We test over 25 barbecues, including portable and electric balcony options, and large four to six burner types priced up to $2500.
Compared to an open backyard, barbecuing accidents have greater implications in an apartment block. Before buying a whiz-bang new gas BBQ for your balcony, check the by-laws for your complex and/ or the owners corporation (previously called the body corporate) to see if there are any restrictions on using a gas BBQ on your balcony.
It could be obscurely listed in the storing of hazardous material, i.e. an LPG gas cylinder. Similarly if you’re leasing, you need to check for these restrictions in your contract. And if you're permitted to have a gas BBQ on your balcony, never store more than one gas cylinder and never place these indoors.
For safety reasons, gas barbecues must always be used in very well ventilated space. Barbecuing in an enclosed balcony is not advisable – even those with louvres, café blinds, or a significant amount of privacy screening could be a very risky venture.
If this is your scenario, consider an electric barbecue – though unfortunately, there aren’t many on the market. We included two electric options, the Breville Smart Grill BGR840BSS and the Sunbeam Kettle King HG6600B.
BBQ turkey, anyone?
Consider also roasting your Christmas turkey – accompanied with a delicious char-grilled vegetable salad – outside under a barbecue hood rather than turning your kitchen into a sauna from oven-baking.
These and other recipes can be found at Cook’s CHOICE. You might also want to read our article on barbecue safety. Also, see our reliability survey to see how the various barbecue brands rate.
Brands and models tested
- Beefeater Discovery 1100E
- Cordon Bleu Deluxe CD4CWWH
- Discoverer G4DISK
- Everdure Figura Esee
- Grilled M135-B-W (SKU 695929)
- Jumbuck B145-13
- Masport Elite Grande 210 552765
- Masport Lifestyle 4 Hooded 552757
- Matador 4 Burner Grande BBQ
- Matador Retro 4-BNR 3170423
- Matador Maverick MBQ1003 (3180549)
- Tucker S Class
- Turbo TCQ4CWWJ
- Weber Genesis E330
- Weber Spirit E320
- Weber Q3100
- Ziegler & Brown Triple Grill ZG3GK
- Beefeater BUGG on cart
- Billabong G2BBTJ
- Breville Smart Grill BGR840BSS (electric)
- Everdure E2GLPC14R E2GO
- Masport Raglan 552719
- Sunbeam Kettle King HG6600B (electric)
- Weber Q2200
- Ziegler & Brown ZG1GRK
- Ziegler & Brown Twin Grill ZGTGK
How we test
- Fiona Mair, home economist from CHOICE's test kitchen, cooks steak with the hood open (unless the manual instructs otherwise), turning them once only. And she cooks sausages with the hood closed. These quite severe tests are to check how evenly the hotplate reaches and maintains a high temperature, and how well it controls flare-ups. At home you may compensate for cool and hot spots by moving the food around.
- Fiona roasts a whole chicken by placing it on a baking tray in the centre of the plates with the outside burners on medium heat, and the hood down.
- She cooks marinated wings directly on the hotplate. The wings and roast are only turned once.
- The roasting assesses the performance at moderate temperatures over a long period, while the marinated wings need a low temperature so the marinade doesn’t burn. Cooking in this way is comparable to cooking in an oven.
Ease of use
Fiona looks for easy access when moving and turning the food, and notes any discomfort, such as hot smoke blowing into the face. She also looks at moving and cleaning the barbecue, how easy the controls are to use and how easily the gas bottle can be fitted.
For more information on Barbecues, see our Backyard section.