Outdoor kitchens: The best BBQs, pizza ovens and more 2024 UK

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Take alfresco dining to a whole new level with these tried and tested buys Cheap Pizza Oven

Outdoor kitchens: The best BBQs, pizza ovens and more 2024 UK

There's nothing better than cooking and eating alfresco on warm summer days (and not just because of the novelty factor for us Brits). The option to cook over fire also means you can pack plenty of unique flavours into your meals, and it can be a more relaxed way to dine, making it ideal for entertaining guests, too.

It's no surprise then that more and more of us are looking into creating entire outdoor kitchens for feasting and hosting. “Everyone loves the theatre and thrill of live fire,” Ben Forte, International Marketing Director at Kamado Joe, tells us. “Eating hot, juicy food with your hands makes it infinitely tastier too.”

An outdoor kitchen can be as simple as having a BBQ with somewhere to place your cooking utensils; however, the best outside cooking spaces include everything from surrounding units for food prep, to fridges, and even built-in sinks for cleaning up afterwards.

And while the idea of an outdoor kitchen may seem a tad optimistic for people in the UK, if created under cover (with sufficient ventilation in place), they can be used all year round to cook, grill and barbecue.

According to Forte, barbecuing isn’t just about the food, either. “It provides a centrepiece; it’s multi-sensory, communal, and draws people together,” he says. “With the right equipment, the possibilities are endless.” Opt for an outdoor oven or a BBQ with teppanyaki plates (flat, iron plates), for example, and you can take alfresco dining to a whole new level.

Of course, you’ll want your garden to look guest-ready too. Some well-placed solar lights or fairy lights will give the space a lovely warm glow on long summer evenings, while a cosy garden sofa with outdoor rugs and lamps will help bring the inside out. Just add a fire pit for cooler nights.

There are many different routes you can take when it comes to units and decking. However, here we've focused on the best appliances to invest in for grilling alfresco, starting with how to find the right BBQ for you.

Choosing the right BBQ isn't a simple task. From gas to charcoal and electric, each model has different features, price points, sizes and benefits to consider. Luckily, the GHI has tested a whole range of grills to find the very best on the market. We've highlighted the pros and cons of each type below.

Gas BBQs are popular thanks to their quick and easy ignition that gets you grilling in no time. As they are powered by a propane gas cylinder, you’ll also have a constant flame, so there’s less risk of the temperature dropping and ending up with raw sausages.

Many models also have multiple burners so you can create different temperature zones and some even come with a side burner, which is ideal if you want to cook different meats, sides or veggies separately.

- Simple ignition and convenient cooking

- Multiple burners and/or side burners for cooking foods at different temperature or preparing side dishes

- Needs a propane gas cylinder

- A gas flame is cooler than cooking with charcoal, so the heat is less efficient

In a three-way tie for first place, this BBQ put in an impressive performance on test. Its grills have built-in infrared technology to help with heat distribution, leaving all our food expertly cooked. Plus, the four burners allowed us to cook up a real feast in one go. While we found the lid a little heavy and bulky, that’s something we can forgive.

Wi-Fi connectivity and built-in meat probes make cooking with this Weber a breeze. The accompanying app lets you monitor your food in real-time, set up alerts or alarms and save the cooking times for your favourite recipes. It takes a while to assemble but once the building process is complete, it’s the perfect sous chef.

Taking the third and final spot is this excellent crowd-feeder from Whistler. With five burners and multiple cooking zones, it was no surprise that it delivered some impressive vegetable kebabs and juicy steaks in our tests. Note that as this is a hybrid BBQ, it also requires mains electricity, meaning you’ll need a well-placed power outlet.

Sirloin steaks sizzled beautifully on this two-burner BBQ, cooking them to the perfect medium-rare consistency. The extra side burner proved handy too, giving us plenty of space to whip up some extra dishes. Overall, we’d have liked some more consistent colouring across our food and built-in storage space for the gas cannister when the BBQ isn’t in use, but for the price, we can’t complain.

Electric BBQs are relatively new to the market, but their convenience and simplicity may just win you over.

They don’t require any gas tanks, charcoal or lighter fluid; all they need is a handy plug socket. Simply plug in, turn on and start grilling. This makes electric grills easy to store and, depending on their size, ideal for taking on your travels.

- No hassle with gas or charcoal

- Easy to clean (there’s no ash)

- Typically smaller so less suited to a large gathering

- Always need a mains outlet so may not be suitable for camping and festivals etc.

This compact grill has a top temperature of 315C, which meant we achieved satisfying sear marks on our juicy beef burgers. Corn on the cobs and sausages cooked evenly too, with room to comfortably grill four portions at a time. There were some colder spots towards the very edge of the grill, so make sure to check your food is fully cooked before serving.

If you’re worried about missing out on that authentic smoky BBQ flavour, Ninja’s electric grill has an integrated smoker box that may just be the answer. Using mini woodfire pellets, the smoker produced mouthwatering pulled pork with crackled skin in half the time of a conventional BBQ. It has some of Ninja’s famous air frying programmes, too. Just note that it wasn’t as effective at charring our burgers.

As the only full-size electric BBQ we’ve tested so far, this is a serious piece of kit. It has all the grill space and side shelves of a traditional BBQ, combined with the speedy preheat time and impressively high temperatures of an electric model. Char-Broil's TRU-infrared technology delivered incredibly juicy meats too.

When you think of BBQs, you probably think of hot coals and delicious smoky flavours, so it’s no surprise that the charcoal BBQ is still a popular choice.

They tend to be more versatile thanks to their radiant warmth. The coals in the bottom of the BBQ emit heat consistently, meaning you can sear meats quickly at high temperatures in the centre of the grill, while smoking and slow cooking others around the outside or on a raised rack.

