The best BBQs for a small garden or patio

The best compact bbq's to buy online today - Independently tested by us
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  • Craving dinner al fresco, but lacking the garden space? Here’s our tried and tested picks for the best BBQs - perfect for even the smallest patios and balconies.

    Food always tastes better al fresco, when the sun is out and the drinks are flowing. Summer just isn’t summer without a bbq.

    With so many of us confined to our homes during lockdown, sometimes in small living spaces, we tested the best ‘small-space’ bbq’s so that even those in city flats or with tiny gardens can ignite their ‘thrill to grill’.

    We searched high and low for grills that are suitable for small outdoor spaces, such as balconies, patios and bijoux gardens – and now with parks and other outdoor spaces opening up, we also wanted to include grills that are easily portable.

    Each BBQ was vigorously put to work, testing everything from setting up, igniting-to-cooking times, ease of use, size and even the dreaded clean up afterwards. They were all tested under the same weather conditions and the same food products were used on each BBQ or grill to keep things fair.

    Things to look out for when choosing a small compact BBQ

    • Consider the space – BBQ’s come in all shapes and sizes, so make sure you measure up first. Also, be sure to consider your neighbours – a smokey grill probably won’t go down too well.
    • Who are you cooking for? Just you and a partner, or are you going to invite friends and family over? Be sure that your small-space bbq is big enough to keep up!
    • What fuel do you want to use? Gas vs charcoal… Do you want the convenience of gas, or that authentic smokey flavour that you get with charcoal?

    The best compact BBQs for a small outdoor space

    Our number one contender is the excellent LotusGrill Smokeless Grill – for us, it ticks all of the boxes! It’s super lightweight, compact, smokeless but still offers an authentic bbq flavour and we feel that it’s the best value for money.

    Best BBQ overall: LotusGrill Smokeless Grill
    Rating 5/5

    Key features:

    • Smokeless
    • Suitable for balconies
    • Sets up in less than 5 minutes
    • Very easy to use
    • Easy to clean – grill grate and the inner shell are dishwasher safe
    • Great to transport
    • Available in many colours
    • 2 year warranty

    This award-winning grill has everything you could want from a small-space bbq. Featuring an ingenious battery operated fan that blows air directly onto the hot coals; intensifying the heat and cooking food quicker than a conventional bbq. The fan also ensures that the grill remains smokeless – so, no worries about annoying the neighbours. A clever internal ‘double skinned’ bowl regulates the intense heat, ensuring the outside stays cool and allows you to handle the grill, even when cooking.

    It’s super-light, weighing less than 4kg and comes with a nylon carry bag – great for barbequing on the go. And, did we mention that it comes in a range of super-fun colours?

    This was a real pleasure to cook on. I was sceptical about the ‘smokeless’ aspect of the grill but it really does work. It’s big enough to feed a crowd but small enough to store in the cupboard. To get started, turn the grill upside down and put in the batteries. Place the metal trivet in the centre and pour in some of the lighter gel provided, turn on the fan to the lowest setting and light. Fill the inner canister with charcoal and carefully secure in place over the trivet. Place the grill rack on top, secure with the clips and crank up the heat – you will have glowing coals in less that 5 minutes.

    When it came to cleaning, this was a breeze! Super easy to dismantle and most of the parts can fit in the dishwasher, and the parts that can’t just need a damp cloth.

