The Cobb vs the LotusGrill

Cobb oven and kebabsOur £5 barbecue bucket is no more! The bottom finally burnt through right in the midst of cooking our dinner, so the search is on for a replacement. How about a Cobb or a Lotus Grill? Are they really any better than a basic barbecue?

We’ve taken a close look at the Cobb barbecue grill and the battery-powered Lotus Grill – both pretty expensive options compared to disposable. barbecues, which are frankly rather rubbish.  The Cobb and LotusGrill, however,  promise faster and healthier cooking, smokeless light-ups and easy-clean parts. They also have accessories that turn them into stoves as well as barbecues – pizza plates, lids and griddles, for example.

We’ve given both a thorough road-test now. You can find the full Cobb review here. And the Lotus Grill review here. PLUS…we’ve reviewed the rather wonderful Cadac gas Safari Chef barbecue and cooker for those of you who prefer gas.

And, also have a look at our choice for more traditional charcoal barbecues.

The Cobb

Cobb oven

The Cobb barbecue is pretty versatile

It’s a barbecue at heart, but it can also roast, bake, fry, grill and even smoke food “to perfection”.

The charcoal (or ‘heat beads’ or the Cobb Cobblestone) goes into a wire basket, with a non-stick griddle above it. There’s a domed lid and a ‘moat’ around the fire that can hold vegetables, or a little water, wine or beer for flavour and moisture.

It takes between 15 and 25 minutes to get to cooking temperature and, depending on the fuel you use, can keep going for up to three hours. Fat and oil drain into the moat (so if you’ve got vegetables in there, you need to bear that in mind). It’s mainly stainless steel, weighs 3.8kg and is big enough to cook for between two and five people…but that rather depends on what you’re cooking and how big your appetite is!

Cobb kitchen in a boxThere are lots of accessories and kits based around the Cobb, and a larger family-size Supreme Cobb at around £220, but the basic barbecue (Premier) starts at around £130. Oh, and there’s a gas model too, which could be useful (see our cautionary Europe note at the end). We haven’t tried the gas version, so do let us know if you have an opinion on it.

Be prepared for all the extras you’ll WANT to buy!

New for 2019 – the Cobb Premier Air

The latest version is the Cobb Premier Air. This £145 model has been improved with better airflow, a new controllable vent on the domed lid, a removable heat chamber to make cleaning easier, more durable stainless steel for the fire grid and some other refinements too.

The Lotus Grill

LotusGrill barbecueIts bright colours and techie design draw the crowds at the camping shows, so just what is the Lotus Grill? Well, it’s a barbecue with a battery-operated fan system that blows air over the charcoal to create a higher temperature for a smokeless start and a super-fast warm-up time. The dial regulates the air-flow for control over your cooking temperature.

We like one health aspect of the Lotus Grill – excess fat and oil can’t reach the charcoal and burn. That means potentially harmful polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons shouldn’t be produced. There’s no definitive guideline on the risk of high-temperature meat cooking for cancer, but there is some evidence. Have a look at this Huffington Post article for some more information on that.

The makers recommend a good-quality hardwood charcoal rather than briquettes (definitely not heatbeads), and an ethanol (alcohol) lighting fuel not firelighters – we’d suggest bioethanol. The batteries are supposed to last for up to 60 hours (20-24 hours at maximum fan speed). There’s a family-sized XL version at around £200.

Best campstove. The Cadac. This is the older model, by the way. You can spot the new ones because they don’t have holes in the legs.

So, which should I buy?

The benefits of both the Cobb and the LotusGrill are the lack of mess and less smoke. The Cobb is proving interesting for outdoor cooks rather than barbecuers. The Lotus Grill is the best actual barbecue we’ve used. Find out why here. If you’re planning a European trip, though, remember that barbecues aren’t allowed on many sites because of the risk of fire. That’s why the gas-powered Cadac is becoming such a popular option.

