Planning a barbecue this summer? We’ve picked the top five barbecue features that will help you cook up the perfect barbecue feast.
The bank holiday weather may not be matching up to the promise of recent weeks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a spot of al fresco dining over the Easter weekend.
And if your barbecue has been rusting away in the shed over the winter months, it may be time to invest in a new one.
Which? has tested a range of gas and charcoal barbecues, from cheap high street models to top-spec barbecues from well-known brands Weber and Outback. Here are the five features we think make for perfect barbecuing.
Best BBQ features
If a gas or charcoal barbecue has a hood you can use it to bake or roast meat, fish and vegetables. The hood fits tightly over the grill, heating the air trapped inside and raising the temperature, just like an oven.
This method of cooking is ideal for chunky steaks that are too thick to grill and for roasting whole joints of meat. Some hoods have in-built thermometers for more accurate roasting.
We’ve tested popular models with hoods, including the Weber One Touch Original and One Touch Premium charcoal kettle barbecues, and the Weber Spirit Classic E210 gas barbecue.
Some gas barbecues have a griddle or hot plate alongside the main grill. This is a sizzling-hot metal plate that you can use for searing steaks and fish, frying lean cuts of meat and stir-frying vegetables. You can even use it to boil vegetables in a pan.
A griddle is a useful feature if you like to barbecue lots of different types of foods. When we tested barbecues with griddles our expert chef was impressed with the results. Marinated chicken was ready in minutes and had a tasty barbecue flavour. It was tender, succulent and evenly cooked all the way through.
The following models with griddles are reviewed in our BBQ reviews area:
- B&Q Darwin 3 Burner Gas Flatbed Barbecue
- B&Q Westpoint 2 Burner Gas Barbecue
- Outback Spectrum 3 Burner Hooded Gas Barbecue.
3. Warming rack
Whether you’re cooking a small meal or catering for a large party, different foods take different amounts of time to cook. A warming rack is a smaller second grill that’s positioned above the main grill. Cooked food can be placed on the warming rack to keep it hot without grilling it further, while slower-cooking food catches up.
4. Air vents
Air vents on charcoal barbecues help you to control the cooking temperature. You can open vents to make coals burn faster and hotter, and close them to reduce the heat. You should always light charcoal barbecues with the vents open as this will help it reach cooking temperature more quickly. But make sure coals are shielded from high winds.
5. Ash collectors and fat drip trays
Once the party’s over, cleaning the barbecue can be a messy business. But removable ash collectors on charcoal barbecues and fat drip trays on gas models can help. These catch the ash and fat generated by cooking, and can them be removed and cleaned separately.
Some barbecues are packed with high-spec features – but this doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll cook food to perfection.
You can’t tell how good a barbecue is just by looking at it – we actually cook on every barbecue we test so we can tell you which ones are really worth spending your money on. Find out more about what separates the best barbecues from the worst on our how we test BBQs page.