Experts reveal cost premium of charcoal BBQs – and they're shockingly more expensive than gas ones

Running a charcoal BBQ costs more than you think, according to recent data

Food cooking on a charcoal bbq
(Image credit: Ago Pelisaar / EyeEm/ Getty)

With summer barbecue season in full swing, many gardeners are enjoying the smokey flavor of food cooked on a charcoal grill. But did you know that using a charcoal bbq comes at a substantial cost premium?

Recent research* into the running costs of different types of barbecues reveal some uncomfortable financial truths about opting for charcoal, even though many charcoal grills are among the best BBQ models available. 

barbecue lit with flames

(Image credit: Getty images)

Which is cheaper to run: a charcoal or gas BBQ?

When it comes to value, gas BBQs are cheapest to run. According to research, a gas BBQ should cost you roughly £1 ($1.4) per use versus a charcoal BBQ that will charge around £2 ($2.75) per use. Although we're talking small amounts, charcoal is still twice as expensive to run than gas – you can add up the expensive over many years, and suddenly the difference becomes substantial.

However, when it comes to the upfront investment, the best gas BBQ tends to be more expensive with prices reaching into the thousands for some of the most exclusive models. On the other hand, charcoal BBQs, particularly disposable ones, can be purchased for as little as £3 (around $4).

The choice, in effect, is about a greater initial investment vs. higher costs long-term. Of course, an affordable charcoal bbq will still turn out to be cheaper to run if it lasts a good few years than a top-of-the range gas model that will cost over a thousand to buy. 

It's in the mid-range, where BBQ costs are comparable, that you'll feel the most difference. In this case, it may be worth your while researching BBQ deals and getting a good gas model at a discount. 


bbq chicken on grill

(Image credit: Charlotte Tolhurs/Future)

Stephen Murray, energy expert at MoneySuperMarket, commented: 'If you’re in the market for a new BBQ and keeping an eye on household finances, think about how often you’ll be barbecuing. If you plan to barbecue a lot, you might be best off purchasing a gas BBQ as the running costs are cheaper and they’re often quicker to heat up. 

'However, if you place a premium on that charred taste, a charcoal BBQ will be a better fit – just be mindful that you’ll be spending a little more to keep your grill cooking up a storm day in day out.'

* Research from MoneySuperMarket

Gas and charcoal BBQ deals

Ready to invest in a new BBQ so you can get grilling in style this summer? Whether you prefer cooking with gas or charcoal, you'll find the top deals at today's best prices below. 

Anna writes about interior design and gardening. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and many other publications. She is an experienced outdoor and indoor gardener and has a passion for growing roses and Japanese maples in her outside space.