

Should I Buy a Propane Grill or Charcoal?

The choice between purchasing a propane or charcoal grill will have to depend on your preferences and budget. Propane grills are more expensive as compared to charcoal grills because of their mechanisms and complexity. Below are some factors that you also need to consider before making your purchase.


If you are very particular in the taste of your BBQ, then you need to find out the taste difference between a charcoal and propane grill. Charcoal gives a smokier taste. This is because when the oil from the meat drips into the flame, they vaporized and a portion penetrates the food that you are cooking. On the other hand, propane grills are designed to have a metal or ceramic, or metal slab that covers the flame. Hence, any food drippings will hit this surface and do not touch the meat. The advantage of using a propane grill is that it produces more steam which gives the meat more moisture. You can also check out this article titled, does gas grill taste like charcoal? We have shared the different factors that can affect the taste of your BBQ.

✅ Video – Charcoal vs. Gas: Can You Taste the Difference?

Pitmaster X shared the video below on YouTube. It discusses the difference between a charcoal and gas grill when it comes to taste, features, cooking time, and many more. You can check out the video below for more tips and information.


You can easily control the temperature of a propane grill. Once you are familiar with the grill, you will find it easy to monitor. You can also decide to lower or higher the temperature as needed. On the other hand, you need to add or remove charcoal from the grill to change the temperature which can take time and effort.

Cooking Time

Another thing that you need to consider is the cooking time. Charcoal grills take longer to preheat. As a result, this may delay your serving time and is not the best choice especially if you are in a hurry to prepare the BBQ meat. On the other hand, a propane gas grill will easily heat up. Some propane grills can take only 10 minutes to preheat. Moreover, propane grills can hold a temperature, while charcoal grills need constant monitoring of temperature.


In general, it is easier to clean a propane grill than cleaning a charcoal grill. The charcoal from the grill is dirty to handle, and you also have to deal with all the ashes left on the grill. On the other hand, a propane grill features an ashtray that can easily be removed. We have also shared this article tiled, should you clean the grill after every use? We have shared tips and information on how to properly clean the grill to avoid rusting and other possible damages.

Is Propane Better than Charcoal?

Cooking with the used propane is better than using charcoal. Propane grills do not need any sort of open flame. It is also easier and safer to use. As compared to lighting a charcoal grill, it is easy to open the propane tank valve and pushing an ignite button to light the grill. Furthermore, charcoal can take longer to light and get up to the right cooking temperature. Grilling with the use of charcoal requires much effort and it is also messier and dirtier to handle as compared to propane. You can also check out this article that discusses how close a grill be to a fence. We have shared tips and information regarding outdoor grilling that you can refer to.


In this article, we have discussed if it is cheaper to grill with propane or charcoal. We have found out that while the initial purchase price of a charcoal grill is less expensive, it will cost you more money in the long run. This is because the fuel price of cooking with a charcoal grill is higher than when cooking using a propane grill. We hope that the information that we have shared has helped you decide which type of grill is best for your preferences and budget. Thank you for reading!

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