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29 Jun 2019

Charcoal barbecues beat gas for taste

Summer is here and it's great weather for a barbecue. Which? explains why charcoal has the edge when it comes to flavour

Our tests have revealed that charcoal barbecues cook tastier food than gas models.

Our expert chef cooks sausages, chicken thighs and pork kebabs on each barbecue we test, then tastes the food and rates the barbecue's cooking ability, taking into account the flavour, texture and appearance of the meat.

Based on 15 models that we've recently tested, charcoal barbecues score five stars on average for overall cooking ability, whereas the 19 gas models average just three stars.

Best charcoal barbecues- see our top recommended picks for 2019, based on our independent tests.

Why do charcoal barbecues produce tastier food?

When food is heated, drips of fat fall onto the hot charcoal. These vaporise, creating smoke that is absorbed back into the food to give that smoky barbecue taste. Most gas barbecues try to mimic this with varying degrees of success using lava rocks or flavouriser bars, which help to generate smoke.

Do gas barbecues have any advantages?

While charcoal models tend to score more highly for cooking, gas models are more convenient, which is why they tend to get higher overall scores in our tests.

They're simpler to light, heat more quickly and the temperature is easier to control. There's no need for messy charcoal, either.

But they tend to be bulkier and cost more. A good gas model will be at least £350, while you can buy a decent charcoal one for about £100

Whichever type of barbecue you choose, discover how to cook the tastiest food.