Best barbecue 2020: the best grills, BBQs and smokers in a variety of succulent charcoal, gas and electric flavours

The best barbies for your garden or patio from gas to charcoal and grills to smokers. It's the ABC of BBQ!

Best barbecue BBQ grill 2020
(Image credit: Traeger)

One of the best barbecues could help keep your household sane this spring or summer. So far, nobody is talking about stopping people from going in their gardens, and chances are there will be good weather and lots of time. Every cloud, eh? So whether you want a gas barbecue or charcoal grill, or even a dedicated smoker for meats, our hunt for the best barbecue centres around one thing: making cooking in the garden easy, tasty and fun. 

With one of these outdoor grills and barbecues you can cook steaks, burgers, sausages, chicken legs and kebabs, grill fish and halloumi, smoke a joint of meat slow and low, or even go crazy and have a stab at toasting flatbreads and vegetables such as corn on the cob and broccoli.

What is the best barbecue?

This guide is about Big BBQs and in that department, our man with the tongs, Derek Adams, prefers the Napoleon Pro 22K-LEG

The pricing on that one can be all over the place online, so if you wish to play it safe, UK market-leader Weber has a similarly excellent, family-sized barbecue in the shape of the Master-Touch GBS E-5755.

On a different note, if you fancy embracing the concept of grilling and smoking with wood pellets, make an instant bee-line for the Traeger Pro 575, a clever steam engine-like thing that is arguably the easiest BBQ of all to use.

Finally, if you're having a picnic, going camping or simply need a small, perfectly formed barbecue for the balcony, head over to our best portable BBQ roundup and take your pick.

• If stocks of the very finest barbecues have run out, the best barbecue becomes the one that is actually available. Try these fine retailers in the UK and USA.

How to buy the best barbecue for you

With winter now well and truly behind us and Easter on the horizon, 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, 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, T3.com is here to help with advice from three masters of the grill.

Barbecues out of stock?

As you may discover, some of our favourite barbecues not surprisingly keep selling out. Hence, if you find a product we've reviewed that isn't available via the provided retail link, then try these retailers who usually stock some very good alternatives.

In the UK:

Amazon

B&Q

Waitrose Garden
Crocus
Dobies

 In the US:

Walmart

Sears
Home Depot
Lowe's

The best barbecues to buy, in order

Best barbecue 2020: NAPOLEON PRO 22K-LEG-2

(Image credit: Napoleon)

1. Napoleon Pro 22K-LEG-2

Best charcoal barbecue bar none

Specifications
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

A winner of one of last year's T3 Awards, this superbly designed and very well engineered Canadian charcoal kettle comes with a wave-shaped 22-inch (57cm) cast-iron grill that can be adjusted to three different heights.

When it comes to charcoal barbecuing, one cannot express enough the importance of having an adjustable grill like this. It means you can drop the height of the grate to just above the coals for searing steaks at high temperature and raise it when the inferno becomes a little too hot to handle. It’s also worth its weight in gold when it comes time to put on quick-grilling ingredients like kebabs and prawns near the end of the cooking session when the charcoal may not be hot enough with the grate at normal height. The grate itself also features built-in hinges for easy charcoal reloading, not that you’d want to do that mid grilling.

Like the similarly-styled Weber Master-Touch GBS E-5755 (reviewed below), the Pro 22 also comes with a removable ash-catcher with adjustable air intake holes for keeping temperatures consistent. Unlike the Master-Touch which has a loose lid system, this one comes with a hinged lid that lifts towards the left hand side, making it easier to raise without scorching an arm in the process.

Someone at Napoleon clearly knows what elements go into making a great barbecue system and this exemplary model is the outstanding result.

Best barbecue 2020: Weber Master-Touch GBS E-5750

(Image credit: Weber)

2. Weber Master-Touch GBS E-5750

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

Specifications
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

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 aluminium 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 centre 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.

