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How to find the right barbecue for you

What to look for before cooking in the great outdoors.

barbecues, gas bottles and charcoal on a yellow background

Whether it's breakfast, lunch or dinner (or maybe even dessert!) we all know things taste a little better on a barbecue. That's why we're here to help you work out which kind is the best for your needs, looking at size, style, features, what you can expect to pay and more.

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What size BBQ do you need?

When it comes time to buy a new barbecue, consider the size of your entertaining area, as well as how many people you'll be barbecuing for (most of the time).

Portable BBQs

These small models are perfect for travel or smaller balconies.

  • Lightweight, mobile and easy to lift.
  • Ideal for impromptu get-togethers on the verandah or weekend outings.
  • Can come with detachable shelves or as a tabletop option.
  • Available in all fuel types: charcoal (not suitable for balconies), LPG, electricity or propane.
Gasmate -Odyssey 2 Portable BBQ_1

Portable BBQ: Gasmate Odyssey 2.

Small BBQ

Larger than a travel barbecue, but still small enough to suit balconies.

  • Ideal if you're after something more permanent in your backyard. Some models can accommodate cooking for around 4–6 people.
  • Often mostly pre-assembled. Just unpack and place on a trolley or bench. 
  • You may have to cook in batches when you have guests over.
  • Some offer all the features of the larger style BBQs, such as a hood, char-grill plate, solid hotplate and foldable side tables.
  • Easy to move around.
  • Available in all fuel types: charcoal (not suitable for balconies), LPG, electricity or propane.

Small BBQ: Weber Q3100.

Large BBQ

Suitable for backyards and if you entertain often.

  • Takes up more space in the backyard, is more costly and requires extra cleaning effort.
  • May require significant construction and have many heavy parts.
  • Some retailers provide delivery of the BBQ fully assembled for a fee. If it's around $100, it'd be wise to take up the offer.
  • Most come with a storage cupboard and side tables.
  • Can have a side burner.
  • Make sure you have a designated area for your gas bottle.
Beefeater Discovery 1000RS BD47240_1

Large BBQ: Beefeater Discovery 1000RS BD47240.

BBQ fuel types: Gas, electric or charcoal?


The most common fuel in Australia, its instant heat source and adjustable temperatures make barbecuing simple.

  • Natural gas: If you have this plumbed in and are building an outdoor kitchen, this would be the best option as you aren't moving it around. All you need are the natural gas fittings and to direct a pipe to the area and connect it to the barbecue. Most can be converted to natural gas which is much cheaper than LPG.
  • LPG (liquid propane gas): These bottles simply connect to the supplied hose and there's usually an area to store the bottle in your BBQ. While easy to move, knowing how much gas is left in the bottle is tricky. A gas regulator gauge will indicate when it's getting low so you won't run out halfway during a cook, and this is also designed to shut the gas supply during a leak or regulator fail. Refilling the gas bottle or using Swap'n'Go can be done at local hardware stores and service stations. An 8.5kg gas bottle can cost around $25 to swap.

All BBQs we test include a gas consumption reading and running costs over five years.


  • Electric BBQs need a power outlet close by.
  • Compact and easy to move, most come with a stand or mobile trolley.
  • Suitable for balconies and patios and can be taken to powered camping and caravan sites.
  • Constant power so you never run out of fuel.
  • Some have non-stick hotplates which are easy to clean buy you may not get the result you're after. Look for an electric BBQ that has a solid char-grill plate and can get to a temperature of around 300°C.

What are infrared barbecues?

A relatively new innovation, these barbecues run on gas but heat up an infrared element which radiates more heat, cooking food faster. They're designed to replicate a searing effect, as if cooking on charcoal while still retaining the convenience of an instant and adjustable heat source. Due to their intensity, it can take some trial and error when using this method of cooking.


  • Requires patience and practice to get right, but end results are more flavourful.
  • A chimney starter will help light the lump charcoal or briquettes evenly and more quickly.
  • Can take up to 40 minutes to get the charcoal to temperature.
  • Need good ventilation as they produce a lot of smoke and cinders.
  • Only have a char-grill plate, so food juices and fat can drip onto the charcoal to produce the smoke and infuse the food.
  • Can be costly at around $5 per 2kg of charcoal. To save on costs, it's possible to reuse charcoal (provided it hasn't burnt down to ash). You'll need to extinguish the heat by removing the oxygen and then simply store large lumps of used charcoal in a heat-proof, air-tight container. Next time, use a combination of new and used charcoal.

