Gas Charcoal Combo Grills – Buyer’s Guide!

What is better, charcoal or gas? Who cares when you can have both!

Charcoal or Gas? Testing Grills That Use Both | Consumer Reports

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Summer vacation is a time to relax and have fun. Whether it’s camping at the lake or picnics in the backyard, family meals or neighborhood block parties, you want to enjoy life at this relaxed, slower pace. Take advantage of the kids being out of school, and the sun is up in the sky later at night.

What makes this picture-perfect? Grills! Nothing beats a quintessential summer cookout, and to become the neighborhood grill master, you need the best combo grill for the job!

List & Comparison of the Best Combo Grills:

PhotoProductSurfaceBTUDetails
Char-Broil 463370516Char-Broil 463370516420+120sq.in.40000View on Amazon
Blackstone 1555Blackstone 1555512sq.in.35000View on Amazon
Char-Griller E5030Char-Griller E5030870sq.in.24000View on Amazon
Royal Gourmet ZH3002-SRoyal Gourmet ZH3002-S742sq.in.27000View on Amazon
Smoke Hollow TC3718SBSmoke Hollow TC3718SB858sq.in.32000View on Amazon
1. Fire Magic Aurora A830i Built-in Dual Propane Gas And Charcoal Combo Bbq GrillFire Magic Aurora A830i828sq.in.50000View on Amazon

The issue is that with so many grills on the market, it can take forever to figure out the right grill for your needs.

What features are important? What cooking surface do you need? And are all thee hooks and knobs really necessary?? Whatever happened to the lakeside mini grill where you just dump in some charcoal and light it up?

If you are in a quandary, summer can pass you by entirely before you even narrow down the field. That’s why I did it for you. I have tested several of the summer grills out there and hand-picked the 6 best grills for the job.

You can buy any of these with confidence, knowing that they all meet a minimum set of standards in quality. Now, just grab the features that are right for your family and get grilling!

gas charcoal combo

However, I do care, and so should you, even when you do buy a combo gas and charcoal grill, you need to know the differences between the two and how to maximize the deliciousness of your food by using each one appropriately.

Now let’s take a look at these propane charcoal combo grills.

The Best Gas charcoal combo grills Reviews

Whether it’s with the family or the neighbors, the backyard or the lake, nothing quite beats the satisfaction of doing that chef’s apron, wielding those tools, and hearing everyone talk about those perfect grill marks on your hotdogs and burgers! That’s why the right grill is imperative.

I’ve broken down my favorite grills for you in a simple, visual comparison. The chart will list the key attributes you will need for each grill, and afterward, I will talk a little bit about the unique features of each grill, letting you know their strengths and weaknesses.

This means you can make a confident and informed buying decision and have the rest of the summer to kick back and enjoy it!

🥇 Char-Broil 463370516 Combo Grill

Features

  • Porcelain coated stainless steel burners are long lasting and easy to clean.
  • Gas grill can light charcoal, so there’s no need for lighter fluid.
  • Fold down side burner converts for more space when not in use.
  • Electronic ignition.
  • Metal side shelves for prep space and tool storage.
  • Temperature gauge lets you more easily track cooking times.

This is a nice grill for basic summer use. The temperature gauges let you know how hot your grill is, but in general you won’t be able to get it below 300 Fahrenheit, so low and slow cooking and smoking won’t work with this grill. The coals are also not adjustable, so they tend to be quite close to the meat.

Where it excels is the easy conversion from gas to charcoal, so you can start in one mode and finish it out in another to get a perfect cook, sear, or just a hint of smoking charcoal flavoring into the food.

Pros

  • Quick and easy gas to charcoal conversion in less than 60 seconds.
  • Easy to light charcoal.
  • Propane tank and charcoal tray stored out of sight.
  • Comes with a detailed and comprehensive warranty.

🥇 Blackstone 1555 Combo Grill

Features

  • Versatility – You can set it up to be a full grill, a full griddle, half and half, or remove both and place pots and pans on the open burners!
  • Heavy duty grill box with a vent and handle and steel griddle plate make this very durable.
  • Patented adjustable legs make sure your grill is steady in any terrain.

