Smart barbecues are on the rise… but I’m not completely sold

With models from Weber, Masterbuilt and Char-Broil, will smart barbecues catch on?

Lifestyle image of the Weber Summit Smart Gas Barbecue
(Image credit: Weber)

From smart displays that double as speakers and knowledge hubs to smart bulbs that set the mood, smart home devices have become the norm in most households… but what about in your garden?

It seems that 2024 is the year of smart barbecues, with the best barbecue brands, including the likes of Weber, Masterbuilt and Char-Broil all releasing their own models, powered with AI and smart technology. So, what exactly is a smart barbecue and will they catch on? Personally, I’m not convinced and here’s why.

Smart barbecues: what are they?

Firstly, let’s look at what a ‘smart barbecue’ actually is, using the latest product launches from Weber, Masterbuilt and Char-Broil. The smart technology added to these large appliances vary, but most of them come with Wi-Fi and app connectivity, so you can connect your BBQ to your smartphone to monitor and control the grill remotely.

So, what exactly does this look like? Starting with Weber, the brand announced a full line-up of new charcoal, gas, electric and portable barbecues this year, including the Weber SUMMIT Smart. The SUMMIT Smart Gas Barbecue uses SmartControl technology to control how the gas flows to the individual burners. Alongside its integrated electronic gas valve system, this technology monitors the gas and immediately reacts to temperature changes so the barbecue is always at the right temperature.

Alongside this SmartControl technology, the SUMMIT Smart has a large HD colour touchscreen on the control panel which allows users to set the temperature and select cooking method, a marked difference to traditional barbecues that tend to have buttons or control knobs. The screen instructs you on how to cook the food, including where to place it on the grill, and adjusts the heat for even cooking. All this information can be found and monitored via the Weber Connect app.

Masterbuilt AutoIgnite 545

(Image credit: Masterbuilt)

Next up is Masterbuilt, who recently debuted the Masterbuilt AutoIgnite Series 545. Compatible with the Masterbuilt WiFi app, the AutoIgnite Series connects to your smartphone so you can monitor and control it remotely and make quick changes without having to be too close to the grill.

The same can be said for the Char-Broil EVOLVE, which is another new launch for 2024. Available in gas or electric models, the EVOLVE connects to the Char-Broil app, and has a ‘connect grilling approach’ so the app will notify you of your food’s progress and show you its temperature. Its two separate grilling zones and two connected temperature probes also allow for precise and flexible cooking, and everything can be adjusted on your phone or on the barbecue’s digital controls.

Smart barbecues: will they catch on?

The main concept surrounding smart barbecues is to give you more freedom and control of your grilling. While smart home technology undoubtedly makes your daily life easier, I falter slightly when I see it introduced to appliances like ovens, barbecues and air fryers.

I see a lot of value in the fact that you can see what’s happening inside your barbecue without having to lift the lid and you can achieve that perfect sear, char and cook with the apps’ helpful advice. While I can definitely see how time-saving and precise this smart technology is, I can’t help but feel like it’s pushing us out of the kitchen or away from the grill at the same time.

A lifestyle image of the Char-Broil EVOLVE with burgers and probes

(Image credit: Char-Broil)

As quite a nervous cook, I can’t help but feel that it might not be the safest thing in the world to put something in your barbecue and walk away, despite having a view into the cooking process on your phone. Worse case scenario, your internet connection goes out while the app is alerting you to your food catching fire, and then you’ve got burned burgers and incinerated sausages on your hands.

Aside from safety, I feel like this technology might take the joy out of cooking. I love the idea that you can keep an eye on your barbecue without having to stick by the grill and miss out on the fun of your party. But as someone who likes to take the time to cook for my friends and family, this could be lost with the emergence of so many apps and smart controls.

So, will smart barbecues catch on? I think they already have, considering such big name brands are creating them. But whether or not they’ll make it into many gardens remains to be seen, but I’m willing to be proven wrong!

Check out T3 Outdoor Living Month for more barbecue and outdoor cooking advice.

Bethan Girdler-Maslen
Home Editor

Beth is Home Editor for T3, looking after style, living and wellness. From the comfiest mattresses to what strange things you can cook in an air fryer, Beth covers sleep, yoga, smart home, coffee machines, grooming tools, fragrances, gardening and much more. If it's something that goes in your house, chances are Beth knows about it and has the latest reviews and recommendations! She's also in the know about the latest deals and discount codes from top brands and retailers.

Having always been passionate about writing, she’s written for websites, newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, from jewellery and culture, to food and telecoms. You can find her work across numerous sites, including Wedding Ideas Magazine, Health & Wellbeing, The Bristol Post, Fashion & Style Directory, TechRadar, CreativeBloq and more. In her spare time, Beth enjoys running, reading, baking and attempting craft projects that will probably end in disaster!