2018 – BBQ Reviews & Ratings Archive
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Compare BBQ brands Ziegler & Brown, Weber, Jumbuck, Matador, Gasmate, BeefEater, Billabong and Beefmaster on their cooking performance, design, durability, ease of cleaning, value for money, ease of use, extra features and overall satisfaction.
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Canstar Blue research finalised in October 2018, published in October 2018.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Ziegler & Brown cooks up a storm in BBQ ratings
One of the best things about Australia is that you can enjoy a barbecue with friends and family almost all year round. Enjoying the outdoors with a snag cooking on the barbie is a classic Aussie summer pastime, and it’s easy to see why. Who doesn’t enjoy the chance to get their grill on instead of staying cooped up indoors? So which barbecues are best at the job? To find out, Canstar Blue surveyed hundreds of Aussie households that have recently purchased and used a new BBQ, with their feedback reflected by the star ratings above.
Australian brand Ziegler & Brown dominated this year’s ratings, achieving five stars for overall customer satisfaction, as well as cooking performance, design, durability, ease of cleaning and ease of use. It also received four stars in two other categories – value for money and extra features.
The eight brands to receive the minimum sample size to be included in our 2018 BBQ review were rated in the following order for overall satisfaction:
- 1st Ziegler & Brown
- 2nd Weber
- 3rd Jumbuck
- 4th Matador
- 5th Gasmate
- 6th BeefEater
- 7th Billabong
- 8th Beefmaster
Weber, Jumbuck, Matador, Gasmate and BeefEater had to settle on four stars overall, while Billabong and Beefmaster received three stars apiece.
While Ziegler & Brown got five stars for overall satisfaction, there were a few other results of note. Weber scored five stars on cooking performance and ease of use, along with this year’s winner. Both Jumbuck and Gasmate were the only two brands to achieve five stars on value for money, with Gasmate also receiving five stars for ease of use along with Ziegler & Brown.
Before we jump into what to consider when buying a new BBQ, let’s first take a closer look at each brand in our ratings.
Our review features eight brands, and while there are others out there, looking at these first may be a good starting point to help you decide which might be best for you.
Ziegler & Brown
Ziegler & Brown is an Aussie brand that offers gas BBQs, with the number of burners ranging from one to six. There is the Ziggy range (portable), Turbo series, and built-in gas BBQs. Whether you’re looking for a BBQ to take with you camping, or you’re thinking a little bigger to impress the neighbours, Ziegler & Brown will have you covered. Its Turbo classic boasts a ceramic burner and quartz dome that increase radiant heat and minimises flare-ups. Despite the smaller size, the Ziggy burners are stated to have high dome roasting hoods for additional capacity. Prices start from $329 for its 1-Burner Ziggy’s and go up to $6,400 for a 6-Burner Grand Turbo model.
- Rated five stars on cooking performance, design, durability, ease of cleaning, ease of use and overall satisfaction, Ziegler & Brown was a stellar performer in our 2018 review. It also received a respectable four stars for two other categories – value for money and extra features.
Weber has four main categories of BBQ – electric, charcoal, premium gas, and the famed Weber Q range. The electric range is its latest addition, featuring electronic temperature control and smart technology such as monitoring food from your smartphone. The charcoal range boasts authentic coal grilling for that unique smoky flavour, and if ashes are a concern, these beauties come with a cleaning system to make the after-cooking clean-up easier. The Premium Gas range is a more traditional ‘barbie’, with the Summit series dubbed the ‘holy grail of BBQs’. Some models are built-in, boasting up to six burners. The Weber Q is arguably the most popular series, suitable for small-time grilling, with many grills able to be placed in the dishwasher for easy cleaning. Prices for the top-range Weber Summit series cost in excess of $2,500, while Weber Qs start at around $300.
- After taking out top spot in last year’s ratings, Weber had to settle on four stars for overall satisfaction in 2018. It was also four stars on design, durability, ease of cleaning and value for money plus five stars on cooking performance and ease of use. For extra features it received a three.
Jumbuck’s range mainly focuses on barbecues with at least two burners, though some come with up to six. In the range is a series of portable, kettle and charcoal barbecues that start at around $60. Flat top BBQs come with at least two burners, and with basic designs, many with hoods to promote roasting. For the more serious grill enthusiasts, six burner BBQs are on offer, starting from about $300. Jumbuck was one of the cheaper brands to be featured in our ratings. But from snags to roasts, Jumbuck’s barbecues are designed to handle it all.
- Jumbuck was rated four stars overall and in most other categories. It was five stars on value for money but just three stars for extra features.
