Cooking on fire is one of the oldest and most wonderful ways that humans are different to the animals. Grilled food, almost magically, just tastes better. That’s why the summer sees the sales of charcoal and gas go up as everyone takes to the garden to get grilling. 

Barbecues come in all shapes and sizes these days, from charcoal or gas to electric and slow-cooker styles. There’s also a wide variation in sizes so no matter where you live there will be an option that suits you.  

For more expert product reviews, see our other buying guides

So which is the best option for you? There are lots of factors to think about with things like price and size at the forefront but there are other issues like cooking speed, ease of clean-up, hassle of fuel access.

Ready to splash out on what could be the best barbecue experience of your life? Here are our favourite barbecues, updated for 2020. 

Best BBQs 2020

1. Char-Broil Gas2Coal Hybrid Grill – best BBQ overall

best-bbqs-Char-Broil Gas2Coal Hybrid Grill

You once had to decide between the ease of gas and the flavour of coals. But the Gas2Coal Hybrid Grill from US grill specialist Char-Broil does it all so you don’t have to pick. This is perfect for the UK where the weather is often at odds with the best laid barbecue plans.

You can fire up the three gas powered burners instantly for an easy cook session on the 24-inch grill. Or, if you feel like that coal smoke flavour, simply slide out a tray, fill it with charcoals and plonk it on top of the hobs. The gas then heats up the coals quickly and easily and lets you cook the meat on that coal heat and smoke.

Then, if that thin layer runs out simply refill or slide out and carry on cooking with gas. This is a great solution to parties where keeping a constant heat can be a worry. It’s also a nice way to get up and running quickly and easily for small cooking jobs whenever you feel the urge.

Other helpful touches include a separate side grill for heating things like beans or fish – anything in a pot or pan basically. This solid barbecue will take on most jobs and has room for holding plates either side. It’s relatively easy to move about too. All that and it’s not even that expensive either.

Ideal Home rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

Buy now: Char-Broil Gas2Coal Hybrid Grill, £387, Amazon

2. Weber Genesis II E-410 – best for the BBQ perfectionist

When it comes to barbecues, many perfectionists go for a Weber. This company’s barbecues are made to a very high standard and just work very well. While the company’s kettle charcoal barbecues get the most fame, its gas systems are brilliant too. And especially the Genesis II E-410.

To start, you have a hefty four gas burner setup using the company’s GS4 Grilling System. This is enhanced by porcelain-enamelled cast iron GBS cooking grates and flavouriser bars. These do as the name suggests. There’s also a double-walled air insulated porcelain-enamelled lid. This makes smoking and cooking at speed both options too.

This isn’t a small barbecue so be ready to offer it a chunk of your home’s space to live. But with extras like a Grease Management System to make cleaning a doddle, you’ll be glad you welcomed this new edition.

Ideal Home rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

Buy now: Weber Genesis II E-410, £1,099, John Lewis 

3. Weber Master-Touch GBS Premium – Best BBQ for a smoky flavour

Best-BBQs-Weber-Master-Touch-GBS-Premium

Weber has shown how it earned the crown, as king of the kettle charcoal barbeques, with the Master-Touch GBS Premium. This takes all the high-quality build materials of a top-end grill and manages to offer them in a relatively compact and super efficient cooking system.

Essentially it gives you a lot of the control and quality you’d expect from gas, but with all the smokey flavour you’d want from charcoal.

The kettle offers a hinged stainless steel lid for easy access to check and turn your food. In real world use that means a hand free rather than holding the lid while you sort the grill – invaluable stuff. Close that down and you’ve got a thermometer to keep an eye on the cooking heat so you stay in control throughout the process.

There’s no need to watch too closely though as the porcelain enamelled char ring and stainless steel diffuser plate help to distribute the heat efficiently for steady cooking without burning. It’s not quite idiot proof but it’s a close as you’ll get with charcoal.

Add an iGrill accessory and you can monitor internal food temperatures, making it even easier to cook to perfection (from a distance while you socialise) – or at least to have fewer excuses to get it wrong.

That GBS name stands for Gourmet BBQ System which is essentially a selection of cooking grates to suit your food, from the included Sear Grate for steaks to a pizza stone, wok, griddle pan, poultry roaster and more. Even if you never use any of those it’s nice to have the option.

When finished the One-Touch cleaning system uses metallic arms to sweep away the ash into the removable ash catcher which really helps make for an easy clean-up. This is such a valuable feature as it means you don’t get mucky at the end and is so fast it makes clean-up something you don’t even think about really.

Then roll this away on the 20cm rubber wheels and it’ll sit compact with that 57cm cooking area, ready for its next use.

