In the gas vs charcoal barbecue debate, you’d think that charcoal – with its authentic taste and hunger-inducing smells – would win hands down. Think again. Today’s gas barbecues are no longer a gas hob on wheels, but instead give you the best of both worlds: flame-grilled food, carbon flavour and that mouth-watering, traditional barbecue aroma. And it’s all produced by a machine that’s ready to go pretty much instantly, with precision cooking available so you don’t burn and dry out the food.
While some boast a seemingly infinite number of whizzy features, your first box to tick is that the machine is robustly made. It’s no good having lit-up buttons and a whole bunch of accessories, if the whole thing feels so shoddy that it might not see you through to next summer.
Also think about the size of the cooking area, whether the gas canisters (butane or propane) are expensive and easy to buy from DIY stores, as well as how long they last. Think about manoeuvrability too. Do you want your barbecue to become a permanent fixture on your patio or deck, or do you want to be able to store it in the garage in winter? You might even want to take it on camping trips. Also think about whether you will need to build it yourself or if it’s already self-assembled. For the high-end ones, take time to read through the features, checking you’ll really benefit from them.
In order to bring you the best of them, we’ve been busy taking advantage of the rare sunny intervals over the past few weeks and cooking up everything from sausages to posh nosh to test out different models.
1. SpaceGrill: £599, House of Fraser
If you don’t like the idea of your outdoor space being filled up with an ugly barbecue, then feast your eyes on this sleek, design-led, foldable one that only needs to be brought out when it’s used - our mounted to a wall. Billed as the world’s first full-size three-burner, chef-grade barbecue that you can fold down, we can vouch for the fact that it has a large cooking space (that easily feeds six), is quick to get going, rust-resistant and simple to clean. It weighs 35kg and can easily fit in a car boot if required.
2. Argos Premium Gas 4 Burner with Side Burner: £149, Argos
There are plenty of four-burner gas barbecues available in this price range, but we think this one gives you a lot more bang for your buck than most, with an effective porcelain cooking grill and small side burner (handy for things like onions), plus warming rack and plenty of storage space. It’s solid, sturdy and heats up quickly, as well as being a doddle to put together and move, thanks to the wheels. We reckon it’ll feed around six people.
3. Verycook Plancha Grill Simplicity 2 Burner: £439, Verycook
This is a great option if you like cooking more than just burgers and steaks on your gas barbecue as the flat plancha surface means fiddly skewers and shellfish can’t fall through the rack – we found it was great for fajitas and stir fries too, as well as proving outstanding at cooking evenly. It’s ready to go in three minutes and the stainless steel is easy to clean and long-lasting. This one is good for around eight or 10 people.
4. Charbroil The Big Easy Smoker: £279, B&Q
If you’re prone to drying out meat when you cook al fresco, this is a great (and much cheaper) alternative to (its chief rival), the Green Egg. Cooking for up to six people, you can use it as a roaster, smoker or grill with no oil – and there are no flames to spoil your dinner thanks to the patented infrared technology, yet you still get the traditional barbecued taste. And because it’s as fast as barbecues that cost three times as much, it uses less gas. Plus, it couldn’t be easier to clean.
5. Weber Genesis II LX S-640: £2,299, John Lewis
This is the barbecue you’ll see outdoor cooking fanatics drooling over in the shops – and with good reason. The original Genesis was known for taking barbecuing to the next level, and this one is even better still, with improved features including its light-every-time ignition, and a funnel that collects the grease for quick cleaning and long-lasting, high-performance burners with no cold-spots. Accessories available to buy separately include wok, Dutch oven, poultry roaster, pizza stone and waffle and sandwich iron, plus it’s compatible with the new Weber iGrill 3, a thermometer that sends an alert to your smartphone when your food is cooked. They say it feeds 12 – we reckon it’s more like 10 people (although it depends how hungry they are) and there is the option for it to be delivered fully-assembled, although it will set you back more money.
6. Everdure by Heston Blumenthal FORCE 2 Burner: £599, John Lewis
Who knew a barbecue could look so chic? Available in either a two or three-burner option and in several striking colours, these easy-to-use barbeques have precision flame controls on each of the separate burners, with a high hood for convection cooking – even managing a whole, large turkey. The side shelves are handy for food preparation and serving and it’s robust and won’t rust. Serves six to eight people and is no problem to manoeuvre.
