One of the best barbecues could help keep your household sane this summer even if you don't have much in the way of a garden. With a little bit of open space, some good weather and lots of time, using one of the best BBQs is a great way to chill for a while.
So whether you want a gas system or charcoal grill, or even a dedicated smoking unit for meats, our hunt for the best barbecue centres around one thing: making cooking in the garden or yard easy, tasty and fun. And the barbecues ranked here achieve that goal spectacularly.
With one of these outdoor grills and barbecues you can cook steaks, burgers, sausages, chicken legs and kebabs, grill fish and halloumi or smoke a joint of meat slow and low. You can even go really crazy and have a stab at toasting flatbreads and vegetables such as corn on the cob and broccoli.
Remember also that T3 also has dedicated guides to the best small portable barbecues as well as the the best smokers, too, which may hold a product that is better suited to your needs. And, for those who intend to cook a lot of meat on their BBQ of choice, we've also got a guide to the best meat thermometers on the market.
If you're only interested in cooking on gas, then our speciality best gas barbecue guide will be of much use to you.
We've broken down this best-of-the-best barbecues list into various sections depending on what sort of BBQ you're looking for. To see all the grills simply scroll down, or to jump straight to the type of barbecue you are looking for, such as gas or charcoal, simply click the link in the nearby menu.
The best barbecue you can buy today
If you love hosting al fresco bashes but wish you were a better barbecue chef, this is the grill for you. Many American barbecue aficionados swear by pellet grilling because it infuses food with a truly authentic wood smoke flavour that is difficult to attain using charcoal, let alone gas. It is also arguably the easiest type of barbecuing because it’s all controlled by a computer leaving you, the host, to chill out and relax safe in the knowledge that the food will be cooked to perfection with almost zero intervention. It’s also ideal for a range of cooking styles, from fast grilling to slow smoking and roasting.
Like all pellet grills, compressed wood pellets are transported from a large hopper (in this case 9kgs) via an electrically-powered auger (basically a large corkscrew) to a small furnace pot beneath the main grill grate. The whole pellet delivery process is controlled by a computer processor – Traeger’s own D2 Direct Drive – that ensures consistency and reliability, just like an indoor oven. Hence, once you’ve set the temperature on the Traeger’s display panel or its superlative app, it remains at that temperature for as long as there are pellets in the hopper.
This heavyweight model features wi-fi connectivity and comes with a 418 square inch main grill (enough space for eight chickens of five rib racks) and a removable 231 square inch warming grill above. It’s also equipped with a specialised ‘Super Smoke’ button that operates between 73˚C and 107˚C (ideal for those who like brisket and ribs), a ‘Keep Warm’ function and a meat probe that tells the processor when the food has reached the correct level of doneness. This grill is also capable of searing steaks at temperatures up to 260˚C (500˚F).
Traeger is one of the world’s most popular pellet grill manufacturers and this tank-like model is a brilliant example of the high level of workmanship that goes into its products. Even assembling it was a joy because every box and every item was clearly labelled – the main box itself even turns into a mini house for the kids. It is, for many reasons, our new top choice for doddlesome barbecuing on a grand scale.
How does the Traeger Ironwood 650 fare against the mighty Weber SmokefIre EX4? Well, you can find out in T3's dedicated Weber Smokefire EX4 vs Traeger Ironwood 650 comparison feature.
The greatest charcoal barbecues you can buy today
The Char-Broil Kettleman delivers everything you would want from a charcoal grill, and doesn't break your bank balance in order to do so. That's why we consider it the best charcoal barbecue on the market today.
Assembly is swift and straightforward, and the finished build quality is high, too, with robust steel legs and a gun-metal finish making this grill look a lot more expensive than it actually is.
There's a solid set of wheels, which makes moving it a relatively easy experience, as well as a hinged lid with built in temperature gauge and locking mechanism. The ash collector also has a snug fit and is easily accessed for ash removal, while the top-mounted damper makes increasing and decreasing the cooking temperature with the lid closed easy.
In terms of cooking, you've got more than enough room to cook food for a medium-sized family or gathering, with a 56cm diameter grilling grate on offer.
Throw in a bunch of useful (and affordable) accessories such as a Kettleman Grill Cover and Cleaning Brush and you've got a strong all-round charcoal-powered barbecue grill that will cater to all but the largest of events.
When your friends start calling you Crispin because you have a habit of carbonising every barbecued meal you get your hands on, you know it’s time to get rid of the lidless brazier you’ve been using for years and embrace the simply technology of convection-based kettle cooking.
The Master-Touch GBS E-5750 is a doddle to use. Simply load one or both crescent-shaped charcoal baskets and place them on either side of the bowl. Leave the lid off – there’s a catch-stand at the rear – light the charcoal and retreat for about 25 minutes. Now drop your food onto the ample 57cm plated steel grate – which has enough space for about six placements – put the lid on and go chat to your guests.
This system only requires occasional intervention, whether it’s turning food or adjusting the air intake on the aluminum ash catcher (which now also includes a new ‘smoke’ setting). If you follow the rule ‘if you’re lookin’, it ain’t cookin’, the food should come off the grill perfectly cooked with chicken skin just the right side of crispy.
This model is also designed to accept Weber’s Gourmet BBQ System of optional inserts. Simply remove the grate’s center section and drop in the sear grate, pizza stone, Dutch oven or poultry roaster.
Webers are renowned for their durability, and you can safely expect this one to last many winters. That said, a cover is always advisable to keep out the elements.
You can compare this barbecue to the more budget-orientated one below in our Weber Master-Touch GBS E-5755 vs Texas Franklin Charcoal BBQ (different name for the Tepro Toronto Click) comparison feature.
Granted, this German-designed charcoal BBQ isn’t the most premium in this guide but you’d need to look far and wide for a more thoughtfully designed model at this price point.
What really impresses here is the raft of clever design flourishes. Take a look at the handle on the right. Wind it clockwise and the charcoal section moves up to within 6cm (2.3 inches) of the cooking grate. Wind it down and it stops at 22cm (8.6 inches). This is a great innovation that makes grilling a breeze. Granted, there’s no telling how well the mechanism will fare after a couple of winters in the open air but at this price, who cares?
There’s more, too, because the handle in the middle opens a door to allow for easy shovelling of extra charcoal as and when required. The main grate, meanwhile, measures 54cm x 42cm – enough meal estate for a party of eight and perhaps even ten. Like the Weber Master Touch, the grate also features a removable centre section that can be replaced with a host of optional cooking accessories, including a cast iron wok, a pizza stone and a cast iron Dutch oven. Oh, and for those who enjoy a beer while at the coalface, it also comes with an integral bottle opener.
For most users – especially beginners – the Toronto Click passes a great deal of muster and cooks food expertly well. But it’s that adjustable charcoal tray that’s the real clincher.
Do your neighbours hate you because of the plumes of smoke created every time you have a barbecue? You need a near-smokeless charcoal model, guvnor, like this snazzy spherical offering from LotusGrill.
Like the company’s eponymous portable grill, this one also uses a fan – in fact two – to speed up the charcoal ignition process. According to the blurb, it takes only a few minutes for the charcoal to reach cooking temperature, so I tried this theory out and, blow me down with a flaming feather if it didn’t take just four minutes – about 26 minutes quicker than any other charcoal barbecue – and with no smoke in the process. Even during the cooking process this thing creates less smoke than other models and it does so by dint of a rather unique but slightly convoluted charcoal loading method and a huge 57cm grill with integrated steel shield to stop fats from dripping directly on to the coals below.
The downside to this unusual barbecuing method is that food isn’t really infused with a properly smoky flavour – there’s a glass lid available at heavy cost that will contain the small amount of smoke it produces – and there is a question of having to change the batteries for the fans from time to time. The upside is rapid heating and almost smokeless cooking, and that makes this BBQ the most considerate option for balconies and urban patios. Available in six sunny colours.
The greatest gas barbecues you can buy today
This stainless steel-clad, two-burner gas model is an absolute cracker. The Professional Pro S2 comes with a chunky 47.8 x 44.5cm porcelain-coated, cast-iron grate and uses Char-Broil’s renowned ‘TRU-infrared’ technology – essentially a couple of perforated corrugated steel sheets above the two burners – to ensure an even cooking temperature across the entire grill surface.
Amazingly, it also comes with a side steak searer which, in our test, produced a fillet with a superb caramelised crust and succulent pink centre. For added ambience, this model also features illuminated dials in bright red for night-time use.
Like most gas barbecues, the Char-Broil Professional Pro S2 fires off a 5kg Patio Gas bottle (refills around £30) which tucks neatly away in a cupboard underneath. No question, this is one of the best-built gas BBQs we’ve reviewed but, being of complicated gas origin, you should figure in about three hours to build it.
If you’ve decided that gas grilling is for you, you won’t find a more aesthetically pleasing contender than this strikingly simple (if slightly pricy) model, approved by slaphead food sorceror, Heston Blumenthal.
Available in four colours, the two-burner Force is a joy to use, doesn’t take up too much space and heats up very quickly – just four minutes to reach a searing temperature of 350˚C. It also boasts the most accurate gas controllers in the business.
Build quality is exemplary. This fine slab of artistic minimalism comes with four heavy-duty legs, tough wheels, a rust-free aluminium frame and a thick aluminium hood that ensures the food is cooked evenly with very little intervention from the apron-clad man or woman in charge. The Force’s cast-iron grate comes with integrated flame tamers and provides enough grilling space for six to eight guests.
If you’re in the market for a gas barbecue that delivers in spades and don’t mind forking out so you can, uh, fork in, you won’t find a more capable model that the Everdure Force.
As we conclude in our Char Broil All-Star review, this compact single-burner gas grill is a cracker. Its 46cm circular cast iron grate is similar to that of a standard Weber kettle and we love the way it sits flush with the surface of the main body. It also has an excellent heat-retaining hinged lid, possibly made from aluminium. The two fold-out shelves, meanwhile, provide plenty of space for holding raw ingredients while you slap them on, and it fires up instantly with one touch of its battery-powered igniter.
The All-Star’s circular single burner heats the grate to a maximum temperature of about 350˚C and, because it has one of Char-Broil’s innovative corrugated heat-distributing TRU-Infrared sheets directly beneath it, the entire grate is heated evenly. Char-Broil recommends cleaning the infrared sheet after every barbecue session and the best way to do this is to leave the gas on high for about ten minutes to carbonise the grease and other detritus. Then, simply brush off the powdered remains or use the provided cleaning tool.
The top half of this barbecue comes with its own separate set of sturdy legs so it can be lifted off the main stand and placed on a table or transported in a caravan or RV. Placing it on a table at home seems a bit pointless since the main stand is already perfectly functional and, besides, it has a handy space round the back to hide the gas bottle.
The All-Star arrived in a large box on a palette and it took longer to build than other models. Despite following assembly instructions to the letter, we had trouble fitting the top half of the unit into the main stand and now find it difficult to remove it because its four sturdy rubberised feet refuse to budge.
Minor niggles aside, the All-Star is one of the most compact gas barbies we’ve come across and an ideal choice for a patio or balcony. It’s easy to use, it grills everything evenly and it’s simple to clean. Well worth a gander.
This great-value three-burner gas barbecue comes with a side burner for frying onions, preparing sauces, boiling potatoes etc, a side shelf and a large cupboard for the gas bottle. Its 61 x 46cm grilling area is good for a party of six and divided into two sections: on the right it has a large cast-iron grate for the meats and on the left a flat griddle for fish, prawns, halloumi, vegetables and other ingredients that benefit from a flat top.
The main grate will also accommodate Campingaz’s optional paella dish, wok and chicken roaster. If budget is a consideration and you’re looking for a very decent gas BBQ that will also whip up a bacon and eggs breakfast, then step right this way.
The greatest pellet grills you can buy today
The SmokeFire is a heavyweight pellet-burning beast that arrived in a box big enough to live in. The main stainless steel grate measures a substantial 61cm x 46cm (good for a party of eight to possibly ten) and there’s another smaller warming rack above it. A stainless steel shelf on the side provides space for ingredients, etc.
The whole shebang is controlled using a simple push-button LCD display replete with four meat probe ports (the unit comes with one probe). Simply select the required temperature (in Fahrenheit), push the big button, and wait about 10 to 25 minutes for the grill to reach optimum cooking temperature. Now slap on the food, close the lid and go chat to your mates.
Weber’s completely thrown the rule book out the window with this model and replaced the wide steel heat reflector common to other pellet models with its famous stainless steel ‘Flavorizer’ bars. This means that, at its highest heat setting (315˚C), the edges of the roaring flame in the fire pot below are clearly visible either side of the heat baffle rather than hidden from view, and that in turn means any steak thrown on the grill receives a good searing. You can also connect this grill to your phone via Bluetooth or wi-fi and control the whole process from a deck chair using the Weber Connect app.
