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Barbecues

Summer is well and truly on its way, which means goodbye tasseled scarves  and head beanies  and hello shorts and singlets . The few months of sunshine and perfect weather also means we can enjoy alfresco dining on our patio table set  and escape the humid kitchens. Barbecues make the perfect addition to any backyard or patio and are great for people who love outdoor entertainment. Whether you're looking to grill a few steaks for your family or you plan on throwing a neighbourhood party, there is a barbecue to suit your needs.

Charcoal vs. Gas

One of the first choices you'll have to make when it comes to purchasing your barbecue is whether you want to go with a charcoal or gas model. If you're anything like me, you won't have any idea what the differences are. The table below might give you a better understanding. The amount of time and effort you're willing to contribute to your grilling experience might be your top consideration, seeing that certain styles of grills require a lot more attention and maintenance than others.

Charcoal Barbecues 

  • If you're looking for a more traditional way of cooking, charcoal barbecues are definitely the way to go.
  • Rather than using electricity or gas to work, they use coal, or lighting charcoal .
  • Many people opt for a charcoal griller because it cooks the meat differently, often giving it a smoky flavour.
  • It will take you longer to arrange and cook food, but many people get enjoyment out of this simple task.
  • Cleaning the barbecue might also take longer than with gas grills, but it's important to ensure food particles don't build up (this prevents your barbecue from functioning optimally).
  • Because they're usually small in size, these cookers tend to be cheaper than their gas competitor.

Gas Barbecues 

  • Because of their simplistic functioning, gas barbecues tend to be extremely popular.
  • A gas bottle  is usually required to start the barbecue, but how often you cook will influence how often you need to refill the bottle. 
  • Food tends to cook faster on a gas grill, so they're essential if you're in a hurry or have a lot of people to feed.
  • Preparation time for starting your gas barbecue is minimal; it's usually as easy as turning on a switch and waiting a few minutes to throw on the steaks.
  • They generally cost more than charcoal barbecues, but factors of size and function will ultimately determine how much you pay.
  • Perfect for people hosting parties, functions, and get-togethers.

Location

The next thing you need to decide is where you plan on putting the grill. You don't want to pick out the perfect barbecue only to find it's too big for your patio. It would also be silly to purchase a tiny little barbecue if you have the space and necessity for one that is a bit bigger. Here are some points you should take into consideration.

Things To Consider
  1. Make sure you have enough space for the grill you're looking to purchase. Also ensure there is adequate space for you to freely move around. The whole point of barbecuing is to get out of your cluttered kitchen.
  2. You don't want the barbecue to fall over (causing damage to the griller itself and possibly ruining your food). Make sure the floor is flat and even, especially on rough surfaces such as grass.
  3. Is the area well ventilated? Barbecues generate a lot of smoke, so it's good to be outdoors. If you are cooking in a shed or sheltered area, it is vital to ensure there are windows and open spaces available. You don't want your guests coughing or choking.
  4. Using a barbecue in some apartments and communal villages might violate local fire codes. Be sure you check this information out before making your purchase.
  5. Do you want your grill to be portable (pedestal model), movable (cart with wheels), or permanent (built in)?

Types Of Barbecues

Once you've decided on a location for your barbecue, the next thing is to decide on the type of barbecue you want. Are you looking for something that can easily transported around, perhaps so you can have your barbecue in a local park or by the ocean? Do you want something that is large but portable? Or do you want something that will be a permanent fixture? Here are some points to help you make this decision. 

Barbecue Types

Pedestal Barbecues 

  • These grillers are extremely portable and can be taken almost anywhere, which makes them ideal for small events such as picnics.
  • They have about the same capacity as portable barbecues  and cab run on either charcoal or electricity.
  • Their performance is not at the level of bigger models, but they are great for small gatherings, camping trips, or outings to the beach.

Cart Barbecues 

  • Cart barbecues are usually best for home use. 
  • While bulky, they can still be moved around easily as they are built into a trolley or cart .
  • Most cart grillers run on gas, but some (including weber barbecues ) cook using coal.
  • Carts usually feature an array of components including side burners , which make preparing meals faster and easier.

Built-In Barbecues 

  • Built-in grillers are typically the more expensive option. They usually require an electrician for installation and as well as a designated area where the barbecue can be fitted.
  • Think of it as a permanent element of your home, like an electric oven  or stove .
  • The benefit is that you can hook these grillers up to your home gas line, which means no more worrying about your gas running low.
  • Great for those who plan to utilize the barbecue all year round.

Size, Price and Features

How many people do you need to feed? Are you planning a romantic dinner for two with your lovely lady, hosting a family reunion, or throwing the biggest barbecue your neighbourhood has ever seen? Whatever the occasion, you are going to want to get the most out of the barbecue you are purchasing.

