Small barbecues review

We test two-burner barbecues designed for small spaces.
 
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  • Updated:11 Nov 2008
 

01 .Introduction

Small barbeques

Test results for eight small barbecues priced from $199 to $995

Two-burner barbecues are becoming increasingly popular and offer all the features of the larger style 4 burners, such as a hood, char-grill plate, solid hotplate and accommodating cooking for around 4 to 6 people at once.

Designed for smaller spaces, such as courtyards or balconies, many models have side tables that fold down to create extra space when they are not in use.

When you're shopping for one, how can you tell which models will cook your food evenly? Will an electric BBQ perform as well as gas? Which will be the easiest to use?

You'll find the answers in this report. We tell you what to look for in a barbecue, how to cook on a smaller grill and hotplate — and we tell you which models are the best from our test five two-burners, two one-burners and one electric barbecue. Also see our appliance reliability survey to see how the various barbecue brands rated.

For more information on Barbecues, see Backyard.

Please note: this information was current as of November 2008 but is still a useful guide to today's market.


Video: What to look for - Barbecues

What should you look for when choosing your next barbecue?

Models tested

  • Beefeater Discovery Classic 2 Burner
  • Downunder 2 Burner G2HDPC
  • Gasmate CB2-002-D
  • Grandhall Neil Perry T-Grill
  • Jackeroo Dockside Duo
  • Weber 57cm One-Touch Kettle with Gas Kit
  • Weber Q200

Electric model

  • Sunbeam Kettle King HG6600B

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The following models scored the best results in our test: 

What to buy
Brand Price
Weber Q200 $519
Beefeater Discovery Classic 2 Burner $699
Downunder 2 Burner G2HDPC $349

Results table

Full results for all models are shown in the table below.

  Performance Features
Brand/Model (in rank order) Overall score (%) Cooking performance score (%) Ease of use score (%) Ignition type Warming rack Cupboard in trolley Side burner Price
Weber Q200
www.weberbbq.com.au
82 90 70 Piezo manual button 519
Beefeater Discovery Classic 2 Burner
www.beefeaterbbq.com
81 85 76 Piezo on left side burner gas tap 699
Downunder 2 Burner G2HDPC
www.barbequesgalore.com.au
81 83 78 Piezo on right side burner gas tap 349
Gasmate CB2-002-D
www.gasmate.com.au
77 81 72 Battery operated on both burners 599
Jackeroo Dockside Duo
www.jackeroo.com.au
76 78 72 Piezo manual button 199
Weber 57cm One-Touch Kettle with Gas Kit
www.weberbbq.com.au
72 76 66 Manual 399
Grandhall Neil Perry T-Grill
www.grandhall.com.au
70 76 60 Battery operated on both burners 999
Electric BBQ
Sunbeam Kettle King HG6600B
www.sunbeam.com.au
62 61 63 NA 280
 


  Features Specifications
Brand/Model (in rank order) Hotplates supplied Thermometer in hood Side tray/ folding Gas consumption (kg / hr) BBQ dimensions (W x D x H) (cm) * (BBQ hotplate heights in brackets)
Weber Q200
www.weberbbq.com.au
Chargrill plate •/• 3.2 83 x 51 x 99.5 (84)
Beefeater Discovery Classic 2 Burner
www.beefeaterbbq.com
Chargrill plate / Solid hotplate •/- 6.68 118.5 x 65 x 115.5 (87)
Downunder 2 Burner G2HDPC
www.barbequesgalore.com.au
Chargrill plate / Solid hotplate •/• 5.3 77.1 x 64.5 x 78 (91)
Gasmate CB2-002-D
www.gasmate.com.au
Chargrill plate / Solid hotplate •/• 6.7 66.1 x 63.5 x 120 (92)
Jackeroo Dockside Duo
www.jackeroo.com.au
Chargrill plate / Solid hotplate •/• 6.9 87 x 51.5 x 109 (87.5)
Weber 57cm One-Touch Kettle with Gas Kit
www.weberbbq.com.au
Grill rack -/- 2.32 60 x 71 x 96 (69)
Grandhall Neil Perry T-Grill
www.grandhall.com.au
Chargrill plate •/- 6.68 117 x 71 x 117 (96.5)
Electric BBQ
Sunbeam Kettle King HG6600B
www.sunbeam.com.au
Non-stick hot plate NA 65.5 x 55 x 110 (88)
 

Table notes

Scores The overall score is made up of:

Cooking performance: 60%
Ease of use: 40%
Price Recommended retail, as of September 2008.

How we tested

Four cooking tests were performed on the barbeques:

Our CHOICE Home Economists cooked sausages and steak, marinated chicken wings and roasted a whole chicken.

The hood was open when cooking sausages and steak, unless stated by the manufacturer to cook with the hood closed. The chicken was cooked with the hood down and turned only once during the cooking process. It was placed on a rack centred in the middle of the plates using the ‘indirect method’ (where there is no direct heat under the food).

