Spring is upon us, and soon the sunshine will inspire barbecue lovers to whip out their grills and cook up a range of sizzling delights.
If you’re looking for a budget barbecue, Lidl could have the answer. The new Lidl Ventilated Charcoal Barbecue hits the shelves on 26 March 2020 at the price of £39.99, and with its long list of features you get a lot for how little you pay.
It’s a large but portable, tabletop barbecue with a smooth matte-black outer shell and a battery-powered ventilator at its base for adjusting the airflow to your burning coals.
Underneath the grill, there’s a wide steel basin you can fill with water to collect fat drips, and it also comes with a steel charcoal chimney to make placing and lighting up your fuel that little bit easier.
So is it worth buying? We got our hands on Lidl’s charcoal barbie to give it a go and gauge our first impressions. Read our full first look review of the Lidl Ventilated Charcoal Barbecue to see what we thought.
How a ventilated barbecue can help you cook
The ventilator on Lidl’s barbecue has a dial at the front which lets you manually adjust how much air is fed to the coals while they burn.
The more oxygen that reaches the coals, the faster and hotter they burn – so vents are a useful feature for shortening or lengthening the time it takes for the coals to burn through and be ready for cooking.
Burning the coals faster might seem like an obvious choice, but it can also cause them to break down and burn out quicker, so you’ll be able to cook sooner but will likely have less time to cook overall.
The vents you’ll find on most charcoal barbecues are quite simplistic, and simply open or close to allow or prevent air from accessing the coals.
But the kind of battery-powered ventilator in this Lidl barbecue lets you adjust the levels much more precisely. This means the ventilator dial can act as a temperature control for the barbecue during cooking, as turning up the ventilator dial will make the coals burn hotter.
If you’re keen to have total control over cooking temperature, you might be better off buying a gas barbecue. Our top five best gas barbecues guide will help you pick out a grill worth investing in.
Is a charcoal chimney a worthwhile barbecue accessory?
Lidl’s new barbecue also comes with a chimney for your coals, which is essentially a steel case filled with holes that you put your coals into before setting them ablaze.
Barbecue chimneys can be bought separately and used with any charcoal barbecue – sometimes for less than £15 – and are a handy tool for getting your coals going quickly.
Chimneys are another feature used for avoiding trouble when lighting the coals, and for getting the barbecue up to cooking temperature quickly. Stacking them up in the chimney allows plenty of oxygen to reach the coals and help them burn through.
Using a chimney will make the coals burn quickly and evenly, and most chimneys are designed to be opened and removed after the coals are burned through so you can spread the coals out in the drum and broaden your cooking area.
However, this is not the case with Lidl’s barbecue. The chimney is surrounded by the water-filled fat drip collector, and so it is not designed to be removed once the coals have burned through.
This might make the cooking area restricted, but it could be a worthy trade-off if it means you get the barbecue up to cooking temperature quicker.
When we test barbecues, we take into account how long they take to reach cooking temperature. Check out our Best Buy barbecues to make sure you buy one that won’t keep you waiting around with your stomach grumbling.