    Fuel: Lighting gel and charcoal
    Material: Stainless steel & shock resistant plastics
    Weight: 3.7kg
    Dimensions: H 234mm x Dia (top) 350mm x Dia (bottom) 260mm
    Ready to cook in: 5 minutes
    Burntime: 50 minutes, but is quickly and easily refuelled
    What’s included? Lotus Grill, Lotus Grill handle bag, 1kg Beachwood charcoal, 200ml lighting gel, pair of tongs, 4 AA batteries, user manual

    BUY NOW: LotusGrill Smokeless Grill with starter kit – £146.80

    Best BBQ for value: Weber Smokey Joe Premium
    Rating 4/5

    Key features:

    • Sets up in 30 minutes
    • Easy of use
    • Easy to clean
    • Easy to transport
    • Stylish design
    • Available in many colours
    • 10 years guarantee

    Weber’s kettle barbeque is probably the most iconic style of barbeque out there, and the Smokey Joe Premium has all that great style in miniature. Smokey by name – Smokey by nature, this little grill surely packs a punch when it comes to locking in flavour. It’s lightweight and compact enough to carry around, so great for bbq’s at home or on the go, and the ‘tuck-n-carry’ lid lock handle makes transporting so easy.

    This was the only bbq that we tested that needed fully assembling, so be sure to do this before you have friends over, or before taking it on a trip. Set aside around 30 minutes to assemble the bbq prior to use.

    When it comes to lighting and cooking it’s pretty straight forward, taking around 25 minutes from lighting to being ready to cook. Place the charcoal grate at the bottom of the kettle, add a layer of charcoal and a few firelighters and away it goes, if you have a charcoal chimney then this process would be even easier.

    From start to finish we had approximately 1 hour 45 minutes of cooking time, but this will vary with charcoal and the amounts you use. After cooling, discard the ashes and wipe out the inner kettle and lid with a damp cloth. The racks will more than likely need some hot soapy water but apart from that there was no struggle.

    Fuel: Charcoal
    Material: Porcelain-enameled bowl and lid
    Weight: 5.1kg
    Dimensions: L 420mm, W 360mm,  H 460mm W 360mm,  25 minutes
    Burntime: 1 hour 45 minutes
    What’s included? Plated steel cooking grate, heavy-gauge steel charcoal grate, porcelain-enamelled bowl and lid, lid handle with heat shield, briquette measuring cup, tuck-n-carry lid lock

    BUY NOW: Weber Smokey Joe Premium, £79.99

    Best BBQ design: Everdure Cube By Heston Blumenthal BBQ
    Rating 4/5

    Key features:

    • Comes assembled
    • Easy of use
    • Easy to clean
    • Integrated storage
    • Available in 4 colours
    • Available in many colours
    • 2 year warranty

    The brainchild of three Michelin starred chef, Heston Blumenthal, Everdure is a range of bbq’s like no other. Heston has worked closely with the designers and engineers on the entire range, creating stylish and innovative ways of outdoor cooking.

    The Cube by Heston is a portable bbq with a few tricks up its sleeve. The stylish grill is made of lightweight steel for easy transport, it has a built-in heat protection shield making it safe to come into contact with tabletops and even grass without damaging them and benefits from a removable charcoal tray, making the cleaning up a little easier.

    It features ‘cool-to-the-touch’ handles so you can pick it up and move with ease. Another feature – and one our tester loved – was the clever integration of storage. The lid of The Cube turns into a bamboo preparation/chopping board which then sits on top of a food-grade storage tray; big enough to keep your sausages, burgers and buns, so no need to carry loads of bags when heading to the park or campsite.

    Place the charcoal tray inside the bbq and add the metal grate, cover the base with a layer of charcoal and 3-4 firelighters. Once the charcoal shows signs of white ash, place the grill over the top…and you’re ready to go. The Cube lit well and was ready to cook in 15 minutes, thanks to the quick-burning premium charcoal provided.

    Don’t be put off by the size; this is quite the tardis of BBQs, having enough grill space to easily feed 4-6 people. When cooking, we did have to keep an eye on the food as the coals are fairly close to the surface, so do bear this in mind.

    Cleaning was easy too. Once cool, it’s just a case of emptying the ash from the tray and wiping everything down. Any food that was stuck to the grill came off easily in hot soapy water. Don’t be alarmed and think that the chic orange interior is ruined, the blackening will wipe off, although there were some stubborn marks that did take a while.

