Gas vs charcoal? Lid vs open? Or, if you are my father-in-law, two bricks and some chicken wire on the ground. There are many options to think about when it comes to choosing a BBQ. Here are our top 5 things to consider when buying a BBQ to do some outdoorsy cooking:
Gas BBQ - usually have multiple gas rings with independently adjustable temperature settings. You can therefore cook different foods at different temperatures which is a plus.
Charcoal BBQ - it's all about placement of food on different areas of the grill to have some control over the cooking speed and heat so we recommend having a 'hot side' where the majority of the coals are burned and a 'warm side' with a few coals to either keep food warm or to cook more slowly.
Gas BBQ - minimal ash and burnt debris to clean up afterwards so it's generally the grill and grease collector that need a clean after each use, with the gas outlets being cleaned periodically.
Charcoal BBQ - as well as cleaning the grill, the ash created by charcoal BBQs should be cleared out regularly to allow good ventilation through the coals when setting the next BBQ.
Lid or no lid
A BBQ with a lid gives you more options in terms of cooking technique. Having the lid down means the air trapped in the BBQ heats up and helps to cook your food more evenly on the top and sides (via convection) and not just on the base from the direct heat of the coals. This is particularly good for large cuts of meat. Having the lid down also drops the level of heat produced by the coals as less air is flowing through the BBQ which means that you are able to cook food in a more controlled way and reduce the number of flare ups. A lid also traps smoke on a charcoal BBQ, adding to the flavour of your food. Having a lid also helps protect your BBQ if you don't have a cover to put over during the winter months.
Size of BBQ
Gas BBQs tend to be larger, heavier and more bulky than their charcoal-burning counterparts so if you need to be able to move your BBQ around between uses this may be a factor in your decision as to which type of fuel and therefore size to go for. You should also factor in the safe storage of gas canisters.
How Much Do You Want To Spend?
- Gas BBQs - tend to be more expensive to buy than charcoal BBQs. For fuel, gas BBQ users generally pay an initial deposit to rent the gas canister and a separate charge for the gas itself each time the canister is refilled. The most popular canister size is 13kgs. They can generally be refilled at garden centres, DIY shops, camping retailers and petrol stations.
Charcoal BBQs - can be bought from the same type of retailers as the gas, and in a variety of sizes and types including lumpwood and briquettes. Most avid BBQers prefer lumpwood as it generally has less chemicals in that the briquettes and therefore has a lower risk of tainting the taste of the food. Quality of charcoal is key - the higher the quality, the longer the burning time and smaller the quality of ash left at the end.