Choosing the right BBQ
First things first: do you want to use gas or charcoal to stoke the flames of fantastic food on the grill? It’s a common misconception that charcoal cooked food tastes more authentic and smoky. You can get that same taste to by using smoking chips on your BBQ.
Before you decide between a gas or a charcoal BBQ, you’ll want to think about how and how often you’re going to use it. Some people prefer the traditional charcoal BBQ for the ritual of firing it up – a process that can take 30-45 minutes (for best results, use a chimney starter).
If convenience is your main priority, gas BBQs do an equally brilliant job of letting you cook in the great outdoors, without the hassle of waiting around to start cooking. Gas BBQs also have the added benefit of easier heat control, using burners similar to those found on oven hobs.
Choosing between charcoal & gas barbecues
Types of BBQ
Charcoal: When you think of BBQs, the traditional charcoal type is probably what springs to mind. Charcoal BBQs use either lumpwood or briquettes to cook evenly and give your food that mouth-watering, flame-grilled appearance.
These types of BBQ are cheaper than gas-powered ones, and many models are portable – great for taking away to cook with friends, or even on a trip to the beach. Just remember you’ll have to light them around 30-45 minutes before you start cooking to ensure you reach optimal cooking temperatures.
Gas: Although gas-powered BBQs tend to be more expensive than charcoal ones, they do get going faster, allowing you to start cooking almost straight away. A number of different burners and controls allow you to adjust the temperature, giving you greater flexibility over the type of food you’re cooking and for how long. Some models also come with side burners, warming racks and griddles, letting you cook food that would fall through a traditional grill.
Whether it’s a slow roast or a quick sizzle, change up the menu depending on the size of your BBQ, whether you cook with the lid up or down, and the power level of the burners. If you go for a gas-powered BBQ, don’t forget you’ll need to buy a gas cylinder to power it.
Variations to consider
A must for someone who can’t decide between charcoal and gas, a dual fuel BBQ offers you the best of both. As efficient as gas while giving your food the unmistakable smoky taste of charcoal, these BBQs are perfect during the summer. They tend to be portable too, so you don’t have to worry about a large appliance taking up garden space.
Dual fuel BBQs have separate gas and charcoal sections, so you can quickly cook your meal over the efficient gas burner before supplying some sumptuous smoky flavour on the charcoal.
Can’t decide between a pizza or smoked burgers and grilled veggies? A pizza oven lets you have both – without having to head indoors and miss out on sun and socialising. Simply put the pizza oven onto the grill and preheat before sliding your pizza onto the centre to bake. You can make a variety of other food on these handy accessories, including bread and fish.
Used for food that needs a low temperature and a long cooking time, this handy add-on produces an authentic smoky flavour. Some smokers can be used as traditional BBQs as well, so they’re a great option when time isn’t an issue. Smokers work by reducing the heat but upping the amount of smoke by keeping the food in an enclosed section of the grill.
Similar to a traditional BBQ, charbroilers have grates used for grilling but don’t usually have a lid. The main difference is that charbroilers often sit on the counter top and are typically used indoors – though you can also find the kind of larger ones that are used in restaurants. They typically cook food quickly and are used in a similar way to a conventional BBQ.
Chimeneas & fire pits
Chimeneas and fire pits are a useful source of heat which complement garden furniture sets. The main difference is that fire pits are often open whereas chimeneas enclose around the fire, allowing smoke to escape from the top chimney. You can usually have a larger fire when using a fire pit – some models even come with grills so you can cook up a storm while warming yourself up.
Grills & cooking area size
BBQ grills are made of four different types of material:
- Chrome plated grills: Used in more affordable BBQs.
- Stainless steel grills: This type of grill is generally found on mid-range BBQs.
- Cast iron grills: Store heat really well, and are perfect when cooking for larger groups of people.
- Porcelain coated grills: You’ll find these on the most expensive BBQs. They transfer heat better and will last for years to come.
- Whatever type of BBQ you go for, you’ll also want to think about the size of the cooking area and how many people will be eating. This simple chart will help you choose the right model based on your needs:
|BBQ size||Number of people|
|Extra Large||8 or more|
It’s also worth looking for a BBQ with a lid or a hood. These serve a dual purpose – not only will a hood protect your BBQ from the elements if you’re leaving it outside, but they can also be used to control the heat when you’re cooking. Controlling the heat means you can cook food thoroughly and get everyone’s burgers tasting just how they ordered.
Caring for your BBQ after use
Once cold, remove the grill rack and scrub with a wire brush to remove residue left from food, then wash with a sponge and soapy water. Periodically clean the rest of the BBQ with oven cleaner to remove any burnt-on deposits. Use a brush to remove the ashes – you can use this sparingly as a fertiliser since it’s a rich source of potash.
After using your gas BBQ, the rack, lid, drip trays and burners should all be cleaned. Turning on your burners for a short amount of time will heat up any residue, making it easier to remove. Burners should be cleaned periodically with soapy water – never use oven cleaner as it could damage them.
In order to keep your BBQ working at its best for years to come, you need to consider how you will store it over the winter months. If you are unable to keep it in a shed or garage, you should consider buying a cover to protect it from weather damage.
|BBQ Cooking Accessories Comparison|
|Skewers||Make meat or veg kebabs and grill them easily.|
|Grill basket||Perfect for veg and fish, the holes on the basket allow for deliciously crisp grilling.|
|Thermometer||Check when the meat is cooked.|
|Basting brush||Used to add flavour and sauce to food.|
|Tongs and spatulas||Safely remove food from a hot grill.|
|Food tent||Protects food from insects and dirt.|
We stock loads of great accessories to help you make the most of your BBQ, including tongs and skewers, spatulas and grill brushes, as well as digital thermometers that’ll let you know when your food is cooked to perfection.
|BBQ Cleaning Accessories Comparison|
|Grill brush||Clean hard-to-reach places and get rid of grime.|
|Grill rake scraper||Cleans between plates with teeth and has a flat edge that easily cleans hotplates.|
|Hot plate liner||Used as a protective cover to prevent spills, scratches and other stubborn stains.|
|Scrubber||Ideal for getting rid of thick grime and dirt.|