Whether it's a gas or charcoal BBQ you're after, or even a smoker, we've got what you need to perk up the great British summer: T3.com's pick of the greatest grilling machines out there.
What are the best large and small barbecues?
Anyone with an interest in grilling will probably not be surprised to see that we've opted for a portable Weber - the Weber Q W1200 to be precise - in the movable BBQ category – Weber is the world's number one for a reason and its grills are a very, very safe choice.
Looking for something bigger? Our man with the tongs, Derek Adams, prefers the Napoleon Rodeo Pro, but since that is priced distinctly in a category that could be described as 'For rich people who live in the Southern Hemisphere only', we've gone for another Weber as the best family-sized, garden barbecue as well: the Master-Touch.
How to buy the best barbecue for you
With a heatwave underway and school holidays upon us, the coast is still clear to don the shades and start stocking up on grill-friendly grub to singe in the sunshine, with all levels and types of al fresco cooking catered for, from high-end smoking to, basically, setting fire to a bucket.
There are plenty of other brands that offer excellent, interesting and distinct takes on the outdoor cooking game, and we have plenty of them to pore over here.
Big Green Egg and Komodo Joe definitely offer something extra for the more 'pro' chef (at a more 'pro' price), while the likes of LotusGrill, Compact Cobb and Barbecook Joya offer great, highly portable solutions for picnic or patio grilling.
Got a large and agreeable decking area? We've got altogether more serious grills starting right after these words from our sponsors.
Of course, you don't want all of the gear with no idea. Thankfully, T3.com is here to help with advice from three masters of the grill.
Our pick of the best BBQs to buy today
1. Weber Master-Touch
Second best large kettle barbecue
Grill size: 22 inches | Type: Charcoal | Size: Large
Weber's tried-and-trusted 'kettle' system is one of the most efficient, fuss-free and reliable ways to charcoal-grill food without scorching it to a cinder.
The enamelled bowl-shaped lid is not only a cover against the elements, it's part of the barbecue's indirect cooking process. Just follow the golden rule 'if you're lookin', it ain't cookin' and leave the lid on as much as you can; trust us, your food will cook to perfection.
This classy 57cm model incorporates a lid holder and ash catcher, and accommodates Weber's 'Gourmet' system of cooking accessories: simply remove the centre of the heavy-duty grill and replace it with a wok, pizza stone, poultry roaster or griddle.
Webers are renowned for their durability, and you can safely expect this one to last at least ten winters.
2. Napoleon Rodeo Professional
Best barbecue bar none
Grill size: 22 inches | Type: Charcoal | Size: Large
This superbly designed and very well engineered charcoal kettle is actually better than the evergreen Weber Mastertouch, for several reasons. However, the price is so mad, we'd recommend the Mastertouch over it.
Firstly, it has a heavyweight wavy-shaped cast iron grill that can be placed at three different heights. I can’t stress enough how important a feature this is. There are often times when the coals are nearing the end of their life and you still have the kebabs to grill. Or perhaps you’re starting with steaks and you need to sear them at high temperature.
With this it's easy; just put on some gloves and lower the grill two stages to an inch or so above the heat.
The Rodeo Pro also has a more accurate lid-mounted thermometer than the Weber, four sturdy legs instead of three and a porcelain-enameled steel lid with offset hinges for fuss-free lifting.
Someone at Napoleon clearly knows exactly what a charcoal barbecue should be and this exemplary and extremely robust model is the outstanding result.
The best grill I've ever used, and a real looker, too. Now if only I could afford it...
3. Weber Genesis II E-210 GBS
Best gas BBQ
Grill size: 20 inch | Type: Gas | Size: Large
You pay quite a bit more for a Weber, but what price peace of mind, guy?
Weber barbecues are extremely well built and suffer from only minimal rust after years left out in the cold and damp. Which is more than one can say for the majority of cheaply-built barbies out there.