Cheaper Barbecues

  • A cheap barbecue is usually something ranging from £30-£150.
  • Perfect if you're looking to cook for up to 6 people.
  • This price range permits both pedestal and some cart models (the features on these cart models will generally be minimal).
  • If you're looking for something that is also aesthetically pleasing (such as a stainless steel barbecue ), you'll probably need to augment your budget.
  • Cheaper models will probably work fine, but the quality wont be as good as dearer, more expensive models.
  • Low priced brands include Kettle ,Adelaide Compact , and Portable Gas . 

Mid Range Barbecues

  • Barbecues that will feed around 15 people is going to set you back between £120-£300.
  • They tend to be larger than the cheaper price range and will probably last longer as well.
  • You will have plenty of room to prepare and set up food, which is a feature cheaper models usually don't include.
  • There will be more heat options, so perfecting your steaks or sausages will be relatively easy.
  • The model you purchase will influence the features included, so it's important to do a bit of research to ensure you're completely satisfied with your barbecue.
  • Mid priced brands include Beefeater ,Broil King , and Outback Omega .

Expensive Barbecues

  • More expensive models of barbecues will cost you well over £300, with some models exceeding £2000.
  • They'll still usually cook for around 15 people, but also include an impressive array of features such as more equally distributed heat, a nicer appearance, and additional storage space, just to name a few.
  • Purchasing a high-end barbecue doesn't necessarily mean your food will taste better; while it can certainly help, a lot of it comes down to both the chef and the preparation s/he puts in. 
  • If you are known for throwing the best parties and gatherings, a barbecue in this price range might be the best.
  • High sellers include Gemini Prestige ,Weber Summit , and Connoisseur Pro .

Barbecue Accessories

So you've got your barbecue and you've already invited all your friends over for a bit of a celebration. To ensure that this is the first of many barbecues you host, take a look at the following items. They will ensure that your griller is kept in tip-top condition and that you're creating less work for yourself. You don't want to cook an amazing meal only to have an enormous mess to clean up at the end. 

Cooking Grates 

You don't want to simply chuck your meat into the flames. Use cooking grates to place your food on.

BBQ Covers 

Don't let nature destroy your barbecue. Keep it protected with a cover (but make sure you allow time for your griller to cool before covering it).

Smoker Boxes 

Looking for an extra smoky flavour for your meat? No problem. All you need is a smoker box and you're on your way to that perfect taste.  

Barbecue Thermometers 

You don't want to serve meat that is still raw or overcooked. A barbecue thermometer will let you know the precise temperature of your food. 

Warming Racks 

Keeping your already barbecued food warm with a warming rack allows you to serve meat in one sitting. It can also be used to cook vegetables. 

Barbecue Lighters 

Not all barbecues come with a self-lighting button. If that sounds like your barbecue, you're going to need some matches or a lighter handy.

BBQ Tool Sets 

Those snags and burgers aren't going to flip themselves. Be prepared with your own set of barbecue utensils.

Drip Tray Pans 

Juice and fluid is bound to drip from your meat. These disposable trays catch these messy juices and will make cleaning your barbecue a lot easier. 

Basting Mops 

If you're looking to marinate your meats without getting your hands too dirty, a basting mop might be a helpful utensil. It allows for sauce to be spread evenly on your food.

Grill Brushes 

Barbecue cooking can be messy, but grill brushes make it a bit easier to clean. They're great for removing those really gritty pieces.

Other Tips For Hosting The Perfect Barbecue

So you've sorted out your griller, you've got your accessories, and the meat is in your fridge waiting to be cooked. Here are some other tips to ensure your barbecue runs as smoothly as possible and that all your guests have a fun time. 

  • Plan: Your barbecue is only going to be as good as the amount of effort you put in. Guests will be able to tell if you didn't plan.
  • Know Your Guests: Know how many people you are expecting. It's always a good idea to cook more food than what is expected. If you are having a lot of people, you might want to consider disposable cutlery ,plastic plates  (the paper ones get soggy!), and paper napkins . It's also good to have a variety of foods to offer, in case someone is a vegetarian or has allergies.
  • Prepare: You don't want to be organising and overly-occupied while your guests are there, so prepare a little. Cut the salad before they arrive, set the table earlier, make sure the cooler box  has enough ice, and so on. If you can, try and enlist some of your guests to help. Preparing a barbecue alone can be frustrating and stressful, so the more help, the better.
  • Decorate: Are you planning a birthday party, a themed get together, or just a simple barbecue? There are many cheap yet simple things you can use, including disposable tablecloths  and table place tags .
  • Trash: Undoubtedly, there is going to be a lot to clean up during and after the event. Ensure you have enough rubbish bins  and bags  available.
 

Related Guides

Barbecue Tools

Charcoal Barbecues

Smokers

Picnicware and Outdoor Dining