Our barbecuing tests are fairly severe – while most people would probably move the food around the plates to make sure it cooks evenly, we cooked it on one side and then the other without otherwise moving it at all. This is a good check of how evenly the cooking surface is heated — if it’s even, you can fill the plate without worrying about some sausages burning while others remain undercooked.

Because of this, the cooking performance of those lower scoring models could possibly be improved if the cooking is monitored and the food moved around between hotter and cooler parts to improve the evenness.

To test ease of use, our tester checked ease of use while cooking, ease of cleaning, mobility, ease of using controls and ease of fitting the gas bottle (except for the Sunbeam).

Profiles - the best

Weber Q200

Price: $559 Webber Q200

Good points

  • Best overall.
  • Best for cooking performance.
  • Excellent result for roasting a chicken and cooking marinated chicken wings.
  • Very good result for cooking sausages and steak.
  • Gas bottle easy to fit, no lifting required.
  • Portable.

Bad points

  • You’ll need your own tools to assemble.
  • No hotplate provided, only a char-grill plate (though you can purchase hotplate separately).
  • No thermometer in hood.
  • Folding side tables can tilt with heavy items placed on them.
  • No warming rack.
  • The hood becomes dangerously hot.
  • No side panels to protect food and burner from drafts.
  • The BBQ isn’t completely secure when it sits on the trolley.
  • The manual Piezo button requires pressure to press.
  • Need to stoop down when lighting.

Beefeater Discovery Classic 2 Burner

Price: $699 Beefeater Discovery Classic 2 Burner

Good points

  • Equal second best overall.
  • Excellent result for roasting a chicken and cooking chicken wings.
  • Grill plate lifter tool.
  • Viewing glass in hood.
  • Very good controls.
  • Very easy to move around.
  • Hood thermometer is fairly accurate.
  • A good cookbook comes with the barbeque.

Bad points

  • You’ll need your own tools to assemble.
  • Failed BBQ stability test.
  • Side tables and control panel are stainless steel which requires some extra effort to keep clean.
  • You’ll need to remove the food warmer to have good open access to food.
  • No handles on the side table, uncomfortable to grip and the side tables do not fold down.
  • Hood becomes dangerously hot.  

Downunder 2 Burner G2HDPC

Price: $349 Downunder 2 Burner G2HDPC

Good points

  • Equal second best overall.
  • Best for ease of use.
  • Excellent result for cooking steaks.
  • Very good result for cooking sausages and roasting a chicken.
  • Easy to assemble.
  • Hood thermometer is fairly accurate.
  • Very easy to move around.
  • Very good controls.
  • Easy to clean.  

Bad points

  • The front panel becomes dangerously hot with hood open.
  • No side panels to protect food and burners from drafts.
  • Hood can become dangerously hot.

 

Profiles - the rest

Gasmate CB2-002-D

Gasmate CB2-002-D

Price: $559

Good Points

  • Very good cooking performance.
  • Very easy to move around.
  • Very good controls.
  • Easy to assemble.
  • Reversible cooking plate.

Bad points

  • Hood tends to direct smoke into your face.
  • Hood and control panel is stainless steel which requires extra effort to clean.
  • Hood can become dangerously hot.
  • Thermometer is not accurate.

JACKEROO Dockside Duo JACKEROO Dockside Duo

Price: $199

Good Points

  • Excellent result for roasting a chicken and cooking marinated chicken wings.
  • Excellent for ease of use, cooking/general use.
  • Gas bottle easy to fit, no lifting.
  • Cheapest BBQ tested.
  • Relatively light weight.
  • Reversible cooking plate.

Bad points

  • Poor result for cooking steak
  • Only borderline for mobility: one side has to be lifted and you can only take small steps to move.
  • Piezo manual button requires pressure to press.
  • Small fat tray, need to clean after each use.
  • Fat and grease can drip onto control panel during cooking with the hood closed.
  • Complicated to assemble.
  • Thermometer is not accurate.
  • Hood can become dangerously hot.

Weber 57cm One-Touch Kettle with Gas Kit

Price: $399 Weber 57cm One-Touch Kettle with Gas Kit

Good Points

  • Excellent result for roasting a chicken and cooking marinated chicken wings.
  • Gas bottle easy to fit, no lifting.
  • Comprehensive cookbook supplied for kettle cooking.

Bad Points

  • Poor result for cooking steak.
  • No side panels to protect food and burner from drafts.
  • BBQ is positioned at a low height.
  • No warming rack.
  • No thermometer in hood.
  • No hotplate only wire char-grill plate.
  •  Lighting BBQ can be awkward: need to light with a match.
  • Large wire char-grill plate difficult to clean.
  • Hood becomes dangerously hot.