I was extremely skeptical of this grill when I saw it, but the satisfaction guarantee made it worth a try; there was nothing to lose. I’m so glad I did!! This grill is a great option for a modest budget that offers a ton of versatility compared to traditional grills!

I recommend this grill for travelers and outdoorsy people. There are other grills better suited to home patio use, but this one is a fantastic grill for people on the move! Take it with you to the lake, the beach, or pretty much anywhere you want to set up camp and cook pretty much anything you want on it. Open burners, griddles, grills, and smoke boxes mean you can cook nearly any style on this one little grill.

Pros

  • Portable – very little assembly required and adjustable legs will stabilize even on uneven ground.
  • Satisfaction guarantee: If you are ever unhappy for any reason, just call the company or return the grill!
  • Versatile – Cook in nearly any style you want.

🥇 Char-Griller E5030 Combo Grill

Features

  • Triple wall steel with insulation.
  • Dual smoke stacks.
  • Separated side by side grilling surfaces for gas and charcoal.
  • Adjustable grate height.
  • Warming rack and utensil hooks.

This is a nice side-by-side grill. A lot of customers have dubbed it the best of both worlds. It’s made with steel and cast iron, so it is extremely durable. If you are primarily a gas griller, there are better options for you.

This grill doesn’t offer a ton of power on the gas side, and it takes a while to heat up then quickly loses temperature when the lid opens.

That being said, it’s a great versatile option for charcoal grilling. You can use it as a charcoal quick cook, or you can set some wood chips in it and make a nice low and slow smoker with it.

I suggest cooking with the charcoal grill, then moving things over to the gas side on low heat and using that to keep things nice and warm while the new batch of meat is cooking.

Pros

  • Can be used as a smoker! Add some wood chips to the top of the charcoal and close the smoke stacks, then reduce heat.
  • Durable and long lasting.

🥇 Royal Gourmet ZH3002-S Combo Grill

Features

  • Unfolding side tables for added work space.
  • Firebox that tolerates up to 600 degrees of heat.
  • Wheels and casters for ease of movement.
  • Multiple air vents.
  • Automatic ignition system.
  • Full sized ash tray makes cleanup easy.

The Royal Gourmet is my runner up for best value grill. It is really good at temperature adjustment. You can have tons of control over how your food cooks with this grill. The gas burners are designed to evenly cook food, instead of having heat in the center and cool on the outsides. The charcoal tray is completely adjustable. The smoke stacks can be vented or closed. It also has several air vents, two at the top of the lid, and one at the front. There are 2 built in dampers, and 1 slide away vent.

Pros

  • The multiple air vents allow for easy temperature control at multiple places.
  • Adjustable charcoal pan allows you to decide how close the char gets to your meat for flavor and cook time versatility.
  • Bottle opener included with the grill so you can relax with friends while you grill.
  • Integrated took hanging spaces.

🥇 Smoke Hollow TC3718SB Combo Grill

Features

  • Flare guards.
  • 2 warming racks and a wire mesh bottom shelf.
  • 2 temperature gauges that work independently from each other.
  • Side smoker and firebox.
  • Side by side separated gas and charcoal grills.

This sucker can smoke!!!! If you are looking for a combo grill that will smoke like a dream, then look no further than this one! It may be smaller and a bit less durable than the other grills, but that firebox works wonders!! Add some mesquite to the charcoal and fire away for a mouth watering experience!

Pros

  • Firebox allows you to smoke meats for a nice wood flavor.
  • Left side burner on the gas grill is made for searing!

🥇 Fire Magic Aurora A830i Built-in Dual Propane Gas And Charcoal Combo BBQ Grill

This is the Fire Magic Aurora A830i Combo Grills Gas and Charcoal combo with smoker and rotisserie.

Performance

This is a professional style combo unit that gives you the ultimate in cooking experiences at a very hefty cost; this is the Fire Magic Aurora A830i.

This high-end commercial grade grill is used by professionals and home cooks seeking the ultimate cooking experience. This model is entirely made from stainless steel and is Equipped with two cast stainless steel “E” burners delivering 50,000 BTU’s under a 432 square inches of cooking surface (24″ x 18″).

