Charcoal and propane lead the grill market today. Propane (gas) grills are ahead by a significant margin.
There’s a lot of debate when the two types of fuel are discussed, with health being a major talking point.
Is it healthier to cook with charcoal or propane? Is charcoal dangerous?
You want to make the right choice for your next grill. In the following points, we’ll compare the two options in terms of health and other features/benefits, to help you decide.
What are the Advantages of Charcoal Grilling?
Before we discuss the question of is it healthier to cook with charcoal or propane, let’s first consider the advantages of charcoal grilling.
Charcoal has been used throughout much of human history as cooking fuel.
It is efficient, affordable, and readily available.
Charcoal is a dense fuel, and it can be produced with leftovers from the timber industry, which makes it relatively environmentally friendly when it is used on a small scale (i.e., not as the primary fuel for a population).
For home cooks, charcoal does have its advantages.
- Charcoal produces intense heat, going beyond that of most gas grills. This allows for a better sear and crust on food, which can result in better flavor.
- You can take and use charcoal anywhere, which makes it popular for cooking on camping trips.
- You can arrange charcoal easily to create two cooking zones within the same grill.
- Charcoal is ideal for indirect cooking. You would need at least two burners to do the same with a gas grill.
- Charcoal makes it easy to add wood chips for improved flavor.
- Maintaining the heat of a charcoal grill is an involved process and for some home cooks, it comes with an increased sense of reward and satisfaction.
Charcoal is less convenient than gas but some home cooks swear by it.
However, there are still concerns. You’ve asked: is it healthier to cook with charcoal or propane?
In the following sections, we will get right down to the details of the question.
What are the Advantages of Gas Grilling?
Gas grilling is the most popular way to cook outdoors.
It’s convenient and easy and you can purchase propane just as readily as you can charcoal.
Many consider it easier to store propane because environmental conditions don’t matter as much.
There are benefits to cooking with gas.
- Gas is convenient and affordable over the long term.
- Propane is stored safely in a reinforced canister.
- Small gas grills use disposable canisters so you can cook with gas on camping trips.
- Propane gas burns cleaner than charcoal with fewer contaminants.
- It’s easier to start a propane grill and control the heat.
- The temperature may be lower than charcoal, but gas gets to peak temperature faster.
- You can simply turn a gas grill off, without waiting for the cooldown time of charcoal.
Convenience is a huge factor that shouldn’t be ignored. People love cooking with propane because it’s easy and intuitive.
Simply adjust the burner control, and the grill will respond immediately.
If you know how to operate a stove or oven, making the transition to a gas grill will be easy.
Is Propane Safer than Charcoal?
Charcoal needs to be stored somewhere cool with low humidity.
Although rare, charcoal can spontaneously combust when it’s wet.
This means that you should only ever store as much charcoal as you need for the next few grilling sessions.
Propane gas is stored in sealed canisters that are extremely reliable.
While you need to keep canisters out of the rain and away from direct sunlight for prolonged periods, it’s easier to store propane safely.
There’s also the fact that charcoal needs to cool down after you’ve finished cooking.
You could wait anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours before the leftover charcoal has cooled enough to be disposed of. This creates a safety risk.
If your charcoal grill tips and falls over while the coals are ignited, there’s a risk of a fire or injury.
There are still risks surrounding gas grills, but you can quickly shut off the propane and there are no hot solid fuel chunks to worry about.
Being careful while grilling is essential, but there’s less risk of things going wrong when cooking with propane gas.
If you want the safest and most stress-free option for your home, a propane grill will suit your needs.
Is Charcoal Cooking Bad for Your Health?
Charcoal cooking isn’t necessarily bad for your health. After all, we’ve been using it for countless generations.
But it isn’t as healthy as gas. Charcoal produces carcinogens when it burns.
These cancer-causing compounds can contaminate your food in small quantities.
There are no confirmed cases where diseases like cancer can be directly attributed to charcoal grilling, but the risk is still there.
For many people, peace of mind comes from reducing potential risks. In this case, charcoal should be eliminated.
Propane gas burns cleaner with fewer carcinogens produced by the ignited gas.
However, it’s important to note that food can produce carcinogens when it is burnt.
Searing food creates great flavor but going too far can increase the risk of ingesting carcinogens.
Your food should be browned and seared but never blackened.
Are Propane Grills Healthy?
We’ve mentioned that propane burns cleaner than charcoal. So, to answer the question of “are propane grills healthy?”, we have to say yes.
Cooking with propane doesn’t have any more inherent risk than cooking in your oven or on your stovetop in a pot, pan, or skillet.
Propane grills are healthy because fewer carcinogens are coming into contact with food, and the air around a propane grill is cleaner.
If you suffer sensitivity from smoke, then you’ll have a much better time cooking with propane than you will with charcoal.
