Forget charred burgers and health-risk chicken drumsticks with a hint of pink – we’ve become a nation of expert barbecuers, ready to throw pretty much anything on a grill to churn out an alfresco summer feast. There are a plenty of different barbecue models on the market, depending on what you’re trying to achieve – here’s how to find one that’s right for you …
Best for serious barbecue chefs
Ceramic barbecue, Big Green Egg (from £625)
Widely considered the best barbecues in the business, the various models from Big Green Egg (there are five different sizes) are above and beyond your common or garden kit and perfect for confident chefs. First designed 40 years ago, they combine artisan production and Nasa-inspired ceramics with the ability to have charcoal ready to cook on in 12 minutes, so the days of waiting hours for the grill to get hot are over. They’re also entirely weatherproof, so you can cook on them all year round. Out and out winners!
Best for authentic pizza fans
Forno outdoor oven, Morsø (£1,099)
This part-covered space-age-looking pod works as a wood-fired oven, enabling you to cook steaks and traditional barbecue fare on the grilling rack, and smoke meat and fish too. It really comes into its own when it comes to pizzas, however, producing authentic flamed-crust margheritas, garlic breads and more, for a real taste of Italy. It’ll also keep your guests warm on chillier evenings.
Best for beach and park picnics
It’s no wonder that one of the world’s most famous chefs has put his name to this nifty little barbie. The future of modern outdoor cooking, this simple-yet-stylish unit is compact and portable, making it ideal for impromptu cooking away from home. It includes an integrated food storage tray, preparation board and porcelain enamel firebox and, thanks to its heat-protection shield, you can even move it while you’re cooking. It’s also available in four colour options, meaning you can match it to the rest of your picnic kit!
Best for barbecuing on a budget
Bucket barbecue, Argos (£10)
Ideal for barbecue beginners and those not wanting to spend a fortune until they’ve honed their outdoor cooking skills, this cheap and cheerful classic caters for one or two – and, as it’s small, you can take it almost anywhere. With a charcoal bowl and grill and a separate cooking grill with handle, it’s super-easy to assemble and clean afterwards and the bright yellow outer bucket has summer written all over it!
Best for all-round versatility
Not only does this heavy-duty porcelain enamel-coated barbecue look the part, it also wins hands down for versatile cooking options. This model from barbecue master-brand Weber features a special grate that allows you to attach different accessories, such as a wok, griddle and sear plate, depending on what culinary delight you want to create. It also includes a special “one-touch” cleaning feature that enables you to move one lever and shift all the debris into the removable ash catcher after each use. If all that isn’t enough, it comes with a 10-year guarantee too.
Best for family feasts
Size matters … especially when it comes to catering for a garden party full of hungry guests. This mammoth barbie lives up to its swashbuckling name, with a spacious cooking area of 69cm x 40cm and two sturdy shelves – alongside and below the grill – that enable you to line up the food and keep it coming … Other highlights include the ash-collecting drawer below and wheels, which enable you to move it to wherever it’s needed. Summer entertaining is a doddle with this hard worker.
Best for small spaces
It may look like something that has just landed on the moon or Mars, but this little beauty is a real godsend for those city dwellers thinking lack of outdoor space means they can’t get in on the barbecue action. It’s super-compact, making it perfect for use on small urban patios or balconies – and yet its rack has enough room for all your grilling needs, from steaks and sausages to veggie kebabs.
Best hybrid barbecue
With enough space to cook for up to 14 people, this slick, stylish unit is where barbecue meets outdoor kitchen. It’s ideal for those looking for both the authentic chargrilled taste of charcoal and the adjustable heat control of a gas model, as it incorporates both technologies, which can be used simultaneously. The expansive storage space beneath means you have a place for all your associated accessories and it’s on wheels, so it can be positioned anywhere in your garden.
Best electric barbecue
The ultimate outdoor grilling option for clean freaks, this streamlined, fully electric unit does away with the need for messy charcoal and ash or unwieldy bottled gas. Stainless steel, with aluminium grill plates, it has an adjustable thermostat and power indicator for precise grilling and, as the plates are ridged, food will look like it’s been prepped on an old-school charcoal barbecue. Another bonus is that it’s really easy to clean: the non-stick coating only needs wiping down once you’re done.
Best for stylistas
Those wanting a sculpture-like piece for their garden need look no further than this imposing and impressive outdoor oven from Norwegian firm Jøtul. This wood-burning fire can be combined with a specially designed firescreen and barbecue grill to transform it into the ultimate outdoor oven. Constructed from corten steel, the structure can be left outdoors all year round and will take on a rusty, rustic appearance in time, making it as good looking as it is useful.
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