A Guide to Buying Barbecues

There’s nothing that says summer like alfresco eating and the smell of delicious food gently cooking on the barbecue, but with so many different models out there, how can you be sure that you’ll choose the right barbecue for you and your family?

Take a look at our guide to buying barbecues so you can learn everything you need to know to make the best purchase.


The type of barbecue you buy will depend very much on the budget you have to spend, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a great model for a very reasonable price.

Barbecue prices are determined by how big they are, the quality of the design and the number of extra features, including things like gas fired barbecues.

You can purchase a disposable barbecue for just a few pounds but permanent models can start from as little as £15, right up to more than £6000 for a luxury bbq.

Family and friends

The number of people you are likely to cook for on a regular basis will is also an important consideration when buying a barbecue. You can use the table below to work out what size barbecue would be best for you.

Number of people Size of barbecue
2 people If you’re cooking for two or less people an 1800cm barbecue is ideal. Alternatively it’s possible to use just one burner on large gas barbecues.
4 people or less If you’re only likely to feed small numbers of people then an 1800 cm2 model is perfectly sized.
6 people or less For 6 people or less a cooking area on your barbecue of 2000-2500cm2 is just right.
8 people or less If you’re planning to feed up to eight people then barbecues over 2500cm2 are ideal.
More than 8 people If you’re cooking for a large amount of people then a gas fired barbecue with up to six rings is an adequate size. However, if you simply don’t have the space or budget for a larger bbq there are lots of warming racks, griddles and otheraccessories that you can use to keep food warm as you cook.

About gas barbecues

Gas barbecues are becoming more and more popular, not least because they’re so easy to use and eliminate the need for solid fuel burning.

The majority of gas barbecues come with a push button ignition so there’s no waiting around for coals to burn down and for the barbecue to be ready.

How do gas barbecues work?

Gas barbecues have ‘flavouriser bars’ which sit above the burners and heat up in the same ways as charcoal, but the temperature of the bars can be controlled as with a normal oven.

In terms of taste, there is very little difference between a gas and charcoal barbecue, except with gas you have more control over the cooking so tend to end up with more well cooked food.

Once you’ve finished barbecuing there’s no ash to clean from the bbq and no need to clean the flavouriser bars, making it extremely low maintenance.

Some gas barbecues have multiple burners so you can use just a small portion of the grill or cook different food at different temperatures which is ideal when you’re entertaining a large crowd.

Other features you may find on a gas burning barbecue include warming racks for things like bread or to keep food warm andside burners that are ideal for cooking vegetables or sauces.

What gas to gas barbecues use?

Propane is the most commonly used gas for barbecues. It comes in a red cylinder which can be purchased at most DIY stores. You’ll usually pay a deposit when you buy your gas cylinder and then when it’s empty you exchange it for a full one, which means you’re only paying for a gas refill and you won’t need to pay for a new cylinder each time you refuel.

When purchasing a gas barbecue make sure that it has safety features in place such as a regulator which is attached to the bottle to ensure that the gas pressure is kept regulated.

About Charcoal Barbecues

Charcoal barbecues use solid fuel such as coal or wood to heat the grill above, you can adjust the level of heat by lowering or raising the grill.

You can choose an open barbecue or a ‘kettle’ barbecue which comes with a lid that can be placed over food so that it can be roasted or braised. You can find charcoal barbecues with lots of different features such as a lid holder so that the lid can be used to protect food from the wind and portable models that can be used for picnicking or camping.

It’s recommended that you light your charcoal 45 minutes prior to cooking so that it reaches the optimum temperature. When your barbecue is ready to use your charcoal will be white hot. To make cleaning easier look for a model that features a removable ash catcher.

Types of charcoal

The following table illustrates the benefits of the different types of charcoal you can choose:

Charcoal type Benefits
Lumpwood This charcoal is made from wood fired in a kiln, which makes it burn easily. This type of charcoal can achieve a higher temperature than briquettes.
Instantly lighting lumpwood The lumpwood is treated with a flammable agent making it easy to light and eliminating the need for firelighters or lighting fluid
Charcoal briquettes Sometimes referred to as ‘heat beads’, charcoal briquettes are made from waste charcoal mixed with a binding agent. They can burn for twice as long as lumpwood and can create a more uniform cooking temperature.

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