Barbecue expert Richard Holden explains what to look out for when choosing a BBQ and shares with us a delicious recipe for grilled lamb flatbreads

Choosing a BBQ can be a minefield for first time buyers. This six-step guide explains what to look for in your next BBQ purchase and what you get when you spend that little bit extra.


Wobble Test
Hold the grill handle and wobble it from side-to-side. If a barbecue wobbles more than you expect, walk on by – poorly built BBQs are not worth the money.

Solid BBQs hold the heat better and won’t distort after prolonged use at high temperature.

A good quality finish will be heat resistant and quite often scratch resistant, which is important when you consider how much the lid will rub against the bowl of the BBQ.
If you prefer stainless-steel check the quality or ‘gauge’ of the metal. Cheaper stainless steel will rust and will soon show heat-stains around the edges of the lid.

Cooking Grates
With the exception of some portable options the grate in a home BBQ should compare to the feel of a good quality frying pan/skillet you would use for steaks.
My preference is cast-iron grates as they are naturally non-stick the more they are used, they retain heat which is great for searing meats and are one of the easiest to keep in good order.

I recommend different BBQs to someone wanting to roast on the BBQ than to someone wanting to fire up the heat to cook sausages and burgers.
My general recommendations include:
Higher lid – to allow for cooking bigger pieces of food.
Thermometer gauge – so you know the temperature inside.
Three burners – at least on a gas grill as it makes cooking so much easier.
Slightly larger grill than you think – you have more space to cook those bigger pieces of food, or to cook for larger groups!

A factor not often considered when spending more on a barbecue. How long it is and what it covers are pretty big things. It’s standard to read that something has a limited warranty because it’s rare for warranties to cover every component. Fixtures such as burner tubes, heat deflector plates, cooking grates and gas hoses will have a shorter warranty than bowls, lids and stands as these take the wear and tear of changes in heat, as well as the acids and salts from the cooking process. I often refer to these like tyres and windscreen wipers on a car – they need replacing every so many miles.

A good retailer will stock spare parts but you should be able to get them direct from the manufacturer. If no spare parts are available walk on by!
Online reviews and social media channels are also a good place to check how good a company’s warranty coverage is.

Some BBQ brands invest significant time, money and effort into helping you get the most from your new grill so check out their company website. Barbecue retailers have really changed in the last five to six years with more of them offering live cooking events for you to attend, free or ticketed.

Talk to the staff! I work with many retailers who are seriously dedicated to living and breathing the alfresco way of life. Informed staff will know their best sellers as well as what essentials you are going to need. They may even steer you away from a purchase you may later regret because it doesn’t have the features or size you need. Ask a sales person what BBQ they have at home and ask what they cook on it.

Fuel choice is a highly contentious issue but no matter the BBQ you buy it should complement your lifestyle and make every day alfresco cooking easier.



Tedd Walmsley

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Tedd Walmsley managing director of Live Magazines shares his views on the latest topics in media.

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