Making the most of the summer by enjoying a BBQ outdoor with friends or family is a bit of a British tradition. Even the odd spot of rain doesn’t usually deter us! Choosing the right barbecue for your circumstances can be a bit tricky though, as there are so many different kinds, which are suited to various settings and requirements; this BBQ buying guide aims to help you find the right type for your needs.

What size BBQ do I need?

The recommendation is that if you’re cooking portions on your barbecue for up to four people, a cooking area of around 1800cm² should be adequate. For up to six people, 2000cm² is recommended, and a cooking surface area of over 2500cm² should be enough space for around eight or more portions at a time.

Do you need your BBQ to be portable?

If you’re planning on taking your barbecue to different locations e.g. when you go camping, you’ll need to ensure you but a model that is easy to transport and not too heavy. For BBQs that will stay in once place all-year-round, this is not so much of an issue. You can find barbecues in all shapes and sizes, from a small bucket model to a large multi-portion grill.

Types of BBQ

There is more to the type of barbeque than simply the fuel that you use. The design can also play a big role in how your food cooks, and how it tastes!

Charcoal BBQs

For a classic BBQ experience, nothing beats charcoal. The whole shebang, from first lighting the coals, to stoking the embers and enjoying that traditional flavour in your barbecued food, is a time-honoured tradition. You do need to plan ahead a little, as the BBQ will need lighting around 40 minutes before you plan to cook, but it’s all part of the fun.

Charcoal barbecues can come with or without hoods or lids. Using the lid can help to control the heat when cooking and make it more consistent, so that food is more likely to be cooked through without burning the outside.

If you want a portable BBQ, charcoal is usually the way as they tend to be smaller and lighter than barbecues fuelled by gas. Charcoal, as a fuel, is also fairly cheap to buy, meaning that running costs for this type of BBQ are low.

Gas BBQs

Gas BBQs are quicker to get going than traditional charcoal ones, as they are ready as soon as you light the burners. They are usually much heavier and less portable than charcoal barbecues, but can have larger grills so are useful if you want to cook for lots of people. Some have burners that can be controlled independently, so you can cook food that needs a higher temperature at the same time as food that requires less heat.

Gas barbecues generally have hoods, which can be used to help food cook more evenly by regulating the temperature in the same way as lids on charcoal BBQs.

The gas that powers these types of BBQ is either propane or butane. It is more expensive than charcoal in terms of the number of cooking hours per £ spent, and gas bottles are not as widely available, but can usually be delivered for a charge, or picked up in person from a local gas, camping or DIY supplies store.

Barbecue accessories

It’s not just the BBQ itself that you need to consider; having some barbecue accessories will always make cooking outdoors easier. Whether it’s some tongs so you can keep a safe distance from the heat, sauce bottles, some skewers for your kebabs or an apron to make sure your clothes are protected whilst you cook, these little additions can make a big difference to your whole BBQ experience. 

You can even get BBQ accessories that will help you cook a wider variety; for example, turning your barbecue into an outdoor pizza oven for delicious bread, pastries and pizza in minutes. 

BBQ care and maintenance

Different BBQs will take different amounts and types of maintenance and care to keep them working well and extending their life. If your barbecue is going to stay outdoors all year, you'll need to protect it from the elements with a suitable cover.

Charcoal barbecues will need the ash removing once it has cooled and the grill rack needs to be cleaned after each use. The rest of the BBQ should also be cleaned periodically, in a similar way to oven cleaning. Gas BBQs will also require the grill rack or griddle to be cleaned after each use, along with any drip trays and the lid or hood. Never use harsh chemical cleaners on gas barbecue burners as this can damage them.

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