Gas barbecues take all the hassle out of outdoor cooking. You can get going straight away, with most options only taking five to 10 minutes to pre-heat. It’s usually pretty easy to adjust the heat so you don’t burn the food.
Make sure any option you’re considering has all the cooking features you need, but not at the expense of being well-built and robust. There are a lot of shoddy models on the market, which blind you with lists of impressive accessories, but won’t last you more than a few summers at best.
Will you need to move it around? Or take it on camping trips? Will it need to be covered up or stored away in the summer? Consider the weight, size and manoeuvrability, and whether a cover costs extra. Also check if you’ll need to build it yourself or if it comes self-assembled.
Ensure there’s enough cooking space. Even if you’re a couple or family of four, you will need a big one if you regularly entertain. Griddles or hot plates are popular additions to the standard grill – consider if you’ll want one on your barbecue. You might also want to consider the option of infrared cooking – in a conventional gas barbecue, the flame heats the grates directly, but with infrared, there’s an extra element between the grates and flames to give you more control over the temperature and help prevent burning.
Check whether the gas canisters are expensive, and easy to buy – and indeed how long they last. Finally, don’t go on price alone. We’ve found great and not-so-great examples of both cheap and pricey barbecues.
We got out in the garden to put different models to the test to bring you the most efficient.
1. Weber Q 1200: £249, John Lewis
Barbecue on the move with this portable machine that heats up in just five minutes and works with disposable gas canisters that we found last around three hours each. Ideal for camping trips, festivals and visits to the beach, it comes in five funky colours and is easy to carry around and set up on the stand. It’s extremely well-made and the two pull-out side tables are great for tools. Feeds four.
2. Char-Broil Performance T-22G: £300, Argos
This stable, well-built barbecue cooks with infrared heat, which gives you more control over your cooking and ultimately leads to juicier fodder. We found there was no flare-up and it was simple to cook on, feeding around four to six people. It takes a long time to assemble, though, and it’s best for those who want to leave their barbecue in one spot as it’s not the easiest to move around.
3. Landmann Grillchef 2 Burner: £88, amazon
This compact barbecue is great for alfresco enthusiasts with smaller gardens and those on a budget. It’s a doddle to build and easily feeds a family of four. The glass viewing section in the hood means you can avoid burned food and although it’s flimsier than some, that also makes it more suitable for transportation. Easy to clean.
4. Verycook Plancha Grill: from £289, Verycook
If you’re fed up of the smoke from dripping fat or serving dried-up meat, both of which conventional barbies can produce, then you’ll love this alternative to cooking on direct flames, which takes just three minutes to heat up. Choose from rolled, enamel or stainless steel for a more griddle-like barbecue experience – and because it can go on the table, it makes outdoor cooking a more communal experience.
5. Outback Signature 4: £786, amazon
Step aside, boring old sausages and burgers and make way for the likes of black peppercorn steaks and Cajun prawn skewers. This brand has come up trumps with its new crème de la crème range, with porcelain-coated cast iron grill and griddle, plus infrared backburner, side burner and oodles of storage space. It feels exceptionally well made and heats up quickly, with no cold spots or food sticking. We particularly enjoyed our rotisserie chicken. There’s a six-burner available for an extra couple of hundred quid.
6. OutdoorChef City 420: £140, amazon
Kettle style barbecues are good for those with limited outside space and this one has a patented funnel system that means you don’t get flare-ups. You can cook, bake or grill, thanks to the use (or not) of the lid, and it’s easy to start up. We didn’t experience any cold spots and the porcelain enamel is easy to clean.
7. Montana 4 Burner: £149, Homebase
Invite the neighbours round pronto – this barbie feeds a whopping 14 people, with up to 28 burgers at any one time. It’s sleek-looking, solid and sturdy, as well as great value for money. It’s easy to construct and is well-designed, with a useful warming rack and a good cooking height. It heats up quickly, has a handy temperature guide and has lots of removable parts that make it easy to keep clean.
8. Char-Broil Patio Bistro: £129, Asda
Although it’s not quite as good as the portable Weber, this red gizmo can still fit around 12 burgers, and is an impressive on-the-go option. It has a single burner and a warming rack. Using an infrared system, we found it offered strong and even heat, producing tasty, succulent meat. Give yourself an hour to put it together, and each disposable gas canister lasts around three hours.
9. Campingaz 2 Series Compact LZ: £200, Halfords
Urban dwellers and those with limited outdoor space, including balconies, will love this compact barbecue on wheels. There are pull-out side tables for tools and plates, a handy integrated thermometer and we found it feeds a family of four with ease, heating up quickly and providing an even cooking area.
10. Weber Genesis E330: £1,599, John Lewis
This handsome machine takes outdoor cooking to the next level. The three burners heat up quickly and get red hot, without a cold spot in sight, and there are loads of great-performing features for the serious barbecue connoisseur, including sear station (for those all-important char marks), side burner, and accessories including wok, Dutch oven, poultry roaster, pizza stone and waffle and sandwich iron. Yes, it’s expensive but it will last years.
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