Summer is finally here and we've already had a few rare BBQ-ready days of fine warm weather in 2020. With all of us currently locked down as well, having the best BBQ in the garden is a must - so nabbing yourself the best barbecue you can is, well, an essential purchase.
Yes, you can't leave your house much right now and big gatherings around a rack of smoked meats are off the menu for the foreseeable. But that does not rule out BBQs altogether.
UPDATE: As much as you need to sort out your BBQ situation, if you are cooking your food in the middle of a hell hole then you also need to head to our best garden tools guide. In the list you will find a whole host of goodies that will help get your garden into decent shape, and some that will just frankly be very cool to use - a weed burner, anyone?
Keep it in the family and a barbecue is still a great way to take the monotony out of lockdown.
If you don’t already have a BBQ, then we’ve done a bit of the leg-work for you so you can get a better idea of which one to spend your hard-earned money on.
It may well be a good idea to buy your BBQ out of season, so check out our best barbecue guide and see if any of these hot things take your fancy.
Once you've done with the grilling, head over to our best food processors guide. And if you head to the bottom of this article, we offer expert buying advice on the type of BBQ you should be buying, as well as offering up some fantastic BBQ cooking ideas.
1. Weber Master-Touch GBS Premium E-5775
One of the best-known BBQs from household name Weber, the Master-Touch has been described as a ‘griller’s grill’, but you can also put it to use when making a Sunday roast. There’s also a specific ‘smoke’ setting for when you want to just take a day for yourself and/or a small number of guests and leave ribs or bigger joints cooking for a while at a low temperature.
What type of BBQ is the Weber Master-Touch GBS Premium E-5775?
Who is it best for?
Those who want that authentic smoke taste from a grill that is one of the most advanced around.
2. Landmann Kentucky Smoker
Every chain restaurant seems to have pulled pork or brisket on the menu, sometimes both, but there’s something more fulfilling about learning to smoke it yourself. The Landmann Kentucky Smoker prioritises the ‘low and slow’ method of cooking, allowing you to throw in a big, well-seasoned joint and let the charcoal and wood chips do the work. You can also use it like a traditional BBQ, but smoking is where it’s at.
What type of BBQ is the Landmann Kentucky Smoker?
A charcoal smoker (that can use wood chips in)
Who is is best for?
Those who want to impress their mates with long smoked peppers and fish and meat. While it's also a traditional BBQ, it's the smoker option that elevates this BBQ.
3. Large Big Green Egg
The Big Green Egg claims to fit eight steaks or six chickens in its large ceramic BBQ, and for a while it was the only egg-shaped Kamado grill on the market. The design fits a few needs, from slow-cooking a pork shoulder until the meat falls off the bone to getting hot enough to give a pizza a proper crispness. It’s not cheap (the larger sizes hit four figures) but it is versatile.
What type of BBQ is The Big Green Egg?
Who is it for?
Those who don't just want to BBQ but want to make a statement with both their cooking and their product. This is a BBQ that you will want to have pride and place in your garden, not hidden away in the corner somewhere.
4. Weber Genesis II E-310 GBS
Weber has thought of a lot of things for this addition to the Genesis range, from stainless steel side tables to hooks for your utensils. The built-in lid thermometer makes it easier to make sure things aren’t getting too hot (or not hot enough). It’s worth noting that this one takes a little while to assemble, so don’t try setting it all up on the day of a cookout unless you like extra stress.
What type of BBQ is the Weber Genesis II E-310 GBS?
Who is it for?
Those who want to be a pro chef when it comes to BBQ-ing. This is a BBQ that will be with your for the long haul, even if setup at the start is a little fiddly.
5. VidaXL Kamado Barbecue Grill Smoker
Aldi is known predominantly for catering to those on a budget, and while this doesn’t come especially cheap, it still caters to buyers who can’t afford to drop a grand on a grill this summer. The Japanese design keeps in heat with its unconventional egg shape, and is good for giving food a smoky flavour. One for cooking a whole load of chicken wings and hot dogs at a US-inspired Fourth of July cookout, perhaps.
What kind of BBQ is the VidaXL Kamado Barbecue Grill Smoker?
Who is it for?
This is an unconventional BBQ for those who want to impress with their smoker abilities but don't want to spend a fortune in the process.
6. Napoleon Pro Cart Charcoal
If you’ve ever tried to host a gathering of any kind in the UK, you’ll know you’re at the mercy of the weather. A cart BBQ has the benefit of being easy to wheel out of harm's way. This Napoleon model is also not intrusively big, though that doesn’t mean it isn’t heavy. Keeps its heat well, which is good news if you want to spend an afternoon grilling.
