Barbecuing is a strange phenomenon. No matter how good, bad, fanatical or disinterested anyone is in the kitchen, nearly everyone loves the idea of a BBQ.
The flames, the aromas, the inherently social side to gathering friends in the garden for drinks and grilled meat are universally appealing.
That being said, disastrous results are commonplace, and a large majority of barbecues probably never get used to their full potential.
In fairness to most aspiring grill chefs out there, our ever-changing, unpredictable weather doesn’t lend itself to pre-planning such outdoor culinary activities.
Nonetheless, as with all things cooking – our appetite for barbecuing, including smoking, roasting, beer can chicken, and the like – is growing also in Europe.
The growing desire for more than a burnt sausage and some suspiciously pink chicken is a good thing to our minds. The variety of cooking methods BBQs offer and their flavors can result in a fantastic dining experience.
Of course, there is also the pure and primal lure of cooking over open flame as hundreds of generations have done so before us.
Perhaps this apparent simplicity of flame grilling makes it seem so easy and prevents many of us from looking past simply chucking things on a grill. Yet the barbecue can offer infinitely more.
Some of the earliest written mentions of BBQs are in the bible and, while I don’t suggest getting any tips from there. I have found that a couple of really good barbecue books are worth their weight in gold when it comes to really get the most out of any of the models I’ve tested.
I already considered myself a proficient griller, of course. Still, a couple of good barbecuing books offer some additional invaluable information.
From the basics such as the hand test for the cooking temperature to zonal cooking, methods of smoking and slow cooking, and all manner of other hints and tips that aim to get the best out of this most appealing of ways to cook your food.
More: The Best Chef’s Knives
The Char-Broil Kettleman is a Kettle-style BBQ, as the name suggests. This means you can slow-roast food as well as the usual grilling.
Its inventive grill helps prevent fat from dripping back onto the coals, effectively eliminating flare-ups and preventing your food from burning on the outside. It’s well-made too, easy to clean and produces great-looking and -tasting food.
If you’ve got $150 to spend on a BBQ, then this is one to buy.
More: The Best Grills
Char-Broil Kettleman BBQ
2. Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch
Weber is among the most well-known makers of kettle-style BBQs in the world. That means two things for you.
Prices are highly competitive between retailers, so this BBQ can be bought for well below its $200 price if you shop around, a fact we’ve taken into account in our review.
It also means there’s a huge range of accessories available for this BBQ if that sort of thing interests you. Back to basics, this is a well-made BBQ that is easy to get the best out of, though it doesn’t quite have the Char-Broil’s clever grill or heftiness.
For the money, though, it’s a great buy.
Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill
3. Cuisinart CCG-290, Kettle Charcoal Grill, 18-Inch
Another kettle-style BBQ for your consideration. The reason being that this design is simply the best for most uses, allowing for both simple grilling and lengthier cooking methods.
As well as being a little cheaper than the Weber,
this 18-inch diameter, chrome-plated grill grate has a hinge, allowing you to add more coals during a long grilling session. The lid has a damper, which will enable you to precisely dial in the airflow and heat retention.
At first, the lid thermometer doesn’t seem like it’s all that special. You’ll find lid thermometers are relatively rare if you look around at other kettle grills in this size and price range. The internal thermal probe will give you an accurate internal temperature reading without having to lift the lid as long as you keep it clean.
The four-legged base is another one of those features that’s worth a nod. It makes the CCG-290 feel more stable, and it also gives you a genuinely functional lower shelf.
The lower ash can collector is large for a grill this size. The easy to control sliding dampers allow you to dial in the airflow just right for the type of fire you want to feed.
It’s not quite as well made, admittedly, and there’s a couple of little annoyances, an afterthought of a lid hook, and a little hard to remove the grill.
That said, it has everything you need for just $100 and so deserves to appear here.
Cuisinart CCG-290, Kettle Charcoal Grill, 18-Inch
Buying Guide for the Best BBQ
BBQing has exploded in popularity in recent years. Yes, chucking some meat on the BBQ has always been popular. But serious American-style BBQ has never been bigger. You can even pick up pulled pork ready-meals in M&S these days.
For the real deal, though, you’ll have to pay through the nose or get creative in your own garden.
Now long, slow cooks aren’t for everyone, but even the most casual of BBQ users may want to tackle something a little more rewarding than simple grilling.
