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Gas versus charcoal barbecues

By Victoria Pearson

Smouldering charcoal or quick-reacting gas? Whether you opt for a gas or charcoal barbecue is a matter of taste and personal preference.

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We’ve tested both types of barbecue in the Which? test lab and found the things you need to know before choosing which is best for you and your family.

So why not take a closer look at the Best Buy barbecues we recommend?

Charcoal barbecues

Grilling food over white-hot charcoal is the traditional method of barbecuing. And if a smoky barbecue flavour is your priority, a charcoal model is your best bet, as smoke from coals and sizzling fat infuses food for that authentic chargrilled taste.

Charcoal barbecues are cheaper to buy than gas alternatives. They’re easier to build and lighter to move around the patio. They also tend to take up less storage space in the shed or garage when you’re not using them.

A poor charcoal barbecue leaves you waiting ages for your sausages to cook through while your kebabs have burnt to a crisp

Charcoal barbecues can be tricky to light and slow to heat, though, and cleaning away the ash can be a messy job.

Read our guide to charcoal barbecues to find out more about the different types, brands and prices available.

Gas barbecues

Gas barbecues are quick to light and react quickly when you're cooking, so you’re likely to get more use out of them. They’re easier to fire up for impromptu meals when you don’t have much time.

They take only 5-10 minutes to pre-heat before you can start to cook, which is quicker and less messy than lighting coals and waiting for the charcoal to get white hot. Because you can adjust the heat easily when you're cooking, you’re far less likely to be left with sausages that are charred on the outside and pink in the middle.

Gas barbecues are undeniably quick and convenient, but food cooked on some lacks that distinctive barbecue taste.

Gas barbecues are more expensive than charcoal barbecues, and they're heavier to move and awkward to store in the shed. Plus you’ve got to buy and top up a gas canister to fuel it, which can make an unsightly feature on your patio.

To read more about the pros and cons of gas barbecues visit our gas barbecues guide.  


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