What type of BBQ is the Napoleon Pro Cart Charcoal?
Who is it for?
Those who haven't go the biggest garden but want a decent BBQ that's easy to use and has that authentic charcoal grill taste.
7. Cadac Carri Chef 2
Barbecues aren’t just for your back garden, and the Carri-Chef is popular with those who like to cook while camping. It’s easy to assemble, with a range of drop-in tops, and as the name suggests can be carried to wherever you need to use it (not that you can’t use it in your garden too). You can even add a pizza stone as an optional extra if you so choose.
What type of BBQ is the Cadac Carri Chef 2?
Who is it for?
The adventurous types who can't go without their sausage sandwich in the morning. This is a portable grilling machine that is great for taking away camping with you.
8. Everdure by Heston Blumenthal CUBE Charcoal Barbeque
This model, part of chef Blumenthal’s names, has portability in mind – think picnics and impromptu cooking sessions rather than big blowouts. But that’s reflected in the price. If you have friends over for drinks and suddenly decide you fancy a steak, this is a sound choice. It prides itself on being entirely portable, and comes with an integrated bamboo prep board to ensure you can set up and go on the move.
What type of BBQ is the Everdure by Heston Blumenthal CUBE Charcoal Barbeque?
Who is it for?
The foodies of the world who want to take a BBQ with them, one that looks unlike any other their fellow campers will have. This isn't just a BBQ either but a prep station, too.
9. Bodum Frykat
We wouldn't suggest a Bodum Frykat for a permanent fixture in your garden that will be used just about every week for a grill-fest. But it is a great, and stylish, choice for UK-based holidays, trips to the beach, or any parks that haven't banned BBQs. It's more sturdy than the average small barbeque and has an all-important silicone silicone grip for safe handling.
What type of BBQ is the Bodum Frykat?
Who is it for?
Those who want to get out and camp but want the best food as well. This is a portable BBQ that is a lot of fun to use and easy to handle when the going gets hot.
10. Weber Pulse 1000
OK, so this is arguably not a BBQ at all. The Weber Pulse 1000 is an electric grill, letting you get the barbecue experience even if you live in a flat with no outdoor space beyond a tiny balcony. It will get you sear marks, if not the characteristic taste of charcoal cooking. Zero smoke, near-zero effort and reliable results.
What type of BBQ is the Weber Pulse 1000?
Who is it for?
City types that have a balcony and not much else? This is really a very fancy portable grill but it does a fantastic job of grilling meats without all that smoke nonsense.
11. Char-Broil All-Star
If you're looking for a good all-rounder barbecue that's ideal for smaller gardens, then the All-Star model from Char-Broil is perfect for you. It's a gas grill that's compact enough for patios and bigger balconies, which is portable enough to be moved around a small garden and has brilliant grilling performance.
What type of BBQ is the Char-Broil All-Star?
Who is it for?
Those who want a BBQ that's easy to use, isn't too big and is packed with lots of innovative features.
12. Char-Broil The Big Easy Smoker
One of the major selling points of The Big Easy is its ability to cook meat more evenly thanks to its ‘TRU-Infrared’ technology, which is probably pretty useful if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t like attending to the BBQ every waking moment. It’s a gas smoker, which means it could be worth adding wood chips to the smoker box to get the smoky flavour you’re after.
What type of BBQ is the Char-Broil The Big Easy Smoker?
Who is it for?
Those who want the BBQ to pretty much cook the meat itself - the TRU-Infrared cooking technology is an absolute game changer.
How to buy the best BBQ
The type of BBQ you are on the lookout for all depends on a number of things, including: size, ease of use, the fuel you want to use.
There’s no point buying a four burner with a mountain of chef accessories if you only have half a small patio and are cooking near your house.
On the flipside, you’ll be disappointed if you but a simple kettle BBQ and are looking to cook for a small army of people.
To help whittle down your buying choices, it’s best to choose the type of fuel you want to cook with.
Here are your options:
If you are after taste, then charcoal may be the way forward. Charcoal BBQs are messy and tough to maintain. Although firelighters and the like have helped reduce the time needed to prepare the BBQ, you will need to put in at least 20 minutes preparation time to get the coals white hot, and then you will have to make sure that the heat from the BBQ doesn’t instantly charcoal the meat and vegetables you put on it.
Saying that, the taste you get from a coal BBQ is hard to replicate with an electric or gas option.
