Find out exactly how to choose the best BBQ for you.
Barbecues are part and parcel of being an Aussie. Whether you’re a meat-eater or vegetarian, everything tastes even more mouth-wateringly delicious when it’s been cooked on a BBQ! But, with so many barbecue options out there, it can be hard to know which one is perfectly catered to all of your barbecuing needs. Whether your concern is cost, size or fuel type, we’ve compiled some important info to help you on your quest to finding the barbecue that’s right for you.
How to choose the best BBQ for you
With so many brands and specifications on offer, choosing the perfect outdoor cooking station can seem impossible. Weber and BeefEater dominate the market as the highest-ranking Aussie barbeque brands, but can anything else measure up?
Things to take into consideration when you’re buying your barbeque are:
- How much outdoor space can you spare for your barbeque station?
- How many people do you (normally) need to cater for?
- Taste! Do you prefer smoky and classic barbeque flavours, or just enjoy cooking outdoors?
- What’s your budget?
Barbeques come in all shapes and sizes so let's probe further.
What size BBQ should I buy? How much can I expect to pay?
If you’re lucky enough to have a huge outdoor area and usually entertain the masses, you’ll be best placed opting for one of the extra large BBQs that are available. You can pick up a decent barbeque with 5-6 burners for anywhere between $800 and $4,000, so whatever your budget, you’ll be able to find something that suits your needs.
If you regularly entertain family (as opposed to huge crowds) and have ample outdoor space, then a large barbeque could be the choice that’s right for you. Large BBQs usually have 3-4 burners and you can purchase one for between $300 and $2,000.
Don’t be dismayed if your outdoor space is a little more compact. It’s possible to find smaller BBQs suited to couples and families with restricted outdoor space. You can expect to pay in the region of $200 - $800 for a barbeque that would suit your needs. The only downside would be having to cook in small batches when entertaining a larger crowd.
No outdoor space? Not an issue. If you live in an apartment with minimal or no outdoor space, and the only time you get strike up a BBQ is when you’re on a camping trip or down at the beach, that’s not a problem either. Many barbeque have manufacturers met your needs with portable models.
So, in conclusion, there are styles and sizes that suit all.
What should I look for when buying a BBQ? Features explained:
There are many specifications and features to consider before deciding which barbeque would be the one that’s perfectly suited to your lifestyle. Don’t worry, we’ll take you through them step by step so that you can fully understand the choices before you buy.
The first thing to consider is whether you would like a built-in, portable or freestanding barbeque. If you have outdoor space that is large enough to accommodate a built-in barbeque and would make frequent enough use of this investment, then built-in would definitely be an excellent choice. Portable BBQs are ideal for spur of the moment grilling impulses, and perfect when camping or day tripping to a beach. Freestanding barbeques are ideal for mobility. If the wind changes and you’re guests are being smoked out, or if you would prefer to store your BBQ indoors throughout the winter, then this would be the best option for you.
- Grill hotplate ratios
Barbeque experts strongly suggest a grill to hotplate ratio of 50:50. As such, a larger scale BBQ will give you the space to accommodate this. It is important to point out that most experts recommend stainless steel over cast iron hotplates as they’re much less likely to buckle under extreme temperatures. They’re also less susceptible to corrosion which is an important issue if you live by the coast.
- Ignition variations
Some barbeques have an electric ignition, whilst others use piezo. Electronic ignitions use a battery to create a spark. With piezo, you are required to press a button to generate the spark that will ignite the gas.
- Controls and temperature gauges
When shopping for your barbeque, clearly labelled controls with defined high and low settings are a blessing. Some of the newest releases even have temperature gauges that enable cooking outside with the ease of a conventional indoor oven.
- BBQ hoods
The perfect hood should have an acceptable resistance that prevents accidental closure, but doesn’t restrict your ability to open it. Look for double-skin hoods, especially if you have small children, as they reduce the external temperature of the barbeque.
- BBQ exterior
Exterior finishes vary and can include vitreous enamel, painted surfaces and stainless steel. Painted finishes are the cheapest and likely to become damaged or worn over time. Vitreous enamel is tougher which helps it to maintain its cosmetic appeal. Stainless steel is also highly enduring but discolouration from heat can occur and rusting can present an issue.
Most of the large BBQ models currently on the market have room enough for a rotisserie. An electric rotisserie can be a useful feature as it consistently turns your meat so that you don’t have to. The result: Perfect, evenly prepared meat every time!
Side burners are often included on larger barbeque models. They offer an additional burner, which can be handy for stir fries, softening onions or browning mouthwatering cobs of corn.
Some barbeque even come ready equipped with condiments and spice storage to help make seasoning your meal even easier.
Some barbeques are sold already equipped with trolleys, which is great for mobility. You can position your cook station wherever you please in your garden, which can be ideal when entertaining younger guests as it gives you the freedom to move it out of harm’s way. When shopping for a barbeque trolley, we’d recommend opting for four wheels over two. This is because most BBQs are extremely heavy. A four-wheel barbeque minimises or eradicates the need for lifting. If you do opt for two wheels, be sure to test the weight out beforehand.
Some barbeques offer large side trays which are attractive as they can be useful for placing food and cooking utensils down. Make sure the fat catcher is easy to remove and replace for cleaning. Ensure you inspect the barbeque interior, as minor nooks and crannies can cause dirt and fat to build up. A curved interior is always best as it navigates fat to the drip tray and makes cleaning and maintaining your barbeque much easier.
Best BBQ for...
With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to know what to go for. We’ve had an in depth look at what works best in different scenarios to save you time and effort that would be better spent barbequing instead of barbeque shopping!
