Looking for the best barbecue?
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's pick of the greatest grilling machines out there.
With a heatwave underway and the school summer holidays drawing to a close, 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.
Patio the size of a Subbuteo table? No problem, nab one of the portable charcoal grillers on the final eight pages of this gallery (from page 12), and get busy with the tweezers.
Got a large and agreeable decking area? We've got altogether more serious barbecues starting right after these words from our sponsors.
Of course, you don't want all of the gear with no idea. Thankfully, T3 is here to help withadvice from three master grillsmen.
- The state of your lawn, man! Get it mown with these lawnmowers!
- Chillax with some home-made ice cream, made using an ice cream maker. Obviously.
- Pouring down? Best get the microwave out, then.
Now take up your tongs and prepare to singe some sausages…
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 so you can safely expect this one to last at least ten winters.
T3 rating 5/5
Price: £309 | Buy Weber Master-Touch
Big Green Egg
This prestigious brand has become the first choice of a million chefs. It grills, bakes, smokes and seers and stays hot for 10hrs on a single load of lumpwood charcoal. Depending on size, these ceramic bulbous beauties will cook and/or smoke anything from sausages, fish and kebabs to rib racks and whole legs of lamb and pork.
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 (from £399 to £3,745) is a genuine obstacle to all but the most discerning – and flushed – barbecuists.
Price: From £550 | Big Green Egg
Char-Broil The Big Easy Smoker & Roaster
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 Morrocan 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.
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 even the titchiest of patios.
A really stellar, do-it-all barbie for fuss-free feasting.
T3 rating 5/5
Price:£299 | Buy Char-Broil Big Easy Smoker & Roaster
Fuego Element Carbon Steel
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 250˚C temperature in a respectable five minutes and goes all the way to a scorching 350˚C.
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. On the other hand, cheap it most certainly isn't.
T3 rating 4/5
Rather like rugby, barbecue is something they do rather better in the southern hemisphere. That's why we're going straight in at the deep end with this South African braai-style monster.
In 80cm and 120cm varieties and with the option of freestanding and built in models, the intimidatingly named MegaMaster is built for a lot more than just blackening chicken legs. It's a real garden or patio centrepiece, with double doors that open out to create acres of worktop space.
As well as BBQing, you can also use it for everything from poaching to slow-cooking, thanks to a range of accessories that includes woks, grids and authentic, South African-style cast-ironpotjies (or 'pots', if you prefer).
A massive chimney and extensive log store top an tail this big daddy of a griller. It's not exactly cheap, but on the other hand, compared to many other humungous BBQs, it actually is kinda reasonable.
From £996 | Buy Megamaster
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.
T3 rating 4/5
£300 | Buy Ozipig
Kamado Joe Junior Grill
Big Green Egg isn't the only company to embrace ceramics. Once set up, this Medium Sized Red Egg is a cinch to use and, like its Big Green rival, it cooks food to perfection.
The Kamodo Joe Jr comes with a sturdy stand, a 377 square centimetre cooking grill and a built in thermometer. Top chefs love ceramic BBQs like this because they're able to go up to a phenomenal 399˚C – brilliant for searing steaks – and the amazing insulation properties of ceramic means they'll stay hot for hours – even overnight.
An excellent option but cheap it ain't. Oh, and although it's classified as a portable BBQ, at over 30kgs in weight the Joe Jr is not something you'd want to carry any great distance.
T3 rating 4/5
Price:£410 | Buy Kamado Joe Junior Grill
Original Jerk ¼ Cut Classic Barrel Barbecue
Been to any commercial barbecues recently, or perhaps a trip to the Caribbean? Then you'll doubtless have noticed one of these funky oil drum barbecues being used.
London-based Original Jerk specialises in the manufacture of hand-built barbecues using brand new 45 gallon oil drums. The superbly made ¼ Cut model here measures 1.4 metres in length and comes with a huge 850mm x 550mm laser cut steel grill, a smaller smoking shelf above, two timber side shelves and a chimney to port the inevitable plums of smoke. For an extra £1,000 you can have it in stainless steel.
Original Jerk also provides custom paint jobs, laser cut graphics and hand made lettering. A super choice for large and/or extremely sociable families and catering businesses, albeit not an especially cheap one, given that it's an oil drum cut in half.
Price:£500 | Buy Original Jerk¼ Cut Classic Barrel Barbecue
Landmann Kentucky Smoker
If you and your guests love the taste of smoked meat and veg, consider this classic, barrel-shaped smoker from the house of Landmann.
The Kentucky is comprised of two compartments: one for the smoking of much wood; the other for the actual food. It's a clever, tried-and-trusted system that's very easy to use.
Load the smaller chamber with charcoal and throw on a handful of wood chips or a pile of damp oak sawdust. Then lift the lid of the main compartment and bung on a large, seasoned leg of lamb, a whole salmon or a bird of your choice. Make sure to place a tray of water under the meat to keep it moist.
Cooking is performed indirectly so there are absolutely no flare ups. Just remember that it takes between two and four hours for the meat to cook. But, hey, you prepared all of this at least five hours before your guests arrived. Didn't you?
T3 rating 4/5
Price: £190 | Buy Landmann Kentucky Smoker
Napoleon Prestige PRO 825
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 less over-priced than some in its super-sized class.