Ideal Home rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Buy now: Weber Master Touch GBS Premium, £379, Weber

4. Napoleon Pro 22 – best BBQ for charcoal cooking

best BBQs Napoleon-Pro-22

This is one of the best barbecues out there right now when it comes to charcoal cooking. So popular that, at the time of writing, it was actually sold out on Amazon. But fret not there are plenty of other sites offering this at a cheaper-than-Weber price. 

It has the same 22-inch grill as the Weber but this one can be adjusted to three different heights to give you that extra level of control over how much heat your grub gets.

This is a great way to get lowered-grille high-heat to sear meat before raising the cooking platform to cook more slowly as another type of less heat craving food is added.

That grille magic continues with a hinge system that means you can add extra charcoals without having to remove the entire grille. Even getting access to this is easy thanks to a hinge based porcelain-enameled steel lid which can be popped open and closed one-handed without any fuss.

The lid also comes with a thermometer which is plenty accurate and really lets you trust what’s going on so you don’t need to keep lifting that lid and letting out precious flavour-enhancing smoke.

The four legs and large wheels make this a solid unit to move about and there’s even some handy storage grille space at the bottom. Just above that is a heavy duty ash catcher which makes cleaning a simple process. All that and you get a free cover thrown in and a hefty 10 year warranty. Watch out Weber.

Ideal Home rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Buy now: Napoleon Pro 22, £269, The BBQ Shop

5. Weber Pulse 1000 – best electric BBQ

Best-BBQ-Weber-Pulse-1000

If you live in a city where charcoal or even gas grilling isn’t really the done thing, then a more modern approach could be for you. Enter the Weber Pulse 1000, a totally electric barbeque. Yup, this not only avoids excess fumes but also dodges the use of fossil fuels, making it a far more environmentally friendly way to cook out. 

This is all about accuracy with that 1.8 kW of power in this large but attractive grill. It comes with an internal probe meaning you can monitor the internal temperature of your food as you cook for exact cooking control.

This is done via the Weber app so you can actually keep an eye on your food from the comfort of indoors, while this grill does all the work out on the balcony. Yup, it’s marketed towards those in flats, since it means no smoke annoying the neighbours.

In case this all sounds too much like cheating and not real grilling, Weber uses porcelain enameled cast iron plates which actually manage to give the food a barbecue taste unlike you’d get cooking indoors. That means a steak will taste more like one you buy out at a restaurant rather than something you’ve cooked on a pan in the kitchen.

Yes, it’s not quite the same as a charcoal grill for smokey flavour but we thought it was easily up there with gas grilling. minus the hassle and cost of having to get fuel in regularly. 

In case this relatively new tech seems worrying to you, there’s a five year limited warranty to set your mind at ease, too.

Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buy now: Weber Pulse 1000, £699, John Lewis & Partners

6. Traeger Pro 850 Pellet Grill – best BBQ for smoking meat

Best-BBQ-Traeger

US wood smoke grill specialist Traeger comes into its own with the 850 Pro. This uses wood pellets to fire up the heat and allows you to smoke, slow-roast and grill your food for an authentic smokey barbeque flavour.

Despite offering a good old-fashioned flavour, it’s all very modern when it comes to build quality thanks to meat probes and a well designed accompanying smartphone app. The app is also filled with hints and tips on how to cook a selection of recipes and types of ingredients. We found this was great for cooking large joints of meat where you might be unsure of how to season or how long to cook for.

The grill does run hotter at the back and sides which is something we found useful when cooking, to get more even results by moving items around. While this is great for smoking it’s not great for searing meat as the temperature is kept lower, so if you want to grill steaks a lot then this might not be ideal for you.

For smoking it was excellent, with juicy meats, even when smoked for longer periods of time – and even without a water pan in use.

The electrically powered auger delivers the wood pellets to a fire pot which keeps the unit at a steady 180 degrees Celsius, until the meat probe signals the food is cooked.

The price for this effortless perfection? The unit itself isn’t cheap and then you’ll need to shell out a bit more than charcoal or gas for those wood pellets – at about £18 for a 9kg bag in the UK. They should last you a good few cooking sessions. 

Ideal Home rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Buy now: Traeger Pro 850 Pellet Grill, £1,999, Traeger Grills

7. Everdure By Heston Blumenthal Force 2 Gas – best BBQ for design

Best-BBQ-Everdure-force-2-gas

This gas grill is a real stunner to look at in its minimal simplicity. The two burner gas barbeque allows for direct and indirect cooking with a hood to help control flare-ups and maintain a smokey finish while keeping the exact temperature you need.

All that doesn’t come cheap but then with some of the most accurate temperature controls out there, you’d expect that. It’s really easy to use with meats cooking evenly and even veggies grilling nicely if you use the edges to make sure they’re not too indirectly heated.

From the heavy duty legs and rust-free aluminium frame to the strong wheels and thick aluminium hood, this is built to last and feels solid. That said, the wheels could be a little larger to make for smoother movements over bumpier areas of the patio.