If you are looking to use charcoal, then maybe also consider a smoker (which will infuse the meat with a smokey taste) or even a pizza oven.
Best charcoal BBQ: Landmann 31421 - Taurus 660
This is a fantastic BBQ with added smoker functionality. You can cook meat for up to 10 people on it and the smoker can be used with different fuels (logs, wood chips) to give your food an intense, American-style BBQ flavour. The main chamber is just the same as a regular BBQ grill with ample room for your BBQ.
One of the most popular BBQ choices, a gas BBQ is really easy to maintain, takes minutes to prepare and acts much like your oven in the home with dials to get the grill to the right heat.
One thing to consider with a gas BBQ is the added cost of a gas cylinder. These are readily available from your nearest hardware store but there will be a premium the first time you purchase one - this is because you are effectively paying for a barrel that can be refuelled. When you bring it in to get refilled, the price will be a whole lot cheaper.
There are myriad options for a gas/charcoal hybrid BBQ which is definitely something you should consider.
Best gas BBQ: Weber Genesis II E-310 GBS
This is the ultimate gas BBQ, hence the price. The cast iron cooking gates are coated in porcelain, the ignition is instant and there is plenty of space for utensils and areas to put the meat when you have cooked it.
Again, these are like the stoves in your home - easy to use and cook meat fast. The biggest issues here are making sure that you have an electrical outlet for your BBQ, one that is safe from the elements outside.
You can always opt for the extension lead approach but this probably isn’t a good idea in the long term.
The advantages of an electric BBQ are that it is instantly on and you can have varying temperatures on different grills. Electric grills are usually smaller and more portable, too.
Best electric BBQ: Weber Pulse 1000
The Weber Pulse 1000 is one of the smartest BBQs around and has been built for balconies. It uses a lid-on approach to cooking so there’s no unwanted smoke and it uses cast iron gates, which means you get that nice griddle look on the meat and veg you are cooking.
Best BBQ Ideas
If you fancy some ideas on how to cook your food on the BBQ, then here they are...
- What the food you bring to a BBQ says about you
- 20 best vegetarian BBQ ideas from top chefs
- How to make BBQ Ribs
- Revealed: 17 best summer BBQ burger recipes
- 8 things you're doing wrong with your barbecue
5 best BBQ tricks, tips and hacks
1. Clean Your Grill In Seconds
The absolute last thing you want to do after one too many icy-cold brewskis and a belly full of sausages, burgers, steaks, chicken thighs and ribs is get to work cleaning your trusty old Weber BBQ. But really, it’s not the break-a-sweat chore it seems. It can easily be done the day after and requires tools that are already in your kitchen. Firstly, scrunch up a large ball of tin foil and scrub the warmed-up bars, before rubbing them with half a lemon or a cloth doused in cider vinegar. Use another ball of foil to bring your metal bars back to their former shiny glory. It’s that simple.
2. Arrange Your Coals Properly
There’s a reason why everything that goes onto your grill comes off it looking blacker than your ex-girlfriend’s heart – you’re coals are a bloody mess, mate. You need to arrange your heat source so that you can cook some meats directly over the coals (direct method), and others using only the atmospheric heat under the lid (indirect method). That pic up there is a pretty decent way of looking at it, really. How to know what meats need what cooking space? Use the rule that anything ready in less than 20 mins can safely go over the coals, and anything more needs the indirect method.
3. Avoid Saucing Too Early
A real simple one this, but one we’re all guilty of. That delicious BBQ sauce you’ve just proudly slathered over your raw meat? Error. Big, fat error. There’s a whole lot of sugar in that there sauce, and sugar burns. Only add it to your meat when you’re approximately 15-20 minutes away from taking it off the heat. That way you’re stopping that sugar burning off and stinking up the flavour.
4. Keep Your Kebabs Juicy
Dry kebabs are a huge F next to your grilling name. Is that what you want? An F? An F for FAIL? No, you do not. The simple way to avoid your meat and veg skewers from losing all their moisture is pretty straightforward, actually – make sure every ingredient is pushed up to another on the stick. Don’t be temped to cram them on though, as that’ll slow down the cooking time and risk burning.
5. Make Your Steaks Scream
If you’re adding beef steaks to the heat and they’re not yelling in pain, you’re moving too fast. Steaks should make that sweet sizzling noise when you slap them down, so you know you’re searing in that moisture and keeping it from weeping out. You know the grill is hotter than hell and ready to go if your hand can only survive two seconds 12cm above the heat.