    Heston has also created premium charcoal, which is chemical-free, and contains no additives or artificial flavourings. Made from FSC Certified 100% natural lumpwood, the charcoal is a restaurant quality standard with low ash content for easy cleaning.

    Fuel: Charcoal
    Material: Lightweight durable steel, porcelain enamel, chrome, bamboo
    Weight: 7kgs
    Dimensions: L 425mm, W 347mm, H 230mm
    Ready to cook in: 15 minutes
    Burntime: 1 hour
    What’s included? Firebox, removable charcoal tray, grill grate, grill, food storage tray, bamboo preparation tray, users manual

    BUY NOW: Everdure Cube By Heston Blumenthal BBQ – £149

    Best portable BBQ: Primus Kuchoma BBQ
    Rating 4/5

    Key features:

    • Suitable for balconies
    • Comes assembled
    • Lightweight
    • Easy of use
    • Easy to clean
    • Great to transport

    The petite Primus Kuchoma is actually a real powerhouse when it comes to cooking. It’s lightweight and compact enough to fit into a backpack, but can still cook for up to 10 people. The gas-fuelled grill is perfect for campers or picnics in the park and it runs solely on backpackers’ gas canisters (or larger, if desired). It’s a great, portable bbq for those sunny days ahead!

    Just pull out the legs and attach the gas. The Primus Kuchoma has a built-in piezo ignition to make it as easy as a click of a button to ignite! It heats up in a matter of minutes, so you’re ready to cook in no time at all. The grill grate and drip tray are both dishwasher safe and the rest is easily maintained with a damp cloth.

    Fuel: Gas
    Material: Steel, wood
    Weight: 4.5kg
    Dimensions: L 440mm, W 306mm, H 156mm
    Ready to cook in: 5 minutes
    What’s included? Primus kuchoma BBQ, drip tray, grill grate, gas canister, user guide

    BUY NOW: Primus Kuchoma BBQ – £185

    Best BBQ for wood or coal: Biolite FirePit £239
    Rating: 4/5

    Key features:

    • Smokeless
    • Sets up in 5 minutes
    • Innovative
    • Easy of use
    • Easy to clean
    • Great to transport

    This campfire/bbq hybrid is a serious piece of kit, and an absolute dream for adventurers and tech-lovers alike. The BioLite FirePit can cook your food and then turn into stunning outdoor fire – without the familiar smoke cloud. It has the capacity for up to 4 standard firewood logs, or you can use charcoal if you’re only going to cook. There are slight limitations in terms of what you can cook as the surface area is fairly narrow, BioLite markets the bbq element as a Japanese hibachi-style grill, but you can definitely cook more than that – the smartest campfire out there!

    The rechargeable powerpack houses an integrated jet fan; fuelling the combustion system and injecting the fire with air along key points – the more air you allow, the hotter the flames. Download the app and control the airflow via Bluetooth directly from your phone, and if your phone battery is running-on-empty, don’t worry! The powerpack doubles up as a USB charger. Biolite also sells a range of USB powered lights, so you can always see in the dark – They really have thought of everything.

    The FirePit is perfect for small spaces as it eliminates smoke, but also ideal for camping and trips to the beach. Be aware that the powerpack will need to be fully charged prior to use, so allow time for this. Aside from taking it out of the packaging, the only assembly required is securing the handles to each side.

    Burning wood – secure the fully charged powerpack on the side. Place the fuel rack at the bottom of the FirePit and place a layer of dry twigs or kindling inside – you might need a few firelighters to get this fire going, light and allow the wood to flame. Top with firewood logs and turn on the jet fans to eliminate any smoke. Depending on the setting, there’s enough battery life to have a smokeless fire for up to 24 hours. If you wish to cook after a fire, you can use the embers from the firewood to light the charcoal and then begin to cook.

    Burning coal – As we were testing this product solely for the cooking functions, we only used charcoal as fuel. This works in the same way as any other coal-fuelled grill – Secure the fuel rack on the higher shelf and full with a layer of charcoal, add firelighters and ignite. Once the coals start to glow after a few minutes, turn on the jet fans to dissipate the smoke and speed up the process. We were ready to cook in around 15 minutes.

