Best barbecue 2018: the best BBQs for summer parties and al fresco munchies

The best big grills for your garden. From charcoal to gas and grills to smokers, we've got all your barbecue needs covered

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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:'s pick of the greatest grilling machines out there.

What is the best barbecue?

This guide is mainly about the Big BBQs and in that department, our man with the tongs, Derek Adams, prefers the Napoleon Rodeo Pro

The pricing on that one can be all over the place, online, so if you wish to play it safe, UK market-leaders Weber have a similarly excellent, family-sized barbecue in the shape of the Weber Master-Touch.

If you're in search of the best portable BBQ, we heartily recommend Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Cube for charcoal and Weber Q W1200 for gas.

How to buy the best barbecue for you

With a heatwave underway and bank holidays, then school holidays, soon to be 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.

Patio the size of a Subbuteo table? No problem, nab one of these portable charcoal 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, is here to help with advice from three masters of the grill.

Our pick of the best BBQs to buy today

1. Napoleon Rodeo Professional

Best barbecue bar none

Grill size: 22 inches
Type: Charcoal
Size: Large
Reasons to buy
+Adjustable height grill+Hinged lid+Great build quality
Reasons to avoid
-Shop around to get the right price

This superbly designed and very well engineered charcoal kettle is better than the evergreen Weber Mastertouch for several reasons. 

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. 

Be warned: this sometimes turns up at ridiculous prices online, and also under different names, but you shouldn't need to pay any more than about £280 for it.

2. Weber Master-Touch

A close second in the 'best large kettle barbecue' stakes

Grill size: 22 inches
Type: Charcoal
Size: Large
Reasons to buy
+Great performance+Reasonable price+Reliable and durable
Reasons to avoid
-Everyone's got one

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.

3. Char-Broil Kamander

Best value cooker/smoker BBQ

Grill size: 26 inch
Type: Charcoal oven
Size: Large
Reasons to buy
+Cheap alternative to a Big Green Egg+Excellent damper system+Energy efficient
Reasons to avoid
-More expensive in the UK

A distinctly Big Green Egg-style, '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.

• Buy direct from Char-Broil UK's eBay Store

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. And that’s using just a small amount of charcoal. As with most komados, there’s a bit of a learning curve involved regarding the dampers and I found that I had more consistent results on follow-up tests using briquettes instead of charcoal.

In America these barbecues retail at just $400 but because they’re so heavy and bulky, the shipping fee to the UK adds at least another £250. The whole shebang took about 90 minutes to build but everything fitted together with relative ease.

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.

A bit of background: Big Green Egg was the brand that popularised the ancient Japanese method of komado cooking in ceramic egg-shaped kettles. Komado barbecues can reach extreme temperatures and are brilliant for grilling, smoking and slow cooking; not for nothing are they de rigeur among professional chefs. 

Big Green Eggs are a tad expensive – you're talking £995 for a large model, with optional stands and grills taking the pricing to eye watering levels. By contrast, this one provides a similar cooking experience for less than half the price, by eschewing expensive and delicate ceramic in favour of cleverly-designed double-walled insulation and a clipped oven-like seal to keep the heat in. 

So now you know.

4. Weber Genesis II E-310 GBS

Best gas BBQ

Grill size: 26 inch
Type: Gas
Size: Large
Reasons to buy
+Superb build quality+Comes with an app!
Reasons to avoid
-Kinda pricy

You pay a wee 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 gas-fired Genesis II comes with a 26-inch porcelain-enamelled cast-iron cooking grate, three high-performance burners, a warming rack above the main grill, two decent 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 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.

If you have many mouths to feed (up to seven) then consider this reliable and unequivocally dapper model.

5. Big Green Egg Medium

The professional's choice

Grill size: 38 inches
Type: Charcoal
Size: Very large
Reasons to buy
+Incredible cooking+Highly versatile+Built like brick shithouse
Reasons to avoid

As mentioned above when discussing the Char-Broil Kamander, 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 10 hours on a single load of lumpwood charcoal. 

• Buy Big Green Egg (Medium) from Amazon

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.

6. Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Cube

Best portable charcoal grill

Grill size: 10 inches
Type: Charcoal
Reasons to buy
+Elegant design+Easy enough to carry
Reasons to avoid
-Petite 10-inch grill

The Cube is the cheapest and smallest model in a sextet of the Heston Blumenthal-Everdure range and is as chic as a box full of charcoal, with a grill on top, is ever likely to get.

The porcelain enamel interior is quite beautifully molded, with walls that are raised about an inch above the grill so sausages can’t roll off and a heat guard fitted to the bottom so it doesn’t scorch grass or ruin the patio table. The firmly secured lid is excellent too, and includes both a sealed plastic storage tray and a wooden chopping board. 

This is a properly portable BBQ that is nonetheless very capable indeed. It admittedly only provides enough grill space to cater for a romantic picnic for two, but that's fine by us.

