First look: LotusGrill

The small, portable LotusGrill BBQ claims to offer healthy, smokeless cooking - but is it any good?
 
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01.LotusGrill

The LotusGrill in yellow

Price: $299
Contact: lotusgrill.com.au

3 stars out of 5

The LotusGrill is a compact, lightweight and portable BBQ.

We took a quick look at its:

The LotusGrill has a basket in the centre of the unit that holds the charcoal and a battery-operated, variable-speed fan that circulates air through the charcoals to distribute heat and control heat flow. 

To get it running, you’ll need to ignite a fire starter gel and carefully place the charcoal basket over the flame – 250g of charcoal will keep it going for over an hour. Tip: For best results, use natural hardwood charcoal and break it into small pieces the size of a 50-cent coin. The exterior doesn’t get hot during cooking, so it can be moved around if care is taken. 

Performance

Our home economist, Fiona Mair, found the LotusGrill cooks sausages and steak somewhat unevenly. The sausages had large areas that were unevenly cooked and browned, and those in the centre burned. There was also a lot of smoke as well as flare-ups while cooking the sausages (caused when fat drips down into the bowl). The steak also had small areas that were unevenly cooked and browned. 

During cooking, the heat is quite intense, especially in the centre of the grill, and therefore the fan needs to be adjusted to control the heat. Fiona says she needed to move the food around constantly to avoid burning and achieve even cooking. Its design means food placed on the grill is exposed to draughts that could alter the cooking time and temperature. For an extra $100 you can buy the hood with vent and thermostat, which will help with the evenness of cooking and gives you more cooking options. 

Ease of use  

The LotusGrill is easy to assemble and use. It’s ready to use within four minutes, in contrast to a charcoal grill, which  takes approximately 30 minutes to preheat. You may notice smoke when you use it for the first time but this is from a thin oil film on the charcoal container. Its grill area can accommodate enough meat for a group of four people, however if you’re after a larger unit, the upgraded XL LotusGrill has extra grill space and comes with a lid. 

It’s easy to clean – there’s good access to all areas, the exterior surface is easy to wipe over and the grill rack and stainless steel inner bowl are dishwasher-safe.

Initial testing

In our first test of the LotusGrill, Fiona wasn’t impressed with its cooking performance. The sausages were unevenly cooked, due to uneven and limited heat around the grill area and the steak stewed slightly, making it chewy. Even after pre-heating, the heat was directed mostly in the centre with limited heat around the sides of the grill area. Fiona found it needed more than the three to four minutes of preheating recommended in the instructions. She also found the cooking times to be much longer than for a gas barbecue. 

Following our initial testing and report, the manufacturer contacted us, concerned we’d tested a faulty product. To check, we tested a new LotusGrill, and during the process of comparing the two, discovered that the fault was in the batteries used in our initial test. Despite using batteries from a brand new packet, one of the four batteries used was dead, which resulted in a less powerful fan and therefore slower heat-up and poor cooking results. Since the fan was working, and the indicator light around the control was on we didn’t consider that the poor results were due to the batteries. 

Keep this in mind – you need to check batteries regularly as low-powered batteries can make the fan run inefficiently.

CHOICE verdict

The concept and design behind this barbecue is impressive, however it requires some trial and error in adjusting the fan speed and moving the food around to avoid uneven cooking and burning. The LotusGrill is ideal for campers and picnic goers who want the flavour from a charcoal barbecue without the hassle and time to start one. Check out our review of barbecues for more. 

 
 

 

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