Review: 3 Charcoal and Gas Combo Grills
Do you love the flavor of charcoal grilled food, but also fancy the convenience of gas grilling? You can have the best of both worlds with a gas and charcoal grill combo.
Yes, that’s right. One grill, two separate cooking areas: one for gas, one for charcoal.
At the moment the market is not exactly flooded with choice when it comes to charcoal and gas combo grills. It is a bit of a niche market, as most people prefer to use separate grills.
Those who do use combo grills seem quite pleased with the result. I managed to track down three models for you.
Typical Price Range: $450 – $600 (get latest price)
The Char-Broil gas and charcoal grill combo is a beautiful piece of work, with sleek lines and a practical layout. It offers a total of 1,006 total square inches of cooking surface, split into two equal sized 503 square inch cooking areas for gas and charcoal respectively.
The gas side gives you a 3 burner grill with a total of 36,000 BTU, with an additional 12,000 BTU side burner. It features porcelain-coated cast iron grates and a temperature gauge. At first glance this may sound like too little heat for such a large cooking area, but the grill does a good job and we couldn’t find any customer complaints about the cooking ability of this unit.
On the charcoal side you get a removable ash pan, an easy access door, a temperature gauge and a very handy charcoal grate with a crank adjustable height. The porcelain coated cooking grates are perhaps not the right choice for charcoal, as they won’t give you the same level of heat transfer that you’ll get with cast iron or stainless steel grates.
“This BBQ grill is awesome, it has all the options that you can get. Had a out door party for 40 people and it stood up to the challange and got the job done.” Arthur Coykendall, Amazon Verified Purchaser
“Excellent item, was a little difficult to set up with just 1 person but definitely doable. Gas and charcoal side of grill both did excellent job. Set up tri tip on both sides, burgers on both sides, asparagus on the warming rack as well as potatoes. Charcoal side had a more smoky flavor than a normal charcoal grill would but was great overall. Gas side performed to my expectations as well, couldn’t be happier.” Michael N. Snider, Amazon Verified Purchaser
Overall the Char-Broil Combo Grill is a decent piece of equipment for the price and scores a 4.1 out of 5 rating at Amazon.com. It doesn’t use the best parts available, but for the huge cooking area it offers and the competitive price you should expect a few compromises.
Typical price range: $500 – $700 (get latest price)
On the gas side you get a 350 square inch cooking area with heavy duty enamel covered cast iron cooking grates and a temperature gauge. You get two u-shaped main burners offering a total of 30,000 BTU, which is a nice spread of heat for this size. You also get a 12,000 BTU stainless steel side burner.
On the charcoal side you also get a 350 square inch cooking area, with a 10,000 BTU stainless steel charcoal ignition burner and an adjustable charcoal tray. Both the gas and charcoal ignitions are controlled by a single button, with a knob adjustment to select the burner you wish to ignite.
A few minor annoyances take the shine of perfection off the Dyna-Glo:
- the charcoal basket doesn’t fit as tightly as it should perhaps and appears to be a little flimsy
- the wheels are too small for smooth rolling on anything other than a perfectly level surface
- the charcoal ignition burner only hits part of the charcoal, and you may need to use firelighters to get it all going at once
- takes a while to assemble
Most buyers are willing to overlook these factors in favor of what they feel is a well constructed combo grill that produces great results, and the product scores 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com.
Here are some buyer summaries:
“The combined surface area of both sides is plenty to cook food for 8-10 people rather quickly if you are doing a full meal on the grill. You could easily do 20+ hamburgers at once using both sides. Overall, I highly recommend this grill. I researched a lot and could not find a better option for a dual fuel grill. The pros far outweigh the few annoyances that the grill has. “ Jason L. Strickland, Amazon Verified Purchaser
“The gas side is a dream to use. You don’t get the flavor you get from the charcoal but its quick and easy. I had the gas grill and the side burner running at max and there was not loss in performance. If you want a combination grill then I would highly recommend this one. It’s certainly not the cheapest one available but as with all things you get what you pay for.” Richard J. Barnes, Amazon Verified Purchaser
UPDATE: Dyna-Glo has released a new version of this grill, with a larger cooking space. We don’t know much about it yet, but you can view it by clicking here.
Typical price range: $340 – $500 (get latest price)
At the bottom of the price scale comes the Char-Griller 5050, a gas and charcoal combo grill that will only set you back as much as a single Weber Platinum charcoal grill.
It offers you a huge 1,260 square inches of total cooking space, split evenly between the gas and charcoal sides.
To heat all of that up you get a decent 40,800 BTU across 3 gas burners, with a 12,000 BTU side burner. A stainless steel heat gauge helps you keep an eye on things and you get porcelain coated cast iron grates. The charcoal side features adjustable grate height to help you control the heat on your meat.
The great features unfortunately can’t quite make up for what you’ll be getting: a fairly cheaply constructed budget combo grill. The first glaring issue we picked up was that many people reported excessive rust on the item starting inside the first 3 months in some cases. The overall craftsmanship on this product is just not up to scratch.
Other small issues abound with this product:
- no bumpers around the grates which make it easy for food to slide off
- joints that don’t fit tightly cause food residue to drip on the propane tanks
- low quality wheels make moving difficult
- when you raise the lids grease drips off the back
- rust prone
The overall opinion suggests that this is a good budget grill that will last you about 2 years, although with painstaking maintenance you may get a little more out of it. The fact that it is so rust prone doesn’t make it suitable for use in humid, high rainfall areas.
When it works, it works fairly well. The gas burners in particular heat up fast and gets the job done admirably. You can buy a firebox for the charcoal side to turn it into a smoker.
In practice this is not a bad grill, but the shoddy construction lets it down, it’s a bit messy and leaky and you’ll have to do a lot of maintenance to keep it from rusting. Set your expectations to “budget quality” and you shouldn’t be disappointed though.
It you can afford it at all, try one of the other units we reviewed on this page.
The Char-Griller 5050 scores an average of 3.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com