•Buy the Weber Master-Touch GBS E-5750 from John Lewis & Partners

Best barbecue 2020: traeger pro 575

3. Traeger Pro 575 Pellet Grill

Best wood pellet barbecue for grilling, smoking and slow roasting

Specifications
Grill size: 575 inches sq
Type: Wood pellets
Size: Large
Reasons to buy
+Authentic wood-smoke flavour+A doddle to grill with+Superb smoking and slow roasting+Temperature probe and wireless connectivity make cooking foolproof
Reasons to avoid
-Not ideal for searing-Wood pellets harder to shop for than gas or charcoal

• Buy the Traeger Pro 575 from Riverside Garden Centre

This innovative new barbecue comes from Salt Lake City-based Traeger and is quite unlike any other model on this page. Instead of charcoal or gas, the excellent, tech-laden Pro 575 uses compressed wood pellets that are transported from a large hopper to an electric-powered furnace by a motorised auger (basically a large corkscrew). Many 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's not just the fuel that's unusual. Traeger’s approach is more like a modern oven, using a temperature probe and advanced technology to make cooking easier for everyone from newbies to pros. It's really nailed its algorithm so well that if you pick a temperature of, say, 200ºC, it will actually stay at that point 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; I haven't burned a single thing on the Traeger to date and I'm more than happy with that. A very well designed iOS and Android app adds a multitude of hints and tips, and hundreds of exotic barbecue recipes for beef, poultry, pork, fish.

Is it the perfect barbecue? Not quite. 

Wood pellet BBQs are more expensive to run than their charcoal or gas counterparts – a 9kg bag of pellets is £18 a shot although one bag should last a few sessions. Also, while pellets are readily available online, they’re not the kind of thing you’ll easily find on a Sunday. You will also need a cover for it, more so than other barbecues because of the electrical components. The noise it makes – the built-in fan and burning wood pellets make it sound like a quieter version of an industrial blow heater – is also a little eccentric.

However, the Traeger Pro 575's excellence at smoking and slow cooking, and it's highly reliable conventional grilling , more than make up for this. For incompetent barbecuists and those who’d like to spend more time with the guests rather than being chained to a grill, the Traeger Pro 575 is more than worth its price. Perhaps not surprisingly, Weber has a pellet grill rival lined up for this year in the form of its Weber SmokeFire system. We expect our test model very soon.

Best barbecue 2020: Char-Broil Kamander

4. Char-Broil Kamander

Best affordable Big Green Egg alternative

Specifications
Grill size: 20 inches
Type: Charcoal oven
Size: Very 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, 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. 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 around $400 but because they’re so heavy and bulky, the shipping fee to the UK adds at least another £200. 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 about £1,400 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.

Best barbecue 2020: BIG GREEN EGG MINIMAX

(Image credit: Big Green Egg)

5. Big Green Egg MiniMax

The professional's choice

Specifications
Grill size: 13 inches
Type: Charcoal
Size: Small
Reasons to buy
+Incredible cooking+Perfect for slow roasting+Highly versatile+Built like a brick shithouse
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Heavy

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.

•Buy the Big Green Egg MiniMax at John Lewis & Partners

Best barbecue 2020: Everdure By Heston Blumenthal Force

6. Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Force

Best premium gas barbecue, with a stunning design and great ease of use

Specifications
Grill size: 365 inches sq
Type: Gas
Size: Large
Reasons to buy
+Very attractive design +Heats up quickly +Cooks evenly

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.

best barbecue 2020: Napoleon Rogue SE 425 RSIB

(Image credit: Napoleon)

7. Napoleon Rogue SE 425

Extremely versatile three-burner gas griller

Specifications
Grill size: 18 x 23 inches
Type: Gas
Size: Large
Reasons to buy
+Comes with a steak searing side burner+Rotisserie kit available+Very well designed
Reasons to avoid
-Not widely available-Tricky to build

This versatile, exceedingly well built three-burner gas BBQ comes equipped with an attractive rust-resistant stainless steel hood – replete with large brushed steel thermometer – and a decent-sized side shelf. Its long-lasting 46cm x 59.5cm wave-shaped stainless steel grate is striking and easy to clean, though it will lose its sheen after the first cooking session. It should provide enough meal estate for six to eight people.

Uniquely, the Napoleon Rogue features a rear burner for rotisseries (an optional spit roast kit is available for about £115) and high-heat searing, plus a side infrared burner that reaches a searing temperature of 1,800˚F (982˚C) in an impressive 30 seconds. This Sizzle Zone, as it’s called, is a major boon for those who like their steaks seared to caramelised restaurant-like perfection.

Aside from the aforementioned rear burner and Sizzle Zone, the Rogue is also equipped with dual-level stainless steel sear plates, backlit control knobs for night-time grilling and a large cupboard for the Patio Gas bottle. All in all, this is an excellent choice for gas fans who want more than just a bogstandard grill.