Perhaps not the most typical charcoal BBQ, but the viral Big Green Egg certainly proved itself in testing. This is our highest ever scoring BBQ across all categories. Plus, if you dread the post-BBQ clean-up, we have good news: the Big Green Egg is self-cleaning (and it does a good job, too). Of course, there’s no denying it's pretty pricey, but if you have the money, we think its flawless cooking and innovative features are worth it. Read our full review here.

Outdoor cooking isn't limited to the traditional BBQ though. With the likes of pizza ovens, teppanyaki grills and rotisserie accessories proving increasingly popular, you can open up your alfresco meals to lots of new dishes and flavours. Below, you'll find the GHI's top-rated buys.

The best pizza ovens make cooking restaurant-quality pizza easy; they're the perfect, crowd-pleasing addition to summer garden parties and family gatherings.

Just add your favourite toppings and an Aperol spritz.

Just one minute and 41 seconds of cooking stands between you and restaurant-grade pizza. Our joint winner delivered well-raised crusts, good spots of charring, and a deliciously melted, cheesy centre with ease thanks to the high peak temperature of 450 degrees. Putting the pizza in and out of the oven was easy too, so there’s no risk of burning your fingers or losing any toppings!

This electric pizza oven from Ooni is a particularly good choice for us Brits. You can cook outside in the summer and inside in the winter (or when it inevitably rains in August). It impressed with its cooking too, delivering a pepperoni pizza even faster than the Gozney, with a light Neapolitan-style crust. Delicious.

Our testers loved the unique design of this pizza oven, which simplifies the whole cooking experience. It has a rotating pizza stone so less manual turning is required to achieve an evenly cooked finish. Plus, it has a speedy preheat time of 12 minutes – the fastest of our top three. Just note that it’s heavy, so you’ll need a permanent spot for it in the garden.

We’re fully aware that pizza ovens are expensive, so we loved this budget option from Vango. It’s designed as a camping model, but there’s nothing stopping you from lighting it in the garden. As you’d expect, it’s not the quickest, taking nine minutes to cook a pizza; however, the results were worth the wait – enjoy crispy bases and perfectly cooked toppings galore.

If feasting on slices of pizza isn’t quite your thing, or you just want to expand your outdoor cooking repertoire further, consider appliances that have different grill designs and additional features.

Typically, most of these appliances are actually BBQs, but they come with add-ons or removable parts that make them a lot more versatile than a traditional model.

It’s the versatility of this BBQ that makes it such a worthwhile investment. Not only did it produce the best vegetable kebabs of all the BBQs we tested, but it also works as a hybrid model, boasting four gas burners and a charcoal basket. The central griddle plate can also be removed so you can cook with a wok instead – you’ll catch us adding Vietnamese BBQ prawns to our summer rotation.

This three-burner gas BBQ is one for serious foodies. It has removable grill plates that can be swapped out for pizza stones or teppanyaki plates (sold separately), which are used for cooking meats, seafood and even yakisoba noodles. Our testers were also impressed with its rotisserie attachment, which cooked a delicious roast chicken in under two hours. If you’re tempted by alfresco rotisserie cooking, our joint winning BBQ from Whistler (above) also has a rotisserie accessory that shone in testing.

We turned to Chef Vadim Rachok for his tips and tricks for mastering your grilling technique.

First up, you need to prioritise preheating. “Preheating your grill every time you turn it on is crucial,” says Rachok. “[It] consumes little energy but reduces cooking time significantly.” It can improve hygiene, too – preheating your grill can help kill any residual bacteria lurking on your grill plates, so there’s less chance of any nasties getting on your food.

Next, Rachok suggests using the “Two Zone Grilling technique” to achieve the best results when barbecuing meat. This involves dividing your grill into two: one side for high temperatures (or the direct zone) and another for lower temperatures (the indirect zones). This will give you better control over how evenly your food cooks and allows you to perfect those all-important char marks.

“When grilling beef, I recommend cooking it over high heat to sear the outside and lock in the juices,” Rachok says. “However, avoid placing it directly over the flame to prevent burning.”

It’s a similar situation with sausages. Cooking them over a high heat will cause the skin to burst and could leave your sausages burnt on the outside but raw on the inside.

“Rotate sausages regularly to ensure they cook evenly,” Rachok advises. “If you regularly use a gas grill, you can place the sausages on the side so they’re not directly over the burners, allowing them to cook slowly and more evenly.”

Having the right tools is another important step to delivering a top outdoor feast. You need to be able to flip and turn your meats without burning your fingers, so your normal kitchen utensils likely won’t fit the bill. These haven’t been tested by the GHI, but we’ve curated our pick of the best BBQ utensils below.

Whether you’re cooking indoors or outdoors, cleaning your appliances is always an essential, if unexciting, job. While the heat from your BBQ does a good job at killing bacteria, cleaning the grill is best practice. Plus, keeping your BBQ in pristine condition helps it last longer.

Special BBQ brushes help loosen food residue from the grills while they’re still hot. But to give them a thorough clean, wait for it to cool down before giving the grills a scrub with hot, soapy water. Check out our full guide on how to clean your BBQ here.

Blossom is our Senior Homes Tester. Passionate about finding the best home products and appliances for our readers, she has tested everything from blenders to pizza ovens. Blossom enjoys delving into the intricacies of products and refining testing protocols for hundreds of items. Innovative items like robot vacuum cleaners and wine coolers are among her favourite tests to date, and her most notable accomplishment is toasting 360 slices of bread in a determined bid to find the best toaster. In her free time, Blossom openly admits to being a music geek and indulges her creative side through crocheting, baking, singing and writing.   

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Outdoor kitchens: The best BBQs, pizza ovens and more 2024 UK

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