Grandhall Neil Perry T-Grill

Price: $999Grandhall Neil Perry T-Grill

Good Points

  • Excellent result for roasting chicken.
  • Very good result for cooking steaks.
  • Easy to clean exterior.
  • Very easy to assemble, most parts assembled already.
  • Hood does not become hot

Bad Points

  • Hood is very heavy to lift.
  • Side tables do not fold down.
  • Very poor mobility cannot move sideways.
  • Controls positioned under front panel: need to stoop slightly to use.
  • Most expensive model tested.
  • No hotplate, only char-grill plate.
  • No thermometer in hood.

Sunbeam Kettle King HG6600B

Price: $280 Sunbeam Kettle King HG6600B

Good Points

  • Less smoke produced during cooking.
  • Easy to assemble.

Bad Points

  • Worst overall performer.
  • Poor result for cooking steak.
  • No side panels: BBQ plate is completely exposed when hood is removed.
  • Stand is top heavy.
  • Food can easily slide off hotplate when manipulating food.
  • Power cord is fairly short.
  • Small labelling on controls.
  • Hotplate and fat tray need to be cleaned in hot soapy water after each use.
  • Can be awkward to fit hotplate into a domestic sink.
  • No side trays, only small tray under BBQ.
  • Small cooking area.
  • Hood can become dangerously hot.

The barbecue

  • Look for a half grill and half hotplate.
  • Make sure it’s easy to access all of the cooking area as some hoods can restrict access with the warming plates.
  • A good hood will open enough so it doesn’t blow smoke in your face, and should also have reasonable resistance against accidental closing from gusts of wind etc. Double skin hoods will reduce the external temperature.
  • Look for clearly labelled controls with positive stops at both the high and low position. Check to see that they are easy to grip and turn. Knobs that slant out from the facia are easier to see, ensuring you don’t have to bend over.
  • Piezo ignition which is activated by turning the controls.
  • The fat tray should be easy to remove and replace. It should also be self-centring so that it catches all the fat.
  • Handles should have enough space so that you don’t burn your hands on the hot panel behind them.

The trolley

  • There are many different trolleys available so look out for the features that will suit your specific needs, such as cupboards or a side burner.
  • If you need to move the trolley, even only occasionally, it will be a lot easier if it has four castors.
  • If the trolley only has two wheels, check that it is not too heavy to lift the other end for moving and that there are no sharp edges where you grip it.
  • Wooden trolleys require constant tightening of the bolts.
  • Stainless steel trolleys require extra attention when cleaning due to smudges and finger prints. Some may also rust in certain environments.
  • The height of trolleys can vary a lot, so choose one that works for you.
  • Large side trays are useful for placing food and utensils on but be careful not to place plastic items too close to the BBQ as they may melt.
  • Some trolleys can be difficult and time-consuming to assemble so a pre-assembled or more basic model may suit you better. If you’re not handy consider paying extra for the retailer to assemble instead.
  • If you have limited space consider a model with side tables that fold down to free up space and will make life easier if you need to move your barbeque often.

How does electric compare?

No gas bottles to refill, no coals and less mess. Is an electric barbeque the way of the future?

Our testers were far from overwhelmed by the Sunbeam Kettle King electric's performance. It was the worst performer in our test overall, and because it performs so differently to the other models we have separated it in the table.

Although the Sunbeam was easy to assemble and produced less smoke when cooking than the other models, the cons really outweigh the pros. Being fully electric it needs access to power, yet the cord is a tad on the short side so you would need an outside power point or a good extension cord. It was the low rating model for ease of use; our testers found the stand top heavy, food can easily slide off the hotplate when it’s moved around and it has a small cooking area and small labelling on the controls.

You’ll need to watch your fingers too, as with no side panels the BBQ plate is completely exposed when the hood is off and the hood can be dangerously hot. And most importantly, the food didn’t cook well either. Our testers gave it a ‘poor’ result for cooking steak and described the other food as more ‘stewed’ than barbequed.

Tester's tips

Cooking on a small barbecue A smaller barbie means you may have to cook in batches when you have guests over. Here’s the best way to do it.

Order Cooking a variety of foods at one time requires a little planning so everything is ready at the same time. If you are cooking a meal of small cuts of meat, cutlets, sausages, onion, corn cobs and potatoes, try this order of cooking: start with the corn and potatoes as they will take the longest – they can be kept warm on the warming rack once they are done. Onions also take some time so they can also be cooked at the start and then be kept warm. Small cuts of meat cook quite quickly and only need a short resting time so they can be done last while the rest of the food can stay warm on the rack.

Resting time When considering how long it will take to cook the meat don’t forget to include its resting time

Position You also need to consider where you put your food if the barbecue has the char-grill plate and the solid hotplate. Which is best cooked on what plate? Try doing three quarters of the cooking on the solid hotplate and the last part on the char-grill to free up solid hotplate space. Sausages are best placed on the hotplate. Cuts of meat can be cooked on the char-grill plate to get that distinctive flavour, and when frying vegetables such as onion and potatoes they can be cooked on the hotplate. Larger vegetables such as corn can be wrapped in foil and placed on the char-grill plate. Roasting vegetables such as capsicum, zucchini, and eggplant can be cooked on the char-grill plate.