Can I Use Charcoal in My Gas Grill?

Not every grill can handle multiple heat sources

Salmon on charcoal grill
Niklas Thiemann / Getty Images

Gas grills are great and charcoal grills also have their advantages. But can you use charcoal in your gas grill? It's a question that gets asked more than you think and the answer depends on your grill.

Charcoal in a Gas Grill?

For the majority of gas grills, you should not be adding charcoal. They are designed to handle the heat created by burners and not the heat created by burning charcoal. That's a very important distinction to make and it could save your grill.

There are many reasons for this. First of all, charcoal will fill your gas grill with ash, which is a mess to clean up. It's also very likely that you will have hot burning embers falling out of your grill.

The best argument, however, is that the heat from burning charcoal can cause a significant amount of damage to the components of a gas grill. If you throw charcoal into a gas grill, you will probably have to replace several parts, if not the entire grill itself. The burners of many modern grills, in particular, are easily damaged and can be clogged with ash and debris.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are, of course, exceptions. Some gas grills are designed to work with charcoal as a secondary fuel source. In general, these are either not very good at handling both fuels or they tend to be very expensive.

While not ideal, these dual-fuel grills are available. For instance, most Napoleon gas grills have optional charcoal baskets that allow charcoal to be used.

If your gas grill has the charcoal fuel option, make sure you consult the owner's manual and follow the instructions exactly. This will ensure that you do not damage any of the grill's components. A simple mistake can end up costing you a lot of money.

Gas Grill Can't Heat up?

The reason many people look to the charcoal option is that their gas grill has a hard time reaching a good temperature. If this is the case, then there is probably something wrong with it that you need to get fixed.

Rather than trying to boost the heat with charcoal, you should check into repairing your gas grill. Spending a little money for the repair is likely going to be more economical than the potential of costly damage from using charcoal.