Need to know
- We tell you which sausages, bread and sauce rate the best in our tests for the perfect sausage sanger
- Our kitchen experts share useful tips for buying the best barbecue, including how much you should expect to spend
- Plus, we list the accessories that will take your barbecue to the next level
It's that time of the year: whether you're entertaining or just want to eat alfresco to enjoy the weather, your oven is probably feeling a little neglected as barbecue season hits its peak.
From barbecues and coolers to the best sausages and bread, here are our must-haves for the perfect barbie.
The barbecue is usually the focal point of any backyard gathering, so it's vital to make a good choice. The 'steaks' are high: get it wrong and you're condemning your friends and family to a season of burnt snags and undercooked chicken. But get it right and you'll be a barbecue hero.
From a $130 Weber portable charcoal model to a $2099 Beefeater, we've tested the gamut of barbecues to help you choose the best model for your needs.
What size BBQ should I buy?
- Portable: Best for small balconies and outdoor spaces, or barbecuing on the go. Can be used on a tabletop, or may have detachable shelves.
- Small: Larger than a portable, but small enough for balconies. Suitable for cooking for about four to six people.
- Large: Good for large families and people who entertain often. It'll cost more, take up more space, and need more cleaning and maintenance. Consider paying to have it delivered fully assembled, as it may require significant construction.
How much should I pay for a BBQ?
- Portable/small barbecues: Anything from $200 to $800.
- Large backyard/entertaining barbecues: Anything from $300 to $2500-plus.
Regardless of which end of the market you're looking at, choose a barbecue with a solid construction that uses quality materials.
CHOICE's expert barbecue tester Fiona Mair says: "I find that, with barbecues, it's more likely that you get what you pay for."
She adds: "Barbecues that are well looked after will last much longer. Clean it after every use and ensure the fat tray is empty.
"You should also keep it covered when it's not in use – if you leave it exposed to the elements, you'll be wasting your money."
CHOICE tip: If you're looking at something like a multiple-burner stainless steel barbecue, press on the hood or side tables to test the quality – if the stainless steel yields or 'pops', it's possibly a sign of a cheaper model.
A good meat thermometer will help you cook meat to perfection – no more guessing whether your steak is well done, only to find that it's still raw inside. It'll also help you dodge a side of salmonella if you're cooking riskier meats such as chicken.
"A meat thermometer is a must-have for roasting meat on your BBQ," says Fiona.
Whether you go old school with an analogue thermometer, or high-tech with a digital smart thermometer, is up to you (and your budget).
"Bear in mind that a thermometer with a digital display will be more accurate than an analogue model," Fiona says.
A meat thermometer is a must-have for roasting meat on your BBQFiona Mair, CHOICE kitchen expert
"Using a digital probe thermometer means you can easily check the temperature on the display without needing to open the BBQ hood.
"Some also connect to an app on your phone, so theoretically you can keep an eye on the meat temperature while you're inside prepping salads or having a drink with your guests.
"But you'll need to check the range of the Bluetooth to make sure it will still connect when you're away from the BBQ."
"BBQ tools such as tongs and scrapers should have longer handles than regular ones you'd use in your kitchen to keep hands away from the flames," says Fiona.
"Metal utensils with a heat resistant handle are the best option. And for cleaning, you'll need a non-scratch scrubber."
Other BBQ accessories
Here are Fiona's top tips for other accessories that can really make your barbecue skills sizzle:
- Pizza stone: A great accessory to have if you have a hood on your barbecue.
- Roasting tray: You'll need a heavy-based tray with a rack for roast meat and vegetables.
- BBQ cover: This will extend the life of your BBQ if it's out in the elements.
- Aluminium foil: Useful for cooking fish and covering easily burnt parts such as chicken legs and wing tips.
A favourite of kids (and big kids), no barbecue is complete without a bottle of tomato sauce. If you're looking for the ultimate condiment to complete your barbecue, though, the array of options available can be mind-boggling.
That's why we taste-tested 22 supermarket tomato sauces to help you find the perfect accompaniment to your barbecue food. The best-tasting tomato sauces from our test were:
- Community Co A Squeeze of Tomato Sauce (CHOICE score: 79%)
- Ozesauce Australian All Natural Tomato Sauce (72%)
- Heinz Big Red Tomato Sauce (71%)
- Aldi Colway Tomato Sauce (70%).
Some say the humble sausage is the cornerstone of any good barbecue. Selecting the right snag could save your bacon!
When we compared bulk-pack sausages from Coles, Woolworths and Aldi to find the best banger for your buck, the winner was Woolworths, snagging (sorry) an impressive 45% of the vote.
Before you reach for that bulk pack of snags, though, ask yourself: are nitrates and nitrites bad for you? We've done the research and found that they're probably OK – in moderation.
Wonder Wholegrain White Smooth Wholegrain is both nutritious and delicious, according to our expert testers.
You can't have a sausage sizzle without bread, but how do you know which one to choose? We've got you covered.
Wonder Wholegrain White Smooth Wholegrain topped our white bread reviews, scoring a tasty 80% for nutrition and 78% for taste – nutritious and delicious!
And if you're catering for coeliacs, you can't go wrong with the gluten-free offering from Coles. It scored 77% in our tests, even beating some regular bread products on taste and nutrition.
Whether you call it an esky, a cooler, a chilly bin or an ice box, it's an essential ingredient for a perfect barbecue, both in your backyard and in the great outdoors.
They can cost a pretty penny though – the most expensive we've tested costs a cool $1100 – so you'll want to make the right choice so you don't end up with lukewarm drinks or a nasty case of food poisoning.
Our coolers buying guide is full of hot tips for choosing the best esky for your needs. And we've got five hacks to help you get the most out of your esky or cooler.
Having some sweet tunes could elevate your barbecue to legendary status.
If you're on a budget, the Marley Chant Mini ($80) scored well in our review of cheap Bluetooth speakers.
If you're after something with better sound quality, you'll want to check out our portable Bluetooth speakers review, which rates speakers on audio quality, range and ease of use.