Testing the Lotus Grill barbecue – our long-awaited review

Lotus GrillWe’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.

Lotus GrillLike 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.

Lotus GrillThe 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 (hard-to-find) Lotus Mini Grill is aimed at backpackers. It has a 225mm cooking area and weighs just 2kg. This itttle 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). These 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.

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.

Lotus GrillLighting 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.

Lotus GrillSo 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 £120 for the grill, £50 for a lid. £170 for the XL. Check up-to-date prices and colour options here.

Lotus GrillOur menu

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 would find a good baker’s when camping).  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, tabasco etc

thumb_IMG_4717_1024Mash 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.

Grilled avocado

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.

Lotus GrillSc-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)
  1. Cook the onion and garlic gently for 10 minutes.

    Best gas-powered campstove. The Cadac.

  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Lotus GrillOur Turkish pide recipe comes from the brilliant Veggiestan cookbook. Never fails to impress.

We really rated the Lotus Grill, especially for its speed. Barbecues become an easier, more spontaneous affair when you don’t have to build in time waiting for the coals to be ready. Let us know what you think of the Lotus Grill, the Cobb (reviewed here) or the Cadac (reviewed here). And send us your favourite recipes too.

 

 

 

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8 Comments

  1. Keith Jager

    Used my new Lotus Grill for the first time last Saturday. Easy to transport, easy to light (as long as you remember to follow the instructions and turn the fan on BEFORE lighting the alcohol gel) ready to cook in 5/6 mins (under breezy conditions) nice char and a decent BBQ flavour, there are temp variations across the grill and this is useful once you’ve figured out where they are which is no different from other BBQ’s.
    Everything cleaned up pretty easily including the main SS bowl. Don’t understand a previous criticism on this point. Put the top grill in the dishwasher and came out almost cleaned of hard burned on residue. Just required a bit of extra scrubbing to remove the last stubborn bits.This indicates a good quality chroming process. Very similar to the quality of chrome plating on Bosch ovens. Scouring pad did get caught between the ridged centre plate and wire grill but I just adapted my cleaning method and scrubbed away from the centre plate.
    Short charcoal burning life may be an issue but I purchased a spare charcoal cage and had that on standby. Not required, BBQ’d Jerk Chicken and Tandoori lamb chops for 10 people easily and there was very little charcoal remaining to dispose of which suggests the charcoal burner is efficient. Very happy.

  2. used mine for the first time to do a barbie for nine and we all loved it – heated up amazingly quickly, no smoke … job done. one poster complained about metal bowl being difficult to clean but i found it relatively easy. mine was filled with fat and gunk but i wiped it out with kitchen roll and then soaked it a bit in washing up liquid, had to use a bit of elbow grease but and it looked good as new. you can put it all in the dishwasher (bar the charcoal container)

  3. The lotus doesn’t give your meat the chargrilled taste which to me is the whole point of a barbecue. The shiny bowl is terrible to clean after fat has burned onto it. I really wanted to love this but don’t unfortunately.

  4. I bought one of these and I was very impressed to start with. I loved the fact that I was barbecuing but I could control the heat by using the fan. We used it about 8 times before the fan started to make some strange sounds and we experienced flare ups. While it works it is impressive but I would question the longevity of the product.

  5. Last summer Aldi or Lidl did a very similar (read almost exact copy) device for something like £25. We have one and the only difference I can see is the charcoal canister is solid metal with louvres rather than mesh sides. Ours seems to smoke a bit on startup, but is pretty much smokeless when it is up and running.

  6. It sounds interesting, but too expensive! Surely most of the BBQ taste comes from the smoke? We’ve got a Weber Smokey Joe and love it….one bag of instant light charcoal and 15 minutes later you’re ready to cook.Plenty of meat for 4, put the lid on to keep it all moist and give it that smokey flavour………Oh, the Weber build quality is outstanding as well!

  7. Can’t comment on the longevity of the coal canister yet but we thought the food was perfectly barbecue-y, and great not to have the over-charredness.

  8. Two things I didn’t like about the Lotus (and the price?) because it IS smokeless I was not convinced the flavour was BBQ enough. And the mesh that holds the coals has to be handled with very great care after the first use. It almost reminded me of gas mantles if anyone can remember those! I had to replace mine and was told it as clearly stated in the instructions and I still haven’t seen that particular instruction yet.

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