When the whiff of barbecue lingers in the air, you know the season for outdoor cooking and al fresco eating has arrived.
Barbecuing is a failsafe way to give your food that sweet, smoky flavour synonymous with cooking over charcoal. Chargrilling can also enhance meat and veg by caramelising their sugars and creating a criss-crossed appearance.
The possibilities for prepping delicious dinners are endless, from sides like buttery baked corn on the cob, sizzling seafood including these fiery prawn and pepper skewers or for something sweet after, try our barbecued banoffee splits. It helps to have the right quiver of barbecue equipment.
We’ve given our tried-and-tested favourite bits of barbecue kit ‘best for’ labels below, having cooked a variety of ingredients on the barbecue to test them, including halloumi, burgers, spatchcock chicken and individual chicken pieces. The rest are products we rate highly for their quality and price.
Food expert Barney Desmazery also shares his top 10 barbecueing tips. Whether you’re cooking on gas or over charcoal, discover our selection of the best barbecue tools, gadgets and accessories to help you get the most out of your outdoor grill
Looking for a new barbecue? Visit our reviews section to find round-ups of the best charcoal barbecues, best portable barbecues and best gas barbecues. Plus we’ve brought together our picks of the best outdoor tableware.
KitchenCraft cast iron grill press
Best for searing meat
Grill presses are a lot easier to use than a spatula for pressing meat like burgers and steaks whilst they cook over a barbecue. The result should be evenly seared meat that’s packed with barbecue flavour. This grill press by KitchenCraft has a good surface area and being cast iron, can be heated on the barbecue to sear the meat from above whilst the meat cooks below.
Tramontina BBQ tools pack of three
Best BBQ tool essentials
The Tramontina pack of three barbecue tools are impressively sturdy. Firstly, they’re long, allowing you to manage what’s cooking without having your hands too close to the hot grill. Wooden handles work particularly well here because they don’t conduct heat. A good pair of tongs are also crucial, plus the flipper has a sharp serrated edge which comes in handy for splitting ingredients in two to check if they’re done. Nothing fancy, just three really useful tools for a good price.
OXO Good Grips silicone tongs
Best tongs to use on a barbecue
These tongs are really well-designed – the rubberised handles are easy to grip and the flat silicone tips are slightly flexible so they can be used as a spatula to flip food. They’re ideal for burgers but really come into their own when having to turn fish or vegetable slices.
Meat shredding claws
Best for making pulled pork
These neat meat shredders are ideal for pulling apart pork or chicken – perhaps at a barbecue or just generally in the kitchen. There’s nothing quite so therapeutic as putting these claws to use, and they’ll save the juices going all over your hands.
Broil King extra wide cleaning brush
Best barbecue cleaning tool
Cleaning your barbie whilst it’s still warm can make the process of removing stubborn grease or sticky juices a little easier to shift. To do so, a hard-wearing brush for determined scrubbing that has a long handle is one of the safest ways to go about it. The Broil King brush has both these qualities allowing you to put pressure on the brush for scrubbing but keep a safe distance from the grill. Width-wise, you can scrub multiple grill bars at once making the whole job faster. When tested, the barbecue looked like new.
Thermapen meat thermometer
Best barbecue gadget for health and safety
An absolute essential for safe barbecuing, a meat thermometer will help ensure your meat is cooked evenly but most importantly, fully. This one by Thermapen is a tried-and-tested favourite that’s never let us down. Check out our round up of the best meat thermometers.
Best BBQ gadgets
Netherton Foundry outdoor Dutch oven
Best for cooking over coals
This British-made dutch oven is designed for outdoor cooking and sitting amongst hot coals, so can definitely handle the heat of a sizzling barebcue. It’s a great pot for keeping bits warm or cooking more liquid dishes like Boston beans. It’s not lightweight, so avoid resting on cheap, lightweight or disposable barbecues.
The cast iron construction is a really efficient conductor of heat, so pile the coals on top of the closed lid and you have yourself a small oven that heats from all angles – great for roasting joints of meat or evening baking bread. This would be a long-lasting investment that will build its own non-stick patina with repeated use. A stand is also available to buy.
Weber kebab set
Best grill set for making kebabs
Skewers can be fiddly to turn over on a hot barbecue, but this wire rack keeps them at an even distance from each other and the coals and makes turning easy. Its sturdy construction means it stays put on the grill, while plated stainless steel provides great heat distribution and it’s easy to clean. The rack itself is a little heavy, so we advise against using it on a lightweight grill. Comes with six skewers and fits 18in charcoal grills or larger.
