We’ve been promising to review the Lotus Grill ever since we thoroughly road-tested the Cobb. So here we are. Did it prove to be smokeless? Did it really only take three minutes to get to cooking temperature? Read on….
First of all, what’s a Lotus Grill? It’s a fan-assisted barbecue (battery-operated) that promises it’s ready for cooking just three minutes after lighting. It’s also claimed to be healthier because fat can’t drip onto the coals and burn.
Like the Cobb, the outside doesn’t get hot, so you can move it around and stand it on a table. Don’t underestimate how nice it is to cook while looking at your guests rather than having to tend a barbecue off to the side! A fan built into the body supplies the charcoal with air. There’s an on-off switch that doubles as heat control.
The standard model weighs 3.7kg and the cooking grid measures 320mm. Included in the kit are batteries and a carrying bag. There’s also an XL version with a 405mm cooking area. It weighs 6.5kg. It’s designed for up to 10 people, apparently (much depends on appetite!).
The Lotus Mini Grill is aimed at couples and backpackers. It has a 225mm cooking area and weighs just 2kg. This little one will cook for up to an hour.
There are accessories, including a pizza stone and teppanyaki plate, domed cooking lid and a glass lid (nice to be able to see the food without lifting the cover). There are sets available that work out more cheaply than buying bits and pieces individually. The accessories for the Lotus Grill are a tad expensive, but you may not even need them. We actually used the griddle and lid from our gas-powered Cadac.
The lids work like the Cobb lid, turning your barbecue into an oven that will roast or bake. With the Cobb that took some trial and error, but it’s fun. We even made (slightly charred) cupcakes. The Cobb does offer more cooking surfaces (frying pan and wok, for example), but there’s no reason why you can’t use ordinary pans on either barbecue.
Lighting the Lotus Grill
Dead easy! The charcoal goes into a neat ‘canister’ with a lid. You pour a line of ethanol lighting gel onto the trivet, light it and place it in the bottom of the stainless steel bowl. You then place the charcoal canister on top and switch on the fan at its highest. Amazing…within three minutes we had glowing coals ready for cooking. We were already won over!
Is it smoke-free?
Because the charcoal is protected by a lid and a flat plate in the centre of the barbecue grid, there is simply no smoke when lighting. And, because fat doesn’t drop onto the hot coals, there was no smoke during cooking either.
So what did we think?
We loved it. The best barbecue we’d ever used and the best steaks we’d ever cooked – perfectly brown on the outside, pink and tender inside. You can see our menu and recipes below.
It’s faster and hotter than the Cobb, which is actually better as an outdoor oven rather than a barbecue. The size was good for four and it was (relatively) easy to clean. We were also surprised at how quiet and unnoticeable the fan was. It’s more expensive than the Cobb, which includes a lid. If you do get the Lotus Grill lid, it won’t fit in the carry bag. The Lotus Grill comes in lots of colours and looks lovely. The Cobb is a more minimal, sleek design, all stainless steel and mesh.
Cost? Around £130 for the grill, £50 for a lid. £2000 for the XL. Check up-to-date prices and colour options here.
We cooked steak (notoriously hard to barbecue without charring on the outside and turning into leather), asparagus with blue cheese sauce, griddled avocado (!), salad and some Turkish pide bread (we made our own for our at-home test, but have a look at our article on baking while travelling). All recipes for four
Barbecued asparagus with blue cheese and chili sauces
- 50g blue cheese (we used organic Devil’s Rock by Pextenement in Todmorden)
- 75g thick yoghurt
- snips of chives or parsley
- lots of asparagus
- your favourite hot sauce – sweet chili, sriracha, tabasco etc
Mash the cheese and yoghurt until smoothish. Add a sprinkling of chives or something else green – it looks a bit grey otherwise! Wash the asparagus, remove any woodiness (usually the base, sometimes older stems need peeling with a veg peeler). Rub with oil and cook on the hot barbecue for 30 seconds to a minute. Season and serve with the cheese and hot sauces for dipping.
Weird but delicious. Halve your avocados and remove the stone. Don’t peel them! Rub the cut side with olive oil and barbecue for no more than a minute. Slash each surface so that dressing will seep in. Season with a simple mix of salt, lemon juice and toasted walnuts maybe, a bit of any leftover blue cheese sauce from the asparagus course.
Sc-rump-tious steaks with fruity barbecue sauce
This was going to be chicken recipe, but we failed to find proper free-range in three butcher’s shops and at a ‘farmshop’ market stall. All said things like “it’s high welfare” or “it’s farm-reared” or even “it’s from Huddersfield”, but none was true free-range. It’s worth remembering that you may get a cock-and-bull story unless you probe!
- Four lean steaks (flat iron, onglet, whatever)
- Salt and pepper
For the sauce
- 4tbsp olive oil
- a small onion and four garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 4tbsp tomato ketchup
- 1tbsp brown sauce
- 150ml vegetable stock
- 1tbsp runny honey
- chopped chili or cayenne pepper
- Four plump stoned dates, finely chopped
- grated orange zest (optional)
- Cook the onion and garlic gently for 10 minutes.
- Add the dates, ketchup, sauce, stock, honey and chili/cayenne. Simmer until thickened. Remove from the heat, add the orange zest and seasoning. We usually make this at home and take it along in a pot when camping, but it’s perfectly do-able on a camping stove like our Cadac Safari Chef too.
- Marinate the steaks for as long as you can (setting aside half the sauce to pour over later). Cook on a hot barbecue. You should leave the meat to rest before eating. We couldn’t wait and it was still delicious. Serve with the rest of the sauce. If you’ve got any of the blue cheese sauce left, that’s fabulous with it too.
Our Turkish pide recipe comes from the brilliant Veggiestan cookbook. Never fails to impress.