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Dual-fuel barbecues: are they really worth it?

If you're in the market for a new barbecue, find out whether or not you should consider a dual-fuel model this summer

With the sunny weather set to continue, you might be thinking now is the time to treat yourself to a new barbecue. If you like the convenience of gas but the smoky taste of charcoal, a dual-fuel barbecue could be a good choice.

Dual-fuel barbecues, also sometimes referred to as hybrid barbecues, have been on the market for a little while now, and it looks like they are starting to gain in popularity. They come in a couple of different forms and at a range of price points too.

We've rounded up a few dual-fuel barbecues that we've recently tested, as well as some of the pros and cons of these types of barbecues, to help you make a more informed decision.

See our round-up of the best barbecues to find out which models we recommend buying this summer.

Pros and cons of dual-fuel barbecues

Cooking on a barbecue

Most barbecue manufacturers will claim that dual-fuel barbecues are the best of both worlds, allowing you to reap the benefits of both gas and charcoal models without having to commit to one type. But there are other things to consider. 

We outline the main pros and cons of dual-fuel barbecues below.

Pros of dual-fuel barbecues

  • Most models will be hot enough to cook on in just a few minutes thanks to the fast-lighting gas mechanism.
  • You can achieve that trademark smoky flavour on charcoal but can switch to gas if you're short on time.
  • It saves a lot of space compared with having one gas barbecue and a separate charcoal barbecue.
  • Models with two grilling areas allow you to use both cooking methods at the same time.

Cons of dual-fuel barbecues

  • Some models only have one grill area, so you're limited to either charcoal or gas at one time.
  • Our tests often show that a dual-fuel barbecue will perform better on one over the other. Usually, charcoal out-performs gas.
  • It can be hard to control the heat if it's a gas to charcoal model, as most of them don't have air vents.
  • There aren't that many on the market in the UK right now, so your choices will be fairly limited.

If you want to see all the dual-fuel models we've tested head to our barbecue reviews and filter by type.

Do dual-fuel barbecues cook better food?

Meat and vegetables cooking on a barbecue

There's no way of saying for sure that dual-fuel barbecues can produce better-tasting food than other models, mainly because a lot of the time it will depend on the different grilling methods people use.

Our lab tests do show that charcoal barbecues tend to score higher than gas or electric models in our cooking tests, so you might be in luck if you mainly plan on using your dual-fuel model for charcoal cooking.

However, that isn't to say that gas barbecues don't produce delicious food either. They often do, and they're much quicker than their charcoal counterparts, but it's very rare to get any kind of smoky barbecue taste when your food is cooked on gas.

Read our guide on how to cook on your barbecue to find out how to impress your friends and family at your next garden party.

Recently tested dual-fuel barbecues

In our latest rounds of tests, we've encountered a handful of dual-fuel or hybrid barbecues. Here's what each of them has to offer.

John Lewis Grillstream 4 Burner Hybrid Barbecue, £449

John Lewis Grillstream 4 Burner Hybrid Barbecue

This John Lewis hybrid has four burners plus an additional side burner, which is handy for heating up sauces or other accompaniments to go alongside your barbecue feast. There's a cover for the side burner, too. When not in use it can double up as a second shelf for holding items such as condiments and utensils.

There are three cast-iron cooking grids, one of which can be swapped out for a griddle (supplied) depending on how you want to grill, so it's a versatile barbecue.

It can grill using either gas, charcoal or both combined.

Find out whether this barbecue delivered on taste when we put it through our rigorous lab tests. Read our full John Lewis Grillstream 4 Burner Hybrid review.  

Outback Jupiter 4 Burner Hybrid Barbecue, £620

This Outback hybrid barbecue has four stainless steel burners and a separate hybrid charcoal basket designed to give your food a delicious smoky flavour.

The cooking area is split into three cast-iron grills, and you can remove the central section to use any of the additional accessories such as the pizza stone, wok or griddle. These don't come in the box, so you'll have to purchase them separately.

