Best barbecues for summer 2011

We've got our fingers (and toes!) crossed for a hot summer this year and if we are blessed with sunshine rather than showers, Brits across the country will be planning barbecues and inviting friends and family round to dine al fresco.

Best barbeques to buy
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If you are in the market for a new barbecue here are some tips on what to buy and a few of the best available.

What barbecue?
Your first decision is whether to buy gas or charcoal. The traditional charcoal barbecue is the more authentic of the two, providing that all-important smoky flavour. These are ideal for weekend parties when family and friends can afford to relax and wait for the briquettes to heat up.

Gas barbecues, on the other hand, provide instant heat and more control over the cooking. Gas bottles are available from petrol stations, DIY stores and garden centres.

Of course, barbecues these days can cook much more than the standard sausages and burgers. Keen cooks may be looking to roast whole joints of meat or fish, in which case a spit for roasting and a griddle or hot plate for the fish will be high on the list of priorities.

Barbecues for all occasions

They come in all shapes and sizes but whatever your barbecue plans, there's a gadget to suit your needs.

Weber Smokey Joe Premium - £60
A classic charcoal barbecue with vents to keep the meat succulent, this handy little round barbie has the added benefit of a lid... and as we all know, that's invaluable for when the showers set in.

Whitstable BBQ Bucket - £21
If you're looking to cook on the move, this steel bucket, complete with handle, is great when you need a portable barbecue. Cheap, convenient and reusable so you'll be eco-friendly too.

Sahara Hooded Three Burner - £265
For dads who can't resist the lure of the barbecue, his family-sized gas barbecue is ideal. The hood is equipped with a viewing window, it is easy to move around the garden and the drop-down wooden trays at the side are handy for when you're cooking up a storm.

Weber Summit S-650 - £2,500
For the serious barbecuer only - this BBQ monster includes six gas burners, a smoker box burner and rotisserie attachment. It'll beat your indoor cooker into a cocked hat... but then, it's probably more expensive than your oven too!

Here's to a long, hot summer.