Pellet smokers

These trendy grills use special hardwood pellets as fuel, infusing your food with a smoky flavour. The pellets go into a large hopper and the required amount is automatically fed through into the fire box. You close the hood and the barbecue does the work for you. Many are Wi-Fi enabled, letting you monitor and control the temperature via an app. There's a bit of a learning curve involved and the cost of pellets could add up.

How much do barbecues cost?

Portable/small BBQs: These usually have one or two burners and range from just under $200 to around $800. For the more expensive models, you should expect to get extra features such as electronic gas ignition, fold-out side tables and a more solid construction.

Large backyard/entertaining BBQs: With three or more burners, these larger models range in price from under $300 to over $2500.

Many different features can account for a hefty price tag, and you may find the bargain barbecue won't last as long as a pricier model. Look for a barbecue with a solid construction that uses quality materials, as they'll be out in the elements so they need protection.

Safety considerations if you're barbecuing on a balcony

Barbecuing accidents are more likely to occur if you live an apartment block. Before buying a new gas barbecue for your balcony, you should:

  • check the by-laws for your complex and/or the owner's corporation (previously called the body corporate) to see if there are any restrictions on using a gas barbecue on your balcony – it could be obscurely listed in the storing of hazardous material, i.e. an LPG gas cylinder
  • check for restrictions in your contract if you're leasing. 

If you're permitted to have a gas barbecue on your balcony...

  • Never store more than one gas cylinder and never place these indoors.
  • Make sure it's used in a very well-ventilated space.
  • Barbecuing in an enclosed balcony is not advisable – even those with louvres, cafe blinds, or a significant amount of privacy screening could be a very risky venture.

Alternatively, you could consider an electric barbecue as they produce less smoke, have accurate temperature control and are easier to clean. Unfortunately there aren't many on the market.

Changes to BBQ gas cylinders

As of 1 April 2022, new connection valves were introduced on LPG cylinders. The new connection is now mandatory on all new BBQs as well as other outdoor LPG appliances with a hose manufactured after this date.

Next time you change your LPG cylinder, you may notice a new valve that will still connect safely and easily to the hose of your existing BBQ. Leisure Cylinder Connection Type 27 or LCC27 is the new valve being used and is an evolution of the current portable gas appliance Type 21 connection. 

Cylinders with the Type 21 valves will be gradually phased out. Gas bottle stockists for Swap'n'Go may still stock the old style gas bottle, so if you've just bought a new BBQ with the new connection, make sure to check that the gas bottle has a thread on the outside.

This new valve has been introduced to improve safety and reduce the risk of BBQ fires and accidental gas leakage from LPG cylinders. The valve needs to be connected to your BBQ's hose assembly, otherwise gas will not flow, even if the hose has been disconnected and the valve handle left in the open position.

Features to look for when buying a BBQ

Grill/hotplate mix

Most cooks suggest you look for a half-grill, half-hotplate cooking surface, although a larger barbecue provides more flexibility, allowing you to use more of the surface you need and leave part of the barbecue unused. Cast iron hotplates are more susceptible to rust, so if you live in a coastal area, enamel or stainless steel hotplates are recommended.

Steel or enamel finish

Exterior finishes include painted surfaces, vitreous enamel and stainless steel. 

  • Paint is the cheapest finish and can scratch or flake off over time. 
  • Vitreous enamel is tougher and more durable. 
  • Stainless steel is also very durable but can discolour when heated, and shows smudges and fingerprints more readily than other surfaces.

Stainless steel has varying degrees of quality. To check the quality, place a magnet on all stainless steel areas. If it sticks, the stainless steel is more likely to rust; if it doesn't, it's better quality.


A good hood will open enough so it doesn't blow smoke in your face with reasonable resistance against accidental closing from gusts of wind. Double-skin hoods will reduce the external temperature. Make sure it's easy to access all of the cooking area as some hoods can restrict access with the warming plates.


