The first choice you usually have to make when buying a new grill is what it is going to run on. It’s not a small choice, either.
Any quick search of the internet will give you dozens of articles, videos, and forum posts where grill lovers all over the world vigorously insist that one type of fuel is the “right” choice.
Thankfully, for those pitmasters who like their choices a little less binary, there is another option. Gas-charcoal combo grills offer the speed and convenience of gas with the rich smoky flavor of charcoal.
So, if you are interested in the chocolate and peanut butter combo of the grilling world, we’ve reviewed four of the best gas-charcoal combo grills on the market and a buyer’s guide to bring you up to speed on the pros and cons of these jack-of-all-trades grills.
The best gas and charcoal combination grills reviewed
The Char-Griller 5050 Duo Gas-and-Charcoal Grill solves the problems of having to choose between gas and charcoal by simply putting two cooking surfaces next to each other.
The gas surface has three stainless steel burners with a total output of 40,800 BTUs, which can quickly bring the temperature up to 500°F – more than hot enough to get a good sear on a steak.
The electric starters mean you can get cooking with the push of a button, and there is also an additional fold-away side burner to keep food warm or for sauces.
The charcoal side has an adjustable pan that can be raised to different heights to help control cooking temperature and to make clearing out the ash as easy as possible. The double-insulated base of the Char-Griller improves heat retention and means you need to use less charcoal.
Both sides combine to give you 1,260 square inches of cooking space, including warming racks, and the grill itself is made of sturdy and corrosion-resistant stainless steel.
The non-stick porcelain grates make for easy cleanup, and the Char-Griller has a couple of bells and whistles, like a condiment and utensil rack and grate lifter for when you need to add more charcoal.
What we like:
- Lots of cooking space across the two grills
- The grill comes with electric gas starters
- Additional side burner
- High BTU output burners
What we don’t like:
- The grill comes in a fair amount of pieces and owners have reported that assembly instructions are not particularly clear
If you are looking for a single multi-fuel grill to take care of nearly all your cooking needs, then the Oklahoma Joe’s Charcoal/LP Gas/Smoker Combo could well be what you need.
This beast combines a 3-burner gas grill, a traditional charcoal grill, and an offset smoker so you can cook it all without needing a BBQ joint’s worth of kit cluttering up your backyard.
The charcoal and gas cooking surfaces are mounted side by side, making it very easy to put together a two-zone cooking set up.
The gas side has three 12,000 BTU burners for a total of 36,000 BTUs of heat and has an additional side burner.
The charcoal side also doubles as a smoker because of the offset firebox. You can load the charcoal into the offset chamber and use the multiple dampers across the smoking chamber and firebox to channel the heat and smoke across the food without exposing it to any direct heat. Or, simply load charcoal into the main chamber for traditional grilling.
The Charcoal/LP Gas/Smoker Combo is built of heavy gauge steel, but it’s not stainless, so best to invest in a cover if you plan on leaving it outside.
Both cooking chambers and the firebox come with lid-mounted temperature gauges, cool-touch steel handles, and have a total of six cooking grates with 1,060 square inches of cooking surface. More than enough for a large cookout.
What we like:
- The grill allows you to cook with gas, charcoal, and acts as a smoker
- The grill comes with offset firebox and side burner
- Lid mounted temperature gauges
- Cool-touch handles
What we don’t like:
- The wheels look cool, but are wobbly and make the grill difficult to move. And at 31.5 x 74 x 50.6 inches and 205lbs, this is a large and heavy piece grill to move.
Most of the combo grills on this list have side by side cooking surfaces, one for charcoal, one for gas.
This setup works really well if you have the space for it, but what if you are short on floor space?
Well, the Char-Broil Gas2Coal 3-Burner Liquid Propane and Charcoal Hybrid Grill is a single cooking surface model that can be converted from gas to charcoal in around 60 seconds.
The gas mode has three 40,000-BTU main burners under 420 square inches of porcelain-coated, cast-iron cooking grates and an additional warming rack built into the hood. There is also a side shelf for your utensils and an extra side burner, which can be used in either mode.
To convert from gas to charcoal, you simply remove the grates, add in the charcoal tray, (which is specifically designed to reduce flare-ups) and then use the gas ignition system to light the coals.
At just 52.5 x 24.6 x 47.5 inches and 115lbs, the Char-Broil Gas2Coal 3-Burner Liquid Propane and Charcoal Hybrid Grill is an excellent choice if you are looking for a compact, but efficient, combo grill.
It might be small, but the Char-Broil Gas2Coal 3-Burner still comes with accessories like temperature gauges, a side burner, and a single push ignition system.
What we like:
- Compact and light design
- Easy to convert from gas to charcoal
- Side burner and utility shelf
- Inbuilt charcoal and gas storage
What we don’t like:
- Smaller overall cooking surface
The Coyote Centaur 50-Inch Natural Gas/Charcoal Dual Fuel Grill looks and feels like a high-end product.