    With the assistance of the fans, the FirePit cooled down in less than 10 minutes. Once cooled, turn off the power pack, remove the grill and fuel grate and brush out the ashes from the trapdoor inside, then just wipe down and dry thoroughly.

    Fuel: Firewood and charcoal
    Material: Steel
    Weight: 8.8kg
    Dimensions: L 685mm, W 330mm, H 401mm
    Ready to cook in: 10 minutes
    Power: 24hr on LOW, 10hr on MED, 5hr on HI
    What’s Included? FirePit, rain cover, grill grate, fuel rack, USB A to micro USB cord, user manual

    BUY NOW: Biolite FirePit £239 (available on Ebay)

    Best BBQ for flexible cooking: Campingaz Attitude 2100 LX BBQ
    Rating 4/5

    Key features:

    • Suitable for balconies
    • Sets up in 15 minutes
    • Easy of use
    • Easy to clean
    • Great for families
    • 10-year warranty on the die cast aluminium lid

    The Campingaz Attitude 2100 LX is quite a large tabletop bbq, but a tabletop bbq nonetheless, boasting a huge cooking surface of 2100cm², hence the 2100 in the name.

    Campingaz have a range of gas-fuelled bbq’s and this one has been thoughtfully designed to fit with an urban lifestyle; where garden space is limited and the only outdoor area one may have is a balcony. The gas-fuelled grill consists of two large cooking areas that offer even heat distribution across the entire cooking surface thanks to Campingaz’s ‘Blue Flame’ burner system. There’s also a ‘drop-in’ system on the left hand side that can house interchangeable accessories; such as a pizza stone, roasting skillet and paella pan. The bbq also has an in-built electrical thermometer for temperature control.

    The box is enormous, but don’t panic and think it won’t fit on your balcony, a lot of it is just packaging. The set up is fairly simple, once unboxed, just add the battery (included) for the ignition, securely attach the gas, pop the grills in place and you’re ready to go. The grill took around 15 minutes to heat up. Be aware that the bbq doesn’t come with a gas canister and this will set you back an additional £30-£60 depending on size.

    With the patented Campingaz InstaClean system, cleaning is very easy. The two side panels can be removed for cleaning and the drip tray underneath sides out too, these can then be placed in the dishwasher. The cast iron griddle pans just need some hot soapy water.

    Fuel: Gas
    Material: Aluminised Steel, Enamelled cast iron, black die cast aluminium, plastic
    Weight: 24.5 kg
    Dimensions: Open: L 650mm, W 690mm, H 730mm. Closed: L 650mm, W 520mm, H 360mm
    Ready to cook in: 30 mins
    Power: 5 KW
    What’s included? Attitude 2100 LX BBQ, split cast iron grid and griddle, gas hose and gas pressure regulator, battery user manual

    BUY NOW: Campingaz Attitude 2100 LX BBQ – £288.99

    Best BBQ for smokey flavours: Traeger Ranger BBQ
    Rating 3.5/5

    Key features:

    • Sets up in 10 minutes
    • Easy of use
    • Easy to clean
    • Great for families
    • Great to transport
    • 3 year warranty

    If for you, barbecuing is all about that smokey flavour, then you definitely need to know about the Traeger Ranger! The Ranger offers an All-American style of bbq – fresh out of a US smokehouse, but be aware, it’s going to cost you. This is by far the most expensive bbq we tested.

    Using wood pellets to fuel the grill, it infuses flavour in your food, delivering a superior taste and the precision temperature control makes it simple to use.

    The digital ARC temperature controller allows you to increase or decrease the heat in 5 degree increments. A meat probe is also included so you can check the internal temperature of your meat without having to open the lid and lose all that smokey flavour midway through cooking.