Matador produces a fairly concise range of barbecues, ranging in size from two to six burners. They are either standalone or built-in for those outdoor kitchen enthusiasts. Most BBQs are gas-powered, which is a popular choice in Australia. Matador is sold exclusively from Bunnings Warehouse hardware stores, making it easy to pop in and get your spanner and walk out with a BBQ. Two burner units start at about $500, while the top-of-the-range six burner units start at around $900.
- Matador was rated four stars overall and in most other categories except for ease of cleaning where it received a three.
Gasmate splits its BBQs into two key categories – outdoor living and camping. The outdoor living BBQs range from the compact ‘Odyssey’ style, to the full-blown outdoor kitchen units. Traditional barbecues are also on offer, most being powered by gas. The Odyssey range represents a convenient and portable grilling option. The outdoor kitchen range is the ‘bees knees’ when it comes to outdoor cooking and would be suitable for a comprehensive outdoor setting for the modern home. Camping barbecues are also on offer, which usually feature only one burner. Traditional Gasmate barbecues are available from around $600, while portable barbecues are cheaper. Built-in, outdoor kitchen barbecues start at about $3,000 but require professional installation.
- Gasmate was rated four stars overall in our review but did get top marks for ease of use and value for money.
BeefEater sports a solid range of both mobile and built-in barbecues, most with shiny chrome designs resembling a premium option for your home. In the mobile BBQ range, BeefEater packs in two burners at a minimum, which makes it a strong candidate for cooking, and eating that beef. Most models are gas-powered and feature roasting hoods with an onboard temperature gauge and warming rack. The BeefEater mobile barbecues start at about $1,700 for the basic LPG five-burner units, while portable units are available from around $500. Built-in systems start at about $900.
- BeefEater was rated four stars overall and in a few other categories – design, durability, ease of cleaning and extra features. It was three stars on cooking performance, value for money and ease of use.
Billabong offers a small range of BBQs at affordable prices, ideal for beginners. Its range features kettle models, an offset smoker BBQ, and a two-burner on trolley BBQ. While its range isn’t extensive, expect features such as an integrated warming rack to increase cooking volume or for roasting. In addition, its offset smoker model – pictured courtesy of Barbeques Galore – is boasted for a durable steel lid and firebox, enamelled steel grills and a temperature gauge. Prices sit between $70 and $300.
- Billabong received three stars for overall satisfaction, as well as all other categories in our 2018 review.
Whether you’re a masterchef or not, Beefmaster likely has a barbecue for you. It produces a relatively concise range of built-in and mobile BBQs, with four burners being the status quo. Most are finished in attractive black and stainless steel designs. All Beefmaster BBQs are gas-powered with LPG as standard, but natural gas conversions are also available. This requires a licensed plumber to install the conversion. Beefmaster mobile barbecues start from about $650, while built-in units start at around $550, which is right in-line with what our research suggests people are spending.
- Beefmaster was rated three stars for overall satisfaction and every other category except for extra features where it achieved four stars.
What to consider when buying a BBQ
With many factors to consider, the following guide breaks up the process into each aspect to help you find the right BBQ for your budget, needs, size and taste. Read on for all the details.
How much do BBQs cost?
Our survey indicates that Aussies spend an average of just over $500 on new BBQs. This is obviously a fair hit to the hip pocket, so it pays to get your purchase right. Factors that will affect the price of BBQs include:
- Number of burners
- Size of barbecue
- Quality of build materials
- Extra features (such as storage shelves and hooks, tiered shelves, and side grills)
Aside from cooking some snags and steak, BBQs are often as much of a social statement as they are about cooking food. More than a quarter (28%) of respondents to our survey said they bought a BBQ to impress friends and neighbours (i.e. a status symbol). A half said they don’t use their barbecue as much as they thought they would, so that $500-odd price tag could in fact be going to waste.
How do I choose the right BBQ?
There are a few questions you’ll need to ask yourself to make sure you choose the right barbecue for you, and don’t end up wasting money on something you don’t need. Our survey indicated some key drivers of satisfaction, listed in order of importance:
- Cooking performance – 35%
- Design – 21%
- Durability – 12%
- Ease of cleaning – 12%
- Value for money – 11%
- Ease of use – 6%
- Extra features – 4%
Above all, cooking performance is the most important factor in driving BBQ satisfaction. Design was the second most important, which is understandable given that it can affect the overall experience, as well as how easy it is to clean once all the cooking is done. Four in five (79%) clean their BBQ regularly, so having a well-designed model without any hard to reach compartments might help with this.
Below is a list of considerations you may want to run through before purchasing a new BBQ.
Portable, freestanding or built-in barbeques
There are three main types of BBQs to choose from:
- Portable BBQ: are great for camping, beach trips, or those with very limited storage space.
