Wood or Gas Braai? Does it Matter?

Wood or Gas Braai? Does it Matter?

Summer in South Africa would simply not be complete without the tantalizing aroma of the weekend braai.  It’s primal, it’s delicious, and it makes us happy. But, have you wondered whether a wood or gas braai is the better choice? Is there a definitive answer to this burning question?

As it happens, there are benefits to both, and ultimately it comes down to personal preference. 

Let’s take a look at the key differences between gas and wood braais and explore together which is the best option for you.

Wood vs Gas Braai – The Hot BBQ Debate

When it comes to braaing, some people prefer the more traditional option of a wood-fired braai, while others opt for the convenience and speed of the gas braai. What’s the difference?

The main difference between wood and gas braais is the fuel they use. Wood braais burn wood and charcoal, which provide a smoky flavour to your food. Gas braais, on the other hand, burn gas and are generally easier to use.

What are some of the pros and cons?

Start-up time

There’s no question that gas is a clear winner when it comes to speed. The gas braai can be up to temperature in less than a minute, compared to a much longer process with a wood or charcoal fire. 

Taste & Flavour

Wood and charcoal braais are generally regarded as providing a more authentic barbecue flavour to your food, which many people prefer. Gas braais can also provide a smoky flavour with the use of wood chips, but it won’t be quite the same as a wood or charcoal braai.


With a gas braai, you will not have to worry about collecting wood, keeping it dry, cleaning out ashes, or making sure the fire doesn’t go out. You won’t have to worry about it getting too hot, either! It’s as convenient as stove top cooking, which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you view your braai day. With a click of the ignition, your fire’s lit and you’re ready to pop on a sizzler.

How often should I clean my gas braai?

To ensure your gas braai is operating properly and safely, it’s important to keep it clean. For regular maintenance, it is recommended that you clean your gas braai every 4-6 months. The best way to do this is to turn off the gas supply, disconnect the gas bottle, and then use a soft cloth and soapy water to wipe down the outside of the braai. Many are built from stainless steel, which makes cleaning a simple affair.

Make sure to pay special attention to the burner, removing any dust or dirt that has accumulated. It’s also important to check the nozzle and hose regularly for any signs of wear and tear. Finally, be sure to inspect the gas bottle connection for any signs of corrosion or blockages.


Safety is a hot topic in the world of outdoor cooking. The gas braai has the advantage here, but it’s not as straightforward as it may seem. Gas fires are easier to control than wood fires and are, therefore, less likely to cause a problem. However, gas can still flare up if you don’t know what you’re doing, especially with cheap tubes made of thin metal that can easily warp or melt when exposed to high heat (which can happen with the cheaper brands).

Wood, on the other hand, is less prone to causing injuries because of its slow-burning nature. But it does have its own set of hazards: namely, sparks and embers that the unwary may step on or touch. 


At first glance, wood may seem like the cheaper option. The price of charcoal briquettes varies depending on where you live, but it’s usually around R50 per kilo. Wood is also available in smaller boxes for braai lovers who don’t have time to go out and cut their own firewood. (Apparently, people still do this!) Also, you can build a wood fire pretty much anywhere with a few rocks or bricks. 

Gas braais are always going to be more expensive initially. They have several safety features and add-ons that a standard wood or charcoal braai doesn’t need. However, a gas bottle will last a lot longer than a bag of charcoal, so your fuel works out cheaper in the long run. 

What accessories do I need for a gas braai?

When it comes to grilling with gas, there are a few essential braai accessories you’ll need to make the most out of your cooking experience. To get started, you’ll need a gas cylinder that is compatible with your braai, as well as a gas regulator for the tank. You’ll also need a long-handled lighter or match to light the gas if there is no built-in ignition. Oh, and a braai brush or scraper to keep your grates clean.

To protect yourself from heat and sparks, you’ll also need heat-resistant gloves and preferably, an apron. Finally, you’ll want to have a set of tongs, a spatula, and other utensils to help you flip, move, and serve your food. With these items, you’ll be ready to start grilling!

Impact on climate change

So you’re probably wondering whether gas braais create greenhouse gases and contribute to climate change. This is a big topic covered in depth here, but the bottom line is that natural wood releases fewer toxins when burned than briquettes or some charcoals. Natural gas or propane-fired grills emit less pollution than wood or charcoal, but they still form part of the fossil fuel industry, which is a messy one on its own. 

Gas braais are cleaner and more efficient than wood ones, but both have their benefits and drawbacks.

Gas is cleaner than wood because it doesn’t produce smoke or ash when used properly. This means that there will be no residue left on your meat after cooking.

Secondly, gas grills are much more efficient than traditional fires—you can get them up to higher temperatures in less time with less effort required on your part. This also makes it easier to cook a steak exactly how you like it: well done or medium rare? Cook one side longer than another? No problem! Just turn up the dial and get started!

Some pretty trendy choices are available if you’re opting for a patio gas braai. For example, the Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Furnace 3 Burner Gas Braai would suit any home, and is tidy, portable, and lightweight.

Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Furnace 3 Burner Gas Braai Mint

Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Furnace 3 Burner Gas Braai Mint

On the other hand, there is something to be said for lighting a wood fire and carefully tending it, Pilsner in hand, surrounded by the buzz of friends and family.

This journey is not about cooking food; it’s about enjoying the flame’s heat and the smell of the marinade sizzling on the coals. And, of course, time spent just being together with the people we care about. Sometimes convenience and speed must take a back seat to the gentle art of the South African braai. 

If you love your wood/charcoal braai, then you will definitely enjoy the Big Green Egg, which is a freestanding, versatile cooker that can be used as a smoker, a grill, and an oven – and it’s built to last. It’s fuel efficient and clean and looks very smart – in a peculiar, egg-shaped sort of way.

Big Green Egg Large - ALHD1

Big Green Egg Large – ALHD1

Smoking Hot Deals for Your Grill

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article. But hopefully, we’ve given you the information you need to decide what kind of braai will work best for your needs. If you want to get the most out of your outdoor cooking experience and save some money along the way, a gas-powered model might be ideal. But if saving money isn’t an issue, or if other factors are more important than convenience or speed, wood would be worth considering.

The truth is that both options come with their own set of pros and cons depending on your individual needs and preferences. There isn’t really one option that stands out above all others. It all comes down to personal preference and how you prefer to get your delicious food from fridge to table top.

Looking to buy a braai? Take a look at our range of outdoor cooking options, select your nearest store and get shopping.