T3 rating 3/5
Price:£3,779.99 | Buy Napoleon Prestige PRO 825
Portable BBQs starting with Weber Q 1200
Most professional chefs will choose charcoal over gas but sometimes gas is better, like on a campsite, the local park or the deck of your expensive yacht.
This highly portable model uses small, easily acquired, disposable camping gas-type cartridges and features a porcelain-enamelled, cast-iron cooking grate big enough for six or more placements, a tall aluminium lid with built-in thermometer, two fold-out side tables and push-button Piezo ignition.
On-trend bonus: it comes in orange, fuschia, green, blue or purple.
T3 rating 4/5
Price:£199.99 | Buy Weber Q 1200
Campingaz Party Grill 600
The choice of a myriad campers, the Party Grill is a do-it-all, gas-fired model that provides a huge variety of cooking options. For an English breakfast try the non-stick griddle then whip out the grill section for a barbecued lunch and finish with the wok for a tasty stir-fry dinner.
It comes with an easy-to-clean water compartment to catch dripping fats and runs for over nine hours on a single R907 Campingaz bottle. In short, it's the only camping cooker you're ever likely to need. Does it really have to be so ugly, though? Of course it does; it's for camping.
T3 rating 4/5
Price:£160.37 | Buy Campingaz Party Grill 600
Forget faffing about with hairdryers to fan the flames. This award-winning barbie uses a built-in battery-powered fan to get the whole thing up to cookingtemperature in three and a half minutes flat, and with no choking smoke in the process. What's more, it'll go on grilling for up to an hour on only a small handful of charcoal.
It works by creating a bellows effect that forces cool air over the charcoal, turning it into a raging inferno, albeit a safe one. The Lotus Grill is available in seven cheerful colours and is ideal for small patios, balconies, campsites, picnics and boats. Its 32cm grill is good for up to four hungry gannets.
Breaking news! Even better, there is now an £89 Fondue Gril Accessory Kit, for rustling up delicious, 1970s continental-style cheese-based meals. Mmm-mm.
T3 rating 5/5
Well Done Social Grill
Table-top grilling has two main bonuses: it's more enjoyable grilling one's own cuts and it's much more sociable, especially for the bloke in the household who usually has to stand alone for 90 minutes in front of a blazing inferno while wrestling with exploding sausages and a mushy fish that's fallen through the grate.
Enter the Social Grill, a long, 91cm, table-top BBQ with enough grilling space for a party of six. Simply place it on the table, dump in a layer of charcoal, fire it up and let your guests scorch their own lunch.
Granted, it's not the most handsome beast ever to grace the patio table – and you may need to fit the extra heat shield if your table's plastic – but it performs the task with aplomb and is a fun way to cook. The length means it's not all that portable, but it can be done.
T3 rating 4/5
Price:£59.95 | Buy Well Done Social Grill
Gentlemen's Hardware Compact Barbecue
Going on a picnic? You need this natty barbie-in-a-case. Picture the scene… You arrive at the riverside looking for all the world like a businessman who's just stepped off the plane, stoop down and open your briefcase to reveal a fully functioning barbecue replete with charcoal tray and stainless steel 16x25cm grill. Only one problem: you forgot the charcoal.
But assuming you do remember to bring the fire-making essentials, this is a nifty little thing.
T3 rating 3/5
Price: £49.99 | Buy Gentlemen's Hardware Compact Barbecue
Grilliput Folding Barbeque
And now for wht's claimed to be the smallest, most portable grill in the world. This barbie in a tube is just the ticket for the hiker, climber, Bear Grylls wannabe or anyone with very little room in the backpack.
It's fiddly to construct, but once assembled it's simply a case of finding some wood and a box of matches. Oh, and something to cook on it, like that squirrel over there. The Gentleman's Briefcase strikes us more practical, if less minimalist and clever.
T3 rating 3/5
Price:£29.99 | Buy GrilliputFolding Barbeque
This is one of the most versatile charcoal-fired mini barbecues on the market and one of the most efficient. Invented in South Africa, the sturdy, kettle-style Compact Cobb is a small, portable cylindrical unit that can grill, fry, bake and even roast a whole chicken, albeit a small one. Its secret lies in a controlled ventilation system that keeps the briquettes (or Cobb's own proprietary Cobblestones) up to fierytemperature for more than three hours and without any heat being transferred to the BBQ's outer casing.
This particular model comes packaged with an overly slippery Teflon-coated griddle – whoops there goes another sausage – but there are plenty more grilling accessories available. A top buy for alfresco feasters, boaters and glampers.
T3 rating 4/5
Price: from £145 | Buy Compact Cobb
This elegant two- to four-person patio barbie grill brings steak-on-the-stone style personal alfresco cooking to the table top. There's no treachery on board -- it uses just a simple charcoal tray, a 26cm stainless steel grill and a cup of water to save the table from scorching -- but it cooks food perfectly well.
The Joya's attractive ceramic base remains cool to the touch while guests slap on their own kebabs and steak cuts using the supplied bamboo tongs. And it even comes preloaded with a handful of charcoal to get you started.
Price:£99.00 | Buy Barbecook Joya