The cast-iron grates feature integrated flame tamers to avoid burning of food and there’s enough room for a good eight people’s worth of food on this party-friendly 2,350 square centimeter grill.

The Everdure Force 2 comes in four colour options, all of which are very modern and attractive, of course. There’s even an extra high hood making this great for convection cooking of things like poultry, too.

But you will need to shell out for a lid cover separately and that’s not cheap. But it seems worth it as other online reviews have suggested that over longer periods, left in the sun, this can lose that distinctive colour finish without protection.

Ideal Home rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Buy now: Everdure By Heston Blumenthal Force 2 Gas, £599, John Lewis & Partners

9. Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Cube Charcoal BBQ – Best bbq for camping holidays

Best-BBQ-Everdure-tabletop

Everdure has teamed up with the chef who uses science to cook, Heston Blumenthal, to create the ultimate portable barbecue. The result is the minimally designed Cube Graphite which looks the part but is also made from lightweight durable steel with heat insulated handles allowing for handling and moving even when in use.

The charcoal barbecue has enough room inside to store coals needed for cooking as well as food, meaning everything can be transported in that one easy-to-move unit.

The lid doubles as a food-grade bamboo board for cutting, preparing and serving food on. That’s why it’s so good for camping – as you have your own portable kitchen!

The chrome finish rack is easy to remove, as is the porcelain enameled fire box, leaving the unit empty. This means cleaning can be done easily as you can tip it out to get the worst of the ash out and then give the interior a wipe down to be good as new again.

This unit isn’t cheap when you consider how simplistic this is but it just works and works well. It’s that kind of design which seems simple but actually does this while focusing on details like those cool to touch handles and dual clasps to hold the lid in place when on the move.

There’s no shaking about of food or charcoals when you move about which is appreciated. Also, when cooking, you can use the lid as a platform to protect the grass below if you’re in a field.

Ideal Home rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Buy now: Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Cube Charcoal BBQ, £149, John Lewis & Partners

9. Large Big Green Egg – Best BBQ for professional-level cooks

Best-BBQ-Big-Green-Egg

This is one very stylish yet practical way to cook thanks to the Big Green Egg’s ceramic build which maintains a steady heat for even and predictable cooking results. It also looks brilliant. We found this enhanced the garden, wherever it was placed – covering it up after use almost feels wrong. 

The air-flow tech will have this up to temperature in no time and will allow you to easily keep it within a few degrees throughout cooking. Prep is done easily thanks to optional wooden shelving on either side. One side for uncooked items and the other food finished food, makes this a really sensible system to use effectively. 

Once finished, the leftover fats and oils are cooked down by the heat of the egg meaning all that’s left is an easily swept away ash, leaving you ready to cook again the next time. It’s deep though so you may want to roll your sleeves up before diving into the ash pile. 

The fact it grills, bakes, seers and stays hot for up to 10 hours is just a bonus and is probably why this is the grill of choice for many professionals. One of the most forgiving barbeques out there right now, with a price to reflect that.

Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

Buy now: Big Green Egg Large Nest BBQ with Wood Shelves Bundle, £1,490, John Lewis & Partners

10. Dancook 1501 – Best BBQ for easy use

best-bbqs-Dancook 1501

The Danish outdoor brand Dancook has taken minimalism and applied that to kettle barbecues. The result is a really attractive and functional barbecue that’s great for anyone from beginners to more seasoned grill fans. The combination of the charcoal barbecue with a stainless steel worktop and wooden base make for plenty of storage.

This is great as it can all be wheeled to the back door, loaded up with the food and plates, then rolled out into the garden for cooking. The 58cm cooking area is a good size too, meaning you can cook up to 16 burgers on one go.

Dancook says the unique kettle liner collects grease and ash which results in air being preheated for a 50% increase in cooking effect. It certainly does cook quickly and powerfully while that lid is useful to stop flames for simple cooling control when needed.

Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

Buy now: Dancook 1501, £418, Amazon

11. Napoleon P500RSIBPK – Best BBQ for parties

best-bbqs-Napoleon P500RSIBPK

The name of this barbecue might not be that catchy but everything else about it is simply awesome. Everything but the price, of course. That said you certainly do get a lot for your money.

This BBQ features a whopping six burners over a spacious 5802 square centimetre cooking area.  So this is for pros and those that really like to cook a lot of food – ideal for a party.

The stainless steel construction gives this bbq a solid and reassuring weight. The wheels make it easy enough to move about – even when loaded up with gas canisters. These are concealed nicely in lower cupboard space. A side burner with infrared heat is useful for cooking extras that need a little longer or very controlled heat application.

