When it comes to choosing which gas barbecue to buy, it can be a bit of a juggling act between budget, size, space and features.
There are so many different gas barbeques available each with their own merits, but if you take some time to think about your requirements, the size you need, the space you have and the extras that you would need you are more likely to pick the right one first time.
Other than what budget you have to spend, the main things to consider are…
What size gas bbq do I need?
If you get a gas bbq that is bigger than you really need you will probably simply be wasting heat and thus gas. On the other hand, if you get one too small you’ll end up cooking in batches, and the poor chef will be spending far more time, literally slaving over the hot flams, and always being the last one to eat! Not very enjoyable!
Consider how many people you usually cook for, what is the maximum number of people and how often does that happen?
A general rule of thumb is that four people will need a grill no less than 300 square inches of actual cooking space. A 2 burner bbq will feed up to 4 hungry people easily, while a 3 burner will easily feed up to 8 people.
Another, rather novel way, of working out the size, is one that I believe was taken on by the bbq guys, the burger count! Have some 4 inch card cut-outs, the size of an average burger, and place them on the grill to see how many burgers you can grill at once! That’s ok if you’re mainly grilling burgers, but personally we rarely do burgers on our bbq!
Of course you must also consider the amount of space you have to site your bbq, which will be another factor concerning which size to get. If you are going to be barbecuing often and regularly, then it is best to site your bbq where you will be using it and simply protect it from the elements with a cover when not in use. If you do not have a lot of space outside, or will not be using it very frequently, then you may need to have somewhere else to store it when not in use.
What about the bbq grids?
Stainless Steel Grids can be different thicknesses, cast stainless steel or tubular stainless steel. The main thing is that they’re longer lasting and resistant to corrosion and rust. The thicker the grid the more heat it will retain and thus give your food a better sear.
Porcelain coated steel grids are perhaps the least desirable to have on a gas bbq. They can be prone to chipping and where it does chip will be prone to rust
Porcelain coated cast iron grids. With these the porcelain does not sit on top of the iron, but more within the grid’s pores. This does make it last longer, and it could be a few years before you get rust coming through here and there.
So, in considering what size gas bbq you need, you have hopefully already decided on how many burners you want.
The Flame Tamers
Between the grid and the burners are the flame tamers, sometimes called Flavorizer® Bar. These are multi-task elements. They help to protect the burners from direct droppings of fat and debris, helps to prevent a fair amount of flair-ups and helps distribute the heat. Any marinades and/or juices from the food will drop onto the tamers and be either vapourised or carbonised back up into the food, thereby giving the food a smoky flavour just like a charcoal grill would do.
The most common type of tamer is metal, but you may also see one that incorporates ceramics. There are two general types of metal tamers. One in the shape of an upside down V that sits directly over the burners. Another is perforated and that covers more of the area, giving a little bit better for heat distribution and also protection.
Ceramic tamers do tend to hold the heat for longer, which of course can be a good thing. However, if, after cooking at a high temperature, you need to cook food at a low temperature, you will need to wait longer for it to cool down.
What additional features do you need?
A basic gas bbq will usually come on a stand and just have the cooking area. Many will have a cabinet underneath and at least one side shelf, which is very handy unless your bbq is situated next to a table. Advanced features can be a simple warming shelf, a rotisserie, side burners and even a deep fat fryer. Some will come with infrared burners, and indeed an infrared back burner is wanted if you have a rotisserie.
If you are a serious barbecuer, frequently barbecueing and experimenting with different recipes and methods of cooking and have the budget to afford them, then, heck yes, go for all the gizmos and gadgets! But if you are barbecuing infrequently or are on a tight budget then there is really no need for them. I mean, how many times would you use, say, a rotisserie? You may be surprised at the number of different food you can cook on a regular bbq without any accessories. But, no matter which bbq you choose, you can always get various accessories for it at a later date, such as pizza stones, rib cookers, smoke boxes, etc. should you feel the need.
I hope this article has managed to answer some of your questions, and helps you choose that perfect gas bbq.
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