BBQ Finder: Discover the essential ingredients for the perfect outdoor cook up

We’ll show you how to compare BBQs so that you can cook up a storm in the great outdoors.

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Key facts about comparing BBQs

  • While we usually think of summer as the best time of year for some outdoor cooking, a BBQ can be a handy addition to your collection of cooking appliances all year round.
  • If you're searching for a new barbecue, the key decision you'll need to make is whether you want a gas, electric or charcoal model.
  • You'll also need to think about the size of the cooking surface, its portability and ease of use before you buy.
  • Prices range from $100 for entry-level models up to a few-thousand for top-end options.

Keep reading to find out all about the key specs you need to know to compare barbecues.

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What types are available?

Before you can decide on the best BBQ for your needs, you'll need to think about the type of BBQ you want. There are three main options to choose from:

  • Gas BBQs. The most popular option in Australia, gas barbecues are a versatile and easy-to-use choice. They offer precise temperature control, fast cooking, come in a wide range of sizes, and are energy efficient. Four-burner models are the most common, but you'll also find two-, three-, five- and six-burner options available. If you don't have a gas connection, the main hassle with gas models is the minor inconvenience of swapping or refilling your gas bottle when it runs empty. Check out our gas barbecue buying guide for more information.
  • Electric BBQs. Electric barbecues are a super-convenient option for home cooks — just plug your BBQ in, select your desired heat and away you go. They're generally easy to clean and maintain, portable and compact, and there's no need to worry about running out of gas at the worst possible time. However, you'll obviously need to be near a power point, while some people prefer the taste of food cooked over an open flame. Check out our electric BBQ buying guide for more information.
  • Charcoal BBQs. If you're searching for a barbecue that can produce juicy, tender and smoky meat, you might want to consider a charcoal grill. They're a great option if you love the smoky flavor and experimenting with different cuts, but they take longer to heat up and getting the temperature just right can take some practice. You'll also need to ensure that you have adequate ventilation.

How to compare BBQs

Ready to compare BBQs? Consider the following factors to ensure that you find the best BBQ for your outdoor cooking needs.

Cooking surface

The first thing you’ll need to consider is the size of the cooking surface — is there enough room to fit all those sausages, steaks, kebabs and other delicious barbecue goodies? But it’s also important to check whether the BBQ features both a grill and a hotplate, or just a hotplate. If it includes both, what’s the ratio between the two and will this suit your style of cooking?

Size

Next, you'll need to make sure the barbecue will be the right size for your outdoor area. Will it fit comfortably and without completely dominating the space?

Hood/lid

Consider how easy the BBQ will be to use regularly. What sort of ignition does it have? Are all controls within reach and clearly labelled? Is there a temperature gauge?

It's also a good idea to check reviews from other customers to find out if there are any common issues they have come across while cooking on the barbecue.

Ease of use

Consider how easy the BBQ will be to use regularly. What sort of ignition does it have? Are all controls within reach and clearly labelled? Is there a temperature gauge?

It's also a good idea to check reviews from other customers to find out if there are any common issues they have come across while cooking on the barbecue.

Ease of cleaning

Check whether the BBQ will be simple to keep clean. For example, are there any cracks or crevices where excess grease may build up? Is there an easily removable drip tray? Some models even have grill plates that are dishwasher safe, so you may want to look for this feature too.

Portability

Planning on taking your BBQ with you on picnics and camping trips? Look for a model that's lightweight, compact and has carry handles for easy transportation.

Freestanding vs built-in

For most outdoor spaces, a freestanding BBQ is the best choice. These models are easy to move around your patio when needed, and you can take them with you if you ever move house.

But if you've got more space and a bigger budget, and if you're not planning on moving any time soon, a built-in barbecue is another option worth considering. These models become a permanent feature of your outdoor entertaining area, and allow you to install a full outdoor kitchen setup if you love cooking alfresco.

Price

Your budget will also play a part in determining which BBQ you choose. If you're looking for a gas barbecue, most models fit somewhere in the $100-$1,200 price range, but some high-end models and large outdoor kitchen-style arrangements can push the price up even higher. Electric BBQs generally fall in the $150-$700 range, while entry-level charcoal barbecues start at less than $100.

Warranty

Check the warranty card to find out the length of the BBQ warranty and what it covers.

BBQ accessories and other features

The list of accessories and extras you can get with a barbecue is a long one. Some of these features come as standard inclusions on some models, while others are available for an added cost.

Options include:

  • Side burners and wok burners
  • Roasting, smoking and rotisserie racks
  • Racks to keep already-cooked food warm until it's time to eat
  • Fish grillers
  • Pizza ovens
  • Breakfast plates
  • Built-in lighting for increased visibility
  • Built-in thermometer
  • Storage cabinets and bench space for food preparation

3 things to consider

There are a few other factors you should consider before you start shopping for your new BBQ:

  • Some assembly required. Depending on the model you choose, you may need to assemble the barbecue yourself. If that's the case, it's worth checking what's involved in the assembly process and how easy the instructions are to follow before you buy. Alternatively, you might like to buy from a retailer that can assemble your BBQ for you.
  • Size matters. It's crucial to consider your BBQ cooking needs before you buy. If you've only got a small balcony, or if you only very occasionally do some al fresco cooking, a big four-burner barbecue will probably be overkill. An electric BBQ is often a good choice if you're short on space.
  • Maintaining your BBQ. No matter what sort of barbecue you choose, cleaning it after every use is not only hygienic but will also help it last longer. After scraping away food debris, you can turn your BBQ on to burn away excess grease, then let it cool down before using a dedicated BBQ cleaning product to scrub away any remaining grease. A good-quality barbecue cover will also protect your BBQ from the elements, potentially extending its lifespan and keeping it looking good.

Ready to start shopping? You might like to check out our guide to the best BBQs first.

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