There’s another infrared heater in the form of a rear rotisserie burner and you can even add charcoal on a tray if you buy that option separately. The whole grill screams quality, right down to the metallic burner knobs – just bear in mind you’ll have no excuse for anything but perfectly cooked food when using this.

Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

Buy now: Napoleon P500RSIBPK, £1,649, Amazon

12. Weber Smokey Joe Premium – Best portable BBQ

best-bbqs-Weber Smokey Joe Premium

If you want a barbecue that isn’t consigned to your garden alone then the Weber Smokey Joe Premium could be just the one for you. This combines quality craftsmanship and cooking ability with portability that lets you turn any park, field or beach into a bbq party.

The 37cm cooking area of the Smokey Joe is a nice balance between portability and space which is enough for around three people. But if you want to do more just crack open another bag and coals and keep cooking. The porcelain-enamelled and rust-resistant lid and bowl mean even being out in the elements is no issue for this bbq.

Plus you get a fire resistant lid handle and a separate carry handle so you can up and move quickly without worry about it being too hot.

Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buy now: Weber Smokey Joe Premium, £79.99, John Lewis & Partners

13. Ozpig – best BBQ and heater combo

best-bbqs-Ozpig

Why only use the heat of a barbecue to cook food when it can also be used to heat the patio? This is a great addition to countries where the weather can take a cold turn even at what’s mean to be a summer party. The Ozpig is part heater and part bbq.

Because eating alfresco doesn’t have to mean braving the elements. This rotund unit works as a wood burner to radiate heat out in all directions. But, crucially, it also sends that heat right up, onto a grill. Yes, at 38cm that’s not a big grill. But when you get the warmth and can cook using raw wood for a really impressive flavour, that’s a worthy trade-off.

This comes with a chimney so you don’t need to worry about smoke in your eyes or making your clothes smell. Plus you get a handy table section for plates and food storage space. There are also optional extra accessories. These include a diffuser for lowering cooking temperatures. There’s even a rotisserie for cooking whole animals, if you’re feeling decadent.

Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

Buy now: Ozpig, £207.50, Nisbits

How to buy the best bbq for you

best-bbqs-Weber Genesis II E-410 LIFE

Image credit: Weber

The most major priority is price, so start out with a rough idea of what you want to spend. Once you know this, it’s easier to narrow down the rest and fit in what you need with what you can afford. Next up is fuel.

This subject is an area of debate. Some claim that charcoals offer the very best flavour, while others claim gas gives the same result. Then, to make it more complicated, there are gas barbecues that use gas flames to heat charcoals.

Essentially it boils down to this – if you’re cooking meat, it’s the juices hitting the coals which create a smoke which adds flavour to the meat. Lose the coals and you lose this extra flavour.

So if you want authentic flavour, coals can be the best way to cook. Then there are the smokers which take this idea to the next level and offer slow cooking which not only packs in the smokey flavour but also allows you to give the perfect tenderness to joints of meat.

The problem with gas and charcoal is that you need to buy the fuels, which can be a hassle. That’s where electric barbecues come in. They’re a great way ta grill without worrying about anything aside from plugging in the barbecue. Of course, many will argue this is akin to cooking indoors. But with a lid for trapping in flavour you’re still going to get a great experience.

Related: How to clean a BBQ

Why do I need a BBQ?

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Image credit: Claire Lloyd Davies

If you want to enjoy alfresco dining properly during the summer then a barbecue is a must. Sure you could slave away in the kitchen, but if you’re having guests over, it’s nice to all be together outside for the experience, right?

Portable barbecues are more varied than ever, so taking the grilling with you is also an option. It will certainly turn a picnic into a proper event.

For those that love that smokey barbecue flavour, or just enjoy cooking outside, a barbecue is a year-round option that’s only really limited by the rain. But with a bit of cover and a jacket to keep warm there’s nothing stopping you enjoying bbq flavours all year round.

How much should I spend on a BBQ?

This is the question that’s a tough one to nail down since the range of prices is so broad. You can spend very little on a portable barbecue, or you can stretch to a professional level beast with multiple functions and heat sources priced in the thousands.

Most people find somewhere in the middle suits. So spending just over a hundred or a few hundred will generally get you a barbecue fit for most purposes.

Take a look at fuel costs, too, as gas and coal varies. You’ll want to factor this in, especially if you’re planning to use the barbecue a lot.

What other key questions do I need to ask about BBQs?

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Image credit: Colin Poole

Size is an issue for areas of limited space, so a smaller barbecue can often be easier for storage. That said, if you’re having parties with lots of people, a larger cooking area is always a welcome addition.

Splashing out a bit more on a cover is another factor to consider if you plan to keep your barbecue outside. Especially in countries where it’s cold and wet in the winter months, it’s necessity if you can’t find an indoor storage location.

The post Best BBQs 2020 – the greatest grills for all your outdoor cooking needs appeared first on Ideal Home.

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