10 of the best BBQ gadgets this summer
Dan Bennett braves the elements to pick out the best barbecue gadgets so you can get your grill on.
The Sun is out, and that means one thing: it is barbecue season. If you’re inviting all of your friends over, you will want to be prepared, ready to be the ultimate outdoor gathering host.
We’ve braved the elements to pick out the absolute best barbecue gadgets you can buy right now, tracking down everything from the best barbecue, through to speakers, lights and everything in between.
Ooni Fyra 12
For the hungry individual, the sight and smell of a wood-fired pizza oven on a dusky summer evening is a magical thing – but who’s got the time to build one from scratch? Ooni’s lightweight, portable oven is easy to set up and then after that, you can make quick pizzas that make you seem like a professional chef.
Ooni’s own wood pellets feed into the back and a blowtorch or some lighter fluid will get the temperature in the oven climbing to 500°C within 10 minutes.
The blistering heat takes just two minutes to transform a pale and doughy base into a crispy, golden pizza, though you’ll need to turn it after 60 seconds for an even cook. The Ooni comes with a ‘peel’ for sliding the pizza in and out without singeing your fingers. Clean up and packing is a breeze too, since the pellets burn cleanly and the legs fold neatly away.
Big Green Egg MiniMax
Smoke-induced blindness, questionable chicken and overcooked sausages are the hallmarks of a British barbecue. Thankfully, the Big Green Egg is here to save us from all three.
The design itself is nothing new. It’s based on a traditional Japanese kamado oven. Where the Big Green Egg gets interesting is in its use of materials. It’s built out of a space-age ceramic, first developed by NASA to protect its Space Shuttle from the extreme temperatures generated punching through Earth’s atmosphere. This means two things: coals last longer since the ceramic readily retains the heat and, we're told, you can cook when the mercury drops to -34°C, so even Inuits can have a barbie.
Ultimately, the real benefit is control. With two small vents – one at the base and one at the top – and a thermometer, the heat is easy to adjust, whether you’re after a low and slow 100°C for smoking or a furious 700°C for crisping up a pizza. Tinkering with the vents and getting the right amount of coal, takes time at first, but once you’ve reached your target temperature it stays there – which is why so many top chefs favour the Big Green Egg.
Inside, you can cook on a ‘plate-setter’ platform or directly on the grill. The former safeguards your food from the direct heat from the coals, allowing hot air to infuse the meat and veg with smoke while cooking it evenly. If you do want a bit of charring, meat can be finished on the grill. The results are hard to fault, which is a relief given the huge outlay. But considering the sturdy build, we’d venture to say that the Big Green Egg could last a lifetime.
Don’t be fooled by the Minimax moniker, this Big Green Egg is back-strainingly heavy and voluminous enough to fit a whole chicken. Meanwhile, the largest model comes in at 213kg, and can fit a whole suckling pig for when you presumably have a medieval banquet to prepare for.
Soundcore Motion Boom
If you want your barbecue to be the event of the year, you’ll need some music – enter the Soundcore Motion Boom. This portable Bluetooth speaker packs a serious punch, and yet carries a very affordable price.
We love the retro almost-boombox styling, but it’s the sound this speaker can pump out that makes it really impressive. While it is common to get a weak audio performance at this price, often muddied in the midrange, the Motion Boom manages to avoid that.
Even with the bass boost on, the audio has a confident sound capable of filling your party and adding some atmosphere. Plus, with a 24-hour battery life, you’ll be able to keep the party going all night.
Of course, you could invest in a massive barbecue, complete with all of the fancy kit, but then what do you do when the party goes on the move? The Weber Go-Anywhere can, unsurprisingly, be taken anywhere. This means you can use it at home for a garden party, take it to the beach, a friends house or anywhere you're planning on having a barbecue.
It can be folded up to be easily portable, and it comes with a lid and adjustable vents to control the cooking. While it isn't the smartest barbecue out there, it more than makes up for that with portability and an affordable price.
Anker portable Power Station
Lights, smartphones, speakers – there is a lot that needs to be powered at a barbecue. But instead of awkwardly draping extension cords through windows, tripping up passers-by, a large powerbank could solve all your electrical issues.
Anker’s PowerHouse 2 is capable of charging eight different devices at the same time. This means you can plug in your lights, and speaker, and keep your phone fully charged all at the same time, with space left for a few extra devices.
It can charge a smartphone up to 23 times, a laptop 5 times or keep a light running for 29 hours. There’s even a set of lights on the powerbank for when it gets into the late evening.
Lumify LED Lights
Most British barbecues end up in the dark, so these solar-powered lights are perfect for sprucing up the backyard without too many wires. While most solar-powered lights struggle to compete with anything plugged in to the mains, these LEDs stand out. Plus, there’s the option to charge via USB for when the weather doesn’t play ball.
Although the Looftlighter sounds like a product you might use in the loo, this piece of kit will kindle your inner pyromaniac. It blasts out a jet of air at 650°C, so when you place it by a pile of coal, it’ll glow and crackle in under 60 seconds. We were sceptical, but it’s the only way we know of to heat a barbecue to cooking temperature in under five minutes.
As your party goes into the evening and it starts to get dark, blankets and more layers are suddenly needed - that's where the BioLite comes in. Instead of trying to create a fire with smoke wafting in everyone's faces, the BioLite allows you to create a smokeless flame suitable for preparing meals, boiling water or just enjoying the heat on a cold evening.
A feature that makes the BioLite stand out is that it turns the heat it generates into power. There is a lamp attached and a number of USB ports that you can use to charge up your devices from the energy the fire generates.
There are multiple settings for the heat, allowing you to turn things down if the fire starts to become a bit much.
Grillbot robotic cleaner
There are few tasks in life that aren’t made more fun by involving a robot - barbecue cleaning included. This small, noisy bot has three wire brushes that spin furiously as it runs laps around your grill, using the lid as a guide. Before shutting the Grillbot in – it will just fall off if you don’t – you tap a button to set it to clean for 10, 20 or 30 minutes. The clean was usable but not sparkling – the emphasis here on novelty over utility.
$129.95 (£99 approx)
SolSource Solar Stove
If all this fire and ash is a bit Stone Age for your liking, then here’s a more fitting device for the future. The SolSource harnesses the Sun’s rays with a reflective dish that focuses beams onto the underside of a grill. It’ll provide 300°C of heat, which is adjusted by moving the mirrors. One for the eternal optimist.
$499 (£384 approx), oneearthdesigns.com