The BBQ. A British tradition. At the first hint of warmer weather, BBQs all over the country are dug out from sheds and garages ready for a bit of UK dining al fresco. Whether it be a hazy summer evening or a fresh, bright autumn afternoon, if there’s one thing us Brits know how to do, it’s a good BBQ with friends and family.
Gas barbecues – undeniably quick and convenient. The best gas barbecues will heat up
in no more than ten minutes; cook efficiently; and allow you to adjust the level of heat with just the turn of a button to suit the type of food you’re grilling – whether that be juicy steaks, succulent beef burgers, vegan sausages, corn on the cob or even baked potatoes!
Gas barbecues are a stress-free, convenient, quick way of barbecuing and they’ve become increasingly popular in recent years as people see the many advantages of grilling with gas over traditional charcoal.
Only got 5 minutes
Gas Vs Charcoal
When buying a BBQ, the first decision you need to make is gas or charcoal. We all love the idea of smouldering coals and smokey authentic flavours but, in reality, a fast-reacting, quick-cooking, low-maintenance gas BBQ is the far better option.
Gas barbecues are quick to light and in most cases heat up in less than ten minutes – far quicker than lighting coals and having to painfully wait for them to turn white! Add the time you save to the fact that there’s no mess, and it’s easy to see why gas is the preferred BBQ fuel for so many of us.
Once you’re ready to cook on your gas BBQ, you’re able to easily adjust the temperature, unlike with a charcoal BBQ, meaning you can chargrill your burgers, brown off your onions or slow-roast a chicken, by simply increasing/decreasing the heat with the turn of a button.
Narrowing down your search for the best gas BBQ
There’s a LOT of brands, models and variations of gas barbecues out there. Deciding which model, gas type, size and additional features are best for you and your garden before you start shopping will help you narrow down your search quickly, meaning you’ll be dining al fresco in no time.
- Standard Grill
- Gas BBQ with hood
- Gas BBQ with a grill and griddle
*Butane gas can’t be used below -0.5 degrees making it unsuitable for winter/cold weather barbecues
Additional cooking features
- Roasting feature
- Griddle and/or hot plate
- Side burner
Types of gas barbecue
There are three main types of gas BBQ on the market:
Standard gas barbecues are the most basic type of BBQ and are literally an outdoor grill. You can chargrill a range of food on these including meat, kebabs, fish and vegetables. For a couple or a small family, a standard grill with 2 or 3 burners will be more than sufficient; for large families, or if you’re in the habit of hosting regular parties or family get-togethers, consider a standard grill with a greater number of burners – some models have up to 6! The more burners you go for, the bigger the barbecue, with a greater area to grill over and more heat input.
The best gas BBQ grills will give you flexibility when you’re cooking in terms of how many burners you use at one time. This is great when it comes to not wasting gas if you’re only cooking for a small number of people.
Gas barbecues with hoods
If you choose a gas barbecue with a hood, you can not only grill but roast and bake food once the hood is closed and the heat contained. Whole roast chickens, joints of beef, and fillets of pork can all be slow-cooked on a hooded gas BBQ resulting in moist, juicy, succulent meat that’s retained all its flavours and aromas. Once the lid of the bbq is closed, it works just like an oven to bake and roast meats, potatoes, fish and vegetables. If you’ve opted for a gas BBQ that has more than one burner, this also gives you the option of roasting – whilst one burner is on and cooking, place the food for roasting on the dormant burner, close the lid securely and the heat from the active burner will circulate beneath the hood and the roasting begins!
Gas BBQs with a grill and griddle
Some gas barbecues have a griddle or hot plate alongside a traditional grill for more versatile cooking. A griddle is a sizzling-hot metal plate that can be used for searing steaks and fish, frying lean cuts of meat and stir-frying vegetables. It can even be used for frying eggs and boiling vegetables! A gas barbecue with a griddle shouldn’t cost much more than one without, although the downside is you’ll sacrifice grilling space.
What size of BBQ should you buy?
BBQ size is dictated by the number of burners a BBQ has. The more burners, the more grilling can be done, and the more people you can feed. It’s important to choose a suitably sized BBQ as you don’t want to be using more gas than you need however you want to be able to cook enough food at one time so your family and guests can sit and eat together.
If you’re catering for an average-sized family or small party (up to six people) a two-burner gas barbecue should be sufficient cooking power for the number of mouths you intend on feeding. Family BBQs generally heat up quickly and, because they tend to be relatively compact, moving them in and out of storage tends to be a quick and easy task.
