Keen to make the most of your garden right now? Look no further: we've got your barbecue needs covered
No matter the size of your garden, finding the best BBQ to suit your grilling needs is a must if you want to make the most of the summer sun and dining alfresco. Whether you’re cooking for a big family, your housemates or just your partner, you can find a great BBQ perfect for sizzling a sausage or two.
For those who love to cook outdoors every summer, then it pays to invest in a quality product that guarantees great-tasting food for amateurs and experts alike. And with the UK’s unpredictable weather doing its best to sabotage the best-laid plans, you don’t want to take chances with your equipment.
An upmarket barbecue set opens the door to more advanced preparation techniques, such as smoking, roasting, beer-can chickens and the like. Not everyone has time for 24-hour slow cooking sessions, but even the most casual users will find it rewarding to tackle something a little more adventurous than simple grilling.
Whatever your budget, we’ve found some of the very best BBQs around for everything from simple grilling to masterful smoking. Read on for our buying guide, which will run you through everything you need to know to pick the perfect grill or bypass this to see our top picks.
Best BBQ: At a glance
- Best cheap family BBQ: Argos Home Charcoal BBQ | £70
- Best compact charcoal BBQ: Weber Compact 47cm Kettle BBQ | £115
- Best charcoal/gas hybrid: Premium Dual Fuel Gas and Charcoal Combi BBQ | £300
- Best gas smoker: Char-Broil Big Easy Smoker | £231
- Best compact electric BBQ: Weber Lumin Electric BBQ | £399
How to choose the best BBQ for you
Which fuel type is best?
Traditionalists insist that a “real” barbecue needs charcoal or some other solid fuel – but the briquettes can take a long time to get hot enough to cook on. Gas barbecues provide instant heat, and will cook your food more quickly too; the trade-off is that they’re normally less portable, and some say the taste isn’t as authentic.
What size BBQ should I get?
Clearly, a bigger barbecue means you can cook more items at once. A smaller grill might be fine for a lazy afternoon with friends, where it doesn’t matter if the burgers only go on after the sausages are done; it’s less ideal if you’re dining al fresco in the evening and don’t want things to drag on all night.
A small, portable barbecue will generally make dinner for two to four people, depending on appetites. A medium-sized kettle-style barbecue should be fine to serve six to eight people. Large oil-drum or half-barrel barbecues are great for parties, but they use a lot of charcoal (or other fuel).
Then there are big open grills, which can be bought in practically any size and give you the ability to cook and keep warm huge amounts of food.
A two-burner barbecue should feed up to six people, while a three or four-burner will give you more cooking power and more control over how you cook. This is ideal for small parties, but larger appliances are trickier to store.
What cooking capabilities do I need?
Grilling is just part of the barbecue story: some models can smoke, fry, sauté, boil, bake and even roast. Griddles and hot plates are an increasingly common feature of gas barbecues, as are side burners for cooking accompaniments.
How much do I need to pay?
There’s a barbecue for every budget: a disposable tray should set you back less than £10, while the most comprehensive, innovative barbecue sets can cost thousands. As a rule of thumb, though, a non-disposable barbecue costing under £100 is unlikely to be as robust or as well designed as more expensive counterparts – and it won’t offer as much control.
That said, a high price doesn’t always translate to a guarantee of quality and there are some affordable options on our list that will see you through many summers to come.
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The best BBQs you can buy in 2023
1. Argos Home Charcoal BBQ: The best cheap family BBQ
Price when reviewed: £70 | Check price at Argos
This is a cheap, carbon steel charcoal BBQ that’s perfect for easy family-friendly grilling. It can cater to a crowd of up to ten people, meaning there is plenty of room to feed the whole family, with plenty of leftovers. While there are no fancy attachments, you do get a warming rack so you can serve food all at once and temperature can be loosely controlled by lifting or closing the lid.
