WIRED: The best electric BBQs
Get cooking with the latest in hi-tech 'electric' barbecues that promise to bring fuss-free features to your alfresco entertaining.
Braving a combination of freezing temperatures, snow and blistering April heat, we cooked up a storm with three of the smartest barbecues money can buy.
Each model on test uses electricity to make life easier – whether that's as its primary fuel source, as a way to speed up lighting charcoal or for app-connected, Wi-Fi controlled pinpoint cooking.
Space-age style for the modern Neanderthal, Heston Blumenthal's achingly hip charcoal barbecue can be plugged in, which not only makes lighting coals as simple as pressing a button, but also powers a pop-up rotisserie.
It's a wonderfully novel design; to light, simply plug it in – there's a retractable 1.5m power cord – pile charcoal on the circular grate above the electric element and press the button. Far from being hi-tech, the electrical element looks and works just like a basic kitchen hob ring, but that doesn’t make it any less effective. In just a few moments the charcoal starts to smoke and within five minutes the coals are red hot. After 10 minutes it's ready for cooking.
The closest thing we've come to instant heat from a charcoal barbecue, and while gas grill users have long appreciated the benefit of push-button heating, if you prefer the authentic taste charcoal offers but hate the uncertainly and waiting around, it's brilliant.
The other "tech" feature is the pop-up rotisserie motor. Hidden inside the barbecue body you'll find a large spit and two excellent rotisserie clamps for securely gripping whatever you want to cook – in this case a chicken, but it can handle up to 15kg. Again, it's all done with a sense of style, and assuming you've mounted the ingredients in the middle of the spit, it will all gently turn at the push of a button. The upright posts are also height-adjustable.
Given the overall bulk of the Fusion, the actual grill size is small, and quickly fills up with a few burgers and kebabs. The oversized outer shell does mean it's cool(ish) to the touch, making it extremely safe. The porcelain enamel firebox is also worth noting as it makes cleaning more akin to scrubbing a roasting tray than tackling a greasy barbecue.
All-in, it's a hugely enjoyable, incredibly stylish and easy to use barbecue that's fast and convenient enough to makes rotisserie chicken a midweek meal. Expensive and excessive, but if you've got the budget you won't be disappointed.
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