The new gas-fired Genesis II comes with a 20-inch porcelain-enamelled cast-iron cooking grate, two high-performance burners, a warming rack above the main grill, two side tables with tool hooks, a space to put the Patio gas canister and a stunning-looking enamelled hinged lid with integral thermometer for reliable, flare-free cooking.
For tech nerds, the Genesis II is also compatible with Weber’s new fandangled iGrill 3 Bluetooth-enabled thermometer system (£90). Simply bung in a pair of meat probes, launch the accompanying app and it’ll keep track of the temperatures within.
Voila: perfect meat, and no more killing your friends with salmonella.
It may look hulking in the image above but the Genesis II really doesn’t take up much space, so consider this dapper model if you have a smaller patio or balcony.
4. Big Green Egg Medium
The professional's choice
Grill size: 38 inches | Type: Charcoal | Size: Very large
This prestigious brand has become the first choice of a million chefs. It grills, bakes, smokes and seers and stays hot for 10 hours on a single load of lumpwood charcoal.
This ceramic, bulbous beauty will cook and/or smoke anything from sausages, fish and kebabs to rib racks and whole legs of lamb and pork. As the 'Medium' part of its name suggests, this whopper is not even the Biggest in the Green Egg range, but it's still sufficient to cook for eight Americans at a time.
Like the Weber, this heavyweight griller is designed to be used with the lid on so that the food is cooked indirectly; the lid also prevents unexpected flare-ups and scorching.
Right now there probably isn't a better, more forgiving barbecue on the planet. However, its premium price range is a genuine obstacle to all but the most discerning barbecuists.
5. Char-Broil The Big Easy
Best smoker and roaster under £300
Grill size: 18 inches | Type: Gas | Size: Large
In America where they love their deep-fried Thanksgiving turkeys, this new gas-powered Dalek in disguise is proving extremely popular as a healthier – and safer – alternative to dropping a whole bird into a vat of boiling oil.
We're not really keen on that kind of thing in Europe but show us an efficient, healthier way to knock up a slab of alfresco ribs or a slow-cooked Moroccan lamb and we'll jump at the chance. Well here's the answer.
The three-in-one Big Easy comes with a removable basket cavernous enough for an 11kg bird or a large leg of lamb, a smoker box for the obligatory handful of hickory wood chips, four rib hooks, an easy-clean drip tray and a removable porcelain-coated cooking grate for the ordinary stuff.
In fact, you need quite a large handful of smoking pellets if you want more thana subtle hint of smoke.
The Big Easy runs off a gas canister and uses the company's famed TRU-Infrared tech to evenly roast, grill and smoke whatever you throw at it. Despite its weight and height, its footprint is actually small enough for smaller patios.
A really stellar, do-it-all barbie for fuss-free feasting.
6. Char-Broil Gas2Coal
Best for fence sitters – it's both gas and charcoal!
Grill size: 24 inches | Type: Gas & Charcoal | Size: Large
Torn between cooking on gas or coal? Then how about this new two-in-one griller from US off-beat barbecue bigwig Char-Broil?
The aptly named Gas2Coal converts from one heat source to another with very little hassle, giving the best of both worlds, in theory.
If using gas, you simply turn on the burners – there are three of 'em – and start cooking.
When the craving arises for some good old-fashioned charcoal grilling, just reach down to the compartment beneath the burners, pull out the charcoal tray, place it on top of the three burners and fill with briquettes or lumpwood. Now turn on all three gas burners to light the charcoal using the electronic igniter.
Given that there’s only space for a single layer of charcoal, you won’t get as much burn time as a conventional model but at least you can always remove the charcoal tray (with gloves) and revert to gas.
The Gas2Coal isn’t the best built barbie in the yard and it takes ages to assemble but it’s sturdy enough and even comes with a separate side burner for heating stuff like baked beans, potatoes, etc.
It's neither the best gas BBQ, nor a fantastic example of a charcoal one, but it is a very nifty hybrid, a perfect choice for fence sitters, and well suited to Britain's, ahem, 'variable' summer climate.
