Traditional charcoal BBQs require a lot of preparation when it comes to loading coals and waiting for them to preheat – not the best option for last-minute BBQs! In recent years, many foodies are swaying towards gas BBQs for their ease of use, quick heating times and versatility.
Striking the perfect balance between having a spacious cooking area but still a reasonably compact build, 3-burner gas BBQs are a great all-rounder. They make it possible to cook for a number of people at once, but aren’t unnecessarily large for just two either.
With a 3-burner BBQ, you should be able to control each burner individually, allowing you to cook different foods at varying temperatures. Steak and burgers can be seared at a high temperature, while sausages or chicken can be cooked through at the same time, just at a lower heat.
If you’re considering purchasing a 3-burner gas BBQ but want a bit more advice, check out the following guide.
Benefits of a Gas BBQ Over Charcoal
Whether you’re Team Charcoal or Team Gas, there’s no denying that there are advantages and disadvantages to both. While this guide focuses on gas BBQs, charcoal BBQs remain a great option for many people. Here we’ll take a look at the main pros and cons of each type, so you can get a better idea of what might suit you.
- Quick to heat up – reach their optimum temperature in around 10 minutes
- Easy to use – the temperature of each burner can be individually controlled
- Relatively easy to clean – no messy charcoal to deal with
- Some come with side burners which can be used for preparing sauces and sides without having to split time between the kitchen stove
- Gas canisters will need to be purchased, stored and disposed of
- In most cases, the gas canister will be visible on your patio which you may not like aesthetically
- Food doesn’t take on the ‘smoky’ flavour that it does with charcoal
- Often cheaper to purchase than gas BBQs
- Indirect grilling is easy – can be used for slow cooking and roasting
- Food takes on a delicious, authentic ‘smoky’ flavour
- Charcoal is reasonably cheap to purchase and easy to store
- Temperature regulation is harder than with gas BBQs
- Can take up to 40 minutes to heat up
- Lighting a charcoal BBQ can be difficult and waste time
- It can take at least 24 hours for the coals to fully cool down after use, meaning you have to wait to clean the BBQ
For spontaneous BBQs, a gas powered unit generally works better. This is because you’ll likely already have a gas canister (if you’ve used the BBQ before) and the BBQ will heat up and be ready to use in around 10 minutes. However, if you’re after a more authentic BBQ taste, you’ll likely prefer a charcoal BBQ.
Advantages of a 3-Burner Gas Grill
In most cases, the more burners there are on your BBQ, the more cooking space you’ll have.
3-burner grills are arguably the most versatile size of gas BBQ on the market. They usually have a cooking area that can accommodate medium size parties, with space to grill burners, sausages and side dishes for up to six to eight people. A common benefit of a 3-burner gas BBQ over a 2-burner gas BBQ is that 3-burner gas BBQs frequently have an additional side burner. This makes it easier to heat sauces or sides.
Additionally, an advantage of a 3-burner grill, compared to those with more burners, is that the fuel consumption is lower. 3-burner grills will cost less in fuel to heat than grills with 4, 5 or 6 burners. They’ll also generally cost less to purchase outright.
Selecting the Right Size BBQ
3-burner grills can still vary in size, both when it comes to the cooking area and the overall build.
Most of the BBQs I’ve recommended have a cooking area measuring around 60 x 40 cm. This should be suitable for six to eight people at once. If your BBQ has a warming rack (as most 3-burner BBQs do), you’ll be able to cook for more people, as cooked food can be transferred to the rack while more food is put on the main grill.
Some BBQs can be very heavy which may make them difficult to manoeuvre. Large 3-burner gas BBQs can often weigh over 50 kg. These will be easier to manoeuvre with wheels, but aren’t very practical if you’ve got a few garden steps to navigate. You may consider looking for a lighter model, there are some on the market at around 30 kg, if manoeuvring heavy weight is a concern.
You’ll need to make sure your BBQ isn’t so heavy that you can’t move it in and out of storage easily. Particularly if this is something that might put you off using it regularly.
Depending on the model, 3-burner gas BBQs will have either two or four wheels. Four isn’t strictly necessary, but it will allow the BBQ to stay level when it’s being moved around. This could be helpful if it suddenly starts raining when you’re BBQing.
If a BBQ has four wheels, they are usually small castor wheels. These are best for hard level surfaces. If you’re going to be taking your BBQ across your lawn or other tougher terrain, opt for larger wheels.
As mentioned, gas BBQs can come with a range of extra features which are worth having if you’ve got a lot of guests over.
BBQs with side shelves are very practical. The shelves can be used to store bread rolls, condiments, plates and cutlery. They can be used as an additional food preparation area, so you don’t need to keep moving inside to the kitchen. You’ll be able to have meat close to hand before you put it onto the BBQ.
Some BBQs have a storage space underneath, which can be used to store the gas canister when it’s not in use. When the BBQ is being used, this area can be used for plates and crockery.
While not always the case, many 3-burner BBQs come with an additional side burner, which can be used with saucepans and pans. Side burners can be used to prepare accompaniments such as beans, onions or sauces. This means that all cooking can be done at the BBQ, so you won’t need to keep making trips to the kitchen.
Finally, a warming rack is another great feature. These keep food warm whilst other items are cooking and they can also be used for roasting and baking. Some warming racks still get very hot, so be careful that your food doesn’t burn!
If you’re not ready to give up that smoky charcoal taste altogether, I recommend looking for gas BBQs with vaporiser bars – these help bring back a bit of a smoky taste.
Working Out What Type of Gas to Use
There’s two fuel options to choose from; propane and butane. Butane comes in blue cylinders, while propane comes in red. Small bottles of propane are usually sold in green bottles and are labelled ‘patio gas’.
Propane is the best gas for use in colder temperatures. It will still burn even in temperatures down to -42°C. This makes it a good choice for winter BBQs.
Butane can still be used for year-round BBQing, but it only burns well at temperatures above -2°C. Therefore, it’s not the best fuel for cold weather, but will work well for most of the year in the UK.
Butane flows very well in warm temperatures, so it’s great for summer BBQing. It’s also slightly cheaper than propane and burns slower. This means that you may end up having to buy butane less frequently, saving you money long-term.
What About a Gas Regulator?
Some BBQs come with a regulator included, whilst others don’t.
A regulator connects the gas to the BBQ, and controls how much gas flows into the BBQ at any time.
If the BBQ comes with a regulator included, it will be compatible with either butane or propane gas. If a gas regulator is included, it’s quite common for it to be compatible with propane. Therefore, you may have to buy a regulator separately, even if one comes included with your BBQ, if you want to use a different fuel.
Another thing to consider is whether the regulator screws or clips on to the gas canister. Depending on the gas canisters you buy, you will need the regulator to have a compatible connection.
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