How to shop for a new bbq for your summertime cookouts

Matt Wineera, AREINZ
Matt Wineera, AREINZ
Published on September 20, 2018

There’s a reason why summer bbq’s take centre stage. The  weather demands it ― who wants to be cooped up indoors with all that glorious sunshine outside? Aside from that, I doubt there’s a barbecuing man or woman in town who doesn’t feel that his or her barbecue prowess kicks everyone else’s , including some of the local eateries , to “touch” . To do it right, though, you need the right equipment and, if you’re in the market for a new bbq grill (or even your first), read on for some shopping tips.

Gas or charcoal?

Or, maybe both? It’s not unheard of for the serious bbq chef  to own one of each. If, on the other hand, you don’t have a preference, maybe it’s time to learn about the differences. Gas bbq’s are faster and easier. You won’t need to deal with the charcoal, the fluid and then waiting for the coals to heat up. You will, however, need to ensure you have a full gas bottle before the cookout begins. Charcoal-cooked food, on the other hand, tastes better. The charcoal smokes, adding the barbecue flavour we all crave. Gas bbq’s can cost less than $300 and we use them for an average of three years. When it comes to replacing parts, expect to replace the burners. They wear out the quickest. While charcoal grills are typically less expensive than gas grills, you can end up spending a couple hundred dollars or more for a large one with all the bells and whistles. Now, charcoal and gas aren’t your only choices. George Foreman makes a lean, mean electric grill (as do other manufacturers) and there are even wood-burning bbq’s on the market. For the casual summertime bbq , gas or charcoal are the typical choices. If you want ease-of-use and have a need for speed, choose gas.

Which features do you need?

Of course, your budget will dictate the features you’ll find on your new bbq, but there are some that are must-haves, at least for some chefs. These might include a rotisserie (for cooking whole turkeys, chickens or roasts), lighted knobs for night time bbq’s and even alarms that let you know you’re on the verge of burning your meal. Some are a bit extravagant but there are many features you might find quite useful. Shelving is indispensable for the serious bbq chef. They’ll hold all of your ingredients so they are within easy reach as you cook. A built-in thermometer is nice as well. If you really want to go all out, look for a gas bbq with an infra-red burner. It’s ideal for searing meat to give it that crusty exterior and for locking in the juices. If you’re just interested in turning out a juicy steak or burger, you don’t need all the fancy and expensive features. A basic charcoal grill will do the trick. The classic Weber kettle-style grill is a well known brand that you can find at major home improvement , BBQ and outdoor lifestyle stores.

Other things to think about

Don’t buy a bbq without a decent manufacturer’s warranty. “This should keep you from having to spend money on parts that shouldn’t have broken in the first place,” cautions Chef Tony Matassa at He suggests looking for a bbq with a 10-year burner warranty. And, speaking of the burner, Matassa reminds us to ensure that the burner size is proportional to the overall size of the grill. “A lot of grill manufacturers make a large, impressive looking casting with a little burner – that means lots of hot and cold spots.” Finally, he suggests that if you grill a lot of steaks, and insist on using gas, look for a gas grill that heats to at least 300 degrees celsius.

Try these quick simple BBQ recipes for skewers and corn cobs

BBQ season gets underway soon, so get out there and fill that empty spot in the backyard with a new bbq.

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