Weber Pulse 1000 with stand

7. Weber Pulse 1000

Best electric barbecue

Grill size: 41cm x 31cm
Type: Electric
Reasons to buy
+No fuel required+Internal temperature monitoring+Typically handsome Weber build
Reasons to avoid
-Well, it's not really a barbecue, is it?

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.

• Buy Weber Pulse 1000 with stand from John Lewis 

• Buy Weber Pulse 1000 direct from Weber

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.

I would say this is more likely to annoy your neighbours by making them suddenly incredibly hungry and envious of you, rather than by enveloping them in thick clouds of pungent and possibly carcinogenic fumes. But you're kidding yourself if you think this will enable you to barbecue in secret, like some guerrilla griller.

As barbecues go, the Pulse 1000 is pretty easy to clean, and there's a 5-year limited warranty as standard. I would not recommend using it during a rain storm, for hopefully very obvious reasons, but you will be pleased to know that all the electric/electronic elements can be easily removed and stored safe from the hostile elements during winter. And, indeed, during summer.

7. Dancook 9000

Best fire pit/ barbecue combo

Grill size: 21 inch
Type: Charcoal
Size: Large
Reasons to buy
+Top Scandinavian build+It’s also a fire pit
Reasons to avoid
-No lid for indirect cooking

This handsome stainless steel slab of Danish minimalism is over 30 inches wide and, though essentially labelled as a fire pit, it also comes with a large grill. 

This means that you could start an alfresco evening with a handful of charcoal to cook some chicken, burgers, sausages and kebabs on the 21-inch grill and then, après nosh, remove the grill and throw a pile of logs on top of the charcoal for a warm and cosy, flame-lit tête-à-tête as the evening chill descends.

Just be aware that there is no lid to tame the flame on this grill so some good old-fashioned food shuffling is the order of the day, unless you want everything scorched to a cinder. 

Nevertheless, the Dancook 9000 makes for a surprisingly good barbecue – after all, it’s no different to how we barbecued before lids, dampers and fancy air intakes came along. The sturdy 50cm stand is a great feature and, for peace or mind, the main pit has a wide lip around the edge so kids and pets are kept out of harm’s way. The spark guard in the image is an option extra.

Just so you know, Dancook also produces of range of classy stainless-steel kettle barbecues but we favour this one because it serves two purposes and it isn’t too pricy. 

8. Landmann 31426 Smoker

Best smoker for your garden

Grill size: 26 inch
Type: Charcoal smoker
Size: Large
Reasons to buy
+Smokes food brilliantly+Good price
Reasons to avoid
-Some experimentation involved

If you and your guests enjoy the delicious taste of slow-cooked smoked meat that falls off the bone, consider this classic, barrel-shaped unit from Landmann. The Kentucky is comprised of two compartments: a small one for the smoking of much wood; the other containing a large 26-inch grill for the actual food. 

It’s a clever, tried-and-trusted system that’s pretty simple to use. Just load the smaller chamber with charcoal and throw on a handful of wood chips or a pile of damp oak sawdust, wait till the charcoal greys, and 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 (but preferably not a Robin). 

Remember to place a tray of water beneath to keep the meat moist throughout the cooking process. Smoke and heat is drawn in from the smaller chamber and all cooking is performed indirectly with the lid permanently closed 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?

9. Weber Q 1200

Best portable gas grill

Grill size: 13 inches
Type: Gas
Size: Small
Reasons to buy
+Great construction+Easy gas canisters
Reasons to avoid

Most chefs probably prefer charcoal grilling, but there are times gas is indisputably better, such as when at the local park or on the deck of your yacht.

Despite having a porcelain-enamelled, cast-iron cooking grate big enough for six or more placements and a tall aluminium lid with built-in thermometer, this is still highly portable even when you factor in a disposable camping gas-type cartridge. It also has two fold-out side trays, and push-button Piezo ignition for your convenience. On-trend bonus: it comes in orange, fuschia, green, blue or purple.

10. Char-Broil Gas2Coal

The best BBQ for fence sitters as it's both gas and charcoal

Grill size: 24 inches
Type: Gas & Charcoal
Size: Large
Reasons to buy
+Two-in-one system is convenient
Reasons to avoid
-Charcoal method not as good as a bona fide coal burner-A bit cheaply made

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.

11. Verycook Plancha Simplicity 2

Best flat-top BBQ

Grill size: 24 inches
Type: Gas
Size: Large
Reasons to buy
+Cooks tricky stuff like eggs and fish+Well built+A healthy option
Reasons to avoid
-Not a traditional BBQ

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.

12. OzPig

Best grill cum patio heater

Grill size: 15 inches
Type: Gas
Size: Medium
Reasons to buy
+Highly versatile+Handy chimney
Reasons to avoid
-Relatively small cooking area-Hefty, though small

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.

13. Napoleon Prestige PRO 825

Best mega grill

Grill size: Massive
Type: Gas
Size: Massive
Reasons to buy
+The closest thing to removing your kitchen's roof+Lifetime guarantee
Reasons to avoid
-Massive and pricey

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.