Best BBQ for camping
The Weber Go Anywhere BBQ is currently trending as the best barbeque for camping trips with family or friends. It retails at $129.95 and offers perfect portability. It’s got legs that fold up to hold the lid in place and a glass and reinforced nylon handle that make transporting it easy. It’s porcelain-enamelled finish prevents rust and makes cleaning easy too. It also features no-rust aluminium vents for ease of temperature control.
Best BBQ for balcony
Before investing in your new barbeque, it’s important to check the bylaws and any leasing restrictions. Many apartment blocks do have limits on barbeque use and as a result some provide gas BBQs in communal areas. Your balcony must be open and well ventilated, and if your balcony is enclosed, barbequing is prohibited under all circumstances. It’s also worth noting that when barbequing on balconies you are restricted to a 9kg gas bottle. It would be best opting for a nice compact BBQ like the Weber Genesis II E-210. It’s a two-burner gas grill that’s perfect for small spaces, especially as the left side table folds away when not needed. Its stainless steel side workspaces even feature integrated hanging storage hooks for your BBQing utensils.
Best BBQ for outdoor kitchen
If you’re looking for a fully functional outdoor kitchen, opposed to just a barbeque, you might want to check out the Masport Ambassador Outdoor Clovelly Kitchen. It comes in at around $5,695 and is comprised of three units: a BBQ; a double door fridge and a sink; and caters to all of the needs of a budding outdoor chef. Prep, cook, serve and clean up all at the same station.
Best BBQ for steaks
BeefEater barbeques cook steaks to perfection. They position their burners closer to the underside of the grill bars which offers quicker sealing of the meat that locks in all of those mouth-watering juices. Their temperature controls are easy to use and clearly marked so that you can accommodate your friends and family – however they like their meat cooked. Have a look at the BeefEater Discovery 1100E 4 Burner.
Best BBQ for beginners
If you’re a barbeque novice then you’ll want something simple and self-explanatory to ease your way into the Aussie outdoor cooking experience. First you’ll need to decide whether your preference would be cook on coals or on gas. Gas barbeques are easy to use as they have many of the features you’ll be used to with your conventional indoor oven. They’re perfect for entertaining and offer the opportunity to prep and dine in open air. If you’ll longing to cook on coals for that signature smoky flavour, then you’ll be best placed opting for a Weber Kettle One Touch Gold. This comes in at just under $500 and has a high quality ash catcher to prevent unwanted ash blowing about your garden. It also features a large removable aluminium drip tray to catch fat drippings for easy cleaning, and comes with a 10 year manufacturer warranty.
What about charcoal BBQs?
If you’re not completely sold on gas barbeques, or prefer that authentic smoky barbeque taste, then there are other options available. Coal or lumpwood are other popular barbeque fuels that can offer the flavour you’re looking for.
If you're searching for a charcoal or kettle barbeque, then most models will suffice. You simply need a container for the coals or lumpwood, a cooking grill and a lid. But you do need to ensure the ventilation is easily accessible and movable as this controls the airflow which in turn controls the cooking temperature. There are also variations available that include a combination of flat hot plate with classic grill. Another thing to watch out for is the handle on the lid. It should stay cool to the touch even when the BBQ’s blazing. As with the gas barbeques, wheels will aid mobility.
Landmann Black Pearl Kettle can be purchased for under $300, which is extremely reasonable. Another viable option is the Napoleon Rodeo Pro. For under $600 you can bag this bargain which offers a 57cm cook space diameter on a cart with a handy side table feature that can be useful for putting down food and cooking utensils.
Pro Smoke Lumpwood Charcoal can be purchased for approximately $60 for 15 kg.
How do BBQ smokers work?
Smokers are becoming increasingly popular amongst Aussies and are now available in a wide variety that cater to different cooking needs. You can get electric smokers, charcoal smokers and gas smokers. Offset smokers use charcoal for heat and wood to create that distinctively delicious, wood smoked taste by offsetting the heat from the main cooking chamber and circulating the heat and smoke around your meat prior to it billowing out of the flue. Many people now believe that true barbequing requires the use of a smoker. The theory behind barbeque smoker cooking is low and slow which means that the food will be thoroughly cooked but the low heat prevents the food from drying out. Slow means anything from 90 minutes to 24 hours. In principle all barbeque smokers work the same way. The food is placed on a cooking rack away from direct heat. Wood is burned to create the smoke that flows around and flavours the food, while the indirect heat cooks it. You can pick up an awesome smoker for approximately $1,200.
Price and specifications comparison:
|Model||Price||Dimensions (w x h x d)||Fuel Type||Style|
|Ziegler & Brown Classic 6 Burner||$3,199||2190 x 1180 x 730mm||LPG||Freestanding|
|Cordon Bleu 6B on cart with SB and shelf||$1,799||2023 x 1775 x 660mm||LPG||Freestanding|
|Premium Beefmaster 6 Burner||$1,099||1858 x 1205 x 636mm||LPG||Freestanding|
|Flaming Coals Offset Smoker||$1,195||1690 x 500mm||Coal or wood||Smoker|
|Weber Go Anywhere||$129.95||530 x 370 x 310mm||Coal||Portable BBQ|
|Masport Ambassador Outdoor Kitchen||$5,695||3258mm in total width||LPG||Freestanding Outdoor Kitchen|
|Beefeater Discovery 1100E 4 Burner||$1,335||1570 x 1420 x 600mm||LPG||Freestanding|
|Weber Kettle One Touch Gold||$499||978 x 582 x 676mm||LPG||Freestanding|