7. Outdoor Chef City 420: £179.98, Amazon
It’s harder than you might think to find a decent kettle-style gas barbecue – which is a shame as they’re great for anyone with limited outside space. This space-saving one has a patented funnel system that prevents flare-ups and you can use it to cook or grill, thanks to the lid, as well as being easy to get going. The cooking area is only 330mm across, though – so it just about feeds four, and if your food goes too near the edge, the fat drops into the barbecue rather than the funnel.
8. Outback Apollo 4: £320.48, Homebase
Outback has built up a good reputation for affordable but long-lasting barbecues and with good reason. This colourful four-burner has oodles of features for keen outdoor cooks – including flame-tamers, side burner (great for sauces frying, boiling veg or keeping dishes warm), roasting lid, temperature gauge and even a built-in bottle opener. And it cooks for a whopping 12 people too. The hood and grills comes pre-assembled, so you just have to mount it on the trolley base, which takes two people around 45 minutes. As for storage, it has four wheels, although at a whopping 66kg, it’s easier just to keep it outside, using a cover.
9. Campingaz 3 Series Classic LS Plus: £379, Wyevale
This three-burner barbecue, which feeds eight to 10 peole, has plenty to write home about, including the option to remove the central cast iron griddle and replace with wok, pizza stone, rotisserie or paella pan (although, on the downside, you have to buy these separately). There’s a side-burner, warming rack and we love the innovative cleaning system, whereby the cooking surfaces, sides and drop tray can be dismantled in less than one minute and popped into the dishwasher.
10. Weber Q 1200: £312, John Lewis
No need to miss out on barbecues just because you’re out and about, thanks to this portable, surprisingly lightweight (14kg) and compact machine that heats up in just five minutes and whose disposable gas canisters last around three hours each (but which you need to buy separately). Feeding four people in one go, it’s a great investment for camping trips, festivals and visits to the beach, not least due to the cast iron grates which retain high temperatures. It comes with a stand too, if you want it as a more permanent fixture in your garden, say.
11. Outback Omega 250 2 Burner: £99, John Lewis
It’s no mean feat to find a barbecue worth its salt for under a hundred quid and although this one is relatively small, it’s a fabulous – and well-built – buy for a small family. It doesn’t take long to put together, it’s easy to control the heat and there are lava rocks to prevent flare-ups and deal with excess fat.
12. Jensen Grill Estate 1: £2,395, BBQ Store
Handmade in Denmark, Jensens don’t come cheap but are the only combination grills that make it possible to barbecue with gas, charcoal or – thanks to the unique height adjustment system and movable trays – a mixture of both at the same time. The precision control, top texture and fabulous flavour blew us away and as it’s made from top-notch stainless steel, it doesn’t rust. There’s a handy in-built thermometer, an innovative cleaning system and plenty of genuinely useful accessories from fish grills to frying stones. This one feeds around six or eight people, although larger models also available. Michelin-starred chef Claus Meyer is a fan.
13. John Lewis Grillstream Island Gas BBQ: £750, John Lewis
Everything about this barbecue shouts “John Lewis”. It’s well designed, good value and the cast iron grills make it a joy to cook on, with other stand-out features including the sheer size (four burners, serving 12 people), storage space, LED control knobs, rotisserie with battery motor and lockable castors. It’s good at collecting fat too – so no greasy food on your plate. Provided you cover it up, it stands the test of time through the winter months too and it's particularly easy to assemble.
14. Napoleon LE485: £949.99, Keen Gardener
The best feature of this high-end five-burner barbecue is the sizzle zone – an infrared burner that reaches temperatures of 982 degrees centigrade almost instantly, producing perfectly cooked steaks. Other stand-out aspects for us include the back burner that turns this barbecue into a rotisserie and top-quality lighting, which means you can cook long after dark. Accessories such as ice bucket and chopping board are included in the price.
The Verdict: Gas BBQs
For sheer innovation, our vote goes to the all-new SpaceGrill. For a cheap and cheerful, but effective and well-built barbecue for a small family, we love the Outback Omega 250 2 Burner – although if you have more mouths to feed, go for the Argos Premium Gas 4 Burner with Side Burner. And among our top end barbecue suggestions, our favourite is the Weber Genesis II – but start saving as it doesn’t come cheap.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing
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