Best BBQ 2017: 7 of the best Barbecues for all budgets

Whether you want to slow-roast an entire leg of lamb in your backyard, or simply grill burgers and bangers the old-fashioned way, a good barbecue is a garden essential. But which barbecue should you buy? We’ve rounded up seven of the best outdoor cookers you can buy right now.

Barbecues range from basic budget grills to fully fledged garden kitchens with all the bells and whistles for a veritable summer feast. The cheapest barbecue in our roundup is the Dancook 7100 at just £40 – a simple barbecue that cooks well, looks great and cleans easily.

At the other end of the spectrum sits the Weber Spirit Premium S-320, a £750 grilling demon with three independently controlled gas burners, tools galore and “Flavourizer” bars to add an authentic barbecue taste.

Some buyers are more interested in how many burgers they can fit onto the grill than fancy features such as condiment holders and smoking compartments, and we’ve included some great big-batch cookers. There are barbecues with small footprints for compact outdoor spaces too.

Whatever your budget, party size or cooking style, you’re sure to discover a barbecue in this roundup for you.

Dancook 7100

1 of 7

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Key features:

  • Charcoal cooking
  • 50 x 25cm cooking area
  • Vertical barbecuing
  • Adjustable grill height
  • Review price: £45

This simple and affordable Dancook 7100 box barbecue is everything you’d want from a budget grill. It’s sturdy, lightweight and cooks well, with a minimalist design that makes cleaning it a doddle. There are four slots to adjust the cooking height above the coals, and you can even position the grille across the back and then fill the space behind it with hot coals for a vertical barbecue.

The barbecue cooks slow and steady, and the optional extra of a battery-operated spit will transform it into a rotisserie for spinning cuts of meat to achieve an even cook. Cooking capacity is smaller than some barbecues, but the affordability and great design outweigh that.

If you’re after a cheap barbecue that goes the extra mile, the Dancook 7100 is your answer.

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Read the full Dancook 7100 review

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Key features:

  • Charcoal cooking
  • 54cm diameter cooking area
  • Indirect, infrared grill surface
  • Hinged lid
  • Built-in temperature gauge
  • Review price: £200

If you’re after a big charcoal barbecue that offers good heat control, then look no further than the Char-Broil Kettleman. Billing itself as the UK’s first infrared kettle BBQ, the Kettleman operates using coals and a porcelain-coated cooking grill, which retains and radiates an even heat. A metal zig-zag grill allows fat to drip down, but prevents flames and flare-ups from burning the food.

Since there’s less hot air rushing upwards, food retains its moisture, sealing in the natural juices of meat. Coals are surprisingly close to the grill, which means you’ll need to use a lot less charcoal. Plus, tiny holes in the grill enable the charcoal’s aroma and smokiness to seep through for a traditional barbecue taste.

The lid is a large, domed affair that makes space for roasting, and it also houses a handy temperature gauge.

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Read the full Char-Broil Kettleman review

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Key features:

  • Gas cooking
  • 60 x 45cm cooking area
  • Three burners plus side burner
  • Built-in temperature gauge
  • Review price: £1000

If you live for the barbecue season, the stunning Weber Spirit Premium S-320 is a fine choice for your outdoor kitchen. This gigantic gas barbecue has three independently controlled gas burners beneath its lid. Each one is covered by “Flavorizer” bars, which produce flavoured smoke as fat juices from your food drip onto the hot bars. They really do add an authentic barbecue taste, which should appease anyone who’s disappointed with the lack of charcoal.

As you’d expect for a premium-priced barbecue, the Weber Spirit Premium goes the extra mile. There’s a condiment holder, six tool holders, a side table and a storage cabinet. Lifting the middle section of the barbecue enables you to add a wide range of foodie accessories, including a wok, griddle, pizza stone, poultry roaster, Dutch oven and sear grate. There’s even a side burner for heating sauces and gravies.

The only caveat? It’s a monster to assemble. Expect to spend a good couple of hours building it single-handedly.

Buy Now at Pavingplace.co.uk from £749

Read the full Weber Spirit Premium S-320 review

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Key features:

  • Charcoal cooking
  • 54cm diameter cooking area
  • Multi-fuel
  • Doubles as fire pit
  • Tough 6mm grill
  • Review price: £149

The Dancook 9000 Fireplace is a minimalist, Scandi-style barbecue that doubles as an attractive fire pit, providing a toasty gathering point at family barbecues. It will happily burn wood or charcoal, but barbecue aficionados might not take kindly to its lack of heat controls; the only way to adjust the heat is by moving the coals.