•Buy the Napoleon Rogue SE 425 from Oaktree Garden Centre

Best barbecue 2020: Char-Broil All-Star

8. Char-Broil All-Star

An excellent gas model for patios and balconies

Specifications
Grill size: 18 inches
Type: Gas
Size: Medium
Reasons to buy
+Compact design+Grills evenly+Portable to some degree
Reasons to avoid
-Top section is difficult to remove

 •Buy the Char-Broil All-Star from Amazon

This new 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.

Best barbecue 2020: Campingaz Master 4 Series Classic LXS

9. Campingaz Master 4 Series Classic LXS

Best value large, four-burner barbecue

Specifications
Grill size: 542 inches sq
Type: Gas
Size: Very large
Reasons to buy
+Dual grate system +Side burner +Illuminated dials
Reasons to avoid
-Huge, and hence takes ages to build

•Buy the Campingaz Master 4 Series Classic LXS from BBQ Land

This huge four-burner gas-powered beast arrives on a palette in a box approximately the size of a house. Consequently, it takes about three hours to build but oh boy, is it worth it. 

The Campingaz comes with a raft of design flourishes and is one of the most solidly built models on the page. Let’s start with the 3,500 cm sq grate, which provides enough cooking surface for a party of 12. It’s divided into two sections: on the left you have a normal cast-iron grate for the meats and on the right an almost-as-large 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.

This model also features a side burner for frying onions, preparing sauces, boiling potatoes etc. Whether you ever use it is a moot point since it’s more practical to simply use the cooker hob. What you will use is the row of blue illuminated control knobs that look so cool you may be tempted into doing all your barbecuing at night.

Best barbecue 2020: Weber Genesis II E-310 Gas barbecue

10. Weber Genesis II E-310

Best large Weber gas grill

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

•Buy the Weber Genesis II E-310 from John Lewis & Partners

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.

Best barbecue 2020: everdure by heston blumenthal 4k

11. Everdure by Heston Blumenthal 4K

Heston's take on the Big Green Egg

Specifications
Grill size: 18 inch
Type: Charcoal
Size: Large
Reasons to buy
+Superb build quality+Excellent slow roaster+Comes with probes and extras
Reasons to avoid
-Small grill for the price

•Buy the Everdure by Heston Blumenthal 4K from John Lewis for £1,799

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 new 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, so perhaps keep it in the shade or invite your pals round for a moonlit munch instead.

Granted, this Herculean barbecue does cost a sizeable block of wonga (£1,795 to be precise) 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.

Best barbecue 2020: LotusGrill XXL barbecue

12. LotusGrill XXL

Best smokeless charcoal grill

Specifications
Grill size: 22 inches
Type: Charcoal
Size: Large
Reasons to buy
+Great looker+Heats quickly+Produces less smoke
Reasons to avoid
-Food lacks smokey flavour-Not cheap

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.

Best barbecue 2020: Char-Broil Performance 220B gas barbecue

13. Char-Broil Performance 220B

Best infrared gas grill

Specifications
Grill size: 16 x 17 inches
Type: Gas
Size: Large
Reasons to buy
+Infrared grilling technology +Keenly priced
Reasons to avoid
-Demands a lot of cleaning

Turn your patio into a Texan yard with this stainless steel-clad, two-burner gas model from one of America’s top barbie brands. The Performance comes with a chunky 47cm porcelain-coated, cast-iron grate and uses ‘infrared’ technology – basically a couple of perforated corrugated steel sheets above the burners – to ensure an even cooking temperature across the entire surface. 

The Performance is one of the best-built budget-priced gas BBQs in this roundup but figure in a couple of hours to assemble it. The infrared sheets also require regular cleaning or they won’t perform to their best ability. Like most gas barbecues, it fires off a 5kg Patio Gas bottle (refills around £30) which tucks neatly away beneath the grill and provides around 15 touch-of-a-button banquets.

Best barbecue 2020: Tepro Toronto Steak Grill

14. Tepro Toronto Steak Grill

A top option for searing steaks

Specifications
Grill size: 12 x 6 inches
Type: Gas
Size: Small
Reasons to buy
+Reaches up to 800˚C+Grills steaks in 90 seconds+Easy to use+Stainless steel body
Reasons to avoid
-Only one large steak at a time-Works best with fattier meats

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.

