Barbecues buying guide

Barbecues come in all shapes and sizes – find your ideal type with our step-by-step guide and enjoy cooking outdoors

Choose between gas and charcoal barbecues

Charcoal barbecue

Adjustable charcoal height- a fuel grid elevator means you can raise or lower the height of the charcoal, giving you more control over the temperature you want to cook at, according to what food you’re barbecuing

Hood/lid- choose a tight-fitting hood and you can roast whole joints of meat on some of the top-range charcoal barbecues. Kettle and flat lids can be used as windbreaks to help light charcoal or stop smoke going everywhere

Temperature gauge- found on barbecue hoods, this will monitor the internal heat. Great for roasting food more accurately and knowing when your barbecue is ready to go

Griddle- a metal hot plate that can be used for frying food that might fall through the grill. Perfect for cooking eggs, fish and vegetables

Warming rack- ideal if you’re feeding large groups of people, a warming rack sits above the main grill and can be used to keep cooked food hot while other meats finish cooking

Storage cabinet- perfect for keeping trays and other barbecuing essentials neat and tidy. Also look out for handy hooks that you can hang utensils off while in use

Wheels- not essential but very practical as they allow you to move the BBQ around the garden or to and from the shed with ease. For safety reasons, never move it once it has been lit

Gas barbecue

Rotisserie- allows you to spit-roast an entire chicken. Electronic versions will rotate automatically, saving you time and ensuring even cooking

Hood/lid- choose a tight-fitting hood and you can roast whole joints of meat on some of the top-range barbecues

Temperature gauge- found on barbecue hoods, this will monitor the internal heat. Great for roasting food more accurately and knowing when your barbecue is ready to go

Griddle- a metal hot plate that can be used for frying food that might fall through the grill. Perfect for cooking eggs, fish and vegetables

Warming rack- ideal if you’re feeding large groups of people, a warming rack sits above the main grill and can be used to keep cooked food hot while other meats finish cooking

Storage cabinet- perfect for keeping trays and other barbecuing essentials neat and tidy. Also look out for handy hooks that you can hang utensils off while in use

Wheels- not essential but very practical as they allow you to move the BBQ around the garden or to and from the shed with ease. For safety reasons, never move it once it’s been lit

Don’t forget barbecue accessories

A set of long-handled barbecue tools is a must. It should include the basics – tongs, spatula and fork – but also look out for any specific tools you would find useful, such as kebab skewers, a brush for marinating meat or even corn-on-the-cob holders.

Barbecue cleaning brushes are essential for keeping your grill in tip-top condition. There are a variety of shapes available for getting to those hard-to reach places, or look for a 3-in-1 tool that incorporates a scraper, brush and scourer.

Check food is cooked to perfection by using a digital thermometer.

While there’s nothing stopping you using your usual kitchen apron and oven gloves, a special set for the barbecue chef in your home will add to the sense of occasion.

A barbecue cover is essential if you’re storing your barbecue outdoors. Barbecue covers can be bought separately.

Although not strictly an accessory, if you have a charcoal barbecue, don’t forget the fire starters. Charcoal is inexpensive and you can choose between lumpwood charcoal (which can reach extremely high temperatures) and charcoal briquettes (which will burn for twice as long as lumpwood at a more constant temperature). Instant lighting charcoal means you won’t need firelighters or lighting fluid

Barbecue safely

Do...

  • Wash your hands after handling raw meat
  • Keep raw meat covered and out of the sun
  • Check meat is cooked through before eating (use a skewer to check juices from chicken run clear)
  • Check the connections between the hose and gas bottle every time you use your barbecue
  • Keep children and pets away from a lit barbecue
  • For cooking tips, watch our videos on how to barbecue and how to check steak is done.

Don’t…

  • Keep matches, firelighters or fuels near a lit barbecue
  • Use a barbecue indoors in a shed, a tent or under a gazebo, whatever the weather – please visit nhs.uk/carbonmonoxide for more advice
  • Move a barbecue once it has been lit
  • Use any products for starting your barbecue other than firelighters or fuels made specifically for lighting barbecues

Expert tip

“When you’ve finished cooking, don’t just turn your barbecue off – burn off excess food by immediately putting the lid back on and turning gas burners up high (or closing the air vents if you’re using a charcoal barbecue) for a few minutes. Leave to cool then, while the grill is still warm, use barbecue cleaner and a barbecue brush to clean thoroughly before drying with a paper towel or kitchen roll. For charcoal BBQs remove any cold ashes from the grate. For gas BBQs clean the drip trays.”

Hayley Stretton, Product Technologist, Tesco direct

1