For the price, you’ll struggle to get anything else as big and simple to use as this. It might not produce chef-worthy results but it will barbeque your bangers and chargrill your kebabs. If you’re looking for something a little more complex and multifunctional though, there are plenty of other options on this list to tantalise your tastebuds.
Key specs – Fuel type: Charcoal; Cooking area: 35 x 71 cm; Dimensions (WDH): 83 x 57 x 90cm; Weight: 11.5kg
2. Weber Compact 47cm Kettle BBQ: The best compact charcoal BBQ
Price when reviewed: £115 | Check price at Amazon
Despite its small stature, this compact BBQ can feed up to eight people. It has everything you’d expect from a classic charcoal grill including an ash catcher, weatherproof handles, a storage area for food/utensils and an adjustable ventilation system to regulate airflow and temperature.
What makes this compact BBQ stand put from cheaper models isn’t just the grill space, though. Like many Weber products, it’s impressively durable and comes with crack-proof wheels for storage in all weathers, a body that’s rust and chip resistant, as well as a triple-plated cooking grate that protects against acidity and rust. This BBQ is ideal if you don’t have a lot of room to work with but still want a robust outdoor grill that will last for years to come.
If you’re looking for a more versatile, kettle-style charcoal barbecue, the Weber Master-Touch GBS Premium can tackle everything from a whole chicken to inches-thick cuts of meat. Its design makes it easy to swap out various specialist cooking accessories. The E-5775 model, for example, comes with an optional drop-in GBS steak searing grate. Drop this in place and the thick iron grate heats up to give steaks those attractive criss-cross scorch lines.
Key specs – Fuel type: Charcoal; Cooking area: Dimensions (WDH): 53 x 54 x 88cm; Weight: 11kg
3. Weber Lumin Electric BBQ: Best compact electric BBQ
Price when reviewed: £399 | Check price at John Lewis
If, like Dylan, you’re ready to go electric, then the Weber Lumin Compact Electric BBQ is an excellent choice. This sturdy, well-built BBQ has an exterior made from porcelain enamel and heat-resistant plastic, with traditional cast-iron grill plates inside. Thanks to its slight frame and mains-powered setup, the Weber Lumin is a perfect option for apartment-dwellers, fitting neatly onto a balcony or outdoor terrace, though it functions just as well in a garden environment.
Ditching fuel canisters and coals, the Lumin Compact remains easy to set up and straightforward to use. The BBQ also heats quickly and consistently, with the grill taking about 12 minutes to hit 250ºC and 18 minutes to reach its maximum temperature of 315ºC. What’s more, to add some versatility to your cooking, one of the Lumin’s grill plates can be removed to reveal a reservoir that can be used for steaming, smoking or defrosting items.
Read our full Weber Lumin Electric BBQ review
Key specs – Fuel type: Electric; Cooking area: 43 x 28cm; Dimensions: 58.6 x 41.2 x 27.9cm (WDH); Weight: 12kg
4. Premium Dual Fuel Charcoal and Gas Combi BBQ: The best BBQ if you can’t decide between gas or charcoal
Price when reviewed: £300 | Check price at ArgosHybrid BBQs are all the rage. They allow you to switch between gas and charcoal seamlessly – or, with this one, use them simultaneously. We found both cooking areas ready to use reasonably quickly (charcoal is slower though, obviously) and there’s enough space to cook for 14 people. It’s got some handy extras – warming rack, a drip tray, hooks and side table, plus under-BBQ storage – and the wheels make it manoeuvrable.
The fact that you can cook on both grills at the same time forces you to compare the food, though, and it has to be said that the gas-grilled food isn’t quite on par with the charcoal-barbecued food, another niggle is that it takes a very long time to put together. But, all in all, we’d recommend this novel, practical BBQ – and it looks smart, too.
