Our ultimate guide to barbecuing - gas vs. charcoal, the many types of barbecue explained and the best accessories and real food recipes. Warning: may cause hunger!
The joys of barbecuing
If we had it our way, we would barbecue everyday! Barbecuing ticks a whole load of boxes for us: connecting with nature, dining al fresco, socialising and even incorporating ancestral living into our modern lifestyles. Of course, it's also a meat-lover's dream and ideal for preparing Keto, Paleo and Carnivore meals.
Unfortunately, here in the UK we don't always have the weather for an outdoor barbecue! But that makes it even more special when we do get to enjoy one. To have a great barbecue you need to be prepared. After all, by the time you've ran around getting everything prepared, the sun may well have made its way back behind a cloud!
Read on to find out how to choose the best type of barbecue for you, as well as the best ingredients, accessories, utensils, recipes and even condiments - for the perfect real food summer barbecue.
Things to consider when buying a barbecue
When choosing the best barbecue for you there are many factors to consider. Keeping these in mind will ensure that you choose the right one for your garden, budget and what you plan on using it for. Here's a few things to consider before buying your barbie.
- Storage - You won't want to keep your barbecue in the garden year-round, so consider what space you have available to store it when not in use. If the answer is not a lot, you'll want to buy a smaller barbecue!
- Budget - It's easy to get carried away when barbecue shopping but be sure to stick to your budget. As much as you will love your new barbecue, it's unlikely you will use it every day (although we wish!) and so only invest what you can afford!
- Weather - If you're in the UK then it is probably wise to choose a barbecue which is portable and can be stored inside. However, if you live somewhere where the sun shines more often you could consider building a brick barbie to have a permanent fixture in your garden.
- The Lucky Diners - Who are you cooking for? If you usually host a barbecue for family and friends or as part of a garden party, then you're going to need a bigger grill. But if it's just you and your partner or a couple of friends then it makes sense to get a smaller barbecue.
- Food Preferences - Barbecues come in all shapes and sizes, so consider what you will actually be cooking before purchasing. If it's burgers and sausages then a smaller grill will suffice, but if you plan on cooking multiple steaks or spit-roasting a whole animal then you will need some more room!
- Added Features - The more expensive a barbecue is, the more features it will have. Look out for any you are particularly interested in such as side tables, a cooker hood, griddle option and fat drip trays.
Once you have considered these options you will be better equipped to choose the best barbecue for you and your garden. With a budget and barbecue size in mind, all that's left to do is choose your preferred type of barbecue.
Which type of barbecue is best, gas or charcoal?
Perhaps the biggest decision when choosing a type of barbecue is gas vs. charcoal. Traditionalists will opt for charcoal and argue that this is the best (or only) way to get the chargrilled, smokey flavour we all know and love. But modern barbecuers advocate that the technological advancements a gas barbecue has to offer can make things much simpler and easier.
It really is up to you which you prefer. Generally, gas is easier to work with but more expensive and charcoal is tricker for temperature control but best for an authentic barbecue flavour.
The best types of barbecues - explained!
Once you have chosen your preference between gas and charcoal, you can check out the summary of barbecue types below to narrow down your search further.
Gas barbecues combine gas cooking with grill bars for a barbecue experience that's as easy as can be. Gas barbecues reach their optimum heat quicker, are better for temperature control and easier to clean.
However, they are more expensive to buy and arguably less fun to use! You'll also need to buy propane or butane gas canisters, depending on which fuel your barbecue uses.
You can use natural lump wood charcoal or charcoal briquettes to fuel your charcoal barbecue. The former is gets hotter faster but can burn out quickly. The latter is heavier and denser, so will last longer, but takes a little longer to reach peak temperature.
There are many types of charcoal barbecue:
- Free Standing - Does what it says on the tin. A freestanding charcoal barbie consists of a stand, drum and grill tray. They're simple to use, easily cleaned and give an authentic chargrilled flavour. However, free standing charcoal barbecues are often on the smaller side and don't retain heat for too long.
- Kettle - Kettle charcoal barbecues are usually bigger than free standing, circular in shape and come with a cooker hood. This is good for keeping food hot and opens the door for more versatile cooking methods such as roasting, baking and smoking.
- Oil Drum - Oil drum charcoal barbecues are bigger again and can even be used to cook whole animals and for spit-roasting. Again, they usually have a cooker hood and a nice large grill. Oil drum barbecues are good for bigger crowds when you want to batch cook and keep the food warm.
Other types of Barbecue
Gas and charcoal barbecues are the most popular choice by far, but there are also some other types you may wish to consider before you make the final decision!
- Electric - Would it even be the 21st century if there wasn't an electric version of everything?! They may not be the most authentic or enjoyable to operate, but electric barbecues are great for those with smaller gardens or balconies and are super easy to use.
- Smokers - Smokers are great for cooking low and slow and getting that mouth-watering, juicy and tender meat - we're thinking pulled pork and beef brisket! Smoking food does take an age and requires a lot of preparation and practice, but if you're into it then the results are absolutely worth the effort.
- Kamado - These are Japanese style barbecues which utilise a ceramic drum instead of stainless steel. This means that they retain heat much better - for up to 12 hours - and are ideal for using in cooler climates. Like smokers, Kamados are great for cooking low and slow, but they tend to be a lot more expensive than conventional barbecues!
- Campfire - Last but not least, it's perfectly possible to cook your food on a good old campfire. What a camp fire lacks in technological advancement and features, it well makes up for in nostalgia, enjoyment of cooking and flavour! All you need is some wood, a flame and a portable grill.
So there you have it, the 101 of barbecues. There are pros and cons to each and choosing the right one for you is all bout personal preference and requirements! Once you've chosen your barbie, time to cover the other bases.
Once you have chosen your barbecue, grab ahold of some of these essential extras and you will be good to go!
- Gloves - Be sure to invest in some flame and heatproof gloves, they're a must for handling hot utensils and protecting your arms!
- Utensils - Speaking of utensils, you're going to need some BBQ-proof ones! If you try to use your usual kitchen utensils, you'll soon find out that they will catch fire or melt before you can get that burger flipped!
- Accessories - Barbecues aren't just for meat (though we couldn't have one without it!) You can get some great accessories for cooking vegetables, fish and even pizza (like our Keto Fat Head Pizza). Explore accessories to get the most out of your barbecue.
- Fuel - Depending on which type of barbecue you go for, you will need plenty of fuel - be sure to have enough gas, coal or wood - and food safe firelighters are a must.
- Ingredients - You'll need some great quality oil with a high smoke point to rub on your meat and stop it from sticking - our Avocado Oil is perfect with a smoke point of 260C. Of course, always be sure to choose the best main ingredients possible too - we're talking grass fed meat, wild caught fish and organic veggies.
5 Keto & Real Food barbecue recipes
Each of these real food recipes can either be cooked on the barbie or else makes a great addition to any summer barbecue!
🔥 Fat Head Low Carb Sandwich Rolls (ideal alternatives to burger buns!)
🔥 Cobb Salad with Olive Oil Ranch Dressing (the perfect summer side)
Keto & Paleo friendly barbecue condiments
Be sure to serve up your al fresco creations with your favourite real food condiments for a barbecue that's as good for you as it tastes!
Can't decide which condiment is perfect for you? Take our quiz for your very own personalised product recommendations to find out!