First of all, what’s a LotusGrill?
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.
Which LotusGrill model?
The standard model (shown here in orange) weighs 3.7kg and the cooking grid measures 320mm. Included in the kit are batteries and a carrying bag. A set including tools, bag and so on should cost you around £145.
Then, there’s the 21kg monster – the XXL LotusGrill, with a 600mm diameter top and enough room for food for a crowd. This one is so big it comes with its own wheely stand.
The LotusGrill Mini 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. It’s small enough to be powered by USB.
Accessories for your LotusGrill
There are sets available that work out more cheaply than buying bits and pieces individually. This starter set, for example, is around £150 and features the standard size LotusGrill.
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).
REMEMBER: There’s no reason why you can’t use ordinary pans on either barbecue. That’ll save you a lot of money.
Lighting the LotusGrill
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? Yes!
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.
Cobb or LotusGrill?
The LotusGrill comes in lots of colours and looks lovely. The Cobb is a more minimal, sleek design, all stainless steel and mesh.
The LotusGrill is faster and hotter than the Cobb, which is actually better as an outdoor oven rather than a barbecue. The size of the standard LotusGrill is good for three or four and 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. But there are starter sets available to keep the price down.
Of course, manufacturers are quick to jump on the bandwagon when a product becomes popular. So, you’ll see some models that seem a lot like the LotusGrill.
We can’t test them all, but one that does look worth the money is the FeuerDesign (around £110). It’s not much of a saving on the LotusGrill set, which gives you more accessories, but it does work well.
We weren’t that keen on the sticky-out knob, and we preferred the easy-availability of the LotusGrill accessories.
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.
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.
We really rated the LotusGrill, 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 LotusGrill, the Cobb (reviewed here) or the Cadac (see below). And send us your favourite recipes too.
Oh, and have a look at our favourite (more traditional) barbecues.
The high-pressure Safari Chef 2 is our gas-powered camping stove choice
We thought the Cadac Safari Chef 2 was the best size for portability and cooking options.
It’s foldable, comes with all the accessories we need and has the option of extras such as a baking stone, wok and more.
The price is reasonable and a stove powered from a refillable gas bottle is more economical than a throwaway canister and lastly. The stove is also quick to set up and pack away.
We’ve now been using ours for four years and it never lets us down!