Welcome to our IDEAS & ADVICE pages
Summer, have garden, are British, will barbecue. With the hot sun now blazing its way over the UK and showing no signs of disappearing, it is definitely time to unleash the meat (and veg).
At Notcutts, we sell a wide range of different barbecues. This buying guide is designed to help you choose which one will suit your needs best.
Gas or charcoal?
This choice will inform the rest of the buying process, so it’s a good place to start. There are two types of barbecue:
Gas. These models make use of gas to cook the food. In terms of consistency, they can’t be rivalled.
Charcoal. These are the old-school barbecues. Charcoal, fire, and nothing else.
It’s generally agreed that food cooked over charcoal is nicer. It’s allowed more time to cook, with the food retaining more moisture as a result. This leads to a succulent texture that’s pretty much unrivalled outside of top-drawer restaurants. Goodness, it’s pretty much the whole reason barbecues are popular in the first place!
The flipside of the argument is that gas barbecues are far more consistent. The list of things that can stop a charcoal barbecue includes everything from a mild breeze to your silly uncle Trevor who’s ‘never done this before but thought he’d give it a go’. Gas barbecues just work. You turn them on, you fire them up and then you cook. Enough said. They’ll even give it a good go when it’s raining.
In the end, choosing between charcoal and gas is simply down to which you value more: convenience, or pure delicious tastiness. Fortunately, there are killer barbecues of both kinds. Whichever type you go for, you’ll be happy!
How much are you going to spend?
At Notcutts alone, we have barbecues that range from just over £50 right the way up to £2500. The amount of quality you can get for your money these days is substantial, so work out your budget and then stick to it. Whatever your spending limit is, you’ll be happy with what you get!
How many people are you realistically going to be cooking for?
Every barbecue has a specified cooking area (in scientific terms, it’s the metal-y grilly bit). For up to four people, a smaller cooking area of around 1800cm2 will be fine. For up to six people, 2000cm2 to 2500cm2 should suffice. Beyond that, it’s time to break out the big guns of over 2500cm2. If you regularly host garden parties then it’s wise to look at a unit that has griddles and warming racks. These will allow you to keep already cooked food at a decent temperature: no-one wants to chuck out perfectly good sausages just because they’ve cooled down a bit.
Which material suits you?
Barbecues are usually made from one of four main materials. Naturally, these materials vary in cost, but all of them are perfectly adequate to the task. Don’t worry if one of them is out of your price range! They all have their own characteristics, of course:
• Chrome plated barbecues look cool, but you’ll need to clean them thoroughly after every use. Otherwise they’ll start looking quite unpleasant!
• Stainless steel barbecues are easy to clean and maintain, and are a bit more durable than the chrome models.
• Cast iron barbecues are a great heat source, and they definitely have some traditional cool going on. However, it’s important to remember to wipe the grill with cooking oil both before and after use: cast iron can rust.
• Porcelain-coated barbecues are the luxury choice, as the coating is a rust-preventative. On some occasion, these models will come complete with ‘flavouriser’ bars designed to create a smoky taste using juices and fats that drop down from the grill. If you’ve got the funds, porcelain is worth the investment.
Do you need a griddle?
Barbecues have evolved. Sixty years ago, anyone asking for vegetable kebabs would have been publicly ridiculed in the town square. Now, though, kebabs, peppers, mushrooms and halloumi are all the rage. (If you don’t know what halloumi is, go and eat some. Right now. Honestly; it's delicious).
As a result, it’s useful to have a griddle for cooking those things that could easily slide through the bars on the main grill such as veg, potatoes, cheese and the like. Griddles also mean that you can cook eggs, resulting in perhaps nature's greatest gift to us: the barbecued full English breakfast.
Consider getting a hood or lid?
Not all barbecues come with a cover. However, it’s usually worth getting one that does. A hood can act as a windbreak (invaluable for charcoal barbecues), and a complete cover can be used to maintain heat within the unit, almost like a pressure cooker. This is great for cooking large joints of meat.
There are a number of other features barbecues possess that you may or may not decide are essential:
• Side burners, which are ideal for heating sauces and side dishes.
• Fat collectors and drip trays which collect fat run off. This proves to all your guests that the 16-piece breakfast you’re consuming is, in fact, very good for you.
• Warming racks for keeping food warm but still away from direct heat.
• Thermometers, ideal for measuring temperature when the lid’s on.
Some of the features may lead to a higher price for the unit, and some may not. It’s worth taking the time to work out which barbecue offers the features you really want at the best price. You can actually purchase some of the above features as accessories later on, should you want to.
Finally, cooking on barbecues is a unique skill. One that requires its own set of tools! If you don’t have them already, you may need to pick up:
• Fire-starters (if you’ve got a charcoal barbecue)
• An apron (unless you want fat to spit all over you)
Browse our tools range online.
Don’t be left lugging it around!
Last but not least. Where possible, always assemble the barbecue as close as possible to where you’re actually planning to use it. Ideally, you should look for a level surface away from combustibles such as plants and fencing, and somewhere that’s sheltered. Barbecues can be a massive pain to lug around, so it pays to get this right first time!
Get in touch today
If, after all that, you’re still a bit uncertain about which barbecue will suit you best, then get in touch with Notcutts today; we’ll be happy to help!
Did you know we also have a great selection of garden furniture?