    Another addition to the Ranger is the ‘keep-warm’ mode; meaning your food will be ready when you are and not the other way around. There’s an in-built pellet hopper that holds 3.6kg of wood pellets, which is sufficient fuel for several meals over a weekend.

    After unboxing, the only form of assembly is attaching the handle and the feet, which took around 10 minutes, adding the drip tray, drip bucket and grill and then it’s just a case of filling up the hopper with wood pellets, plugging it in and flipping the switch at the back.

    Set your temperature using the digital ARC controller and ignite. It takes around 10 minutes for the pellets to come through the chamber and begin to burn, and around 25 minutes in total before you can start cooking – there will be a fair bit of smoke at first, but that’s just the nature of this particular grill.

    The drip tray and cast iron grill come out easily and can be washed with hot soapy water. The chamber where the pellets burn just needs a brush to get rid of the ash and wiped with a damp cloth and any grease splatters can simply be wiped away.

    Fuel: Wood pellets. Powered by electricity
    Material: Steel, aluminium, cast iron
    Weight: 27.2kg
    Dimensions: L 530mm, W 500mm, H 330mm
    Ready to cook in: 20 minutes
    What’s included? Traeger Ranger BBQ, cast iron grill grate, cast iron griddle plate, internal meat probe, drip tray and bucket, 10kg wood pellets, users manual.

    BUY NOW: Traeger Ranger BBQ – £499

    Best economical BBQ: Cobb Premier Charcoal Barbecue Grill
    Rating 3/5

    Key features:

    • Great for balconies
    • Sets up in 5 minutes
    • Small and compact
    • Easy of use
    • Easy to clean
    • Great to transport

    The Cobb Premier is a compact, yet versatile tabletop grill. Unlike a lot of BBQ’s, this one is specifically designed to roast, bake, fry, grill and smoke all kinds of food, and we were super eager to give it a go.

    Easy to set up, the BBQ consists of a mesh base unit with a Stainless steel inner bowl and heat chamber, which has been designed to heat in the core, while keeping the outside cool to the touch. It can be placed on top of glass or wooden tables (outside, of course) without risk of damaging.

    It’s energy efficient, using only a handful of charcoal bricks, but remaining hot for up to 3 hours. An alternative fuel source comes in the form of a Cobb cobblestone – a compressed, smokeless stone apparently needs no lighter fluid and can burn for two hours. This portable grill also features a lid, ensuring quick and even cooking. The Cobb Premium is perfect for a couple with a small balcony or garden, and extremely lightweight for easy transportation.

    This was another grill that comes fully assembled; all you need to do is fill up the fire basket with a cobblestone or charcoal and light. The Cobb Premier is very economical, requiring only 8-10 briquettes per session, compared to a conventional bbq requiring a lot more. Once the briquettes have turned ashen, place the grill plates on top and it’s ready to cook – this took around 20 minutes to get to this point. We barbequed with the lid off and the coals were hot for just under two hours, but if it’s particularly windy, or you wish to roast or smoke instead, then add the lid on top and it may burn for longer. Although it’s not marketed as a smokeless bbq, this is perfect for small spaces as there is barely any output of smoke.

    Once cool, the bowl, dome and grill are safe to go straight into the dishwasher.

    Fuel: Cobb cobblestone or charcoal
    Material: Stainless steel, rubber
    Weight: 3.8kg
    Dimensions: 330mm x 330mm, H 360mm
    Ready to cook in: 20 mins
    Burntime: Up to 3 hours
    What’s Included: Stainless steel mesh base unit, stainless steel inner bowl, heat chamber & fire basket, roasting rack, Teflon coated grill plate, stainless steel dome with air vent, all-purpose lifting handle, carry bag and user manual

    BUY NOW: Cobb Premier Charcoal Barbecue Grill, £145.99

    The summer is in full swing with many more glorious days ahead, so whether you’re still isolating at home, or fancy barbequing with your ‘bubble’, we’ve definitely tried something that will suit you.