Best barbecue: Weber Pulse 1000 with stand

15. Weber Pulse 1000

Best electric barbecue for balconies and elsewhere

Specifications
Grill size: 16 x 12 inches
Type: Electric
Size: Large
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.

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.

Best barbecue: Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Hub BBQ

16. Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Hub

Slightly crazy, super-sized charcoal grill with electric ignition… and a spit!

Specifications
Grill size: 31 x 18 inches
Type: Charcoal
Size: Very large
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous design +Built-in rotisserie +Electric charcoal ignition
Reasons to avoid
-Electricity supply required

Got 1,500 quid burning a hole in your jeans? Go out immediately and spend it all on this minimalist charcoal contribution from Everdure. 

Designed in conjunction with Heston Blumenthal (allegedly), the gargantuan Hub features electric start and a built-in spit system. To fire it up, simply load some charcoal into the circular tray conveniently placed above what looks like an old-fashioned oven grill ring, pull the plug out of its recess, plug it into the mains – you’ll need a power outlet nearby, obviously – and hit the start button. Fifteen minutes later and it’ll be ready for your first slab of Japanese Wagyu Sirloin – well, when you’ve spent this kind of dosh, you’re hardly going to load it with sausages from Sainsbury’s Basics range, are you?

• Buy the Everdure Hub from John Lewis with a 5-year warranty

The rotisserie section is a superb innovation because you can’t see any evidence of it until you release the two hidden skewer columns on either side of the unit. And this isn’t any old bog-standard rotissie either because it’s big enough for an entire piglet – sorry, Christopher Robin.

The Hub’s 800x420mm grill provides enough nosh estate for a large gathering but, because it doesn’t come with a kettle-style lid, you will need to stay in attendance at all times. Also, one can’t vouch for the reliability of the Hub’s electrical components in the long term though the optional £99 cover will doubtless help in terms of peace of mind.

Best barbecue: Verycook Plancha Simplicity 2

17. Verycook Plancha Simplicity 2

Best flat-top barbecue or plancha

Specifications
Grill size: 24 inches
Type: Gas
Size: Small
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. 

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.

Best smokers

Best barbecue and smoker 2020: Landmann Black Saurus 660

18. Landmann Black Saurus 660

Best smoker

Specifications
Grill size: 26 inches
Type: Charcoal
Size: Large
Reasons to buy
+Top smoking ability+Looks like a steam engine
Reasons to avoid
-Rustic build quality

•Buy the Landmann Black Saurus 660 from Amazon

If you and your guests enjoy the delicious taste of slow-cooked smoked meat that literally falls off the bone, consider this classic, barrel-shaped unit from Landmann. The Kentucky Smoker is comprised of two compartments: on the left a small charcoal chamber and, on the right, a large 57cm x 42cm grill on which to place the meat.

It’s a clever, tried-and-trusted system that’s pretty simple to use. Just load the left-hand chamber with charcoal and throw on a handful of wood chips or a pile of damp oak sawdust. Now wait until the charcoal turns grey, lift the lid of the main compartment on the right and put on a large, seasoned leg of lamb, a whole salmon or a bird of your choice. 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 to place a tray of water beneath to keep the meat moist throughout the cooking process. It goes without saying that you can also use the main grill on the right as a traditional barbecue – just load the bottom chamber with charcoal and grill away with the lid on or off.

When it comes to smoking and slow roasting, it’s worth noting that it can take between two and four hours for the process to complete so make sure the meat is on the grill at least four hours before your guests arrive or they’ll be so hungry they might resort to eating the tablecloth.

Best barbecue and smoker 2020: Char-Broil The Big Easy Smoker

19. Char-Broil The Big Easy Smoker

Best gas smoker (yes, that is a legitimate thing)

Specifications
Grill size: 15 inches
Type: Gas smoker
Size: Medium
Reasons to buy
+Smokes food well+Wood chips tray+Perfect for ribs
Reasons to avoid
-Looks only a mother could love

• Buy the Char-Broil Big Easy Smoker at Amazon for £240

In America where they love their deep-fried Thanksgiving turkeys, this gas-powered BBQ 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 BBQ 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 ordinary barbecuing. 

It runs off Patio Gas and uses Char-Broil’s’s famed TRU-Infrared tech to evenly roast, grill and smoke whatever you throw in it. Despite its weight and height, its footprint is actually small enough for a balcony or a titchy patio. But pretty it ain’t.