Make the Most of Summer with a New Barbecue for Outdoor Cooking

The idea of a barbecue conjures up images of warm days in the garden with friends and family, or evening meals for two that make the most of the last rays of sunshine on a patio or balcony. A little thought before you begin can help make sure you get the perfect barbecue for you.

How Often will you Use It?

If your barbecue is an annual event, there’s no point splashing too much cash, but if you’re out cooking every weekend come rain or shine, a little extra investment will add to the fun of your cooking experience. If this is likely to be the case, check your barbecue can withstand the elements too.

Charcoal, Gas or Electric?

The fuel you use will affect the convenience and practicality of your barbecue, and possibly the taste of the food.

Charcoal models are the cheapest and many people swear by the smoky taste, but they can be messy and take a while to heat up. Look for models with an easy-to-remove ash catcher, and a hinged grate for adding coals easily.

Gas grills are more expensive but are easy to get started and heat up quickly. Look for those with at least two burners for better control – four is a sensible amount for family meals.

Electric models are the least popular as they have a relatively short lifespan, but they are small, portable and energy efficient.

What Size will you Need?

If you have a small balcony or patio garden, or you want to take it on picnics, a portable barbecue is a good option. These are not the disposable trays, but miniature versions of normal models. Check that the lid locks for safety when transporting.

For larger meals, pick one with about 400 sq inches of cooking space – enough for about 15-20 burgers at once. Even if it’s normally just two of you cooking the odd meal it will be useful when you have guests over and need to cater for several people, or a wider range of food. But don’t get too carried away as the larger the grill, the more heat it will need, taking longer to get going or costing more to run.

Which Features do you Want?

If you want to experiment with your cooking, it might be worth paying extra for rotisseries, additional burners or dedicated areas for making sauces. However, if you want something simpler, be realistic regarding how you will use your BBQ. Do ensure you have enough storage and workspace if you think you’ll need it, and pay attention to safety features such as stay-cool knobs.

What’s your Budget?

The cost of a barbecue can range considerably, depending on size and fuel type. The best advice here is to purchase the best grill you can afford as it will prove to be a good investment in the short term.

Is it Well Made?

A quick test is to give the barbecue a bit of a shake in the shop to check the quality of the construction. If it rattles, it probably doesn’t fit well together and should be approached with caution.

How Easy is it to Assemble?

When that one sunny day comes, you don’t want to be spending the majority of it trying to work out how to put the barbecue together. Think about portability too, if relevant. Charcoal and electric grills are more portable than gas, which tend to stay in one place.

How Easy is it to Clean?

This will largely depend on what it’s made of – stainless steel or vitreous enamel coated materials are good for the outer body. For the cooking surface, stainless steel is the most durable, followed by porcelain-ceramic-coated steel or iron, then cast iron, which is the cheapest but most difficult to clean.

Lid or No Lid?

If you like to watch the cooking, then you’ll need a barbecue that performs well with the lid open – some will only give you their optimum performance with the lid shut to keep all the heat in.

Does it Have a Good Warranty?

A new barbecue should last around ten years, and the warranty should reflect this. Charcoal grills are less likely to go wrong, but the ignition system and burners on a gas barbecue are more prone to faults, so check these are covered or the cost of a replacement if they are not.