It has a stainless steel roasting hood with a built-in temperature gauge so you can make sure the grill is never too hot or cold. There's a warming rack too, meaning you can serve all your food at once without leaving half of it to sit out and go cold.

It certainly sounds like the full package, but did this hybrid model impress in our rigorous lab tests? Read our full Outback Jupiter 4 Burner Hybrid review to find out.

B&Q Rockwell Gas & Charcoal Hybrid Barbecue, £299

B&Q Rockwell Gas & Charcoal Hybrid Barbecue

This stylish-looking B&Q model might catch your eye if you've got a large family, as it can supposedly grill for up to 14 people at the same time while also being reasonably priced. You can use both the gas and charcoal burners at the same time, and they each have their own lids that close independently.

There's lots of storage underneath the grill so you can squeeze in everything you might need, and it's all protected by two full-coverage doors. There's also a side table next to the charcoal grill as well as hooks for your grilling tools, and a handy built-in bottle opener.

Unlike some other barbecues we've tested, this one has four wheels on the base rather than two, which should make it nice and easy to move around your garden. All of the grills are dishwasher-safe too, meaning less time scrubbing and more time relaxing.

This barbecue sounds like a great deal, but will it actually help you to grill delicious-tasting food? Head to our full B&Q Rockwell Hybrid review to see what we thought of it.

Argos Home Premium Combination Barbecue 206/6004, £305

Argos Home Premium Combination Barbecue 206/6004

The reasonably priced model has two separate burners: one gas and one charcoal. It suitable for both propane and butane gas, but if you want to use butane you'll need to buy a separate regulator.

Each burner has a separate hood with a built-in temperature gauge, allowing you to ensure your food isn't burning without having to open and close the lid every two minutes. There's a handy chopping board to the left of the gas grill, as well as tea towel hooks and storage for herbs and spices underneath.

It's not the largest barbecue we've seen but it is on the bulky side. There are two wheels on the base to help you move it around your garden though.

Take a look at our full Argos Premium Combination Barbecue review to see how it fared in our labs, including how easy it is to use.

Char-Broil Gas2Coal, £369

Char-Broil calls this hybrid barbecue 'the solution for everyone who can't decide', and it's easy to see why. It converts from a gas grill into a charcoal grill in less than one minute, or you can use both cooking methods at the same time thanks to the two separate grill trays.

There's a built-in side burner that's perfect for warming up side dishes and sauces to serve alongside your barbecue creations, plus a side shelf that you can use as a little bit of extra workspace while you cook. There's enough space under the grill for an 8kg gas tank too.

The stainless steel burner tent is designed to protect the burners from any dripping juices and helps to disperse heat evenly across the grill too. Char-Broil offers a five-year warranty on the stainless steel burners and all other parts are covered for two years, which is pretty generous.

Find out if this barbecue does produce delicious, smoky food in our full Char-Broil Gas2Coal review.

Where to buy a dual-fuel barbecue

There are lots of retailers to choose from, including specialist barbecue brands, such as Outback and Char-broil, supermarkets like Aldi, and general homeware stores such as Argos and John Lewis. Whether you're shopping online or in-store, make sure you pay attention to the shop's returns policy.

Popular online retailers that stock dual-fuel barbecues include:

  • Argos has a small range of barbecues, including the premium collection model listed above. Prices start at £300. 
  • Robert Dyas stocks a wide selection of models covering a wide range of budgets from brands such as Char-Broil, Grillstream and Outback. Prices range from £300 to £1,180.
  • Appliances Direct have a slightly smaller selection and you'll find models from brands including Boss Grill, Char-Broil and also Outback. Prices range from £260 to £500.
  • BBQ World also has a good selection of models from similar brands such as Char-Broil and Outback and you'll find prices ranging from £350 to £1,300.
  • John Lewis sells a handful of dual-fuel models, including three own-brand options that we haven't tested yet. Prices start at £450. 

Find out which retailers are rated highly by Which? members with our expert guide on the best and worst shops.