When it comes time to buy a new barbecue, every weekend-entertaining warrior dreams of a monstrous meat-beast: 14 burners, a grill big enough to cook a water buffalo and a shed worth of stainless steel.
However, when reality ultimately takes hold, you have three important factors to consider when choosing your next barbecue:
How much money do I want to spend? How big is my entertaining area? How many people will I be barbecuing for (most of the time)?
A moveable feast
A portable barbecue could be ideal for an impromptu get-together on the veranda or a weekend camping getaway, and while many of these use charcoal or other solid fuel, a range of gas options are becoming available.
Compact barbecues, such as the Weber Q and Ziegler & Brown range, are becoming increasingly popular and offer all the features of the larger style four-burners, such as a hood, char-grill plate, solid hotplate and accommodate cooking for around four to six people at once.
Many models also have side tables that fold up to save space when not in use.
Small barbecues often come in one or two boxes and are mostly pre-assembled. Usually, all that’s required is a simple unpacking of the barbecue and placing it on the trolley.
A smaller barbie means you may have to cook in batches when you have guests over.
When you need to satisfy a horde of hungry family members or friends, a large barbecue is hard to beat.
But the backyard real estate it’ll take up, the price and the cleaning effort involved are things to keep in mind.
Large barbecues may also require significant construction and have many heavy parts. Some retailers provide delivery of the barbecue fully assembled for a fee; if that cost is anywhere under $100, it would be wise to take up the offer and enjoy your weekend cooking on the new barbecue, rather than building it.
Small barbecues range from just under $200 to around $800. For the higher prices, you should expect to get extra features such as electronic gas ignition, fold-out side tables and more solid construction.
Large barbecues, with three or more burners, come in a range of prices from under $300 to more than $2,000. Testing has found the cooking performance for some of the cheaper models can be surprisingly good, even when compared to the expensive models.
But there’s a range of different features that can account for a hefty price tag, and you may find the bargain barbecue won’t last as long as a pricier model.
Next instalment: in Part Two of ‘Choosing the Right-sized Barbecue’, we go into greater detail about the types and features of barbecues on offer.