You could also ask: are propane grills healthy for all ingredients?
This depends on your cooking style. If you are burning your food, using too much salt or grease, or consuming too many calories, then no type of grill will offset the health risks.
It’s always best to enjoy ingredients in moderation.
What are the Health Benefits of Grilling with Charcoal or Gas?
Are propane grills healthy when compared to other cooking methods? In this case, we can also say yes.
Grilling is an inherently healthier way to cook, providing that you aren’t excessively charring your food.
When you cook on a grill, fat is rendered and drips down onto the coal or burner guards.
This fat is vaporized and some of the compounds are reincorporated with the food on the cooking grids.
The result is more flavorful food with less fat content.
Is It Healthier to Cook with Charcoal or Propane – Key Points
To get deeper into the question “is it healthier to cook with charcoal or propane”, we need to reinforce some key points and facts…
- Grilling is healthier than other cooking methods, whether considering charcoal or gas.
- Charcoal produces more carcinogens that can come into contact with food.
- Propane burns cleaner with fewer contaminants and pollutants.
- Propane doesn’t produce smoke while burning so your lungs will be clearer.
- Propane gas is better for the environment.
Is it healthier to cook with charcoal or propane? It’s clear that propane is the answer.
Cleaner burning with fewer contaminants, propane is the healthiest way to cook outdoors.
When also considering the safety advantages and overall convenience of propane, it’s the obvious choice for most home cooks.
How Should You Store Charcoal and Propane?
In addition to asking “are propane grills healthy?” you should also ask “are propane grills safe?”
We’ve talked about how propane is safer because of how it’s easier to control your grill.
To enjoy all the safety of propane gas, you’ll need to make sure that your tank is stored correctly.
- The canister should be kept in a dry place in temperatures not exceeding 120°F. During the winter, the canister should be stored indoors or under a cover, and never subjected to temperatures below -40°F.
- Always keep your canister out of direct sunlight.
- Always be sure that the valve on the canister is turned to the “off” position when it isn’t in use.
Although propane canisters are durable, they won’t last forever.
Use your local propane tank swap/exchange service. You’ll get a freshly filled and inspected tank every time that you run empty.
What Type of Grill is Best for Your Needs?
Propane grills are best for the average home cook.
There are so many benefits to cooking with gas that easily outweigh the benefits of charcoal.
The improvements in safety, health, and convenience can’t be ignored.
What are the Best Propane Grills for Everyday Cooking?
You’ve asked, “is it healthier to cook with charcoal or propane?” and found that propane is the best option. The great thing about the propane grill market is that there’s a broad range of models to choose from.
- The American Gourmet Char-Broil Classic is a popular three-burner gas grill with side shelves and a generous hood. It can do anything from direct searing to indirect cooking away from the burner. The 360 square inches of cooking space is more than enough for most families and will even provide ample space when cooking food for around 10 guests at a time. This grill uses in-line stainless steel burners for clean and efficient burning.
- If you want a more durable grill for healthy gas cooking, you can consider a Weber Spirit II E-310. This is one of the most popular gas grills available today. You won’t have to worry about charcoal fuel or carefully controlling the temperature, because all the burners are powerful with accurate knobs. There’s even a built-in thermometer to ensure that the grill temperature is perfect for your ingredients. This is a high-quality gas grill made to last.
- Gas grills are available throughout the price range. You could even step up to a premium model if you want a larger cooking area, more burners for versatility, and the very best materials and durability. Napoleon is an alternative to Weber, making some of the best grills on the market. The Napoleon Rogue SE 525 makes extensive use of stainless steel in the construction and has five main burners, a rotisserie burner, a side burner, stainless steel searing plates, and 850 square inches of total cooking area. With 76,500 BTUs of heat potential, this will rival even a hot charcoal grill for the perfect sear.
We’ve touched on just three grills across the range but there are countless options for you to explore.
Grilling with propane is healthier than charcoal with fewer contaminants making it to your food.
Shop for a grill that suits your size and price requirements, and you’ll enjoy the safety and convenience of gas.
Is it Healthier to Cook with Charcoal or Propane? The Bottom Line
Are propane grills healthy? Yes! And you can find one at the perfect price point for you.
Is it healthier to cook with charcoal or propane?
There’s a clear winner with propane, making it obvious why most consumers and even professional chefs use gas instead of charcoal.
Cooking with charcoal is low risk but when the safety and health of your family are important, it pays to go with propane so that you can have complete peace of mind.
Propane grills cost more to buy, but the actual cost of fuel is lower over time, so things can balance out.
You can also get much more convenience and features from a propane grill that simply aren’t available with charcoal models.
You want to cook at home and have the smoothest and safest experience.
You want the health benefits of grilling with a clean fuel source that is low in carcinogens.
Choose a propane grill over charcoal if health and convenience are two of your key requirements.