From Democracy Snags on Election Day, to family get-togethers on Christmas, or just a laid-back visit from your friends on the weekend, the barbie is truly an Aussie tradition. And it’s not just about the food or beer, it brings people closer, nurturing old relationships, and creating new ones. You’ll find a barbecue grill of any type in all Australian backyards or balconies, that’s how much we love them.
In case you missed all the fun, we’ll help you choose the barbecue grill that’s best for you. Depending on the food you like, how you like it, the number of mouths to feed, and the space you’re willing to give to your new barbecue, we’ll provide you with all the necessities, so you can make an informed decision when buying.
Barbecue grills come in all shapes and sizes, from generally small electric barbies to the popular round-shaped charcoal-fired units, all the way to the large freestanding gas barbecue grills. Each has its benefits and downsides.
Electric Barbecue Grills
Electric grills are gaining in popularity, especially as more and more Aussies move away from houses, and into small units. Electric grills are easy to use, just plug into the nearest socket, turn the knob to your desired temperature, and you’re ready to get grilling. Depending on how much you spend, they come with stainless steel or cast iron grill plates. They heat up quicker than other grills and provide a hassle-free experience. Most electric grills are relatively small, cheap to buy and widely available.
The downsides are a matter of taste. You don’t get that smoky flavour you typically associate with a barbeque. Though often seen as the healthier choice, this might be a dealbreaker for some people. Also, the cords or the rising power costs nowadays might also change your mind.
Crossover variants, that are quite larger, although a bit more expensive are electric smokers. They combine the ‘genuine’ barbecue taste of traditional charcoal barbies with a set-and-forget convenience. Simply load your wood chips, stack the food on the stainless steel racks, set your temperature and cooking time, and start grilling. As easy as using an oven.
Charcoal Barbecue Grills
Charcoal grills are often seen as the traditionalist’s choice when it comes to barbecues. If you like slowly seared, tender meats, with a smoky flavour, then this is the grill for you. They are cheap to buy and easy to find.
There are some downsides though. Getting the best results here is an art form. Charcoal grills take longer to start grilling, the charcoal needs to burn to reach the desired temperature and the billowing smoke might get you in trouble with your neighbours. If you’ve got the space though, this shouldn’t be an issue. Additionally, since they don’t have an on/off switch you’ll be constantly feeding it charcoal until all the food is done.
Gas Barbecue Grills
Gas grills provide the best of both worlds, the ease of use and quick start-up of electric grills, and the flavours of traditional charcoal grills. Gas BBQs are powered by natural gas, convenient if you have a gas line to your home, or propane canisters, for smaller, more portable units. Like their electric and charcoal cousins, they too have their pros and cons.
If you’re catering for an occasion where a larger number of people are present, say birthdays, a gas grill can cover all the bases. From smaller grills with a two-burner setup to the largest grill with six burners, you can be sure that everyone will have their dishes done at the same time. Such barbies though require a ton of space, not to mention the cost. Enthusiasts willing to splurge will want additional floor space for complete packages, that add sinks, bar fridges, additional storage modules, you name it. All dressed up in posh stainless steel. You can find souped-up models from a number of manufacturers, tending to your every need.
The wide range of gas grill models sold today adds to their versatility. You can buy built-in models that fit in your desired nook or free-standing grills that create their own surroundings. There are also portable gas grills, ideal for camping trips.
And now for that accessory list. Want wood-fired pizza? Get a pizza tray. Want that smoky charcoal taste? Just add a smoke box, wood chips, and a charcoal tray. Need those bigger meat chunks well done on all sides? Get a complete rotisserie kit. Many gas grills come with built-in IR burners for slow searing, giving food extra flavour. And different sets of grill racks to prepare different cuts of meat and veg. Basically, any food, prepared just how you like it.
Gas barbecue grills do, however, have their downsides. We mentioned size and cost, but as with everything, you get what you pay for. Larger grills need a natural gas lead, something to check before parting with your cash. Also, propane canisters in portable grills can leak, so be especially careful here.
Compared to electric and charcoal-fired grills, gas grills are larger, not portable if attached to a gas line, and often more expensive. They do however, give you the flexibility to grill larger amounts of food quickly, and to your liking.
Shopping for a Barbecue Grill
So which grill is right for you? It all depends on what you want and need. If you tend to do the odd barbie, for a few people at a time, and also happen to live in a flat, then go for an electric grill. They take up little space, fire up quickly, are easy to use and give off almost no smoke.
If you’re a true believer in that smoky taste, maybe a charcoal grill is what you want, Just stock up on extra charcoal. Having friendly neighbours also helps.
But for the ultimate barbecue experience, nothing beats a fully-kitted gas grill. A bit expensive, true, but an investment worth having.
You can find cheap electric and charcoal models in department stores, with additional accessories. Stores selling outdoor and camping gear tend to sell slightly more expensive branded grills. And for gas grills, your safest bet is specialised stores selling a complete range of outdoor furniture and kitchens.