We Brits love a barbecue – and we're rather good at them. Classic bangers and burgers are joined at the table by grilled veg, halloumi kebabs, superfood salads and sizzling seafood. There's no reason why you can’t make memorable meals every time you fire up the best barbecue around. This guide will help you find the BBQ to suit you.

Barbecues come in many sizes and designs, but the first thing to decide is which kind of fuel you want to use.

Stone BBQ

There are those who swear by charcoal barbecue and won’t use any other kind of fuel. They say that it gives food a smoky flavour which can’t be attained in the kitchen or over gas. It's also the more traditional option if you’re seeking the classic barbecue experience.

Using charcoal does mean that you’ll have to light the flames around 40 minutes before you start cooking to allow it to reach the right temperature. When the coals are white hot, you're ready to grill. You can adjust the temperature by raising and lowering the grill, or by fanning the fire and allowing it to cool.

Try experimenting with different types of charcoal to get the tastiest finish:

  • Lumpwood charcoal: This variety is exactly what it says on the tin; lumps of wood which have been fired in a kiln. It burns at a high temperature perfect for getting that sear on your steak. Some lumpwood is made purely from one type of tree for unique flavours of smoke. Popular wood for smoking includes cherry, maple and hickory. Instant-lighting lumpwood comes coated in lighter fluid for speedy ignition.

  • Briquettes: These are made by breaking down charcoal and binding it together with starch in even little chunks. They burn longer and more steadily than lumpwood thanks to their composition, so they’re the most reliable option to ensure your chicken is evenly cooked. Even at the end of the evening they’ll still be smouldering, so you can toast marshmallows as the sun sets.
Gas BBQ with food cooking

If there’s one major advantage gas barbecues have over charcoal, it’s their speed. Firing up a gas barbecue takes no time at all and has the added benefit of giving the chef complete control over temperature, just like your kitchen hob. Larger gas models even have multiple temperature control points, so you can slow cook in one zone while you char-grill on another. You'll also find ones with side burners and warming racks, ideal for any extras you've prepared.

Gas barbecues tend to be less portable than charcoal as they need a gas canister attached, but there are models with wheels to help you move around the garden. You can pick up a refillable gas canister and top it up as many times as needed. Safety valves mean that you can use and store your canister without worrying about leaks. If you’re ever done with your barbecue, just return the canister and get your deposit back.

Stone BBQ

  • Wait for the barbecue to cool down after use.

  • If you use charcoal, remove the ashes after every cooking session.

  • Scrub the grill using a wire brush to get rid of any fats and residue.

  • Clean the grill in the sink with a metal scourer and soapy water.

  • Occasionally you might want to give the barbecue itself a good scrub with an oven cleaner, but this isn't essential every time.
Black outback cover on BBQ

Keep your range protected with a cover over the summer. A waterproof cover will protect against rust and keep your kit in top condition. In winter it’s better to store your barbecue in the garage or shed.

The intense heat involved in barbecuing means that ordinary kitchen tools won’t be much use – you don’t want to try flipping your burgers with an ordinary kitchen spatula. Pick up key cooking utensils like tongs, a griddle, a frying dish and a long-handled metal spatula.

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Cobb portable BBQ

Here are a few ways to ensure you enjoy your meal without any mishaps:

  • Never light a barbecue indoors. The gas or charcoal can give off odourless carbon monoxide, which is extremely harmful. Cooking outdoors eliminates the risk from this gas.

  • Don't move your barbecue once it's lit and always wait for it to cool down before cleaning and storing.

  • Only use specially made firelighters to start your charcoal barbecue. Fuels like petrol and white spirit can cause dangerously large fires, and cooking over their fumes can make you ill.

Confident in your barbecuing equipment and technique, you can turn your attention to creating a beautiful space for entertaining. Adorn your garden with lanterns and ornaments and add an outdoor heater for the perfect backdrop for long evenings spent with friends and family.

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