This models ignition and control unit is powered by a 110 Volt plug-in electrical supply with 12-volt transformer and has 12-volt internal oven lamps, for easy nighttime grilling. The Electronic Spark ignition system with flash tubes and the control panel comes with polished comfort touch control knobs.

There is also 13,000 BTU recessed stainless steel rotisserie backburner, and a Spit rod storage rack.

The A830i comes with a Stainless steel valve manifold, Stainless steel rod cooking grids, Stainless steel warming rack, a Cooking grid lifter, and very light easy lift seamless hood with mounted analog thermometers.

Even the 36″ flex connector is made from Stainless steel flex connector, and there are Disposable drip tray liners to finish off.

The charcoal burner delivers 26,000 BTU under a 396 square inches of cooking surface (22″ x 18″) and comes with an Adjustable airflow fire pan, a Stainless steel warming rack and a grill matching the hood. The charcoal is easily loaded through an access door.

The overall cooking surface is 828 square inches, and the Cut-out Dimensions of this model are 50 1/4″w x 19 1/2″d x 12″h

Features

  • Diamond Sear Cooking Grids
  • Analog Thermometer
  • Hot Surface Ignition
  • Comfort touch knobs
  • Halogen Interior Lights
  • Cast Stainless Steel Burner

Recommendations

This is an amazing combo unit, yes, it comes with an amazing price too and is fit for professionals, restaurants, as well as for home cooks seeking the ultimate in cooking experiences.

How to choose a Combo Grill?

A grill is used for three styles of cooking:

  • Direct heat for high sear cooking such as open cooking steaks.
  • Indirect heat convention for cooking whole chickens, roasts and other food that requires either a long slow air circulating cook or a hotter medium timed cook.
  • Indirect heat smoke is roasting with a closed lid to provide smoky flavored food.

So, what’s the difference between the two processes for the three styles?

  • Initial heating up is the main difference; a gas grill heats up in minutes, a charcoal grill needs time to prepare.
  • Searing is the second difference; charcoal grills are better from searing steaks, they produce greater direct heat.

Those are the two main differences, since in most cases you never need to much heat to cook most products and all the top chefs and restaurants use gas and not charcoal for many reasons that also include the speed at which you prepare the grill, the speed at which you can control the temperature and the cleanliness of the environment.

To be honest, using charcoal is like using a horse and cart when compared to a car. Sure, it’s old-fashioned and fun, but it’s not as efficient for overall cooking, and apart from that sear, it doesn’t outperform gas.

When it comes to smokiness, you can get both from either type, all you need to do is add the smoking unit, or add smoking pellets on a metal surface, so they don’t burn with direct heat, and they start to emit that smoky flavoring steam.

However, the arguments for and against are irrelevant and not moot when you decide to buy a combo grill that gives you the benefit of both worlds.

Gas charcoal grill FAQ

Is charcoal or gas grill better?

Depends on whether you are a charcoal grill purist that will never trade “the ritual” of “playing with fire” for speed, control, and convenience, i.e. parameters that gas grill hotheads value the most. There is some taste difference as well, but not everyone can notice that.

You may not know, but there’s a real cold war going on between the fans of these cooking appliances, like between PC and console owners.

So there are of course several differences between these devices and you should consider various parameters, e.g. time, convenience, cleaning, food flavor, etc. – then you will know the answer.

Some major differences are presented below.

Grills are typically used for the following types of cooking:

  • Direct heat (e.g. cooking steaks or pork butts)
  • Indirect heat (for chickens and roasts)
  • Smoking (for ribs)

Due to the greasy drippings from cooked food that hit burning coals, charcoal grills provide a bit more smoky flavor to food than gas grills. But not for fast-cooking foods like burgers, hot dogs, and even certain types of steaks.

Gas grills, in turn, have some smoke/steam too, from the same drippings that are vaporized after hitting metal plates, ceramic or lava rocks. But that’s usually not enough for a good smoky flavor, and the meat may often become dry.

Propane grills will provide kind-of bacon-like flavor and charcoal grills will add some traditional and unique apple, hickory, cherry, pecan, and peach flavors to the meat, depending on the wood chips and charcoal used as a fuel.

So you have to taste the same meat cooked on both of these grills to know what’s yours.