Now, it has to be said that the earliest run of SmokeFires did have some teething problems, namely a poorly designed pellet hopper slide, but this has since been redesigned. What isn’t in doubt is the build quality which is frankly excellent across the board, from the beautifully finished porcelain enamelled lid and tactile opening mechanism to the sturdy legs and lockable castor wheels. If you’re in the market for a large and exceedingly competent pellet barbecue that can smoke, slow roast and sear then we can’t think of a better option right now than this imposing black beauty. Highly recommended.
Read our full Weber Smokefire EX4 review for more details.
As we note in our Traeger Pro 575 review this is more like an outdoor oven than a barbecue. Like all pellet grills, it uses little wood pellets, an electrically-powered auger to deliver them to a fire pot, a temperature probe and advanced computer technology to make cooking much easier for everyone from newbies to pros.
Traeger’s nailed its algorithm so well that if you pick a temperature of, say, 180ºC, it will actually stay at that temperature for as long as required, or until the meat probe it comes with signals the end of the cooking process. Purists can call that cheating all they like but I haven't burned a single thing on the Traeger to date and I'm more than happy with that. A superbly designed iOS and Android app adds a multitude of hints and tips, and hundreds of exotic barbecue recipes for beef, poultry, pork, fish. Traeger also produces a wide range of different wood pellets and some of the best dry-rub seasonings in the business.
The Traeger Pro 575 is excellent at smoking and slow cooking, and it's highly reliable for conventional grilling, too. For incompetent barbecuists and those who’d like to spend more time with the guests rather than being chained to a grill, this model is more than worth its price.
Other top barbecues to consider
A distinctly Big Green Egg-style, Japanese 'komado' BBQ, the Kamander from US barbecue king Char-Broil comes with a porcelain-coated 20-inch cast iron grill, a raised, swing-out 13-inch warming rack and a stainless steel fold-out shelf.
It also features an excellent, easy-to-use air intake system that incorporates a steel pipe that runs from the bottom of the unit to a waist-height dial with big numbers on it. This means you can adjust the air coming in below without having to fumble about in a crouched position. The similarly large numbered dial on the top is used for controlling the amount of heat and smoke leaving the barbecue. Depending on what method of cooking you’re using, all you have to do is match the numbers, seal the lid and wait.
Even with a small amount of charcoal and with both dampers nearly wide open, the Kamander remained at a searing 300˚C for about three hours. This means that, with the dampers set in a nearly closed position, you could safely expect it to remain at a slow-cooking temperature of around 110˚C for four or five hours and possibly longer.
This is an extremely solid and thoughtfully-designed barbecue that weighs a ton, looks snazzy and cooks amazingly well, whether it’s direct grilling, slow cooking or smoking. A top choice for fairly flushed alfresco fiends.
This prestigious brand has become the first choice of many chefs, both pros and keen amateurs. It grills, bakes, smokes and seers and stays hot for up to 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 small legs of lamb. As the 'MiniMax' part of its name suggests, this heavyweight 40kg grill is not even the Biggest in the Green Egg range (its grill measures 33cm in diameter), but it's still sufficient to cook for up to four Americans at a time.
Like the Weber and Napoleon, the MiniMax 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 grill masters.
Food sorcerer Heston Blumenthal swaggers into the arena of Japanese kamado-style charcoal grills (above), giving Big Green Egg a very good run for its readies. The Everdure 4K certainly has enough innovative touches to achieve it. With its extra insulation and beautifully machined die-cast aluminium body that doesn’t get hot, this barbecue is capable of grilling, searing, roasting, baking and smoking, though not all at the same time, obviously.
The 4K comes with a relatively small 18-inch grill grate and features Fast Flame ignition using an electric hob type ring, so you will need to find a nearby electricity outlet to use it. Once fired up, the lid’s oven-type seal keeps the heat in for up to eight hours at time if slow cooking or smoking – and on just one kilogram of charcoal. Other fine design flourishes include numbered aluminium air flow valves, an interior light, a handy front drawer to store the four meat probes it comes with and a clever charcoal top-up portal on the side. The LED display’s a nice addition, too, though it is very difficult to read in bright sunlight.
