How we test barbecues

From purchase to performance, here’s how we find the best models.

19dec how we test barbecues hero

Don’t let a dodgy barbecue undermine your culinary prowess. Our independent testing scorches the poor performers so you can grill with confidence.

How we choose what we test

We aim to test brands and models you’re likely to see when you head to the shops, plus some you might not be aware of.

Before we buy anything, we do our research: we visit stores, both online and physical; we talk to experts and consumers; and we ask manufacturers about their range of models. We want to capture new developments in the market and make sure the products we test will be available after we publish our results.

We then compile a list of models and head out to purchase them, just as any consumer would.

How we test

Cooking tests

We pre-heat the barbecue for 10 minutes, then get to work. We’ll test barbecues according to a standard test method, but change our method if the manufacturer’s instructions dictate a certain way of cooking.

We cover the entire grill with steaks, then cook them for six to eight minutes each side, with all burners set to the same level. This shows how evenly each model maintains a constant heat across the grilling surface.

We then grill sausages on a medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes each side, with the entire cooking surface covered and the hood closed (unless the manufacturer states otherwise). This is a tough test as fat drips on to the burners: it also shows how well the barbecue controls flare-ups. We cook marinated chicken wings on the hotplate over a low heat, so the marinade doesn’t burn, for about 10 minutes each side.

The final test involves roasting a whole chicken (if possible ), with the outer burners set on high and the inner burners low, and the hood closed. This shows the barbecue’s indirect cooking performance over a long period.

Our top-scoring barbecues cook everything evenly throughout, resulting in consistently tender and juicy meat. This also means the barbecue’s temperature is easy to control, and its heat evenly distributes across the cooking surface.

Ease of use

We assess:

  • How convenient the barbecues were to cook on. Did they have side panels to reduce draughts when the hood was open? Was there easy access to the cooking surface? Did they come with warmer racks and in-hood thermometers?
  • How easy the controls were to use and whether they were labelled clearly. We also assessed how good the ignition system was at firing up the barbecue.
  • How mobile the barbecues were – their wheels and castors, and the handles for moving them about.
  • How easy they were to clean. We checked whether you could get at all areas for cleaning, how easy it was to wipe down surfaces, whether there were grease-trapping crevices, and how easily the drip tray and grill-hotplate could be removed for cleaning and refitting.

Ready to buy?

For information about the different barbecues and key features to consider, read our buying guide. From there, check out our comparison of tested models to see which one will suit you best.

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