The best BBQ for a small garden or patio

Craving dinner al fresco, but lacking the garden space? These are the best compact BBQs - perfect for even the smallest patios and balconies.

Photo of young happy family having a barbecue party in backyard
(Image credit: Getty Images)

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.

Is it even a Bank Holiday weekend if you don't have a barbecue? These are the best BBQs to buy to ensure smokin' bangers and burgers every time - even if you're short on outdoor space.

Food always tastes better al fresco and summer just isn’t summer without a BBQ. With so many of us planning garden get-togethers, sometimes making the most of small outdoor spaces, we've compiled this roundup of the best BBQs you can buy. We chose compact BBQs rather than monster models 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 particularly suitable for small outdoor spaces, such as balconies, patios and bijoux gardens. And now that we're all enjoying parks and other outdoor spaces again, we made sure to include grills that are easily portable. Our number one contender for the best BBQ you can buy is the excellent LotusGrill Smokeless Grill. It ticks every box we can think of; it’s super lightweight, compact and smokeless but still offers an authentic BBQ flavour. We also feel this is the best BBQ you can buy in terms of value for money.

Best BBQ for a small garden

1. LotusGrill Smokeless Grill

Best BBQ overall

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 | Included: Lotus Grill, Lotus Grill handle bag, 1kg Beachwood charcoal, 200ml lighting gel, pair of tongs, 4 AA batteries, user manual

Why we love it: An award-winning grill with everything you want from a small-space BBQ.

It has 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 big enough to feed a crowd but small enough to store in the cupboard. Set up is quick and easy - you will have glowing coals in less than 5 minutes. Best of all, it's super easy to dismantle and clean. Most of the parts can fit in the dishwasher, while the parts that can’t just need a damp cloth.

And yes, it really is smokeless - we've put that to the test in the past. It’s also 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?

VIEW AT AMAZON | £179.99 (opens in new tab)

2. Weber Smokey Joe Premium

Best budget BBQ

Fuel: Charcoal | Material: Porcelain-enameled bowl and lid | Weight: 5.1kg | Dimensions: L 420mm, W 360mm, H 460mm W 360mm, 25 minutes | 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

Why we love it: Weber’s kettle barbecue is probably the most iconic design out there.

The Smokey Joe Premium has all that great style in miniature. Smokey by name - Smokey by nature, this little grill packs a punch when it comes to locking in flavour. It’s lightweight and compact enough to carry around, so great for BBQ at home or on the go, and the ‘tuck-n-carry’ lid lock handle makes transporting so easy. It comes with a ten-year guarantee and is available in a range of colours.

Set aside around 30 minutes to assemble this BBQ prior to use and be sure to do it before you have friends over, or before taking it on a trip. Otherwise expect hungry guests.

When it comes to lighting and cooking it’s pretty straightforward, taking around 25 minutes from lighting to being ready to cook. To clean, you simply discard the ashes (after cooling) 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, it's a doddle.

VIEW AT AMAZON | £86.41 (opens in new tab)

3. Everdure Cube By Heston Blumenthal BBQ

Best BBQ design

Fuel: Charcoal | Material: Lightweight durable steel, porcelain enamel, chrome, bamboo | Weight: 7kgs | Dimensions: L 425mm, W 347mm, H 230mm | Included: Firebox, removable charcoal tray, grill grate, grill, food storage tray, bamboo preparation tray, user manual

Why we love it: It's the brainchild of three-time Michelin starred chef, Heston Blumenthal.

Everdure is a range of BBQs 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 it benefits from a removable charcoal tray, making clean up a little easier. 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.

It features ‘cool-to-the-touch’ handles so you can pick it up and move it 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.

When we tried this out for a review in the past, The Cube lit well and was ready in 15 minutes, thanks to the quick-burning premium charcoal provided. When cooking, we did have to keep an eye on the food as the coals are fairly close to the surface, so 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 took a bit of elbow grease to remove.

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.

VIEW AT AMAZON | £169 (opens in new tab)

4. Biolite FirePit

Best BBQ for wood or coal

Fuel: Firewood and charcoal | Material: Steel | Weight: 8.8kg | Dimensions: L 685mm, W 330mm, H 401mm | Included? FirePit, rain cover, grill grate, fuel rack, USB A to micro USB cord, user manual

Why we love it: A dreamy campfire/bbq hybrid 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 power pack 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 is 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.

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.

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.

VIEW AT LAKELAND | £239.99 (opens in new tab)

5. Campingaz Attitude 2100 LX BBQ

Best BBQ for flexible cooking:

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 | Included: Attitude 2100 LX BBQ, split cast iron grid and griddle, gas hose and gas pressure regulator, battery user manual

Why we love it: It's a tabletop BBQ but with a huge cooking surface of 2100cm²

Campingaz has a range of gas-fuelled BBQs 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 slides out too. These can then be placed in the dishwasher. The cast iron griddle pans just need some hot soapy water.

VIEW AT AMAZON | £218.95 (opens in new tab)

6. Traeger Ranger BBQ

Best BBQ for smokey flavours

Fuel: Wood pellets. Powered by electricity | Material: Steel, aluminium, cast iron | Weight: 27.2kg | Dimensions: L 530mm, W 500mm, H 330mm | Included? Traeger Ranger BBQ, cast iron grill grate, cast iron griddle plate, internal meat probe, drip tray and bucket, 10kg wood pellets, users manual.

Why we love it: You need this if barbecuing, to you, is all about that smokey flavour.

The Traeger 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've included in this roundup.

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.

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.

VIEW AT HAYES GARDEN WORLD | £549 (opens in new tab)

7. Cobb Premier Charcoal Barbecue Grill

Best economical BBQ

Fuel: Cobb cobblestone or charcoal | Material: Stainless steel, rubber | Weight: 3.8kg | Dimensions: 330mm x 330mm, H 360mm | 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

Why we love it: The Cobb Premier is a compact, yet versatile tabletop grill.

Unlike a lot of BBQs, this one is specifically designed to roast, bake, fry, grill and smoke all kinds of food.

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 the risk of damage.

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 is extremely lightweight for easy transportation.

This is another grill that comes fully assembled; all you need to do is fill up the fire basket with 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 on this 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.

VIEW AT AMAZON | £169.99 (opens in new tab)

Things to look out for when choosing a BBQ

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

With over 12 years of experience, arts graduate Keiron turned to food to channel his creativity, specifically cake decorating. Keiron set up his wedding cake business in 2015. And, in late 2016 won a scholarship at the world-renowned culinary institute - Le Cordon Bleu, London, where he studied the art of French Pâtisserie. He's worked in some of London’s finest 5-star hotels, collecting a wealth of knowledge along the way. As a Food Writer and Stylist food isn’t just a job, it truly is Keiron's passion.