Let us know your thoughts.

Plus, read our reviews of the best (and worst) gas camping stoves.

And take a look at the wood-burning camping stove options.

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When we find a new piece of camping or outdoor equipment that we love and that really works, it's here. Everything you see – from barbecues to mosquito repellent – has been tried and tested by a member of the Campfire team and is now one of their actual camping essentials ...
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  1. Christopher Barlow

    My mother has a Cobb, which is less than a year old. Can xomeone tell me why the bottom has started to melt? The enamel on bottom of my Cobb has started to peel off. Has this happened to anyone else’s? New last year.
    Ed: We’ve never heard of that before. In fact, the bottom of the Cobb is stainless steel and doesn’t get hot at all so that it can sit on a table. Inside the mesh outer, there’s the basket the coals go in. Is there any chance you have a fake version? Or are using it in an unusual way?!!! I’m sure the people over at Cobb will be able to help andf replace it if it’s so new.

  2. Hi there,

    could somebody who owns both, the cobb and the lotus please tell me something about / compare these two in regard of the smell nuisance? I’d like to buy one for my parents for their balcony. Since they live in a multi-family house where BBQ normally is forbidden, this aspect is really important.
    Furthermore it seems quite unhealthy looking at the very fast start of the cobble stone!? Seems like they have to use some pretty crazy chemicals in order to soak thoroughly through thee stone…?

    Thanks in advance!

  3. I have got the COBB and the LotusGrill. I would have to say having used them both the Lotus is basically the same design as the COBB except it has a fan to assist the flame. The COBB dosnt need a fan given the specially made brickettes which fire up immediately and get up to temperature very quickley. On the price the Lotus is pretty hefty with the basic grill coming in at about £120 and thats without a lid. To make one of these more versatile or to keep the rain off the food you then have to stump up a further £50-60 for a hood/lid! Thats if you can find a retailer that sells one. Its only recently they are popping up here and there in the UK. So now this BBQ has become about £180!! On top of this the hood/lid dosnt fit into the bag as so large and it is cumbersome if you want to take it to the beach or camping!! The COBB on the other hand starts off at about £99 and this includes both the BBQ and the Hood. If you opt to instead splash out and get the “kitchen in the Box ” Option for the COBB which has every accessory you could ever hope for this is around £200. £20 more than just the basic Lotusgrill and Hood!! Also the whole lot is designed amazingly so it all fits together snuggly in its carry bag which is easy to carry and actually not too heavy! Overall I would say the COBB is the better BBQ/cooker given its value for money, the vast amount of accessories making it very versatile and its portability. The Lotus Grill needs to come down in price to make it more attractive & better value for money given the COBB and offer more options in its range of accessories that are readily available on the UK market.

  4. Jim Bishop

    Had My Cobb some 15years, brilliant. Seems like Lotus very similar. Saw demo at NEC impressed but will stick by Cob,b which has never let me down.

  5. Philip Natty

    I bought my Cobb 20 years ago, the complete set, from the States. Would not camp or picnic without it, Roast, bake, fry, steam, boil the kettle, oh and barbeque. I have cooked meat, game fish, veg., pies , cakes, bread, you name it. Only had I fail, never try to roast a whole duck, ok it was crisp and delicious, but the fat overflowed from the moat, the clean up (in a field with small kettle and bowl) took ages. Also had to move the tent away from the “fat swamp” in the doorway, and the dogs dug a 3 foot hole where it happened.

  6. I love my Cobb and use it throughout the year both at home in the garden and when camping. I use it for everything – fry ups, bbqs, roasts, casseroles, toasted sarnies, heating ‘ready meals’ you name it. I’d love to know if a coffee percolator would work on the Cobb. Has anybody tried this as I don’t own one.

  7. The LotusGrill team say:
    “The review is great. Keep in mind that they do come with lids that allow you to pretty much cook anything, incl. 4 hour slow roasts to smoking fish. “

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