The entire grill is made of continuously welded stainless steel with seamless, polished edges, and provides a durable and sturdy cooking surface.
Like most combo grills, the Coyote Centaur has side by side gas and charcoal grill boxes with a huge total cooking area of 1200 square inches.
On the gas side, there are two gas burners putting out a total of 40,000 BTUs, and on the charcoal side, an adjustable height charcoal tray, heat control grids, and adjustable airflow dampers allow you to control the cooking heat with precision.
The Coyote Centaur also supports wood chip cooking on the charcoal side.
The only downside to the Coyote Centaur is that the cart is an optional extra. This is great if you are looking to add a grill to existing infrastructure, but if you want a standard carted outdoor grill, you will need to purchase the cart separately.
What we like:
- Wood chip cooking
- Durable construction
- Great finish
- High output gas burners
What we don’t like:
- Does not come with a cart as standard
Should you get a gas-charcoal combo grill?
Now you’ve seen some of the best gas and charcoal combo grills on the market, but before you rush to buy one it’s worth taking a few minuites to understand if a combo grill is right for you.
To help you make the right decision, here is a quick guide to the pros and cons of combo grills.
While there are many great benefits to being able to cook with both gas and charcoal, combo grills are not without their drawbacks.
- Quality and price: as a rule, combo grills tend to fall into one of two camps, poor quality or very expensive. If you want a combo grill that will stand the test of time, you’re going to need to shell out for it. All of the grills in this review are top quality, but they aren’t exactly cheap.
- Jack of all trades, master of none: as with most combination cooking solutions, most combo grills just won’t be as effective as a grill dedicated to one type of fuel. If you find that you enjoy the convenience and speed of cooking with gas and only occasionally feel the need for that charcoal taste, you might want to instead invest in a high-end gas grill and a budget charcoal kettle grill.
- Smaller cooking space: while most of the grills we’ve reviewed above boast an ample overall cooking space, this is predicated on your always cooking with both types of fuel. If you aren’t planning on using charcoal because you just want to get the grill lit and the food cooked as soon as possible, you’re effectively cutting your cooking space in half.
- The size: because most combo grills use two cooking surfaces side by side, they tend to be larger and bulkier than a standard grill. This extra bulk is fine if you have a few acres out back, but if you’ve got a more modest outside space, a huge combo grill might make it a little cramped.
Despite certain drawbacks, there are some obvious benefits to owning a combo grill.
- Best of both worlds: the convenience of gas and the wonderful smokey flavor of cooking with charcoal all rolled into one package is what draws most people to combo grills. Depending on your model, you could also use it as a smoker, or cook with wood chips for a real all-in-one BBQ machine.
- Save money compared to buying two stand-alone grills: while the vast majority of combo grills are more expensive than one single-fuel grill, they aren’t so expensive that they outprice two high-end single fuel grills. So, if you find yourself constantly wanting to cook with both gas and charcoal, a combo grill could save you money in the long run.
- Good if space is limited: convertible grills, like the Char-Broil Gas2Coal 3-Burner Liquid Propane and Charcoal Hybrid Grill, buck the trend of being chunky monsters and are quite compact. If you don’t have a lot of space to work with, but are still committed to having a comb grill, then finding a conversion model could help you with the logistics of fitting it into your yard.
What to look for when buying a gas-charcoal hybrid?
If you’ve decided that a gas-charcoal hybrid is precisely the grill for you, here are a couple of buying tips to make sure you find the grill that lives up to your expectations.
The build quality
Combo grills have a lot of moving parts, and the more complicated they get, the more there is to go wrong. Because of this, you’ll want to find a grill with the excellent build quality, so keep an eye out for all stainless steel construction and porcelain covered grill plates.
Good manufacturers back their build quality up with a good warranty.
You’ll want to look for a grill whose warranty covers it for at least five years and extends to all the working parts, like the gas burners and the ignition system, as these are often the first things to break.
Quality of life accessories like a piezo ignition system for the gas burners, a separate side burner, fold-out side tables, and room for you to store extra food and cooking utensils is what separates a good grill from a great one.
Look for a grill with the proper bells and whistles, and don’t underestimate how much more comfortable they can make your life in the long run.
Wrapping it all up
Combo grills are tricky. On the surface, they look like the perfect combination of the ease of gas and the extra flavor of charcoal. But as with most things, it’s not quite that simple.
To get the best from a combo grill, you need to make sure you are going to be regularly cooking with both fuels; otherwise, you’ll just end up with a smaller gas or charcoal grill with fewer features.
If you are committed to that combo life, however, you’ll find that your new combination grill will allow you to whip up meals with all the low hassle speed of gas and the deep smokey taste of charcoal. Perfect!
Do you have any tips on getting the best from a gas-charcoal combo grill? Maybe a recipe or two that works best on a 2-zone cooking surface. We’d love it if you’d let us know in the comments below!