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I've always been a charcoal guy, but as I'm thinking about buying a new grill I've looked at gas grills, with the convenience of cleaning, speed etc.

But I still can't help to think a modern oven would be able to fulfill a lot of what a gas grill can do (oven broiler plus convection at maximum temperature).

There is no flame, and the heat is from below - but how much does matter?

Disregarding any non-food aspects (pollution, being outdoor, having a beer while grilling), how big are the differences?

Edit: Commenter moscafj below wanted some things clarified, he was spot on. My initial thought was to buy a charcoal grill, and for most other stuff use oven. I've had some thoughts about gas, but I always feel that it's just an "outdoor oven with an open flame".

Thus, I'm now comparing a standard outdoor gas grill to a new indoor domestic oven (with all the bells and whistles I can get).

The "drippings landing on hot bars" I've heard about, but that's basically the only thing.

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    Please clarify, are you talking about the merits of an indoor oven vs. an outdoor gas BBQ grill? If so, there is a pretty large difference between roasting and grilling. For the latter, you need for the meat drippings to fall on coals (or, in the case of gas) hot bars or fake coals, in order to impart that grilled flavor. – moscafj Sep 17 '14 at 11:42
  • I think your "outdoor oven with an open flame" is spot-on. Since it's freestanding the grill can get a bit hotter; other than that, the differences are pretty minimal from a culinary perspective. For that reason, I tend to also favor charcoal. – logophobe Sep 17 '14 at 19:46
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While you are correct about the basics - both a grill and an oven can roast and sear, and it doesn't really matter if the heat comes from above or below.

However, there's some subtle details:

  • An oven will have fine temperature control (via a thermostat).

  • With an outdoor grill you can impart smoke-flavors (either via smoldering hardwood, or by burning drippings). While that's possible with an oven, unless you have one SERIOUSLY good ventilation-system, you shouldn't even try it.

  • Grills also have the advantage of being outside - cookouts are much less fun when you and your friends are standing in your kitchen, staring at your oven.

  • grills can also get much hotter than your standard oven (unless the grill completely sucks). Also, I'm assuming we're comparing gas oven to gas grills ... electric ovens are dryer than a gas oven or grill (as the combustion of the hydrocarbon results in water) – Joe Sep 17 '14 at 14:37
  • Okay, as I pointed out "being outside" is not the answer I'm looking for. So I guess I have three points; smoke flavours from burning drippings on hot bars or burning wood chips, possibly higher temperature, and more moisture. I'm trying to decide if charcoal + oven is a better choice than gas, so far gas is pretty much equal to charcoal... – NiklasJ Sep 17 '14 at 16:54
  • @NiklasJ - I'd like to emphasize that ovens have WAY better temperature control than most gas-grills. It's hard to set a grill to 425 and leave it for 3 hours to roast a turkey. – john3103 Sep 17 '14 at 20:16
  • ...Which is actually another point in the oven's favor. – logophobe Sep 18 '14 at 15:29

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