Key Considerations and Decisions
Key Considerations to Take into Account Before Investing
- How big is your outdoor area and how much of that do you want to allocate to cooking and seating areas? How much available space do you have for prep and serve?
- If you want a sink in your outdoor kitchen then the appropriate services need to be available in terms of water supply and drainage. In fact, even for the larger freestanding BBQs you will need electrical power.
- Is your garden/patio area accessible? Island units, for example, come pre-fabricated and are usually 1 metre plus wide and heavy to move.
- Is your outdoor cooking well planned in advance or often spontaneous? Gas is fast, flexible and almost instantaneous. Charcoal BBQs and wood fired ovens take time to get going, however what they lack in speed they gain in charm, and who doesn't enjoy huddling round the glowing embers on those cooler evenings?
- Will it usually be just the two of you, or are you party animals? The number of diners you usually cater for and the complexity of your meals should determine the size of grill you need and what other components you want to include.
- What's your preferred style of food? If you love stone baked pizza and breads then go for an integrated pizza oven, or for large roasts it's better to get grills with 3 or more burners. If you are an adventurous cook who wants flexibility, consider a Kamado, a ceramic clay oven that can cook pizza and slow roast too.
- Do you need total portability for beach barbecuing? Or a full outdoor kitchen for a formal entertainment area with a bar? Charcoal BBQs are generally lighter and more portable, but not allowed everywhere.
- What's my budget? The frequency of which you cook outdoors should guide you toward the level of investment you wish to make. Brand and type of outdoor kitchen will also be key factors, as will the choice of fuel. Gas BBQs are more expensive to buy but are less costly to run, noting of course that the bigger the BBQ, the more powerful it will be and the more fuel it will use.
- Built-in kitchen or freestanding unit?
- Wood, gas, or charcoal as fuel?
- Is the size of cooking area needed in line with the garden/patio space available?
- What are your desired appliances and accessories? Do they match?
- What is the level of investment you are prepared to make?
- Select your components: Grills and Side Burners, Storage, Sinks & Taps, Refrigeration & Chilling, as well as Speciality Cooking - Wood Fired Oven, Teppanyaki, Kamado?
Charcoal or Gas?
Contrary to popular belief, gas or charcoal simply provide the heat source and are not responsible for the flavour of the food that you cook; that depends on the food itself, and how you cook it. That BBQ flavour comes from the smoke and vaporisation created by the juices and fat from the food dropping on the hot coals or the 'flavouriser' bars or stones in the case of gas. You can also add wood chips or chunks to create a smokey flavour (this is often a lot easier with a charcoal BBQ). Gas or charcoal - it's a personal choice, see the BBQ page for more detail on how to select the right one for you.
Propane or Natural Gas?
If you decide to go for gas then you often have the option of either Propane (LPG) or Natural Gas (NG). Keep in mind that you have to purchase and keep a supply of propane tanks to fuel your grill or risk running out halfway through the cook.
In the case of Natural Gas, you will need to have your grill hooked up to a gas main. This means that you've got to be near a gas line and be willing to pay for that extension, however, this means you'll never have to worry about running out of gas! In addition to the convenience, natural gas is also a bit greener than propane. While neither fuel will contribute too much to your carbon footprint, natural gas does burn even cleaner than propane and is much cheaper once installed.