The best portable barbeque 2017

Welcome to our roundup of the best portable BBQs around. 

While the likes of LotusGrill, Compact Cobb and Barbecook Joya offer great, highly portable solutions for picnic or patio grilling, anyone with an interest in barbecues will probably not be surprised to see that we've opted for the Weber Q W1200 as our favourite portable BBQ. 

Weber is the world's number one for a reason and its grills are a very, very safe choice.

But whichever you choose, these are all leagues ahead of those disposable aluminium tray ones you can pick up at a garage.

How to buy the best barbeque for you

First of all you'll need to decide if you want to use fuel you buy or gas. They make a huge difference in terms of flavour. Gas certainly has its place in terms of consistency and convenience when cooking outside, but there is a perception that it defeats the object of BBQing in the first place. 

Gas doesn't create the smoky barbecue flavours that you only get with charcoal and wood. 

Secondly, you need to look out for the grill size with these portable units - as well as how much they weigh if you really are after something you can carry down to the beach. 

Equally, you don't want something you can carry, but you can't cook what needs to be cooked - especially if it means you need to do two or three batches of cooking. That's no fun.

There are different methods of cooking on a barbecue. Without a lid is known as grilling or direct cooking. 

You'll need to keep an eye on the food as it's hard and fast and there's a danger of over cooking or burning quickly. Indirect cooking under a lid is what purists call proper barbecuing - using the smoke to flavour and slow cooking process. I use a plant spray or mister to tame any flare ups.

Ben Tish, Chef Director of the Salt Yard Group, gives his verdict on that age old question - what's best? Charcoal or briquettes? "Lump wood charcoal is superior in flavour to briquettes due to the fact there aren't any chemicals or binders in there to mask or skew the flavours. 

"Most charcoal is from South Africa and will have been compressed so it travels better and doesn't break up in transit. I'd suggest British charcoal which is much lighter and burns better. Apple, hazel and oak all have their differing flavour qualities."

The best portable BBQs to buy today

1. Weber Q 1200

Best portable grill

Grill size: 13 inches | Type: Gas | Size: Small

Great construction
Easy gas canisters
Pricey

Most professional chefs will choose charcoal over gas but sometimes gas is better, like on a campsite, the local park or perhaps the deck of your 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.

2. LotusGrill

Best ultra-compact charcoal BBQ

Grill size: 12 inches | Type: Charcoal | Size: Small

Rapid heating
Incredibly compact
Messier than a gas option

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 cooking temperature 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.

LotusGrill works by creating a bellows effect that forces cool air over the charcoal, turning it into a raging inferno, albeit a safe one. 

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.

There's also an £89 Fondue Grill Accessory Kit for it, letting you rustle up delicious, 1970s, continental-style cheese-based meals. Deliceux!

3. Cobb Compact CO800

Another excellent portable charcoal option

Grill size: 12 inches | Type: Charcoal | Size: Small

Clever heating system
Highly portable
Slippery grill
Messy to transport

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 fiery temperature 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.

4. Gentlemen's Hardware Compact Barbecue

A barbecue in a briefcase

Grill size: 10 inches | Type: Charcoal | Size: Small

Easy portability
Not one for families of 12, clearly

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.

5. Barbecook Joya

Incredibly simple micro grill

Grill size: 10 inches | Type: Charcoal | Size: Small

Very portable
Very small

This elegant two- to four-person patio barbie grill brings steak-on-the-stone style personal alfresco cooking to the table top. 

It uses just a simple charcoal tray, a 26cm stainless steel grill and a cup of water to save the table from scorching, so you couldn't exactly call the Barbecook Joya sophisticated, 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. A preloaded handful of charcoal gets you started.