Here’s a confession…we went off barbecues a few years ago. All that hassle, smoke and charred-outside/raw-inside food.
Then we found some barbecue designs that make things easier and tastier. So, here’s our guide to the best barbecues.
The best barbecue is…the one you actually use
We’ve tried them all – from £5 buckets and disposable trays to marvels of engineering.
For most people, the cheaper the better. If you’re only going to barbecue a couple of times a year, don’t make a production out of it.
You want to make the most of your time outside with friends or family and, to be honest, the food is sort of secondary.
There are lots of portable barbecues to choose from that fold up to avoid mess. We’ve tested some VERY bad ones with hinges and handles that break.
A bucket barbecue is neat and simple. Painted ones will lose their paint fairly quickly, so we like this £24 galvanised one. It has a bit bigger surface area than some and no paint to peel off.
For a family, we also like the look of this barbecue on legs. It’s not small, but does fold down for carrying around. Again, it’s stainless steel, quite sturdy and has a grill area big enough for a party. Includes tools, a non-stick grill pan and a grille that holds the charcola so it’s not put out by the ashes. The fact it’s raised up makes for more comfortable cooking. It costs around £50.
Serious barbecues for camp chefs
If you’re a big barbecue fan and you’re going to get a lot of use out of your kit, then it pays to buy better.
Actually, spending a bit on a well-designed barbecue can encourage you to eat outdoors because it’ll light faster and make cooking easier.
The two we recommend are the Cobb and the Lotus Grill, but the latter just pips it to prime position thanks to its built-in fan and temperature control. Both have lots of accessory options for baking, frying, griddling etc, and neither are cheap.
We’ve thoroughly tested both the Cobb and the Lotus Grill and you can see reviews and recipes here.
Beyond the barbecue
There are some wonderful stoves that use wood for cooking – so you can pick up sticks, pine cones and fallen branches and make outdoor eating even more of an experience.
We’ve got a full feature with recommendations for woodburning outdoor stoves, but the firm favourites seem to be the Anevay Frontier and Horizon stoves. The first is an amazingly portable stove that keeps you warm and has a cooking surface (it all folds down into a neat bag). The second is a super-efficient rocket stove that needs only sticks to keep it cooking.
Have a look at Biolite’s new FirePit barbecue too.
A smokeless wood-burning FirePit that the makers claim can go from spark-to-fire in less than 30 seconds, cook your meals, and give you a full view of the dancing flames. Burn charcoal or wood, and control the intensity with four-speed fan, powered by the FirePit’s rechargeable powerpack that can also charge your phones and tablets. There’s even a control app! Around £220
See more woodburning stoves here. We had great fun testing them all.
A little helping hand for perfect barbecuing
We’ve found a couple of things to help get your barbecue burning nicely. This chimney device takes your charcoal and encourages flames to rise to the top. It speeds up the process of getting the coals to a glowing state. Invaluable on a breezy day!
If you’ve got a favourite barbecue or a tip for making barbecuing easier and more enjoyable , let us know in the comments section below.
Check out our barbecue recipes too.
An indispensable item of barbecuing kit is the grill mat. These silicone mats sit on top of the grill grid and protect your food from the flames. It’s a way of avoiding too much charring and it makes it much easier to cook smaller pieces of food or ingredients that tend to break up (no more mushrooms dropping through the bars or fish flaking away).
They’re reusable and non-stick, make barbecuing healthier and you get the grill marks without the burning! Around £10 for a pack of five.