15 January 2024
13 min read
The process of choosing the perfect BBQ grill is influenced by several factors. Preferences vary widely; some people favour the convenience of gas grills, while others are drawn to the unique smoky flavour offered by charcoal grills. Whether you're looking for something compact and portable or a larger grill for bigger events, there's a range of grills to suit different lifestyles and needs.
Propane BBQ grills, also known as LPG grills, are a popular choice for outdoor cooking in Australia. They heat up quickly, are simple to operate, and offer precise control over the cooking temperature. Available in various sizes and with a range of features, there’s a propane BBQ grill to suit every budget. These grills are ideal for those who need a quick and easy option for meal preparation and they're also easy to maintain.
However, it's important to note that propane gas grills don't produce the classic smoky flavour that many BBQ enthusiasts look for.
Propane BBQ grills can range in price widely, typically from $50 - $1000+ for a high-end model.
Natural gas grills, which typically connect to your home's natural gas supply, are a practical and economical choice for grilling. They are often preferred for their cost-efficiency and the convenience of not needing refillable LPG tanks. These grills boast features similar to propane grills, such as quick lighting, fast heating, precise temperature control, and ease of maintenance. These grills are widely popular, offering a broad selection for consumers.
However, much like propane grills, natural gas grills do not naturally infuse a smoky flavour into the food. To achieve this desired taste, one can use a smoker box within the grill.
Natural gas BBQs can range in price from $300 - $1000+, some miniature models can be slightly below this pricing, while high-end models can increase in price, particularly if purchasing add-ons are involved.
Charcoal grills are favoured by BBQ enthusiasts who cherish the rich, smoky flavour that charcoal briquettes infuse into the meat. These grills are economical and functional, and their high heat is ideal for searing steaks. The smell of charcoal also adds to the atmosphere of an occasion, an aspect that should not be underestimated.
The primary drawback of charcoal grills is their longer heating time compared to gas or electric grills — it can take up to 45 minutes. However, many people believe the wait is well worth it for the flavour. There's also a bit more cleaning involved, such as removing ashes after the season has ended.
Charcoal BBQ grills can range in price from around $30 up to $1000+ for a high-end model
Originating from Japan, Kamado grills are egg or dome-shaped grills that use charcoal to generate heat. Its shape allows for excellent heat circulation, and its ceramic construction maintains heat and cooks food evenly. Kamado grills, known for their versatility, are great for grilling, roasting and even baking. They also look great with their unique shape that draws on both modern and traditional aesthetics.
Like many charcoal-based grills, Kamado grills require a longer period to reach the desired temperature and also take time to cool down post-use.
Kamado grills as a specialist type of BBQ grill range in price from $2000 - $4000+.
Pellet grills operate on compressed wood pellets, a unique blend of the attributes of both gas and charcoal grills. They feature an electric ignition for easy start-up and a control panel for swift temperature adjustments. These grills produce both heat and smoke, allowing for cooking meat while simultaneously infusing it with various flavours derived from different wood pellets such as hickory, cherry, pecan, mesquite, and apple.
Regarded as a modern BBQ choice, pellet grills generally have a higher price point due to their specialised technology. Most models need electricity to power the pellet feeder and digital controls, which makes them less suitable for portable applications.
Pellet grills can range in price from $750 - $4000+.
Perfect for camping excursions, tailgate parties, or picnics in the park, portable grills (also referred to as portable BBQs) operate using LPG tanks, making them highly versatile and mobile. They also serve as an ideal solution for individuals who relish grilling but reside in flats or condominiums with restricted outdoor areas, such as compact patios or balconies.
Often called table BBQ grills, these portable models are characterised by their lightweight design, ease of storage, and durable construction for prolonged use. However, one limitation is their smaller grilling area, which may not be suitable for catering to large groups.
There are portable BBQs available to suit almost every budget. Prices range from around $50 for a budget choice, all the way to $600+ for high-end options.
Hibachi, translating to "fire bowl," describes the distinctive cylindrical or bowl-shaped design of these grills. They are open-topped and crafted to use charcoal or wood as the heat source. The design of the hibachi allows for the grill grate to be adjusted in height, giving you control over the proximity of the food to the flames. This feature makes hibachis particularly well-suited for grilling thin cuts of meat, skewers, or satay sticks.
Compact and budget-friendly, hibachi grills are valued for their unique design and functionality. However, their specific use and size might not be ideal for everyone's needs. They offer a specific grilling experience that is appreciated by many but may not be versatile enough for all types of grilling preferences.
Hibachi grills can range in price $100 - $500+.
A 55-gallon steel drum BBQ grill is precisely as it sounds—a sizable steel drum loaded with lump charcoal, boasting a substantial cooking area for grilling meat. These grills are often crafted as a DIY project, yet due to their rising popularity, they are also readily available for purchase, fully assembled and ready for use. While these BBQs carry a distinct American influence, they are becoming increasingly popular in Australia.
The expansive grilling surface of these steel drum grills makes them superb for preparing larger cuts of meat or accommodating sizeable quantities, ideal for hosting big gatherings. They are frequently seen at events featuring Southern-style BBQs and are a common sight in competitive grilling arenas.
Most 55-Gallon steel drum grills are priced at $1000+ .
Electric grills (also known as electric BBQs) aptly suited for apartment living or areas where open flames are a no-go, offer a straightforward and convenient grilling solution. They are incredibly user-friendly, requiring minimal fuss in setting up, and are perfectly adaptable for indoor use or on smaller balconies. While these grills might not deliver the traditional smoky flavour that is the hallmark of their charcoal or wood counterparts, they more than make up for it in convenience.