Granted, this Herculean barbecue does cost a sizeable block of wonga but you’ve got to hand it to the Everdure team – its built like a brick outhouse and the quality of the materials used throughout is of the highest order. It certainly performs as well as you’d expect, though whether it’s a better investment than a Big Green Egg or the much cheaper Char-Broil Kamander is a moot point. After all, the grilling area is quite small for its stature.
On a positive parting note, it does at least come with a tidy package of goodies – pizza stone, charcoal tongs, roasting rack, those four temperature probes and an all-important cover. Oh, and you'll be pleased to hear it doesn’t require much assembly.
Designed for, or at least marketed to, people who want to BBQ on the balcony without breaking the terms of their lease, or causing their neighbours to come and KILL them, the Weber Pulse 1000 is an electric barbecue.
Grill purists will have already moved on by now having read that opening sentence, but it's actually a great device. The best way to think of it is more like an absolutely enormous George Foreman type grill. Or, more accurately, like the Sage by Heston Blumenthal take on a George Foreman grill.
At 1.8 Kilowatts, this is actually less powerful than the Sage one, but it's otherwise ostensibly similar, if you ignore the fact that it is huge. There's a bright temperature display, instant control over heat – the precision is far greater than what you any non-BBQ ninja could ever achieve with charcoal, although I don't think gas has anything to worry about – and also a plug-in probe for monitoring the internal temperature of food.
For some reason, this is not done on the main display but via Weber's iOS and Android app but it works so well, it almost takes the fun out of it. Everything from chicken to a side of salmon comes out perfectly done, so long as you properly pre-heat the grill.
Slightly to my surprise, as well as being perfectly cooked every time (so long as you keep an eye on the aforementioned app), food done on the Pulse 1000 does seem to have a more barbecue taste to it than what you'd get from a standard electric grill. Weber reckons that's down to its porcelain enamelled cast iron plates, but maybe it's just the fresh air.
On the subject of fresh air, I ought to address the main marketing claim of the Pulse 1000: that it's more neighbour-friendly. It's true to say that there's no charcoal smoke or potentially deadly and probably lease-violating gas canisters involved, but due to science, smoke and fumes coming off your food is pretty much unavoidable.
As barbecues go, the Pulse 1000 is pretty easy to clean, and there's a 5-year limited warranty as standard.
Fancy a big fat juicy sirloin with a crisp, black, caramelised outer like they do at your favourite steakhouse? Step this way.
The Toronto is essentially a super hot gas grill that uses a rectangular 3kW ceramic infrared burner to sear steaks at up to 800˚C in about 45 seconds per side. Simply attach it to some Patio gas – it comes with a hose and regulator – and fire it up using the battery-powered flame igniter. It comes with two small cooking grates (only enough space for one large steak at a time), a grate handle and two grease trays. The inner walls are comprised of a series of rails set at different heights so you could feasibly place some sausages or chicken wings on a lower rung, turn the flame down and grill them at a more modest temperature.
We tried the Toronto using both fillet and sirloin steak. The fillet was a perfect medium rare after just 90 seconds though some parts of its surface failed to blacken as we expected and we think this might have been due to its dearth of fat. By contrast, the fatty sirloin positively sizzled, turning the flame into an orange fireball (a small one) and crisping the outside to black perfection. Both steaks were very succulent – among the juiciest we’ve ever made at home. And all without stinking the kitchen out and setting off the fire alarm. That said, they didn’t look as smooth, shiny and appetising on the outside as if we’d fried them on a high heat in a pan.
The Toronto is made almost entirely out of stainless steel and, at 40cm x 23cm, is small enough to place on an outdoor table – or perhaps take camping in a caravan or RV. The only thing you have to be wary of is that the meat cooks so quickly you absolutely must have all other accompaniments prepared, cooked and ready on the table. I learned that the hard way.
Verycook is a French company that specialises in Spanish-style, gas-fired, flat-topped planchas.
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.
How to buy the best barbecue for you
With fine days becoming more frequent, the coast is 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 definitely offers something extra for the more 'pro' chef (at a more 'pro' price), while the likes of Char-Broil, Everdure, Napoleon, Traeger and LotusGrill offer some great innovations for fuss-free outdoor grilling.
Patio the size of a Subbuteo table? No problem, get one of these portable BBQs, and get busy with the tweezers.
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.
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