7. Verycook Plancha Simplicity 2
Best flat-top BBQ
Grill size: 24 inches | Type: Gas | Size: Large
Verycook is a French company that specialises in Spanish-style, gas-fired, flat-topped planchas – or griddles as we like to call them.
In true Continental celebratory style, the Simplicity 2 – which is available in several very attractive colours – arrived with a Hawaiian lei and a bright red apron to wear while you do that al fresco thing. What it didn’t come with is a gas regulator – although that's a cheap buy at most hardware stores.
The griddle is a beautifully engineered slab of 6mm-thick stainless steel that is phenomenally heavy, so get a mate to help with setup. Boy, did I find that out the hard way.
Once recovered from the hernia, I found the Simplicity 2’s flat cooking surface is perfect for frying breakfast stuff like bacon, eggs, sausages and mushrooms and all types of seafood and veg, and, of course burgers.
Mind, you might want to keep it out of any breezy areas as there’s a large gap between the two burners and the griddle.
Best thing about it? It has a cutaway rear leading to a fat-collection container so you can make like a spatula-wielding chef at a roadside burger pop up. A cheaper model with enamelled steel griddle plate is also available.
8. Fuego Element Carbon Steel
Another stylish gas option
Grill size: 20 inches | Type: Gas | Size: Medium
Just because you have a smaller patio or balcony, doesn't mean you can't indulge in an alfresco nosh-up from time to time. Enter the Fuego Element.
Despite being devised by a former Apple and Beats headphones designer, this slim figure is more reminiscent of a prototype Dalek than an iPhone. However, it is a very neat package, replete with hidden gas bottle container and a heavy-weight cast-iron grill big enough to feed a family of four. And an American family of four, at that.
The Fuego is equipped with a two circular stainless steel burners that can be used independently for slow, indirect cooking or together for searing meats. The whole shebang reaches its optimum 250ºC temperature in a respectable five minutes and goes all the way to a more than respectable 350ºC.
Somewhere between a portable and a full-size barbie, the Fuego Element is a bit of a classic. It's a doddle to use and full of inventive design flourishes that make the barbecuing even more enjoyable.
As a bonus it's also come down in price somewhat since its launch last year.
Best grill cum patio heater
Grill size: 15 inches | Type: Gas | Size: Medium
This one could almost live in the compact section of this guide, and it is described by its manufacturer as 'portable', and comes with a carry case. And compared to something like the MegaMaster, we dare say it is. As long as you're quite strong.
As you can tell from its wood-burner-cum-cauldron appearance, this is rather more than your standard portable, however. Able to grill, roast, boil, or fry anything you throw at or in it, it also radiates heat in 360 degrees to you and your fellow al fresco diners warm as the sun sets.
The fire is fully contained and off the ground, so it can be used in most environments. The chimney does what chimneys traditionally do, and can be offset via an optional add-on, so as to bypass awnings.
Accessories include a rotisserie for suckling piglets, a diffuser ideal for lowering cooking temperatures and a 'special wok'. Get in.
10. Napoleon Prestige PRO 825
Best mega grill
Grill size: Massive | Type: Gas | Size: Massive
Could this bank-breaking, stainless steel behemoth be the one for your six-bedroomed mansion?
The Napoleon has two lidded grilling zones (one with 1,270 square-centimetres of cooking surface, the other with the Canadian company's unique infrared Sizzle Zone), an extra rear infrared burner for rotisseries, two wave-shaped stainless steel grates, an integrated wood-chip smoking tray, a separate side burner for wok cooking or the boiling of vegetation and, on the opposite end, a handy marinade tub.
It also comes with tool hooks galore, acres of storage space behind the soft-closing doors and backlit control knobs for luna banquets.
This is obviously way more than most households would ever need, but it's also less over-priced than some in its super-sized class, yet has a lifetime guarantee.