Key specs – Fuel type: Charcoal and gas; Cooking area: 43 x 44cm (per area); Dimensions (HWD): 116 x x 139 x 59cm; Weight: 38.75kg
5. Char-Broil Big Easy Smoker: The best gas smoker
Price when reviewed: £220 | Check price at Amazon
Char-Broil’s Big Easy Smoker is far cheaper than its main rival – the Big Green Egg, which starts at £625 – and it works brilliantly. It roasts, smokes or grills for up to six people, with a design that locks the juices into your food so it doesn’t dry out, and patented infrared technology that brings you the traditional BBQ taste with no flare-ups. It’s fast too, using much less gas than most barbecues and delivering perfectly even cooking.
The most fun part is smoking your food: there’s a small removable chamber in the side of the BBQ that you can fill with wood chips. It takes about ten minutes to warm up and gives the meat a fabulous smoked taste, which varies according to which wood you try. Just be warned that this barbecue gets extremely hot – and the grill could be bigger.
Key specs – Fuel type: Gas; Cooking area: 38.5cm; Dimensions (HW): 92 x 59.4cm; Weight: 22.7kg
6. Landmann Kentucky Smoker: The best mid-price charcoal smoker
Price: £250 | Check price at ArgosThis large oil-drum barbecue is big enough for you to invite all the neighbours round. And for the authentic American experience, you can burn wood chips in its side-chamber for a delicious smoky BBQ taste, especially when it comes to chicken. The hood grill lets you control the speed of cooking and means you can both roast or smoke food – after which it can all wait on the large warming rack until you’re ready to eat.
We wouldn’t necessarily recommend this appliance to barbecue beginners, though: it takes some skill to make effective use of the whole length of the barbecue and get things evenly cooked. It’s not the easiest to assemble or clean, either.
Key specs – Fuel type: Charcoal/woodchip; Cooking area: 66 x 36cm; Dimensions (HWD): 127 x 141 x 48.5cm; Weight: 29kg
7. John Lewis & Partners 2 Burner Gas BBQ: The best budget gas BBQ
Price when reviewed: £279 | Check price at John Lewis
When only gas will do, John Lewis’ two-burner BBQ is a solid choice that’ll see you through many a summer. An integrated lid thermometer ensures that your food is always the perfect temperature whether you’re cooking burgers, steaks, fish or veggie kebabs. Thanks to its extra-large cooking area, you’ll be able to cook for up to four people at once, perfect for those family grill sessions.
As well as the two main burners, this model also has a warming rack, side, base and middle shelves for storage, flame tamers and an easily removable grease tray for a simple clean up. This model takes propane gas only and you’ll need to buy this before you can start grilling, as it isn’t shipped with any. The only niggle we have with this is that it doesn’t double as anything else, unlike like some of its competitors. It’s a great price, though, and really looks the part too.
Key specs – Fuel type: Propane gas; Cooking area: 50 x 41.5cm; Dimensions (WDH): 116.2 x 55.4 x 111.3cm; Weight: 23kg
8. Big Green Egg: The best charcoal BBQ with a smoker
Price when reviewed: £1,880 | Check price at John Lewis
Anyone who loves a good barbeque session has probably heard of the Big Green Egg. This American company produces high-end komodo-style BBQs made from ceramic that retains heat incredibly well. You can buy the eggs in a range of sizes from small portables to XL family-sized ones. This particular model is a large egg and is big enough to fit either 12 burgers, six chickens (vertically), eight steaks, or seven racks of ribs. That’s plenty of room for a family BBQ whether you’re simply sizzling chipolatas or cooking up a full meal.
A temperature gauge and airflow control mean you can accurately bring your Egg up or down to temperatures within a few degrees and maintain this throughout cooking with very little charcoal. Accessory-wise, it comes with a snuffer cap, transporter castors and two rather beautiful royal mahogany shelves for storing plates, condiments or utensils. This definitely isn’t the cheapest of BBQs but if you’re looking to invest in something that will last a very long time, we think it’s worth it.
Key specs – Fuel type: Charcoal; Cooking area: 46cm across; Dimensions (WDH): 60 x 60 x 70cm (Egg only); Weight: 104kg (including shelves)