Dumb tip: keep in mind, that if you have doubts on which grill to buy for yourself, adding some sauces, greens, seasonings and rubbing all that in your meat will erase your doubts – the meat will practically become the same, and you will notice no taste differences. Especially, if your eyes will be covered.

Most people will agree that meat cooked on a charcoal grill has a better flavor. But cooking on such an appliance may take quite a long time in terms of heating up, cooking, and cleaning the grill. More than that, the food needs precise attention while cooking.

First, you have to wait a while for the grill to heat up and then pay attention to the food, turning it over frequently. Plus, cooking also requires some good skills.

Gas grills, in turn, are fast to start and easier to clean, but the flavor is not that good as charcoal grills can provide. So if you need the best speed and flavor mix, a hybrid grill can be a good option.

Charcoal grills usually have a higher heat level than gas grills (up to 700F, though some expensive gas grills provide the same heat level). So while that may be a great benefit, you need to be careful when cooking on such a grill.

Some gloves, shovels, or tongs may be needed. Also, make sure you have a good meat thermometer, as built-in thermometers of most gas grills are not that precise.

So, to wrap it up:

  • Gas grills are easy to start, control, clean, and cook fast grilled dishes with. They come (or can be customized) with a variety of accessories to make your cooking process even easier, e.g. night lamps, side tables, racks, drawers, side burners, etc. Some may even have speakers or a DVD player (I have never met one, but I’m sure one is definitely out there somewhere).
  • The cons are that the meat may often get dry inside. But if you like your meat well-done, that shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Charcoal grills provide better flavor and juiciness (comes with practice), higher heat/smoke levels (perfect for red meat), and are more rewarding. They are capable of doing some real magic with your food when you learn how to use them right.

The drawbacks are that charcoal grills may be difficult to maintain and clean. But that depends on the cleaners you have (though, still, you will have to spend some time on that, more than you would, cleaning a gas grill).

Also, some of them are hard to light (some models require around 15 minutes or longer), and you can’t rapidly turn down the temperature, which is not the case with gas grills. Some flare-ups may often take place which may damage the food and even cause some injuries to you.

Can you put charcoal in a gas grill?

Not in a regular model, but in a combo (hybrid) grill. A combo gas-and-charcoal grill has more than a single fuel option, i.e. adding charcoal to a gas grill.

These grills typically have enough cooking space, electronic ignition, main and side burners, around 40.000 BTU’s, adjustable grate heights and temperature controls, durable stainless steel heat gauges, double-lined bottoms, warming racks, ash pans, etc. You can smoke and grill various foods and get delicious results.

There are also other hybrids like the hybrid infrared gas grills with traditional convection gas burners and an infrared burner in the back, allowing you to cook foods as at high so at low temperatures. Then there are gas smoker combo grills.

What’s a good BTU for gas grills?

Nowadays, when it comes to gas grills, we can choose from a variety of options. Most of them are really powerful, but the price may bite.

You may want to pay attention to your grill’s lid and check if it snugly covers the body. If that’s ok, gas grills (that heat cooking chamber by convection) with 75-100 BTUs per square inch will be fast to heat up and maintain cooking temperature.

There are also options with 50-80 BTUs for infrared grills (that converts its burners’ heat to radiant energy by restricting the airflow) which are good as well. But you have to check the lid on them too. It must fit the body tight.

What is the best combo grill?

You might want to consider Char-Griller with its 5050 Duo Gas-and-Charcoal Grill for its design, convenience, ease of cleaning, cooking space, and no overheating. There are also good models from Outdoor Leisure Products, Char-Broil, Dyna-Glo, Oklahoma Joe, Smoke Hollow, and GHP Group.

What are the best types of grills?

Some may, obviously, choose hybrids. But don’t forget about other separate grill types like smokers, electric grills, kettle grills, etc. Each type has its own advantages. So it depends on your priorities – you choose what matters to you the most. Special meet flavor or cooking/maintain convenience.

About the author

Jessica Nickson

Jessica Nickson

Jessica Nickson is a keen home and garden innovator with over 25 years of hands-on experience in, home improvement, landscape gardening and all things appliance related to making life easier and more interesting. You can contact her via e-mail - jessica@thehomedweller.com.

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