How to Choose your Barbecue
A barbecue is an essential piece of equipment in any garden, especially if you want to make the most of long summer days. But with so many barbecues available, choosing the right one can be a daunting prospect. With this in mind, here’s our definitive guide to selecting the barbecue that’s right for you…
There are five things to think about when choosing your barbecue:
1) Your budget
2) The number of people you’ll be barbecuing for
3) How often you’ll want to use your barbecue
4) Where you’ll be having your barbecue
5) Whether you prefer the convenience of gas, or more traditional charcoal?
1) Your Budget
There are barbecues to suit all purses and wallets. From a simple patio charcoal barbecue for around £12 to a deluxe, four-burner gas barbecue for around £3000. With so many barbecues available, there’s a model to suit every budget and lifestyle.
2) Who Will You Be Barbecuing For?
If you’re barbecuing for just two or you, or you’re a small family, you don’t need to splash out on a large barbie - unless you want to of course! On gas barbecues, rings can be lit separately so you won’t be wasting gas - and therefore money - if you don’t fire all the rings up every time.
If you’re cooking for a larger family with hungry teens, or big groups of friends, or love to play host over the summer, then you’ll probably want a barbecue with more space and perhaps some workspace around it.
Here’s a rough idea of the size of barbecue you’ll need:
- Up to 4 people – 2 gas burners or around 1800 cm2 of grill space
- Up to 6 people – 3 or more burners or around 2200 cm2 of grill space
- Up to 8 people – 3 or more burners or over 2500 cm2 of grill space
If you have vegetarians amongst your family or friends, you may want to consider two barbecues – one for the meat-eaters and one for the veggies.
3) How Often Will You Use Your Barbecue?
If you’re planning on using your barbecue a lot, then you should probably invest in a slightly more expensive model, which could save you money in the long run. If you are a part-time barbecuer and just want to use it occasionally, then there’s no need to spend a fortune - a simple barbecue should suffice.
4) Where Will You Be Using Your Barbecue?
Do you plan to do all your barbecuing in your back garden or are you looking for a barbecue that you can take on picnics or on camping trips? If you want your barbecue to be mobile, you’ll need to take this into account when choosing your model: a portable charcoal barbecue could be the best choice.
5) Do You Prefer the Convenience of Gas or Traditional Charcoal?
The thing that really differentiates these two types of barbecue is the convenience versus the traditional. There are pros and cons for each type of barbecue.
• Push a button and you’ll get instant heat, no messing about
• You can start to cook immediately
• Adjustable heat means you can control your cooking better
• Quick cooking times, ideal for catering for larger groups
• No mess. Drip trays catch the fats, no ash to clear up
• They are more expensive initially than charcoal barbecues
• For smoking techniques, you’ll need to buy extra equipment
• Not easily portable
• Very cheap to buy and maintain
• Great traditional barbecue taste to the food
• Plenty of portable options
• You can smoke your food, no need for extra equipment
• Slow to fire up. They need 40 minutes beforehand to heat up so no possibility of making an instant decision to have a barbecue
• The heat can’t be controlled so you have to get the timing just right
• Cleaning them can take quite a lot of work
• Running costs can be high
Once you’ve decided whether you what you want to spend, what size grill you’ll need, whether it should be portable or static and if you want gas or charcoal, you can then narrow your selection even further. This time looking at the type of grill that would be most suitable for you needs.
Grills come in different materials - usually porcelain, cast iron, and stainless steel – and each has their own advantages. Stainless steel grills are hard-wearing and easy to clean. Porcelain grills are great for cooking and don’t rust or weather. Cast Iron grills hold the heat really well and make tasty, traditionally BBQ food.
Whichever barbecue you go for, one thing’s for sure, dinner on warm summer evenings may never be the same again…