Look for clearly labelled controls with positive stops at both the high and low position. Check to see that they're easy to grip and turn. Knobs that slant out from the fascia are easier to see, ensuring you don't have to bend over. Some barbecues are compatible with apps that let you monitor temperature, fuel levels and cooking time.

Ignition type

Ignition types are usually piezo or electronic. Piezo is where you press a button or one of the gas knobs and it generates a spark to ignite the gas. Some piezo systems direct a jet of flame into the burners to light them more reliably. Electronic ignition uses a battery to create a spark.

Sensible design

Large side trays are useful for placing food and utensils on but be careful not to place plastic items too close to the barbecue as they may melt. Hood handles should have enough space so you don't burn your hands on the hot panel behind them.

The fat tray should be easy to access and replace. It should also be self-centring so it catches all the fat. Look inside the barbecue for minimal cracks and crevices where dirt and grime can accumulate. A curved interior allows fat to drip down into the drip tray and is easier to clean.

Side/wok burner

Often included in larger barbecues, this additional burner is very handy for stir-fries – look for a model with a double or triple ring burner which delivers a higher heat setting, making it more versatile and a better performer. A cover over the side burner is also handy for extra useable space. Look for a recessed burner so it's protected on windy days.


Most of the large barbecue models currently available can accommodate a rotisserie and some also have an infrared back burner, which is perfect for roasting a chook. An electric rotisserie turner can be a handy feature as it allows you to deal with another cooking task while turning the meat at a consistent rate.


There are many different trolleys available so look out for what 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 isn't too heavy to lift the other end for moving and that there are no sharp edges where you grip it.
  • Stainless steel trolleys require extra attention when cleaning due to smudges and fingerprints. Some may also rust in certain environments.
  • A gas bottle hook or area for the bottle to sit in the cupboard.
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Australia's best BBQ brand

So which brand of barbecue should you buy? We've identified the best in Australia based on our test results for barbecues and feedback from our members on satisfaction and reliability.

Our experts have tested over 80 barbecues in our labs over the past nine years from all major brands including Beefeater, Everdure by Heston Blumenthal, Gasmate, Jumbuck, Masport, Weber, Ziegler & Brown and more.

Best BBQ brand for 2024: Weber

For the sixth year in a row Weber has earned strong scores in our test results in addition to being a reliable brand with highly satisfied customers.

Beefeater was the only other brand to meet our strict Best Brand criteria. Matador had below average test and satisfaction scores, as well as fewer than five models tested; Ziegler & Brown had below average test scores; and Jumbuck had below average test scores, reliability and satisfaction results. 

It's important to note that the performance of specific product models may vary quite significantly, so don't assume that one brand's products are the best across the many different features, functions and price points.

For comprehensive details on every barbecue we've tested, and to find out which models we recommend, see our barbecue reviews.

Australia's most reliable BBQ brands

The CHOICE Product Reliability Survey asks thousands of members about the appliances they own, what they think of them, and how well they've held up over time. 

The information they provide gives us a really good indication of how various barbecue brands stack up over time – something we can't test in our labs.

The top performers 

Most reliable BBQ brands: Matador, Weber, Ziegler & Brown and Beefeater

BBQ brand with the highest owner satisfaction: Weber

Common issues

The most commonly reported problems respondents mentioned were:

  • the flame not lighting up or an igniter problem
  • uneven heat or cooking
  • rust or peeling paint
  • food build-up
  • low flame output.

Of the 3885 people who told us about their barbecue, Weber received the highest owner satisfaction score, and more than half of our members who have a barbecue said they have a Weber. Almost all respondents have a gas barbecue, and small-sized barbecues are more common than portable and large barbecues. 

In terms of reliability, all eligible brands had similar scores, except for Jumbuck which was significantly less reliable than Matador, Weber and Ziegler & Brown. 

When it comes to satisfaction, Weber tops the list. Weber owners particularly like that their barbecue is easy to use and cooks well. 

It's worth nothing that while most respondents have a gas barbecue, our survey results show it's less reliable than an electric barbecue.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.