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Which portable barbecue is best for summer outings?

We've rounded up some recently-tested barbecues so you can find your perfect fit this summer

Which portable barbecue is best for summer outings?

With the sun finally starting to make a long-awaited appearance, you might be thinking about picking up a portable barbecue so you can enjoy freshly-grilled food wherever the summer takes you.

There are so many options available on the market that it can be tricky knowing exactly what to look for, and there’s no guarantee that spending more money will ensure you end up with a better barbecue.

We’ve rounded up a handful of portable barbecues we’ve tested in 2021, as well as some more general information to help you make a more informed decision.

The article below is exclusively about portable barbecues, which have gone through rigorous testing in our lab to ensure they are safe to use. We do not test disposable barbecues as they are potential fire hazards and also cannot be reused, meaning they are not an environmentally-friendly option.

Still haven’t found a barbecue that takes your fancy? Head to our Best Buy barbecues to see which models we recommend.

Pros and cons of portable barbecues

Pros

  • Small and lightweight – it’s very rare to find a portable barbecue that weighs much more than 10kg, and we’ve come across some as light as just 4kg before – that’s less than the weight of an average cat. This means you’re usually able to lift them without any help and they won’t take up too much space in your garage, shed, or the boot of your car either. Bear in mind that gas-powered models will need you to carry a gas cannister with you.
  • Tend to be cheaper – as is the case with all household items, you can spend anywhere from £10 up to well over £1000 on a barbecue, but portable models do tend to cost less than their full-size counterparts. We’ve recently tested high-scoring portable models costing well under £200, so there’s no need to break the bank.
  • Usually easier to clean – portable barbecues are normally easier to keep clean due to their small size, as it means there are often far fewer nooks and crannies for dirt and grime to get stuck in. The grills are usually about the right size to squeeze into your kitchen sink too, meaning less time spent outside scrubbing with a wire brush.

Cons

  • Very small cooking area – because they’re much more compact, the grills on portable barbecues can usually on squeeze on enough food for around three to four people at once. You can avoid this problem by cooking a couple of batches of food if you’re catering to a bigger group, but it could be difficult to keep everything warm if you’re not serving it immediately.
  • Lack of built-in storage – most full-size barbecues will include some kind of storage for your plates, cups and utensils so you don’t have to keep running indoors to grab them. You’ll need to be a bit more organised if you take a portable barbecue out and about, as most of them will have little to no dedicated storage space.
  • Less versatile – if you like to experiment with different cooking techniques, you won’t be able to do so on a portable barbecue. They either use gas or charcoal, not both, and you won’t get any fancy extras such as dedicated searing areas or hotplates.

Recently-tested portable barbecues

Cobb Premier Air, £150

This unusual-looking portable barbecue by Cobb cooks using charcoal so you can get that trademark smoky flavour. It weighs less than 4kg, which is ridiculously light even for a portable model, and it has a lifting handle to make it easy to carry around.

You can give yourself more control over the cooking temperature by twisting the handle on the top of the lid, as this opens and closes the air vents. It’s made from stainless steel, so you can pop all of the parts in the dishwasher when you’re done, apart from the mesh base unit which is wipe-down only.

Wondering if this futuristic-looking barbecue is any good at grilling burgers and sausages? Read our full Cobb Premier air review to find out.

Cadac E Braai, £210

You can adjust the temperature from 70°C to 270°C on this portable electric portable, meaning it can be used as either a traditional grill or a slow cooker. There are four air vents in the lid to aid heat distribution and you can set a specific temperature using the auto-grill control setting.

It comes with a very tiny stand so you don’t have to put it straight onto the ground, as well as a ceramic-coated BBQ grid and a dome lid. You can also buy a paella pan and pizza stone separately. The removable fat pan is dishwasher-safe and it all fits into a handy carry bag.

Read our full Cadac E Braai review to find out just how well this barbecue cooks, as well as how easy it is to use.

Broil King Porta-Chef 320 Gas BBQ, £330

This portable Broil King gas barbecue looks like it could be a full-size model thanks to its long, detachable legs. It has three stainless-steel burners and there’s a built-in warming rack too, which is very rare to see in a portable model.

There’s a thermometer built into the lid to monitor the temperature of the grill, and each burner is independently controlled. It weighs in at a hefty 20kg, making it one of the heaviest portable barbecues we’ve tested by quite a long shot, although you can use the carry straps to help you move it around.

Is this portable barbecue worth the hype, or is it too heavy and bulky to squeeze into the boot of your car for a beach trip? Check out our full Broil King Porta-Chef 320 BBQ review to find out.

Heston Blumenthal Everdure Cube HBCUBESGB, £193

Another unconventional-looking barbecue, this portable Heston Blumenthal charcoal model weighs just 7kg and has two handy carrying handles. The lid is made of two integrated trays that clip onto the top, and the grill area is roughly the same size as an A3 piece of paper.

You can remove the charcoal tray so it isn’t too difficult to clean, and the firebox is made of high-quality porcelain enamel. It’s available in four different colours (orange, green, blue and grey) and there are a range of additional cooking accessories you can purchase separately.

Read our full Heston Blumenthal Everdure Cube review to find out if this portable barbecue is any good at producing delicious-tasting food, or if you’ll be left wishing you’d chosen a different model.

How Which? tests barbecues

We consider several different things when testing barbecues, but the main things we assess are:

  • How easy is the barbecue to use?
  • How well made is the barbecue?
  • How well does the barbecue cook?
  • How easy is the barbecue to build?
  • How easy is the barbecue to move and store?

In order to be considered a Which? Best Buy, charcoal barbecues must earn at least 77% and gas models must earn at least 79%. Anything that scores less than 45% is highlighted as a Don’t Buy as anything that performs that poorly should be avoided altogether.

Not sure what type of barbecue to go for? Check out our guide on gas versus charcoal barbecues to see which might suit you better. 

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