Grills and barbecues buying guide
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING GRILLS AND BARBECUES
- Barbecues with cast-iron grill bars and wide grill bars (not spaced wide apart) do the best job of searing food.
- Grills with porcelain, enamel or steel coatings that have been baked on, not merely sprayed on, provide excellent heat retention, prevent rusting, peeling and fading and are easier to clean
- The sturdiest grill or barbecue models are those that have been pre-assembled and welded together
- Heavy, tight-fitting lids are necessary to prevent untoward accidents
- Wheels or castors are convenient if you expect to be moving your grill around a lot
- Gas grills or barbecues are the most commonly-used kind
- Burners are the most-used and most-replaced parts of a gas barbecue
- Charcoal models are the cheapest and simplest of grills
- Electric grills provide all-weather indoor use
- If you can't afford a good quality gas grill, go for a good quality charcoal grill instead of settling for a lower-standard gas grill
Barbecues are always fun outdoor activities that everyone can enjoy, whether it's at the beach, a park or your own backyard. The most important item in any successful barbecue is, of course, the actual grill or barbecue. The best grills and barbecues are made for heavy-duty use from materials that will withstand extremely high temperatures and all kinds of weather conditions, such as cast iron, nickel-plated or stainless steel.
We carry a selection of top-rated grills and barbecues, from solid grills to smaller, portable barbecues, as well as a wide range of excellent quality BBQ tools and accessories. These products are all backed by manufacturer warranties plus our 30 day money back guarantee.
There are three main types of grills and barbecues, but the most important things you should look for when buying any kind of grill are similar. Keep in mind that for any grill, proper maintenance is necessary to prolong its life and save you on further expenses.
The main considerations in buying a barbecue are how often you'll be using it, how many you'll be regularly cooking for, and the storage space you have available. If you'll be having cookouts and backyard parties often, invest in a large, solid grill that is capable of cooking in bulk. Otherwise, go for smaller, more portable grills that you can easily store when not in use. Also, take a look at the availability of replacement parts for the grill or barbecue you want to buy, and check on warranties. A five-year warranty on charcoal grills and ten years on gas barbecues are more than sufficient.
Barbecues with cast-iron grill bars and wide grill bars (not spaced wide apart) do the best job of searing food. Grills with porcelain, enamel or steel coatings that have been baked on, not merely sprayed on, provide excellent heat retention, prevent rusting, peeling and fading and are easier to clean. Cast-iron hotplates and grates, while built to last, are more prone to rust, so enamel or stainless steel is more recommended for humid areas or places near the beach.
The sturdiest grill or barbecue models are those that have been pre-assembled and welded together. The fewer number of parts you have to assemble, the less hassle you'll encounter and the more years of use you're likely to get out of your barbecue. Many stores can pre-assemble grills and barbecues for you, which is the safest option, or you can choose to do this yourself at home.
Modern barbecues come with a host of features to help make grilling more efficient. If you're doing a lot of cooking, a model that's half grill and half hotplate will be useful for simultaneous cooking of different kinds of food. Heavy, tight-fitting lids are necessary to prevent untoward accidents, and check that lids open wide enough to direct smoke away from your face when cooking. Side burners are an added bonus, but are not a must. Side shelves, on the other hand, are practical for holding plates, condiments and utensils. A drip tray makes for easy clean-up after cooking, and cool-touch handles like wood, silicone or plastic will protect your hands from burns. For your convenience, grills or barbecues should have controls that are clearly labelled, easy to grip or turn and are visible. Etched markings are better than painted ones as these won't wear off or fade.
Wheels or castors are convenient if you expect to be moving your grill around a lot. Metal or stainless steel trolleys are sturdy, but need regular maintenance to prevent rusting. Locking wheels are a good idea to keep your barbecue from rolling around during strong winds or on uneven surfaces.
Types of Grills & Barbecues
The three main types of grills are charcoal, gas and electric. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, but the general rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for. Inexpensive grills are prone to malfunctions and damage, and may even cause accidents. You may shell out more for high-quality grills or barbecues, but they are sound investments. Expert opinions agree that if you can't afford a good quality gas grill, go for a good quality charcoal grill instead of settling for a lower-standard gas grill.
Gas grills or barbecues are the most commonly-used kind. These barbecues make use of burners fuelled by propane or natural gas to cook food, with artificial briquettes or lava rocks underneath to produce that classic barbecue flavour. While gas grills produce less heat than charcoal grills, they are easier to handle, provide greater cooking control and take less time to prepare and use. Gas grills use BTU (British Thermal Unit) to indicate how much gas a grill can burn, but keep in mind that this is not a measure of a barbecue's cooking power. A higher BTU does not necessarily mean a better grill. BTUs between 35,000 – 62,500 should be enough.