Still, as a fire pit it’s impressive, standing at 50cm high and 78cm wide. It’s safe too, with a wide surround around the cooking area to keep the edges from becoming too hot. The cooking area is large, and there’s a durable grille made from 6mm chromium-plated steel that distributes heat evenly. It will brown a burger and crisp up kebabs much better than the average garden grill.

Accessories are available to make the barbecue more versatile. There’s a cover, a raised barbecue grille and pan that can sit higher above the flames, and a stainless steel lid that turns it into a handy patio table

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Read the full Dancook 9000 Fireplace review

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Key features:

  • Gas cooking
  • 38cm diameter cooking area
  • Drop-in roasting basket
  • Smoker box for wood chips
  • Indirect, infrared grill surface
  • Meat thermometer
  • Review price: £300

The last part of the Char-Broil Big Easy SRG’s title stands for Smoker, Roaster and Grill. This three-in-one garden cooker will happily take wood chips to add a smoky flavour, roast large items in a large drop-in basket and meat hooks, and cook barbecue classics such as steaks, burgers and sausages on its top grill.

Like its sibling – the Char-Broil Kettleman – also in this roundup, the Big Easy SRG offers infrared cooking from a porcelain-coated cooking grill. This helps it radiate and retain heat evenly on the whole grill surface. There are no gaps, so smaller foods such as shrimps and asparagus won’t fall through to a fiery death.

A single heat control ranges from slow-roast temperatures right through to a searing heat of 400oC. Like the Kettleman, there’s a thermometer that indicates when the food is at the perfect temperature, but it’s a manual one you’ll have to actually stick in the meat.

This barbecue looks more like an old-fashioned coal stove than a modern foodie’s outdoor grill, so it might not be the fashionista’s cup of tea.

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Read the full Char-Broil Big Easy SRG review

Fuego Element

6 of 7

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Key features:

  • Gas cooking
  • 50cm-diameter cooking area
  • lift-away lid
  • Cast-iron grill
  • Review price: £300

Designed by a former chief of design for Apple, the Fuego Element is a handsome gas grill with a small footprint and sizeable cooking area. It’s perfect for small gardens, or simply those who like their garden appliances to be compact.

It barbecues efficiently and reaches whopping heats, making it ideal for everything from burgers and bangers to pizzas. Disappointingly for a barbecue of its price range, the Fuego Element lacks a smoker for adding flavour with wood chips. The cooking area is also quite shallow, making it a little less versatile than some of its cooking fellows in this roundup.

If you’re not so bothered about smoking your meats, however, this is an attractive and easy-to-use barbecue. Its accessories are great too: there’s a cover and a detachable side table.

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Read the full Fuego Element review

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Key features:

  • Charcoal cooking
  • 35cm diameter cooking area
  • Ceramic cooker
  • Review price: £550

If you’re a foodie with a big budget but a small garden, the Big Green Egg MiniMax will prove hard to resist. It’s a unique-looking ceramic cooker that takes its design from a kamado, a traditional Japanese wood or charcoal-fuelled stove. It’s certainly got the looks, and if it’s perfect small-scale barbecuing you’re after, it’s got the brains, too.

The smallest size in the Big Green Egg range, the MiniMax can cook four burgers, a chicken, two steaks or a whole rack of ribs. There’s a built-in thermometer in the lid, which is handy given most of your cooking is done with the domed green lid firmly shut. You light the charcoal, leave the lid open for ten minutes to let the fire catch, then shut the lid and adjust the air vents at the top and bottom to control the heat.

Even following the instructions closely, we found the heat control a little difficult to master – we failed in bringing it down to 120°C from 170°C by adjusting the vents. Still, the enclosed cooking method keeps meat incredibly moist and juicy, making it perfect for roasting. It’s very fuel efficient, too – you can cook using the same charcoals a couple of times. There’s an optional £40 ceramic slab – or “plate setter” – which we found useful for cooking, roasting and baking. If money is no object, you’ll enjoy the delicious results of the Big Green Egg MiniMax.

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Read the full Big Green Egg MiniMax review