If you have a large family or plan on playing host to your friends and neighbours this summer, you might want to consider a three or four-burner gas BBQ model. With increased dimensions, the grills are bigger, so you’re able to grill more food in one go. Three or four-burner BBQs offer an impressive amount of cooking power, and having more burners gives you more control over how you cook – roasting, grilling and warming can be done simultaneously. The only thing to remember with party BBQs is that they’re big, pretty enormous in fact, and as a result can be heavy and difficult to move.
Portable gas barbecues work with small gas canisters making them perfect for when you’re out and about; they’re particularly popular with campers and caravanners. They’re handy and portable but you’re limited on how much food you can cook on them so keep it simple when it comes to planning your BBQ menu.
There are two main types of gas used to fuel gas BBQs and it’s important to check the manufacturer’s instruction manual to see which type of gas you need for your bbq:
- Propane (which comes in a red or green metal canister)
- Butane (which comes in a blue metal canister)
Propane gas is the most common gas used to power BBQs as it can be used in temperatures as low as -40 degrees, which means it’s suitable for year-round use. A gas BBQ which uses propane should come with the correct regulator (the valve that connects the canister to the BBQ) already attached so you don’t need to worry about buying one separately.
A standard 13kg canister is recommended for gas BBQs with 4+ burners. You’ll pay an initial deposit to rent the gas canister (around £30-£40) plus another £30-£40 for the initial 13kg supply of propane, and for each subsequent refill after that. It’s hard to say how long the gas will last as obviously this depends on how much barbecuing you plan on doing and how many burners you’re powering but, to give you an idea, a 13kg canister of propane should provide enough gas to power a three-burner barbecue for around 15 hours.
For gas BBQs with 1-3 burners, a 5kg has canister should be sufficient – you’ll be looking at around £50-£60 for the lease of the canister and the initial 5kg of propane, with subsequent refills costing around £20 a time. You can expect a 5kg canister, being used with a 3 burner BBQ, to last for around 7-8 hours.
Additional BBQ cooking features
Contrary to popular belief, there’s a lot more to barbecuing than just grilling. The best gas BBQs can fry, sauté, boil, bake and even roast a whole range of food, meaning goodbye sausages and hello cote de boeuf!!!
Who’d have thought it possible – your Sunday lunch being roasted to perfection out on the BBQ, ready for a bit of al fresco weekend dining? Well, it’s possible. Providing you have a BBQ with a tight-fitting hood, it’s possible to roast whole joints of meat. Granted, it’ll take a fair while but a bit of forward-thinking and getting the BBQ fired up nice and early will result in a leg of lamb or joint of beef that’s so packed with flavour you’ll be asking yourself how you can ever go back to conventional oven cooking!!!
Griddle or hot plate
The best gas BBQs will come with a griddle and/or hot plate, as well as the standard grill. Hot plates are perfect for searing steaks and cooking lean cuts of meat, as well as frying onions, peppers and even eggs and bacon! Who said BBQs couldn’t be used for breakfast!!!
Larger gas BBQs or some high-end smaller models may come with a side burner instead of a standard side storage shelf. Side burners are great for keeping onions warm, heating up sauces, or boiling/steaming vegetables. Fair enough, you don’t need a side burner to BBQ but it’s one of those extra features you don’t realise you need until you’ve got one!
Picking a gas BBQ up for less than £100 is easily done. These ‘budget’ entry-level BBQs may at first glance appear to have all the features you need, but they do tend to be cheaply made and this becomes apparent when you realise putting them together is more difficult than astrophysics! They’re not particularly durable in terms of stability or withstanding regular outdoor use, and they’re likely to be made from poor-quality materials. At the other end of the scale are the top-of-the-range branded models which can set you back in excess of the £4,000 mark!
Generally, the larger the BBQ, the more burners it will have. More burners tend to go hand in hand with more features and so this will be reflected in the price. It’s worth remembering though that as is the case with any new purchase, price is not always an indicator of product quality – be careful not to fall into the
trap of paying for a brand; choose a model with good reviews; a decent warranty; and ideally the BBQ that gives you the most for your money in terms of size and additional extras.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some gas canisters come with a built-in indicator that lets you know when it’s time for a refill. If your canister doesn’t have one of these, try pouring a small bottle of warm water down the side of the canister; wait for a few seconds and then with the back of your hand, feel for where the temperature changes on the outside of the bottle. The part that feels cold is where the gas is.
You can buy gas canisters and refills at specialist online retailers, DIY stores, garden centres and petrol stations. If you no longer need you canister, remember to return it to the retailer and get back your initial deposit.
It’s definitely worth asking around to find the best deal when it comes to the initial purchase and refilling of your canister as there are some good deals to be had if you take the time to shop around.