Electric grills heat up swiftly, facilitating a quick and effortless grilling experience. This makes them particularly appealing for those who value speed and ease in their cooking process. Their also compact and space-efficient design is a boon for those who are challenged by limited storage space. For city dwellers or anyone looking for a no-frills, efficient grilling option, the electric grill is an ideal choice.
Electric BBQ grills are available for a range of budgets with pricing ranging from $50 to $1000+.
A charcoal and gas combination grill presents an ideal blend of two BBQ styles. You have the option of the classic smoky sear and flavour that comes with a charcoal grill, or the convenience and even heating of a gas grill - or you can utilise both simultaneously.
Many charcoal/gas combo grills feature a dual-sided design, with one side powered by propane tanks or natural gas, and the other designed for charcoal. However, it's worth noting that these combination grills often necessitate an extensive and intricate assembly process, and they are frequently integrated into sizeable outdoor kitchen setups.
Gas and charcoal combination grills typically start at around $200, while high-end luxury choices can cost several thousand dollars.
Whilst some charcoal and pellet grills, are utilised for smoking meat, true connoisseurs of meat smoking often opt for a separate smoker.
Smokers are powered by charcoal, propane or electricity, and the inclusion of wood chips or pellets is customary to impart a rich depth of flavour to your smoked meats. Certain smokers are equipped with electric temperature controls and preset cooking times, which are particularly useful for prolonged smoking periods that can last up to 24 hours for some cuts of meat.
Mastering the art of smoking meat requires some experimentation and practice, but once you refine your techniques and savour the results, it's likely you'll be an enthusiast for life.
Smokers can range in price from around $1000 - $8000+.
An infrared grill operates using a distinct method compared to conventional BBQ grills. It employs an infrared element between the grates and the flame. When the grill is lit, the gas heats the infrared element, which then radiates intense heat to the food. This method minimises hot air flow, which can dry out food, and instead uses radiant heat for cooking.
This technology allows infrared grills to reach higher temperatures much faster than traditional grills, often exceeding 371°C (700°F). This high heat is excellent for searing meats quickly, locking in juices and flavour. It also provides a more uniform cooking surface, reducing hot and cold spots, which is beneficial for evenly cooking steaks, burgers, and other meats.
Another advantage is efficiency. Since infrared grills heat up quickly, they can reduce overall cooking time, making them a convenient option for quick grilling sessions. They also tend to use less fuel compared to conventional grills, as the heat is more directly and efficiently applied to the food.
Infrared grills can range in price from around $1000 - $3000+.
Unlike other portable grills, disposable BBQ grills are designed for single use. Made using lightweight aluminium, these grills use charcoal as a heat source. The grills come pre-packaged with everything you will need to barbecue — a foil pan, grill top, charcoal, and starter sheet. Campers sometimes choose a disposable BBQ grill because it fits in a backpack.
Rightfully, disposable grills face criticism for their negative environmental footprint. In saying that, there are some more sustainable versions available.
Disposable BBQs are the most affordable type of BBQ, starting at around $5, ranging to $60+.
Having covered the main types of grills available, you might have everything you need to make the right choice, however, we thought it would be helpful to quickly highlight the main factors that should inform your choice.
A byproduct of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) is stored as a liquid in pressurised tanks.
A fossil fuel composed primarily of methane, piped into homes for various uses including BBQs.
Made from wood that's been burned down to char, charcoal is a traditional BBQ fuel.
Small, compressed pellets made from wood sawdust, used in pellet grills.
When you're thinking of the size of your BBQ, what you use it for plays an important role in determining the appropriate size. If you're hosting parties and large social events, a larger BBQ, such as a 3 to 6 burner gas grill or a sizable charcoal grill, is ideal. Larger models cater to more substantial cooking needs and can handle a variety of foods simultaneously.
On the other hand, if the grill is primarily for family meals or smaller household gatherings, a smaller or portable grill should be more than adequate. These compact models are space-efficient but also easier to manage and maintain for everyday use.
No one likes clean-up but it is an important reality when it comes to owning any type of grill. As we've discussed, some require more upkeep than others. Here’s the cleaning requirements you can expect for the main types of BBQ grill:
Charcoal grills require frequent and thorough cleaning. Ash and soot accumulation is common and needs regular disposal to maintain air flow and temperature control. The grates also require scrubbing after each use to remove food residue.
Gas grills while cleaner than charcoal grills, they still need regular maintenance. This includes checking gas connections for safety, cleaning the burners and grates, and occasionally deep cleaning the entire grill to prevent grease buildup, which can lead to flare-ups.
Pellet grills are relatively straightforward to maintain. Regular tasks include emptying the pellet hopper, cleaning the ash catcher, and wiping down the grates. However, they have more mechanical parts (like augers and fans), which may require occasional professional servicing.
Electric grills are the easiest to maintain. Just wipe-down and occasional deep cleans. There's no ash or leftover charcoal to deal with, but it's important to keep all of the electrical elements in good working order.
BBQs are significant investments, hence the importance of choosing one with robust build quality and made from top-notch materials. Typically, well-known specialist brands offer a proven track record in this regard, but it's always wise to research further.
Distinguishing between various models can be aided by considering additional features that enhance functionality and convenience. Features like side burners allow for multitasking while cooking; tool hooks keep your grilling utensils within easy reach. Rotisserie kits offer a method for slow-roasting meats to perfection, while built-in thermometers help in maintaining the ideal cooking temperature.
As you can see, there are many different types of outdoor barbecue grills available, each with its own unique features, benefits and uses. Now that you understand their unique characteristics, you can choose one based on your preferences, budget, lifestyle and cooking ambitions. They’re great fun to use and will help you create even better memories with your friends and family too.