Getting Started in BBQ: What BBQ Should I Buy

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Another BBQ Season is Upon Us

As BBQ season approaches, and yes, I acknowledge for most people one does exist, many people are considering buying a new grill for the new season. I often get asked for advice on what BBQ I would recommend, but it is not a straightforward question to answer. For each person that asks me there can be a different answer.

If you are like me and undertake copious amounts of research before you purchase anything, there are a number of questions you need to ask yourself. There is an increasing choice of BBQs becoming available in the UK and walking through some of these questions will help narrow down where to focus your research. The 5 questions you need to ask are:

  1. How Many People are you typically cooking for?
  2. What do you want to cook?
  3. Are you a casual BBQ’er or is this going to become an obsessive hobby?
  4. What fuel do you want to cook with?
  5. What’s your budget?

How Many People are you Typically Cooking for?

This is a great place to start to determine the size of the BBQ you need. Focus on your daily needs rather than those times when you will cook for larger groups.

If you typically are cooking for a family of 4 and occasionally more when you have friends around, anything from 45cm (18 inches) up should be fine.

The bigger you go the more budget you will need. On this note, look beyond the ‘common’ names. Weber is a household name when it comes to BBQs, but companies like SNS, Napoleon, PK Grills, HellRazr, Char-broil, Broil King, Kamado Joe to name a few, all have great products that may be right for you.

You also need to consider where the BBQ will live and make sure you have enough room for it.

What do you want to Cook?

This is another important question. If you are thinking of just grilling and (stereotypically) sticking to the typical British fayre of sausages, burger, chicken, the odd skewer, and maybe the odd beef joint that is one thing.

If you also want to do low ‘n’ slow cooks, such as Brisket or Pulled Pork, that will influence your choice.

Whilst it is possible to do low ‘n’ slow cooks on a kettle BBQ (the SNS Kettle is great for this) it is not as easy as doing it in a Kamado style BBQ or a dedicated smoker.

If you think you will want to do the full range of cooks, maybe think of investing in a BBQ that will enable you to do this rather than buying different BBQs for each cooking type.

Casual Cook or Fully Obsessed?

Another consideration is where you think you may take your cooking, which is a difficult one to know. I am totally obsessed with outdoor cooking, and over time I have added multiple grills and smokers. In hindsight, it would have been more cost-effective to buy a more expensive Kamado, which provides more versatility in the cooks it can produce.

Also layered onto this is the accessories available. Some makes, such as Weber and Kamado Joe, for example, have a full range of accessories. These include different grates, sear plates, and rotisseries. Other brands do not have the same range of accessories but there will be generic accessories that will work with them. However, there is always the nagging doubt of how well these will work when they are not specifically made for a specific BBQ.

Fuel Type

Personally, I don’t think the fuel type matters, but speaking objectively that might be due to the fact that I am very comfortable cooking with charcoal.

I do think it is easier and slightly quicker to cook on gas. There is a convenience factor. I use my gas BBQ more midweek, where I might be pushed for time after work. Come the weekend I enjoy the whole process of lighting a charcoal BBQ and playing with the vents to dial in the right temperature.

It’s so easy to get a charcoal BBQ going using a Chimney Starter and not far off the time it takes to get my gas BBQ up to temperature. However, this is something that may stress you out (or maybe the thought of it does) so something to consider.

The purists will tell you charcoal is the way to go but taste tests have food cooked on gas BBQs as the more popular.

Other options include electric, pellets, or wood-fired grills.

Take a look at this article from BarbecueBible on the different types of grills available.

Budget

So now you have thought about:

  • How big your BBQ needs to be
  • What you are typically going to cook on it
  • Whether you are a casual fair weather BBQ’er or are going to become a 365 day all weather addict
  • What fuel you want to use

The final consideration you have is budget. You not only need to think about the cost of the BBQ but the accessories that go with it. There are some key essentials I think you need to help you cook such as a Chimney Starter, Instant Read Thermometer, some decent Tongs and good Fireproof Gloves. All these add up so you should factor them into the cost.

The more you can spend the better product you are likely to get BUT make sure you shop around. Weber is a common name in BBQ but there are some great alternatives to their products made by companies like SNS and Napoleon. Regardless of which grill type you select make sure you do the research to make sure it is right for you.

Another thing I would recommend is to consider when you buy. Quite often at the end of the BBQ season, and also in the lead up, there will be lots of deals to be had. These will range from crazy discounts on the actual grill to bundles being offered, so if you can wait this could be a good option also.

If you do have any specific questions feel free to drop me an email at [email protected] or send me a message on Twitter or Instagram.

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