Gas grills are divided into two categories: propane and natural gas grills. Propane barbecues are the more popular of the two, being more portable, safer and easily available. These models make use of propane tanks to fire up the grill. Natural gas grills make use of gas lines, and while costlier, they are open to an endless supply of gas and save money in the long run from having to buy propane tanks. Natural gas grills need to be installed by a licensed professional, along with ventilation.
For those who already have a propane grill and want to turn it into a natural gas grill, there are convertible grill kits that will allow you to do just that. These kits are effective and cheaper than having to buy a new barbecue, but remember to have a professional install your converted gas grill for you.
Gas grills and barbecues come with a variety of features and options. For gas grills, the most important features are the burners. Burners are the most-used and most-replaced parts of a gas barbecue. Dual heat control or double burners are very useful, as these allow for even cooking. For best results however, consider grills with three or more independent burners – they provide more accurate control and heating, and are less likely to flare up. Because gas grills don't produce as much heat as charcoal ones, check that the burners are close to the grills for faster cooking.
Other features that are useful but are not necessary are dripping trays to make clean-up easier, a flare-up prevention system to avoid accidents, rotisseries for roasting, warming racks and built-in thermometers.
Charcoal grills or barbecues are the traditional means of barbecuing. These use charcoal briquettes (blocks made from compressed charcoal, sawdust, wood chips) or charcoal chunks to cook. Charcoal models are the cheapest and simplest of grills. More time and effort is required to properly prep a charcoal grill and it takes longer for charcoal to heat up and cook food. But a charcoal grill gives that authentic, smoky flavour that most people look for in barbecues.
There are many different kinds of charcoal grills or barbecues, ranging from the smaller, Japanese-style hibachi to bigger, uncovered barbecues called braziers. Most portable models are those that use charcoal, making them ideal to take camping or on beach outings. If you host barbecues for large groups however, a large kettle-type grill with a tight-fitting lid is a good option.
When buying a charcoal grill, check that it is made out of solid, heavy-grade metal like stainless steel or cast iron. Sturdy, stable legs or a large base will keep the barbecue from toppling over or moving around when in use. For faster clean-up, some grills come with removable trays for the easy disposal of ashes while others have built-in fans to divert smoke away while cooking.
If you want to grill but enjoy the convenience of cooking indoors, electric grills are your best bet. Electric grills are the easiest kind of barbecues to operate: simply plug and cook. These make use of removable, artificial briquettes and are able to cook many different kinds of food not limited to regular barbecues, such as pancakes or sautéed vegetables. Electric grills provide all-weather indoor use and come in a variety of sizes. Larger electric barbecues can be used outdoors while tabletop models are ideal for small living spaces.
No barbecue can be complete without the right tools and accessories to get the job done. While there are many tools and accessories you can use, here are the most basic you'll need.
- Grill Topper — a mesh screen or a metal sheet for grilling seafood, vegetables or other delicate foods that might otherwise fall through wider grates
- Grilling Basket — baskets with long handles for holding whole fish, fillets and other foods that allow you to quickly turn and cook them
- Corn Grill — specialised frame for holding and grilling corn on the cob
- BBQ Grill Sheets — use for grilling marinated foods for easy cleaning of your grill
- Tongs — most practical tool for barbecues as tongs don't pierce foods; should have a heatproof handle, rounded edges and large ends for secure gripping
- Basting Brush — for basting foods while on the grill; should have a heatproof handle and be long enough to prevent singeing your fingers/hands; natural bristles are more heat-proof than synthetic ones
- Spatula — for flippings burgers or moving food around on a hot plate; should have a heatproof handle
- Skewers — for kebabs; skewers with flat shafts are less likely to roll or slip while cooking
- — for kebabs; skewers with flat shafts are less likely to roll or slip while cooking
- Thermometer — separate thermometers are generally more reliable than built-in ones; especially useful for rotisseries; insert into food for instant reading
- Mitts and Apron — to protect your fingers, hands and clothes from heat, splatters, stains, spills and general cooking messes; specialised grilling mitts are longer and more insulated
- Grill Cleaner — for scraping, scouring and cleaning your grill after use; heavy-duty brass-bristled brushes do the best job of scrubbing a grill
With all this information at your disposal, we're confident that you'll be able to find a grill or barbecue that you can enjoy wherever and whenever you want. Hop into a car, we would suggest to hire a nice convertible from Sixt Car Rental, and drive to the beach for fun with friends or organise a cook-out contest with neighbours, then get ready to show off your barbecuing prowess using your new grill!