This new-found variety of BBQ methods means there’s a far wider variety of BBQs on the market. Simple grills are still available but in increasingly varied forms.
Then there are more-and-more models that include fitted lids, allowing for far more varied techniques. In short, choosing the right BBQ for you isn’t as straightforward as it once was.
When you begin researching different barbecue accessories, you will find an ongoing debate as to whether gas grills are better than charcoal grills. Both types of grills can produce good results; it’s just that certain features can be useful for one type of barbecue and not for another. For example, a grill with a hotplate may not be the best choice for a barbecue with a wood fire. On the other hand, both types of grills have grilling surfaces designed to catch the juices and fat from your food. In the next section, you will learn what you need to do to choose the right type of barbecue for your event.
When it comes to choosing portable grills for any event, one important factor that you should consider is the warming plate. This is a flat pan that is placed in the middle of the heating element, underneath the cooking area. In most cases, this warming plate is made out of cast iron or steel, which allows for even distribution of heat. Because portable grills are often used outdoors, you will want to ensure that the pan will provide adequate warmth for the people eating on them.
Another important accessory to look for is the barbecue warming rack. These racks are designed to hold food while it is being grilled. They are usually made from heavy-duty wire, which is why they are also commonly used in outdoor kitchens. In addition to holding hot food items, the barbecue warming rack can also store them so that they are accessible throughout the grilling process. Many people choose to purchase a gas grill because they offer hot meals quickly. However, in order to avoid burning their food, they will typically build up the heat over time.
Another important accessory to look for when purchasing a new barbecue is the BTU rating. The BTU rating is simply an estimation of how much heat the product can produce. It is based on the BTU output of the grill. Most BTU ratings are based on a BTU level that is 500 times hotter than the hottest water that is found in a standard water cooler. While it may seem impractical to purchase a product with such a high BTU rating, it is important to note that high-quality products with higher BTUs will produce more heat.
Some of the more popular grills on the market include the Brinkmann Smoke’n Grill and the Barbecuing Wizard. There are many different accessories that can be purchased in addition to these two popular products. These sideburns and propane gas holders add convenience and help to make the process of grilling fun for the entire family.
Suppose you are looking for an excellent portable grill that is capable of cooking up to four meals at once. In that case, you should consider purchasing the Barbecue King portable grills. Similar to propane gas grills, this product offers user-adjustable temperature control. It also features a handy side burner and removable cast aluminum foil for added convenience. Additionally, this product has a wide range of cooking selections, including steak, pork, turkey, and fish. In order to protect the Barbecuing Wizard propane tank from being punctured, the lid snaps on securely.
The first choice you have is whether to go with charcoal or gas as a fuel. We’re traditional types here, so we think you need charcoal for it to be a proper BBQ (or another solid, combustible fuel).
We will be covering Gas BBQs in the future, as some can be used with wood chips to good effect, but we’ve concentrated on charcoal models to date.
We’re convinced that Kettle BBQs are the best design for most people, and they look smart too. The lid means you can cook things at pretty much any temperature you want.
This is in part thanks to the adjustable vents that let you control the airflow through the BBQ. You then place charcoal as required, either off to one side to create a convection oven-like effect or to allow for hotter and cooler cooking areas across the grill.
It’s not the only design with a lid. Of course, you could also try the Outback Omega 200 if you fancy having built-in space to work off around your grill.
Then there’s more traditional-looking, lid-free grills, which are great if you want to cook a lot of simple food quickly – such as the Buffalo Resto.
The bigger the BBQ, the more people you can cook for in one go, obvious really. You can cook for larger numbers on a small device. But only if some are happy to wait while others eat.
Fine for a lazy afternoon with friends, less good if you and the kids think of dining al fresco this evening and don’t want it to drag on all night.
A small portable BBQ will generally make dinner for two to four people depending on appetites. Medium-sized BBQs like our three kettles below are around 22.5 inches across and should be fine to serve 6-8 people.
Big open grills can be bought in practically any size and will give you the ability to cook and keep warm huge amounts of burgers and the like. You’ll want something at least 540 square inches in size to cater to a small public event.
However, a larger BBQ will generally require more charcoal to get going. Although some can be easily subdivided so that you can just fire up a part of it. 3-5lbs of charcoal is pretty typical to keep a medium-sized BBQ going for a couple of hours.
Last update on 2021-03-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API