1. How big does the barbecue have to be?
First of all you need to decide where you want to barbecue, and how big or small your entertaining area is. Do you want a lightweight, compact, portable barbecue for a small outdoor area or to take camping? Or maybe you're looking for a barbecue that has the capacity to cook for your next true blue Aussie barbecue.
2. How much should you spend on a barbecue?
Barbecue prices can widely vary with the cheapest costing as low as $50 and the highest reaching up to $5000, but which is best? Your basic, four-burner flat-top barbecue with cast-iron burners will be the cheapest option, whilst a six-burner stainless-steel barbecue with radiant burners will be at the other end of the price spectrum. The latter will last longer due to the materials used (stainless steel as opposed to cast iron that's susceptible to rust). So you need to weigh up the cost of a higher-quality barbecue versus a cheaper barbecue that may need parts replaced such as the burners or a hotplate after a few years. If you live in a coastal area and it’s within your budget, it may worth considering a stainless-steel barbecue.
3. How often will you use it?
Another thing you need to consider is how many people you will be barbecuing for and how often. If you're only cooking for a large crowd every now and then, do you need a massive six-burner barbecue? Will a four-burner suffice? Other options include two and three burner barbecues.
4. What kind of fuel?
Do you want a barbecue that uses gas, electricity, charcoal or wood? For convenience, you can’t go past gas-fuelled barbecue, however if you prefer smoky flavoured barbecuing, then wood and charcoal fuelled barbecues will achieve this. If you live in an apartment and want to use the barbecue on the balcony, check with the owner’s corporation to confirm any restrictions in terms of barbecue and gas bottle usage on balconies. And remember, for safety reasons never store a gas cylinder inside the apartment.
5. Cast iron versus stainless steel?
As mentioned above, barbecue components can be made of different materials such as cast iron or stainless steel. One drawback of cast iron burners and hotplates is they're susceptible to rust. As the cast iron components rust, you can replace them with new cast iron parts or better still, stainless-steel parts. The benefit of a stainles-steel hotplate is that it won’t rust, is durable and is easy to clean.
6. Which type of heat is better?
The two basic styles of barbecuing include direct and indirect heat. Flat top barbecue and spit roasters use direct heat, whereas smokers use indirect heat.
Hooded barbecues, kettles and outdoor kitchens use a combination of both direct and indirect heat, giving you best of both worlds. The direct method is similar to grilling, where food is cooked directly over the heat source. The indirect method of cooking is similar to roasting, however because it's cooked in the barbecue you have the added bonus of a grilled flavour and texture you wouldn’t get in a conventional oven.
Important BBQ features you shouldn't compromise on:
• Ease of use and easy to maintain.
• Solid construction - stainless steel or porcelain enamel surfaces.
• Grills that direct grease away from the burners to reduce flare-ups.
• Bench space for food and crockery etc.
• Built-in thermometer.
Looking for some recipe ideas to cook on the barbie? How about these: