Is It Healthier To Cook With Charcoal Or Propane?

To cook with charcoal, add a savory touch to your food but when it comes to the health and environment, propane is the better option. The debate between propane and charcoal comes with several opinions.

Summer is incomplete without the savory and smokey aroma of barbecue. Even the idea of grilled meat is enough to bring pure summer bliss. Cooking with charcoal or propane comes with an array of probable health concerns that make you wonder if grilling your food is a good idea or not.

The high temperature and smoke refer to the complicated health effects of cooked food. The health effects of charcoal-grilled food and the quality and taste of propane-grilled food do matter. That’s why you need to know if it is healthier to cook with charcoal or propane.

So, let’s have a detailed look at the better, healthier, and tastier option.

Pros and Cons of Cooking with Charcoal Vs Propane.

There is no doubt about the magic that begins with the tossing of beef, sausage, or vegetables on the charcoal grill. The smoky, savory taste has its charm. However, the chemical reaction that occurs during this process results in adding some gnarly toxins to the environment and body.

Advantages of grilling with charcoal

Let’s have a look at the undeniable benefits of cooking with charcoal.

Full of flavors

Cooking with charcoal adds the smoke and the tender taste that cuisine with propane or electric grills can never beat. That’s the reason why 71% of American grillers give a go-ahead sign to charcoal grills.


Charcoal grills and smokers are cost-effective. You can buy a charcoal grill for just $350 or sometimes even less. While a propane grill will cost you around $1000.


As compared to lugging huge propane extension cords and tanks, you can just fold your charcoal grill and wheel it off to your car.


Charcoal grills do need a little bit of seasoning. But as compared to gas pellet or propane grill, its maintenance is a lot easier.

Disadvantages of Cooking with Charcoal.

There is no doubt that nothing can beat the taste of food cooked with charcoal. But the release of some toxic gases is also inevitable.

Added carcinogens

Grilling your food allows you to enjoy the fresh air and healthy meal without heating your house, but it also comes with some major health issues too. When it comes to cooking with charcoal, the carcinogens named polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are added to your food. Not only that, but when the fat from your food drips on the burning charcoal, it creates much more smoke and coats your food with PAHs.

The charcoal flames are a bit hotter than propane, that’s why they end up adding another nasty carcinogen known as heterocyclic amines or HCAs. However, you can reduce your food’s exposure to these carcinogens by removing excess fat from food, marinating your meat in vinegar and lemon, and flipping your food more frequently.

Emission of carbon monoxide

Though both charcoal and propane release carbon monoxide on burning. But charcoal releases at least 150 times more carbon monoxide than propane. According to research, typical charcoal releases 11 pounds of carbon dioxide per hour as compared to propane which releases 5.6 pounds.

Advantages of cooking with propane

Propane is a byproduct of the natural gas and petroleum refining process and is being widely used all over the world. When we compare the health benefits of cooking with charcoal or propane, propane is the clear winner.

Cleaner than charcoal

When it comes to environmentally friendly cooking, propane is the best option. Using propane to cook your food significantly reduces the risk of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Comprising the lowest carbon content in comparison with charcoal, propane provides you with healthier and environmentally friendly options.

Better temperature control

With propane, you see a visible, constant, and adjustable flame, making it easier to control the temperature. Propane gas heats up more evenly than charcoal and also disperse immediately once you turn it off.

Disadvantages of Cooking with Propane

Like charcoal, the use of propane gas has its disadvantages and concerns that cannot be ignored.

Easily combustible

In comparison with Charcoal, propane is an easily combustible fuel and if it leaks, a minor ignition will result in a disastrous explosion. The propane is stored in a tank and a dent or rupture in it will cause an explosion.

Delivery issues

Propane tanks are generally delivered to homes and are piped after that. You not only have to wait for it to be delivered but also have to store it safely. If you are living in a tiny house or during winters when roads have been blocked the delivery of propane gas becomes a real concern.


Though with charcoal grilling you will not have any regrets over taste when it comes to the health point of view, cooking with propane is better than with charcoal. It allows less emission of carcinogens and other toxic chemicals and is a healthier option for your food.

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