What Type of Barbecue Should I Choose?

With the summer starting to sizzle, you may be thinking of hosting a barbecue. If your thinking of buying a BBQ which do you choose...gas or charcoal?

Created by Andy Hobson (Alumni) on Friday, 4th of July, 2014.
Updated on Friday, 25th of July, 2014.


The range of barbecues to choose from can be daunting, and your buying criteria can rest on a veriety of factors ie how much use it will receive, what fuel you prefer and your budget, in addition to colour, size, running costs etc. 

One of the first questions you may ask is, what's better - Charcoal or Gas?

This is my guide to making your decision easier:

 

Charcoal Barbecues

  • The traditional method where the juices fall onto the charcoal and envelop the food with that unique smell while imparting the real BBQ flavour.
  • Charcoal briquettes or heat beads provide a more constant heat, or lumpwood that can attain high temperatures and doesn't contain any charcoal additives. 
  • Ignites fairly easily but it can be a long wait until it is white hot and ready to use
  • Heat control is possible by raising or lowering the grill
  • Circulation of air leads to even cooking
  • Portable models can be transported easily or moved around the garden

Gas Barbecues

  • These run on bottled propane gas
  • Switch on and the barbecue is ready to go
  • Available in many different sizes from portable models to multiple burners
  • Easy heat control
  • The number of burners allow for different foods to be individually cooked
  • Models can have as many as 7 burners to cater for large numbers of people
  • No ash to get rid of and the juices are caught in a tray
  • Only 'masonry' types are not designed to be portable but large models can be unwieldy

Portable Barbecues are lightweight enough to take anywhere, quick to set up and are therefore ideal for days out in the countryside or on the beach.

Masonry Barbecues can be made from a variety of stone and metal including granite and copper and can run on a variety of fuel. They are semi-permanent and can act as garden focal points as well as patio heaters. 

Built-in Barbecues offer value for money and adaptability as they can be placed on a variety of
surfaces for example bricks, slabs or concrete. Normally constructed from stainless steel, the
latest technology can offer results comparable to full size barbecues.

Useful Features

  • Although cast iron will maintain heat better, steel grills are easier to clean; porcelain grills won't deteriorate, and are easy to clean, but can chip
  • Hoods and lids allow food to be roasted, they also act as a windbreak
  • Infrared burners on high end barbecues work by focusing the flame of a standard gas burner onto a ceramic tile that has thousands of microscopic holes. This converts the heat into much more intense infrared energy so that food can be cooked faster and, if preferred, can char a steak on the outside but leave it rare in the middle
  • Removable ash and grease trays make cleaning a lot easier
  • Heat distribution plates will enable even cooking
  • Flavouriser bars will imitate charcoal, turn juices into smoke and flavour the food
  • A griddle or hot plate will enable you to sear steaks, saute, braise and fry
  • Warming racks allow food to be kept in good condition, especially useful if another food item is taking longer to cook than anticipated
  • Temperature gauges are useful on lidded BBQs to indicate when a correct temperature has
  • been reached
  • Air Vents assist temperature control when using charcoal

Size:

This is an indication as to how large the barbecue needs to be for different numbers of people:

up to 1800 sq cms cooking area will cater for 4 people
2000 – 2500 sq cms will be adequate for 6 people
over 2500 sq cms will be required for 8 people

(Warming racks will enable these numbers to be increased)

Hopefully this will help you choose the right model for your own particular needs, although there's undoubtedly plenty to take into consideration before making a decision. We have been selling barbecues for many years so, if you need any assistance, contact the Gardebsite BBQ helpline on 0121 355 7701 or you can email info@gardensite.co.uk

Further Information

Read our Blog: Gas Barbecue Basics for Beginners

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