Jamie Oliver non-stick chicken roasters
Best for beer can chicken
Cooking chicken on a beer can is an Aussie trick for achieving a beautifully cooked chicken over coals; steamed from the inside and roasted on the outside. Slightly more engineered but just as simple to use, barbecue chicken roasters are great bits of kit, not half because they catch all the juices released by the chicken as it cooks – the makings of a great gravy.
Weber chimney starter
Best for getting your barbecue up to temperature
Chimney starters offer quick and reliable means of lighting your barbecue charcoal. The design allows air to circulate below and feed the coals oxygen to really get them going. This chimney starter by Weber has two handles to help you tip the hot coals into your grill. But remember to always use gloves when doing so.
Galileo wooden handle BBQ grill basket
Best for barbecuing fish
Fish are famously tricky to cook on a traditional barbecue. As the flesh becomes tender the skin starts to stick on the grills and you watch as the delicious meat is lost to the coals below. A fish cage can help you out with this. One with a long handle and wooden gripper will allow you to turn and baste the fish without the handle overheating and being too hot to touch.
Natural eco wood firelighters
Best eco-friendly firelighter
These firelighters are an eco alternative made from wood, wool and wax to those you can buy made from fuels like paraffin. Lit beneath barbecue coals, firelighters provide that initial ball of high heat needed for coals to catch. Seeing as you’ll be cooking food above the coals, these are a fume-free option for starting the barbecue.
KitchenCraft electronic butane gas lighter
Best for lighting gas barbecues
It’s useful to have a lighter with a long neck in order to be able to reach your firelighters when they’re stacked beneath unlit BBQ coals. It’s also a far safer option than using a normal lighter where your fingers could be at risk from enthusiastic flames. This butane gas lighter by KitchenCraft gets the job done well.
Bar-Be-Quick charcoal smoker and grill barbecue
Best smoker barbecue hybrid
Features four cooking functions. Speaking purely on barbecue terms, there are two tiers – the bottom one can be turned into a lidded portable barbecue. It’s not as sturdy as a traditional smoker, but it can retain a constant heat for up to three hours, so you could smoke whole chickens or pork ribs with ease. Discover our other favourite charcoal BBQs available for under £100.
Best BBQ accessories
John Lewis professional BBQ apron
Best budget barbecue apron
The heavy weave cotton fabric and adjustable stud fastenings give this apron a heavy-duty feel that seems fitting for outdoor cooking over coals. A small pocket at the front is also the right size for holding a couple of BBQ tools.
Leather BBQ apron
Best affordable leather barbecue apron
For ultimate protection from splashes, this adjustable leather apron becomes a second skin that shields you from grilling mishaps. The nature of the apron is that it’s built for durability, so you will likely be able to use it for years to come.
Canvas eyelet bib apron
If pockets are your thing when it comes to an apron, this canvas eyelet piece has three; two large ones across the hips and a small breast pocket, handy for holding your lists. It’s another heavy duty apron, so you’ll not only look at the business but be well protected from spitting ingredients. A range of colours are available.
Food editor and barbecue superfan, Barney Desmazery, draws upon his years of experience as a cookery expert to bring you 10 top tips for getting the most from your barbecue.
- If you’re using a charcoal BBQ, allow plenty of time for it to get hot, only start cooking when the flames have died down and the coals have turned ashen.
- Have a water-spray bottle to hand to dampen down any aggressive flames which may rise as hot fat drips onto the coals.
- You’ll have natural hot and cooler spots on a coal BBQ. Utilise this by charring the food in the hottest areas (usually the centre) and then finishing or keeping warm in the cooler spots (usually around the edges.)
- Use two pairs of tongs for cooking if you can – one for touching raw meat and one for cooked.
- If you’re serving vegetarians or vegans, make sure you keep one side of the bbq for the meat and one for veggies, you can wrap a coil of foil down the centre of the bbq before you heat it up to mark out the two areas. Also, use two pairs of tongs.
- If you’re worried about your meat or vegetables not being cooked all the way through or if you’re strapped for BBQ space, try charring the outside of the meat/veg and finishing off in a moderately heated oven until cooked through.
- Never try to clean a charcoal BBQ whilst it’s still hot. Wait until the next time you use it, let it get hot then scrape off the bits cooked onto the grill.
- Arrange the charcoal to make heat zones so you can cook directly over them for a fierce heat and indirectly for things that take longer. This works well with lidded barbecues.
- If you’re trimming hard herb plants like bay or rosemary, save the clippings to throw on the barbecue for a blast of aromatic smoke flav
- The only way to tell if something is cooked all the way through without having to cut into it is by using a probe thermometer.
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This review was last updated in September 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s your favourite barbecue gadget? We’d love to hear below…