- Freestanding BBQ: can range from the traditional kettle BBQ to a great big heavy-duty grill that takes two strong people to pick up. Some have two or four wheels for manoeuvrability, some just sit on castors, so there’s variable ability to move it around. That means you’re not trapped with your BBQ in just one place if you like being able to change things around or want to take it with you if you move house.
- Built-in BBQ: are designed to be permanently built into your outdoor entertaining area. They look great, but once it’s installed you can’t move it.
The debate over which produces the better flavour – charcoal or gas – has been ongoing ever since both types existed. If you want to be able to grill without getting a smoky flavour, go with gas.
- Charcoal: gives that authentic hot coal roasting experience but produces ashes that can be a pain to clean up.
- Gas: is faster, more efficient, and easier to control the heat, but has more intricate parts to keep cleaned and maintained.
- Natural gas: means you’ve always got access to fuel supply, while with LPG you’ll need to keep getting the gas bottle refilled. However, not all homes have a natural gas connection and you’ll need a licensed professional to connect it to your barbecue.
- Electric: requires access to a power point and has a quick 10-minute heat up time. It’s ideal for casual BBQ fans without the hassle of a gas connection. Most electric models are portable, so you can take them with you on holidays or to sporting events.
How many BBQ burners do I need?
Consider how much food you’ll be barbecuing at once. Another way to think about it is to consider how many people you’ll usually be cooking for. There’s no point having a massive barbecue just to feed two people.
- Charcoal barbecues: tend to be smaller, except for many of the spit roast designs. This, combined with the fact that charcoal grills need constant monitoring to keep the heat right, means that to feed a big party you’ll be spending most of your time working on the barbecue.
- Gas barbecues: can have anywhere from 2 to 8 burners. If you’ll usually be cooking for only one to three people, a 2 or 3 burner barbecue should do the job. However, if you’ll be throwing parties or have a large family to feed, 4 or more burners may be necessary to get everything cooked rather than having to cook lots of little batches.
- Electric barbecues: are typically portable and in turn, feature just 1 or 2 burners. While it’s a convenient size to take with you, you do sacrifice on cooking capacity.
- A hotplate type barbecue: or a grill with a hotplate section is good for grilling onions, stir fry, or other food that’s too small to cook on a regular old grill. Alternatively, you can just use a pan or other barbecue-suitable cookware on top of the grill if you’ll only need it occasionally.
- Side burner: may also be helpful if you’ll want to cook or heat sauce, soup, or other liquids.
Extra features & accessories
Our survey indicated that 64% of Aussies said features were the primary reason for choosing their BBQ, so it’s certainly something to consider thoroughly. These are some of what you might come across:
- Movability: Consider how often you’ll need to move the barbecue – if the answer is ‘frequently’, you should test how easily you can move it before making the purchase. Four wheels make it super easy, but lighter and smaller barbecues often have two wheels at one end with a handle at the other to lift and push/pull.
- Side tables: can be super handy for keeping food on hand ready to be put on the barbecue and move cooked food off the grill.
- Shelves: underneath the barbecue and hooks on the sides make it easier to keep all of your barbecue tools and other bits and pieces together and easily accessible.
- Two-tiered grills: have an extra grill suspended over the main one, usually for keeping food warm or steaming vegetables.
- Rotisserie: either built into the barbecue or a removable one is good for slow-roasting meats and vegetables. A rotisserie is a long metal rod suspended horizontally across the grill, slowly rotated, usually by an electric motor, to roast food.
What food can I cook on my BBQ?
You can grill pretty much anything that won’t fall, melt or disintegrate through the bars or mesh. Vegetables grilled on a BBQ have a different taste and texture, particularly those that go very well with smoky flavours, such as mushrooms and eggplant. Pineapple is a classic barbecue staple, as the flames caramelise the sugars for a fresh, sweet and juicy addition to your burgers or kebabs.
We asked our survey respondents about what food they generally cook on their BBQ and they reported:
- Sausages – 80%
- Steaks – 78%
- Burgers – 56%
- Chops or cutlets – 56%
- Kebabs or skewers – 54%
- Fillets – 44%
- Breakfast foods – 32%
- Ribs – 30%
- Fresh seafood – 29%
- Fruits & vegetables – 21%
- Meatballs – 18%
Despite the Aussie stereotype about shrimp, snags are what Aussies prefer! It’s certainly an easy BBQ choice across backyards and decks across the country.
Frequently asked questions
Canstar Blue surveyed 6,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics.. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased a new gas or electric barbeque in the last 2 years – in this case, 849 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.