Can You Use Charcoal In A Gas Grill?

If you are a grilling enthusiast, you may have wondered whether you can use charcoal in a gas grill. It’s one of the most asked grilling questions after all.

It’s not recommended to use charcoal in a gas grill unless it has been designed as a dual-fuel grill. The majority of gas grills are designed to use propane or natural gas as fuel, which is very different from charcoal. When you use charcoal in a gas grill, it can create several problems that may ruin your grill or create a dangerous situation.

That’s the short answer. If you’d like to know more, read on.

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5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Charcoal In a Random Gas Grill

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why using charcoal in a gas grill is not recommended.

1) No reliable way to control the heat

With propane grills, it’s easy to control the heat. You just turn the burner’s knob and that’s it. But charcoals are a bit more complicated to master. You need to know the right amount of charcoal and how to arrange them on the grill. Moreover, charcoal grills have other means of keeping the temperature in lines, such as air vents or positionable charcoal grates to help maintain the heat at the desired level. Gas grills (usually) have none of those.

2) Heat damage

Believe it or not, charcoal grills can get much hotter than gas grills. While normal gas grills are designed to max out at about 550°F (287 °C), charcoal can reach temps twice as high (not that you should allow that to happen).

The materials and the design of gas grills may not be up to the task of handling such heat. As a result, the heat may damage or warp the grill or its parts. Be assured that no warranty will cover that damage.

3) Clogging

Another serious issue you can encounter is ash getting inside the gas burner. The charcoal dust and ash can clog up the burners and other parts of the grill. A clogged-up burner won’t get hot enough or won’t ignite at all. You can of course clean the burners but it’s not something you’d want to do on a fine Sunday afternoon.

4) Clean-up issues

Most gas grills are difficult to clean up as is. Now throw in some charcoal ash and unburnt pieces of coal, combine that with grease and you’ve got yourself a hard-to-clean mess.

5) Potential safety hazard

This can vary from grill to grill but with some grills. Although not very likely to happen, the burning coals may fall through the bottom of the grill and onto the ground. If it falls on anything flammable, this could be a potential fire hazard. Surely, no one wants their porch or deck to go up in flames.

How to Safely Use Charcoal in a Gas Grill

Grills and any other appliances or tools should be used only for the task they’ve been designed for. If you use it for something else, you risk damaging your appliance, and your possessions and even potentially hurting yourself or someone else.

If you still want to use charcoal for grilling, then my recommendation is to choose one of the three options below:

  • buy a charcoal grill
  • buy a grill that enables you to use both gas and charcoal
  • buy an accessory, such as a charcoal tray, that will fit your propane grill

Let’s have a look at all the options in more detail.

Buying a Charcoal Grill

Buying a charcoal grill is possibly the best choice if you would like to grill on charcoal or wood. By going this route, you will have a safe, dedicated grill doing the thing it’s been designed for.

It may seem like a hefty investment if you’ve already got a gas grill but charcoal grills are usually much cheaper unless you go for the top-of-the-line Weber grills or such.

Buying a Hybrid Grill

On the outside, hybrid grills may look like your run-of-the-mill gas grills. But they are different. These grills are designed to work with both gas and charcoal, meaning you can switch between the two easily.

Grill manufacturers go about this in two ways:

  1. Separated charcoal and gas chambers
  2. A single chamber with a removable charcoal tray

They both have their pros and cons.

Option 1

The first option pretty much means you’ve got two different grill side by side. The two sides can be used both simultaneously or individually and you can switch from gas to charcoal with ease.

The downside is these grills are fairly large and may not fit in a smaller patio.

A good example of such a hybrid grill is the Char-Griller 5030.

Char-Griller E5030 Dual Function 2-Burner Gas & Charcoal Grill, Black
  • Total cook area: 870 square inches
  • Primary cook area: 606 square inches
  • Easy dump ash pan
  • 24, 000 BTU’s
  • Porcelain coated cast iron grates

Option 2

These grills have an extra charcoal tray that fits over the burners (you usually have to remove the burner guards/deflectors). Load the tray with burning charcoal and off you go.

Some of these grills even allow you to light the charcoal with the gas burners, meaning you won’t need a chimney starter. The bigger models may even allow for one side to be used for charcoal and the other side for gas.

A good example of such a hybrid grill is the Char-Broil Gas2Coal 2.0.

Char-Broil Gas2Coal 3-Burner Liquid Propane and Charcoal Hybrid Grill
3-burner hybrid grill. Choose whether to use propane or charcoal. Larger models allow using both at the same time.

Buying a Fitting Charcoal Tray

The last viable option that’s probably the cheapest but not always possible is the charcoal tray. These trays are designed to fit inside the gas grill and hold the charcoal while it’s burning. It is certainly a better solution than just dumping the coal into the grill.

While the solution looks good on paper it’s not flawless.

First, you have to find a tray that’s designed to fit your grill. Some grill manufacturers such as Napoleon offer these trays themselves which is great because you know it will fit fine.

However, for most grills, you will have to go the third-party route and these trays may not be of the best quality so do your due diligence and research them before purchase.

Add Flavor To Your Propane Grill

If the only reason you want to use charcoal is for that special flavor, then you should know that there are other ways to add flavor to your propane-grilled food.

Various wood chips and chunks are available that can be added to your gas grill to help you achieve a delicious smoky flavor. Even pieces of charcoal can be used and you don’t have to worry about them damaging your propane grill.

The easiest way to use the chips is to use a smoke box that can be placed onto the grates. This is usually a metal container with holes in it. You place the chips inside and either light them up or leave them as they are as they will start smoking anyway. The smoke will then escape through the holes and infuse your food with flavor. Of course, you have to keep the lid of the grill closed for the smoke to do its job.

Another much cheaper option is to create a makeshift smoke box. Simply wrap your chips in aluminum foil and poke a few holes in the packet. Again, place the chips directly onto the grates and keep the lid closed for maximum flavor. Tinfoil pans can be used as well.

You can experiment with the type of wood you use to get the flavor you prefer. Hickory and mesquite are usually used for a smoky BBQ flavor but fruit woods such as cherry, apple, or plum can also be used for a sweeter flavor.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, using charcoal in a gas grill is not recommended as it can cause several problems that may damage the grill or create a hazardous situation. Some of the issues with using charcoal in a gas grill include heat damage, burner clogging, and difficulties in controlling the heat and cleaning up.

However, there are options available for those who want to use charcoal for grilling, such as buying a dedicated charcoal grill or purchasing a combo grill that enables you to use both gas and charcoal. Another option is to buy a charcoal tray that fits your propane grill, but it may not always be compatible.

In general, using appliances only for the task they were designed for is crucial for the safety of individuals and possessions.


Is it safe to use charcoal in a gas grill?

If you’re thinking about adding charcoal to your gas grill, be sure to check first whether it’s designed for that purpose. Without the proper grate or insert, using charcoal can cause damage – and even start a fire!

How do I regulate the temperature when using charcoal in a gas grill?

Unfortunately, since the majority of propane grills are not made for this purpose, there is no proper method to control the temperature. The amount of heat produced is impacted by the quantity of charcoal used, its arrangement, and whether or not the lid remains open or shut.

Last update on 2024-01-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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John Carder

John Carder is the founder of He loves to cook outdoors, especially over a campfire. John has a lovely wife and two cats who he loves dearly. In his spare time, he likes to play soccer and paint; he's not particularly good at either, but he enjoys the process nonetheless. He also has silly long hair which often gets in his way while cooking!